December 10th, 2012 by Shani
At 5.00 o’clock Sunday morning two weeks ago you would have found me fast asleep (probably snoring like a trooper) and dreaming pleasant dreams of urban self-sufficiency after a big Saturday in the garden topped off by a trip to Jarrahdale to pick up our two pet goats, Sunday and Kirsch.
Suddenly my peaceful slumber was shattered by a horrible scream that brought me bolt upright in bed. “What? Where? Is someone being murdered? Oh no!! There it is again! It’s coming from the goat pen. Someone must be attacking my goats!!” (Okay, maybe not the most natural conclusion, but the first one that sprung to my sleep addled brain.)
I stumbled out of bed and through the hole in the fence to my neighbour’s backyard to where our goats live. Expecting a life and death struggle between a goat and maybe a fox, or at the very least one of the goats with its head somehow tangled in the fence wires I was surprised to see Sunday peeking bleary eyed out of her shelter and Kirsch standing in the middle of the pen, hale and hearty, as she drew breath and let rip with another ear piercing (drums that is, not lobes) scream. After a quick assessment whereby I realised there was nothing life-threateningly wrong with the girls ( ie they were intact and had food, water and shelter) my anxiety about our lovely four-legged family turned into an even greater anxiety about how my long suffering neighbours would be reacting to this 5.00 o’clock goaty serenade.
Trying to live as an urban peasant on a tiny 213m2 block means that our gardens, bikes, compost, bees and livestock tend to be constantly sneaking into any under-utilised public spaces. Any food scraps or building materials that are left lying around usually get appropriated and it’s not uncommon for a group of kids to come knocking on your door looking for empty jam jars or egg cartons. All this calls for pretty open-minded and tolerant neighbours. . . .
So as Kirsch sucked in another gargantuan breath, I looked desperately for a way to stop whatever was causing her to make this most unneighbourly noise. I noticed that her udders were huge and swollen and it was then that in spite a premature and shocking start to the day my brain started to make sense of the situation.
Kirsch and Sunday had spent the previous week staying with our friend Keren, who has a goat minding facility. While Kirsch and Sunday were with Keren she had found new homes for Kirsch’s month-old triplets (Red, Yellow and Blue Boy). Although we had been milking Kirsh a bit over the last month she was obviously used to the kids taking most of the milk and, without them, she was bursting at the seams, a sort of mammary expanding empty nest syndrome.
Quick as a bleary-eyed, sleep befuddled flash, I whipped out the milking gear and started milking her. To my enormous relief that seemed to provide Kirsch with the sort of relief she needed. As her frothing milk poured into the stainless steel jug, she stood quietly on the milking stand munching on muesli , using her mouth for its gastronomic rather than operatic purpose.
The relief was short-lived, however, as it quickly became apparent that the two litre stainless steel jug we customarily used for milking was no longer up to the task. Without her kids feeding, Kirsch was a veritable river of milk. As I rushed inside to get another container she let out a series of bellows (how could so much milk and so much noise come from such a small goat?) which continued until I was back milking her and started up again as soon as her udder was empty. Not knowing what to do and fearing any minute some enraged neighbour would come bounding over the fence armed with a roll of goat gagging gaffa tape, I opened their gate. In a flailing of floppy udders she charged out of the pen and up the road with me stumbling after her.
When I finally caught up with her she was standing in the middle of a ‘paddock’ (a scrubby block of unused land at the end of our street) moaning and bleating. It took me an hour to calm her down and lead her home again. After scrambling through all of my goat books and trawling the net, I realised she was, of course, pining for her kids and the consensus of opinion seemed to be that she would come to grips with the loss and settle down in a day or so (a bit longer than it took my mum to stop pining when I left home.)
In a rural setting a few days of screaming goats would be fine. You just turn up your radio or put in your earplugs. Not so easy in suburban South Fremantle.
I went to bed early that night after setting the alarm for 5am. After a restless night tossing and turning I am pretty sure the alarm and the goat went off at exactly the same moment. With a sense of déjà vu I jumped out of bed and pulled six litres of milk from a screaming goat and then followed her down to the ‘paddock’ where I tried to calm her jangled nerves (and mine) before coaxing her back home. I couldn’t keep this up. Something had to be done. Then as I was filing up the goats drinking trough, an inspiration struck me….. Goats hate to get wet.
Next morning as soon as the first decibels of goat chorus hit my ears I jumped up, ran into the chook pen where the hose was and gave Kirsch a short sharp squirt. Then I ducked down into the chook pen. Immediate silence resulted. After a few quiet moments, Kirsch gave another, slightly more tentative bleat so I bobbed up and squirted her again. After a few minutes quiet I figured I had found the perfect solution to noisy goats and crawled back into bed.
About five minutes later she started bleating again but this time the instant as I made a move for the hose she stopped her goat shout and stood looking forlornly at me. I reasoned that squirting her when she was quiet would only be counter-productive and definitely send a mixed message so I figured I may as well get back under the covers. As soon as I headed back to bed she would start again only to stop as soon as I made a move on the hose. Not to be outsmarted by a goat, I pretended to go back to bed but actually ducked down behind the fence and quietly snuck into the chook pen without her seeing me. Just to make sure she hadn’t realised I was there I peeked through a nail hole in the fence.
Now I know my little domestic goat is quite a few generations removed from her wild relatives but obviously her sense of smell and hearing survived her domestication.
Picture this if you will. On one side of the fence there’s me… stark naked, half awake, crouching in a pile of chook shit and cabbage leaves. On the other side…. one damp but defiant goat staring straight back at me, nostrils flaring and her ears like a couple of sonar receptors knowing exactly where I am and exactly what I’m planning.
They say a good relationship requires give and take. After two weeks of negotiation Kirsch and I have come to an arrangement. She gives me some time to sleep in in the morning and I take her for a walk up to the paddock in the afternoons. I give her plenty of goat muesli and branches and she gives away 5 litres of milk every day. She gives me access to her udders and I take good care of her. I don’t kid myself about where the power lies in this relationship. Goats have an acute smell, excellent hearing and when moved to it uses it, an incredibly loud voice. I on the other hand only possess opposing thumbs that allows me to hold a hose and turn on a tape.
And in terms of intelligence? Well, never take a knife to a gun fight.
January 28th, 2012 by Shani
We are very excited to let you know that as part of our work preparing people for a lower energy future we are bringing Nicole Foss (Stoneleigh) international energy and finance analyst, to WA in February/ March 2012 .
Stoneleigh’s work presents a comprehensive analysis of energy, finance and the interaction of the two from a big picture perspective. Our world is facing a series of interlocking crisis of which energy and finance have the shortest time frame. Nicole Foss (aka Stoneleigh) offers a road map of what is coming and why, and also what people can do individually and collectively in the face of this most significant of predicaments.
Nicole has been chronicling and interpreting the on-going credit crunch as the most pressing aspect of our current multi-faceted predicament. Her website The Automatic Earth integrates finance, energy, environment, psychology, population and real politick in order to explain why we find ourselves in this state of crisis and what we can do about it. Nicole was previously editor of The Oil Drum Canada, where she wrote on peak oil and finance.
Nicole has recently come back from intensive tour in Europe and the US. She spoke at the UK 2010 Transition Town conference and many people across the world have connected with her work through this particular talk entitled Making Sense of Economic Crisis in an Age of Peak Oil.
