Archive for the ‘Living Smarties’ Category
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.
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 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
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?
July 11th, 2010 by Shani
Flicking through a local paper a while ago I came across an ad calling for five community representatives to be involved in an economic development working group to “deliver an economic development strategy … to grow Fremantle’s economy with a focus on increasing employment … and the number of businesses in Fremantle.”
After due consideration I don’t think I have the prerequisites to apply for one of the positions but I did have a few thoughts about economic growth generally.
Let me start with four things I really like about Winter:
- Snuggling up in bed every night with a yummy rich hot chocolate
- Butter melting through a stack of crisp yet deliciously spongy crumpets
- Toasting marshmallow over an open fire
- Slothing around in comfy old tracky pants (the ones with a really stretchy waist band.
OK what about Summer?
Here is one thing I really don’t like about the start of Summer.
Trying to get into your budgie smugglers on the first sunny day after the rains and realising that they just don’t fit any more … or more to the point, as they haven’t changed over the Winter, you don’t fit anymore!
Struggling with the unimaginable notion that you have grown too big, your mind rushes about grasping more and more implausible explanations.
Maybe the very last time you went to the beach last summer you mistakenly took someone else’s Speedos (someone much smaller, of course) . . . .
Maybe your bathers are made out of some new fangled lycra which shrinks when not exposed regularly to sunlight. . . . .
Maybe your partner is messing with your mind by replacing your togs with an identical but much smaller pair. . . . .
Finally (possibly after a reality check in the mirror) you are faced with the incontestable fact that they are your bathers and you’ve just grown too big. There’s no escaping it. How depressing.
At this point you have three choices.
One, you can decide you never really liked swimming anyway and you’d rather spent the rest of your life wearing comfortable trackies.
Two, you sneak out and buy a bigger pair of bathers, which is fine this year and may be next year, but at some point in the not too distant future you may find yourself at the centre of a mob of enthusiastic young conservationists trying to push you back into the water and chanting ‘Save the whales, save the whales’.
Three, you come to the painful realization that your pleasurable overindulgence has led to your unpleasant over expansion and that as painful as it may be, the best time to address the problem is sooner rather than later.
What’s this all got to do with economic development? Well it’s like this.
Essentially, some things get bigger, and some things don’t. When the two collide there’s a problem.
Let’s look at some non-budgie smuggler examples:
Some things get bigger -
1) Population. At the moment, Australia’s population is growing at over 2% annually – one of the fastest in the world. Perth’s population is predicted to double by 2050.
2) House sizes and the urban sprawl. Since the 1950s the average Australian house has doubled in size (despite the population per house halving). We are living in four times as much space as we used to.
3) Cars. Between 1980 and 2003 the number of cars in Australia doubled to 10 million and continues to increase faster than the population.
In fact, if you look at just about anything to do with consumption of resources, you’ll see a parabolic increase since about the end of WWII
Some things don’t get bigger -
1) The number of habitable planets currently at our disposal.
2) Happiness. Despite a threefold increase in the material wealth of the average Australian since the 1950’s our happiness has flatlined.
In fact some things are actually on the decline – (mostly natural resources!)
3)Water. Water inflow into Perth dams has fallen from about 330 gl (in 1960) down to about 80 gl (2009) and continues to decline.
4) Oil. Australia’s oil production has peaked and is in decline, and according the ASPO predictions production worldwide may well have already peaked.
5) Land. Viable food producing land. At present 2.4 million hectares of Australian farmland has become unusable due to salt encroachment. This is estimated to increase sixfold over the next 30 – 50 years.
Maybe I’ll stop there before I run out of fingers . . . .
It concerns me that economic growth is taken as a given, even though it is based on increasing consumption of our dwindling natural resources, driven largely by increasing population (baby bonus anyone?), which in turn has only been made possible by the availability of cheap oil.
I understand that the very suggestion that we can’t continue to grow indefinitely will be howled down as ridiculous.
After all, the last fifty years has seen the average Australia undergo continued increases in wealth and prosperity.
Surely the next fifty years will be the same!
Surely growth is good …
Or is it?
