APRIL 2024 |Bunyas| Blackberries| Embodied carbon| Ecological identity| Events| KEG| Network News


Building an ecological identity

“… the world is not a pyramid with humans on top, but a web…“


-John Seed

“It is not enough to have ecological ideas, we have to have an ecological identity, ecological self” Arne Naess

I have worked for worldwide rainforests since 1979. Although many of our efforts succeeded, for every forest saved 100 have disappeared. Clearly, you can’t save the planet one forest at a time. It’s one green Earth or a bowl of dust. Without a profound change of consciousness, we can kiss the forests goodbye, the ones we’ve “saved” alongside the rest.

Deep ecology is key to the change we need. To deep ecology, underlying all the symptoms of the environmental crisis lies a psychological or spiritual root – the illusion of separation from the rest of the natural world which stems from anthropocentrism or human-centeredness.

Conditioned since the Old Testament to “subdue and dominate” nature, the modern psyche is radically alienated from the air, water and soil which underpin life and this is reflected in the rapid shredding of all-natural systems in the name of economic development. Deep ecology reminds us that the world is not a pyramid with humans on top, but a web. We, humans, are but one strand in that web and as we destroy this web, we destroy the foundations for all complex life including our own.

While we maintain a self-image created in the matrix of anthropocentric culture, a shrunken and illusory sense of self that doesn’t include the air and water and soil, we will experience nature as “outside” our self and fail to recognise that nature “out there” and nature “in here” are one and the same.

Many people INTELLECTUALLY realise that we are inseparable from Nature and that the sense of separation that we feel is socially conditioned and illusory.

But as the late Arne Naess, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Oslo University, the man who coined the term “Deep Ecology” wrote: “it is not enough to have ecological ideas, we have to have an ecological identity, ecological self”.

But how can we nourish our ecological identity? In answer to such questions,  Joanna Macy and I developed a series of experiential deep ecology rituals called the “Council of All Beings” and in 1986, with Arne Naess and Pat Flemming,  wrote a  book called Thinking Like A Mountain – Towards a Council of All Beings (which has been translated into 12 languages). Along with others, we have been facilitating these workshops around the world since then.

In our Deep Ecology workshops, we remember our rootedness in nature, recapitulate our evolutionary journey and experience the fact that every cell in our body is descended in an unbroken chain 4 billion years old, through fish that learned to walk the land, reptiles whose scales turned to fur and became mammals, evolving through to the present.

We further extend our sense of identity in the Council of All Beings itself where we find an ally in the natural world, make a mask to represent that ally, and allow the animals and plants and landscapes to speak through us. We are shocked at the very different view of the world that emerges from their dialogue. Creative suggestions for human actions emerge and we invoke the powers and knowledge of these other life-forms to empower us in our lives.

One of the rituals we will share is honouring our pain for the world: we grieve for all that is being torn from our world, the species lost, the landscapes destroyed. Only if we can allow ourselves to feel the pain of the Earth, can we be effective in Her healing. This is why the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, has said that in order to heal the Earth,  “the most important thing that we can do is to hear, inside ourselves,  the sounds of the Earth crying”.

Deep Ecology workshops enable us to find an end to the illusion of separation and experience our rootedness in the living Earth.

John is now regularly offering his Deep Ecology weekend at Narara Ecovillage, and two more are scheduled for July and October. His last two Narara workshops were full with waiting lists so, if you’re interested to participate, better sign up sooner rather than later. Sliding scale from $150 to $600 according to your means. 25% of proceeds donated to Rainforest Information Centre (RIC) which John founded 35 years ago and continues to do monumental work protecting Australian and world rainforests. Donations to RIC are tax-deductible.

Bountiful Bunya Nuts


Bunya nut pesto

-Donna Carey

We are fortunate to have a number of Bunya pines in our locality and surrounding suburbs. Bunya nuts were a very important protein and carbohydrate source for Indigenous Australians, and nuts were often stored in their husks or processed into flour so that they would keep for extended periods. The nut tastes like a cross between a chestnut and a potato.

Originally from the Bunya Mountains in Queensland, 3 hours north of Brisbane (now a National Park), Bunya pines are now naturalised down the east coast of Australia. Indigenous Mobs from up and down the coast would travel to the Bunya Mountains for festivals to celebrate this delicious, nutritious and relatively scarce food source.

