Carless in the country

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Three years ago we gave up supermarket food. Two years ago we took down the kitchen clock. A year ago we gave up air travel. And, this week we sold our car.

We have spent money on cleaning it and having it “worthy” of the road. We’re a little tense as it’s raining and one of us, eight years old, is not so aware or interested in the effects of the mud on his shoes on the upholstery. We still have some petrol in the tank. It will be enough for the journey. It’s been a year since we made the decision and we have rehearsed being carless all through the winter recording each kilometre travelled, each litre expended, and the extent to which our participation in global resource wars disables our reembodiment, our relocalisation, our humanity. And now, we’re at this point, at this significant milestone of our transition, ready to drive for the last time from the town with very little public transport to the city dripping in it, where the young guy who works for the Armed Services Credit Union, will unironically hand us a cheque which we will in turn cash in at the bicycle store. (from a letter to a Hamish Morgan, Dec 2010)

We kept a logbook for this past year for no other reason but to enable a more conscious examination of our largest polluting activity.

The financial savings living without a car will be about $10,000 pa, including initial cost of the vehicle, depreciation, petrol and maintenance. But the ecological and social savings for living the rest of our lives without one will be immeasurable. The carport will become a bikeport, garden tool shed and potting area. The driveway will be ripped up, heavily manured and become an extension of our food forest.

Yesterday we headed to Melbourne on foot, bus and train to collect our new long-tail cargo bikes. We had our helmets with us so we thought we'd give the Bike Share a go en route to the bike shop.

On the way we checked out some spontaneous urban natural history.

Then the exciting moment... Our new bikes and a tourist-like snap in the city by a passer-by.

After a quick lunch we hopped back on the train.

And rode 30km from Ballan to Daylesford. We sang and screamed for joy at the immense sense of freedom. Cars and trucks belted past, some only a foot or two away from collecting us.

We both have front baskets to take Zero, the family's Jack Russell, and Zephyr, our awesome eight year old, has new panniers and a pack rack on his ten speed racer. Stay tuned, probably on the Artist as Family blog, for bike camping/touring adventures and, more generally, a family's everyday refusal to participate in the chronic abusiveness of the dominant culture and its industrial military complex.



Tuesday, December 21, 2010

For more info try here.


Eucalyptus (Percy) Cum - white flowering gum

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Man arrested after ejaculating during TSA pat-down

A 47 year old gay man was arrested at San Francisco International Airport after ejaculating while being patted down by a male TSA agent. Percy Cummings, an interior designer from San Francisco, is being held without bail after the alleged incident, charged with sexually assaulting a Federal agent.

According to Cummings’ partner, Sergio Armani, Cummings has “multiple piercings on his manhood” which were detected during a full body scan. As a result, Cummings was pulled aside for a pat-down. Armani stated that the unidentified TSA agent spent “an inordinate amount of time groping” Cummings, who had apparently become sexually aroused. Cummings, who has a history of sexual dysfunction, ejaculated while the TSA agent’s hand was feeling the piercings. The TSA agent, according to several witnesses, promptly called for back up. Cummings was thrown to the ground and handcuffed.

A TSA spokesperson declined to comment on this specific case, but said that anyone ejaculating during a pat-down would be subject to arrest.
from here.


Eucalyptus (Gary) Snyder

Monday, December 13, 2010

"Dreaming" or "dreamtime" refers to a time of fluidity, shapeshifting, interspecies conversation and intersexuality, radically creative moves, whole landscapes being altered. It is often taken to be a "mythical past," but it is not really in any time. We might as well say it is right now. It is the mode of the eternal moment of creating, of being, as contrasted with the mode of cause and effect in time. Time is the realm where people mainly live and within which history, evolution, and progress are imagined to take place. p84
Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild, 1981


Eucalyptus (Oprah) Winfrey

Friday, December 10, 2010

I made this prohibition-sign-cum-visual-poem in 2004. With talk around here of Oprah visiting our pretentious little town in the next few days, this work, if I can be so conceited, borders on prophecy. The tourist operators, the baby boomers who still feel the need to cash up and burn as much resources as they damn well can, are wetting themselves at her possible arrival, their good selfless work in the community emulsifies into profits from unsustainable tourism: increased wealth = increased travel = increased pollution. Oprah brings 300 idiots from America and not one mention of this cost to the planet. Go figure.


Peak Shell (a poem on the slide)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Let's make what


got [left]

go further.