If you have not come across Nicole Foss’s work before we have attached some links you may find useful. These include a link to her website and blog, and an audio of the above talk. We have also attached a short bio and links to a recent interview.
Blog www. automaticearth.org
Audio – Making Sense of economic crisis in an age of peak oil http://sheffield.indymedia.org.uk/2010/06/453356.html
Interview and bio www.financialsense.com/contributors/nicole-m-foss
And here are some details about her WA tour
Making Sense of Economic Decline in an Age of Peak Oil A Discussion with Nicole Foss
Friday February 24th 7pm Fremantle Town Hall $10
Tuesday February 28th Margaret River
Wednesday February 29th Albany
Thursday March 1st Manjimup
Sunday March 11th 10am – 4pm All Day Ecoburbia Conference Fremantle Town Hall $20
Nicole Foss is one of those all too rare big-picture people who understands and explains the links between the many factors now threatening the existence of human civilisation – resource depletion entwined with economic failure and increasing inequity.
Join us for a graphic presentation and question and answer session when Nicole will outline the direction and characteristics of a new environmentally sustainable economy and what this means in our everyday lives. She will discuss what is coming, why it is coming, what you can do about it, and how urgent it is that you do it now. She will deliver a psychological inoculation to pull people away from incomprehension and fear and prepare them to work with their communities to create a brighter (though lower energy) future.
Nicole is academically well qualified, first with degrees in biology, neuroscience and psychology and later degrees in international law and post-graduate diplomas in air and water pollution. While living in the UK she was a Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, where she specialised in nuclear safety. After years writing about peak oil and finance as editor of The Oil Drum Canada, Nicole is now co-editor of The Automatic Earth where she chronicles and interprets the ongoing credit crunch as the most pressing aspect of our current multifaceted predicament.
For more information or to RSVP to the Fremantle events please contact Shani Graham email@example.com 0417 941 991
November 14th, 2011 by Shani
Blog by Tim Darby
I never wanted to have kids. I guess I had a pretty tumultuous adolescence (is there any other kind?) and
spent a fair chunk of the later half of my childhood fighting, evading or pointedly ignoring my parents, so my image of parenting, viewed in terms of time, money, emotion and energy appeared to give a rather poor return for investment.
Also I have (if I let myself go here) a fairly bleak picture of our future as a society and as a species (see Coming … ready
or not). I see us at the point of convergence of resource depletion, environmental degradation, increasingly
inhospitable climate, inequity and all the while a financial rollercoaster (plummeting down) that will leave us under sourced to adequately address any of these issues. All this leaves me doubting the wisdom of producing more kids and even more uncertain about my
ability to provide for them in our uncertain future.
So as I said, I never wanted to have kids. In fact, a few years ago I decided to put my money where my mouth is (well . . . not my mouth exactly . . . ) and get the snip (see The Snip).
So when I told my mum I was expecting the pitter patter of tiny feet she was ecstatic, confused and then suspicious in rapid succession. Had my little operation failed? Had the new Messiah arrived in South Fremantle? Had my long term, loving and loyal girlfriend jumped the fence? No, the explanation is both simple and (so far) wonderful. Goats!
In June this year, following an initiative of EMRC Earthcarers, my partner, Shani, and I undertook the Plastic Free Challenge; a month long
endeavour to eliminate plastic packaging from our lives (see ?) Between our chooks, bees, fish, rabbits and vegie gardens, we were able to make a pretty serious dent in our plastic consumption. The one thing we really struggled with was milk. I’m a bit of a fiend for dairy and
it all comes packaged in plastic. So partly motivated by this dilemma, we decided to get a goat. Did I say a goat? As it turns out,
goats are very social animals so you need to have at least two for them to behappy (and quiet!)
The decision about what sort of goats to get was easily made. We live on a 200m2 block in the suburbs, so for us small is beautiful. Enter the
mini goat. As far as I can gather, mini goats are not actually a breed so much as a size, originally attained by mixing a Nigerian Dwarf with a Nubian. Strictly speaking they have to be under a certain height at a certain age and measured regularly, possibly by a vet with papers and pedigrees and so on.
For our purposes we just wanted a little goat that could fit in our little yard. Did I saw our yard? Well, actually our neighbour’s yard. Luckily I live in the best street in Australia so when I realised that even the miniest goat would be too big our yard, I was able to find a couple of neighbours willing to lend us under-utilised yard space to accommodate the latest additions to our menagerie.
In preparation for our goats’ arrival I spent some time researching goats, milking goats and mini goats. What I discovered was that there are probably more thoughts, theories and stories about goats than there are goats themselves. The three most commonly held beliefs seem to
1.Goats stink (and so does their milk)
2. Goats will eat anything (especially your washing)
3. Goats will escape from anywhere
Doesn’t sound like a particularly endearing series of characteristics, does it?
Nevertheless, we decided to give it a go and were fortunate enough to find a mother goat who was just weaning her kid (so she was ready to start milking straight away) and a baby that was just old enough to leave its mum for a bottle (so she would bond with us and be well socialized).
Welcome to Hulbert Street Spice (2 years old) and Sunday Clive (1 weesk old).
Three months down the track I could hardly say I’m qualified to dispel thethree big goat myths. (Try Mythbusters for that one). However, one the basis of my limited experience, I have found none of them to be true.
1. Our goats smell really nice.
Sometimes when we’re milking them or giving them a brush, I give them a big sniff (is that weird?) and find the smell quite light and kind of
reassuring. Sunday still smells a bit milky, like a puppy. The milk we get from Spice (about a litre a day) is almost indistinguishable from cow’s milk. Maybe a little bit sweeter and richer and it doesn’t separate like cow’s milk. (Apparently male goats spray themselves with urine to make themselves more appealing to the girls. Not something I’ve tried myself.)
2. Our goats are quite particular about what they will eat.
They pretty much always like hay and goat muesli but when we take them out for a walk, they will bypass apparently lush
pasture and then stop to nibble on one runty thistle. Fortunately, they usually seem to like coastal tee tree which is a weed in our area.
I’ve taken to early morning dumpster diving at the local grocers which provides a plethora of cast-off greens that go to the goats, rabbits, chickens or compost (in order of fussiness). One thing I have noticed is that our goats are very curious and a bit like puppies, always thinking that whatever you are eating (or reading) must be the absolute cat’s pyjamas of culinary delight.
3. Our goats don’t seem to really want to escape from anywhere.
We have developed a habit of taking them for a walk in the evenings, so about 5pm every day they bleat to be let out for a
walk. We take them for a wander, munching along the way, to an empty block at the end of our street where they wander around, sniffing and nibbling whilst we have a cup of tea and a bickie. After about half an hour (or two cups of tea) Spice starts insisting that she gets taken home again and, once on the way, rushes for home like one of those rent‑a‑ponies at a kids riding school.
As I said, it’s early dates yet but so far, despite the bad press that goats get, our experience has been absolutely fabulous. They have even made peace with most of the neighbourhood dogs, with the notable exception of a Portuguese water dog that lives over the back fence (do they have goats in Portugal?) who seems quite keen on the idea of eating Sunday.
The dog’s owner, Jenny, is a lovely lady who has decided to stop feeding her hound on goat meat so as to reduce the pet’s link between food and goat.
Like I said, the best street in Australia.
