Category Archives: Grass Roots Level Political Commentry

Posts related to Permaculture Visions by April Sampson-Kelly and other artists

Peace and Goodwill

With a face of peace she lay anesthetised on the operating table late at night. It was 1956 in a small regional hospital. Her gall bladder had burst. The tired surgeon had a look and was shocked at the extent of the damage. His assistant said, ‘just stitch her up and don’t worry about all the extra cleaning’. The surgeon checked the patients notes, then looked at her face. He stepped back in surprise. “Do you know this patient?” “Um, Yes, she’s the boiler-makers wife”, “No! She is not just the boiler-maker’s wife…” He was now fast at work, careful and diligent. “This woman welcomed me to her little home for Christmas lunch when I was new to this country and all alone.”

Permaculture teaches us to recognise patterns: not just in nature but also in society. We can also observe and learn from patterns of behaviour, including our small circles of friends and family. By identifying patterns we can find inventive ways to learn and adapt. We search for ways to deflect harmful energies and foster useful energies. Keep faith in yourself to find peace in your heart, your family, community and keep working toward world peace because good planets are indeed hard to find.

12 Ways Of Celebration

1. Expect Less

have a giving spiritLess is good for each and every one of us. People who expect less get pleasantly surprised when great things happen. On the other hand, those who demand a lot in life can become focused on the little disappointments.
Having less stuff is also really good for the planet. When stuff is made, it costs us in resources. Most of these resources are finite. These resources will run out one day. When stuff is transported, it costs the earth in fuel and storage. When stuff sits in your home, it costs you in storage space, time and chemicals to clean or maintain, then it sits in a rubbish heap for thousands or millions of years. Stuff is finite. Stuff does represent wealth. Whilst one person has stuff, another misses out. It is quite OK to have less stuff.

2. Serve up your best

Healthy food can be a real treat instead of processed food.  Some processed foods can stir up irritability, depression and mood swings. Healthy foods don’t have to be more expensive. But the trade-off often means that to get serve healthy, unprocessed foods you need to set aside more time for preparation.

3. Take your time

Prepare your meal with a bit of patience. Allow time to serve a meal for a special occasion. Allowing an extra 2 hours can give you time to talk to your guests, answer the phone, supervise helpers, remember where you put something etc. Avoid experimenting in the kitchen on a special day. If you are going to have a day full of time-pressures and expectations, take the pressure off yourself. Unless you have the chance to practice making that special dish in the days beforehand, be kind to yourself and serve something you know you can do well. Another strategy to give yourself more time is to invite people for an evening meal instead of lunch.

4. Have mood-enhancing food

Comfort food is wholesome, nutritious and triggers happy memories. What were your family favourites in the festive period? Find how to make them fancy, fresh and healthy.

5. Make your own ‘tradition’

It is OK to serve cold foods in a hot climate. It is OK to eat outdoors instead of in the formal dining room. If it would help, don’t be afraid to ask your friends and relatives to bring their special dish to share. If you are invited to a celebration take a tray of nibbles that can be served or kept aside for later. (e.g. a box of assorted biscuits or chocolates). You can make a new tradition. One woman runs white picnics. She invites all her friends to dress in white, bring festive food to share and a rug. She has a different location each year but dresses up tables and a small shelter. Then she takes a photo of them all dressed in white.

6. Get outside

Outdoor spaces are healing. Eating outside and in public spaces can make the celebration more peaceful. Being outdoors reduces the background noise levels and the sense of confinement. It can be cooler in hot climates and can offer more space for the throng of people you love. It is OK set up a picnic on the front lawn or local park. You might like to invite the neighbors. Outdoor eating at night-time in warm climates is cooling, fun and festival. In cold climates you can break any old habits of grumbles around the table by taking you guests to a new venue – hire a small local hall or treat the family to a restaurant meal as their gift from you. It is far less likely that people will argue in a public place.

7. Set a safe festive atmosphere

Dress up in festive clothes, get out some music, add some talking pieces to the decor and provide silly hats.  Bring out some festive cheer but remember to provide plenty of water and tasty drinks. Keep the alcohol low. Get fancy glasses for lots of mocktails as fun alternatives. Ensure that food is provided before any drinks are served.  Drinktank noted a clear link between the availability of alcohol and domestic violence. Limiting the supply of alcohol delayed and lowered the risk of abuse due to intoxication.  Taking these steps to slow the effect of alcohol, limit the intake and provide good alternatives works to lower the risk of abuse.

8. Be the change you wish to see

Be an angel of calm. Even when you feel rushed and tired, staying rational guides anyone who wants to helps. Keeping a good temperament, even if you feel disappointed in others, allows you have healthy discussions, fix any misunderstandings and find a way to achieve happy resolutions. Essentially, when you look calm and merry, your guests are more likely to feel welcome and behave agreeably.

9. Take things off the boil

our little green fortune-teller

Create distractions away from heavy conversation where year old grievances might raise their ugly head. On special days guests can tolerate a little quirky revelry. Provide opportunities to play old favourites like a ball game, a sing-along or a quick board-game. As the host, you have the rare opportunity to direct conversation to safe shores.
Bring out the crackers with dad jokes. A silly joke unites people (a sophisticated joke can leave some people feeling dumb).

Play with the children, even if this means you need to turn your socks into smelly puppets. Children are our hope for a better future. Teach them to value relationships more than the presents. The young ones are young for a few special holidays, so enjoy their company.

