Nicole Foss and David Holmgren WA Talks and Workshops

Co-convenor Damien Meridith’s review –Photos by Michele Kwok

Those of us in Perth, and those who travelled from out of town, were very fortunate to recently have both Nicole Foss and David Holmgren visit and give a presentation on Global Finance and Permaculture. I would like to say a very big thanks to Shani of Ecoburbia for all her hard work organising and facilitating this truly beneficial event and thanks to all the volunteers that helped out both on the days of the events held and during Nicole and David’s stay here.

David and Shani

Nicole and Shani

Both Nicole and David’s presentations both spoke of our current situation from world-wide, national and local perspectives and presented the reasons that society is on an unsustainable path with respect to issues such as the global financial systems and their limitations, peak oil and climate change. They told of how we can no longer continue down the road of continuous, endless expansion as we have since the beginning of industrial times without meeting some very rude and abrupt consequences. Whilst this is not news many of us haven’t heard to some degree before, I found these to be the most compelling discussions I have heard to date on this topic. I think all of us that attended felt far more motivated to build more resilience into our home systems and how we live our lives after having heard both Nicole and David speak.

The messages given during the presentations were not all ‘Doom and Gloom’ though, there were also the positives of how we are able to reduce our reliance on things such as fossil fuels, how we can utilise space in our yards for productive permaculture systems to meet as many of our own needs as possible and how we can switch to a society less focussed on the monetary economy. The most important part of the paradigm shift required as a society is the refocussing on our local communities and re-localising. Locally sourcing our food, for example, is a definite step in the right direction and an example of something we can change immediately with no need for planning or time to make the change. These are the things we should prioritise to change first and start focussing on, then we can move to acquiring knowledge or working towards things that require a substantial financial investment such as retrofitting with solar panels.

Foss and Holmgren Tables

One thing is quite certain, and that is the uncertainty of our future. It is, however, in our hands to choose to move to a more sustainable future on the personal level first. We can all choose to do what is in our power to re-localise our lives and the way we live them.

I thoroughly enjoyed these presentations and workshops and I cannot recommend them enough to others that have an opportunity to attend.

Reflections from Michele Kwok

A big thanks to Michele from PermacultureWest for her photos and videos.

The message from Nicole Foss is that the swing of economical expansion and contraction is getting bigger, too big for banks or governments of any country to control. We can’t prevent the facts that bust follows boom, no government can prevent this.

We need to look at where we are in that cycle, what lessons we learn from history and apply that in our time and act accordingly. The focus should be on community, building relationships, security and being surrounded by people who care and who can work together. This an opportunity to learn our lessons that we cannot afford to waste.

“We can’t change the waves but we can learn to surf”. (Hmm that’s a quote from Nicole Foss summing up on youtube.)

David Holmgren used a scenario called aussie street in his Sunday talk. He followed a street with 4 households over a few decades and showed how families expand and contract, change in social circumstances, use of space, time spent away at work and GHG (green house gas) emissions.

Holmgren Aussie Street

David Holmgren thinks that climate change has been triggered in a way that is unlikely to be stoppable. (I think that’s what he said in his talk). It’s all about adapting and responding to change, understanding issues with energy descent and having an action plan ready for it at different level.

For me it’s always back to the first and the last permaculture principle…observe and interact, creatively use and respond to change at individual, community and local government levels.

Thanks to Michele’s efforts ( here are some of the unedited videos we are allowed to share (the high quality recording cant).,,,,,,,

Tim and Shani – Extract from Ecoburbia’s Email Recap

Thanks to everyone for attending the recent Global Finance and Permaculture and workshops with Nicole Foss and David Holmgren.

Ecoburbia enjoys hosting speakers such as Nicole and David, but there are only two of us and we always need people on the ground for short term jobs. I am always blown away by not only the willingness of people to help, but the enthusiasm and initiative they show. From cooking meals to sweeping the hall floor, collecting weeds for flower displays to organising food, name tags, hot water . . . . . You know who you are and I thank you.

Nicole Foss will be returning to Australia in September and would love to visit Perth again. Her talk and workshops this time around will include examples of resilient communities she has seen from around the world.

Sadly Ecoburbia is not in a position to host an event with Nicole, but we are happy to support another group to do so. We can accommodate Nicole and are willing to underwrite the cost of any event organised so there will be no financial risk for community groups. Her visit could also include a country tour. Please get in touch if you want to discuss this further……Tim and Shani

I missed the presentations too, but here is some further reading/thoughts for follow up (Charles Otway)

Quoting from ””

“The shift of metaphor from ‘retrofitting’ to ‘surfing’ suggests a stronger role for positive risk taking behaviour change without the need for expensive changes to the built environment; that few will be able to afford. Returning to Aussie St, David shows how the permaculture makeover and behaviour change is progressing through the second Great Depression. Aussie St is not only surviving but thriving through the “dumpers” that property bubble collapse, climate chaos and geopolitical energy shocks have unleashed on the lucky country. ”

” The two will inform Australians how it’s possible, although not inevitable, to weather the coming storms with grace, rebuild community solidarity and provide a bulwark against the worst expressions of fear, blame and zenophobia that naturally arise in times of hardship. Most importantly, it will highlight how a small but significant minority following a path of enlightened self interest, and informed by permaculture design principles, may have a more powerful and positive influence than mass movements demanding their rights from weak and ineffective governments.”

If you also missed out you can do a bit of background reading and purchasing of resources at the following links.

For those asking if high quality video and audio recording was taken, yes it was,  but we are not allowed to distribute it as the tour material is still being presented/sold.

Nicole Foss At this website you will find DVD and downloads of most of Nicole’s talks.

Retrofitting the Suburbs for the Energy Descent Future  David Holmgren Simplicity Institute Report  This is the talk Shani attended in 2006.

The Party’s Over. Oil War and the Fate of Industrial Societies by Richard Heinberg. New Society Publishers.

Permaculture – Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability

Permaculture Principles

Permablitz  There are also local permablitz groups. Contact PermacultureWest  or Freo Permies for more details.

Resilience.Org  For stories of building resilience from all over the world Future

Future Scenarios For a more detailed explanation of David’s four future scenarios

Transition Culture

Ecoburbia  or on facebook. Ecoburbia is a housing development, and a small business works to build resilience in our suburbs. We organise many community activities.

See Shani’s Take a Street and Build a Community TEDxPerth talk to see how Ecoburbia’s work was inspired by David’s work

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