Pinecones of Bunyas can grow up to 15 to 20 kilos and contain 30 or so massive, nutritious nuts. They are really just very large pine nuts and can be used the same way. The trees usually provide a bumper crop every 3 to 4 years from January through March, depending on location.

Unexpectedly, this season was a great year for Bunya nuts following a bumper year in 2022. The pinecones take 18 months to mature, so you need to think back to what the weather conditions were like in the Spring of the year before last, to determine whether it’s going to be a bumper crop or not.

From this year’s harvest, I have made several batches of pesto, Bunya milk, falafels, and a couple of Bunya flour and persimmon cakes. I have also added cooked nuts to smoothies, soups and curries, and have frozen them for use in warming winter dishes. They are also delicious served warm with butter (or olive oil), a touch of salt and garlic.


Bunya flour and Persimmon cake

What I Love About Kariong Eco Garden


-Lisa Wriley

Kariong Eco Garden is a community garden and regional education centre for sustainable living, where we care for the earth by providing habitat for wildlife, harvesting rainwater, using renewable energy, recycling organic matter, and growing food, naturally.

I’ve been involved since it started on the Dandaloo Street site in 2005, and for several years before that, and there are many things I love about this ever-changing community space. I love the dedicated gardeners, the food forest, artworks and animal residents, and sharing activities with local bloodline custodians, storytellers, musicians, artists and local families.

Currently, we have a small but dedicated team of gardeners that work in the garden every Monday morning 10am-1pm, thriving raised garden beds with herbs and vegetables, a food forest with native raspberries, bananas, citrus and fig trees, a beautiful rainbow labyrinth path, a recently refreshed permaculture mural, life cycle poles, elements of the earth poles, resident magpies, brush turkeys and frogs (to name a few of the residents), and 9 numbered compost bins, 2 compost bays due for a makeover, 2 worm tubs and 1 can o’ worms.

I love the mosaic snake path on sacred land, the smell of the crushed lemon myrtle leaves, the fascination little visitors have with the wriggly worms, the children’s watering cans and wheelbarrow, and seeing local kids in the garden enjoying nature with their families or sharing in organised activities with local bloodline custodians, storytellers, musicians and artists.

Drop by the Eco Garden, visitors and new volunteers are always welcome. We work in the garden 10am – 1pm weekly on Mondays and 2nd Saturdays each month.

Firebird: A Film That Ignites Passion for Community


-Tanya Mottl

In a world filled with uncertainty and challenges, Scotland’s Findhorn Ecovillage brings a powerful message of community and radical hope in the face of adversity. The feature documentary, ‘Firebird,’ takes us on a journey through crisis at one of oldest and most sustainable ecovillages in the world.

As the ecovillage celebrates its 60th anniversary, it confronts a crisis that threatens its very existence. The film sheds light on the profound impact of polarizing events such as COVID, Brexit, mass layoffs, and even an arson attack on its community center and sanctuary. Through this lens, ‘Firebird’ becomes a modern-day commentary on the strength of community and relationships amidst unprecedented challenges.

What makes ‘Firebird’ even more significant is its ability to provoke self-reflection. Viewers are prompted to consider what it means to live in a true community, and how it forever changes one’s perspective on the “normal” world. One significant takeout for a Narara viewer: “Once you go to live in a community, you won’t ever be able to live out there in the ‘normal’ world again!” This sentiment echoes the transformative power of authentic connection and the difficulty of reverting back to a less meaningful existence.

Another Narara pioneer member expressed her gratitude for the film’s portrayal of community. It reminded her of the importance of cherishing the wonderful community we have in our Narara Ecovillage. The movie sparked a realization that preserving this sense of unity requires constant mindfulness, compassion, and understanding. It serves as a reminder of the delicate balance between external pressures and the internal vision of creating a more beautiful world.

Through its captivating narrative, ‘Firebird’ invites viewers to reflect on their own lives and the collective strength that can emerge from standing together. It serves as a reminder that even in the face of adversity, hope and resilience can prevail. Scotland’s Findhorn Ecovillage’s story is not only significant for environmental conservationists but for anyone seeking inspiration and guidance on navigating life’s challenges with unity and unwavering hope.