10. Let people retreat to peace

Most people are like lions. They like to rest peacefully after eating.  In  fact, there is a chemical released by the brain after eating that makes us sleepy. Give people plenty of comfortable options. Encourage your guests to find a place to laze and relax. Ideally, breaking into groups can help diffuse potential arguments in a group with disparate interests or opinions.

11. Be flexible

Once the feeding frenzy is over, try to relax. You can clean the dishes when it is all over. Enjoy the chance to connect with your guests. In conclusion, if you end up with a mess but no emotional damage then you can be happy that you have achieved your goal of peace and goodwill.

12. Focus on the present

You are the one who controls your speed. Enjoy what you’re doing in the here and now. For some people, the only time they allow themselves to slow down is when they get sick. Don’t wait until you are sick to be forced to slow down. After all, It is your holiday too. Savour the happy moments.

Chicken peace

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Leaders In The Hot House

Finally, climate change is on the mouths of babes.

When Enough People Lead,
The Leaders Will Follow

we-can-do-it-chickWhen politicians and religions leaders such as Pope Francis start discussing the environment it is essential that we bring the gap between the enlightened elders and mainstream. Those aged aquarians, greenies, gurus and pacificists have a lot to teach us. They represent decades of failure as well as progress. Actually, it is the years of failures that are more precious than the small successes that have been adopted by mainstream (composting, pet chickens, mulching, rain-gardens, solar panels, rain-water tanks, biochar). This wealth of knowledge equips mankind to build a sensitive path to a cleaner future.

It’s Not About The Planet, It’s All About Us

ostrichLet’s be honest, the issue is not about saving the planet. This global call for action is about saving ourselves. Mankind has a very sensitive set of climate comforts. We can’t bear hotter temperatures. Most of us at sea-level but our homes don’t float. The food we eat also needs particular climate conditions. In fact, most of us only eat 12 different types of food plants. So we are enjoying a very fragile set of cultural conditions. And those conditions are indeed changing. There are very few people who continue to challenge the science. And there are many more enjoying an enriched and empowered lifestyle.

Quiet Permaculture Leaders

raspberryPermaculture leaders are usually humbly working and living on their sites. They rarely get out and would rather be designing than advocating. Being an advocate is not their strength, they are out of tune with modern propaganda. But they are very much in tune with design, efficiency and laws of nature and energy. They live by the principle of obtaining a yield. Screaming at the deaf is not something they would enjoy.  But when the objectors quieten down, they can hear the singing.

Sometimes, the permaculture leaders leave their native habitat to go to convergences. They pack away their day-to-day musings, half finished projects, rare breeds and quirky experiments. They pack a bag, maybe scribble a presentation and venture out. In fact, most elders at the convergences don’t even present. You have to walk up to them and ask them about themselves. It is their curiosity in the mainstream world and trust in sharing that brings them to invest in others.

building no-dig garden beds

At these rare moments you get a glimpse of the philosophy behind the showcases of best practice in sustainable living. Once or twice in a decade a leader will join a permaculture convergence. It is at this moment you may get the chance to meet a real leader. Then you can see them demonstrate how permaculture can bring about positive changes in many people’s lives.

Get On Board!

paul_silvia_loretta-3-shy-birdsCome and join the upcoming convergence in Perth, Australia in a few weeks. You can share your story and part of the solution. One of the best experiences in permaculture is being able to go and visit mature sites. There are some great tours after this convergence with rare glimpses into abundant, tested and functional permaculture gardens and homes. You will also get to meet many permaculture leaders and discover how it works in their unique bio-region.

Find out more at www.apc13.org and join us on facebook to keep up-to-date with the program and events. You can also volunteer for the event here. You can also support an elder to get to the convergence here.

 

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‘Drama-Greens’: Infinite Play

Introducing A Resilient Culture

Permaculture goes beyond garden design. It is holistic cultural systems design. Drama is a key channel for building resilience.

Cultures build resilience through drama by:

    • having an ethical core of caring
    • recognising, expressing and responding to the signs of change
    • using non-renewable resources with careBe surprised
    • making great use of biological and recycled resources eg. Outdoor theatres with living plants as the wings and back-drop.
    • keeping stores for bad times. Set ticket prices at a fair level to be able to serve the wider community yet save for a rainy season.
    • being current – dramatise current events, people and ideas. Revitalise historical content to make it relevant to the modern audience.
    • sharing fairly.  Make sure the profits support the creators, the workers and the venue to ensure long-term viability
    • valuing the holistic nature of community (the wider community and the artistic community). Collaborate with other organisations to ensure optimum use of your site and staff.
    • acknowledging resource limits. Don’t try take on too many issues – keep the message clear and the goals achievable
    • valuing creative adaptations (like promoting barter, volunteer helpers or regional economics)
    • listening to elders. Involve elders in creative processes
    • seeking traditional know-how. Rediscover traditional processes, story-telling, music and costuming
    • communicating and sharing feelings, knowledge and resources.

Theatre – a vital part of culture

rooster-crowFor thousands of years, drama has been a valuable tool for a community to communicate and share knowledge. Theatres bring people together. For many tribal communities, Theatrical drama has been one of the most successful tools for consulting one-another and passing information.

Another useful feature of theatre is the promotion co-operation rather than competition. Seeking co-operation is a fundamental permaculture principle. When we work in co-operation with one another we can find peaceful resolutions. Peace offers stability. Stability offers sustainability.

In the Chikukwa project they use role play drama to teach one another how to create a permaculture garden.

Encore!

How can we get more play-acting, drama and theatre in our culture?