Let's go!

to the

other side





America – great poets, lousy politicians

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Earlier this year Hillary Clinton wrote:
On their own, new technologies do not take sides in the struggle for freedom and progress. But the United States does. We stand for a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas. And we recognise that the world's information infrastructure will become what we and others make of it.

This challenge may be new, but our responsibility to help ensure the free exchange of ideas goes back to the birth of our republic. The words of the first amendment to the constitution [guaranteeing freedom of speech] are carved in 50 tons of Tennessee marble on the front of this building. And every generation of Americans has worked to protect the values etched in that stone.
More here.


Leaves and limbs

Monday, December 6, 2010

...and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 1855


The question is carried

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Is the metabolic potential for a biophysical poetry – a poetry of the body and its environment (in an era of unfolding climate chaos and fossil energy descent) – an essential transition from catabolic literatures, which feed upon each other and perpetuate the systems of art that mediate our logic and make us increasingly separate from the experience of everyday life?


Applying Fukuoka to Poetry

Friday, December 3, 2010

Can we apply Masanobu Fukuoka's 'Four Principals of Natural Farming' to poetry? The principals are: 1. No cultivation. 2. No chemical fertiliser or prepared compost. 3. No weeding by tillage or herbicides. 4. No dependence on chemicals. Here goes:

1. No cultivation – no paper; no page*.

2. No chemical fertiliser or prepared compost – no vowels.

3. No weeding by tillage or herbicides – no consonants.

4. No dependence on chemicals – no alphabets.

*Nevertheless, the perennial problem of representation remains.

Site-specific question: Is the metabolic potential for a biophysical poetry – a poetry of the body and its environment (in an era of unfolding climate chaos and fossil energy descent) – an essential transition from catabolic literatures, which feed upon each other and perpetuate the systems of art that mediate our logic and make us increasingly separate from the experience of everyday life?

Photos: Meg Ulman


A first solar poem? geopoets, geopolitics and the first world oil war

Thursday, December 2, 2010

In his comic masterpiece, The History of Oil, Robert Newman insightfully states that Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen wouldn't be known today if they were sent to Iraq instead of France almost a century ago. Looking deeper at this claim it seems conspiratorial that mainstream historians have not focussed on oil as the main trigger for the outbreak of war. In his book Oil and the origins of the ‘War to make the world safe for Democracy’ (2007), F. William Engdahl writes of the origins of the First World War in geopolitical terms:

Beginning the 1880’s a group of leading German industrialists and bankers around Deutsche Bank’s Georg von Siemens, recognized the urgent need for some form of colonial sources of raw materials as well as industrial export outlet. With Africa and Asia long since claimed by the other Great Powers, above all Great Britain, German policy set out to develop a special economic sphere in the imperial provinces of the debt-ridden Ottoman Empire. The policy was termed “penetration pacifique” an economic dependency which would be sealed with German military advisors and equipment. Initially, the policy was not greeted with joy in Paris, St. Petersburg or London, but it was tolerated. Deutsche Bank even sought, unsuccessfully, to enlist City of London financial backing for the keystone of the Ottoman expansion policy – the Berlin-to-Baghdad railway project, a project of enormous scale and complexity that would link the interior of Anatolia and Mesopotamia (today Iraq) to Germany. What Berlin and Deutsche Bank did not say was that they had secured subsurface mineral rights, including for oil along the path of the railway, and that their geologists had discovered petroleum in Mosul, Kirkuk and Basra. Read on here.
Britain, with its coal-to-oil-transitioning navy (under Churchill), couldn't accept these strategies in the race for greater industrial power, and so youthful bodies soon started piling up on the Great Dead Heap 1914-18, including the following unmarked body that Owen memorialises in his poem Futility.
Move him into the sun -
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds, -
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides,
Full-nerved, - still warm, - too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
- O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth's sleep at all?
The last two lines almost speak in geopolitical terms; of mining the earth. Solar energy frames this poem – the potentiality of the sun over the futility of war; fossil energy – ancient sunlight – used by industrialists for a century of war (from Owen to now) against the world.