To witness the triumph of community and radical hope, ‘Firebird’ you can join a screening at Narara on Friday 26th April (see below for details)


A still from the film: the Findhorn Community Centre smouldering

Weed of Focus for April – Blackberry  (Rubus fruticosus species)


Donna Carey

This month we begin a series of short articles about common weeds that you may encounter. We begin with Blackberry, a very common weed of bushland and gardens. What is it? What does it look like? Why is it a problem?What do I do when I find blackberry on my property?

What is it?

Blackberries belong to a large genus (group of species) called Rubus, which includes other berry plants such as raspberries, dewberries, and loganberries.

Rubus fruticosusis recognised as one of the worst weeds in Australia. It was declared a Weed of National Significance (WoNS) in 1999.

Blackberry is declared as a noxious weed in the Gosford Council area and is a significant environmental issue on the Narara Ecovillage site. The Department of Primary Industry (DPI) states that, “Any person who deals with any plant, who knows (or ought to know) of any biosecurity risk, has a duty to ensure the risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable” and “Must not be imported into the state, sold, bartered, exchanged or offered for sale.” This is an All of NSW declaration and applies to all species. However, some cultivated varieties are exempt (see DPI link below).

What does blackberry look like?

Blackberries are semi-deciduous, scrambling shrubs with tangled, prickly stems that form impenetrable thickets several meters high.

The root system is the perennial part of the plant. It comprises a woody crown that can grow up to 20 cm wide with a main root that can grow to a depth of 4 m.

Stems are known as canes and can grow up to 7 m long. They can be erect, semi-erect, arched or trailing. For most species, the canes are covered in sharp prickles.

Leaves generally occur alternately along canes, are compound (with three to five leaflets), and are dark green on top with a lighter green underside. Most leaves shed from the canes during winter except in warmer climates.

Why is it a problem?

In NSW, the group of blackberries that are considered to be noxious weeds are referred to as the Rubus fruticosus aggregate (R. fruticosus agg.) or as European blackberries. There are 16 species in the R. fruticosus aggregate. Blackberry grows vigorously and can infest large areas quickly.

Negative impacts on the NEV site include:

  • Degradation of natural environments by displacing native plants and reducing habitat for native animals
  • Provision of harbour for vermin such as rabbits and foxes, and seasonal food for exotic animals such as starlings, blackbirds and foxes. These pest species also disperse blackberry seed, acting as vectors that spread blackberry infestations
  • Increased fire hazard caused by dead blackberry material and obstruction of access to fire trails and water for controlling fires.

What do I do when I find blackberry on my property?

Maintaining control of blackberry is an ongoing process. It cannot be achieved with a one-off effort, especially with larger infestations. Physical control alone is rarely successful because of the root structure of blackberry. There are also biological control methods.

Reference: https://weeds.dpi.nsw.gov.au/Weeds/Details/18


The Nipple-Clingers of Narara


-Guy Dutson

Narara Ecovillage is the southernmost limit for several rainforest species that don’t occur in the sandstone country of the Sydney region. One such species is the Fawn-footed Melomys (Melomys cervinipes), a native rodent whose range extends from Cape York to Gosford.

I have seen Melomys occasionally at night in Strickland forest and they appear to be more abundant this summer, probably feeding on the fallen Bunya seeds. At first glance, they look like a rat – most rodents look similar and can easily be confused unless you can examine their teeth or bones! Looking closely, Melomys differ from Black Rats and Bush Rats in their smaller size, shorter tail, rounded nose and browner fur.

This year, I have also noticed two behavioural differences – the first being that they often sit still and don’t run. Most of the time that I see one (at night, with a bright light), I can walk up to them and stroke them. Clearly not a good habit in a country now overrun with cats and foxes! The second is the babies’ habit of hanging on to their mother. The Melomys in this photo was dragging a relatively huge appendage as it climbed along a palm stalk. I was amazed to see that it was a pup being banged around on the vegetation and surely causing great inconvenience and pain to mum as it remained clamped to a teat. It turns out that a few rodent species have pups that refuse to let go for weeks, and are labelled by science as ‘nipple-clingers’.