Think about it next time you try to fit into last year’s Speedos.
March 10th, 2010 by Shani
Join us in a mass pledge to recycle refashion and upcycle your clothes!
Twenty plus Living Smarties had a hoot Wednesday night at the Sustainable Clothing session presented by Lesley Thomas and Kerri Barrie. There was a lively trade in clothes and fabrics to swap and lots of discussion about what we could do to take our passion for sustainability into the change room and laundry with us (and still look gorgeous!).
Kerri spoke about her lifelong passion for reusing fabrics – including felt hats and boots from old jumpers and using doilies, tablecloths and curtains to create beautiful and unique clothes. Kerri and her friend Melanie have started up a business devoted to this and supporting fair trade and local designers and makers: check out Red Feathers and a Hula Skirt at 360 Marmion St Melville.
Genevieve (Gen) also wore a beautiful dress that had been created from several other clothes and showed how she had turned one dress into a dress, apron and and a skirt! Great example and role model, Gen!
So, about a dozen people pledged to recycle, renovate and refashion their clothing choices for 2, 4, 6 or 12 months. Check out the Wardrobe Refashion Pledge website for details. We’d love to do a mass pledge of 20 or more people for at least 2 months. The rules are: No Buying New (exceptions: undies, specialist wear and hand made clothes) One ‘Get out of Jail Free’ card per 2 months post to blog regularly and report on progress Be honest – fess up to slips We’ll have a ‘show and tell’ event in a couple of months to show off what we’ve done.
Kerri and Lesley are hoping to get a few Living Smarties together to share a refashioning course so we can learn together and have a good laugh as we fulfil our pledges.
Information from the Night
Lesley shared some of her research into sustainability as it applies to fabrics and manufacturing, as well as some hot tips on what to look for and where to look for recycled and vintage clothes. For those people who wanted some of the websites Lesley referenced in her talk, please see below.
Comparisons of sustainable fibre choices through ‘Made By’ Brands Fibre benchmarking.
Environmental Benchmark Fibers (PDF)
Made By rated recycled fibres, and organic hemp and linen in the highest rating (class A), with organic cotton as class B. Conventional hemp and linen and PLA (a type of polyester made from plant fibres rather than petroleum were ranked in class C. Most synthetics, non-organic cotton and wool were rated lowest of the 20 fibres. (photo: Carol Hanlon: London College of Fashion) Some manufacturers are taking up the sustainability challenge.
Made By Brands and Icebreaker both have developed track and trace systems for supply chain transparency.
Goodone recut clothing from recycled clothes (as does a a small business in the East Freo area (could the Living Smartie who had these details please contact Lesley?). Goodone have a great video on their website that shows this in action.
Two companies that are taking a more holistic approach to sustainability include: Aussie company Fully Stoked – (www.fullystoked.com.au) UK’s Continental Clothing’s Earth Positive – (www.continental clothing.com).
Refinity’s amazing felt clothing http://www.ecouterre.com/5857/dutch-designers-modular-refinity-clothing-is-like-legos-for-fashion/refinity-click-fold03/
On the vintage and recycling front, tips for buying include: go for quality – style, materials, construction, classics… …Or cheap and cheerful Check zips work Check for stains, damage (vintage usually shows some wear) Undone hems and seams are easy to fix Can shorten/take in if needed
Buying recycled or refashioning clothes : Reduces the impacts of fabric and manufacture Lower exposure to finishing chemicals and excess dye Most are recycled locally, reducing transport footprint Pleasure of finding a unique piece Extends the life of beautiful, well made clothes and shoes
February 17th, 2010 by Shani
A report on the last Living Smartie night – Vacola preserving, freezing, jams and drying
Written by Susie and Jess (and a big thanks to them from Shani!)
Amy the happy pearl stringed house-wife, shared her inspiring experience and extensive knowledge of Vacola preserving. She talked about why she preserved. – Because she gardens, economics, creative satisfaction, to reduce waste, to reduce food miles (check out sustainability.ceres.org.au – to make tin cans, ore from WA is shipped to Japan to be processed, then back to Melbourne, and across to WA, a distance of more than 17 000km. And that doesn’t even factor in what’s in the can!), and having assurance about what you eat!
