Monday, November 2, 2009

Two New Blogs

This blog has now been split into two and renamed as follows:

1. The more theoretical blog Permapoesis, which gives air to my poetics, critical writing, art and research.

2. The more pragmatic blog Garden Notes for Relocalisation, notes which began in October 2008.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The end of its digital life

This blog has come to the end of its digital life. It is in decomposition mode, readying itself for a regeneration, somewhere else. 

The themes of this blog have centred around cyclical time, chance, non-hierarchy, composting, self-sufficiency, radical other, permapoesis, excrement, regeneration, future scenarios, heirloom vegetables, distributed gender, distributed populations, cities as stasis, pop-fascism, agents for waste, loving humans, lovers of wild nature, disembodied centrists, the artist as family, and of course permaculture, energy descent and climate change.

Thanks for reading. Please click "next blog" above to find out what the picture means below. 

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Growing our own

It will astound most people to realise that a visit to the supermarket to buy food is a greater threat to our environment than all the pollution caused by coal fired power stations. Nearly 30% of the CO2 in our atmosphere is caused by us not growing our own food. Non-renewable energy is used to plough the fields, harvest and process the crop and take it to market. The fertilisers, pesticides and weed killers used to grow the crop are derived from oil. In fact 75% of the energy that is used to grow our food occurs once it has left the farm. The kitchen fridge uses more energy than the farm tractor. In some areas more energy is used to drive to the supermarket than is used on the farm. Up to 25% of the energy is consumed in wasteful packaging. Clive Blazey, Digger's Seeds

This week I planted 8 rhubarb shoots among indigenous grasses along the top of the dry-stone wall. You can't see them, their hiding in the mulch. Rhubarb likes well-drained soil and will grow in full-shade to full-sun conditions. Abundant for breakfasts or desserts for much of the year.

Also planted in aged, thick bush mulch are our broad beans. Frost hardy, their young leaves make a great winter salad. We collected our broad bean seeds from our brilliant crop last year. No money spent, just working within a system of cyclical regeneration, rather than linear death – supermarkets, wage-slavery, et al.

You can never go back to supermarket eggs after caring for your own chooks. They make great family friends. We free-range ours and pen in our vegies. Their shit is as golden as their eggs in a simple system of ecological-economics; circulatory reciprocity. No packaging -much goodness.

Digger's heirloom seeds are sowed tightly in this bed, and will be planted out later when the seedlings are bigger and our new raised beds are built. We typically get about 85-95% success rate with their seeds. A range of seeds including garlic, elephant leek, kale, snap peas, silverbeet, cos lettuce, spinach and broccoli.

The shed of interrelation, SOI (in progress). This will soon become our artist-in-residence shed for budding permies.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A good friend

Every morning at about nine and again at about eleven I call on my friend here. While tea is all the rage I celebrate my old-schoolness, black no sugar.

When I mentioned to a friend a while ago that we will quickly need to cease our reliance on the transportation of goods and resources he agreed, however added that there should be a few exceptions like spices and other things only grown in the tropics. We white people can be so flexible with our ethics. My preferred bean comes from Goroka in Papua New Guinea, owned and operated by locals and is certified organic by NASSA.

Of course the exceptions will soon be determined for us by energy descent and climate change. These luxurious days are numbered.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Kenneth Davidson

Gertrude Stein warned the young and egotistical Ernest Hemingway that "if you keep on doing newspaper work you will never see things, you will only see words". I think this is a brilliant summary of journalists in general, but not so Kenneth Davidson who steps down as a senior columnist with The Age this week. Here's my letter they didn't publish in his honour –

Kenneth Davidson will be truly missed. Over his career he has painfully witnessed and brilliantly critiqued Mussolini's definition of fascism – the merger of state and corporate power – coming into full effect in Victoria under the Kennett, Bracks and Brumby governments. Very few journalists have so doggedly reported on the wasting away of public assets to benefit private interests at the expense of the environment, and therefore our future communities. With pop culture – endless festivals, grand prixs, touring spectacles – our attention is easily drawn away from years of democratic erosion. Thanks Kenneth for helping us remain informed and clear-eyed.

Davidson's last column on water is a cracker. He'll continue to submit articles to The Age and co-edit D!SSENT magazine.

