The 2018 SEFF was held on Saturday 16th June and was run by Swanpool Landcare and Benalla Sustainable Future Group. Sponsors for the event were the GBCMA, Gecko CLaN, Benalla Permaculture, Granite Creeks Landcare Network and Benalla Rural City (via BSFG).
This annual event is run in three sessions and the fabulous Swanpool Catering Team provides afternoon tea and dinner during the breaks. It’s always excellent but this year they excelled with tasty Asian style rice dishes, vegetable tart and the fruit platters.
The guest speakers and films for the afternoon sessions really dovetailed together well. Dr Sam Alexander from Melbourne University gave the opening talk on ‘Life in a degrowth economy and why you might actually enjoy it’ followed by the film ‘Living in the Future’s Past’. Discussion around ‘degrowth’ centred on the definition of real human wealth versus our focus on GDP. The more we spend on disasters for instance the more GDP rises. A Tiny House on a trailer, parked adjacent to the hall, was supportive of the ‘simpler living’ theme. Thanks to Neil and Sandy Garrett of Violet Town for bringing it along.
Dr Charles Massy from ANU took the stage following afternoon tea with his talk on ‘Can regenerative agriculture help save the world?’ This was highly appreciated by the switched on audience. The slides displayed on the screen told much of the story; just compare one side of the fence to the other. The promotion of non-organic fertilizers and chemicals was also addressed with their negative effects on soil and human health. Charles’ book ‘Call of the Reed Warbler’ was on sale at the event, thanks to ‘Country Tales’ Mansfield bookshop, and is highly recommended reading.
The second film ‘Living the Change’ was introduced by the co-director Jordan Osmond and his enthusiasm for the material shone through. The film starts off setting the scene then presents the stories of New Zealand individuals, families and communities who embrace change for a more sustainable and less wasteful lifestyle. Questions from the audience were all about what we could do locally in our own environment.
The evening session was a bit different from past years. A panel consisting of Prof Kate Auty, Dr Ian Herbert, Shirley Saywell and Bertram Lobert gave brief presentations on community voices and democracy, climate change, Strathbogie Forest under climate change and local actions to protect the forest. Anthony Chisholm supplied stunning video footage for the latter and Mick Frewin gave an impassioned testimonial as to why he is engaged in forest actions. The panel discussion concluded with a unanimous vote asking the government of the day to enact a climate policy.
‘Paper Trail’ was the last film and was produced in 1992. It is still very relevant. Starting with NSW and Gippsland logging it follows those logs through wood-chipping at Eden and transport to Japan to be made into paper then final recycling for just a fraction. What’s changed in a quarter century? Just the site of the woodchip mills, the destination of the ships (China now) and the extent of state forests felled for this voracious trade. The film concluded with feasible alternatives for paper making – plantation timber or fast growing industrial hemp.
How do we measure the success of this annual event? Numbers through the door is one measure (we had a full house) but the real measure is how the audience responds to the speakers and films. They didn’t go away with a warm fuzzy feeling (there are too many pressing environmental concerns for that) but they did go home better informed and motivated. With Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions continuing to rise (set now to miss the 2020 Kyoto target) and our land and forests under stress and threat, it’s up to each of us to act locally and nationally and press for change.
We thank our speakers and our sponsors and all our volunteer support once again for making SEFF 2018 such a stand out environmental film festival.
Permaculture as a design system has been around for over 40 years now, a product of the collaboration between Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. In terms of strategies and techniques there was very little that was new, in fact Mollison himself is known to have said repeatedly, "There is nothing new in Permaculture!" Indeed these strategies and techniques have been around for a long time, often centuries or millennia.
What was and still is new about Permaculture is the bringing together of all these strategies and techniques into a Functional Design system. But even then, defining Permaculture is a nigh impossible task.
Some colleagues and I were asked the question, "How would you explain Permaculture to a non Permaculture type person?" It is often said that if you ask five Beekeepers the same question, you will get six different answers, possibly more, and sometimes the same is true for Permaculturists. Discussing this it became evident that there are many viewpoints as to the make up of Permaculture, each predicated on an individual's needs and experiences.
This is of course as it should be. Permaculture is such a flexible design system that it presents what is needed to each situation and thus also presents differing experiences and perceptions to individuals. And therein lies the challenge - how to express such a versatile and powerful concept to those with no Permaculture knowledge or experience.
One of my colleagues then offered, "It's how you think". Hmm. Ponder.,,
And that is the key. Permaculture is a design system using Ethics and Principles to formulate a series of Tactics, Strategies and Techniques to achieve the desired result. BUT, it requires a different way of thinking. The world is still following one form of thinking; economy, fossil fuels, compartmentalisation, and so on. To change all that, we need to change our thinking. And that's where Permaculture comes in.
Permaculture is often seen as a way of gardening, something beyond organic gardening. This is quite understandable as Permaculture started out primarily as an agricultural design system based on observing and using nature's inherent design. Given that life on earth is dependant on energy that ultimately comes from the sun, plants and therefore gardening are a vital link in the chain of converting the sun's energy into a form that we can use - fruit, herbs, vegetables, and so on.
But the Permaculture Design System is capable of much more than that, it can also be used to design tangible structures such as houses, infrastructures such as transport and communications, and intangible structures such as communities and financial systems.
So, what is Permaculture?
Permaculture is about design, and changes the way you think!
This article is included in the December's BSFG Newsletter.
Warwick (Woz) spoke on this topic at BSFG's General Meeting on Thursday 14th December.
The next BSFG General meeting is at 7.30pm on Thursday December 14 in the Meeting Room in the Uniting Church, Carrier Street Benalla, opposite the Coles car park.
Our guest speaker for is Warwick Bone (Woz) from Benalla Permaculture. Woz has advised the topic of his talk is “What on earth is Permaculture”? He will give a brief introduction into the functional design system we know as Permaculture and how it can be used to develop solutions to the global and local problems we currently face.
This will be an interesting evening for anyone concerned about down to earth solutions to these local and global problems. Benalla Permaculture is a Permaculture Victoria group. The group has a busy schedule of activities which can be followed at Facebook Groups.
We look forward to seeing you at the meeting after which a light supper will be available.
0418 135 330
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