Sunday, October 16, 2011

Utopia and Flying Pigs

Over the weekend two friends and I went to Fremantle to participate in a facilitator’s course so that we can offer a program locally on creating a more sustainable life. I really enjoyed the weekend and learnt a lot about my own sustainable journey, gained inspiration and direction. And of course I picked up some good facilitation tips which are what I went for in the first place.

We spent 3 days learning and discussing and one of the things that particularly stood out to me in conversation was people’s desire for Utopia. By our very nature we are constantly looking for ‘more’ and what stands out in the sustainability crowd is this idea of a Sustainably Holy Grail. A fictional place with lush green meadows, singing birds, rainbows and none of the ‘bad’ things we have in our current life that we are trying to get away from. A place that meets all our needs - physical, emotional and mental - and a good deal of our wants.

For some this is growing their own food, throwing grain to the chickens clucking around at their feet, plucking carrots from the soil, giving them a light brush off and taking a big crunchy bite. For others it is working in the office of their passive solar straw bale home, watching their kids play outside through their triple glazed windows while they tap away at the keys of their laptop that’s powered by the solar panels on their roof.

I understand the need to have a goal, a future, a direction that you can aim towards. But an important step in long-term goal setting is working backwards from that end point to today and creating measurable steps to lead you there. The fervent talkers, with a far off look in their eyes recite their perfect ideals and lofty dreams of ‘somewhere else’ and seem to miss this point. (Have you noticed how this utopia is generally in another location from where they are?)

Certainly no existing village, town, city or country has everything sorted in a way that can be sustained for the future. There is no place that is perfect – even if we could define what it would look like – and if there was, the world is a changing place so it is unlikely to stay that way. Peak oil, climate change, the re-emergence of certain diseases in our society, bacterial mutations, waste and natural disasters are just a few of the things that will affect every place on Earth.

There is NO Utopia. By focusing on Utopia you are actually preventing growth and change where you are right now. Every person, family and community needs to make changes that balance economics, society and environment and define what sustainability means to them. There is room for improvement and change in every setting and it’s up to us to make them happen.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


I have been thinking about resolutions today. I don't normally make them, but I have been hit by a need to get more organised. I think things could run more smoothly and that I could use my time more efficiently.

The housework always manages to get done, even when the timetable is overloaded. Creative time, on the other hand, seems to evaporate when the schedule gets busy. The garden gets a bit neglected. The sewing room door remains shut. The days seem too full for fun and I hit the pillow worn out but not tired.

I have learnt over the last couple of months that I need time to be creative. It makes me a much happier person and fulfills me in a way that other activities can't. Whether it be sewing, drawing, writing, painting or crafting, I feel more positive when that need has been met.

I want to smile more, laugh and be open to the possibilities that present themselves. I want to say yes more often.

I want to relax more. To take those small opportunities of calm and peace whenever they arise.

I want to focus more on my health and write exercise that I enjoy into my days. Whether it be going for walk along the beach, riding our bikes, yoga in the backyard or jumping on the trampoline. When we are fit and strong, the day always seems easier and you sleep better.

The garden planner needs to be synced into my daily timetable. I have this dream that our garden can feed us the majority of our fruit and veg. At this stage though there are gaps in the seasons. We have weeks without lettuce and then a glut and that sort of thing. This is all about planning, whether you have a food forest or a high intensity system.

I want to plant weekly. Seeds and seedlings. Most of our seedlings are raised from seed in a small hothouse, so that requires some forethought. There also needs to be time for harvesting and preserving. Jams, dehydrating, bottling.

Part of harvesting and preserving is menu planning our nightly meals. I love to get up in the morning and already have dinner organised. I know what to prepare and that I have everything in the pantry/freezer/garden to make it. Focusing on seasonal eating is definitely cheaper, fresher and easier to get locally.

I generally write out a list of eight meals for the week and then we just pick and choose on the day. On our days that are full of outings, I like to have everything prepared in the morning and I keep it simple. It prevents those fast and unhealthy meals that can become a very poor substitute.

DragonGirl is year four this year. Even though we do a blend of life-learning and unschooling and our schedule has been pretty relaxed up until now, I feel it is time for a little more structure. It is partly about her prefered learning style and partly about me needing more time to do the things I need/want to do too.

One of the positives of home educating is that we can tailor our timetable and focus to suit our needs, and to make changes as the need arises.

Corby has been home for a week which has been great. Going to the beach, riding our bikes, watching dvds, sleeping in (even the kids did a few times!), going out at midnight to watch fireworks, painting Boo's bike, reading, snuggling on the couch outside. All nourishing to us and our relationships.

Besides catching up as a family and relaxing, it has given me the space to plan and prepare for the term. It has been a week of recharging, refocusing and reconnecting. I am very thankful that we've had it.