Support live performances

This does require an effort to get up off the couch, dress up and go to a live venue. In some towns, there is very little live drama or music left. TV, radio and the internet have replaced live performances. People work long hours and live too far from the hub of society.  But the trends can be reversed. We can make a special effort to get to the theatre and value the spontaneity, talent and energy required to make live theatre magical.

Make Your Own Performances Spaces

Theatrical spaces can be low tech. They can be outdoor theatre spaces. Try your own living space for entertaining others. Ask you favourite artists to do a home-concert or play. If you are a performer – a great way to earn extra support is to offer exclusive concerts for small audiences.

chicken-with-pearl-earingDramatise  Your World

Reading aloud, acting out, role-play, story telling, puppetry and games can enrich your time with others, especially  children. Let them lead your creativity.

Celebrate the beauty of nature and relationships with photographs, blogs, play and song. Each moment we spend engaging in drama or creative play is richer than time wandering aimlessly as a consumer.

Engage In ‘Dream-time’

Explore the world of your own imagination. Write, make music, dance, speak and sing. Seek others to enjoy your active entertainment.

Design An Amazing Outdoor Theatre

In permaculture we aim have multi-functional elements in a site design. We can create multifunctional spaces. A sloped site can be used for outdoor performances, lectures, workshops. It can be designed to harvest water, provide fertile growing space and evenly distributed solar access.

Low, intensive garden beds can be created along the contour of the slope. These beds can catch and store water. Seating can be positioned on the stage side. Paths function as seating area for patrons as well as the water.

Storm water can be harvested in a pond at the base of the sloped seating. The pond will also serve to bounce sound and reflect light. A flat area at the bottom of the garden can serve as a stage or teaching space.  In traditional roman-style theatres the stage is at the bottom of the incline. This style offers good acoustics and views.

Permaculture design for community garden

Permaculture Principles: Stabilisers, Enhancers and Flows –

Evolving Our Permaculture Theory

Permaculture design thinking has brought success in many situations. Permaculture seeded the transition movement, built huge aid development programs and helped millions of urban gardeners worldwide. Permaculture techniques have enriched farm regeneration.  But you don’t have to leave the armchair to use permaculture thinking. New groundbreaking social structures are popping. And business strategies have emerged.

Core Ethic – Care

 be as flexible and mobile as nature herself

In 70s permaculture activists were fighting for a way to conserve native forests by growing more food in the cities. Now permaculture is fighting for healthier environments for both the people and the wildlife. We see huge populations without breathable air, clean water or healthy food. World Health Organisations now recognise that planet health and human health is closely interconnected.

We strive for a fair share but the ultimate success would be a win-win. A win for a rich and diverse environment and a win for human health and prosperity.

Principles: Stabilisers, Enhancers and Flows

bike - technology perfectionA holistic design approach can contain steady stabilisers, fancy enhancers and an ability for energy and information flow.

  • System stabilisers build resilience into a design.
  • System enhancers enable acceleration.
  • The principles that encourage flow let the system self-check, adjust or adapt.

Mollison says ‘A permaculture design is like a bicycle’.  With this new perspective we can see that the seat, pedals and symmetry of the tool ensures stability. The tyres providing padding to the wheels, the suspension under the seat, the gears and the brakes are all system enhancers. The bicycle chain enables the obvious notion of a flow of energy from the pedals to the wheels. But another clever system flow device is the steering. The steering mechanism lets the rider respond to changes in the path. This allows information to flow from the bicycle to the rider. Adaption can be instantaneous and smooth. The modern bicycle is a clever and comfortable design. A skilled rider can steer without touching the handle bar and often without concentrating.

Permaculture aims to design a culture that is as comfortable, 
responsive and sustainable as a bicycle.

A Fresh Look at Early Permaculture Principles

Permaculture principles stabilsers,-enhancers-and-flow-mechanisms

Bill Mollison’s Principles:

Mollison didn’t formally list a set of permaculture principles in his text. But he and many other permaculture teachers have gleaned these from his texts including Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual.

Permaculture Principles To Build Stability

    1. Relative location: position elements in the design so that there is minimal transport between them.  Use natural forces where ever possible to work for you.
    2. Multiple functions for each element: Each Element in the design should be used and positioned to perform a range of functions.  For Example: A driveway for vehicles can also be used to harvest water and low growing plants can be planted onto the center strip of the driveway.
    3. Multiple elements for each function: Satisfy each required function with more than just one element.  E.g. heating can come from multiple elements – a mini greenhouse; a wood-fired stove, geothermal, solar radiators or trombe wall.
    4. Energy Efficiency: Run your equipment to its potential. Share (or hire) equipment.  Support durable technology that is adaptable and is easy to maintain.
    5. chicken-weeds-worms-towerStacking increases the productivity of a system.  A forest often has many layers: bulbs, moss, grasses, ground covers, Fungi, Herbs, Shrubs, Small trees, Epiphytes and Aerial plants, Vines, Climax Species, Parasitic plants.  We applied this handy design tool in our chicken house design. 
    6. Consider Context: Work with the natural and social energies of the landscape and the community.   At the steps of parliament house, Berlin (The Reistag), there is a grassed area that is designed to withstand wet conditions and high pedestrian traffic.  In this situation, the compromise of hard and soft landscape tools works well with nature and also provides for the needs of the people.