On being offered a biscuit

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

i read the packet’s contents
(over twenty ingredients listed)
and wonder how food
made for supermarkets
remains so cheap
and how this super obfuscation
by those who disregard
the limits to growth
made clear and manifest
from the first unnoticed spore
push on with unbound insistence


Greenwash #18 in Trouble - composted & upcycled (part 2)

According to David Holmgren, co-originator of modern permaculture, history has revelled in humanism while remaining largely ignorant of energetic and ecological factors. For well adjusted progressive types, by which I mean schooled believers in human progress, this anthropocentric worldview is easily developed through the arts. But to those sensitive to the plight of nonhumans, ecologies and the world’s poor at the hands of progress, art can be seen as just another instrument of civilised brutality and species intransigence. Welcome to part 2 of Greenwash’s ‘composted and upcycled’. (see part 1)
Click on image to read on.


Possibly the world's smallest critical mass

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Music by Daylesford songster, Archer.


Found glib poem (slow text version)

Friday, November 19, 2010


Found glib poem

Progress is
Everyone's business

Rollover to learn more
Advertisement found at, as of this day.


The poet's footprint is the poem

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I've been following Adam Roberts' engaging five part series on the state of contemporary poetry, published in The Atlantic. I'm honoured to be included in his fourth post in the series, which looks at ecological and slow poetries.

With Slow Poetry in mind, it might be necessary to say that it's not enough, anymore, for a poem to be "about nature" for it to be properly ecological... Jonathan Skinner's journal ecopoetics and Brenda Ijima's anthology eco language reader are two resources that do wonders towards helping move this discussion along. The basic argument goes something like this: the "nature poem" of old – insofar as it holds the "natural" and "human" apart as separate categories, repressing social and political context – risks reducing nature to a kind of territory for human epiphany, engaging in a kind ecological orientalism. Says Skinner: "Juliana Spahr, a poet in the Bay Area, put it brilliantly...the nature poet focuses on the bird and the bird's nest, but doesn't turn around to confront the bulldozer ... Ecopoetry expands the frame to include the bulldozer."
In this article Roberts hints at something very important and rarely discussed in ecological poetries – the relocalisation of poetry itself; the poem has to be walking distance, to expand Cuban permaculturalist Roberto Perez's maxim – 'the food has to be walking distance'. How this changes the poem is the context for my doctorate.

We went foraging for yam daisies a few days ago. Yams were once an important staple of the Djadja Wurrung, our local Yes people. Including yam daisies and other bush foods (lomandras, bracken fern, pigface and warrigal greens) into our within-walking-distance-diet calibrates us to Djadja Wurrung thinking – ecologically embodied resource-gathering, hunting and nomadic farming. Through foraging we become aware of the ecological intelligence that has been lost since invasion, and we become deeply sensitive to nuance, complexity and intensity within reciprocal-competitive natural systems. After returning from our yam forage I wrote this poem, Moonar (yam daisy), as a slow text mesostic to celebrate our increasingly relocalised existence and our deep respect for the traditional peoples of our local landbase.
Click for bigger.

For me, the important thing with a slow-text is the physical impact the poem has on the body. A coke 'n chips attention span just isn't going to cut it (either in terms of reading poems or having a future). A slow text forces a slow reading, at least for the first read; the eye stumbles over rocky ground, no neat flat monological lawns for it to glide over like ad copy; or to use 60s language – no rows of words lining up like colonising soldiers across the page.


In summary: The Ancestral Biomedical Environment

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Since agriculture and animal husbandry first appeared, perhaps 10,000 years ago, hemoglobinopathies and adult lactose tolerance are almost the only generally acknowledged genetic modifications. On the other hand, our lifestyle has changed radically: Nutrition, physical activity, reproductive experience, psychosocial relations, microbial interactions, and toxin/allergen exposure are all vastly different now from what they were for ancenstral humans and prehumans during the period when our primary genetic makeup, including those factors relevant to endothelial health and disease, was selected... The resulting discordance or mismatch between our genes and our modern lives is a likely contributor to many common chronic diseases and probably various forms of endothelial dysfunction... More here.
Endothelial dysfunction is a systemic pathological state of the endothelium (the inner lining of our blood vessels) and can be broadly defined as an imbalance between vasodilating and vasoconstricting substances produced by (or acting on) the endothelium. Normal functions of endothelial cells include mediation of coagulation, platelet adhesion, immune function, control of volume and electrolyte content of the intravascular and extravascular spaces. Endothelial dysfunction can result from and/or contribute to several disease processes, as occurs in septic shock, hypertension, hypercholesterolaemia, diabetes as well from environmental factors, such as from smoking tobacco products and exposure to air pollution. More here.


