Making a living, doing what I love
Dare I say it, my background is as a Graphic Artist in the advertising industry. I never really enjoyed working for agencies, I didn't find it very rewarding and sitting at the computer all day (and sometimes all night) was depressing and exhausting. I stopped working full-time back in 1996. Freelancing at agencies ceased when my son Kai was born, over 5 years ago now, though it died off almost completely a few years before that.
|Cape Range National Park on the West Coast of Australia 1997 - Echidna in foreground and 'Tang' (Kombi) behind|
Back in 1996 my original plan was to spend a year on the road and find the ideal place to live. It was over 5 years by the time I returned. I worked a couple of times at agencies to keep me going, never more than a few months, living frugally from the Kombi the rest of the time. While working at a small agency in Perth I attended a 'Old Growth Forest Rally'. I remember that it was raining heavily, but the crowd was huge. I was moved by the experience and spoke to the organisers about how I could get involved. I put together some fliers and ads for the Wilderness Society and later went to visit the Lane Forest during one of the big actions. From there I went to Wattle Forest Camp to check out what was going on there.
|Lane Forest protest, near Northcliffe, West Australia 1998|
|Wattle Protest Tree platform 30m up in a Karri tree - about an hours walk into the bush.|
I wanted to check out the tree platform deep in the forest, it was an hours walk along logging tracks before we finally arrived a this breathtaking spot. There was a support crew near the base of the tree who told us about how this area was marked for clear-felling. We saw clear felled forest on the way in, nothing left standing, just death and destruction. We were told that tree sitters were needed now, and I volunteered. I ended up spending a week 30 metres up. It was an amazing experience, and a turning point in my life.
The main actions a the camp were less peaceful. Road blocks actions to stop trucks coming in was a regular part of the camp - lock-ons, road-dragons (old cars with people 'locked' into to the earth inside) and tri-pods were used - often together. Very confrontational approaches in an attempt to change the system. Angry local mobs, police and frustrated workers. I recognised similarities from when I got involved in the Anti-uranium campaign in Darwin a year earlier. I didn't like the approach of SAYING NO to things and confronting the system, I felt that we needed to SAY YES.
My interest in intentional community as an approach to live positively grew and I got my chance to try it out immediately after my stint in the Karri tree platform. I intended to stay at Carters Road Community at Margaret River for a couple of weeks as a WWOOFer, but ended up staying a couple of years. The community embraced the ethics of permaculture: care of the earth, care of people and fair share and practiced permaculture principles. Just what I was looking for.
|Compost making workshop at Carters Road Community 1998|
14 years later...Since then I've been looking for ways to use the skills that I developed in advertising to promote what I believe in. I built the Permaculture Principles website in 2008 and helped produce the first Permaculture Calendar in 2009 with David Arnold. This year I took over the co-ordination of the calendar and now handle all aspects of it's production, marketing and distribution.
The calendar embraces the same values that I do, it's a part of me. The cover photo this year was taken by Jodie Lane, co-founder of Carters Road Community, now Fair Harvest Permaculture Venue (you can even see the tank stand in the background of both photos). Income from the calendar and website supports the work that I do in developing Abdallah House, and the Permaculture Principles website. I've committed to the ethic of Fair Share by giving 10% of the net return from the calendar to Permafund, a trust set up to distribute funds to worthy permaculture activities worldwide. It's not much of an income, but it's the beginning of something bigger.
Finally I can make a living from doing what I love and contribute to the world at the same time.
|The Permaculture Calendar is available from PermaculturePrinciples.com|