Welcoming the Winter Solstice

  In the Southern Hemisphere, as we observe the passing of the ‘Winter Solstice’, it is time to welcome the returning light. Time to tune in to the changing cycles and seasons of nature and embrace the ‘midwinter’! The southern Winter solstice, which falls on the 21st of June, is an astronomical phenomenon that marks the ‘shortest’ day and ‘longest’, darkest night of the year. The blanket of dusk falls early (around 5.15 pm in Melbourne), capping off the days that we experience the least amount of daylight … but also heralding the start of the slow march towards Spring. Time to light…

Transition Town Convergence

Sustainability in action, on a local level, within a global context. The first ‘Transition Town’ initiative was established in Totnes, in Devon, England, in 2006 … and new Transition Towns have been popping up ever since, across the UK and in many other countries, including Australia. Victoria alone is home to more than 60 initiatives, at varying stages of development or maturity. Each local Transition group takes on a life of its own, according to the skills and goals of the local community that supports it. Inspiration and ideas are drawn from the local context as well as other Transition initiatives, while resources, training…

Indigenous Culture and Permaculture

Learning From the Past, Planning for the Future … ‘Caring for country’ is at the heart of indigenous cultures across the world. Since ancient times, their careful observation, understanding and respect for the land, and their intimate knowledge of the seasons and cycles of nature has generally resulted in communities that have lived in harmony with their environment and with the earth’s natural life support systems. There remains much that we can learn from such traditional practices and knowledge bases. Especially at a time when the world is seeking more sustainable ways of operating in the bid to address the significant environmental and…

Celebrating Indigenous culture – NAIDOC Week

  NAIDOC Week is an annual event that focuses attention on the richness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and the valuable contributions that indigenous people make to this country. It provides a chance for all of us to recognise, acknowledge and celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Australia’s First People. It also provides an opportunity to reflect upon our shared history. Today’s descendants of the original inhabitants of this country are part of the oldest continuously living culture on earth. This connection stretches back 60,000+ years, to the ancestors of the past and it also provides a…

Permaculture Goes Global

The first sunday of May marks the annual ‘International Day of Permaculture’ – a celebration of permaculture around the world. Over the past seven years, what started out as a grass roots Australian initiative has since grown into a global day of permaculture activities and events, celebrated in over 35 countries. In fact, the activities often extend throughout the month of May. Bill Mollison and David Holmgren’s early development of the ‘permaculture’ concept, in Tasmania in the mid-1970s, arose out of their research and investigation into ethical and environmentally sustainable forms of ‘permanent agriculture’ and the social structures to support this. Permaculture has since evolved into a global…

Bush Foods with Bruce Pascoe

When it comes to sharing knowledge about indigenous culture and aboriginal land management practices, author, Bruce Pascoe, is a bit of a guru … despite his rather humble and unassuming manner. Bruce was on the road for a series of speaking engagements in Melbourne and rural Victoria this month, and I caught up with him at the indigenous EEL Festival at Lake Bolac, and also in Daylesford. The Hepburn Relocalisation Network hosted a special day of events on April 7, entitled ‘Land Cultures and Permaculture Futures’, featuring Bruce Pascoe and David Holmgren, co-originator of ‘Permaculture’ (a method for ethically producing food and living…

Adapting to Climate Change

As we enter early Autumn, after what has been a long and hot, dry summer, El Nino continues to bite and wreak havoc with the weather patterns and rainfall cycles across south-eastern Australia and elsewhere. High temperature records for recent months have not just been broken, they have been smashed! And as Summer rolls into Autumn, here in Melbourne we are facing a forecast for a week of heatwave temperatures, with little rainfall or relief in sight. But as a catalyst for change – such conditions can make us think more deeply about how we can plan for the gardens and the…