Lifestuff


Here in Tassie, the weather has become a bit more unpredictable; wet and windy with a sprinkling of snow. Yes, we are very nearly at the official end of winter.

The comfort food I have been indulging in has broadened my waistline. My evenings are still mostly spent in. I sleep long, but awaken refreshed.

But the odd springlike day has me thinking of upping my exercise and downing my alcohol and food consumption. I tend to crave more fresh greens and less the steamed ones. I start to dream of summer fruit. Not so much of the tropical fruits, but rather of cherries and berries, which will be plentiful in the Tasmanian summer.

I have been observing seasonal changes in my surroundings and wondering what it would be like if I mirrored these seasonal patterns in my own life.

If I lived seasonally, perhaps I wouldn’t be working every week. Perhaps sometimes I would work in the office or studio a number of days in a row and then break for a month to tend gardens and friendships. I probably wouldn’t adhere to a nine-to-five routine. Possibly, if I lived seasonally, I’d spend my winters somewhere warmer, returning each spring to Tasmania.

Here are links to a few websites that discuss seasonal living:

Living With The Seasons: What Are You Doing Right Now? A nice post about seasonal living, Ziggy ends by asking: “What would it look like if we all lived more seasonally? What would you be doing right now?”

James likes to get his gear off, and he also talks about living seasonally here: James’ Diary by James Strawbridge

Cooking seasonally: Naturally Simple Blog

Living in Season: slow time, seasonal celebrations, holidays This is a whole website devoted to seasons, and while I’m not really fond of the design, it features some interesting recipes and links (for example Nocino or Walnut Liqueur!)

If you have seasonal living experiences you have blogged about or would like to share, please email me enquiry[at]herenowcollective.com.au or post a comment on the blog.

red treeplaceblog’s most recent post about maps talks about how artists are drawing on mapping conventions to question territory and re-imagine place.

In the daily life of cities, people are always on the move and always heading somewhere in the random harriedness of the streets; passengers anxiously straining to catch sight of their bus heading towards them. Looking into these works, there is the lure of other kinds of movement – of journeying elsewhere – while simultaneously straining to know our place. In tracing their pathways, we might end up in the middle of nowhere, though not before exploring that unquenchable longing to be if not somewhere then somewhere else.

I’ve said it before, mapping is so hot right now, and it seems that the link between urban living and mapping is particularly strong.

Last post, I talked about the work of fallen fruit and a project that I love, public fruit maps.  I also wrote that I would be looking at some Australian sites and projects that use food to build community. While it seems that Melbourne plays host to a particularly vibrant food-community-activism scheme, I couldn’t find much in the smaller cities at all, and sadly, there also aren’t many that involve art activism. I’m not sure what that says about our artistic community.

Certainly here in Hobart I haven’t heard of a formal food mapping project, but local knowledge about food-sharing is around. So far, by talking to locals, we’ve discovered the location of trees laden with apples in autumn, and fresh hops for beer-making.

So here are some Aussie examples from the web:

The VEIL Food Map is an online, urban food production map of Melbourne. Examples of urban food production include: community gardens, commercial production and market gardens, shared private gardens, and food produced on public space.

The Sharehood is all about sharing resources within your neighbourhood and helps you to meet and make friends with people in your local area. All sorts of things can be shared, such as sewing machines, vegetables, wheelbarrows, tools, cars, books and computers. Skills can be shared too: gardening help, bike fixing, accountancy, language skills, childminding, how to make wine or dance the tango.

Live Local is a place to share stories about improving our communities. Use the website to document your neighbourhood experiments – your stories about your experiences and adventures meeting neighbours, discovering neighbourhoods, improving your local economy, saving energy and making our air and water cleaner.

And of course, there is the vibrant Transition Towns movement, which has reached most regions of Australia. If you know of a local example of food-art-activism-community-building, drop me a line.

Collaborative cooking ventures known as underground or secret supper clubs are a fairly  recent phenomenon. I am not sure if there are any in Australia.

You book online, and are sent a confirmation email with address. You dine with maybe six to twenty guests and, at the end, pay a contribution for your food and wine.

The meal is served in a private establishment, probably someone’s house, but what you eat is restaurant quality.

While I am sure the food and the experience for the guests is outstanding, it seem to me that the experience for the chefs is what prompted the movement in the first place.

From this article in the Atlantic:

But it’s my time in the kitchen that had stuck with me. I can’t imagine living with three roommates, let alone operating a business together to boot. And yet on Saturday I saw none of the shouting and contretemps that propel reality cooking shows and bedevil professional kitchens. Bonhomie may be amateurism’s greatest virtue.