June 27th, 2011 by Shani
Thursday July 14th Moore and Moore Cafe 6.15 ride for 7pm
This should be a fabulous night and a great celebration of everything bikes!
Start your night with an early dinner at the Upmarkets (Old Shangai Food Hall) and then meet the Freo Bug crew at 6.15pm for a ride to Moore and Moore. Make sure you have lots of bright lights and clothing as it will be dark, and we want to be seen!
Meet at Moore and Moore at 7pm and let’s see how many car bays we can fill up with bikes!
Then join your fellow bike enthusiasts a chat and a cuppa (M&M will have cuppas and some simple food available) before the first ever Freo Bike Talent Show.
Please bring your favourite bike photo for a massive bike photo brag board
The movie Beauty and the Bike will be screened at 8.30pm and it runs for about an hour.
If you are a total bike nut, come along,
if you are not really into bikes but wish you were, come along,
if you have 5 or 6 lyrca bike outfits at home, come along,
if you would not wear lycra if you were paid to, come along,
if your bike is worth more than your car, come along,
if you bike came off the side of the road, come along
ALL WELCOME!! TELL YOUR FRIENDS
Many thanks to Dismantle,Freo BUG and Moore& Moore for helping organise this event!
February 14th, 2011 by Shani
Musing With My Mouth Full Tim Darby. January 2011
As I sit down to write this I’m chewing on a delicious slice of sourdough bread, still warm having been pulled from the oven just minutes ago. Mmmmm, so am I going to talk about sourdough and recipes?
Well yes ….and, then again, no, not really.
The oven the bread was cooked in is a mobile pizza oven that I finished putting together a couple of weeks ago. I’m pretty proud of it (don’t you love it when a plan comes together?). So am I going to talk about building pizza ovens?
Well, sort of ….but not really.
Yes, no, recipes, building, sort of , pizza ovens, not really…. What’s this all about?
I guess what I want to talk about is how a piece of commonly owned infrastructure (in this case, a mobile pizza oven ) can be part of the recipe for building a strong community.
This story begins a couple of years ago when a friend of mine decided to hold his wedding at our Eco B and B, The Painted Fish. The wedding was really beautiful (and deserves another story all of its own), but all that sloppy romance stuff aside, the thing that really struck me was the way in which a large number of wedding guests were fed. My mate, Wade, hired a mobile pizza oven from a local manufacturer and set it up in the driveway of The Painted Fish. The oven arrived still hot from the previous gig so my partner, Shani, never one to waste an opportunity, popped in a tray of our freshly harvested potatoes and we had baked potatoes for dinner. The next day I helped out, whipping up pizzas for the throngs of wedding guests. It was so quick and easy once I got the hang of it. I ended up feeding half the neighbourhood kids as they wandered past on the way to the beach.
The next morning the oven was still hot, so Wade used the last of the pizza dough to make up some breakfast damper and Shani cooked up a load of roast beetroot. So much food with so little effort. It really got me thinking; “Hey, why don’t we make our own?” On the other hand, how often would we really use it? Probably not often enough to justify taking up some of the near-200 square metres that we live on. Then, on the other hand (how many “other hands” is a Libran allowed?), what if we made it mobile and got everyone in the street to chip in to pay for it? I asked around and to their credit about half the people in the street put in $100 and I went shopping.
As it turned out I had underestimated the cost so the idea went on the back-burner awaiting the right moment to boil over into action. . . . .
Then, in 2010 a remarkable thing happened. Our annual Hulbert Street Sustainability Fiesta ran at a profit (a surprising and fortuitous accident). What should we do with the left over money? Hey, why don’t we build a mobile pizza oven? During the fairly chaotic discussion that followed it emerged that there was a strong feeling that at least some of the money should be given to a local community group in need of funds for a worthy project. I suggested that maybe we were a local community group in need of funds for a worthy project and, in addition, I figured that if we built the mobile oven then we could lend it out to other similar groups to raise funds for their own projects (for example, during the 2010 Fiesta a group of Hulbert Street residents hired a pizza oven and sold enough pizzas to raise $1000 to help fund the Fiesta). Somewhere there’s a saying “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to make pizzas and he can raise enough funds to pay for his own fish”.
So now we have a street-owned mobile pizza oven.
People are now drawn together through the sharing of food and fire, two elements that serve as powerful social adhesives due to our common history as cave dwellers (well, at least that’s what I think). For the past year one of our neighbours, Sean, has been hosting an open invitation afternoon tea on Wednesday afternoons. Since the pizza oven has been available people have started bringing toppings and dough and afternoon tea has morphed into dinner, feeding half of the street and anyone who happens to be passing by.
These weekly pizza fests provide an excellent opportunity for the sharing and showing off of homegrown produce. Last Wednesday we used tomato sauce (made with homegrown tomatoes, onion, garlic, herbs etc cooked earlier that day in our solar oven), olives (grown by our neighbours and pickled by us using a recipe from another neighbour), cheese (made by our visiting friend Nunzio), herbs (from the Hulbert Street Guerrilla Garden and the verge gardens) and smoked trout (raised in my aquaponics tanks and smoked by a nearby mate Jeremy). Yum!
November 17th, 2010 by Shani
Photo by Jon Stachan
OK so it is highly unlikely that anyone was listening but this is what Melissa Parke said about us on October 21st in Federal Parliament! Melissa is our local Federal Labor Member of Parliament. During the Fiesta she pledged to turn off all her power points when not in use and to promote National Vegetarianism Week.
I want to share with Australia the most inspiring account of community action and social inclusion. For three years now, Hulbert Street, a local street in South Fremantle, has hosted the Spring Sustainability Fiesta that has worked to educate, inspire and support the more than 5,500 visitors who have flocked to this little street to celebrate sustainable living and to learn how to take on a more sustainable lifestyle.
This year over a weekend in mid-September every Hulbert Street household, 37 per cent of which are solar powered, participated in the fiesta, with one front yard converted into a woodworking shop and several homes, artists’ studios and gardens opened to share the environmental sustainability changes they have made to their lives with people living in streets beyond Hulbert. Local artisans, businesses, community groups and even a bank filled the street itself with displays and booths geared towards supporting people in their quest for sustainable living.
Fremantle is a community that has sustainability deep in its heart and it is leading the way when it comes to embracing renewable energy and green power, water conservation and reuse, home gardens and organic horticulture. But the Hulbert Street Sustainability Fiesta goes further in showing that sustainability is also about building connections and relationships within community.
I pay tribute to Shani Graham and Tim Darby and all the residents and friends of Hulbert Street for their creativity and energy and for their community spirit, dedication and generosity in sharing their place so that others may be inspired.
November 15th, 2010 by Shani
The goals of the Hulbert Street Sustainability Fiesta are to :
1) Celebrate Sustainable Living in Hulbert Street and to
2) Inspire others to take on sustainable actions
So How did we go?From Colin Ashton Graham (our official evaluator!) The Fiesta was a success on a number of levels:
About 5,500 people attended and over 70% were first time visitors to the event (showing that the event is reaching new audiences and not ‘the usual sustainability suspects’);
50% attended because of a recommendation/ invitation from friends (showing that previous visitors recommend the Fiesta);
Almost everyone who attended in previous years reported taking a new sustainability action as a result (84 actions for every 100 people who previously attended);
Of the people attending this year there were 90 new learnings/ ideas and 95 intentions to act on a sustainability change for every 100 people through the exit:
Most of the Fiesta features/ events/ services were rated as very interesting/ interesting by at least 80% of attendees.
