Sunday, February 27, 2011

Integrate, don't segregate - Queen tribute Band at the Melbourne Zoo

February 19th 2011

Australia's 'Freddie Mercury' teases Cecilia and Katie. Photo: Emma Hill

"Freddie Mercury in My Zoo?"

The Meerkats are skeptical.

"I can't believe it?"

But its true.

Well, kind of.
Its the Queen Tribute show, at the Melbourne Zoo twilight Series, the perfect place for all that vitality.

Once we all warmed up, Gareth Hill was a thrilling Freddie Mercury,
The greatness of Queen has to be the  'Eros' between Freddie and his audience.
The both of them are having the time of their life.

This Freddie too, got the human families dancing,

the Elephant families dancing,

and the teenage lions joining in from the back row, with their sexy Roar.

Here is the 'Permaculture' I loved about this event:

'Be Actors, not spectators' 
The people who got into some risky singing and dancing had the most fun. Life is like that.

Seeing Families enjoy each other  
I hear that families love each other, but in the western world I very rarely see it, in public. No wonder so many guys (and girls) don't want to 'commit'. "What fun would that be?" they wonder.
Never doubt the power of public enjoyment of your children. Its a gift to humanity.

'Integrate, don't segregate' 
This way we got to see Splendid Zoo and Splendid Show for Modest Money. People who wouldn't have seen the Zoo got a peek, and will come back, their next visits again supporting this not-for-profit conservation society.  They may be re-inspired - sometimes it takes a few goes. Pretty much everything you want to learn about how to create beauty is being demonstrated in the gardens of the Zoo. 

'Time Stacking'  
The Zoo is otherwise closed and unappreciated at night, these events make more of a brilliant resource.

'Increase useful diversity' 
Its great to be chewing on my picnic dinner, enjoying a pat every now and then from my sister, then wander over to watch the lions chew on their dinner, and share a bit of nestling up. Humans aren't the only life forms. Eating, affection, and family are needed by all of us.

'Don't re-invent the wheel'
Freddie did a great job, he is already known. Gareth doesn't have to create his own following, he can borrow our affection for Queen, do a great job, and everyone is happy.  Janet Millington's presentation at APC 10 reminded me 'borrow and extend existing achievments'  is the #1 priority for my Permaculture this year.

Katie my sister is the one who brought me along, a kind of farewell to my stay with her & Jorge in Melbourne. At the end she suggested we invite this Freddie to my sister April's 'Bring a Celebrity' Costume party.
I was too shy.

But I did!

What did I find out later - Gareth is a big Permaculture fan, who is looking forward to making time & allies to re-start his heritage- seed gardens.
Gareth, you are an inspiration! xx

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Passing by Loss and Love: Melbourne to Sydney Solo Car Party

This afternoon I arrived in Sydney to begin my new harbor-side life, after a two-day car party. 
Invitees were many, but attendees to this party were just one, just me.  
Luckily, a car trip means I'm doing my favorite thing - moving forward, with a destination but no plan, just eddying along.
The coastal route is very beautiful, and thick with wild Christmas lilies right now. 
I didn't take photos of the prettiness.  
I have too many pretty photos, mostly unshared. They don't need the sharing, we have seen enough pretty.

But these images asked to be shown. We spend most of our lives worrying about disasters that never happen.
But sometimes they do.

The leaves are clinging to the trees, but they are crisp, nothing moves. I hope to see these trees in new green when I next drive though, but don't know how badly they were burnt. 

This devestation just goes on and on. It looks like nothing will ever live there.

But it will.
It already is.
Its only been 3 weeks since the fire, and brave little green shoots up. 
People can be like this, I hear.

Seashore being overlooked by the cematary, near Merimbula

At dusk I arrived at this special little beach, and had a stretch, and a solitary dinner, the remains of the party food.
Then I went visiting.

I've been fond of cemetaries for longer than balcony gardens, but for the same reason - they show people's character and lives, our strivings and sorrows.  
Balcony gardens and Gravestones also show how hard it is to escape our culture - most of us just get what we are given.  Most.

That its possible for so many people to be buried in unvisited graves saying 'unknown' makes me want to do something - couldn't they have befriended each other? How can so many of us be so close, yet so lonely ?

This poor fellow, he left so many people behind, including a little boy.

I'm glad that his mates made something special for him.

Who will make my headstone, I wonder? Who's will I make?
Lots of sadness ahead. But I can fit in lots of love before then, I must remember that.