Melomys are better-known through the Bramble Cay Melomy (M.rubicola), the first mammal species to have gone extinct because of climate change. When it was discovered by the crew of the British ship HMS Bramble on a tiny island in the Great Barrier Reef, it was so plentiful that they shot them with bows and arrows for fun. Having survived the British, this Melomys was last seen in 2009, after climate change and rising sea levels led to salt-water inundation and loss of 97% of the island’s plants. This occurrence is frighteningly similar to the current plight of some Pacific Islanders.


Village News

State carbon team visits Narara Ecovillage


-John Shiel

Narara Ecovillage recently hosted the BASIX* team concerned with embodied carbon, and Ms Danijela Karac, Director Environment Policy at NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

Sustainability architect Graham Hunt demonstrated how incorporating traditional or innovative building materials such as straw, compressed earth blocks or low-carbon concrete can lower the carbon embodied in a building. A well-insulated solar-powered house may have a low carbon impact during its operation, but if it’s made of high carbon materials, its initial carbon emissions will be high. So Narara Ecovillage has included embodied carbon in its requirements for all new buildings.


Village member and built environment expert John Shiel presented NEV’s Building Requirements Scoresheet, with a special focus on embodied carbon in its calculations. He also presented a life-cycle carbon analysis of 5 homes including 2 with hempcrete. Fellow village member Mike Belfield showed how fertilizers can greatly increase the amount of carbon embodied in hempcrete.

The BASIX team had a wide-ranging discussion with members of NEV over lunch. They also toured village homes, including Candy’s Earthship, and hempcrete and natural earth homes, both completed and under construction.

This was the first site visit for the BASIX team.

Their feedback on the day was that it was very interesting and informative, as they are yet to set their embodied carbon targets for future release of BASIX. Danijela Karac’s feedback was “Wanted to thank you for the terrific Narara site visit. The team and I really enjoyed it and were impressed with the dedication of the community to building innovative and low impact homes.”


A screenshot of Graham Hunt’s presentation

The Joy of ‘Paint and Sip for the Planet’


-Vicky Southgate

‘Paint and Sip’ workshops are now a regular event at Narara Ecovillage. Artist Aiyana Schwarz is the enthusiastic and skilled facilitator. Read on to hear why a participant with a tendency to ‘overactive inner criticism’ loves these sessions!

Aiyana creates a lovely space for a small group to dabble with paint, learn, relax and to socialise or not. It’s up to you what you choose to take away or bring. She supplies not only the tools but a relaxing warm space with gentle introductions to help everyone feel included.

I have always loved to paint, but an overactive inner criticism has previously prevented me from participating. In Aiyana’s workshops, I feel encouraged and enabled to play with her guidelines or to just do my own thing. She chooses an artist and theme, which takes pressure off what we paint and enables participants to avoid the question, “Where do I start?” In this way, we are also introduced (or reintroduced) to a specific artist and their works. Everyone is there in whatever way they want, without judgment but with plenty of gentle encouragement. I have found ‘Paint and Sip’ allows me to focus on painting as a lovely and active meditation.

Aiyana is running workshops most months and I have now been to 2 and have booked for the 3rd one on 27th of April. April’s focus is Japanese artist Hokusai (Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, which includes the Great Wave)



Fri 26 April & onwards: Low-impact ZUMBA returns to Narara Ecovillage


– with Carin Clegg, qualified Zumba Gold instructor

Zumba Gold is a low-impact dance class for those of us who are a bit older, managing an injury, new to dance or neurodiverse individuals.

It’s great exercise and fun.

  • When: Weekly from Friday 26th April, 11am-noon
  • Where: Narara Ecovillage Hall, 33 Gugandi Rd 2250
  • Cost: $15 per session
  • Contact Carin with queries or to book: brightdiets@gmail.com or registerat this link

Fri 26 April: ‘Firebird’: A Film That Ignites Passion for Community


Scotland’s Findhorn Ecovillage has addressed global climate disaster for decades.  Amidst 60th anniversary celebrations, they now find urgency in resolving their increasingly turbulent inner climate.  Come & see how their learnings can be applied to your community.

