Tag Archives | Resilience

Degrowth in the Suburbs: A Radical Urban Imaginary

Samuel Alexander, from the Simplicity Collective has just published a new book, Degrowth in the Suburbs: A Radical Urban Imaginary, co-authored with Professor Brendan Gleeson, with a foreword by David Holmgren.

The book addresses a central dilemma of the urban age: how do we make suburban landscapes sustainable in the face of planetary ecological crises? The authors argue that degrowth, a planned contraction of overgrown economies, is the most coherent paradigm for suburban renewal. They depart from the anti-suburban sentiment of much environmentalism to show that existing suburbia can be the centre-ground of transition to a new social dispensation based on the principle of enlightened material and energy restraint.

David’s foreword to the book begins thus:

Historians charting the trajectory of industrial civilisation will note the remarkable disconnect between the status accorded to “evidence based decision making” in our culture and the relentless pursuit of perpetual growth on a finite planet. While the contradiction has always been clear to the simplest of folks, the publication of the Limits to Growth report nearly half a century ago gave us the means to better understand the complex system dynamics that would characterise humanity’s overshoot of global limits.

Because these understandings coincided with the oil crises and resultant recessions, in affluent western countries there was some public discourse, and even early action, to consider the possibility of futures other than ones of continuous growth. On the fringes of society a flourishing counterculture gave birth to lifestyles and concepts (including permaculture) that have been the source of a continuous lineage of creative change. Some of these fringe ideas – such as the internet – have contributed to powerful creative action that has transformed society, whilst others – such as renewable energy and regenerative agriculture – provide pathways promising to manifest transformation now.

You can read the rest of the foreword here.

You can read a review of the book on Make Wealth History.

You can purchase the book here.

As a companion film, here is the latest offering from the talented folk at Happen Films:

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Reclaiming the Urban Commons

We are in the midst of a great shift, a fundamental transformation in our relations with the earth and with each other. This shift poses humanity with a challenge: how to transition from a period of environmental devastation of the planet by humans to one of mutual benefit? How do we transform our relationship to the land, nonhuman lifeforms, and each other? Reclaiming the Urban Commons argues this change begins with a deeper understanding of and connection with the food we produce and consume.

This book is a critical reflection on the past and the present of urban food growing in Australia, as well as a map and a passionate rallying call to a better future as an urbanised species. It addresses the critical question of how to design, share, and live well in our cities and towns. It describes how to translate concepts of sustainable production into daily practices and ways of sharing spaces and working together for mutual benefit, and also reflects on how we can learn from our productive urban past.

                    Reclaiming the Urban Commons:
                    The Past, Present and Future of Food Growing in Australian Cities and Towns
                    Edited by Nick Rose and Andrea Gaynor
                    UWA Publishing, RRP $29.99

David Holmgren’s chapter is Garden Farming: The Foundation for Agriculturally Productive Cities and Towns.
Here’s the opening paragraph:

Australian suburbs can be transformed into productive, resilient and sustainable places to live through garden farming. Growing food right where people live, in back and front yards, has environmental, social and psychological benefits. Garden farming in the household, non-monetary economy is complementary to commercial urban and peri-urban agriculture that, collectively, can be the heart of a resilient bio-regional food system.

You can buy the book here.

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New Melliodora Tour Dates – 2018/2019

You have a small block of land and you’d like to learn how you can live more sustainably.
You live on a farm with chickens and an orchard and you’re interested in seeing how you can integrate permaculture principles.
You live in an inner-city apartment and you’re keen to see how you can live more in line with your values.

Whatever stage of life you are at, there is no better insight into the ins and outs of how permaculture works on a season to season, day to day basis than to take part in the whole day guided tour of Melliodora.

Situated in the Victorian central highlands, Melliodora is one of the best examples of a cool-temperate climate permaculture property that produces an abundance of food and other yields from a beautiful living environment.

