In this issue:
Village News: what’s been happening
Sustainable House Day
HIA award for ecovillage home
Cluster houses construction delayed
Visitor Centre’s new Luxaflex shades
Upcoming Events at Narara Ecovillage
Open Day, including Sociocracy in Action, this Sunday, October 27
Taste of sociocracy, November 8
Edible Plants of the Strickland Forest November 16
Bush Regeneration – Every Wednesday till December
Mad about Dirt stripped bare
Sustainable House Day at Narara Ecovillage
This is the first year that our village has opened its doors as part of National Sustainable House Day.
Eight houses were open for visitors interested in seeing a wide variety of building techniques which, in different ways, demonstrate how houses can be designed for sustainable living.
Candy’s Earthship – made with natural materials such as earth and straw, and upcycled materials such as tyres and bottles. Candy recycled a kitchen from freecycle, and collected tiles from roadside council cleanups. Candy and her family managed the build and made use of local volunteer labour. The design employs techniques to maximise natural heating and cooling using thermal mass and insulation as well as careful solar alignment.
Mayflower Tiny House – demonstrates what can be achieved within a tiny footprint. The house, which is on wheels, contains a spacious kitchen, a full bathroom with shower, washbasin and a compost toilet. The loft bedroom comfortably fits a queen sized bed and a sideboard for additional storage.
The Modular house – Constructed by Lisarow’s BuiltSmart, the building was factory-constructed as prefabricated modules. The construction uses sophisticated machine tools creating a high quality finish and minimising waste. The modules were delivered to the village on a truck and the craned onto the building site.
Jazz’s 9 star home – Jazz had a passion to live in the Ecovillage but she needed to work with a very tight budget. Her builder, Living Green, was able to design a 55 m2 design which still gave Jazz everything she needed. The bonus was the high star rating achieved through careful alignment of the design using north facing windows with deep eaves and thermal mass through the concrete slab.
Geoff’s Hemp house – a highly thermally efficient 8.8 star hemp house with exposed slab with slab edge insulation. The main roof faces north and has room for up to 20kW of PV panels. There are south facing clerestory windows providing summer ventilation. The building also meets a very high BAL29 fire rating.
Farrell house – A lightweight timber framed house built on a steep block designed to rest lightly on the slope. Oriented to the north, with excellent winter solar gain, it is well shaded from the summer sun. Thermal mass is provided by a combination of a small concrete slab and 90 Sqm of phase change material in the ceilings.
The Hive – built by Viva Living Homes this house demonstrates the use of straw panels and cob with lime on the external walls and clay render on the interior walls. The mud and clay walls absorb noise and vibration so the whole house seems still and restful. The owners are really pleased with the result of careful thermal design which has delivered comfortable living in winter and summer without the need for air conditioning or heating.
Two storey strawbale house – Rob and Steph the owners say “ the houses uses a straw bale construction and thermal mass through the concrete floor and earthen interior walls which has made this the cosiest house we have ever lived in.
Donna’s hempcrete house – this hempcrete house is a thermally efficient 8.3 star home built using a multitude of passive design features. The single story house is on split levels with a burnished concrete slab floor on the upper level. Thermal mass is enhanced with a 5m rammed earth wall with recycled glass inlay which runs along the interior spine of the building. The house already feels as if it hugs its occupants which is exactly the feel Donna wanted to achieve.
In addition, we ran a number of talks on ecovillage building standards, tiny houses, thermally efficient building designs, natural building techniques, NEV Power’s smartgrid, earth bricks and how the earthship was built.
The day was a huge success, with over 500 people coming to the village. There was a steady stream of visitors from 9am, and people were still arriving after 3pm.
Over 100 visitors completed a survey, so we were able to learn a bit about them.
About 2/3 of the visitors were female. Most came with a partner or friend and over a quarter had children with them. The spread of age groups was very balanced, with about a quarter being younger adults, about half middle-aged, and the final quarter over 60.
We were particularly interested in where people came from. The survey suggests a bit less than half were from the Central Coast, about a third came up from Sydney and, most surprising, 6% from Newcastle and another 6% from other parts of NSW. Most chose to travel by car.
Sustainable House Day is quite well publicised and not surprisingly most people had heard about the day through various forms of social media and/or the internet.
Most people visited at least 5 houses and attended one of the talks. The ratings on both and on the facilities offered by the village including food and the shuttle bus were all very high.
