2019 02 Network News

Network News  February 2019  


  • Convenor’s Message
  • Extending our Welcome with a New Idea…
  • Steph & Rob’s Strawbale Workshop – Thurs 7-10 March
  • Living Big in a Tiny House with Bryce Langston – Sat 9th March
  • Yoga Retreat at the village – Sat 30th Mar 2019
  • MAD about Dirt – Sat 11th May
  • Green Transport Policy
  • Village Reflections
  • A New Kind of Living Environment
  • Builtsmart house has landed!
  • Seismic Testing off the Central Coast
  • Game-changing legal decision on coal
  • Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation’s One Earth initiative 

Network Convenor’s Message

Happy February everybody! In a week where the world has experienced extreme weather, from a polar vortex in the northern hemisphere to never before experienced heat waves and floods here in Australia, it’s time to keep calm and do things eco!

At Narara Ecovillage, we’re building our 2019 calendar with a selection of eco-events, from tiny houses to earthships; from sustainable development to Dirt! Check out all the upcoming events at Narara Ecovillage 

We are especially excited about our quarterly Village Experience weekends, where visitors have the opportunity to stay overnight and really taste life in the village. The first one is on the weekend of 23-24 Feb. For more details, see the story in this issue. 

Extending our Welcome with a New Idea …
First Village Experience Weekend – 23/24 February 2019 

At Narara Ecovillage we welcome visitors on the last weekend of every month from January to November. The tried and tested half-day Open Days format give a great introduction. Requests have been made by people drawn to living in our community to spend more time getting the feel of this magical place and getting to know members of the Narara Ecovillage Cooperative – those of us lucky enough to be intending to live here.

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Aboard the Magic Carpet at Narara Ecovillage
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Come and get muddy making bricks at Narara Ecovillage!

So, in the spirit of trying new things, we are extending our welcome in 2019 with four Village Experience Weekends. In line with the seasons, we will open up our land each quarter: 23/24 February, 25/26 May, 14/15 September and 30 November/1 Dec.

Have a look at the Program for our first Village Experience Weekend.  It shows the ‘flow’ from a structured first day with presentation, site tour, Q&A, information session and the specialist tour etc to a more community-focused day on Sunday when visitors are welcome to join us in what we are already planning to do that day from Tai Chi to chai tea; weeding to wandering in the forest. 

The cost is $25 per adult. Kids are free and there is a $10 discount for NELN members and concession card holders. If you come only on Sunday, your help will be your contribution at no extra charge.Camping and one specialist house tour have additional costs. Registration for camping is essential as places are limited. Booking for the weekend is helpful: https://summer-2019-village-experience-weekend.lilregie.com.

Steph & Rob’s Strawbale Workshop – 7-10th March 

Want to Try Your Hand at Straw Bale building and Natural Plastering?

Read on and save 50%!

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A recent Viva Homes workshop for Vanessa & John’s straw panel house
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Steph and Rob’s strawbale house

The next workshop at Narara Ecovillage, run by the fantastic team from Viva Living Homes, has been scheduled for 7-10th March, 2019.

Over four full days, participants will get the opportunity to install straw bale infill walls and prepare them for rendering, take a look at prefabricated straw panels, build cob internal walls, and learn the art of earth, clay and lime rendering of internal and external walls.

When Rob and Steph joined the Ecovillage and started investigating construction options, they soon decided they were looking for a builder to construct their home start-to-finish.  “With two young kids and previous experience of earth building, we knew that owner-building would not be for us this time round.  But we really wanted a home built from natural materials,” says Stephanie. “Once we learned about Viva Living Homes and saw their work it was clear that we had found the right people.” 

The design process was anything but simple.  With a steep block in a bushfire zone and a limited budget, multiple variations were explored before a compact two-storey design was chosen. Incredibly the house has obtained an 8.5 Energy Star Rating!

Come experience for yourself how it’s done, get your hands dirty and have fun alongside great people. These workshops are fantastic value, normally $120 for four days including lunch, morning and afternoon tea. 

But NEV and NELN members are offered a 50% discount off this price!  Hope to see you there!