The one hectare property has been transformed from the blackberry covered wasteland in 1985, into a model of small-scale intensive permaculture. David Holmgren and his partner Su Dennett will show you how their passive solar house, mixed food gardens, orchards, dams and livestock, as well as creek revegetation, have been developed and maintained over the last 30 years. The Melliodora garden farming model is most relevant to large town blocks and small rural allotments, but you don’t have to have a large block to gain a huge amount from the tour. All visitors will discover ways that they can apply the underlying principles and strategies to their own lives.

The 2018/2019 Melliodora tour dates are as follows: Sunday September 2, Sunday November 4, Sunday December 2, Sunday January 13, Sunday February 3, Sunday March 17, Sunday April7 and Sunday May 5. The tour begins at 10 am. In the morning you will be shown around the house. We will break for lunch between 12.30 and 2pm. In the afternoon the tour will take you to the garden farm, and the day concludes at 4.30pm.

The whole day tour includes the Melliodora eBook CD: a detailed record of how the house and garden you see on the tour were designed and established, explaining the logic behind design decisions, detailed plans, plant species selection and how it all works together. It is a refresher of the tour, a valuable reference for your own project, and an ideal way to introduce family and friends to permaculture.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience first-hand how permaculture design can help restore and improve land, and provide for residents’ needs and enjoyment.

Things you need to know:

  • Tours can be booked via the Events page.
  • Children are welcome. Parents must take responsibility for them and their actions.
  • Visitors are on the property at their own risk.
  • Please park in our driveway to avoid inconvenience to neighbours.
  • Books and other publications are available for sale on tour days at discount prices. You might like to look at the Publications page of our website to see more information about some of the publications that will be available for sale on the day.
  • Melliodora is a private home so please respect our privacy. Group or private visits can be arranged by appointment.

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2018 Ashram Permaculture Design Course

Permaculture Design Course

Friday 23 February – Saturday 10 March 2018

2017 Ashram PDC

 

Are you looking to create a more sustainable lifestyle?

Meet like-minded people?

Retrofit your house, your community and your life?

Become less dependent on big business and supermarkets?

Design a resilient system in the face of growing uncertainties?

 

The course

A PDC can be a life changing experience. Join us in the unique environment of the Rocklyn Ashram and be taught by a mix of experienced and enthusiastic permaculture tutors including David Holmgren.

This is a fully residential, fully catered course running over 15 days with a short break in the middle. This is a completely immersive experience.

The course will be structured around Holmgren’s 12 permaculture principles (detailed in Permaculture: principles and pathways beyond sustainability) and goes beyond land-based design, bringing permaculture to all aspects of human living.

 

https://permacultureprinciples.com/downloads/Principle_Wheel_with_type.jpg

 

The venue

The course will take place at the Rocklyn Ashram, nestled in the Wombat Forest near Daylesford in Central Victoria. Only a one and a half hour drive from Melbourne, you will feel like you are in another world. Beautiful and quiet, this special space creates an ideal learning environment.

Taking part in the ashram’s daily yoga program can further enhance your learning and enrich your experience. The ashram environment exemplifies and provides an experience of living by permaculture ethics. The serene and spiritual focus of the ashram complements the mindfulness of permaculture practice and reminds us to balance our activity and think with reflection.

Accommodation is camping in the grounds of the ashram. You will need to BYO tent and gear. Alternatively you can choose to stay in a gender segregated triple share dorm room or a private room. Please note, these last two options incur additional fees.

At times the ashram program and the intensity of the course can seem challenging, however almost all of the participants comment that the benefits continue long after the course ends.


The food

Delicious, wholesome and ethical meals will be prepared by Su Dennett and the ashram’s kitchen volunteers. Su will make sure that what you eat meets permaculture standards. Items will be sourced from local organic and bio-dynamic growers in a living example of using and maintaining sustainable food supply networks. You will be served vegetarian meals together with the ashram residents.