Permaculture Design Enhancers

    1. Peppermint Tea
      Homegrown Tea

      Stress-free Yield: By giving each element several functions we can accept that not all the functions can be performed all the time.  A duck will hunt for snails, eat weeds and fertilise the garden. She will swim, preen, mate or shout at strangers.  The eggs that are produced per busy duck are lower than in controlled conditions but the sum of all the functions is greater.

    2. Use Biological Resources. Fossil fuel is best used
      unusual-foods garden mt kembla
      Food Diversity

      when it makes itself redundant eg. a Tractor can work a landscape that will no longer require a tractor to manage it.

    3. Diversity includes a variety of species of food plants or animals.  Diversity in nature builds resilience and resistance to pest attack.  It also lets us find which variety works well in our own particular climate and micro-climates.
    4. Information and Observation replaces Energy:  Intensive systems with feedback and observation are more productive and reduce waste.

Permaculture Flow Mechanisms

    1. Natural Succession: Imitate nature in your plans to help a system evolve to meet your needs.  Build a food forest that looks and behaves very like your local natural forest.
    2.  Appropriate Technology: Maximise the use of a technology by sharing or hiring equipment. Make sure your equipment works to full capacity.  Choose the simplest and most effective technologies first.
    3. Energy Flow: harness existing energy flows E.g. Wind, wave solar, gravity or running water.

Learn about Permaculture with us, the pioneers of online permaculture training.

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Permaculture For Children

Little Lives Matter

Children have the opportunity to make a cultural shift. When a young person discovers new foods, they set patterns of eating and behaviour that will shape the way their culture relates to the land and to native foods. Here is a moment for humanity to make a lasting difference. Any dependency on imported foods can be surpassed. The young family can build a rich understanding and respect for the natural world.

“Perhaps there is no greater thing we can do for our children than to ensure they receive their birthright, a love and understanding of nature and a knowledge of their place in it.” Janet Millington

Children – Nature and Nurture

little-girl-readingBy working with nature and not against her, the potential is greater.  For example: one of Australia’s first huge mining towns, Broken Hill, has now become one of the biggest solar generation towns. All it took was an attitude shift.

Young people have heaps of attitude! We can work with their inventive nature as well as nurturing their love of nature. At the recent Illawarra Greenflicks event, we gave out our permaculture fortune tellers to get young people thinking positive about the things that they can do for a better future.

Enriching Programs For Children

There are some great programs for young people to nurture their sense of connection to nature.

Permaculture paper fortune teller
Our Permaculture ‘fortune teller’
  • The Crossing puts sustainability into action for young people to protect and enhance the natural environment. We do this by involving young people in permaculture, landcare and habitat survey on journeys with us.  These journeys can include hiking, canoeing and mountain biking.
  • Pioneering Outdoor Classrooms: CAROLYN NUTTALL and JANET MILLINGTON wrote their book to promote connecting with nature in young school children. “Permaculture is about all aspects of human interaction with the environment. For many reasons, including the reduction of open space and the issues relating to the safety of children and the advances in computers, those afternoons of running free with nature have all but ceased for most children today.”
  • Roman Shapla, a graduate of ours has been developing a Children’s Permaculture Design Course. Anything that is taught to adults can be introduced to children. We just need to allow more time and flexibility in the delivery.
  • Another graduate of ours helped build a highly school permaculture garden in an industrial heartland, Cringilla Primary School has engaged, empowered, informed and active green children.

Start Small and Be Effective

Rose and the big leaf
Big leaf umbrella

One of the permaculture principles taught by Bill Mollison is to start small and be successful. This gives positive feedback, experience and energy to reach for more.  Young people yearn for a better environment. The first steps are to:

  1.  build awareness of their foot-print,
  2.  give young people easy ways to reduce their impact
  3.  give them ways to build a better futureMore familes enjoying nature, children playing outdoors, using garden classrooms, growing food in the cities, making connections

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Do I Need A Rooster?

A Rooster – An Optional Extra

You don’t need a rooster (male chicken) in your flock.  Your hens (females) will live happily without a rooster. Sometimes, a rooster is handy to guard the flock and help solve problems.  But when the claws are out, a rooster is no real protection against predators like wild dogs, quolls, wild cats and foxes.

rooster-defend-chick

A rooster can be a gentle leader. A good rooster helps finds food and he eats after the hens have eaten. A kind rooster will check out the nests for suitability and he sometimes pretends to lay in his efforts to assure the hens. Some roosters may be brave and put themselves in danger to protect his flock.

But beware, many roosters are simply mean and selfish.

Breeding Your Own Chickens

chicken-with-chicksIf you wish to breed your own chickens, you can get a rooster or you can buy fertile eggs.  The main strategy of a breeding program should be to keep the loyal and gentle roosters. Don’t judge a rooster on looks alone. Even if you choose a quiet one, his gentle nature can change if he gets stressed. Watch for aggression and be prepared to cull.

Complicated Relationships

rooster-crow-234x300

Roosters and hens have very complicated relationships.  A rooster will sometimes lie to his hens, clucking the signal “I’ve found food” when actually, he has not found any food and is just drawing them nearer. In these moments the rooster takes advantage of the temporarily puzzled and distracted hen and will mate with her.  The amazing flip-side of this is that the hens nearly always know they are being lied to but choose to play along.

If you are keeping hens in a protected space, safe from dogs and foxes, you don’t need a rooster.  Hens are very happy to lay eggs without having the complication of a rooster.

If you have a rooster, it can be harder to find their hens nests. The hens can go broody often, loose weight and lay less eggs. All the eggs will need careful monitoring for freshness. Be careful, fertile eggs can be laid weeks after a rooster is gone.