We at the Garden of Self Defence salute you KD!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Seven days of recuperation

Seven days in Blackwood, offline, setting out a new work, dozing in front of the fire, hanging out with my grand girl, reading Val Plumwood, David Holmgren, Derrick Jensen, David Graeber, Gertrude Stein and Joseph Jenkins' Humanure Handbook; seven days of recuperation with fellow, delicious rat-bags; seven oxygenating late-afternoon walks before beer o'clock.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Processes of circularity

I'm in the early stages of writing a work on regenerating community for an RMIT conference later in the year. Here is my first thesis and a quote from Val Plumwood to give an idea where this work is heading.

Thesis One. It is not possible for communities to regenerate when their systems are based upon linear, aggregate-growth economics. Regeneration is embedded in the processes of ecological circularity – the sharing of resources.
In Western thinking, in contrast [to Aboriginal thinking], the human is set apart from nature as radically other. Religions like Christianity must then seek narrative continuity for the individual in the idea of an authentic self that belongs to an imperishable realm above the lower sphere of nature and animal life. The eternal soul is the real, enduring, and identifying part of the human self, while the body is animal and corrupting. But transcending death this way exacts a great price; it treats the earth as a lower, fallen realm, true human identity as outside nature, and it provides narrative continuity for the individual only in isolation from the cultural and ecological community and in opposition to a person's perishable body. Val Plumwood

Saturday, July 4, 2009

We are melancholic since the picture plane invention of prisons. (Graeber, McLuhan)

Play is all we have to treat our progressive pathologies. And so why do our children, who bring so much joy, also make us sad? Perhaps because they make us adults, perpetual servants to reason.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A greenhorn

to be a novice or

amateur at life ;to dip in ,to string along (
sometimes hammering but generally smoothing what soft people call '
personal truth' –

revision ;)

means we can act ,get up and at a given moment after despair
ask? before answering in a straight line

:great" even walk out if we need to some of us have had t.o

after the kill and after the feed and after the shitful shitty ol crap .ew

reclamation )again

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Nick Keys at Collective Wealth

astrid had been talking incessantly about the alpacas, but we were yet to see one. i think she has been in love with them ever since we went to an alpaca farm in tasmania, where a rotund man with a grey bushrangers-beard talked breathlessly as he showed us around, emphasising the parental advantages of alpaca cria over human babies in between an information-stream about the minutiae of alpaca farming. a wide-eyed astrid soaked up every last detail and will recall them at any given opportunity. actually, she was sweet on alpacas before that, but the visit to the farm certainly consecrated the affection. read on.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Shed of Interrelation (part three)

Meg and I insulated and plastered the ceiling of the Shed of Interrelation (SoI) today. You're looking at the small bathroom where a bath and composting toilet will go. The shed is for artists/writers-cum-woofers to take short residencies and rest, make art and work a little in the garden. The shed is a place to encourage transitional thinking in the arts, to encourage permapoesis where art and organic food generation are embedded activities.

In the meantime our winter seeds are rocking. Heirloom elephant leek, garlic, silverbeet fordhook, pak choy, sweet pea, broad beans, broccoli, carrots, black kale, spinach, spring onions, beetroot, baby cos lettuce and cabbage mini. Meg and I were discussing today how many families could potentially be living on this quarter acre in 10-20 years. I think it could feed about 15-18 people in the Summer months and maybe 10-12 in Winter. 

I'm looking down on young banksias and heavily mulched areas with lomandras, poa tussocks, broad beans, almonds, olives, peaches and my chain-sawed eucalyptus balls. The dry stone HaHa wall back-filled with rubble allows for water to pass through it without disturbing the integrity of the wall. You can also see a little of the social warming fence. We persuaded our neighbours not to have a fence that lined the whole boundary, but just enough to have a little more privacy. They also agreed that I could build it as a slatted fence, again for social warming properties. Of course the water tank finishes the picture and finishes an often quoted mantra on this blog spoken by Cuban permaculturalist Roberto Perez at our town hall last year–
Grow your own food, catch your own water, say hello to your neighbour.

Here's a pic of the main house showing flying fox route and solar panels. I'm also showing off my deck building skills here. Split level decks are party decks. You often hear of them collapsing and killing a dozen stomping teenagers, that's why this one is low to the ground. 

I love Zeph's cubby as much as he does. Apart from the obvious – cute, small, red, up-in-the-air – it frost protects our toms. Meg collected another basket full last week. Almost unbelievably the fruit was still ripening despite the plants having died weeks ago. They're not great, but fine for cooking up. You can also see the beginning of the flying fox route and the tail end of the social warming fence. The bed in front of it will be the kick-arse rhubarb patch. Rhubarb is year-round gold for food gardeners. I remember my Dad's awesome patch when I was Zeph's age.