The number and length of positive unsolicited comments shows that the Fiesta set up a ‘social contract’ with the people attending, hence people wanted to give back. See the end of this blog for a list of unsolicited emails and letters received.
‘Sustainability’ and ‘Community’ were the major motivations for people to attend and ‘seeing sustainability’ (through homes, gardens, demonstrations etc) were the most highly appreciated aspects of the Fiesta.
For most of the actions tested at the Entry and Exit to the fiesta, the overall likelihood of implementing actions increased. Further measures of the actual implementation of new sustainability actions and changes in intentions and attitudes will be measured over the coming months.
Improved communication (in advance, in programs or over an event PA) could improve the engagement with speakers, commitment flags and activities. There was also demand for more/ more choice of foods, more shade for sitting in and some toilets lower down the street.
And financially? This was the first year the Fiesta was in the black (eg last year we ran at a $1,500 loss) The Fiesta costs an estimated $69,361.18 to put on, with $48,650 of this being in kind support.
The great debrief meeting About a month after the Fiesta a meeting was held with street residents and other interested volunteers.
There was a great deal of support for running the Fiesta again next year, with a similar format. The date for next year’s Fiesta was set (September 24th and 25th 2010) and suggestions and issues discussed.
Ideas for next year included: Add pack up procedure to volunteer list instructions
Offer free accommodation to people to stay at the Painted Fish over the weekend – have to clean etc on Friday and be out all day!
Keep street layout (ie stall tents on one side open homes on the other) All stalls out on the road (eg Pledges and LS in drive of Painted Fish did not work) Put more tables for sitting in PF driveway.
Have free water and sunscreen available!
Comment ideas box at entrances/ exit.
Get someone to be an official money collector .
Get someone to coordinate and keep an eye on Living Smart Stall.
Order 600 posters and 1500 postcards.
Have an Aboriginal Welcome each day.
Toilets at both ends of the street with better signage.
Better labeling for bins – have a “waste depot” with information.
Don’t go over Douro Road for couch race .
A couple of open garden homes are interested in running a tea stall.
Sandra suggested she needed a better entry statement to bring people in to her studio.
Discussions Several suggestions for next year were discussed.
It was suggested that the Fiesta should be meat free. It was decided not to do this, but to encourage all food stalls to have a choice for people. It was also suggested that a display could be set up with information about the environmental impacts of eating meat.
There was a suggestion that there be an organic beer tent next year. It was decided this was inappropriate and would add a more complex level of risk.
There was quite a bit of discussion about the Speakers Tent. Most people seemed positive about the idea of a Speakers Tent but agreed that the tent site was inappropriate. Ideas for next year included several smaller “show and tell” tents, gathering a “crowd” for the beginning of each talk, and ensuring the set up allowed for good views of powerpont type displays.
There was a feeling from some that the Fiesta had got a bit too big and commercial in nature. Processes for decisions about stalls and participation was discussed. While it was suggested that there should be less entertainment, the discussion that followed suggested most people felt that the busking areas provided a great opportunity for local groups to showcase their love of music or dance.
Much discussion about the identification of street residents. Issues included finding an easy ways to identify a number of people without creating more “stuff” (eg Tshirts). It was also suggested and agreed that there were so many non Hulbert Street residents that volunteered and deserved to be recognized as well. Ideas included an apron with a screen print that could list a house number. It was decided that since Fiona was willing to take this job on again next year, she would make any final decisions.
The centrally coordinated activities at this year’s Fiesta were considered a great success and the combination of remaking stall, basket weaving, wood work and the fairy garden were well supported. Ideas for consideration for next year included: A kid’s drawing/ painting area, Feltmakers Association, Spinners Guild, Pottery Clay workshops, Sandcastles, Mosaic workshops, Paper making workshops and a Story teller.
The Fiesta is in many ways an “Open Space” for people to come and share and try ideas. It was agreed that the Fiesta should remain as open as possible, and in the end those people who were willing to organise a stall, event or activity should have the final say in how things were done, assuming the Fiesta’s main objectives were met.
Letter and emails received (see if you can find the one bad one!)
Congratulations on a fantastic fiesta!!I had a great two days talking to lots of people that loved our car as much as we love it!!It was wonderful to be able to talk to people that were really interested in our project..it seemed to make it all worth while. The response to the car was incredible!!Thanks for letting us be part of your fiesta. Regards Peter and Paula Samson
my favourite part of the fiesta… how Tim and Shani did not use the pronoun “I” my view is not to use any more resources than we need to…let re-use the scarves! i havent done this, so i shall share it with everyone now, the things that ive been doing over the years -wash dishes with just water when possible -turn off all unnecessary appliances/lights -buy recycled clothing/donate what i dont use -have shorter showers -dont leave the tap running when i brush my teeth -try to buy food in recyclable packaging i pledge not to buy any more guitars! Abe
Congratulations on a fantastic Fiesta. I was at work today and three others from school also happened to go to the Fiesta on the weekend. One of the girls went because I’d forwarded her the information and she took her grown up ‘kids’ and partners. They all got lots of ideas and one of the girls went looking for ideas and got them.
I’m going to start a no dig garden on the front nature strip, planning on this Sunday and I’m hoping it will just catch on. Rather than trying to rally neighbours together. I’ve already collected some things I need today.
This is just a small way of feedback to the amazing impact that I’m sure the weekend had.Success is found when we live our dreams! Well done and thank you. Lots of love and light Jo Flynn
Hey Shani’n'Tim Received this from a friend who lives in Swanbourne and I heartily agree.It was a brilliant event, worth all the hard work. Hope you can take it easy for a few days! Libb Hi Lib – loved the Hulbert St event – food for the soul!! Thanks for the tip off! Les
Hi Shani & Tim, Thanks for another fabo festival! Had a ball! Very best, James
Hi Shani & Tim,Wonderful Fiesta! Being on the Hulbert Street Walkway was great most people were happy to donate even stall holders and in the 2 hours I was there only 3 people didn’t donate a coin 2 Murdoch people and 1 performer. With the counting of people who came through I counted children but not babies, I hope that was alright. Great day it made people happy and I think it changed consciences.Thanks Leah
Hi Shani !!! OMG what an ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT FIESTA…the crowds tell the story. You could hardly move for people. I have added some pics to the PlanBig facebook page and more on my personal PlanBig page. I just loved the painted fish house and all the incredible ideas/ features. I can see why you are so incredibly passionate about what you do and why everyone wants to be a part of it including the Byford Bendigo Community Bank. You must be exhausted tonight so put your feet up Queen Bee that’s an order. My husband Christian met your husband Tim briefly and he came away feeling like he wanted to dig up the grass on the back lawn and put in a vege garden. That to me speaks volumes. See you soon hopefully. Keep buzzing!!!
Hi Shani & Tim, It WAS absolutely wonderful! thanks for letting us drum and being part of it, everybody I met at the festival felt inspired and like making some sustainable changes when they got home! It was heartwarming, inspiring, moving, hope giving and a huge community builder and advocator!! Well done, love Jozina
Hello Tim and Shani and the residents, Thanks very much for setting up such a brilliant event and letting everyone enjoy the street over the weekend. It was fantastic to have so many like minded people coming through and being able to chat with a lot of them I was very grateful for the opportunity.