Aboriginal Community Recreates Hunter-Gatherer Culture To Solve Food Shortage

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Warrigal Greens. Image: John Tann via flickr CC
A Victorian Aboriginal community has returned to traditional hunter-gatherer methods to solve food shortages and improve healthy eating. Victoria University has been working with the Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative in Geelong to reignite passion for traditional cooking methods, improve access to healthy foods and help close the health gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people... The 5000-strong Wathaurong Aboriginal community, which spreads from near Anglesea to south of Ballarat, is also developing a food bank and holding regular social cooking events.
Reposted from here.


Preparation poetics: an economist speaks

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Oil and the End of Globalization : Mr. Jeff Rubin from ASPO-USA on Vimeo.


The Long Descent

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I've been reading John Michael Greer's The Long Descent, and have found it an extremely useful text in understanding political and social intransigence to ecological crisis. Early on he critiques two of our most dominant delusions: the myth of progress – that human brilliance and technology will always find solutions, and the myth of apocalypse – that industrial culture will end in one catastrophic McCarthian doomsday scenario.

His theory on our civilisation's descent is fairly original and compliments David Holmgren's work Future Scenarios. Greer is in no doubt that society is incapable of solving the interrelated problems of peaking fossil fuels and climate chaos. Therefore, rather than a problem to find a solution to (which we could have perhaps done thirty years ago), Greer argues we now have only a predicament which requires, not a solution, but responses.
"The chance that today's political and business interests will do anything useful in our present situation is small enough that it's probably not worth considering." p30
This sentence dovetails pretty nicely with my friend, Ian Robertson's, brilliant Victorian government adbusting (from last year).

The transportation of resources crisis; a revolving door.

Greer thinks there are parallels to make with the declines of previous civilisations. For example he reckons we can switch swidden agriculture for crude oil in the following paragraph.
"All the achievements of Mayan civilization rested on the shaky foundation of swidden agriculture – a system in which fields are allowed to return to jungle after a few years of cultivation, while new fields are cleared and enriched with ashes from burnt vegetation. It's a widely used system in tropical areas around the world, but, like dependence on fossil fuels, it has a hidden vulnerability. Swidden works extremely well at relatively modest population levels, but it breaks down disastrously when population growth takes over and farms can no longer return to jungle long enough to restore soil fertility."p25
By 2040, he projects, oil supply will be what it was in 1980, but with nearly twice the amount of people on the planet.

Energy Bulletin has posted a podcast titled Peak Oil vs Pathological Optimism just yesterday, which feeds off from these thoughts.


Greenwash #17 in Trouble - composted & upcycled (part 1)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Turning the compost is an obvious enough metaphor; artists do it all the time, cycling materials and concepts – peddling forward, foraging back. So I thought after a year and a half of generated content within this column it was time to do some chronological composting and see what sort of conceptual soil has been built as we move deeper into an era of ecological crises. Read on by clicking on image.


Tipping Point: the realities we face

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My inspiration for life is our parents; so many of the values we have come from them … they told us that if you live by your conscience there is no reason to be afraid. - Vandana Shiva
This was probably the most important conference I've attended, and the only one that has employed social-ecology frameworks, while paying attention to the environmental details (such as the considerable percentage of the food that fueled us over two incredible days was organic and locally sourced). It was very apt that the feature on Shiva's life and work appeared in The Age yesterday, the second day of the conference. Shiva will be in Melbourne on friday. My own contribution was, naturally, centred around art and resources, specifically food:
Today I speak on behalf of my household, the Artist as Family, and our very intentional practice of transition away from pollution based ideology. We believe there is a direct exchange between the resources we consume and the kind of art we make. I call this exchange permapoesis. Read on...


Tipping point: dreams of children

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I'm taking a rest from preparing a presentation that I'm giving in Melbourne as part of the Tipping Point conference, "Art and climate change – re-imagining a global future through dialogue and action".

I'm writing about our household's art practice based on our transition from oil-based consumer ideology to relocalisation, and I've been thinking a lot about Zephyr, our eight year old, and his very particular role in augmenting change. Zeph often starts a sentence with "when the oil runs out..." or, "when I get a horse I'll build a cart and...".

By the time Zeph is ten he'll know how to build a shelter, light fire without matches, forage for wild plants and mushrooms, grow potatoes and corn and sunflowers, hunt for rabbits and fish for perch, all unassisted; all as a matter of pleasure and necessity.

