Parr's Permaculture Design

Parr's Permaculture Design

Sunday, October 3, 2010

28th Jan - "Glass Half Full..."

3rd Group Email:

Hey hey!  It's time for another update! 

Hope you're going well... the first month of 2010 proving fruitful, fun-full, friend-full, restful, healthful. It has for me, that's for sure. Thanks to all of you who worte back with your own news, or to comment on mine. Its so nice to be connected to people while on this amazing journey of discovery. 
I hit NZ tonight, here's an update about the last month...  

Last time I wrote I had just arrived Nimbin, fresh out of Woodford Folk Festival. I spent the next 3 weeks in the modest town located in Northern NSW, inland from Byron Bay.  Its a town of only a few hundred people which is controversially known as a drug den, illegal sanctuary, complete with its own hemp museum. It was quite a pleasant surprise to spend a decent amount of time there and find a whole lot more than people on or selling drugs, as you might expect given the gossip you hear associated so often to Nimbin.  
After a few days of decompression at my friend Janee's house just outside Nimbin, I found myself at Djanbung (Platypus) Gardens Permaculture Education Centre to embark on the course around which this whole trip has been carved. 
As soon as I got there I got a big fat hug from my good friend Tracey, one of my oldest Aussie friends from Melbourne. I forgot I was going to see her, so that was an awesome surprise! Tracey and her partner John are currently studying the Cert III in Permaculture, last year they posted a million inspiring photos on Facebook which caught my eye and voila, I booked myself on the short intensive design course (72-hr PDC).

I arrived almost a week early so that I could get my WWOOFing discount. In return for 20% off the course fee and free accommodation I helped out on the farm for all 5 days. 5 sweaty long hot humid sweaty days.  Did I mention the sweat?  Wowsers!  Serious humidity, plus energetic manual labour (mostly pushing a petrol mower around, cutting grass up to my knees) plus minimum 30 degrees most of the day, equals sweat... lots of it.  I think around day 3 it rained.  It rained and rained and rained and oh how sweet it was to push the mower around in the rain. 
As you can probably imagine I was quite glad to start the course after all the hard work and sweat. Slowly the participants arrived on the first day and by 2pm everyone had arrived for the course intro session. We did our introductions (unbelievably, there were two other Brummies in the room!!! Brummies are people from Birmingham - where I was born - what's the chance of 3 in the same room on the same course??? Freaky!). There were 12 of us in total. During the course we each signed up for daily jobs, such as feeding the animals, weeding, prepping food, washing up, cleaning... my favourite was feeding the pigs. Pure entertainment! 
Robyn Francis created Djanbung and did a bloody good job if you ask me, designing the education centre herself on 5.5 acres of land. Compacted mud brick building, water & waste recycling, you name it, she designed it. Awesome! 

I'd love to go through my whole PDC experience in one email but it would be an incredibly long email, so I'll give you an idea with some words/phrases:
Pigs, ducks, chooks, turkeys, 3 railway carriages for accommodation, campsite, composting loos, orchard, bamboo for construction (I am so inspired by bamboo!), reed beds that turn black water (sewage) into pond water, swales, dams, food forest, wallabies, kookaburras, snakes, lizards, bandicoots, possums... 
Learning modes, patterns in nature, zones 1-5, water harvesting, bush food walk in tropical rain forest, animals, succession, soil, pest management, building structures, intentional communities, compost, worms, sector analysis, catastrophe, tour of Jarlanbah Intentional Community, organic water treatment, 
Video nights, end-of-PDC open stage show, ginger beer, meeting the locals, free swimming pool in town, juggling by the pool, Hanging Rock with the kids (most amazing swimming hole ever!), hanging out and chatting with Ko a guy on the course, communal dinners, Robyn's cooking, mum & dad visiting for a day... 

I think you get the idea... lots of inspiration, a super crammed head full of information... what to do with it all? I expect (hope) that will become clear over the next 2 months!

So from Nimbin, I flew direct to the Sydney Juggling Convention, which ended a couple of days ago.  Wow!  What a culture shock.  I was a bit apprehensive about the imminent transition from deep rural to major urban, but it had to be done.  I arrived SJC just a few hours after leaving Nimbin, and it took me a good few hours to come to terms with it. My immediate feeling regarded the throwing of plastic in the air and catching them again as ridiculousness. But I also didn't want to just forget about what happened in Nimbin, start juggling and forget the valuable lessons I learned while in Nimbin - Permaculture is a way to live sustainably, a vehicle we can use to repair the damage to the earth so far inflicted, a way to bring the community together, to help each other help ourselves. I truly believe in it. 
But, back to juggling... I get it again now.... Of course, its heaps of fun! 
Favourite moments:
Wes Peden showing me 6 ways into 5-clubs using multiplexes, after me showing him one that I can't do very well - he hadn't seen it before (!) but landed it straight away.  
Wes Peden comfortably winning the 7-ball endurance with 7 clubs.
All the people wearing MJC t-shirts!  So many of them! 
Learning 7 new hula hoop tricks.
Several people coming up to me and congratulating me on MJC success.
Seeing all my friends from Melbourne (27 people came up from Melbourne for SJC)
Realising how fantastic the juggling community is in Australia, how united we are, makes me so happy. 

Wow, its an epic email this time.  Thanks for reading, I better pack my stuff up and call a cab. 

Will write again in a month when I get to Tassie. BTW you're still invited to send me some news from your end, or just to say hi!  

Much love, have a fantastic February. 

Christian xxx

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