A couple over little ol’ ladies came through The Painted Fish over the weekend. They were sisters one was 82 the other was 71 they struggled down the path and sat at the table down near the carriage I walked over to them and the younger one (Phylis) said “I was born in this house”. It was very special seeing them talk to each other about what they got up to and their old dad and his horse and cart. Anyway they left a little message with their phone numbers I reckoned it would be great to get their story recorded for posterity as listening to them was magic. Thanks and regards.Peter
another X to you both.. beautiful people. Sleep .. you deserve a little rest for one minute.xx
Shani and Tim, When I first arrived in Perth nearly five years ago I was depressed by my initial perceptions of the city…..to me on the surface it seemed affluent and beachy and fun but lacked depth and culture and most importantly a sense of environmental sustainability. Some old friends pushed us in the direction of Fremantle and said “you’ll feel at home here” and they couldn’t have been more right….. last weekends fiesta confirmed that for me yet again. The sense of joy, peace and cooperation in Hulbert street truly embodied the word community. It gives me hope for the future and for my children ………and confirms my gut feeling that we are here to stay……it was a pleasure to be involved and I’ll be back again next year. See you soon. Jess
Congrats to Tim and Shani for getting this whole event off the ground ( to put it mildly !) and to Abe for all those pledges, plus the great work with the choir and letting me enjoy it from afar ! Cheers to all , Jenny ( jenpiano)
Dear all,a friend send me this email for all of you: thanks so much for your lovely street festival last weekend. i really enjoyed it and feel very inspired. really appreciate your efforts and the beauty you helped to create. truly awesome
I just wanted to say thankyou for organising the Hulbert St Sustainability Fiesta with the rest of your street once again. We were there all day on Sunday with Lee spending a lot of time sitting on your verandah knitting with Sam while Arlo and I free ranged round the place. Lots of people were asking about our cargo bike, so hopefully we will see more around soon. Seeing what other people have done is really inspiring and makes us want to finish our retro fit (along with lots of other things). Thanks once again, we failed to add our support to the freo farm project so if there is a way to do it online we will. Gav
Hi Shani, here is the survey again.I am writing on an assignment and just had a break and collected the mail. A car stopped and the guy noticed our ground cover on the front verge on the w/e and came back to take a sample. I told him he was welcome to take some and now he is trimming it for us…. He said how much he enjoyed the fiesta and how thankful he is for this event and how inspiring it has been for him and his family…. Karin
Dear Editor Gratefulness & Sustainability Amongst a group of 6.30am South Beach dog-walkers there is a tradition of touching the groyne when you get to the end of the beach and thinking of 3 “grateful things” which you then share on the walk back. In the spirit of that tradition I would like to share my 3 things from last weekend’s Hulbert St Sustainability Fiesta.
1. I am grateful for the wider Fremantle community, to me community is an essential part of sustainability. As I walked down the street looking at stalls and demonstrations, listening to music and singing, hearing speakers, looking at artworks, visiting sustainable homes I was struck by how many familiar faces I saw. There were friends (old and new), neighbours from my school days, people from the dog beach, teachers and parents from my children’s school, colleagues, trades-people who have worked on my house and more – it was lovely to be a part of that celebration.
2. I am grateful to be in a community where people are inspired to follow their passions and beliefs, and then to share that love. At Hulbert St there was singing, dancing and music-making, residents making pizza and selling second hand goods, kids making lemonade and gumnut strings and young girls doing re-fashioning to name a few. I am grateful for the people who shared their knowledge on topics including gardening, cycling, preserving, wood-working and so many other practical ways we can make our lives more sustainable.
3. And last but not least I am grateful for Hulbert St. Your street is a living example of community that is an inspiration to many of us. Finally, I am so grateful to Tim and Shani – a couple who believe in what they say and do what they believe – your practical commitment to sustainability is inspiring.
Yours (in utmost gratefulness) Rebecca Prince-Ruiz PS- there were even chooks on the street – how much more Fremantle than that can you get!
Hi Tim and Shani,Just wanted to thank you guys for giving us the chance to promote our idea at the fiesta. It was a seriously amazing event and has generated some phenomonal support for dismantle.Looks like we will be getting a spot at the fremantle festival. We got 90% approval today to organise a ‘tweed run’ (see www.tweedrun.com ). The ride will start at south beach and end up at the ‘norfolk lanes’ festival. Great opportunity for us and will also mean that we get sponsorship from freo council to cover all of our advertising. As well as an inclusion in the festival brochure that will be mailed to 50,000 freo residents!!! so exposure overload… Thanks heaps for the kickstart. Will keep you updated on our progress. Regards Lachy and Bridie
Hi there J and I are wondering how you feel .Have you any idea how it all panned put. What did the assesor have to say?Words from our choir were all positive. Mike said it was great he’d never been before. All felt our singing was well received. Margaret Wilkes who has run festivals said it was very well organised, everyone seemed to know what they were supposed to be doing. There was a crowd to listen to the talk on the Men’s shed. Everyone loved your costumes. There was a great sense of community, friendly and fun.I hope you weren’t too exhausted it must have been an enormous amount of work. Well done.Love Pat and John
Shani and Tim,You probably are just recovering after the big organizing effort over the weekend and before. I just want to tell you Congratulations and Well done!! You are inspirational! I am a passionate on sustainability and on community live and your fiesta had plenty of both. There was a lot of work and community feel into the fiesta. I enjoyed every moment of it. I had installed solar panels in my roof, have chocks and compost, walk and ride to most places, etc, but until last weekend I thought that individual efforts were not going to change/save the planet. Your fiesta made me change my mind. You have achieved so much in your street!!! It is a great example and inspiration. Looking forward to more Hulbert st events. Imma Farre and family
Hello Shani…I hope you are now recovered and rested after all the hard work of last week-end. Really well done again to you and Tim..i drove passed Hulbert street this arvo and it looked so different from the same time last week! What an amazing time everyone had. One of things that came up for me last week was …i thought i was ‘green’ and did not need to do course etc. but realised after visiting your space how not green i am! So am gonna do the smarties course. Thanks for venues…was wondering if i could do at the hospital as that is local for me and i do not have transport at the moment and also do not know any of the other venues. Would that be ok? Look forward to hearing. Love and light tia x
Hello Shani & Tim My daughter and I came to the Hulbert St Fiesta and had a WONDERFUL time, it was great, inspiring, thought provoking, encouraging, all the things we can do to save water, energy and to use our natural resources. To live more with the seasons. The one highlight was seeing the ‘sun-oven’. I have wanted one for years and have thought about making one but haven’t got around to it. The sign said that there were some for sale $200 and $300. Are there any still available? Thanks Again Sue (Simmons)
Hello Shani, Tim, Sean and other Hulbert St residents Thank you for such a fabulous fiesta. (Sorry my thanks are a little late. I’ve been planning to write this for days.) It was a truly gorgeous community event with so many lovely household stalls and an inspiring and playful energy to the event. I loved how welcoming the street was, letting us into some of the gardens and homes. There was so much on offer for all ages. For Elsa the tents near the powered stage which were filled with pillows and mats were her highlight. The food also was terrific; I just needed more hours there to work through it all and try out some of the homemade lemonade. Well done to all of you for sharing your wonderful street with us and all the hours that went into putting on this enormous event. Best wishes Steph
Dear Sharni ( & Tim) CONGRATULATIONS to you and your fellow Hulbert St community for a great fiesta! NeiL
Hi Shani and Tim Well done on another fantastic sustainability fiesta. I’ve never heard ‘Hulbert’ pronounced in so many different ways since – we’ve had people ringing up to sign up for Living Smart and when asked where they heard about it all sorts of versions of Hulbert come out. Cheers, Hana
Hi Shani I just wanted to say what a wonderful festival it was and well done to you and all the other community members that made it happen. See you on the street no doubt!xxxx Gina
Hello to the Hulbert St wonder people Just to let you know that some of us felt totally left out of your indulgent performance. To be greeted at the street with a barricade of signage “Gold coin” ”Per Person” “Expected” “Notes Preferred” well to be frank this put us off totally! Then when my daughter came home with a “paid” ink stamp on her well, that reminds me of concert gigs – are you going to have arm tags & perhaps an over 18 area next year? Now you are going to tell me how much work went into it – no doubt this is true, but I did see advertised the funded grants/donations from COF & Lottery West. Isn’t it a labour of love? You know a simple little smile and a “Donations appreciated” would have got us over the line but now we will never be bothered. Regards Fran and family
Hello Tim and Shani I am writing to say thank you for allowing HotRock to be a part of the Hulbert St Festival. Ingrid and Lucy both thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the day. I showed my face briefly in the morning with my tribe of girls. We were all unfortunately recovering from flu and were not able to do the event justice. I’m looking forward to better health and energy at Hulbert St 2011. We used the festival to launch the HotRock Living Library – signing up people who are available to go into schools as sustainability guest speakers and hands-on mentors. So a big thank you for both of your efforts in this important community event. Richard Swan
November 8th, 2010 by Shani
By Tim Darby
How do you feel about sequels?