Zeph already supports our household resource supply in many ways, and this role has been significant to his development. He's never babied, he makes his own lunch (carrots, pumpkin seeds, and sourdough honey sandwiches), and loves to lead a 'bush bash' for an hour before school. His wild to cultivated ratio is about 50:50, something we will continue to celebrate and nourish.

He ran off the top of his bunk bed a few nights ago, fleeing from a nightmare. Remarkably he landed without broken bones or even a scratch, and he said he remembered nothing the next morning, except for the frightening dream itself.

Whatever happens this century, Zeph, as your parents we will ensure you have the tools for resilience, to participate in this world and be present and connected, not fooled by abstract money markets, not fearful of the long descent, and not reliant on exploiting systems such as transported resources. By only consuming local resources you will understand the value of things and how to look after them and assist, where you can, in their processes of renewal.

We will support you to grow your beautiful imagination so as you will always create your own responses and solutions, even to your nightmares, and be resourceful in helping yourself, in community with others, move towards a more just, relocalised world.


Sown up liberty

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Eighteen months ago, after Obama came to office, I blogged that he'll "either be shot or fully bought within 12-24 months". Well, it's now pretty clear which one.

Back in April this year – "Obama Appoints Pesticide Executive to Top Trade Post" (from Democracy Now):

And food justice advocates are criticizing President Obama’s recent appointment of a top pesticide industry executive to a key trade position. The executive, Islam Siddiqui, was named the US Trade Representative’s Chief Agricultural Negotiator in a spate of recent appointments. Siddiqui is a former vice president and lobbyist at CropLife America, a group of the major industrial players in the pesticide industry, including Syngenta, Monsanto and Dow Chemical. A coalition of over eighty environmental, family farm and consumer advocacy organizations had campaigned against his nomination.
Last year the following video was posted. There has been no major press coverage of this story since April 2009, and little follow up available online:

Just when you're thinking, "well, that's America", you discover Croplife Australia made up of the same group of dirty chem-lobbyists who are bullying weak politicians in Oz – No GM labelling on foods, university departments being built to champion factory farming, continuing heavy reliance on health destroying herbicides and pesticides, insane licensing policies, trialling of GM crops in several states despite dodgy shareholder-determined science.

If you want to get better informed about what all this means for you and your local environment, (and you haven't already) watch The World According to Monsanto.


Greenwash #16 in Trouble - Because You're Worth It

Friday, October 1, 2010

For this month's Greenwash I invited my girlfriend, Meg Ulman, to guest write. Meg chose to focus on Lucas Ihlein's Environmental Audit, which is a project auditing the exhibition In the Balance: Art for a changing World at the MCA, Sydney. I can unfairly say the Greenwash bar has been lifted. Thanks Meg!

Click for bigger.


Video-poem as edible weeds field guide

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

With our recent project in Sydney I think we have achieved what we set out to do in showing how art can itself be a biophysical resource. In this new work, Natural Bitterness, I attempt a similar thing – the poem doubles as video field guide for edible weeds and wild foods abundant in our area this spring.

This poem is dedicated to Alexis Pitsopoulos, our local wild foods expert and cook.


To be open to the world as much as possible

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Amanita muscaria

"Once you abstract, to the extent that humans do, you lose the sense of connection to the earthly scentscience of another species... perhaps."
This is a beautiful example of budgetless (no waste) filmmaking – poetic, humorous, philosophical and essential; contiguous with mycelial, and in the spirit of interweb, networks.


Big time crims come to Melbourne, welcomed by the government

Friday, September 3, 2010

The very same company who refuses to acknowledge its responsibility, pay out proper recompense and decontaminate the water in Bhopal in India twenty-five years after the world's worst chemical disaster, is currently building a chemical agriculture department at La Trobe University to deliver us more government supported monological and polluting commercialised science.

Here's how the Victorian Government's, Invest Melbourne, introduces us to Dow Chemicals:

Dow AgroSciences LLC, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, is a top-tier agricultural company that combines the power of science and technology with the "Human Element” to constantly improve what is essential to human progress. Dow AgroSciences provides innovative technologies for crop protection, pest and vegetation management, seeds, traits, and agricultural biotechnology to serve the world's growing population. Global sales for Dow AgroSciences, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company, are $4.5 billion. Learn more at DowAgro.
Really? Well we should all feel very secure and happy that we're in good hands after reading that.