 

Tutors

You will learn from the co-founder of permaculture, David Holmgren, and a team of excellent permaculture practitioners and educators. Their depth of practical and theoretical knowledge will make this a very special PDC. There will also be opportunities to socialise with the presenters outside of session times.

 

Prerequisites?

There are no prerequisites for this course, but it is recommended you read the Essence of Permaculture if you have not yet done so. All other titles and writings by David Holmgren are highly recommended for those who have read Essence already. Please have a look through our online store or visit your local library.

 

Course content

This course will equip you with the foundations of permaculture. You will learn permaculture ethics, principles and design, and their application across the domains, so that you can integrate them into all aspects of your life.

Topics include:

  • permaculture ethics and principles
  • ecology and natural cycles
  • weather and climates
  • soils
  • permaculture food growing
  • energy literacy
  • reading the landscape
  • appropriate technology
  • built environment
  • design processes and practices
  • animals in permaculture
  • health and spiritual wellbeing
  • urban retrofitting
  • finance and economics
  • community strategies

The classroom experience will be complemented by field trips to working permaculture farms, homes and gardens including one of the best documented demonstration sites, Melliodora.

You will work on a design project of part of the ashram during the course. You will be guided by experienced tutors and learn the fundamentals of permaculture to design the world you want.

 

Payment and extra charges

 

Item Fee (AUD$) Due
Non-refundable deposit – Australian participant $500 Upon enrolment
Remaining course fee – Australian participant – earlybird $1700 Friday 1st December 2017
Remaining course fee – Australian participant – full fee $1900 Friday 26th January 2018
Course fee – Australian / Overseas participant – earlybird $2200 Upon enrolment, before Friday 1st December 2017
Course fee – Australian / Overseas participant – full fee $2400 Upon enrolment, before Friday 26th January 2018
Payment fee via PayPal 3% With payment – per transaction
Gender segregated, triple share room $2475 $2275 earlybird price
Private accommodation at the Ashram $3450 $3250 earlybird price

 

Is there a concession price?

Applications for the concession rate have now closed.

* * *

Still have questions? Please read through our FAQ page.

Bookings now open!

If the 2018 Ashram PDC sounds like it’s for you, fantastic! Please secure your place by registering.

 

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Permaculture Design Course @ Rocklyn Ashram

Permaculture Design Course

Friday 10 – Saturday 25 Feb 2017

Rocklyn Ashram

Are you looking to:

  • create a more sustainable lifestyle?
  • meet like-minded people?
  • retrofit your house, your community and your life?
  • become less dependent on big business and supermarkets?
  • design a resilient system in the face of growing uncertainties?


The course

A PDC can be a life changing experience. Join us in the unique environment of the Rocklyn Ashram and be taught by a mix of experienced and enthusiastic permaculture tutors including David Holmgren.

This is a fully residential, fully catered course running over 14 days with a short break in the middle. This is a completely immersive experience.

The course will be structured around Holmgren’s 12 permaculture principles (detailed in Permaculture: principles and pathways beyond sustainability) and goes beyond land-based design, bringing permaculture to all aspects of human living.

integral-permaculture-flower_l

The venue

The course will take place at the Rocklyn Ashram, nestled in the Wombat Forest near Daylesford in Central Victoria. Only a two-hour drive from Melbourne, you will feel like you are in another world. Beautiful and quiet, this special space creates an ideal learning environment.

Taking part in the ashram’s daily yoga program can further enhance your learning and enrich your experience. The ashram environment exemplifies and provides an experience of living by permaculture ethics. The serene and spiritual focus of the ashram complements the mindfulness of permaculture practice and reminds us to balance our activity and think with reflection.

Accommodation is gender segregated triple share, or BYO camping equipment.

At times the ashram program and the intensity of the course can seem challenging, however almost all of the participants comment that the benefits continue long after the course ends.

 

The food

Delicious, wholesome and ethical meals will be prepared by Su Dennett and the ashram’s kitchen volunteers. She will make sure that what you eat meets permaculture standards. Items will be sourced from local organic and bio-dynamic growers in a living example of using and maintaining sustainable food supply networks. You will be served vegetarian meals together with the ashram residents.

