Friday, October 26, 2007

10 reasons to live more sustainably

1. you'll feel better and be healthier (outdoors more often, walking more, smiling more, worrying about money less)

2. you'll eat better - nothing, I repeat NOTHING you buy in a shop will beat the taste or quality of organically grown food straight from your garden

3. you'll have more time to enjoy the small things (remember how you keep promising yourself you'll stop and smell the roses? - well you'll have time now)

4. you'll spend more time with your family - finding interesting ways to spend time with each other and not just automatically jumping in the car and driving to the local shopping centre for entertainment

5. you won't have to work as much - living sustainably means stepping off that horror merry go round that is consumerism and materialism

6. you'll feel more content and happy inside

7. you'll lose weight

8. you're relationships will improve (because you will be in a better mood)

9. less stress, you don't need to keep up with the Jones' anymore and you're teaching your kids valuable skills

10. A typical lazy Sunday... breakfast is fresh organic eggs, home grown tomatoes, home grown coffee (you're own blend - ours is 'Raintreeforest blend'), home made bread sitting on the deck looking over your beautiful abundant garden that's full of birds, flowers and food... a freshly picked huge salad for lunch with more shades of green than you can possibly imagine topped with colourful edible flowers and dinner is a delicious pumpkin curry made with your own pumpkin, tumeric, chillies, limes, and curry leaves shared with friends and finishing up with a glass or two of organic local wine in front of your beautiful slow combustion/stove/cooktop/water heater... beat that!

Being sustainable is not about sitting in the dark, freezing and being hungry - we just didn't want everyone to know how good it really is.


Communities around the world are uniting and working on solutions to peak oil and thereby by default almost climate change. The Sunshine Coast is one of those communities - all thanks to the www.

International solutions - already happening in Kinsale Ireland and the UK through the Transition Towns Network (of which the Sunshine Coast is a proud member).

In the US & Canada
Post Carbon Institute
Global Public Media
Relocalisation Network
Post Carbon Cities
Community Solutions

Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia solutions
Australia’s first energy descent action planning course which resulted in….
Australia’s first energy descent action plan
World’s first climate change & peak oil community education centre
Australia’s first Transition Town

Sunshine Coast action
Sunshine Coast Energy Action Centre SEAC
Courses – Time for an Oil Change, upcoming weekend intensives, re-skilling
Relocalisation networks
Presentations & workshops
Film screenings
Community meetings and workshops
Local action groups
Energy Descent Action Plan
Community projects
Expos, events

What you can do
Prepare your home & family for energy descent
Support an Oil Depletion Protocol
Write to politicians
Join or start your own relocalisation group
Join or start a local action group
Join with other like minded people in your community
Join or start your own sustainability group
Get together with people in your street
Organise a film screening and or workshop
Attend events
Support others
Get involved
Become informed
Have your say
Demand action from decision-makers
Be part of the solution
Act now

Long time no blog

Gee, this blogging thing is harder than I expected - such committment. Been off line with family things etc...
Anyhoo, I'm back for another posting.

The whole juggernaut that is peak oil/climate change/drought/overpopulation/peak food/food miles/food prices/fuel prices... just keeps gaining momentum and media coverage. Talk today by the Treasurer of an economic tsunami too.

When will people start to really stand up and demand action and just as importantly take action?

There are some promising signs. The GetUp! group are gaining in popularity and doing a darn good job of connecting the community with politics.

I'm also heartened when I receive an email or talk to a former student and find they have had an 'aha' moment and are making some serious changes in their lives. Just one person really can make a difference - and speaking of just one person...

I picked up the latest UK Permaculture Magazine recently - well latest for Australia, but an edition or two behind the UK - and found another great article by Rob Hopkins on Peak Oil and Transition Towns - really inspiring stuff and I'd urge you if you're in Australia to keep an eye out for it or ask for it at your local newsagent.

There is such a lot we can all do - I hope people start to feel empowered and go looking for solutions.

Tomorrow morning I'm running a free composting/worm farming workshop at the local community gardens - with a big emphasis on peak oil, oil in food, food miles, methane, landfill etc etc and on Sunday morning we have our bi-monthly Relocalisation Group meeting.

It's only been going a few months and already we have a fresh food share/sell/exchange thing going, a bulk food buying ordering system, next on the agenda is a seed saving course and following that a seed saving network across the region and lastly, we're having our first home food production working bee in early November at one of the group member's houses.

All that from just putting a home made flyer up at the local shops and asking people to meet in a park at a certain date and time.

Wednesday night I'm at the local permaculture group meeting talking about peak oil and climate change solutions and what people can do.

It's a lot for me to take on, plus run my own 2.25 acres, plus work part-time (unfortunately this kind of stuff doesn't pay), plus study part-time, plus try to have a bit of a life - but now it's started and I see such enthusiasm in the community for just this type of action, I don't think I could walk away now anyway.

Always lovely to read your kind comments...


Sunday, October 7, 2007

People are asking - what can I do?

The Sunshine Coast Energy Action Centre (SEAC) has been lucky enough to receive some attention in the local media lately. We jumped on the bandwagon of a front page story in our state newspaper about peak oil and sent out a media release about what we are doing and the action planning already happening here.