But here's how independent filmmaker, Joel Gershon, introduces Dow (Union Carbide):

And here's the Yes Men's, Jude Finistera, expanding our understanding of what a real "Human Element" Dow could look like:

This would have to be one of the bravest, most brilliant actions against corporate intransigence in human history. Oh and in case you didn't know, Dow like Monsanto want to patent (privatise) the world's food seeds so as we will all be forced to eat chemical-reliant crops. Well, that's what you get when a chemical company buys/builds a science department in a university. Yippeeee! Brave Newer World.


Greenwash #15 in Trouble - Grafting the Commons

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I’ve been in the bush again, grafting a variety of fruit tree cuttings onto wild apples and hawthorns. I pruned quince, peach, apricot, Fuji, Granny Smith, and nectarine from local street trees. I spent six dollars fifty on grafting tape and from this I aim to make about a hundred grafts onto mature, wild stocks. My girlfriend Meg has nicknamed one of the hardy, well-established wild apples we’ve been experimenting on, The Fruit Salad Tree. It’s a work in progress to see how many different varieties of fruits we can grow onto it. Click image to read on...


Liberal pollution

Monday, August 23, 2010

A party that doesn't believe in climate change is a party that champions pollution.

Liberal Party anthropogenic waste left outside a polling booth in Surry Hills, Sydney.


Seed commons attacked (once again by private-capital ideology)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Twelve Russian scientists famously chose to starve to death rather than eat the unique collection of seeds and plants they were protecting for humanity during the 900-day siege of Leningrad in the second world war. But the world's first global seed bank now faces destruction once more, to make way for a private housing estate.
Read on here.


Creative commons, foraging commons

Monday, August 2, 2010

I was recently invited to submit a critical work for Cordite's issue 33: Creative Commons. Here's an excerpt from All Rights Relinquished, in which I outline my perception of the relationship between private property and ecological crises.

The reestablishment of local food commons in union with the development of a global creative commons comes from the recognition that we are biological beings, evolved from fungi – and thus evolved from complex networks of interrelation; webs of mycelial and intellectual connectivity not limited by private capital. The dominant ideology attacks the reciprocity of open, public supply networks. A public supply of resources, both conceptual and corporeal, is a decentred supply system that makes local communities more resilient [in the face of climate chaos and peaking oil supplies]. Read on.
Many thanks to David Prater and Matt Hall, Cordite editors. And many thanks to Ian Robertson who came up with the title, some years back, when we first used it in A Free-Dragging Manifesto.


Greenwash #14 in Trouble - Urban Food Forestry as Public Art

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cheap oil has made us forget the proper relationship we once had to the first six inches of the Earth’s crust. Yet we now know that microbial forests—networks of microfauna and microfungi—operate invisibly beneath us, generating the conditions for plant life to flourish and thus produce food. Soil not oil is a clear enough message, but increasingly difficult to translate to an expanding urban population evermore estranged from the interdependent processes of healthy soil ecology and permanent food supply.

To read on click for bigger


If only Gillard was this much of a leader

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


More light on supermarket food

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Monsanto winter collection taken at our local tip today.

Until 20% of us stop consuming supermarket food and lead the way in alternative food supply systems, it will be more and more of the above idiocy.
As expected, the same corporate interests that have created the two crises [climate chaos and peak oil] tried to offer the disease as the cure – more fossil fuel-based chemical fertilizers, more non-renewable genetically engineered seeds bred to respond to the intensive use of chemicals, more corporate control of food, and more globalized trade. Vandana Shiva, Soil Not Oil, 2008
Combine these things, add growth economics, and local populations become increasingly reliant on a fragile food supply system; a food supply system that pollutes soils, oceans, the atmosphere and our bodies.



Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The ABC, by virtue of so-called rationalist accountancy, is yet another public institution being systematically degraded of standards. The latest degradation is the outsourcing of news resources which apparently happened on the eve of Julia's ascension to the crown (see previous post here).

I don't watch TV much. We don't have one. So you can imagine the occluded laughter when on Saturday night we tuned in with friends to watch the ABC news and saw that I was labelled "Patrick White" and "Garden Artist"?

It was very kind of the ABC to report on our Food Forest plant-in and help further the idea of free, local-community organic food, I just feel for those in the ABC who have to work within such a culture of sub-standards, or rather sub-less standards, because it's sub-editors who seem to be our absent friends across the media.