 

Tutors

You will learn from the co-founder of permaculture, David Holmgren, and a team of excellent permaculture practitioners and educators. Their depth of practical and theoretical knowledge will make this a very special PDC. There will be also be opportunities to socialise with the presenters outside of session times.

 

Prerequisites?

There are no prerequisites for this course, but it is recommended you read the Essence of Permaculture if you have not yet done so. All other titles by David Holmgren are highly recommended for those who have read Essence already. Please have a look through our online store or visit your local library.

 

Course content

This course will equip you with the foundations of permaculture. You will learn permaculture ethics, principles and design, and their application across the domains, so that you can integrate them into all aspects of your life.

Topics include: permaculture ethics and principles; ecology and natural cycles; weather and climates; soils; permaculture food growing; energy literacy; reading the landscape; appropriate technology; built environment; design processes and practices; animals in permaculture; health and spiritual wellbeing; urban retrofitting; finance and economics; and community strategies.

The classroom experience will be complemented by field trips to working permaculture systems including one of the best documented demonstration sites, Melliodora.

You will work on a design project of part of the ashram during the course. You will be guided by experienced tutors and learn the fundamentals of permaculture to design the world you want.

 

How to enrol

The course size is limited to 26 students so you will need to book early. Cost including full board is $2400, but all you need is the $500 deposit to secure your place now.

If you choose the camping option you will receive $150 cash back upon arrival at the Ashram.

Please note: We do not take deposits from outside Australia. If you are applying from outside Australia, we only accept the full amount via direct bank transfer.

Please read the Ashram Lifestyle Information page before enrolling. Choose your payment below and complete the enrolment form.

 

Payment and extra charges

Please see the How Do I Pay? page for more details.

 

Item Fee (AUD$) Due
Non-refundable deposit – Australian participant $500 Upon enrolment
Remaining course fee – Australian participant – earlybird $1700 Friday 2nd December 2016
Remaining course fee – Australian participant – full fee $1900
Course fee – Australian / Overseas participant – earlybird $2200 Upon enrolment, before Friday 2nd December 2016
Course fee – Australian / Overseas participant – full fee $2400 Upon enrolment
Overseas payment / Payment via paypal – bank charge $35 With payment – per transaction
Private accommodation at the Ashram Variable With payment – prior booking is essential

 

Is there concession price?

Yes, we do offer a concession rate on a needs basis via an application process. Please fill in this form before Friday November 18 to be eligible.

*  *  *

Still have questions? Please read through our FAQ page.

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The Future of Local Food Conference

FoLFConf

What does it take to create a local food system that is healthy, affordable and sustainable for Australia?

Our local food industry is being neglected while Australia’s national food and agriculture debate focuses on boosting production and increasing exports. Other countries, such as the US and Canada, that have explicitly prioritised local food, are now reaping economic benefits.

Local government in Australia has begun to analyse the benefits of a larger local food industry. For example, Mornington Peninsula Shire found in preliminary modelling that expanding its local food industry by 5% would bring in A$15 million and create nearly 200 jobs.

The Municipal Association of Victoria two-day conference, The Future of Local Food, will explore how to best design food systems to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Among its varied speakers, the conference will feature David Holmgren, whose presentation, ‘Vision of the Bioregional Food System adapted to Energy Descent Futures’ will highlight the need to consider futures different from Business-As-Usual. Holmgren will discuss how local government areas (urban and rural) might fit into an emerging bioregional economy if and when the global one declines.

You can find out more about the conference here.

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A History from the Future

We are thrilled to be sharing with you an excerpt from David Holmgren’s A History from the Future – a prelude to his upcoming book RetroSuburbia.


A HISTORY FROM THE FUTURE: a prosperous way down

future-scenarios-logoLong time central Victorian resident and co-originator of the globally influential permaculture concept, David Holmgren draws on his Future Scenarios work to paint a picture of how simple household and community level strategies can build resilience to the hard emerging realities of economic contraction, peak oil and climate change.