As an avid reader, when I find that a book I’ve enjoyed has a second book to follow, I get really excited.
I start day dreaming about long winter evenings reading, wrapped in a cocoon of warm fluffy doonas and steamy hot chocolate being transported to another time and place through the magic of words.
On the other hand (did I mention I’m a Libran?), there can be few things as sad as the lackluster sequel Son of … or Return of….. or …… meets Godzilla etc – the formulaic remake, of the copy, of the follow on, of the dramatisation of an idea which in its original form may have had some merit
With this in mind, I approached the 2010 Hulbert Street Sustainability Fiesta (Son of the Return of the HSSF 2007) with a tingling mixture of apprehension and excitement.
For those who missed the original.
In 2007 my partner Shani and I opened our bed and breakfast, The Painted Fish, with Solar House Day and accidently precipitated an invasion of Hulbert Street by 800 people, eager to take a peek at the beginnings of our eco retrofit and gardens.
Seeing the impact that the open home had on our long suffering neighbours, we invited them to join in. The 2000 people who visited our street in 2008 were greeted with a series of information stalls, eco products and some food.
By 2009 a large number of “Hulbertians” had taken part in a Living Smart Course, 20% of the street had installed photovoltaic systems and, as well as our home and business being open to the public, there were 7 gardens 5 artist studios and 50 different stalls ( 1/3 artists, 1/3 community groups and 1/3 providers of sustainable products and services). We also expanded the provision for local entertainers and added a speakers’ tent.
At the last moment we hired one porta loo … which proved to be just as well. Despite rain on both days, the street was visited by nearly 5000 people over the weekend. The 2009 Hulbert Street Sustainability Fiesta was described as ‘the peak sustainability event of the year’ (And no, that is not just a quote from my Mum!)
So 2010 and where to from there?
The 2009 Fiesta, while hailed as a great success, had taken a fairly heavy toll on us financially and personally. For the three months prior to the event, Shani had been increasingly debilitated by a spinal herniation and spent the Fiesta (about three week post spinal surgery) confined to a rainbow coloured gopher and pumped full of powerful pain numbing (not to mention mood enhancing) chemicals.
For my part, I spent the six months following the Fiesta plagued by a series of illnesses and mysterious but debilitating fatigue.
We received lots of support from Freo’s Sustainability Officer, Alex Hyndman, the backing of almost everyone in the street and over 100 volunteers, without which, it would have fallen in a heap.
But still there was some question in our minds - was the whole thing actually a Sustainability Fiesta or just a fun and colourful party? When you are so close to something, it’s hard to see it objectivity, particularly for Shani propped up by chemicals and me running on my chocolate and endorphins habit.
We decided that if we were going to initiate HSSF 2010 we wanted to be sure money and time and energy were being usefully spent.
Enter Colin Ashton-Graham (no relation). Colin describes himself as a behavioural economist … economists as in numbers, patterns and predictions, behaviourist as in what people do and why. Colin developed a series of questionnaires to examine changes in peoples’ attitudes, intentions and behaviour as a response to participation in the Fiesta.
Our experience presenting Living Smart has been that once the seed of an idea has been planted, it can take some time for change to precipitate so the study is to be followed up at three months, six months and 12 months intervals.
Is this all starting to sound frighteningly economic rationalist?
Relax and read on. It’s not all cost benefits and analysis.
For example, we decided that bigger is not necessarily better. In 2010 we were asked if we would promote the event through the West Australian, our local State newspaper. We decided, given the parabolic increase in attendance over the previous years, that while the Fiesta offers a great example of sustainable community (which should be spread like organic butter on hot toast) any more than 5000 people would detract from the quality of the experience for guests and probably overwhelm our Hulbert Street hosts.
Maybe the seeds of change, like broad beans, are best planted in your own backyard?
photo by Damon Wood
On the Friday night before this year’s Fiesta I noticed Shani looking unusually calm amongst the chaos of experimental pizza cooking, last minute signage construction and a flurry of bumble bee costumes.
I asked her what was going on?
She explained that she had adopted a new approach based on some open space facilitation theory she recently trained in. “Our job is to create the space, send out the right sort of invitations and then trust that the right people will come”.
Sounded a bit too hippy for me, given the huge logistics, but she was right (either that or the planets were in alignment)- the moments that made this year’s Fiesta really special were all to do with events and activities instigated by the Hulbertian hosts, volunteers or guests, with very little to do with us.
Shall I give you some of my favourite examples?
photo by Damon Wood
On that same chaotic Friday afternoon our friend Amy asked if she could borrow a ladder. I waved one arm in the right direction and thought mo more of it. It wasn’t until the next morning that I realised that Amy and a mob of her knit bombing mates had needed the ladder to turn our street sign into a beautiful piece of collaborative hand knitted art. That and their beautiful knitted wheelbarrow became some of the most photographed icons of the Fiesta.
Feedback from last year’s Fiesta was that people wanted to know who actually lived in Hulbert Street. Fiona decided that scarves would be the most versatile identifying mark with unifying appeal so she, in collaboration with other street residents, created 75 hand sewn black and yellow striped scarves silk screened with bees (one for every man, woman and child in the street – and a few pets as well!)
photo by Jon Strakan
For the preceding four months the Hulbert Street choir had been working up to their first major live performance under the tuition of Hulbert Funkster, Abe Dunovitz. Amongst their repertoire was a beautifully written song by Sue Wallwork, based on a young child’s understanding of Sorry Day. As the song was performed, an Indigenous elder in attendance offered her Welcome to Country in tears as she was so moved by the song. Plans are now underway to record the song for her and possibly submit it for next year’s WAMI Awards.
