Tag Archives | Sustainability

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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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.

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Busy lil bees

The quinoa is finally ready so Mitch and Sanami spend a morning harvesting. Mitch has spent much time in Japan since 2002 and is happy to be able to practice his Japanese, impressing all of us.

quinoa harvesting

Sanami is one of the MIAOWs (Melliodora Interns and Other Workers) currently working, learning and sharing with us. She has been in Australia for two months. Before Melliodora she was helping out at Birrith Birrith.

sanami
Sanami and Anna have been up to all kinds of wonderful mischief including cutting up the last of the apples to dehydrate in our fancy dehydrator ie. up on the roof.

apple dehydrating

Anna, also a MIAOW, has a PDC and has spent time at the Permaculture Research Institute. Anna used to work in Melbourne as a wind engineer where she designed wind farms and wind monitoring campaigns, but now likes to spend her time immersing herself in the sensuality of soil.

IMG_0908

We have been harvesting the last of our corn this week. Drying some for seed and cooking

corn shucking

and blanching some before freezing it for use over the winter months.

corn blanching

We have successfully experimented cooking in a GoSun stove that was gifted to us.

solar cooking

solar cooker

We netted the fig trees, though sadly we lost kilos and kilos as it rained (hooray!) and the water penetrated them causing them to ferment on the trees. Fig chutney anyone?

fig nets

We encouraged people to boycott shopping at the supermarket by setting up our table of bulk food on the same day as people come by to collect their veggie boxes.

bulk food

And when we needed some quiet we sat down to the meditative task of separating grains, as a bag of flax seeds had been contaminated with wild oats.

quiet work

We had a meeting with Annie Raser-Rowland and Adam Grubb to discuss their exciting new project.

Annie and Meg

We started work on rebuilding a jetty for the dam.

building jetty

And before the cooler months start, we harvested the honey from the hives. 117kg so far from 7 hives.

SuMitchBees

su bees

anna david honey

sanami honey

That’s it from us for now. We hope all is deliciously sticky and sweet in your lives too.

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Great debate, the video

My essay “Crash On Demand” was the primary influence in framing this year’s Great debate at the Sustainable Living Festival in Melbourne,  so we felt that I had to make time to be there (in the middle of our Rocklyn Ashram residential PDC  plus peak fruit and honey harvest).

With an audience of over 250 it was an opportunity to explain the logic of bottom up permaculture activism in response to the energy descent future and hear some of the other perspectives presented. The dichotomy of the unwieldy title, the dreaded C word and the “vote” gave me the gripes, but it was good fun and an opportunity to catch up with Nicole Foss after our joint public speaking tour last winter.

Here’s yours truly kicking off the debate.

For those people who want to see the whole debate (nearly 2hr long, but you should), here is the entire Great Debate (Nicole Foss, about 35 min mark. About 1.20 min mark begins the summing up, voting and Q and A).

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To collapse or not to collapse

greatdebateEvery year in the month of February, Melbourne hosts the Sustainable Living Festival. The 16th annual festival offers a large choice of events of interest. We highly recommend you attend if you are in the zone. Find out more about the festival on its website.

Since its inception four years ago, the Great Debate has quickly become one of the most popular events of the month long festival. In the debate an invited panel of prominent thinkers and leaders swap their opinions on various aspects of sustainability. In 2011, in an inaugural debate, David Suzuki, Ian Lowe, Christine Milne, Clive Hamilton and others debated whether “environmentalism is falling”. Last year, the panel including Bob Brown, Jon Dee, Fiona Sharkie and David Spratt, discussed whether “fear is stronger than optimism in creating rapid social change”.

This year’s debate promises to be a cracker as well. The panel including Nicole Foss, George Marshall, George Monbiot and the author of  ‘Crash on Demand‘ the essay that inspired this year’s debate topic, David Holmgren, will exchange their views whether or not to collapse. A Great Debate not to be missed.

The Crash on Demand is available here, and to see some of the discussions it has caused so far, see here.

More on the Events page.

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Crash on Demand: interviews and a summary

Requests for David Holmgren to do interviews keep coming in following the publication of his latest essay “Crash on Demand”. He has done a couple so far, in an attempt to answer some of the questions raised by the fellow travellers. Click on the links below to listen to what he has to say.

Agricultural Innovations with Frank Aragona part 1: Crash on Demand) (Sept 29, 2014) and part2: Pathways to intentional communities (Oct 6, 2014)

With David Holmgren on his essay ‘Crash on Demand’ with Stefan Geyer (21st century permaculture) originally broadcast on Feb 2, 2014 on London’s Shoreditch radio.