Here's an idea: slash accountancy departments in half and put the resources back into content and editorial services. But of course this won't happen so we have to remain evermore cynical that what content the mainstream media simulates into our living rooms should always be taken with a grain of salt.

Come to think of it, if any of you are budding sub-editors and find fault on this blogsite, we'd be happy to hear from you. We have neither an accounts department or a salaried editorial team, but we do have standards we'd like to maintain.


Greenwash #13 in Trouble - Eating Weeds

Friday, July 2, 2010

We're in Sydney planting out the Food Forest this week, and it's equally beanie weather here as it is at home. A few weeks ago twenty of us rugged up and roamed the hills of Daylesford in search of edible weeds. Here's the story (click on image):

On my Garden Notes for Relocalisation blog I've posted images and descriptions of the edibles we found.

An abundant, free world is an uncapitalised world.


Two parts

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Fungi's answer (a slow text mesostic)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Click for bigger.
1. Val Plumwood, 2002
2. ibid.


Greenwash #12 in Trouble - Eating 7000 Oaks

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Shelling acorns (click for bigger).

My little Greenwash column in Trouble magazine is a year old this month, and to help celebrate this anniversary I've made a cake almost entirely from forest foods.

Bill Mollison says that a mature oak tree can provide as much food as an acre of agriculture in a given year. Once established a tree requires little toil and can be a home for diverse biology, whereas a field requires constant toil and generally doesn't allow much scope for beneficial flora and fauna, especially on non-organic farms. After collecting a handful of acorns and preparing them for cooking my experimental poem-cum-cake-cum-festival-announcement (Greenwash #12), I have begun to realise the potential that Mollison is talking about. In fact I would go so far to suggest it's urban food forestry that's key to sustainable cities, over and beyond urban farming. Urban food forestry makes even more sense due to space limits. A food producing tree can be 'slotted in' anywhere in an urban context due to its verticality, however an acre of horizontal land for crops is almost impossible unless we start bulldozing suburbs.

On this note our Food Forest community garden based in Sydney is coming along nicely over here on the Artist as Family blog. And my research work at UWS is also being fed forest based nourishment as I start to consider the form of my creative-critical project as potentially modeling a recipe book – a kind of Alice B Toklas cookbook goes anarcho-primitivist.

Oak trees, acorn recipes and urban food forests are all segues into introducing Melbourne's forthcoming festival of art and sustainability seven thousand oaks.

If the above is difficult to read (click for bigger), you can also read it at Trouble by clicking here.

If you want to know more about the seven thousand oaks festival please click on the link.


The World According

Monday, May 31, 2010

It's been two years since Meg and I watched one of the darkest films of our lives, The World According to Monsanto. This brilliant and highly informed film is a precursor to the more popular and recent Food Inc., which we actually enjoyed a few months ago. However after watching The World According to Monsanto it took us several days to resurface from a very black cloud, at which time I wrote the following letter to the intransigent John Brumby (click for bigger).

Only after speaking to David Holmgren recently was I was a little more relaxed about Monsanto. Holmgren basically said that any science driven by such intense greed is bound to fall over; is bound to fail – the money clouds the science.

However for a company like this to entirely own the seeds that support human life, while at the same time engineering seeds to be dependent upon harmful petro-chemical pesticides, is very troubling for human populations, not to mention non-human. So, despite the very poor (albeit highly funded) science we still have to remain vigilant about their agenda.

Growing or foraging for our own food not only makes us more resilient to global ecological and economic crises, it disempowers monological corporates like Monsanto from experimenting despotically.


Greenwash #11 in Trouble - a poethics of foraging

Monday, May 3, 2010

For a few years now I’ve been interested in how permaculture, and its siblings – biodynamic and natural farming – can inform an arts practice. In other words, how an arts practice can follow suit in the way in which it produces things, biomimicking natural systems and therefore having something to return to the land it has taken from. More recently I’ve been thinking about foraging as another such activity that can inform art and help move it on from an industry embedded in capitalist structures. An ethic of foraging attends directly to the reclamation of public food lands and to the reclamation of a ‘collective wealth’. Read on here.

Click for bigger.

See also:

Image: (detail) Feral Fruit Map, Google map collaboration (as initiated by Axel White), Melbourne, 2010 onwards. To participate contact:


A permaculture poetics

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Last year I wrote that "The potential for a (post-industrial, post aggregate-growth) biophysical poetry originates in the development of intellectual humus – nutrient rich, responsive, aerated and well-drained minds not functioning in isolation to everything else" (Angelaki 14:2, Ecopoetics and Pedagogies). I was outlining why I believed permaculture, at a systems level, was a far better model for the arts and for culture generally if we are to move beyond the dominant anti-ecological ideology of aggregate growth capitalism. Employing biomimicry as a conceptual model for our food production can also apply to the arts, and will assist in building an ecological culture.