Amy uses the good old Fowlers Vacola gear. All you need to know is in the instruction book, or google it, for beautiful bottles of preserved fruit (no sugar, vinegar, or other preserving agents necessary) If you don’t have the Fowler’s gear (a big tub with a thermometer slot down the side, plastic or stainless steel with an electric element, or a tin tub which sits on a gas stove), you can heat up your jars in a big pot on the stove, but rest them on a cake rack so they don’t crack, and wrap tea towels round them so they don’t rattle (Leah). Check out the quokka for second hand jars, should be about $1 each. Look out for stainless steel lids (brassy ones go a bit rusty)
What to preserve?Tomatoes are great (but not veggies, cause they’re not acidic enough, may breed botulism!) Plums, peaches, apricots because you can get them cheap in season or off your tree. Also orange, lemon and other juices!(And you can use the water you heat up for a bath!)
And jams are as easy as could be…One part fruit: one part sugar+ lemon juice, pith and seeds in a muslin bag (for pectin) or green apples, or jamsetta (just in case) Wash jars and dry them in the oven on low heat. Boil up the fruit and sugar til gloopy (for a test set put a tsp-full on a plate that’s been in the freezer. The jam should set on the plate). A jam funnel makes it easier to get into the jars.Forage the streets for free food – lilly pillys, quandongs, figs, mulberries, mmm…
Cordial is easy too 1kg sugar: 600ml fruit juice (lemon, grapefruit, lime, grape – heat fruit, mash and strain through muslin) + a bit of citric acid
Some good books on preserving Amy recommended were A Year in a Bottle: Sally Wise and Pick, Preserve, Serve
And then Shani stepped forward for the lowdown on freezing. Frozen food stores indefinitely, no nutrients are lost. Spread fruit and veggies – berries, cherries, pears, tomatoes, corn, spring onion – flat on trays to freeze speedily, and then store in freezer bags. Blanch veggies such as beans and pumpkin first (put in boiling water 2 min, iced water 2 min) to slow enzyme ripening (they’ll go mushy otherwise). Defrost in fridge.
Drying Some ideas included – solar wheel barrow (glass sheet on top), a mesh screen resting on the dash board of your car (windows just slightly ajar for air circulation). Great for peaches, figs, tomatoes…
And very best of all, we wind it all up by sampling some of the passionate preserves produced by Amy and Shani – pears with vanilla bean and lemon zest served with baked custard, lemon cordial, sundried tomatoes, fig jam… truly delicious!
Thankyou! We are thoroughly inspired!
If you are interested in coming along to our nights – email Shani on email@example.com) We meet on the first Wednesday of each month at 7:00 in the library at Beaconsfield Primary School. Please bring along something to share for a snack and mug for a cuppa
Topics for the next few months include:
March 3rd – Sustainable Clothing with Lesley Thomas and invited guests Bring along some clothing to swap and those evening clothes to donate
April 7th Make your own Alcohol (April 1st is Easter!) Greg will share tips on beer making, Peter will share ideas on making liquers and we are still hoping to find someone to talk on making your own wine (can anyone help? – call Shani)
May 5th – Looch will talk about Vegan and Vegetarian eating and cooking (and she promises to share some recipes including her amazing corn patties!)
June 2nd– (to be confirmed) GM Consumers’ Network
Please contact Shani Graham at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0417 941 991 if you want to be on our email list or you have ideas for future Living Smarties Topics
November 17th, 2009 by Shani
Wow! A small but inspired group of people enjoyed extracting their own honey after hearing from Peter about bees. Everyone enjoyed hearing the wide range of information that Peter shared with us, and he was able to answer all sorts of questions – discussions ranged from the similarities between bees and human gender politics and the uses of propolis (a special “glue” that bees use to fix gaps in their hive) Here is just a small portion of the facts about bees he covered.
Queen bees live for 1 to 4 years
Drone bees live for 6 to 8 weeks
Worker bees live for 6 to 8 weeks
The brood temperature is always 34 deg C
It take 500 workers 4 weeks to make 1kg of honey
Queens can lay up to 2,000 eggs in 1 day
It takes 21 days from an egg to a bee.