Crash on Demand with Alex Smith (Ecoshock Radio), also features Nicole Foss.

In the follow up email exchanges, Alex Smith from Ecoshock Radio raised a further question which was not covered in his interview.

Is David saying that the system will crash anyway and by scaling up permaculture activities will fasten the inevitable, or is he really calling for non-violent efforts to crash the economic system,  to save the planet, or is not calling for that? To answer that, he has compiled what could be termed as a concise summary of “Crash on Demand”. You can download the text here. We recommend you to read the whole essay first, though.

Crash on Demand, a concise version

See also the following video filmed for Pip Australian permaculture magazine, “How you can change the world with permaculture”. It shows David presenting a more positive take on what is essentially the same message as “Crash On Demand”.

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Crash on Demand, the discussion so far

Since the publication, David Holmgren’s essay “Crash on Demand” has generated a heated debate among the sustainability communities around the world. We try to keep up with the discussion in the cyber world as much as possible (but if we missed any other articles and blogposts, please let us know).  Below, we compile the list of articles and posts we have come across (so far) all worth reading, including most of the comments (last updated on May 15, 2015).

υγεία (mediterranean food) Permaculture, also on the grokking eagle.
Silvia Di Blasio (Mainstream Permaculture) Teaching permaculture: what is permaculture for.

David Pllard (how to save the world) How our narratives inform our hopes for change also on Resilience.org.

Mary Logan (A prosperous way down) Fitting into nature–or not (see comments).

The Overthinker The best way to address climate chane is NOT to talk about it.

Norris Thomlinson (Farmer Scrub’s blog) Demand Crash! – a response to Holmgren’s “Crash on Demand”.

Chris McLeod Let’s talk about collapse.

Silvia Di Blasio (Living As If Others Really Mattered) Emphasizing the wrong “E”, Follow up on COD, and why it is worth continuing the discussion.

Dimitry Orlov (ClubOrlov) David Holmgren’s Crash on Demand also on Resilience.org.

John Michael Greer (The Archdruid Report) A bargain with the Archdruid also on Resilience.org.

Kevin O’Conner (C-Realm) Dirty Pool: A Response to Guy McPherson.

Joanne Poyourow (on Transition US) Economic descent, hopefully with skillful means also on Resilience.org. and Collapse? Maybe not also on Resilience.org.

Erik Lindberg (Transition Milwaukee) Agency on Demand? Holmgren, Hopkins and the historical problem of agency also on Resilience.org.

Rob Hopkins (Transition Culture) Holmgren’s “Crash on Demand”: be careful what you wish for also on Resilience.org.
His more recent piece Reflections on being a “cultural optimist” and a month of scaling up also  on Resilience.org.

Jason Heppenstall (22 billion energy slaves) Stabbing the beast also on Resilience.org.

David MacLeod (Integral Permaculture) Crash on Demand: David Holmgren updates his future scenarios also on Resilience.org.
His later piece What is David Holmgren really telling us also on Resilience.org.
His latest post David Holmgren: “I haven’t really changed my message” also on Resilience.org.

Nicole Foss (the Automatic Earth) Crash on Demand? A response to David Holmgren.

RCollapseniks.005

Albert Bates (the Great Change) Charting Collapseniks also on Resilience.org.
his update “recharting collapseniks.

 

 

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Why I haven’t been flying (much)

David Holmgren is not showing his flying skill, only reading the  landscape (at the 2013 Food Forest PDC)

David Holmgren is not showing his flying skill, only reading the landscape (at the 2013 Food Forest PDC)

Over three decades I have received many requests to travel across Australia and across the world to speak at a conference,  teach a course or participate in some worthy event related to permaculture. My reluctance to travel long distances for short stays has meant I have had to turned down many of these invitations. In more recent years the reactions of invitees has moved from incredulity to understanding, and even admiration, as a small but growing list of public figures  are choosing not to travel by air to highlight the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Continue Reading →

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Retrofitting the Suburbs for Sustainability (presentation)

David Holmgren gave a Lunchbox/Soapbox talk at the The Wheeler Centre in February 2012, exploring the profound improvements that the application of permaculture principles and strategies could deliver for the sustainability and liveability of today’s suburbs.

Through the microcosm of four adjacent houses in ‘Aussie Street’, Holmgren demonstrates how suburbs can and will respond to the converging economic, energy and climate crises, and discovers how you can stimulate positive household and community resilience in the face of these pressures.

Watch the video and add your comments.

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