Simply follow the link below to book and use the discount code NARARA50.

Hope to see you there!

Living Big in a Tiny House:  Bryce Langston at Narara Ecovillage –  Sat 9th March 2019

Bryce Langston
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Small but perfectly formed  Tiny House interior

Bryce Langston from Auckland, NZ is speaking at a number of gatherings in Australia during March. Narara Ecovillage has been chosen as the only place offering his full presentation, Living Big in a Tiny House. He will be up front in the Visitor Centre from 1-6pm on Saturday 9 March. The cost of a place is only $40 so book in early

Bryce has worked professionally in the film industry for more than a decade and has credits in documentary, cinema and television. He has been on both sides of the camera and is also a musician. He is a passionate permaculturist and environmentalist, has been a consultant to the British Council and established an urban food forest on Auckland’s North Shore.

He loves “the concept of marrying tiny architecture and permaculture to create wonderfully sustainable living that is simple for others to follow” and his YouTube series Living Big in a Tiny House reflects this dedication to delight-full downsizing. This clearly draws others: he has over a million subscribers!

Bryce will cover practical nitty gritty issues as well as inspirations from tiny house builders and designs around the world. The timing of this event is perfect for us at Narara Ecovillage as we set our sights on exploring smaller footprint options for Stage 2.

For more information about Bryce, check out:  https://www.livingbiginatinyhouse.com/

Yoga Retreat at the village – Saturday 30th March 2019

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Escape to a beautiful rural venue in a new Ecovillage to explore what makes a sustainable yoga practice in a sustainable environment to create a sustainable life…spirit in action in simple ways both on and off the yoga mat.

There’s a nice discount for NEV ($20) and for NELN members ($10).

SUSTAIN-ability…in yoga and in life.

Online details are HERE. 

MAD about Dirt – Sat 11th May 2019

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Leading a great line-up will be Tino Carnevale at Mad About Dirt

Leading a great line-up will be Tino Carnevale of ABC TV’s Gardening Australia. A Tasmanian, his lifelong interest in plants and gardening stems from growing up on his family’s small vineyard and olive grove. He is involved in the Feeding the Future Coalition, is part of The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program, teaching students at Moonah Primary School, and is a patron of the Tasmanian Weed Society, an organization that raises awareness of environmental weeds and their impact.

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“Doctor of the Dirt, Surgeon of the Soil, Professor of the Paddock” Angus Stewart with our own Horticulturist, Trish Meagher

Angus Stewart was once known on radio as “Doctor of the Dirt, Surgeon of the Soil, Professor of the Paddock”. His first horticultural job was at the Narara Horticultural Research Station, now the Narara Ecovillage. His latest book, Grow Your Own – How to be an Urban Farmer, is co-authored with Simon Leake. Angus is really looking forward to presenting his latest work on small and large scale worm farming to reduce organic wastes going to landfill, whilst encouraging people to create their own free fertilizer and compost to grow their own food. “And I look forward to sharing our community garden results with everyone”.

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Kerrie Anderson, Permaculture educator, will be speaking at Mad About Dirt

Kerrie Anderson, Permaculture educator, will be one of several speakers to highlight educational opportunities for school students in areas related to soil, horticulture and permaculture.

Organisers of the Network’s Mad About Dirt event are now inviting applications from individuals and organisations that would like to promote their services. Co-organiser Joan Cassels said they were particularly seeking those who offered educational course, workshops, qualifications or careers related to horticulture, permaculture, soil science and soil conservation. If you are interested, please contact the organisers by email as soon as possible as places are limited: madaboutdirt@iinet.net.au.

Green Transport Policy (GTP) at Narara Ecovillage

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The need to travel is a practical reality for us all, but our expectation to be able to travel when and how we wish is symptomatic of the unfettered social and economic growth models we have inherited. Most travel modes remain dependent upon fossil fuels usage with our habits continuing to contribute to ‘climate crisis’. This evidence is reinforced by the October 2018 IPCC Report. 

