Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Collective Good

One of my favourite paintings!  The collective good.
Each member of our family painted themselves about 8
years ago.  We worked on it together, jostling for space.
At the end of the project, once hung, my then 9 yr old daughter remarked:
"Dad, you painted yourself as an African.  Cam and I painted ourselves as cartoons and
Mum,  you painted yourself as a Maori!"  Glad my true colours show! 
On our journey of Sustainable Living Practices, one often has feelers out that draw us to like-minded people.  So when someone emailed me a link to a Permablitz event just down our road at Hugo and Carolyn Verhagen's place, I was like, "Bring it on!!"  I was really keen to be part of a group of like-minded people, all working collaboratively for the good of someone else!  So I signed up for the event and convinced Mike that it would be fun!  He grumbled a little about there being plenty of work in our own garden but somehow he became motivated to join us on an "adventure".  I know a little about Permaculture - in fact, my organic horticulture course had a module on it, requiring me to draw up a map of the garden and then superimpose the different zones onto it.  I could see where some obvious improvements could have been made to our garden design, but it wasn't a great big train smash, given that our garden is only about 600m2, not 4 acres or more!  So you can imagine my surprise when the host asked me to run a mini-workshop!  Oh dear!  I'm afraid I am not really an expert in Permaculture I said, even though we incorporate certain aspects within our gardening processes.  Our permaculture hosts came to visit and introduce themselves and we instantly knew that we spoke the same language.  A kinship.  Okay, so I could run a mini workshop on compost teas, which is not a specific element wholly and soley specific to Permaculture.
Saturday's carrot haul
 The day was set - Sunday 12 August. We have been having torrential downpours and flooding so I gathered up my compost tea demonstrating equipment (basic stuff!) in anticipation of possible rain.  Saturday arrived and the sun shone - Woohooo!  Mike and I toiled in our garden merrily, it seems like ages since the sun shone on a weekend!  Secretly, we scoffed how the weathermen often get it wrong, and that the forecast weather for Sunday would possibly also be a figment of their imaginations.  Saturday night came and the rain set in.  It poured, it gushed, it pounded and deluged!  I lay in bed in the wee small hours of Sunday morning while the rain beat a monotonous loud cacophony of torrential blitz on the roof.  I secretly hoped that it would be called off and was surprised when I got a call to tell me that it would still be going ahead, just one hour later.  Huh??  Kiwis are crazy, I thought!  
We opened up our first bottle of olives for tasting on the weekend
 I wanted  to weep with joy!  The flavour is total Mediterranean
 (says I, who have never ever been to the Med!)
Well, what I hadn't counted on, was Hugo's penchant for minute detailed planning.  He was keeping his eye on an hourly blow by blow weather forecast and we arrived at our hosts as the rain cleared!  20 or so workshop attendees all arrived, with gumboots, spades, wheelbarrows, gloves and an eagerness to get started!  I was blown away by the enthusiasm of the people, and an immediate feeling of kinship!  The ability to feel a part of a bigger force is an amazing experience.  We divided up into groups assigned to 3 different working parties and under the guidance of group leaders, worked on creating a series of concentric vegetable beds to mimic the round chook tractor that Hugo had built, creating a waterway and pond for the storm water from the downpipe in the front of the house, and planting an orchard on the peripherals of the small garden.

Work parties collaborating on design aspects
Hugo, a landscape designer by trade, is very well versed with running a project, so despite two small rain showers, he managed to inspire people and get them busy and involved.  His wife Carolyn had been busy all Saturday cooking up a culinary storm (while one brewed outside) and I am sure we were the best fed labourers this side of the Tasman!!

No payment necessary for this work party, other than some camaraderie,
 learning opportunities and a spectacular lunch!
I met people I would never have had the opportunity to meet in my daily routines, found kindred folk who shared my passion and desire to create an edible community park in our town and felt humbled by the group collectiveness of sharing skills, labour and tools!  (I learned the value of my sharpened spade vs a blunt one!!).

Time to move the chook tractor to it's new bed.
The idea behind the Permablitz is that other folk can put their names forward to benefit from a similiar working party, after attending 3 Permablitzes.  What a wonderful community strengthening activity.  It brings together collective intelligence, skill sets, expertise and manpower.  I LOVE IT!!

Lightweight frame can easily be moved by 2 people.
I won't be putting my hand up for a Permablitz myself, as our systems are already in place and work very well.  Why change what is working successfully?  We did talk about Permablitzing our Kati KaiWay though! Several workshop attendees have expressed an interest in viewing our garden as a working model.  Mike and I are only too happy to share with others...... after all, if some key people (Joe Polaischer) had not inspired us in the first place, we may have still been "Supermarket-Lifestylers".  This wonderful man left a HUGE legacy of knowledge and sharing of Permaculture ideas.  It is vital that we share these ideas with others.  In fact, I almost see it as our duty as kaitiaki o te whenua or  guardians of the Earth. 

I was amused by these giant chooks, compared to my teeny tiny bantam girls
A week ago, I got an email from Nick Ortner of EFT fame, and it began thus:
 "The day that you leave this planet,
how will you be remembered?  

Will you have lived, will you have
loved, will you have given beyond
yourself to the world? " 

Food for thought, really!  Let's share and make this world a better place for all!

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