World Peace Starts at Home

Few people enjoy the sound of a rooster crowing in the morning. There are laws against these pesky noise disturbances. Find out the laws. If you can’t have a rooster, support a local breeder instead. There are lots of conscientious breeders like Avonstour in New Zealand who would love your support. If you want to breed quiet poultry, breed quail instead.

one word - great

The Permaculture Rooster Works Hard

The Permaculture Rooster has many functions. He keeps alert for dogs, cats, snakes and eagles. He searches for new foods and suitable dust-bathing places. He is hot on the heels of the keeper each morning. He pays attention to where the weed-clearing is to be conducted and will return during the day in case he missed something. [The keeper is careful to define the work-space by throwing some seed or food-scraps]. The keeper can call the rooster when he is needed and the brood will follow.

chickens-weedingThe permaculture rooster works hard in the garden with the flock. He also listens and responds to distress calls from laying hens. He enjoys hiding in the bushes when the flock are resting or taking a bath. The permaculture rooster is camouflaged and on guard in the bushes. He is agile, fit and trim (not so great for eating) and smart.

A happy rooster can live a full 8 or 10 years.  The rooster maintains his dignity yet lets the keeper attend to him if he gets sick or injured. But like all great gurus, he will slow down, and eventually hand over the reins to a younger guy.  When his time is up, his body will make great fertiliser for a young tree. He needs to buried deep so the fox can’t find him.

Gentle Genes Live On

chick_egg

The chicken is one of the most well-traveled, cuddly and functional companions of the human race. The beauty of the chicken in a garden system is it will eat stuff we can’t and shouldn’t eat [like maggots and centipedes].  Chickens can turn also pests into eggs.

The humble egg is the most nutritious source of protein in the garden.
Build your own permaculture system – Enjoy learning permaculture with us.

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Big Bill Chilling – Making Your Rental Home Cozy

Get Yourself Cozy For A Lot Less

Most of the western world spends a third or more of their income on heating and cooling their homes. But in poorer nations, around 3 billion people cook and heat their homes using open fires. Even if we live in a leafy part of the world, where we can grow our own fuel, getting a clean wood-fuel stove is not always an option.
The growing number of people who rent a home can’t use a fuel stove because there is simply no chimney. So, how do we get cozy and cut the continuous big bills? Is natural energy possible in a rental home?

Here’s Mr Bean’s take on the cold – to get the ideas started.

The best energy principle for Cozy Living:
When air moves, it cools down.

How Energy Works For Us:

  1. Air transfers its energy to whatever to hits. When air hits the window, it transfers its warmth to the glass and the glass then transfers energy to outside when the outside is cooler. Energy (via Entropy) likes to go from hot to cold, from order to disorder, from a heat source to the wider universe. If want to stop sending energy to the universe, slow the airflow down by having smaller living spaces (you can use curtains to section off smaller areas in a large open-plan home).
  2. earth_sun_day_fireyThe sun provides a lot of natural light and warmth.  With double glazing, this warmth can be trapped. It is the still air between the two sets of glass panes that provides the insulating layer in double glazing. The insulation is not from the panes. So, if you want to let natural light through but don’t want the heat to escape than any two layers of material ie. recycled bubble-wrap, perspex, fabric will work. If you choose to use a plastic wrap, be aware that it can melt to the glass so put a layer of white curtain up first, then the wrap. A simple white curtain will trap the air between the windowpane and the room and continue to provide light. If you are serious about stopping heat loss at night, you can use a heavy blind or comforter and make sure the edges around the window are well covered. Have a cover over the top to stop warm air rising. A pelmet can be made out of wood, covered cardboard or an extra length of material draped over the curtain tops. Avoid Styrofoam as it kills many animals and never decays. Styrofoam rises from the dead to kill again.
  3. Check the sun’s path for your location. The sun-less windows and walls of your home can be a cold sink where all the heat is zapped. Not much morning sun comes in on the west so there is little or no point in keeping these windows open for natural light unless they are your only morning light source. These are the windows that warrant the most insulation at night.Totnes-(304)Wes_April
  4. People generate a surprising amount of heat. Imagine if we were able to contain this heat and not let it continue to slip out into the universe. Can you modify some of your routine so you get to bed early where it is snug and warm? How can you optimise your access to natural light and warmth?
  5. Gravity can also work for you. The beauty of heavy curtains is that they are self-closing using gravity. You don’t have to constantly ask for people to close the door. And curtains can be easily opened to release excess heat into other rooms of the house. Curtains made out of recycled woolen blankets can be fire-retardant and can be cleaned.
  6. Little John Owner at www.PlantBasedServices.com
    bookcases as insulation

    Insulation stops heat transfer. There are several ways to insulate the home and wood is one of the best insulators and also offers thermal stability. Wood has high R rating and great thermal stability. If the walls are not to be tampered with [possibly because they have toxic paint or asbestos in them] then you can use internal wood paneling. The thicker the wooden panels, the better the thermal mass. If you don’t own the home, you can build or salvage a lot of tall timber bookcases and fill them with books. (Be careful to attach the bookcases so they won’t fall forward).