This little lad never made it to being a grown-up.  Now its just him and his board-stone, listening to the waves.

Here is a bloke who seems to have enjoyed his work and life.

But I do wonder about some families, about the limits of the Aussie sense of humor.

I drove on after the sun went down, then put on my pink frilly P.J.s, got out my Sheridan Sheets, and slept snug in my car in the forest. A 21st Century swaggie.

After  very pretty drive in morning sunshine, I had the best breakfast with the good people of Marua. The cafe had country and western music, run by a nice couple. The wife was very round, with a blue flower in her grey hair. Customers included a real professional Elvis. The waifs had played there last night. They all knew and liked Permaculture. I kind of wanted to stay.

But already, my Sydney life has begun. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

David Holmgren's Permaculture Principle aphorisms, Skyped to APC 10

I found an e-copy of these precious Aphorisms that I cadged of the Holmgrens, after finding them nowhere on the internet after Davids presentation at APC 10. 
This is not really a blogpost, just a sharing of surpulus. 

I have highlighted in pink the ones that startled and re-fueled me.  Comment and tell me your favourites, and what you will do about them : )

So, over to you, David:

The following interpretation reflect both original and evolving insights about [Permaculture] ethics. Hopefully they can be seen as contributing to a progressive deepening of our shared understanding of these core beliefs rather than the first or last word on the subject.

Permaculture's Three Ethics 

Care of the Earth
The condition of the soil under our feet, and our stewardship, is the best measure of how we are managing.

Care of People
The true wellbeing of ourselves, our kin and community is the best indicator of how we are going.

Fair Share
Celebrate nature’s abundance,
Accept her limits and
Distribute the surplus.
get you head around both, at the same time.

Applying Design Principles to Activism:

Using design principles to frame and choose aphorisms for the next generation of practitioners, teachers and activists
Design Principles are very powerful thinking tools that we can use well beyond the garden and the farm. We can test our understanding of them, by applying them to familiar subjects where we have substantial experience and gut feelings about what’s appropriate and what’s not. If we can make the match when we are on solid ground, then we have a better chance of using these thinking tools in novel situations when the ground shifts. In the process we learn how to better articulate the principles in ways that make common sense.

Twelve design Principles

Observe and Interact
Network for inspiration and information but don’t get mesmerised by distant greener pastures.
Read the social landscape to understand the constantly changing context for our actions.
Talk to others doing similar and related stuff; no matter what the label or the looks.
Find out who has done this before; where it worked and where it didn’t.
Failure is a gift; so long as we learn.
We have a lineage and a history; make it a story to tell.

Catch and Store Energy
Plant seeds that can thrive, reproduce, and provide a welcome inheritance for future generations.
Build skills that will be exchangeable in an energy descent world.
Aquire quality tools of trade, that will one day be heirlooms.
Don’t be too concerned with accumulating stuff, titles or money (it all deteriorates with time or disappears in a puff of smoke).
Your mind, body and soul are stores of real wealth; draw on them when nurturing the next generation.

Obtain a Yield
Competition is part of the process by which nature maintains health and vigour; accept that competition between ideas and actions is healthy in pioneering systems.
Look for the freebees that others can’t see.
Cut a deal with those who have the stuff, titles or money; it cheaper to use than to own .
Do It Yourself; kick starting the household economy today.
Be a jack of all trades (that is, diversity), but  a master of one ( that is, obtain a yield)
Be numerate when it counts but don’t be penny wise and pound foolish.
Don’t fear success.

Apply Self Regulation & Accept Feedback

Be a responsible producer rather than a dependent consumer.
Produce something with utility and soul; kick start the gift economy.
Be your own boss; don’t rely on parents, peers or the state to keep you on the straight and narrow.
Over reach and burnout occur when there is no off switch.
Acknowledge and work within your limits; don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Let babies and kids take real risks in discovery and growth.
Everything has a shadow; remain sensitive to the downsides of even the best ideas and action.
Be prepared to change course, based on the evidence and ethics.

Use and value Renewable Resources and Services
Get down and dirty; learn to live from what’s abundant and reproducing.
Use and value Skills & Sweat in preference to Gear & Fuel.
Take Life as part of living; with thanks.
Shit happens; accept that no one is in control.
Appreciate fossil life (fuels) as a gift from Gaia; use it wisely.

