Archive for the ‘News’ 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.
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 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!
March 10th, 2010 by Shani
(We got this email from a guest who has come to stay with us a few times. I thought I would share it)
My husband and I have stayed at the Painted Fish many times before, in all of the accommodation options: the Carriage, the Cottage and the Studio. I can’t decide which one I prefer. I like the Carriage for the “cute” factor and its outdoor shower; the Cottage for its unique blend of old world charm and modern eco-designs; and the Studio for its funky red couches and general air of style.
Wherever I do stay, there are a few things that always happen:
- I feel like I’ve reconnected with old friends;
- I come away feeling inspired to do more with my own garden, my own community;
- It never feels long enough;
- I feel like I’ve nourished my soul and all of my senses.
Upon our arrival at the Painted Fish, the first thing that usually strikes me is the earthy fragrances of wooden floorboards, fresh linen and herbs in the garden. It calms me instantly.
I never cease to be amazed at the craftsmanship in the buildings – Tim’s clever iron work can be seen all around the place – on the beds, shower heads, gates and stairwells – and his fantastic paintings decorate the walls, along with a variety of other artists’ works.
For me, staying at the Painted Fish is about staying put and allowing myself the time to sit in the sun with a newspaper and a cup of tea (Tim and Shani have a great collection of teapots and old-fashioned cups and saucers – tea always tastes better out of a proper cup!), or listening to some relaxing music while dozing on the couch.
The atmosphere is perfect for this. In the main courtyard, the large Japanese Pepper tree catches the breeze and the frog pond makes for a serene addition to the garden, which also provides fresh herbs and some veggies, should I have the inclination to cook (if not, there are many restaurants and cafes an easy stroll away).
If I’m feeling energetic I will walk down to South Beach (which is only five minutes away) or catch the free bus into Fremantle. Tim and Shani also have bikes that you can use to get around – if you’re really keen, which I rarely am!
I always get a great night’s sleep, helped along by the plush pillows and comfy beds, and when I wake up and see the sun twinkling through the leaves on the Japanese Pepper tree, I’m ready to do it all over again.
August 21st, 2009 by Shani
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We live in a fairly high density street in South Freo WA. For the last two mornings we have been hearing a rooster at dawn. We lay in bed talking about how nice it was, hoped no one complained to the council (we all have chooks!), wondered where it was, if we could borrow it for breeding etc etc.
The second morning I commented it sounded like it was still learning how to crow. Tim suddenly said “what if it’s ours?”
Friends had given us three baby bantams two weeks ago and sure enough – “Cauliflower” was crowing!
So I called my 65 year old mum (I grew up on an “urban farm” in Canada killing chickens and rabbits but I was only a child and so was not 100% sure I could remember what to do . . . .)
Mum told us the first thing to do was relax the rooster by a process of hypnosis. Apparently chickens are not over endowed with intellect and so are excellent candidates for hypnosis. After about half an hour of my mum gently swinging a giant love heart bling in front of the chook, it was no more relaxed but Tim was starting to look decidedly glassy eyed.
She and Tim had a lovely time “quieting” the rooster, plucking, gutting etc and today we had the most amazing chicken soup for lunch – all with veges from our suburban garden – potatoes, broccoli, spinach, carrots, corn (dried from last summer). What a feast (and not a shop in sight!!)
We invited a kid from down the road who was home sick – he commented that it felt a bit weird at first but he decided if you couldn’t kill your food you shouldn’t eat it!
But my favourite bit? – seeing my mum and partner sitting side by side while they plucked the rooster, talking about growing food in your own backyard.