Holmgren has spent decades modelling how low impact resilient ways of living and land use provide a happier and healthier alternative to dependent consumerism. In this story, based on an original presentation from the Local Lives Global Matters conference in Castlemaine 2015, he shows how these informed lifestyle choices and biological solutions become the basis for surfing the downslope of the emerging energy descent future.


A LOCAL STORY FROM 2086

Prelude: The World at Energy Peak 2000-2015

At the turn of the 21st century the evidence for energy descent driven by peak oil and climate change was already strong. The quasi religious belief in continuous economic growth had a strong hold on collective psychology in central Victoria as much as anywhere in the world. The global financial system began to unravel in 2008 at the same time that global production of conventional oil peaked. For a minority it was increasingly obvious that the policies put in place ensured that the collapse was even more severe when it did come. It was like the powers that be had pushed the accelerator hard to the floor in one of those supercharged sports cars of the time, to attempt to jump across the widening chasm that humanity was facing.

The collapse of global financial growth unfolded differently in different places but here the story had many upsides that were partly due to luck and partly a result of visionaries and innovators who helped create a better future. These are the bare bones of how we got from what a few people still consider was the golden age to what we call the Earth Steward culture.

Photo Erica Zabowski

Choose from a vast array of nothing, or perhaps a different path. Photo Erica Zabowski

First Energy Descent Crisis 2017-2026

In 2017 the Australian property bubble burst. For our communities, this marked the start of the First Energy Descent Crisis (of the 21st century). Ballarat Bank was the first financial institution to fail and a government forced take over by the Commonwealth Bank saw the Community Bank network hived off as local lending co-ops backed by local government hoping to restart economic activity in regional towns that were increasingly on their own as State and Federal governments focused on dealing with hardship and social unrest in the cities.

The crisis was world wide, so dramatically reduced global Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the peak of global oil (what they called Total Liquids at the time) the same year was very much in line with the 1972 Limits To Growth report default scenario showing industrial output peaking about that time. More recent studies suggest that net energy available to support humanity peaked closer to the turn of the millennium but it’s all a moot point because it seems that economic growth had been a net drain on human welfare for decades before that.

As capital investment in oil fell off a cliff, and production from existing fields declined at nearly 10% there was a second oil price shock, a US currency collapse and a short war between the USA and China in 2022. Australia got punished in the trade embargo imposed by China. The economic crisis in China had already caused nearly 100 million of the recently urbanised workers to return to the villages, and reimposition of a command economy to continue the shift to renewable energy and revitalise agriculture. Consequently China was able to cope without Australian coal and gas and there was so much scrap steel in the world that the iron ore exports had come to a standstill.

While oil and food remained costly (at least relative to falling wages) most manufactured goods were dirt-cheap. Solar panels from China (somehow getting around the trade embargo) accelerated the trend for retail customers going off grid which, combined with collapse of commercial demand for electricity, led to a “Death Spiral” in the power grid with rising prices and increasing blackouts (and surges due to excess wind and solar inputs).

A newly elected Federal Labor government renationalised the power grid, along with price controls, rationing an Australia ID card allowing rationed access to subsidised supermarkets that had been experiencing shortages of fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy.

In Victoria, a Liberal government implemented policies to encourage people to be more self-reliant. Permaculture education was adopted as a framework for integrating aspects of self-reliance including home food production, owner building, water harvesting and waste management.

Rationing of fuel led to hitch-hiking, ride sharing and in rural areas a rush to convert vehicles to wood gas. Bicycles became the default personal transport around town in Castlemanine but in Daylesford and Hepburn, electric bikes and vehicles powered by the Hepburn Wind charging stations installed for tourists before the property bubble burst maintained mobility for locals.