Ecovillage members have endorsed a duty of care to respond creatively to the way we travel, challenging our behaviours and supporting alternatives to fossil fuel modes of transport at the global, national and local levels. 

In response, our local GTP has been developed by our Green Transport Working Group and is intended to provide the strategic travel policy framework our ecovillage for the next 10 years. The following targets were developed through responses to a comprehensive Green Transport Members survey in September 2018. 

Target 1:

  • Phase 1 by end of 2019 (or 50% of occupancy of Stage 1) –  Informal car-pooling amongst members; NEV Community Bus / Vehicle; Expand the bulk food cooperative; Bike pool and secure cycle facilities on site; Electric Golf Buggies; More secure bicycle spaces at Narara Station
  • Phase 2 by end of 2020 (or ‘full’ (90%) occupancy of Stage 1) –  Formal Car-Share scheme; Improve the Dean Street pedestrian access; NEV Taxi

Target 2: Reduce total private car ownership by NEV members by 35% within 5 years.

Target 3:  NEV members to increase ownership of electric / hybrid cars, by 240% within 5 years.

Target 4:  Reduce the proportion of visitor trips to NEV that use private car (fossil fuel powered only) by 50% within 5 years.

The GTP is at ‘second draft’ stage with adoption expected in April 2019. The GTP will be supported by a Green Transport Charter of greater scope including challenging our wider travel habits nationally and internationally.

If you would like to view the second draft, Art Wooding, would be happy to send you a copy or discuss any aspect of the proposalarthacarya@hotmail.com

Village Reflections

Lyndall Parris reflects: “I feel more secure here. If something untoward happens, we would call a meeting in our village hall and many good brains would turn up. We would hear from people from all walks of life with multiple perspectives. We would work a way forward together.

It is rich seeing the beehives at Narara and watching our chooks preparing the ground for a vegie patch.
Parents get help during the school holidays from others offering their time, expertise and effort to give Narara children some fun and learning.

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Kids learning to cook pizzas 
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Smoothing out the rough edges

When I pick up some rubbish, help make a meal, assist with an event, propagate figs, I feel that I am contributing to the joy of my neighbours. I feel expansive and generous.

When I have an idea, I can immediately think of someone to chat to about this. The variety of outlooks and skills at my fingertips is massive.

At a community pot-luck dinner, I can collect my plate and fill it with such a variety of delicious, food, while at home the same time in the kitchen holds less reward for effort.

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Pot Luck dinner, Lyndall, Scilla & Donna

On very hot days, I can choose air conditioning…or a cool walk in the adjacent and oldest rainforest arboretum in NSW. It is minutes from our boundary. 

Although our first stage is all but fully subscribed, Stage 2 is on offer now with 20 members already on the waiting list. Contact me anytime:Lyndall@nararaecovillage.com  0419 279 711 “

A New Kind of Living EnvironmentGreen Magic Homes – A tiny house underground! 

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Now operational in Australia, Green Magic Homes structures are covered by soil and rich greenery, making them energy efficient and energy saving while keeping a temperature balanced interior that fosters restful sleep and rejuvenation.  Embrace an innovative lifestyle that calms your senses, fills you with energy, joy, and inner peace while keeping you connected to your external environment.

More at: www.greenmagichomes.com.au

Builtsmart house has landed!

Congratulations to Geoff and Liz on their new house, and to Builtsmart on the successful installation on a very hot day! 

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Amazing that in the morning there was no house to be seen, and by lunch there was a 2 storey home installed!

Seismic Testing & Offshore Oil/Gas Drilling off the Central Coast

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The NSW coastline from Newcastle, through the Central Coast to the Northern Beaches of Sydney (PEP 11), has been opened up for oil and gas exploration and extraction.   

This plan has been imposed on our beautiful coast by the Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan, without adequate community consultation and despite opposition from the NSW Government. Newcastle City Council and Central Coast Council are also opposed to this dangerous plan. Their adverse effects on marine life are well-known and we cannot let this plan proceed. More information.