  7. beauty-of-thermal-massGet the right amount of thermal mass. Thermal mass is not a substitute for insulation, it is the home’s air-energy battery.  Too much mass can mean the room can take forever to heat up or cool down. Do the calculations to find the right amount of thermal mass for you climate and room sizes. Experiment with your thermal mass by adding thermal mass objects one piece at a time.
  8. Air moves from high density to less density. Any passing breezes will suck out air in the house. It is not uncommon to see people stand and chat with their front door open. An open door can act like vacuum, sucking out any heat within. If you are lucky to have a door that is in a sunny spot – you can boost your natural energy source by installing a little greenhouse on the door – the greenhouse door will cut drafts (by creating an air-lock) AND the greenhouse will help heat your house. Your greenhouse airlock can be as light as a tent and made out of recycled plastic (like packaging for furniture) or glass, can be relocated to your next home. Alternatively, you could make the airlock out of white curtain material and a waterproof roof. The main aim of an attached greenhouse is stop airflow and let natural light through.

Simple Steps to Cut Your Heat and Money Losses

  1. Nature Knows How - Soft TechnologyRug up in the living room. Wear warm clothes but make sure the visitors are cozy too. You can offer your visitors some wraps and slippers. Permaculture is about building a sustainable culture.  Building a culture that is cozy and fun for everyone is more likely to be sustainable. If you are having lots of visitors, it is great to share a cozy fire and if we use big theatrical style curtains to slow the air flow, the visitors can also enjoy the warm atmosphere.
  2. Try using a trombe wall.  You can make a trombe wall out of thermal mass like a heavy timber bench seat positioned in a sunny window  “A Trombe Wall made from the local mud and brick offers better relief from the smoke and the cold.”
  3. nz-greenhouseLook up and look down. Many people forget that heat is also lost through the ceiling and floor. Low ceilings are easier to heat than high ceilings. If you have a high ceiling, make sure it is insulated and install a fan that can be reversed in winter to push warm air back down. Check all sky lights are well sealed and consider getting double glazing on them.
  4. An extra floor pad with high thermal mass is useful where the sun can shine upon it.   If you can’t insulate the floor, you can use lots of rugs underfoot to stop drafts.
  5. Install a solar heating system that can go in through a window. Support manufacturers who use recycled components e.g. CanSolAir solar furnaces. A ‘floating floor’ can be used as a low-cost low-thermal-mass large-area heater. It canraditor bench seat could have solar hot water pipes contain pipes that are heated. The heating can be done outdoors by the sun. You can even use recycled pipe, a compost pile, or tank that is heated by a slow outdoor burner. A floating floor would be tricky to take with you, but something like a bench seat above it could be handy and fun. The pipes could be a simple coil of black pipe that sits outside the window and comes in through the window via a modified wooden panel with holes for the pipe inlet and outlet.

Turn your Savings into Investments

solar-raysWe don’t need to suffer the cold and we don’t have to suffer big bills.  There are lots of options for getting cozy. The first focus would be to reducing the losses.

Once your energy losses are cut, you can evaluate how much heating you need.  Invest your savings in energy from nature like capturing the warmth from the sunny windows onto thermal mass or getting solar heating piped in through a modified window pane. These tools and skills are transportable and can travel with you to your next home.

Cutting your big bills gets you the resources to build a sustainable future.

We enjoy our solar hot water radiators
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Design An Awesome Lifestyle.

Don’t Wait for Magic or Luck

Prosperity comes from clever design.

time_and_tide_permaculturevisionsLearn how to grow food. Find the difference between organic gardening and permaculture living. Design to use natural energy in your living and workplaces. Build community. Get a good grounding in permaculture  with a combination of theory and on-site learning. Get the lifestyle your really want by doing a course to build your planning and design skills.

Are you bursting to do something positive to help stem climate change? This course is for those who are ready for an empowered, permaculture lifestyle and want to get the skills to make that happen.

“What permaculturists are doing is (some of) the most important activity that any group is doing on the planet. We don’t know what the details of a truly sustainable future are going to be like, but we need options. We need people experimenting in all kinds of ways and permaculturists are one of the critical groups that are doing that”. ~Dr. David Suzuki, Geneticist, Renowned Environmentalist and Broadcaster

Permaculture_Design_before_after

This twelve-day intensive retreat covers everything from exploring the relationship between our health and soil health to finding social strategies – it’s a course filled with permaculture concepts, knowledge, techniques and practice. The overall goal is always to build a better future for all.

How To Create A Better Future

Turn Your Dreams Into Functional Designs.

not-what-you-have-but-how-you-use-it

The first step in enriching our lives is to take stock of what we have left. The planet will survive, but mankind’s habitat is challenged. So, What do we really want and what do we need? What people need is pretty simple (yet surprisingly delicate). How can we determine if it’s gone or going?

What Do YOU Really Wish For?

We all need clean air, clean water, clean soil, genetic material. Most of us also desire freedom, a sense of purpose, connection with nature and connection with others.

A permaculture course gives us skills to measure, interact, design and protect what we have and enrich that which needs.

In Permaculture Sydney’s Course you will learn:

  • ryan sunflowers2

    Permaculture topics as taught by Bill Mollison. We ensure the Designers Manual is fully covered as the main curriculum

  • an abundance of extra resources and topics to support the main curriculum and provide variable perspectives of the main topics
  •  specialist expertise and knowledge (drawing on the strengths of trainers) with a range of experienced quality trainers to cover topics of the Permaculture Design Certificate in which they have
  • theory and practice of permaculture with a range of delivery styles and methods throughout the course including small group work, one to one work, lecture style sessions and whole group discussions
  • A real life, whole design process from interviewing the client, formulating the brief, gathering data for the site, developing a design and finally presenting the design
  • specialist and specific design exercises as well as total design exercises
  • a swag of essential designers skills and knowledge

Our courses are a bit longer than others – so we can ensure we make it the best possible experience for you. PSI honors the two-week intensive Permaculture Design Certificate course format traditionally designed by Bill Mollison. We believe our format produces the best possible outcomes and learning experience for participants as it was designed to do.