The writer is excited by the casual and playful atmosphere that this form of collaborative cooking creates. Another article in the NY Times says:

They are not in it for the money or for Buddha Bar-size crowds; instead, they say, they are in it for the community and the creative freedom. It’s hard to imagine even the most adventurous legitimate restaurant encouraging customers to hack the hindquarters off a boar’s carcass. And underground restaurants have found their niche. Stringing together the farm-to-table movement and a bloggy kind of interactivity, they have gained a following among food lovers, mostly in their 20s and 30s, who have an opinion on local versus organic, prefer intimate and casual to grand and ceremonial, and are open to meeting people and building connections in new ways.

Wouldn’t this be most people’s preferred environment for creativity? Pat Kane, author of The Play Ethic, talks about work as play. He asks:

What would organisations be like which encouraged creativity, open-ended learning and experiment – the essence of play – as preferred characteristics for their employees or colleagues? What kinds of products, services and actions would these “players” generate?

Since reading his book a few years ago, I’ve been on the lookout for organisations who have the values of play as a foundation of their operation.

Underground supper clubs seem to be one example of this. People are interested in working in playful collaborative environments. If they can’t play in their workplaces, then they create their own spaces, in their own time, out of virtually nothing, for some serious after-hours fun.

For truly sustainable cities the former mayor of Curitiba says first you must get rid of your car.

Living without a car doesn’t have to be a total drag. While I have at times found it difficult to do without one, it certainly saves me money!

For the most part you can easily adapt to life without a car if you live in a city or large town that has good public transport. You will never miss your car, and the cost of bus tickets will be quickly off-set by the money you save by not having to pay for parking!

To continue to live without a car it is essential when moving house to live as near to trains, trams and buses as possible. The rent may be slightly higher, but just remember you are not paying to run a car.

The only times I miss having a car is when doing the weekly shopping (for instance, when it is raining, not so much fun!), picking up big loads, or to take a trip out of town on the weekend.

If you want to try living without owning a car try these strategies:

  • Join a car-sharing company (In Australia I use one called Flexicar)
  • Try a car-pooling site
  • Alternatively you could set up your own car-sharing arrangement, (It works best if you car-share with your neighbours, or someone living very close by)
  • Buy a bicycle with a trailer attachment (or panniers)
  • Take a taxi (even one trip a week will be cheaper than running a car!)
  • Rent a car (especially good for weekend trips out of town, and even a few trips a year is cheaper than owning your own car)

The white mould forms on the outside of the cheese

I mean here in Hobart, not the philosophical ‘why am I here?’

Actually, Hobart is on the way to Cabanandra. I don’t mean this in a geographical sense, but rather in a strategic sense.

Ok, so Hobart is actually a city, not a country town, or an isolated rural area. However, moving away from Melbourne has provided us with new insights and a new set of skills.

We know that our relationship can survive the stresses of moving, and we can even laugh about it (later!). We know that we can find work, learn new skills, make new friends, and enjoy exploring a new place. Sure, there are plenty of things I might do differently, but I know I can do it again, when I need to.

Christmas is coming, and at the moment, its a great time to relax. To take in the glorious spring growth, eat lovely food, drink great wine and hang out with friends. To take stock of what we have achieved in just nine months, with little savings, but plenty of energy and passion.

Making (or finding) a place to call your own isn’t just about buying (or building) a house. It is just as important to pay attention to all those other things: work, friends, exploring, socialising and community participation. In some ways we have down-sized. We earn less, we have less space, we have fewer possessions. But looked at another way, we have actually up-sized.

No, we are not just surviving, we are thriving.

Some links to Sea / Tree change stories (not all positive)

Charles Sturt University research

Regional Living Australia blog post

The Sea Change

Transformations Journal

Rural life not so sweet

Live the Dream

Definition: That which is produced, brought forth, or yielded; product; yield; proceeds; result of labor, especially of agricultural labors.

My little camemberts

My Little Camemberts

CuttingA little less than a week in Cabanandra, but we had plenty to do. Working bees, websites, visits and parties. The sun shone brightly and the wind blew fiercely. It looks very dry.

The shed progressed. A little bit closer to finished. We also spent a day or so clearing away the ti-tree. They are predicting another dire summer, and our little bit of clearing may be the difference between a shed standing or one burnt to the ground.

The main thing is that it not become a responsibility for anyone else, as I imagine Cabanandrites will be busy enough protecting their own buildings.

Still, it was somewhat ironic that, in order to ensure that we had less fuel for a bushfire, we had to do so much burning! Mulching seems the much better option. However, we are not rich enough to purchase one of those mulching machines.

Something like this.

We both agree, however that having a campfire is actually on of THE highlights of our stay at Cabanandra.

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