Standouts for visitors were
- Candy’s Earthship
- The ability to talk to homeowners, builders and designers
- The ability to see inside homes using natural building materials
- The general feel and atmosphere of the village
There is no doubt the day was a huge success. Our visitors loved it and the Narara villagers enjoyed the opportunity to show the village. Something, of course, of which we are all really proud.
We are already looking forward to next year’s Sustainable House Day.
Photo: Architect Graham Hunt talks about NatHERS
Sustainable Home Award from the Housing Industry Association
One of this years’ open houses was Tony and Teresa Farrell’s lovely house at the top of the hill. Built by Living Green Designer Homes, it has won a 2019 Housing Industry Association “Green Smart Sustainable Home” award. Huge congratulations to the owners, designers and builders.
Cluster houses construction delayed
We are well underway with our first stage of house building, with more than 15 individual houses started or completed and another 18 ‘cluster houses’ – smallish one and two bedroom units – also underway.
Sadly, the company building the cluster houses, Coastal Construction & Building, has recently gone into liquidation. This is of course hugely disappointing for the members hoping to move in, as the 18 units were due to be completed in November. The demise of CCB will cause some considerable delay as we look for a new builder.
On a positive note we have been approached by a good number of local builders keen to help, and they are currently preparing their tenders. We’re confident that we will be able to move forward shortly to complete the project.
In the meantime our members continue to produce wonderful examples of sustainable homes and we look forward to showing them to members of the Network in the coming months and years.
Our next monthly Open Day is coming up (see below for details) … while you’re there, check out our refurbished Visitor Centre and the Luxaflex Duette Shades.
The story of the shades
The Visitor Centre at Narara Ecovillage was badly in need of a revamp: its old green carpets, dusty curtains and mouldy roof panels were not contributing to a healthy environment.
We were fortunate to receive a grant through the Central Coast Council Stronger Communities Fund, allowing volunteers from the village to renovate and greatly improve the health and workability of the building.
We did a lot of research into window coverings and finally settled on Luxaflex. We worked with Azam Siddique from the Luxaflex Gosford branch to find the best possible solution for the many windows and doors in our centre.
Some of the features we liked:
- Luxaflex products are made with sustainability in mind and as an Ecovillage this resonated with us
- Durability and high quality is important for our high traffic Visitor Centre
- The blinds are easy to clean using a soft feather duster
- Made in Australia
Stylish, bright and welcoming.
If you would like to do a site visit to our Visitor Centre at the Ecovillage, contact Azam on M: 0421 277356 or E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or chat to Narara Ecovillage members at an Ecovillage Open Day and we can show off our blinds and also have the Luxaflex catalogues available if you would like to pick one up.
- The Visitor Centre is available for hire to like-minded organisations. Contact email@example.com for more details.
Events at the Ecovillage
Open Day at Narara Ecovillage
- WHEN: This Sunday, October 27
- Sociocracy in Action Workshop 10- 12pm
- Main Open Day: 1:00 – 4:00 pm
- WHERE: Narara Ecovillage, 25 Research Rd, Narara
The weather is warming up and our beautiful land is blooming in Spring.
- 10-12 am for special introductory Sociocracy in Action workshop (see below for more info)
- 1:00 pm Registration for open day
- 1:15 Site Guided tours of the land
- 2:00 Informative Talk and Q&A with Lyndall
- 3:15 Second Walking Tour of Rural Land and Strickland State Forest
about: Sociocracy workshop – see below
about: Open Day – October
- ENTRY: $10 single/$20 family entry (includes sociocracy workshop, tea/coffee, water, and a seasonal fruit platter)
- Free for members of the Network- info here
- BOOKINGS: No bookings required
Hope to see you there!
Below: Food and drinks available at our Coffee Cart at the Visitors Centre
Sociocracy in Action workshop- all welcome
WHEN: This Sunday 27 October, from 10-12pm (before the main Open Day)
WHERE: Narara Ecovillage Visitors Centre
COST: Included in entry fee for Open Day ($10 single/$20 family)
WHY: At Narara Ecovillage we use Sociocracy as our process for self governance, and we believe that it has been fundamental to the success of our Ecovillage. We aim to share our learning to help other groups and organisations develop skills that assist in sustainable community building.
WHAT: In this two hour introductory workshop, participants will have the opportunity to actually practice group decision-making skills that are essential for effective Sociocratic governance.
- What is Consent Decision Making – how is it distinct from voting or unanimity?
- Aims and Domains – what role do they play in sociocracy?
- What are the essential steps in reaching a consent decision?
- Observe and participate in a consent decision making simulation, become familiar with the steps that help to make effective decisions while building stronger groups.