Produce No Waste
Respect and maintain what we already have, rather than dumping it for the next shiny toy.
Be frugal and efficient in everything, from personal movement to cutting things into smaller pieces .
Noise is an unused output, think before you speak.
Deal with conflicts, before they blow up.
Health maintenance avoids wasting life.
Use it, rather than, lose it.

Design from Patterns To Details
Stand back and take in the big picture before diving in.
Understand all the forces at work, not just the obvious actors.
Use the cycle of the seasons and the stages of life as  templates for action.
Once the pattern is clear; go with the flow, stay flexible and open to what might be the missing parts of the puzzle.
Recognise the partial truth in both the conspiracy and the cock-up theories of history.

Integrate Rather Than Segregate
Look for the broken or missing connections that give win-win outcomes.
Accept that we can’t do everything; find partners, collaborators and colleagues.
Accept the need for ambiguous compromises and trade offs when the synergies aren’t perfect.
Politics is the art of the possible.
When times get tough, remember strength in numbers.

Use Small and Slow Solutions

Redefine success as contentment rather than desire.
Replicate rather than grow as a default strategy for responding to success.
Make the smallest change necessary; consider doing nothing.
Get grounded; the future is local.
Find the asymmetric balance between the common and the novel; appreciate the modesty of the common while we taste the fruits of novelty.
Use and Value Diversity
Nature never does anything uselessly; learn the utility.
Always consider an insurance policy and a backup plan.
Locate savings in different places and currencies.
Look for the multiple benefits in any action.
There is more than one way to skin a cat; don’t be dogmatic about the best way.

Use Edges and Value the Marginal

In the soil and life, the interface is everything, learn how to work with more and more.
 It might take a big majority to change a big system, but it only takes a minority to do well at the edge, to start a runaway change.
Acceptance of the marginal species, persons and places is prudent; one day you might need them.
Avoid being a moth around the bright lights.
We live at the edge between worlds; make the most of it while it lasts.

Creatively Use and Respond To Change

Play god in small ways, making the necessary changes for a greater good.
Trigger small events we can’t control; be ready for surprises.
Take advantage of crisis (personal or societal) to get acceptance of change.
When shit happens, we want someone to blame; it doesn’t help.
Nature looks quiet for periods but changes fast when in full flight; look for the signs on the sleeping maiden’s face.
Keep an eye on the horizon for king waves; get out of the water fast.
King Canute couldn’t stop the waves; but he could have tried surfing.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Creative Permaculture couple in Trentham searching for Swales

I met a lovely guy while parking. 
He saw me trying to shoehorn my car in behind his, got back in, and moved along a bit, to  make my day easier.
Not knowing what's what in this country town, Kyneton, I jumped out and asked him directions.  He was helpful again.  

You really wanta go there? 

Then I asked him if he had a permaculture garden. 

He said Yes!

If you do permaculture for long enough, you become a good guesser. 
"That's a generative-looking person", you say to yourself.
Actually, he is a former a rat-race fashion designer from Sydney. 
An escapee.

Jason and partner Charl just moved their family into a new property in Trentham, the town of all my Grandmothers and Grandfathers. And they were eager for advice. 
So off I went and visited their place.

Little place in the countryside
Here it is. 

Well, one nook of it, anyway.

Charl and Jason and are already gifted Permaculture Zone designers - a six year old who is learning to play the keyboard should always have her own fully-wired cubby house.

They've only moved in a few weeks ago, yet I was able to browse on home-grown beans from their Zone 1 Doorstep garden.
I like the 'Family' of logs fence, bopping up and down in friendly recycled fashion.

Orange Cat, elder of the family

Sheepdog and Flintstone sized bone
Here is the sheepdog, gnashing at his Flintstone era bone, and wondering when he will get his first flock of sheep to guide.
Maybe just one lawnmowing sheep, mate.
Sheep are a lot of work for a young family, and their are higher priority permaculture projects than sheep.

Jason views the marshy awn and rockgarden, and dreams of Swales.

Like putting in cleverly-placed, well-planted water-catching swales. 

So, to catch as much of the winter rain as possible, Jason wants to hire a swale-making teacher, and hold a practical workshop. 
He will get his swales, the neighbours will get some education, and the teacher gets another revitalized property in his C.V.  
So if you are a swale-making teacher, or want some swale designing experiance, please email me, and lets get started. 

