We are approaching many limits to growth over the next several decades, and are consequently facing many challenges in our immediate future. Finance, energy, environment, resources and climate will all impact on the single-minded, one-dimensional trajectory human society has been on in our era of growth imperative. Our current path is unsustainable. It cannot and will not continue, so we must adapt our societies in order to build a new future.
The first challenges are being presented by the ongoing global financial crisis, which is far closer to its beginning than it end, and by the geopolitics of energy. Events in Europe, particularly in Cyprus, Detroit and latterly the Ukraine, represent a major wake up call that financial crisis is about to resume in earnest and that energy issues are moving towards criticality in many places. We must anticipate and navigate a period of rapid economic contraction and increasing risk of resource conflict, punctuated by the emergence of geopolitical wildcards.
Building resilience in an era of limits to growth
Nicole Foss will explore the links between the converging pressures facing us — economic contraction, peak energy and geopolitical stress. She will outline the implications for our everyday lives and share practical solutions she has observed from around the world.
Permaculture surfing the property bubble collapse
Drawing from 30 years of permaculture teaching, designing and demonstrating rural and urban agriculture food production systems for sustainable living, Transition activism and by personal example, David Holmgren will outline practical strategies to help households and communities survive, thrive and contribute to a better world.
Permaculutre co-founder and the author of Future Scenarios, David Holmgren toured the country with Richard Heinberg in 2006 informing the public of the threats of imminent peak oil and the permaculture responses. Eight years on, more people have installed insulation and solar, started growing food, raising chooks, and buying from local producers.
Eight years on, the peak of conventional oil is already in the rear view mirror and the first stage of the second Great Depression is pulling apart economies and nations around the world. The mining boom has allowed Australia to dodge the worst, but the signs are not good. Government plans for austerity highlight the need for households and communities to increase their self reliance.
David’s updated presentation uses permaculture design principles to interpret the signs and show how getting out of debt, downsizing and rebooting our dormant household and community non-monetary economies are the best hedges that ordinary citizens can make. The idea that these household and community economies could achieve unprecedented growth rates if the monetary economy takes a serious dive is a good news story you won’t hear from mainstream media. The shift of metaphor from ‘retrofitting’ to ‘surfing’ suggests a stronger role for positive risk taking behaviour change without the need for expensive changes to the built environment; that few will be able to afford. Returning to Aussie St, David shows how the permaculture makeover and behaviour change is progressing through the second Great Depression. Aussie St is not only surviving but thriving through the “dumpers” that property bubble collapse, climate chaos and geopolitical energy shocks have unleashed on the lucky country. It’s an endearing, amusing and gutsy story of hope for in-situ adaptation by the majority of Australians living in our towns and suburbs.
On this tour Holmgren is joined by Nicole Foss, leading system analyst, who explains how the deflationary dynamics that always follow finance and property bubbles, will rapidly impact individuals, families and communities, while the longer acting forces of Peak Oil and Climate Change will determine and limit the nature of any economic recovery. Nicole will paint a comprehensive picture of where we stand today globally, how our human operating system functions, how and why it is acutely vulnerable, and what we must do about the predicament in which we find ourselves. The focus will be financial, social, and geopolitical, reflecting the priority of impacts likely to be felt in the relatively short term. The critical factors for change will be highlighted, with an outline of the possibilities that exist within the scope of the emerging reality. We must plan to restructure our societies from the bottom up, so that both the transition period and our eventual recovery from the coming upheaval can rest on a solid foundation. That foundation requires the resurgence of resilient communities and the development of true human capacity.
Her succinct and riveting presentation sets the scene for the positive permaculture strategies. More than just an affirmation of what many are already doing, Foss’s systemic perspective is a wake up call for those concerned about environmental and social issues to understand how their own exposure to financial collapse will determine whether they can shape a better future for themselves, their children and their communities.
The two will inform Australians how it’s possible, although not inevitable, to weather the coming storms with grace, rebuild community solidarity and provide a bulwark against the worst expressions of fear, blame and zenophobia that naturally arise in times of hardship. Most importantly, it will highlight how a small but significant minority following a path of enlightened self interest, and informed by permaculture design principles, may have a more powerful and positive influence than mass movements demanding their rights from weak and ineffective governments.
Humanity stands on the edge of a precipice, and where we go from here is in our own hands. There is both considerable danger, and the opportunity to address what is arguably the most challenging situation in human history constructively.
Survive and Thrive,
with Nicole Foss and David Holmgren
(For up to date info, please see the Event page on our webiste.)
- June 29 Narara Ecovillage (9am)
- June 29 (Sun) Newcastle (3pm)
- June 30 (Mon) Workshop in Newcastle (tbc)
- Workshop in Port Stephens (Foss, tbc)
- July 3 (Thu) "Crash or crash through" workshop at Bellbunya
- July 3 (Thu) Sunshine Coast (6pm)
- July 4 (Fri) Brisbane (6pm)
- July 6 (Sun) Fremantle
- July 8 (Tue) "Crash or crash through" workshop at Fremantle Town Hall
- July 13 (Sun) "Crash or crash through" workshop (Holmgren) at Creative Collective in Lara near Geelong
- July 11 (Mon) Daylesford
- July 15 (Tue) Melbourne
- July 19 (Sun) Hobart (Holmgren) (6.30pm)
Nicole Foss, also known as ‘Stoneleigh’, is a Canadian sustainability, energy, and finance expert. She is best known for her works at her website, www.theautomaticearth.org. Nicole was editor of the Oil Drum Canada website where she wrote on the connections between energy and finance. On this tour she will further explore the links between the converging pressures facing us (peak oil, financial crisis, climate change), the implications for our everyday lives, and solutions. She is a permaculture teacher as well.
David Holmgren is best known as the co-founder of permaculture, possibly the most successful export of ideas from Australia. As a permaculture author, his 2002 book, Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability is considered to be the benchmark literature when discussing sustainability. His books and essays have sparked many discussions amongst people seeking solutions for peak energy and climate change. David will focus on solutions, updating and extending his "retrofitting the suburbs" theme. He will also discuss the important role of the "informal economy", the household and local economy, which do not show up in official GDP calculations.