This year I was invited to submit a poem to a new online poetry journal called Spiral Orb, which its US based editor, Eric Magrane, suggests is "an experiment in permaculture poetics". Wow! Things are really moving now. Here's the link to Spiral Orb's table of contents page, itself a composted poem. And here's a link to my contribution, Permamesostic, my first substantial poem for the year (which you can see a detail of below).

So, enjoy the polyculture that is this exciting new poetry journal!
With poems by Bailey, Bowden, Buckheit, Buntin, Conrad, Delea, Doreski, Gens, Jones, Lang, Peterson, Rerick, Staples, Sugar, Toso, Wankan and an opening poem composting lines from each of the pieces in Spiral Orb One. Each line is embedded with a hyperlink to its original poem. Once at each poem, you will find links to the other poems in Spiral Orb One. Anticipate the poems making contact with one another in an odd and perfect manner.

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Aggregated idiocy

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

We are at a point in time in Australia where environmental consultants are having to recommend to government which rivers will need to die in order for others to survive. Such is the legacy of our occupation. Man-made ecocide follows the banners of "progress" and "growth". But the reports will get buried; another ecological violation will go unaccounted; another government policy, greenwashed as "sustainability", will seduce and delude a largely urban constituency.

The often-invoked term 'sustainability' tends to obscure the seriousness of the situation; clearly no culture which sets in motion massive processes of biospheric degradation which it has normalised, and which it cannot respond to or correct, can hope to survive for very long. Val Plumwood, 2002


Greenwash #10 in Trouble - Art, Abstraction and Animal Cruelty

Thursday, April 1, 2010

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I was recently invited to submit a short video poem as part of a collection to be exhibited at this year's Sydney Writer's Festival (17-23 May), curated by Angela Stretch. What, video poetry at a writer's festival? Outrageous! But don't be alarmed, the exhibition doesn't make the official programme.

So, I decided to make a new work with Zeph, which I finished editing today. It will be viewed without sound in Sydney, but I've made it to work with audio as well. Meg helps build the vocals and all together we make another Artist as Family + Peej collective effort. Enjoy!

born free of ideology
we are gullible and trusting.
we learn from our elders
and we pass on the abstractions
to our children.
the depression rate
doubles every ten years.


A chance hound

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I caught a ride on a Greyhound bus recently, traveling overnight between Melbourne and Sydney, and had the pleasure of sitting next to Chris, a blogger from Newcastle. He got me up to speed with some of the climate science debate that I'd tuned out of, and I relayed to him some of the potentially exciting permaculture bottom-up rebuilds going on around the world, including the hot topic of Detroit. Chris is a mathematician and physicist by trade, and puts his digital two cents worth (quite literally) here. He is also part of the Newcastle Transition Town movement and I was able to explain to him a little about our own group – the Hepburn Relocalisation Network. I'm a snorer and a constant mover in sleep at the best of times so if you read this Chris, apologies in retrospect if I kept you up. One of the things we discussed while still compus, and something I can't ever appreciate, is why the mainstream press is only interested in "Climate Change" when Peak Oil is actually more calculable, arguably better understood and just as societally problematic, and why aren't all these things – energy descent, global warming, aggregate-growth based ecological destruction, factory farming, animal slavery, anthropogenicism and anthropocentrism just labeled for what they are collectively – Ecological Crisis?


Anybody can be good in the country

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Not everybody can be good in the country...

Friday, March 12, 2010

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Primitive poetics

Monday, March 8, 2010

On Saturday a few of us adults took 12 boys on a bush adventure for Zeph's birthday. We walked for two and a half hours, stopping to make, observe or find things to collect. One of the activities they were assigned was to collectively build a shelter in ten minutes. The first peg shows the result. At the end of the walk we came across the remnants of a large forest installation I made between 2000 and 2005, where boardwalks and wallaby grass tracks led you through a series of environments subtly altered as physical or biophysical poems.

The type of sedge grass in this forest is the oldest locally living flora. Their origins predate eucalypt forests and are supposedly as ancient as the dinosaurs.


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