And, finally a place very dear to my heart – the compost area. Underneath the new window of the Shed of Interrelation is a herb bed that's doing OK, but I have decided to dig them out and extend the compost bays to three. We'll also have the humanure from the dry worm composting toilet. Therefore we can have four brews at four different stages. I'm so excited about this. The building of the Shed of Interrelation has already led to so many possibilities, even before the first resident.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Chewers Borers Suckers

A friend of mine has some justifiable problems with the word 'permanent' and its use in the portmanteau 'permaculture' and in my portmanteaus 'permaplay' and 'permapoesis'. He writes:
I was reading Holmgren's 'Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability' last night and read a couple of passages which took me back to our brief exchange about the word permaplay, permaculture etc., and in particular to my mild general objection to the word 'permanent'. So I noted these passages when I read them: xxx "Even the idea of permanence at the heart of permaculture is problematic to say the least." And, xxvii 'The limitation of this concept of sustainable culture is that it suggests some stable state that we might arrive at sometime soon (by applying permaculture principles)".
It goes without saying that individual life is temporary. Cultures, however, are more ongoing. They are mutable and transforming, but ongoing. Some last longer than others, but of course no culture is totally permanent in a literal sense. The ones that last longer directly participate in, or mimic closely, natural systems. We can say these cultures are more permanent than others. The ones that die out more quickly have generally adopted linear, anti-ecological philosophies and economics based upon social divisiveness and relations of avoidance. As I've often quoted, the Dja Dja Wurrung lived in these parts for 40,000 years and aboriginal culture continues to survive in areas of Australia where their genocide was less fierce. Aboriginal culture is based on relations of common substance, they see themselves as contiguous with the world. If you compare continuous Aboriginal culture to our own, you can say it is permanent and ours is not, despite the fact that we have done everything in our power to make their culture impermanent like ours. We see ourselves as exclusive and separated, the corollaries of which (dioxins, warheads, plutonium, DDT) brand our culture abstract, fantastical and impermanent.

If you interpret the word 'permanent' in the above three portmanteaus as meaning 'static' or 'fixed' you've missed the point. Permanent here implies mutability. Nothing exists for very long in a rigid state. The most controlling regimes are generally the most vulnerable to collapse. Immutability equates to impermanency. The steady-state of a forest implies a forest in active, cyclical momentum, where everything is taken up by chewers, borers or suckers, used for life, excreted, only to be taken up and used again in a never ending cycle. The steady-state of a forest can only be mutable. Its health relies on constant change, active reciprocity and chance encounters. A natural ecology, operating within a non-hierarchical, closed-cycle where every organism is a participant, is what a modern permaculture mimics at a systems level. 

Our culture is currently predominated by post-structuralist philosophy: post-modernism. "Keep moving, even in place keep moving." (Gilles Deleuze). Post-moderns brought us some better thinking about race and gender and sexuality, and brilliantly critiqued the modernist male bully, but all this has done little to mitigate our abusive impermaculture. In fact our culture's aggression has only intensified over the past 30 years. Post-modernism coincided with psychopathic Neo-liberalism, as if they begat each other through oppositional warring. But by linear progression – pre-modernism, modernism, post-modernism – Po-mo is yet another urban-centric, ecologically disembodied school of philosophy that "rages against permanency." (Hamish Morgan). 

The sign below is representative of our culture. The three types of organisms found on Earth all coerced into being us, shooting off on their own singular path, everything operating autonomously, everything monological and separating out, everything getting closer to the end of their individual paths. Impermanence. Linear death. Chk chk boom.

Monday, June 22, 2009

From apocalypse to permapoesis

Our culture, in its dominant form, has an unstoppable death urge. Nice thought. Great way to start the week. Yum. Mass death. 