Permaculture Sydney Institute aims to provide the participants with both the skills and the confidence to start “doing it” themselves. We guarantee participants will be able to go home and do what they have learned in the course. Permaculture Sydney Institute is committed to quality education, quality outcomes and quality of life for each participant. Follow up contact and support for graduates is also provided after the course.

 

Course Outcomes

Once completed the Permaculture Design Certificate participants will

  1. Have a through understanding of Permaculture and its theory, ethics, principles and techniques and why it is critical in obtaining a truly sustainable society
  2. Know how to design and create a permaculture system in both town or country settings
  3. Have acquired the skills and confidence to proceed on their own garden design and construction (with some help of their Permaculture group and friends)
  4. Be familiar with the design process from client interview to presentation of design
  5. Have professional options for Permaculture including ones own Pc business
  6. Have acquired some practical design skills required for construction e.g.: map & landscape reading, marking contours and making swales and other criteria.

Your Investment
Permaculture Sydney Institute is able to offer course participants a flexible fee scale depending what type of accommodation you choose and your personal situation. Remember, the venue is a beautiful country retreat so whatever accommodation type you choose you will be doing the most important course of your life in a fantastic setting. You couldn’t ask for more.

ENROL HERE

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Learning Outside Boosts Learning Within

 Step Outside and Enhance Your Learning

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Walking and being outdoor changes the brain. Students can become more creative, more observant and less stressed. There are many benefits for the students and the educators to step outside.

Sadly, teachers have a lot of administrative pressures. They have to ensure that they address the many areas of the curriculum. We can support teachers by offering them studies that explain which part of the curriculum the outdoor activities meet. Being outdoors boosts our physical and mental health.

Health, Movement & Exploration

Connecting children with nature reduces more harmonytheir stress. It also increases the chance of nature being less stressed by human impact. Connections with nature enable a child to understand how nature works and builds empathy for others and their respect for the natural environment on which their lives depend.

Nature-based activities can enrich the learning program. We can even go one step further and design an amazing garden class-room.

Nature-based Games & Activities

Rose and the big leafNature-based games are as old as …?

The process of re-discovering and developing nature-based games can be a lesson in history and creativity. What did children play with before plastic toys became abundant? This is a wonderful opportunity to build imagination. Encourage the children be part of this re-discovery.

unusual-foodsActivities include weather observations, seed-raising, ‘mini-beasts’ or ‘micro-creature’ measurements and mapping of their web-of-life, drawing and classification (worms, insects). Science experiments about pH, cooking and cultural discussions about food, hygiene and disease, microscopic adventures about fungi and bacteria, research into origins of medicinal plants and much more.

In the garden children can use tall sticks (ie. banana stems, sugarcane, sunflowers, artichokes, sage) as structural material to build tipis, towers or sculptures. The garden classroom can be a great resource for learning about aboriginal houses or traditional home structures, building and shelters. edible-basketWhether you build a full-size replica or models, the children learn how to use genuine natural resources like poles and natural rope.

Weaving with edible plant material (especially from strong vines like kiwi-fruit and passion-fruit) is a meditative and mathematical activity.  Food plants provide healthy, low allergy weaving and building materials.

What is brown and sticky? A stick of course!

Storytelling and Story writing

The range of light levels within a  garden allows children to find their ideal light level to suit their reading, writing and working. Storytelling in an open space can be difficult in the city if there is a lot of environment noise, or it can become a theatrical challenge. The garden classroom can designed to amplify the production. Outdoors, the story-teller has an excuse to dramatise the text in order to be heard.

The garden classroom is a fresh and ever-evolving space full of material for story writing. Children can explore new ways to tell a story or better grasp old poetry, the importance of traditional story-telling, the tribal ‘sense of place’, the dreamtime and ancient maps.

But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head, 
And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer, 
And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed, 
While the others stood and watched in very fear. [Banjo Paterson]

How Can We Design a Garden-Classroom

Apply Fundamental Permaculture Design Principles

bumble_bee_yellow_flowerPermaculture principles are a valuable tool to apply to learning and can guide our design of a productive learning space. There are various permaculture principles but here we can examine two of the fundamental permaculture principles:

1. Every element provides many functions
2. Every function is met by many elements.

For example:  a simple letter-box/mail-box is an element. It collects the mail, displays a house number, is a guidepost in heavy weather. It can also support a vine or can be, albeit unwittingly, an insect or arachnid  home. One of these  functions (the less desirable one) of ‘housing insects’ can be supported by various other elements i.e. hollow trees, bee boxes or the neighbours letter-boxes :>

1. Every Element provides many Functions

2. Every Function is met by many Elements

Permaculture Principles in the Learning Space:

  1. goddess-treeEvery Element in the learning space
    provides many Functions

    One of the elements in an outdoor space is a shade-tree. This shade tree can provide many other functions: wind and rain protection, leaf litter for mulch, poles, habitat for wildlife, a structure to hang a swing or decorative artworks, a play space.