Kanagawa Chuo Kotsu Charcoal Bus

Charcoal powered public transport from Japan. Photo: ‘Lover of Romance’

Conversion of vehicles to wood gas by a range of bush mechanics and ex-hot rodders had mixed success. The market value of higher powered larger vehicles and trucks rose as a result of the first wave of conversions. The Castlemaine Obtainium Engineering Institute was established to test and improve local designs and prototypes. One of the motivations was a competitive spirit with the electric car networks centred in Daylesford and Ballarat.

Use of Bitcoin (a virtual currency), local currencies, precious metals and barter all increased to support exchange in the rapidly growing informal and grey economies. Bitcoin then failed in mysterious circumstances after being targeted for funding terrorism.

The Internet began functioning again after major breakdowns during the conflict between the US and China. But Facebook and Amazon were bankrupt, cyberspace was littered with defunct and unmaintained sites and Internet marketing was plagued by cyber crime and draconian government regulations. Local computer networks using wireless technology, as well as a revival of two-way radio, started building back to basics communication pathways.


A History from the Future eBookletTo read the full story, purchase the eBook here or get the download for FREE when you sign up to our mailing list for updates to David Holmgren’s upcoming book RetroSuburbia, due for release in March 2017.

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Build it, chop it, grow it, pick it, preserve it

It’s not much to look at, we know, but we wanted to start this post with a blank canvas: the exciting possibility of the empty page, a timely reminder to observe

blankcanvas

and interact:

wall

There has been much observing these last few weeks, looking around to see what we could use for a retaining wall. Hello willow. Thanks so much to Mitch, the current Melliodora apprentice, for this fantastic series of photos:

woodchop2

woodchop3

woodchop4

woodchop5

woodchop6

woodchop7

woodchop8

woodchop9

woodchop10

This week we welcomed Lori who will be MIAOWing with us for three weeks. Lori did her PDC at Bullock’s Permaculture Homestead in Orcas Island, Washington and has been an active member of the Seattle Permaculture Guild. Lori says that her vision for the future is to infiltrate the mainstream education system and inject it with permaculture. “My goal is to bring this message to young people in a way that inspires them to perpetuate it.” We hope you reach your goal Lori!

Lori

With Lori’s help we picked olives

olive1

olive2

olive3

olive4

cut and dehydrated feijoas, and scooped out their sherbety flesh to freeze them.

feijoafreeze

We made kraut,

krautspelt sourdough

speltbread

and fresh goats cheese.

cheesethreeweeks

And we looked up. We gave thanks for the rain, the falling leaf mulch, and the kiwi chandeliers.

kiwis

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A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity

In 2015 a small community formed an emerging ecovillage in Gippsland, Victoria, and challenged themselves to explore a radically simpler way of life based on material sufficiency, frugality, permaculture, alternative technology and local economy. Made by Jordan Osmond and Samuel Alexander, A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity is a documentary that tells the story of this community’s living experiment, in the hope of sparking a broader conversation about the challenges and opportunities of living in an age of limits.

The documentary also presents new and exclusive interviews with leading activists and educators in the world’s most promising social movements, including David Holmgren (permaculture), Helena Norberg-Hodge (localisation), Ted Trainer (the simpler way), Nicole Foss (energy and finance), Bill Metcalf (intentional communities) and Graham Turner (limits to growth).

FILM PREMIER DETAILS

Friday, June 3, 2016 from 6:15 PM to 9:30 PM.
Victorian Trades Hall Council (New Council Chambers) – 54 Victoria Street, Carlton, VIC 3053.

Doors open at 6.15pm, with time to mingle before Samuel Alexander introduces the film at 6.45pm. The screening begins at 7pm. After the film at 8.30pm, the filmmakers will welcome comments and questions about the issues raised, and a panel, including David Holmgren, will also answer questions. The evening will wrap up around 9.30pm.

There will be nibbles and drinks prior to the screening. Please bring your own cup/mug to minimise the use of recyclables.

You can pre-order tickets here.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEYREEnymnk]

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