In a relatively straight line over six thousand years our efforts to wipe out every living thing including ourselves only intensify. Six thousand years of canonical philosophy has brought us merely doctrines for superior ecological disembodiment. Here, now, nearby, indigenous grasslands around outer Melbourne are next in line for the chop, to be replaced by a toxic sprawling development the size of Canberra. When it comes to the destruction of natural ecologies, Monsanto fan and state premier John Brumby would have to be the most extreme government we've seen in Victoria to date. As I said the death urge only intensifies, Brumby merely a wealthy (in relative terms) benefactor of its momentum. Be it grasslands, water systems, agriculture or energy consumption he is a major mass murderer of non-human life – life most of us don't even know exists.
Stasis. Death. The end of all life, if the dominant culture has its way. It's where we've been headed from the beginning of this several-thousand year journey. It is the only possible end for a culture of linear – as opposed to cyclical – progress. Beginning, middle, end. Self-extinguishment. The only solace and escape from separation: from ourselves, from each other, from the rest of the planet. Plutonium. DDT. Dioxin. Why else would we poison ourselves? No other explanation makes comprehensive sense. Apocalypse. Derrick Jensen p 227.
Put aside climate change and peak oil for a moment and think about how many other ways we can bring about mass destruction. The elimination of biodiverse systems; the collapse of insect populations causing widespread disease and pestilence to proliferate, in turn triggering a global chemical revolution that our governments will of course endorse. This will hand companies like Monsanto and Dow a license to stage more chemical warfare, causing further mass outbreaks of cancer, respiratory diseases and death to rich microbial life that does so much to keep us and our fellow organisms healthy. Apocalypse. The proliferation of factory farms; the growth of super viruses from live-stock antibiotic mutations and genetically modified grains; GM grains contaminating heirloom seeds that are generally hardier, more robust and more nutritious; dioxins and antibiotic pollutants (from paper mills and industrial farming) in our rivers and oceans killing biodiversity in our waters, triggering mass death of important ecologies which provide us and others health. More and more children raised in disembedded suburbs, completely unaware that their wage-slave parents, their toxic food, their creativity-destroying schooling – all constitute a dominant culture that is an unstoppable monster. Increases in self-harm, violence, anorexia, cancer, obesity, ADHD, mental illness, hatred, ecological ignorance, deafness to indigenous suffering, rape, warhead manufacturing, plutonium production, plastic waste dumping, and on and on it goes, an ever-expanding one-way road to annihilation. Why? Why do we agree to participate in a system so suicidal, so abusive, so destructive?

When you next read about a state or federal government making plans to wipe-out native grasslands, build new coal stations, mine wild mountains, ship soldiers, green-light GM crop trials, green-light businesses contributing to factory slave culture in poorer countries, throw millions at a Grand Prix, build new pulp mills, new airports, super farms, live-exporting, harvest old growth forests, dump toxic waste at sea, ask yourself what whole picture does this make. Is there anything sane about our culture? Do I have to participate? 

Imagine if there were no industrialised agricultures. No ADHD, obesity, cancer, tooth decay, violent mood disorders. Imagine most of us contributed a few days a week, from an early age, to localised food production. We only ate our own community's organic food in season. Children were given age-specific responsibilities within community food production that, in turn, gave them skills, bodily strength and healthy self-esteem. There was little mental illness as everyone had a place, a role. Our schooling was specific to our community's ecology and social wellness, and to online communities we developed as we got older. We rarely travel, import or export because we know that a system based upon transporting resources and human resources is suicidal to our species and to much of non-human life. Because we all share in food production there is much time to pursue creative interests. We have much free-time, and we have little money. We participate in a "free-poor" society where free time is valued as the greatest wealth. The cults of celebrity, anxiety and wishfulness have all died in the arse and are no longer valued because we once again like who we are. Dags are sexy and cool, we're all big cool dags now. There is no obesity nor anorexia but a great diversity of body shapes inbetween. The only mining that takes place is for the production of renewable energy technology. Technologies that fuel our low-energy houses and a few other essentials such as digital networking devices for global connectedness and creative purposes. This technology is given out in greater quantity to communities who actively show they are repairing their local wild ecologies. A federal government merely provides security from global corporate terrorism and oversees mediation for neighbouring communities who are in dispute. They do not interfere with or attempt to trade resources belonging to small local communities, or rather that small local communities belong to. People are encouraged to only breed to the capacity of their local landbase; to their local food and water bowls. All Monsanto, Coke, Halliburton, Walmart and Mcdonalds (a more extensive list will be drawn up in due course) chief executives and board directors will serve a minimum of 10 years in community compost fields, and be taught the proper treatment of humans and non-humans through social-ecology classes. On release they will be monitored and if they abuse again, they will be humanely destroyed and composted. Politicians known to have actively contributed to and were therefore abusers in the old system of pop-fascism, will be also encouraged to work in the compost fields and be monitored by the community in case they attempt to abuse again.