A hive contains approx 30,000-60,000 bees
Each bee frame has about 3,000 cells on each side of the frame. (6,000 cells per frame)
Bees are attracted to Dark colours which can excite them, so it is best to wear light colours & NOT dark. (Hats and Socks as well)
100 bee hives can use up to 1,000 litres of water in a week, that’s 10 litres each bee hive each week.
Bees can beat their wings up to 200 times per Second as they fly. (They have 4 wings) This is how they make their buzzing noise.
Bees can carry 50% of their weight in a load of honey and a Jumbo Jet can only carry about 25% of their weight.
Honey does not have a use by date, In Egypt they found honey that could be eaten after 2,000 years.
Bees need to eat about 7 kilograms of honey to make 1 kilogram of bees wax.
Pollen contains high levels of protein, 1 kilogram of pollen contains the same protein as 5 kilo of beef.
Bees use only about 1 teaspoon of honey to fly around the world.
If you are stung by a bee always scrape out the sting, never pull it out!
But the highlight of the evening was after the formal talking was over. We moved outside and chief honey extractor Aaron (at three and a half years of age) showed us how to use the hand spun machine extract honey from the honey filled frames Peter brought along. Norm managed to get covered in honey and we all thoroughly enjoyed the taste of the unprocessed product.
Peter has several hives in the Fremantle, White Gum Valley and Coolbellup area and he prefers to sell his honey locally if possible. Shani and Tim always have some at their place, so get in touch with them if you are interested in purchasing local unprocessed honey from Peter.
As always seems to happen at Living Smarties it was inspiring to hear from someone so passionate about their area of interest, and we are all appreciative of the time Peter put into putting his presentation together and the effort he made to bring all his gear.
Next month we are planning an end of year dinner, sharing and celebration, along with a screening of the movie FLOW which will be held at the end of Hulbert Street on Friday night December 4th.
Freo Living Smarties
End of Year Dinner and Film Night
Friday December 4th 2009
At the end of Hulbert Street, South Fremantle
Bring your family and friends
6:00 pm for dinner – bring food to share
Bring a chair to sit on (or pillows)
7:30pm for the movie FLOW and discussion
FLOW – For Love Of Water.
Water sustains our planet. Without it there would be nothing . . . come and see Irena Salina’s award winning documentary investigation into what experts label the most important political and environmental issue of the 21st century – The World Water Crisis
For more information call Shani on 0417 941 991
November 3rd, 2009 by Shani
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Our chook night, held on Wednesday October 14th was another great night of sharing – thanks to Ian and Sandy who presented and shared their love of all things chicken, those who sat on the panel and especially Nadia, our special guest. Nadia is a 14 year old chicken who still occasionally lays an egg!
Thanks to Ian and Sandy for the info below
10 Good Reasons to Have Chooks in Your Backyard…
1. Chooks give you infinite pleasure.
2. They are good pets for kids & adults.
3. Chooks will save you money.
4. They turn your scraps into eggs.
5. Chooks give you free fertiliser.
6. You will get fresh ethically produced eggs.
7. Chooks eat garden pests.
8. You will reduce your food miles.
9. Mouth-watering Roast Chicken – reconnect with where your food comes from.
10. There is nothing better than seeing a child with his/her chook with a mob of chicks!
10 Things that Chooks Need
4. Other Chooks
5. Dust Bathing Areas
6. Shell Grit
7. Clean Water
9. Protection from
hawks, foxes, dogs
How to Find Chooks
In WA there are lots of places you can find the chook for you. Here are a few suggestions…
You can buy the Quokka Thursday and find a whole range of chooks advertised, from day old chicks to laying hens, free chooks, breeding pairs, roosters etc.
OR You can go Online…
WA Poultry Trader
Clucky Hen Hatchery
This website is great for chook info www.simplynaturalorganic.com
Note: Each council in Perth has their own set of regulations for keeping chooks and will tell you if you can have roosters or not, so it is worth checking it out with them.