A family of ex-Hulbert Street residents and new Australians from Germany offered to run a wood fired pizza stall. The evening before the Fiesta they confessed to being a little nervous, having never cooked pizza before. A friend of a friend who happened to be passing (fly in fly out engineer by day, pizza chef extraordinaire during community fiestas) offered to give them some pointers. He ended up cooking, or teaching other apprentice pizza chefs, flat out for 2 days. The pizza oven, rented for the Fiesta, proved to be such a hub for hot food consumption, convivial conversation and community collaboration; we are planning to buy one for the street.
photo by Damon Wood
One of the Fiesta projects that had the biggest impact on me was an initiative of our neighbour, Pamela. She interviewed people in the street to find out what they were doing to make their lives more sustainable and what their plans were for future improvements. She organised this information into posters which any participating Hulbertians could hang on the front fences of their homes. About 1/3 of the street took part. Reading through them I found that as well as being inspired by their efforts, I was also touched by the openness of making this information public – sort of like wearing your heart on your sleeve, or in this case, hung on your front garden fence instead.
photo by Jon Strakan
I thought the cutest family were the Burke – Alberque clan. Sean and his kids put together a sausage sizzle, a coconut shy (where you actually win a coconut!), a lemonade stall (made with real lemons collected from the neighbours), a stall selling juggling balls and a display of Sean’s literary endeavours. They just don’t make families like that any more!
The most culturally varied performance must surely have been a collaborative between Voice Male (and all male acapella group) who sang a Georgian chant to accompany Tribe Alive, a local belly dancing troupe. I know it sounds a bit like seafood marinara with chocolate sauce and lime ice cream but it worked amazingly well.
photo by Damon Wood
On Sunday, my little mate Benjamin (aged four) came running up to proudly show me a boat he had built at a workshop making things from recycled timber. It looked like a piece of wood with 2 nails in it but he was so proud of it. It was obvious that through his eyes it might have been an exact scale replica of the Golden Hind.
The list of my most magical moments could roll on ad nauseum but maybe I should mention just one of many emails we received after the event:
I just want to tell you Congratulations and Well done! You are inspirational!
I am a passionate on sustainability and on community life and your fiesta had plenty of both. There was a lot of work and community feel into the fiesta. I enjoyed every moment of it.
I had installed solar panels in my roof, have chocks and compost, walk and ride to most places, etc, but until last weekend I thought that individual efforts were not going to change/save the planet. Your fiesta made me change my mind. You have achieved so much in your street!!! It is a great example and inspiration. Looking forward to more Hulbert Street events.
Or from the volunteers who told us that the final day of the Fiesta had been the best day of her life!
At the time of writing, the decision has already been made to run HSSF in 2011.
Although we are still waiting on the results of Colin’s formal evaluation, the preliminary results look very promising –
70% of visitors came for the first time (so we are not “preaching over and over to the converted!”),50% of attendees heard about the Fiesta from friends (suggesting people recommened the experience!), 85 out of 100 people who attended the year before could name a sustainable change they had made as a result of coming to the Fiesta, 90 out of 100 people who attended for the first time could name something they learnt on leaving, and 95 out of 100 listed people who attended this year listed a sustainable action they intended to take.
And most Hulbertians are already excitedly planning for next year. We received fantastic support from the broader community (about 200 volunteers not including stall holders) and the anecdotal responses we received from people attending have been overwhelmingly positive.
So what can we expect next year?
Will it be a ‘Son of 2010’ trying to recapture the energy of yesteryear or a new event that builds on a history of positive change?
For me, I plant to approach it in the same ways the Transition Town movement addresses global warming and peak oil.
We know change is inevitable.
We don’t know exactly what those changes will be but let’s envisage a positive future and then work towards that vision together.
August 29th, 2010 by Shani
I generally admire people who manage to be punctual but when I got the call telling me that the sales rep would be late it didn’t actually bother me at all, in fact it actually put a smile on my dial. You see I didn’t want to see a sales rep at all. I don’t want to be “sold” anything. When I had called the company selling insulated roller shutters I was hoping for someone with a job description like “product information provider”. I wanted someone who would tell me about the shutters, their strengths, weaknesses, cost and availability . . . . and then bugger off and leave me to make up my own mind.
So anyway when I got the word that the sales rep would be late I breathed a sigh of relief, slipped into something comfortable ( in this case my trusty old nail-bag ) and went to work replacing a couple of split floorboards.
As I knocked in the first nail I was reminded how much I enjoy using good quality tools. Like my old hammer – it’s well balanced and feels just right, like an extension of my hand. (Call me a romantic if you must) When I was at Uni I learned about a bloke (architect I think) who became famous for saying things like “form follows function” (nice piece of alliteration) and “functionality is beauty”.
I think the idea was that if you make something really well, based on what it was intended to do then the resulting form should have an intrinsic beauty of its own without the need for decoration or embellishment.
Take my old hammer for instance – an ancient Estwing with a leather handle that I bought secondhand and used for years until it disappeared from a building site I was working on. To replace it I bought a cheap nail gun….Yes I know. It was imported from China and was only cheap because it made by exploiting the mineral resources from somewhere and the sweatshop labour from somewhere else and shipped to Australia using a very crude and polluting grade of diesel. I know. I admit it. Bad, bad, bad….but just think how quick it would be!
Well as it turned out the only really quick thing about it was how quickly I took the thing back when it blew a gasket and stopped working the first time I tried to use it.
I guess I must have been in a hurry because when I took it back to the large franchise hardware shop where I bought it (I won’t mention any names but everyone seemed to be dressed up in Christmas colours) they offered me credit and I made the unusual decision to buy a new hammer. The hammer I chose from the glittering array looked pretty similar to my old Estwing but cost about a quarter of the price. Seemed like a bargain, but as my mate Greg says “cheap now, expensive later”. I took it home and started work. By the time I had denailed a couple of four by twos the claw of the hammer was so torn up it couldn’t pull a splinter out of your thumb.
On my third trip back to the nameless hardware franchise I happened to go past a garage sale where, much to my delight I discovered another old Estwing ( better luck than I deserved ) and I’ve been using it ever since.
Now every time I drive in a nail I think “You Beauty!!” See what I mean? Functionality is beauty.
Just at that point in my daydreaming I was interrupted by the arrival of the sales rep. She arrived amidst a cloud of lipstick and hairspray in a tight skirt and heels high enough to give you altitude sickness. I’m not sure if it was the skirt or the heels but as she came through the front door she managed to trip over, spilling the contents of her handbag all over the floor and ripping her stockings.
I picked her up and made her a cup of tea while she gathered up her gear and started on a heartfelt story of how she really, really, really wanted to help us out by offering us a super amazing never to be repeated discount which we could get just by putting one of her signs at the front of the house, but the offer was only good for the day, and only if I signed up right away, and by the way where was my girlfriend ‘coz she needed to sign it too. . .
O.K. As luck would have it my girlfriend was not available so I figured we would just have to survive another day without her amazingly generous, never to be repeated offer.
As she struggled towards the door I noticed that the coins she had spilt from her handbag were still lying in a pile on the floor. Maybe the hairspray had affected her eyesight? Maybe she was so generous that since we weren’t able to take advantage of her generous offer she was leaving me all her change? Maybe she was such a successful sales rep that loose change was just a burden to her?