All this is highly possible. It is highly possible to participate in our culture while exorcising the dominant abusive traits – supermarket food, celebrity culture, two-party fraudulence, male-aggression, warring religions (monotheism), aggregate-growth economics. We can start now as individual households and build relations with others who share values based on permapoesis – permanent, cyclical meaning-making – not suicidal, linear apocalypse. It's time to ditch the old school.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Suck and truck

"It’s a gift under our land,” says Michael Opie, the managing director of Big Wet Natural Spring Water, in relation to his proposed second commercial bore licence at Musk, near Daylesford. I rang Opie a few weeks ago to ask him some questions about it. Whereas I can understand his desire to tap into the groundwater resource beneath his home for his family's use, I cannot understand why he is permitted to make commercial this public resource, transport it with dwindling and polluting fossil fuels to Melbourne, and sell it on to fill private swimming pools and to other bottled water companies such as Coca-Cola Amatil and Cadbury Schweppes.

Opie has spent considerable money setting up his first bore a year ago. The two hydrological studies required to obtain his first licence alone totalled more than $20,000. On top of this cost permit fees range between $1200-$1500, and the construction costs between $20,000-$50,000 for a bore of this size. Goulburn-Murray Water is the private company that oversees the licencing of bores in the region, and G-M W are ultimately answerable to the Minister for Water, Tim Holding. I spoke to Randal Nott, a hydrologist at the Department of Sustainability and Environment, and he said that onsite and immediate area ecological testing is quite extensive for a commercial bore, however nobody, to his knowledge, is assessing the ecological effects of pollution caused by the transportation and bottling of groundwater. Contrary to Nott's "extensive testing" a number of locals, immediate to the Musk bore, complained about their groundwater stores drying up last Summer. 

After Michael Opie's initial costs and after obtaining his permit he can start pumping water, buying the precious resource for a mere $2.30 per megalitre, or in real terms, about 6 cents a water tanker load. Considering the cost of a 600ml bottle of water, there's some pretty big margin there.

While it is encouraging that Goulburn-Murray Water has indicated an interest in making the area of Wombat, which includes Musk, a water management overlay, it can be argued that this only sends these types of commercial licences elsewhere. The problem of harvesting finite natural resources aggregately is culturally systemic; the abstraction of accumulating figures that doesn't stack up to the reality of what the land can physically support. As Michael Opie pointed out to me, if he wasn't doing it someone else would be. Opie believes his business is conducted sustainably despite the steady stream of 28,000 litre water tankers he employs for cartage between Musk and Melbourne. And he maintains that he is not growing his business, however later in our conversation he mentioned the possibility of purchasing new bores at other properties, down the track. Like with all modern-capitalist enterprises, growth is God.

For Australians to drink water bottled in plastic we now burn over 500,000 barrels of oil every year. In 2006, figures from the Australasian Bottled Water Institute Inc. show the amount was a mere 315,000 barrels. That's about 35% growth in three years. Imagine the waste products – plastics and emissions. It is not surprising therefore that one of the directors of Coca-Cola Amatil (a company who has 70% of the bottled water market), was until recently a 10-year director of Woodside Petroleum. Jillian Broadbent is also a Reserve Bank director. Mount Franklin and Pump bottled water brands are, of course, Coca-Cola's healthiest products in relative terms. Their other products actively contribute to the obesity epidemic and related health disorders associated with high-sugar and high-preservative based foods and drinks – tooth decay, mood swings, self-harm, aggressive behaviour and ADHD, each especially prevalent in young people. But with all their products industrial-scale polluting is unavoidable and no amount of greenwashing or positive PR can remedy the fact that bottled water is a brown industry dressed up to look green. Opie told me that Coca-Cola Amatil is a model corporation with whom he's proud to do business.

The water Michael Opie is privileged to use and sell for profit in real terms still belongs to the Dja Dja Wurrung people. Several years ago Dja Dja Wurrung elder Aunty Sue Rankin 
asked the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment to produce documents proving that the Crown has the right to occupy these lands. According to the Daylesford Advocate newspaper on June 2, 2004, local DSE officers acknowledged that they "cannot produce these documents and doubt that such documents exist". Since the Dja Dja Wurrung's almost total genocide (through cultural coercion, European diseases and mass killings) in the mid-nineteenth century, the Monarch of England has "owned" this precious resource, although it is also argued it now belongs to the people of the Hepburn shire by proxy. In all this we can see that the ownership of groundwater, like all other natural resources in Australia, is at first sight ambiguous. But the ambiguity only comes from the fact that many of us do not actively acknowledge the chequered, abusive, colonising past on which most of our industries are enculturated; a past, on the back of which, Michael Opie has secured 'his gift'.