Swale profile by Reny Mia Slay, Introduction to Permaculture
If you want to know just how much fun they are, have a look at Phil Cashman's swale workshop, held in my absence on my Community Garden in Odawara. 
Odawara Community Garden design by Cecilia

Drawing them in was my contribution. Arduous, I know.  
Swales are the dark green shading, ditches dug on contour, catching water flowing downhill, and letting it seep into the soil, stored for later use.

The blessing is, once you start Permaculturizing, you never know who will start helping, where things will meander to, how big they will end up.

Yes, Permaculture is a door to the unknown. Its a way to hang out usefully with lively, make-things-happen people.

The dreams will have battered moments, and glorious ones. Definitly, both.

Easter is the aimed-for date for the Swale workshop - please send us your swale teachers.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Wadham Park - timeless design for thoroughbred racehorses, awaiting good things

Wadham Park, the new Racehorse breeding and training facility at Tylden is a kind of Ivy League college for young horses. You can just imagine the sleek thoroughbred parents hope their foals will get in. The other day I had the chance to visit.

For a shed, the architecture was quite heavenly. 
The lighting was gentle and natural, something most humans don't have or think to ask for. 
This would calm the horses, so all their energy is used when it should be - on the track.
The materials used are plush, but modest and peaceful in color: bluestone, timber, corregated iron, echoing the shapes of the familar old Victorian houses that populate the Tylden countryside, a walk away from where my many many grandmothers lived out hard lives, with much less glamorous horses to help.

Here is Goldie, she's already had a good mornings training, and its still only time for elevenses. 

Dean Harvey's title is bloodstock manager, making him a cross between a stockbroker and a matchmaker. His job is to hit the jackpot with excellent breeding, excellent training, and perfect heathcare. 
Here he shows the synthetic racetrack, made from a resilient polymer particles. It cushions the horses footfall, drains water off the track, doesn't blow away, and more than earns back its cost of $1 million to lay.

Like the equal and opposite of an organic farmer's situation, you invest in getting a good ground.
No weed, no living thing will take root in this. 

Horse lap-pool, a work-day version of the Taj Mahal rill. Tiles surrounding it are rubbery, with the spring of walking on a forest floor. The shopping streets at my latest home in Tokyo were made of the same material. Walking on it makes me inexplicably content. Its just missing the fragrance of a real, leaf-littered riverside walk.

Only a couple of years ago, this beautiful creature didn't exist.

The gates at Wadham park are grand, befitting the value of the creatures inside.

The entrance garden is looks like it wasn't a priority.  I guess it was planted by the people who plant sturdy shopping center gardens.  Low-maintenance, no-problem gardens. But this garden could be  something to make the heartbeat quicken,  something dashing, enchanting.

I wish it had been mine to design.

Draw over the top of this photo in your mind. 
Add weeping tinkling trees, creating dapples, swishing in breezes. Cover the commercial path with gravel and rustic stepping stones. Fill the undergrowth with treasures and surprises - delicately tinted pansies, rhubarb to give visitors, woodland bulbs, mauve onion flowers. Put in some arresting modern artworks, and hey, horseradish.
Weeping plum in June, Burnley college, photo by Cecilia
We could make this garden a place that draws Wadham's racehorse-owning visitors off the straight and narrow path, into a kind of underwater 3D world of unfamiliar beauties.

There would be fragrant bowers where people would discuss their hopes for their horses, dappled light bathing their world.  The fragrance of the old fashioned quinces, the pippin apples would waft over to the stables, promising the hardworking horses something crunchy and sweet to look forward to.

Cecilia's edible front garden, in 3D
As an organic garden permaculture  garden, pests would be managed by other insects, frogs and birds, and by all springing from lively soil, well composted, fluffy and stable.

The colors would relate to each other with the same delicacy the architect used in the buildings, but more scrumptious.

I swirled my straight couryard bricks. Much better.
For horses who must earn their own keep, Lyn Dixon in England has a useful website of Permaculture ideas for self-sustaining pasture-and-horse combinations. I like her recommendation to add a sprinkling of sheep - she says they eat woody weeds that spoil grassland, soak up parasites, keeping them off the horses, without harm to themselves. Don't drain marshlands, she says. They provide herbs for horses to self-medicate, and parasite-eating bugs.

Technoratty, finding surprises, having a 'win' in the garden
There are so many places in the world waiting for us to come and permaculturizse them. Where do we start, and how to we get ourselves asked?