Network News, Tuesday 26th May 2020
In this issue
What is an Ecovillage?
An ecovillage is an intentional or traditional community that is consciously designed to regenerate social and natural environments in the dimensions of social, cultural, ecological and economic sustainability. – Global Ecovillage Network
Human-scale, full-featured settlements in which human activities are harmlessly integrated into the natural world in a way that supports healthy human development, and which can be successfully continued into the indefinite future – Robert and Diane Gilman, cited by Diane Leafe Christian
All residents at Narara Ecovillage are committed to community values and working together for shared goals. We have a nice mix: out in the community and the common areas, it is about the ‘we’, while at home and elsewhere, we can embrace the “me”.
In this edition, Vanessa Huang writes about the financial benefits of living in the ecovillage, and you can find out more about ecovillages by joining Lyndall Parris’s free online talk on June 26 (scroll down for details).
By the way … while most of today’s Network News stories have been contributed by Narara Ecovillagers, we also seek stories from further afield. So if you wish to contribute to the newsletter, please contact us at email@example.com
-Liz Bassett, editor
Announcing a new series: Principles for a Healthy Home
As a building biologist, I get people asking me how to make their homes a more healthy environment (or how to discern whether a home they want to purchase has “issues”). Unfortunately there is no quick answer to this question. As I often say, you can take the best designed house and, through poor management, end up with a sick home. Likewise, you can manage a poorly designed house well to be a healthy home (within reason – there are design flaws you just want to steer clear of).
Some of the most basic principles involve location, foundation, orientation, and ventilation. Then, of course, there is internal management of the home which includes introduced/generated chemicals and gases, dust, mould, and humidity.
In this 6 part series I will give some basic tips that you can either put into action straight away or start investigating.
Unfortunately it’s often a matter of balancing what can seem like opposing principles, thus there is no one “right way” to do things. For instance, while ventilation is essential, if the air you’re ventilating with is polluted (eg if you live on a main road), then using an air purifier is just as important as the ventilation.
The 6 topics will be:
- Age of the home and its foundations
- Location and orientation
- Drainage, eaves and gutters
- Humidity, ventilation, dust and mould
- Internal air quality
- Other toxins in the home
Of course, each home will have its individual needs/requirements which I can’t cover through articles. However, I am available to do a home audit to provide a detailed report and plan (contact: 0424 586 610).
Or if you want a great resource that covers all of these items, I highly recommend Healthy Home, Healthy Family by Nicole Biljsma (who founded the Australian College of Environmental Studies, where I trained as a building biologist).
Today’s take-away tip – Shoes
Leave shoes at the front door (or in a foyer at the entrance). This will go a long way to reduce the amount of dust, debris (which can include pesticides and faecal matter) that is tracked into your home.
First instalment coming up: June Network News
Upcoming Narara Ecovillage Events
Next Open Day, ONLINE Saturday May 30, 10am-11:30am
With our monthly Open Days postponed, we invite you to experience a taste of our Ecovillage from the comfort of your home.
We’ve taken a video tour of our beautiful site and put together some answers to common questions that visitors have about our project. At this online event, you’ll have the opportunity to meet some key Narara Ecovillage members and ask them your questions.
- Welcome and short 3 minute video about Narara Ecovillage
- Where we are at right now
- Introduction of the Panel Members
- Your questions welcome (see below)
- Introduction of the optional personal Site Tours in the afternoon (tickets available here)
- Farewell and Next Steps
- More details
Personal social-distancing site tours are available on a range of dates. Full list here
Sustainable House Design ONLINE Friday June 12, 8pm-9pm
Join us as we talk to Geoff about sustainable building design including water and energy solutions, natural buildings, and what types of houses you can build at Narara Ecovillage.
To be part of this conversation via Zoom, please Register here
You can also join us Live on Facebook here
My Favourite Ecovillages ONLINE Friday June 26, 8pm-9pm
Ecovillager Lyndall seeks out Ecovillages wherever she travels. Here we chat about some of her favourites, and some of the more curious ones she has come across!
To be part of this conversation via Zoom, please Register here.
Or you can join us Live on Facebook here
Lyndall and Dave Parris
Check out NEV facebook for up to date news, new videos and more
Global Sociocracy Online Conference Thurs May 28 from 7pm AEST
The 7-hour conference will bring together people learning, practising & implementing sociocracy. Narara Ecovillage will be represented two ways this year:
- Rafaele Joudry: “Applying Sociocracy in my small business”
- Gina Price co-presenting: “Working with flow: Sociocracy in the Funeral Business.”
The program also includes
- Diana Leafe Christian: The four necessary requirements for intentional communities
Sociocracy is a way to manage our human-ness. It is profound, it can be healing, and it requires us to be open to ongoing learning.
Interested in Tiny Houses?
Check out last week’s recorded Tiny House event here
Ecovillage news and stories
Life is Sweeter and Cheaper at Narara Ecovillage
Living in the suburbs in the 21st century wasn’t easy, and it certainly wasn’t cheap. Now our family is better supported socially, we are empowered to live more gently on the earth, and we are saving money at the same time.
Here at Narara Ecovillage our family can access many cost savings. In the last 12 months we have saved $16,424 by living here instead of a comparable ’normal’ in another suburb. We have also given countless hours to the Ecovillage, to our (newfound) interests associated with our shift in lifestyle, and to friends and community members. I can’t begin to quantify these because there is little distinction for us between doing ‘work’ and doing things we love, but it needs noting for the record.