Click for bigger.

Since June 12, 6 days ago, we can see above that 336,000 litres (12 tankers) of groundwater have been transported to Cadburys in Melbourne. This is just one commercial bore of many in this area. Official charts and figures, such as these, are designed to mask the violence of environmental abuse by making this activity look rational and sane. To be fooled by this is to fool ourselves that our culture, based on aggregate-growth economics and the transportation of resources, can ever be sustainable and at peace with the world. 

Future models are already among us, be they ancient or modern permacultures, and it is very evident that corporate capitalism – millions of people all acting selfishly at the expense of others and the environment – is not one of them.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Our average daily use

The Federal Labor party has just axed the solar panel rebate and replaced it with a less than encouraging solar credits scheme

We got our panels through a solar nieghbourhood scheme in February. Our bill for this quarter was $74, and as you can see our emissions in the last two quarters have decreased at kick-arse speed (admittedly rising a tad for winter). But, so far we haven't been paid for what excess clean energy we have put back on the grid. We found out today that Powercor had lost our record of payment for the buyback meter ($160). Convenient. Supposedly everything is cool now.

We would never have been able to afford these panels without the government rebate. The role of governments should be to support us to make our lives more and more ethical and less and less destructive, and yet the opposite occurs – they allow themselves, and we put up with it, to be controlled by corporate lobbyists. In this case the coal industry. That's why the Federal government has axed this brilliant scheme as it was just getting off the ground. Under the new scheme I'm not sure we could have managed the extra costs. The old scheme has been far too successful and therefore is a big threat to the 'culture of make believe' (Jensen). The government says on its website:
Unprecedented growth under the Government's Solar Homes and Communities Plan has resulted in closure of this program...
If you have panels already and haven't signed the petition for the Federal government to pay decent solar feed in tariffs, you can do so here. (Thanks O!)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Waterless composting toilet

Since we started planning our permaculture garden two years ago we have given most of our energy to water conservation, renewable energy, heirloom food gardening, worm generation, composting, indigenous planting, companion planting and buying less and less items packaged in plastic. But we haven't yet got to black and grey water recycling and composting. So, after talking with a friend yesterday, who has just returned from a NZ permaculture farm where he saw a basic, home-made one in successful operation, I decided it's time to build a composting worm toilet in the guest shed. Any tips or good advice most welcome.
Design from here.

Sunday morning

Friday, June 12, 2009

Steady-state for future growth

The word economics comes from the Greek ‘ta oikonomika’, which means the science of household management. It is how one takes care of one’s house. The word has suffered devaluation, and now means the management of money.

The word ecocide comes from Greek as well, ‘oikos’, meaning ‘house’, and ‘cidium’, meaning to ‘slay’ or ‘destroy’. Ecocide is the destruction of the house. Derrick Jensen
If you walk into a healthy forest it is brimming with life from deep down in the soil to the highest branch. If you walk into a paddock of industrialised agriculture there is only one or two species growing in dead soil, and there’s a heavy reliance on oil - tractors, pesticides, fertilisers – to keep these things alive. That is before anything is transported to our tables. Oil, of course, is running out. The forest provides our future model, the paddock represents the old school – John Howard, Milton Freidman, General Pinochet et al.

We have to get the carbon cycle back in balance and to do this, permaculture – based on steady-state economics – is the best ‘whole systems’ solution we have. Many will laugh now, but a gardeners’ revolution is the future; a return to localised, healthy food. Suits and hipsters will exchange briefcases, cafes and dark rimmed specs for pitchforks, raised beds and shovels. They’ll find a way to make them sexy, and good for them, while metrosexuals, the boys nature forgot, will actually grow muscle.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Shed of interrelation (part two)

On dusk tonight, relations of common substance, the world comes in, relations of avoidance in decline. Some new, some reclaimed materials from the local tip. The future of food is under our feet.