In any case, I scooped up the coins and handed them to her. Blushing she explained that she had abandoned her coins because she had glued 4 inch glittery resin extensions onto her fingernails which meant she couldn’t pick up anything that small from a flat surface.
Then she tottered off down the street.
As I opened the windows and doors to let the air clear I went back to my daydreams about form, function and four inch nails.
MMmmm…. Maybe my hammer should get together with her nails!
August 29th, 2010 by Shani
What did you expect? or Despair , Transformation and Creativity in an Age of Environmental Collapse By Tim Darby
OK. I admit it. For most of the last month I’ve been feeling really miserable. What do you expect? I’m working on a community based program (Living Smart) getting people to think about the environmental impact of their behaviour and (with careful manipulation and a lot of luck) to head off in a more sustainable direction. Imagine trying to do that in WA – arguably the worst carbon polluter per head of population in the world, in the middle of a mineral resource boom.
Some days I feel like I’m running a mattress maintenance program for Japan’s National Sumo Wrestling Team. Whatever small progress I make each day gets crushed by the weight of incoming bad news a few hours later. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like there’s no reasons to rejoice. It’s just that what successes I have, while often profound and important on a personal level, tend to get lost amongst the litany of eco horror stories coming to you live from all over the world.
Recently, after watching ” The Age of Stupid”, I found myself caught up in one of those ” what’s the point we’re all doomed anyway ” cycle of thinking.
What do you expect?
It’s an occupational hazard for anyone who’s literary consumption extends beyond The West and those 15 year old New Ideas on offer in every suburban GP waiting room, particularly those of us involved in environmental behaviour change.
So what does one do with those feelings of despair? When I spend all day rabbiting on about how “every long journey begins with a single step” and that “we must all be the change we want to see”, it feels a bit hypocritical to stand up half way through my macrobiotic, low food miles, guilt free lentil burger and say ” You know what? I think you might be right. I think we are totally fucked after all.”
So after a couple of weeks of indecision, self-doubt and angst (sometimes I hate being a Libran!) I started to quietly mention it to a couple of fellow “save the planet”ers only discover that they all suffered similar periods of feeling totally overwhelmed and defeated.
Really, I suppose what do you expect?
So…Wearing my heart on my sleeve I tentatively suggested that we all put aside some time to share our feelings of “less than absolute certainty it will all be O.K.” This seemed like a rather cumbersome title (and also I’m only a two finger typist)so with the help of my far more optimistic partner Shani I sent out invitations to: “The Heart Night – Worried about the future? Bring along your stories, poems or songs to share”
As the ambiguously named Heart Night approached I was filled with apprehension (not an unusual state of event for me as you may have gathered). I didn’t really know what to expect. Would anyone show up? Would I be treated with disdain for daring to suggest that it really is a lost cause?
Or, on the other hand would I find myself surrounded by hundreds of teary suicidal eco- worriers? (See what I mean about being a Libran?)
As it turned out kind of neither, both and all of the above happened. About 15 people turned up, most of whom I know or had a least met. There was only one complete stranger and she seemed to make herself right at home chatting and sharing tea and bikkies with everyone. She brought her knitting along which seemed like a cosy kind of idea and not at all out of place at a heart night.
After a brief introduction I got things under way gently by singing a whimsical and funny song called “The Snip” about my concerns about overpopulations leading to me getting a vasectomy. A couple of members of the Hulbert Street choir sang backing vocals and provided a percussive accompaniment on garden shears. (the lyrics follow at the end of this blog)
That seemed to break the ice a bit and the evening rolled along pretty smoothly from song to poem to story and back again. Some sad, some hopeful, some funny. I would say that everyone who felt they had something to share felt they had a safe place to express it and perhaps break a bit of the isolation of “am I the only one who thinks like this?” (a few examples follow at the end of this blog)
Probably my favourite part of the evening was seeing the beauty and creativity that can come out of despair.
As the evening wound down and people were swapping phone numbers and putting their salty tissues in the compost bucket, the unknown knitter approached Shani, looking a little concerned.
“I just wanted to tell you that I think you need to change your face book page” she said.
“Gosh really? Could you tell me a little more about what you mean?” offered Shani, well aware that the Heart Night hadn’t featured on any face book page, but still in the mood for receptive listening.
“Well it just wasn’t what I expected. I must say I enjoyed it but it just wasn’t what I was expecting. I think you need to explain it a bit more clearly”.
It turned out she thought she was coming to a knitting group, but had arrived on the wrong night!
Well, what do you expect?
Tim’s Snip Song
(Introduction with scissor percussion)
Well the planet’s getting crowded
Thought I’d make my contribution
With medical intervention
Be part of the solution
But what if something goes awry
And I’m filled with regret (oh)
Walk with a limp, become a gymp,
Move bass to a falsetto
I’ve got an inclination
For cessation of procreation
While engaged in recreation
Without sexual frustration
I want the snip.
I called around to Andy’s
He’d moved up to Mount Rugged
He used to stride out tall and straight
But now he’s all bow legged
Walking like a cowboy
So he’s gone up to the station
Our Andy’s gone with the cattle now
Since he had the operation
I’ve got an inclination
For cessation of procreation
While engaged in recreation
Without sexual frustration
I want the snip.
My hippy mate lit insense
While we listed to whales sounding
Sipping organic herbal chi
He said “man that’s astounding”
Your inner child will sure be pissed
If you snip your hidden genie
Your chi will all get tangled up
And you’ll block your kundilini
I’ve got an inclination
For cessation of procreation
While engaged in recreation
Without sexual frustration
I want the snip.
I dropped around to Johno’s place
As I was passing by
He helped me build my pergola once
He’s into D I Y
In fact he’s quite a guru
Bunning’s Obi Wan Kenobi
“Sit down son, you just relax”
He reached for his Ryobi.
If you’ve heard this conversation
‘Bout the inflation of population
From excessive copulation
And it caused you consternation
And the thought of reproduction
Doesn’t fill you with elation
And you’d rather learn macramé
Do another renovation
There’s a medical procedure
That could soon be your salvation
Without further hesitation
Seek a nearby destination
Hey hey hey hey staying alive staying alive
Staying alive . . . . . .
Get the snip
I love you my wonderful child – by Amy
I love you my wonderful child
And I’ll whisper it through your curly blonde hair
A million times a day
But what I really mean is
I love you and I’m sorry
If I tell you enough times
Maybe I can equip you for the future
Can I fill your heart with enough love
So you grow up to be brave, compassionate and strong?
For you will need these traits
And many more
I love you so much
Sometimes I wish you were never born
How can a mother say that?
I worry so much about your future
How will my little boy survive?
How will you grow food
without water or topsoil?
Will you be a faceless environmental refugee?
I want you to survive and thrive
And find love, hope and happiness
So I’ll love you and tell you so
A million times a day
I love you my wonderful child
I love you too mummy and daddy
We look to each other and grow
We read and research and think and observe
We share and talk
In my arms are my beautiful boys
My reasons to be bold
So we all take a deep breath
Hold our heads high
And turn away
And fuck it, we will be ourselves:
Amy: No, I won’t fly to Sydney for those workshops,
See we take our carbon footprint seriously
Adam: Let’s grow the best community orchard ever
Quin: Dan’s, If its yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown flush it down.
Do you know what that means Danny?