A Taste of Sociocracy (aka Dynamic Governance) November 8
- WHEN: Friday November 8, 7:00 – 9:00 pm
- WHERE: Narara Ecovillage Visitor Centre
- COST: Donation to cover refreshments please
- RSVP: Lyndall@nararaecovillage.com
How do you get your family, business team or, in our case, 180 people to make decisions, resolve conflicts and feel that they have been heard?
Narara Ecovillage is using Sociocracy. This is a decision-making and governance system that:
- Is inclusive, transparent and equitable, including all voices
- Promotes a better use of resources, and coordination of activities
- Leads to care, respect and cooperation
- Ensures results of decisions are reviewed to determine their ongoing usefulness
This system has relevance for communities, businesses, non-profits, families and more.
Come and have a ‘taste’ of this methodology in a presentation by Lyndall Parris.
‘Narara Ecovillage is going from strength to strength, year by year – and it is wonderful to witness their journey. They are definitely at the forefront of Sociocracy in practice in Australia.’ Gina Price, Australia’s leading Sociocratic Consultant. Gina Price and Lyndall Parris co-presented the Narara Ecovillage experience at the inaugural international on-line Sociocracy Conference earlier this year.
- 7pm: Welcome – cuppa or glass of wine
- 7.30pm: ‘A Taste of Sociocracy’
- 9pm: Home to bed!
- WHEN: Sunday 10th November 2.30-4pm
- WHERE: Narara Ecovillage Visitors Centre
- COST: $15
- RSVP: Vanessa at firstname.lastname@example.org by 3rd November
Have you ever wanted to learn the art of soapmaking? Join Vanessa to learn how just in time for Christmas. This is a hands-on workshop and participants will take home some bars of their own as well as recipe notes.
All ages are welcome, under 16’s with an adult.
Edible Plants of the Strickland Forest, November 16
-via John Seed
WHEN: November 16 10.45 am-4pm. Walk to Strickland Forest at 11am
WHERE: Meet at the Visitors Centre, Narara Ecovillage, Narara. (The Strickland Forest is at Narara Ecovillage back gates)
COST: $65 (10% discount for NELN Members – use promo code NELNJC when booking)
WHAT: An exciting 1-day workshop
Local bush-tucker legend Jake Cassar will be teaching us to identify scores of edible native plants that grow there.
My own interest is as follows: I’m studying the lifestyle changes most conducive to creating the conditions for decades of vibrant good health, and diet is a big part of this.
Latest research is showing that nurturing the trillions of bacteria in your gut microbiome is a key to increased healthspan. Until recently it was believed that for good health, your gut needed to be populated with certain particular species of microbes. However, recently it has become clear that its not the particular species that are crucial but rather the biodiversity of species. And the diversity of microbes is directly proportional to the diversity of fibres (ie vegetables) in your diet. Indigenous peoples used to consume between one and two hundred different species of plants in the course of their year, how many different plants are in our diets?
Anyway, after this workshop I hope to have a few dozen more plants that I can munch a leaf here and there as I bushwalk our gorgeous backyard.
Photo below: Strickland
Heritage Gully Bush Regeneration at Narara Ecovillage- every Wednesday
- WHEN: Every Wednesday till December 2019 Starting 10am
- WHERE: Narara Ecovillage. For more detail, contact Jazz: email@example.com
Land-stripping disaster in NSW
Richard and Joan Cassels, Organisers, Mad About Dirt event
What the new landscape looks like :Photo By Mike Bowers, The Guardian.
Two excellent articles in the Guardian (Australia spends billions planting trees – then wipes out carbon gains by bulldozing them and Stripped bare: Australia’s hidden climate crisis) highlight the horrific stripping of land that is now being inflicted on our NSW landscape by large-scale industrialised agriculture.
Vegetation is bulldozed so that huge machinery does not have to go round it. The soil dries out and, without rain, blows away. Any surviving soil life dies as the soil is drenched with chemical fertilisers and insecticides. Biodiversity is decimated, and the buzz of life is replaced by silence and the sounds of the wind and dust. The water cycle and climate cycle are broken, enhancing the drought. Carbon credits vanish. Global heating is boosted. The future of farming itself is destroyed. You can’t farm dead soils.
What the articles describe is bad enough, but all the evidence shows that it will only increase massively.
Of course the solutions are not simple, and the articles do an excellent job of describing this. But everyone should write to their local NSW State members of Parliament, of whatever party they represent, asking them to address this issue urgently.