Give up hope on the environment

A wonderful thing happens when you give up on hope, which is that you realize you never needed it in the first place. Hope implies powerlessness, a lack of agency, and a reliance on forces beyond your control. To focus on an abstract sustainable future neglects the real-world actions that can be taken right now. When we realize the degree of agency we actually do have, we no longer have to ‘hope’ at all. We simply do the work. Derrick Jensen, 2006
More here.

Image by Brian Carlson, licensed under Creative Commons.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Shed of interrelation (in progress)

Click for bigger.

Tomorrow we start work on finishing the guest shed. The idea for this shed is to encourage artist and writer friends to come and stay and work on their various projects while contributing an hour or so a day to food gardening. Permapoesis is permanent meaning making. Sustainable food is central to sustainable arts practice. This guest shed will represent the coming together of these two things, the coming together of a modern permaculture.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sand & skin

Almost every day people from all over the world come to my blog via the following two images.

If you missed the original post, I drew the above work in the sand at Port Fairy last Summer (2008). I used a stick of driftwood to etch with.

And this, etched into my flesh in 2006, represents a future societal model that has made an intelligent return to ecological functioning. WOW! all that in a tat that looks like someone has used my shoulder to rest their beer on. The original post can be read here.

Slow text (towards a definition)

Here's another excerpt from Free-dragging, Slow Text and Permapoesis: towards a biophysical poetry, recently completed for a forthcoming Angelaki issue. To give some background I have just introduced the concept of hopelessness: By understanding that life is painful, unnecessarily destructive and generally hopeless, we have nothing to loose but to hop on it. 

A portrait of the artist as superscript type.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Caged, the Silent Piece: 2'20"

Dja Dja Wurrung elder Aunty Sue Rankin at the Human Rights Day gathering in Melbourne, 2005
The best way [to procure a run] is to go outside and take up a new run, provided the conscience of the party is sufficiently seared to enable him without remorse to slaughter natives right and left. It is universally and distinctly understood that the chances are very small indeed of a person taking up a new run being able to maintain possession of his place and property without having recourse to such means - sometimes by wholesale...
Ian D. Clark, pp1, Scars on the Landscape. A Register of Massacre sites in Western Victoria 1803-1859, Aboriginal Studies Press, 1995 ISBN 0855752815

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Religion, there is no reason to argue

I used to think, naively, that religion is arbitrary; that people are entitled to their opinions and beliefs so long as they don't abuse others. But, of course, religion is anything but arbitrary. Over the past week I have had three very different encounters with religious extremism. One from each of the main monotheisms.

The first was virtual and Islamic. I watched a documentary on SBS detailing how the Taliban are operating in Pakistani villages that they've captured. It revealed that first they use terror to frighten people into submission by beheading dissenters (an oldie but a goodie). Then they take over schools, kick out the girls and teach the boys with only one book, one way of life – Sharia law. The journalist asked a Taliban official why young boys were fighting this war and the response was, "they love to carry the guns for us" (as boys do), "we teach them to use the guns and when they're older to fight the infidels". 

"Get them early!" It's the same slogan for all monotheistic religions and, of course, advertising. 

The second was a little more personal and Jewish. I read newmatilda this week and made a positive comment on a Jewish writer's intelligent argument about both anti-Semite's and certain Jewish lobbyists' bigotry. I thought it was very good and clear-eyed. Whenever I make a comment online people can click on my blog name and it will direct them back here. Last night I received an abusive Anonymous comment attempting to upset my goyishness, especially by virtue of the fact he (or she) knew part of my family was raised Jewish. Right-wing Zionists can be so vulgar for chosen people, enlightened by God.

The third was my most direct experience and Christian. Today, in hospital (more knee troubles), an 83 year old Catholic man lay next to me and between life-challenging coughing fits proceeded to tell me that no one can live without God. I reminded him that the Djadjawurrung had lived in this area for 40,000 years before the missions and the state destroyed them. "Children today need to be caned by a priest or teacher", he ranted, "otherwise they will never know discipline". He later said, sensing he hadn't convinced me, "if you have no religion, you're no good; you're a communist". He had grown up in a country whose people were only given these two monological options – oppressive religion or oppressive secularism. In the end it's the same thing. We shared the air and we shared numbers. I am 38.

All three men are products of childhood propaganda. They've never grown out of it. They have suffered a similar thing to what obese kids suffer today – a life-sentence of being fed the fruits of industrialised agriculture, a new era of oppressive secularism I call pop-fascism. All of this is against nature, disembodied from wild nature, hateful of wild nature. The Taliban official was partially veiled to screen his face on camera, the Jewish Anon was fully and cowardly veiled behind his cum-stained digital screen, and the Catholic man, dying beside me, was fully transparent in his resoluteness that his God will soon offer him just rewards. None of them think of the soil when they fear death, the richness of microbial life. The possibilities for wild new life to rise from it.