Living with other community- minded folk in the Ecovillage at Narara Ecovillage means that there’s a strong circular economy. If you haven’t heard of a ‘giving economy’, the idea is simple – if you have something someone else needs, you share it. For free if you’re able. Doubtless, like Aesop’s fable of the Lion and the Mouse, there will come a day when I have a need which can be met just as graciously by another. We have received furniture, clothing and plants, as well as less tangible rewards such as foraging and growing advice.
Another way we save money is through the logistical perks associated with living closely with a village of other people. We co-ordinate grocery trips, mail drop-offs, library returns, school bus runs, child-care, as well as maintenance work on our own homes and gardens. Saving trips saves petrol, parking, and over-consumption. It also frees up my time to work, care for children, volunteer around the village, or just relax on our beautiful property.
Yet another category of cost-savings comes from the surprising angle <more> of ‘Keeping Up with the Joneses’. We have noticed significant cost-savings associated with our energy, water, and car use which stem from living with environmentally-conscious neighbours. There has been no pressure from anyone in the community to improve our ‘green’ performance, but simply being part of conversations with our new friends has led to changes in behaviour, buying patterns, and consumption. When you know better, you do better, and that has provided fiscal rewards for our family.
Finally, the Ecovillage’s commitment to community sustainability has provided economic rewards for our family as we access support to navigate and nurture our personal, professional and village lives. We have options to attend Men’s and Women’s Circles, an active Parent’s Circle, a budding Children’s Circle, a women’s singing group, as well as training in Sociocracy and Non-Violent Communication. The cost of counselling is fairly easy to calculate, but how do you estimate the cost savings associated with addressing neighbourhood disputes early on, before heartache and resentment have set in? How do you put a price on a relationship with your neighbours which allows you to comfortably raise concerns about the way their child interacts with yours, and which results in a solution which builds both families up?
Living in the suburbs in the 21st century wasn’t easy, and it certainly wasn’t cheap. Now, our family is better supported socially, we are empowered to live more gently on the earth, and we are saving money at the same time.
Fortune favours the bold–Virgil
The Pelicans of Woy Woy
- Richard Cassels
While our new home is being built at the ecovillage, and after selling our former home, we have been renting a house on the waterfront in Woy Woy, 20 minutes drive south of Narara. It’s a real gem, and such a privilege for NEV people to have on our doorstep.
For me the highlight has been the daily privilege of being close to the magnificent pelicans of Woy Woy. Imagine how excited we would be if we had just discovered these giant, prehistoric birds for the first time!
When a group of them flies overhead, it’s like being under a low-flying Hercules aircraft, and the sound of the air over their wings is a roaring whoosh.
They can be both very cooperative, hunting fish in synchronised groups and highly individual as they chose their personal roosts. They also appear to be incredibly polite to humans, asking fishermen and women if food is available, but never pressing their case.
Pelicans are horribly threatened by discarded nylon fishing line, sharp fishhooks, old nylon rope, toxic run-off from land and plastic bags that look like food. So whenever you visit the sea shore, “Take 3” (https://www.take3.org), which means take a compostable bag and pick up at least 3 items of plastic or nylon or anything hazardous every time (using the bag as a glove).
We are looking forward to visiting Woy Woy, its pelicans and its famous cafes (once they re-open) on a regular basis once we are back living at the ecovillage
3 bedroom house with lovely vegie garden for rent in Narara
We’ve just moved into the ecovillage and so our 3 bedroom house is for rent. It’s been a wonderful home – a short walk to Narara train station and about 2 kms from the village. Productive garden, rainwater tank, solar on roof, freshly painted, northeast facing.
If you’d like to be closer to the ecovillage and you’d be thrilled to inherit a wonderful garden lovingly built up over the last 6 years with carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, greens of all kinds, even bananas :), then do get in touch as we’d love to rent it to someone in the network or feel free to pass onto your own gardening networks.
Contact: John Seed 0410 370 632
Acoustics expertise sought
Narara Ecovillage’s lovely refurbished Visitors Centre needs some acoustic treatment to make this space more useable.
If anyone reading this could help us determine what improvements could be implemented, we would be very grateful.
Please contact Kate Belfield 0488 066 020 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Do a thing a day
Take3 for the Sea – A clean beach initiative
Take3 has the virtue of simplicity and it’s so easy to do.
- Wherever you go, plan to leave with 3 pieces of plastic rubbish.
When you do that, you make a difference. Poorly managed plastic often winds up in the sea. The ocean is downhill from everywhere. Each small action may be enough to save a bird or sea creature from strangulation or starvation.
Take3 was co-founded by Central Coast local, Tim Silverwood
Tim with his mother Giselle at the 2016 Narara Ecoburbia festival
This is a way re-use old bed sheets or tee shirts, giving them new life. Completely sustainable – avoiding the purchase of new rugs and re-purposing the material. Nice to stand on and machine washable.
After tearing my old bed sheets into strips and crocheting them into the rug below, I have been inspired to make a much larger one. The rug pictured is about 100 x 50 cm and took about 8 hours to make. Size is only limited by your enthusiasm and the amount of fabric you have.
Colour, patterns and the stitches used are limitless. Warning – this activity can be addictive! Have fun.
There are plenty of patterns and instructions available on the internet. Here are some examples:
- How to crochet rag rugs (a range of patterns)
- Step-by-step crochet rag rug with mini-videos of the stitches being made
- Video tutorial: braided rug using tee shirts
- Two braided rug tutorials here and here
Learn about sociocracy – tools for effective collaboration
Sociocracy for All is a US group committed to expanding the use and understanding of sociocracy worldwide. They offer a range of online courses and webinars, as well as lots of free resources on their website. Here is a good place to start if you wish to explore.
Example resource: Comparison chart of decision making methods. Click image to go to source