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There was a well-attended meeting last weekend in Terrigal to inform concerned locals about the plan for seismic testing and offshore oil/gas drilling off the Central Coast (from Northern Beaches to Newcastle).  Many concerned residents went to an action day Thursday 7th February in Newcastle to attend a ‘local’ briefing about Petroleum Exploration off the Central Coast but they locked out of the meeting. Told by department officer “This briefing is only for politicians and Councillors.” 

What can you do?

Stay informed and join relevant FB pages such as Stop Seismic Testing Newcastle 

Watch the video
An independent candidate, David Abrahams who is contesting the seat of Robertson against current sitting member for the LNP, Lucy Wicks put together this video to inform constituents.

Sign the Petition
Link here

Game-changing legal decision on coal

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 In an Australian first, on Friday 8th February, the NSW Land and Environment Court rejected the Rocky Hill coal mine near Gloucester, on social and climate change grounds.

The court has effectively ruled that coal – just like tobacco and asbestos – is bad for us!

Significantly, the court ruled that a new coal mine would increase greenhouse gas pollution when what is needed to meet the Paris Climate Agreementcommitments “is a rapid and deep decrease in greenhouse gas emissions.”

The chief judge of the court announced that the proposed mine was “in the wrong place, at the wrong time.” Dr Annika Dean, Senior Researcher at theClimate Council says: “We couldn’t agree more. In fact, there is no place for any new fossil fuel projects”. 

She said Climate Council’s Prof Will Steffen gave expert evidence in the hearing, providing compelling statements about the climate change implications of the mine. “This is the first time in Australian legal history that a court has considered the global carbon budget, climate impacts and the Paris climate targets”.

As Prof Steffen testified, “Most of the world’s existing fossil fuel reserves – coal, oil and gas – must be left in the ground, unburned, if the Paris accord climate targets are to be met.”

This outcome is a game-changer and a huge win for Groundswell Gloucester and the Environmental Defenders Office of NSW who argued on their behalf. Today, the law now confirms what the science has been saying for a long time.

As Prof Steffen explained, “This landmark decision sends a clear message to the fossil fuel industry that it cannot continue to expand if we are serious about tackling climate change.”

Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation’s One Earth initiative

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A two-year scientific collaboration has produced a roadmap using 100% renewables and natural climate solutions to stay below a 1.5°C temperature rise.

Previous models have relied upon technologies that are expensive and not proven at scale.

The research by leading scientists at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), the German Aerospace Center and the University of Melbourne, has been funded by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF) as part of its new One Earth initiative. 

 “We are already seeing the devastating consequences of global warming, with ever-rising sea levels, extreme storms, prolonged droughts and intensified bushfires. Now, after two years of research and modelling, scientists have come up with a groundbreaking new framework for achieving – and even beating – the target of limiting warming to 1.5°C.”

This ambitious and necessary pathway shows that [we] can deliver a more stable climate within a single generation.  LDF founder Leonardo DiCaprio

See you at the ecovillage!

Linda Scott
BA (Communications) UTS, Sydney
Grad Cert Design & Technology

  • Contacts and More Information
  • The Narara Ecovillage project currently comprises two entities. The Narara Eco Living Network Inc. is a not-for profit incorporated association that promotes sustainable living. It serves as a “Friends of the Narara Ecovillage”. Its brief is both local and global. 
  • Membership is open to all, and costs $20 an individual or $40 a family for 12 months. Membership gives free admission to all Narara Ecovillage Open Day tours and talks, and provides discounts on special workshops and tours. The Network organizes regular talks, tours and events. You can join at any Open Day, or on-line anytime at: http://neln.org.au/join-us/. Narara Eco Living Network Inc. http://neln.org.au and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nararaEcoliving
  • The Narara Ecovillage Cooperative Ltd. Is a Co-operative formed to develop the Narara Ecovillage.
  • Membership costs $30,000, and requires the intent to purchase a lot at the ecovillage and to contribute a minimum number of working hours.
  • Contacts: Narara Ecovillage Co-operative Ltd. http://nararaecovillage.com, and https://www.facebook.com/groups/43471726786,  or email: network.news@neln.org.au
  • The Narara Ecovillage is located at 25 Research Road, Narara, NSW 2250.