For the last four Tuesday evenings I have been attending ACF GreenHome Community Workshops, which have been held in our shire. They have been a great success and are very well run by the GreenHome team and the volunteer ACF Community leaders, of which I am proud to say am one of. A big thank you goes out to Michele, Ross and Bruce from the ACF who organised the events and made them fun to attend.
Tuesday night we got together into groups and began working through the actions that we had decided upon in the previous weeks workshop. The three groups were;
- Community Garden in Caroline Springs
- Community Enterprise
I helped lead the Permablitz group and during the first session we wrote down ideas from everyone based around the entire theme. The Permablitz concept is basically like the TV show 'Backyard Blitz' but with two big differences. Firstly, you spend a lot of time learning about permaculture with a very hands on approach, and secondly, instead of getting an outdoor room, you make a food garden with the help of lots of other like-minded people. It can be executed very slowly or over a single weekend.
During the second session we watched a presentation given by Andrew Bray from Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions (BREAZE), about how the group formed in 2006 and how it has grown from strength to strength over the last four years. Here is a two part video of his presentation. Andrew gave me his permission to put it up on YouTube to share.
The BREAZE website (www.breaze.org.au) is a wealth of information, and even provides info about how to start a climate action group. I actually used their info to assist me when I was figuring out how to form the Melton Sustainable Living Group! It was really that helpful and made my job just a little less painful.
Andrew is a great bloke and extremely passionate about climate change and community actions. I had a great chat to him afterwards about all things community group wise and we swapped details. I do believe that our groups will keep in touch moving forward.
The third session was the prize draw for those people who had attended all four community workshops. Guess who's name was drawn out of the hat first? Yes, you guessed it, it was me! I had the choice of a worm farm or a compost bin, but as I already have two worm farms and three compost bins, with a fledgling compost heap on the go, I thought it best to decline the prize and I asked for it to be redrawn. They put my name back in the hat, and eventually I won again, this time I chose a weather strip for a door which will come in handy for the kitchen renovation that we are going through.
In the fourth session, our permablitz group (now renamed permasnail due to the fact that we won't be blitzing anything at first) refined the first four priorities for our action to be successful and to get it off the ground. Firstly, a meeting in the next two weeks, and agenda which is under way, sharing of contact details, and the list of ideas to go through at the meeting. After the first meeting, it is anyone's guess to where we end up, but I do have lots of ideas having had transformed my own suburban yard into a food forest! I dare say a visit to my urban farm for the group may be in order to help them get a better idea of what is possible over the course of a few years.
Finally, the evening ended with quick critique of all the sessions over the course of the four weeks. My presentation on the second week scored 67 out of 10 (difficult to describe I know), so I was chuffed to bits.
All of the community leaders will be catching up on a monthly basis so we can share our experiences. That will definitely keep the leadership group cohesive and the spark alive.
Last night the Melton Sustainable Living Group held an education night where we watched the documentary "Food Inc.", which was attended by 6 of us. It was an eye opening view of the way the industrial food complex. Here is a brief synopsis;
Food, Inc. is a documentary about the state of the food industry within the United States. Food is cheaper and more abundant than it has ever been, but how is this the case? We have detached ourselves from how food ends up on our plates. Food is marketed to us as if it comes from a little farm with a white fence and rolling hills but this is simply an illusion. The food actually comes from mega factory farms. Our society has cheaper food but there have been more E. coli and Salmonella outbreaks in the past twenty years than ever before and obesity and the rate of diabetes are through the roof. Food, Inc. discusses how these problems have developed, how our society’s food has evolved over the years, why our food is cheaper, where it is coming from, and the unsafe conditions from which it comes from.
Suffice to say, the conversation was very interesting after the film had finished, and it really spurred me on to grow even more of my own food as I believe that other members will as well. As I have in the past 3 years, I re-confirmed my pledge to never to visit another McDonald's restaurant ever again in my lifetime. Watch the movie and you will understand what I am on about.
Anyway, an action packed few days and I am looking forward to catching up with the new "Permasnail" group very soon and helping it grow.