Men require the silencing of others to make their mutable truths concrete. Today is the Twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre and the sole dance of the beautiful Tank Man (Tank Man Tango).

In the past few years I have many times dreamt of being tortured by men who hate that which is not in their own image. It's as though I'm preparing myself for my final hours. I'm hung up in a dark cell, I've been there for several days. (I have been in a hospital for nearly a week). I'm thinking that this will all end soon. I get lanced by a hot poker. I swallow. I choke. I like to think that none of this will hurt me, that I have my humanity. I'm punched in the groin with a metal glove. I will not hate these men, they are frightened, I have no fear today, they will not have my liberty today. I am free-dying. Then acid burns into my skin. I scream. Silence. 4 minutes and thirty three seconds. More screams, then –

to the care of souls,
it says)
He had smiled at us,
each time we were in town, inquired
how the baby was, had two cents
for the weather, wore
(beside his automobile)
good clothes.
                        And a pink face.

It was yesterday
it all came out. The gambit
(as he crossed the street,
after us): "I don't believe
I know your name." Given.
How do you do,
how do you do. And then:
"Pardon me, but 
what church
do you belong to,
may I ask?"
And the whole street, the town, the cities, the nation
blinked, in the afternoon sun, at the gun
was held at them. And I wavered
in the thought.
I sd, you may, sir.
He said, what, sir.
I sd, none,
And the light was back.

For I am no merchant.
Nor so young I need to take a stance
to a loaded
I have known the face 
of God.
And turned away,
as He did,
his backside

Charles Olson, from The Maximus Poems, 1960
(With thanks to Ianian, Pete O, Meg and Z for their added love this week).

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Desperate stuff

The Victorian government has recently formed an alliance with US chemical and plastics giant Dow Chemical. Here's what Dow states on its website:
The new $230 million Biosciences Research Centre, a joint venture between the Victorian Government and La Trobe University, will boost Victoria’s ability to make these important scientific discoveries. To be located in Bundoora, Melbourne, the facility will be a world-class centre for agricultural biosciences research and development. Other agencies and organisations with complementary science objectives are invited to partner or link in to the new Centre. (GOSD added the bold)
Government backed commercialised science is based on profits at the expense of natural ecologies. There is no longer an independent CSIRO. Contrary to what it says about averting a potential food supply crisis, CSIRO, like the other hijacked departments, is part of the problem. Science has been bought by chemical companies. University scientists are paid to deliver the science that best reflects the products of large corporations, which of course isn't science at all but at a systems level, a monumental ecological travesty. Chemical agriculture can never enhance the complexities of complex microbial life in the soil, can never mimic the complexities of natural systems, and therefore can never produce sustainable agriculture. Governments who support chemical companies such as Dow and Monsanto, support the abuse of the landbase and the abuse of those that eat their food.

As people, we have to move beyond desperate monological AgriBusiness and start to once again feed ourselves in healthy ecologies. Governments think the future of agriculture is with super farms that rely on broad acre chemicalisation, but the future lies with community food sovereignty. AgriBusiness will never protect diverse life with its single focussed aggregate-growth world view.

Too Much of Me (reviewed today)

Reviewed in The Age by Robert Nelson.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The rage against permanency

The system of economics that both defines and bullies modern Australian society is rarely questioned or comprehensively critiqued. That is until there is collapse. But even then, and despite all the evidence against aggregate-growth economics, the system largely remains intact and it’s business as usual. Why is this? Why is it that profit-growth capitalism is resistant to being more economically efficient, more ecologically embedded and less destructive?

Arm people with organic methods of self-sufficiency and see the rapid decline of factory farms, obesity, self-harm, ADHD, tooth decay, factory slaves, dioxins, wage-slaves, drug addiction, non-compostable waste, poisoned soil, carbon pollution, and on and on and on it goes.

Friday, May 29, 2009


We've been eating locally gleaned fruit since January and this week marks the end of the season; apples, plums, blackberries quinces and pears have been in abundance in these parts and we have had free fresh fruit for almost six months.

After eating this food it is not possible to eat supermarket fruit again. In the meantime our own fruit trees are growing up.