  2. Etipi with edible vinesvery Function in the learning space met by many Elements.

    The function –  shade, can be  supported by many  other elements. We can use deciduous trees, domes, tipis frames with woven vines , suspended shade material (recycled sheets can be used), sun hats and/or umbrellas.  Children may enjoy painting and erecting old sheets or drop-cloths as an art project to add colour to the space. Poles can be gathered from fallen or pruned branches of nearby trees. Using recycled materials and resources from nature builds empowerment and problem solving.

have a giving spiritIdeally, the process of design consults the school staff, the community and the children. The design needs to be able to adapt to the changing community needs. Consulting the stakeholders helps us define the elements desired. Work with the shape of the land and do a full permaculture design with the confidence of knowing that compost resources will be abundant if the children deposit their food scraps and the garden. Maintenance workers can provide some weaving material as well as mulching material such as grass clippings.

Permaculture design for community garden

Engaging Community

pride in growing food and sharingThe school garden may be one the few green spaces in a city. Many of the residents near the school welcome the opportunity to participate in growing food, creating a beautiful gardens with the children and increasing habitat for birds and native bees.

Encourage the community to find ways to safely integrate adult participation. Perhaps the adults are active in a separate area at a separate time to the children. Hopefully there will be times when the whole community can come together to plant trees or tend the garden or celebrate the harvest.

“Now, you’re talking!”

coffee tree flowersThere are some food plants that get adults truly motivated. These include such as coffee bean and green-tea bushes, native foods (bush tucker and survival foods), culinary flowers and spices. If you are lucky to have immigrants living in your area, invite them to share their stories about food and spices and how it is traditionally grown and used.

What is brown and sticky? A stick of course!

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. … There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
— Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

 

 

 

 

Transport: Driving Us Further Apart

The Tyranny of Distance

earth_sun_day_fireyThe world population grows every second.  As the density increases each of us gets physically closer to one another.  Very few of us remain are truly remote.  And yet, most of us are more reliant than ever on transport for work, goods, services, education, vacations and relationships.

Why do we travel more and travel further? Is eco-transport the solution or will expectations simply match capacity to travel. Can we change this culture of transport to cut the mileage and build true sustainability?

On Being Distant

chinese-pedlar-ming-dynasty-chicago-museum_2The more wealth a person accumulates, the more distant they become. They need more storage and display space. This bigger wealthy living space creates their physical separation from society. But this is not the only force driving the wealthy apart. The huge growth in sales for solo entertainment and exercise gadgets adds to the pressure for space.  Self-driving cars will simply encourage us to travel further and longer.  Wealthy consumers have a reducing need to share. Perhaps they will enjoy the lower risk of catching germs in public spaces and a reduced potential to be the target of any uncomfortable village gossip. But there is a serious downside to this excess.

In this hedonistic space no-one can hear you scream.

fostering a love of animals helps children develop empathy and understanding of nature.

A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. .. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison ..We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive. Albert Einstein, 1954

Future of Eco-Transport

Transport in the future will be more efficient not just because fuel may become more expensive but because the pollutants from each vehicle need to be cooler. Automobiles are a major contributor to climate change. So, each automobile needs to be cleaner and used more wisely. The average car sits idle, quietly depreciating, 92 percent of the time.

bikeBicycles are the most efficient form of transport and it is great how major cities like Copenhagen and London have built bicycle superhighways. Of course, public transport is easier for most commuters and freight companies. Rail is especially good for long distances. A lot of governments have been forging new public transit technologies. Shipping is the most efficient means of transporting goods and cruise ships are enjoying an era of renewal for long distance travel. Cars rank very low in transport efficiency.

Cars of the future will need to be:

  • car of futureModular. We could make cars as small as necessary and able to linked to one another as required.
  • Fully Biodegradable. Steel is biodegradable and some new plastics can be made out of very tough natural materials.
  • Durable
  • Able to fixed easily. When items are able to be fixed simply, they have a far greater chance of durability. If you break down in a rare vehicle, be prepared to wait longer for someone to know how to fix it and have the parts.
  • Classic and functional yet beautiful in design. Beauty enables a vehicle to be treasured much longer than its peak performance period.
  • Self-analysing and self-repairing.  Living modes of transport such as horses are self-repairing if well maintained.

Permaculture is Not Idyllic Country Living

The ideal permaculture home does not sit in isolation. When we are sharing and giving to family, to neighbours, to the community, to our society, we build a more peaceful world.

Culture Shift To Reduce Transport Needs

There are three ways to modify our behaviour to reduce our need to travel.
1. Be Proud – celebrate local foods and services 2. Be Creative 3. Share

1. Celebrate Local Production

pride

Local produce fits the climate so it usually has less chemical inputs, is more nutritious because it is fresher (has not been transported far) and supports local workers.

2. Creative and Inventive

Being creative means we find ways to solve the problem that have local resources. It can be as simple as finding an alternative utensil for a task rather than buying another tool imported from a foreign country.

3. Sharing

Permaculture leader, David Holmgren says: sharing a ride will double your efficiency, instantly. When we share more, we need less storage space and get better neighbours. If that’s not possible ask yourself: why live in the kind of area that people don’t appreciate sharing?

Sharing can be:sharing-over-fence

  • Formal like hiring a car or a suit, or paying for local food
  •  Informal like barter or offering a neighbour a lift, lending them a car or giving them an old bike. The building of trust can start with just a friendly cup of sugar when they have run low.
  • Semi-formalised like local exchange currency trading, business barter systems, and selling/recycling goods on eBay, gum-tree.

Sharing and giving reduces our need to travel. It builds trust within relationships, neighbourhood goodwill and peaceful communities. People who enjoy each other’s company are more likely to make fun at home together rather than feel the need to travel to see friends.

Join us in a permaculture course online or on Permaculture Design Course Retreat.

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