Thankfully the journalist who was assigned our story had a good understanding of peak oil and the environment and we received some great coverage.

A cheesy photo didn’t hurt either - for any of you who saw it! [It was Janet and I in the garden at the Blue House with a basket full of eggs urging people “not to put all their eggs in one basket” when it comes to peak oil!]

The Sunshine Coast Environment Council, our local environmental organisation, also expressed an interest in what we were doing a couple of months ago and they gave us good coverage in their popular free newspaper Eco News, which happened to hit the streets in the same week.

I’ve since received a few calls and emails, some local, some from interstate, generated by the stories and I’m trying to really observe and listen to what people are saying and asking for.

I try to do the same thing at the Sunshine Coast Energy Action Centre every Saturday morning when we are open to the public and also in the Time for an Oil Change course.

What is it that people want to know right now about these issues?

We (those of us creating groups, networks, educating and communicating on these topics) will only succeed if we are meeting the needs of the community – and that requires good listening skills and some empathy and understanding of people. Otherwise we are only there for our own needs and that will no doubt lead to failure.

I’m trying to piece together bits of the public mood to get a picture of what’s happening.

Here what I think seems to be happening…

People want leadership – at all levels, they want someone to lead the way, someone they trust, someone who has already taken a few steps in the right direction (either tentatively or confidently). Someone who makes sense and offers them something tangible and practical, yet significant enough to move beyond the ‘change the lightbulb and I’ve done my bit’, the ‘I’ve got energy efficient appliances in my kitchen, so I have enough money to travel to Europe every year’ or the ‘someone else will do something about it’ mentality that I’m concerned is starting to set in.

Climate change & peak oil are issues of great magnitude and we must face the fact that life is going to change – a lot. We will experience a ‘death’ of our current lives and all the emotions that process entails.

To move toward the future, to be inspired and to truly grasp the great opportunities on offer, we must firstly let go of our ‘old’ lives.

Al Gore talks about moving from fear directly to despair and not choosing the action and empowerment path.

I’ve just sat through What The Bleep Do We Know? again, it’s such an inspiring film. It’s about quantum physics and it’s presented in such an engaging and interesting way, it leaves you pondering the meaning of life, but will a tiny taste of what might be possible.

What are the infinite possibilities of our minds and of our actions?

We create our reality and our thoughts, our actions all have consequences in creating that reality.

We are creating the future right now. Our choices either move us forward (hence the term ‘quantum leap’ perhaps?) or they keep us on the same old treadmill of repeating past mistakes (‘business as usual’ thoughts).

We can choose to be distracted by television, fear, sport, war, addictions, shopping, materialism, or the economy.

Or we can strip all that away and choose to take that quantum leap.

It’s not that hard.

So… what have I found out?

People are looking for a map, a guide, a pathway forward. Aside from permaculture we don’t have a lot and that requires making the leap of taking permaculture beyond food production.

Richard Heinberg offers solutions forward, and these parallel and complement permaculture thinking.

But, some people just don’t like the term ‘permaculture’. It brings to mind images of messy, weed infested gardens, ‘dirty hippies’, environmental disasters… Unfortunately, few people take the time to truly understand the nature of permaculture and to learn that it’s what you make it – you want a tidy, neat permaculture garden – then create one! It’s about observing and understanding systems, systems thinking and bio-mimicry design not weeds and being lazy.

Perhaps one of the answers to these problems of action (or inaction) is that…

…there is no map, no path for what you want to do. They are resources, ideas, support, networks and other ways people have done their thing, such as the relocalisation networks, but nothing that will tell you what you need to do; only you and your family, your community, your workplace and your society can work that out. No maps, no guidebook. Just start. Take the first step, but make it quick, we’re rapidly running out of time.

To move beyond the fear, paralysis and feelings of being overwhelmed that you may be feeling, you can choose to act.

It doesn’t matter what that action is – you will be guided by your time, financial and personal commitments and your skills, experience and expertise.

But there will be something you can do. Just do it quickly, as we are running out of time.

Try visualising what you would like your home, community, your street, your job, your life to look like in the post carbon future.

Keep it within a framework of sound ethics, morals and principles (permaculture has some nice ideas in this area) and you’re well on your way.

Understand that not everyone will be as passionate about, or understand what it is you’re doing. But I bet other people out there will grab hold of it and add their energy to it. Plus, you’ll learn a lot about community facilitation and governance along the way – guaranteed!

Build it and they will come. Lead and others will follow. Re-educate yourself. Don’t say ‘I will’, say ‘I am’ – bring the action into the present and make it happen.

It will take your time, your energy, your commitment and perhaps some of your money – there will be times when things go well and times when things go really well!

Start doing what needs to be done today – there is no time like the present (unless of course you discover those parallel quantum universes and can tap into them!)

Be Bold, Be Unique, Break the Mold. Start carving your path through climate change & peak oil to a better future – I bet people will be right behind you before you know it.

Local successful business owner Bob Cameron has created Australia’s first commercial sustainable building. It collects all its own energy and water. No water leaves the property, instead it is treated, reclaimed and then grows organic food for the staff. It’s become a tourist attraction with people flocking from around the world to see this amazing example of business success that is truly green.

Bob says; “People say there is a water and energy crisis… there isn’t. All we’ve got is a crisis of logic.”