  • When: 7-9pm, Friday 26th April
  • Where: Village Hall, Narara Ecovillage, 33 Gugandi Road, Narara
  • Cost: $20 pp or $10 unwaged
  • More info & registrationhere NB This fundraising screening will only take place with a minimum of 30 people so registrations are essential. We are putting together a Q&A with Findhorn members – tbc

Sat 27 April: Guided tours of sustainable homes at Narara Ecovillage


A week after this year’s Sustainable House Day on April 21, join our Community Partner event for guided tours of three beautiful sustainable homes. These homes will be different to those open last year (and next year) so do come along even if you’ve visited before!

Check out all SHD Community Partner Events here.

  • When: Saturday 27 April 2024, 11am-1pm or 1.30-3.30pm
  • Where: Narara Ecovillage, 33 Gugandi Rd 2250
  • Cost: $30 (under 17s FREE)
  • Register here

Sat 27 April: Paint and Sip for the Planet – Hokusai


-Hosted by Aiyana Schwarz

Relax with a glass of wine, have a laugh and learn the basic skills of painting, using nature and our planet as inspiration.

  • When: 7-9pm, Sat 27th April
  • Where: Village Hall, Narara Ecovillage, 33 Gugandi Road, 2250
  • Cost: $39
  • More info & registrations: Spaces are limited to 15 people.
  • Queries: contact Aiyana at allegroarts2@gmail.com

Sun 28 April (morning): Narara Ecovillage Open Day

The Open Day (talk and tour) shows what Narara Ecovillage is all about, and demonstrates how we are activating a resilient community with ecological, social and economic potential by:

  • shared food growing, natural retreats and Permaculture spaces
  • shared community and workplaces
  • examples of highly efficient low-carbon homes now and in the next stage

All are welcome.

  • When: Sun 28 April, 10.30am – 1.30 pm
  • Where: Narara Ecovillage Hall, 33 Gugandi Road 2250
  • Cost: $15 includes talk & walking tour around village, kids & NELN members free!
  • More Details and Registration

If this is your first visit to Narara Ecovillage, you may find this interesting: the Open Day Previewintroduces the ecovillage and its unfolding story.

Sun April 28 (afternoon): Sociocracy: principles, elements, and processes, followed by Q&A


– with Zahra Lightway,Community Game co-founder

Learn about sociocracy, the inclusive and effective governance system at Narara Ecovillage. Sociocracy has many elements which can be utilised in a wide range of organisations. This event is suitable for beginners or experienced people.

  • When: Sunday 28, 3-5pm (after Open Day morning)
  • Where: Narara Ecovillage Hall, 33 Gugandi Rd, 2250
  • Cost: a cash donation of your choice would be appreciated
  • No need to register– Just turn up

Every 3rd Sunday, Feb-Nov: Eco Garden Repair cafe & Swap Table

Bring your items to be fixed, make a donation or volunteer to join the team. There is a swap table too – so bring an item or two you would be happy to swap. You may also book a Second Hand Sunday stall in Autumn and Spring.

  • Where: Kariong Hall, 2 Dandaloo St (next to Eco Garden, Dandaloo St, 2250)
  • When: Sundays 21 April, 19 May, 16 June, 21 July, 18 August, 15 September, 20 October and 17 November, 10am-1pm

Sat 4 – Sat 11 May: FIRST EVER online International Permaculture Festival of Ideas!


-hosted by Morag Gamble

Myceliate ideas, spark imaginings, deepen understanding, open new conversations, meet amazing people, find new collaborators, and explore the edges of permaculture thinking, design, education and practice. Guest list currently includes Fritjof Capra, Nora Bateson, David Holmgren and many more.

  • When: 4-11 May
  • Where: Online
  • Cost: Free
  • More info and registration:SIGN UP HERE to get access to the whole event.

Sat 11 May: Family FIRST AID at Kariong Eco Garden


Proposed Family First Aid course aimed for school-aged children and their adult/s, offered by Karben Training Solutions. This course could help save the life of a loved one, friend or neighbour. Topics include: recognise an emergency situation, call 000, apply the DRSABCD method, bandages, abrasions, snake bite, and much more!

  • When: Saturday 11 May 2024, 10.30am-12.30pm
  • Where: Kariong Eco Garden, 2 Dandaloo St, 2250
  • Cost: $15-25 + BF
  • More info & Registration: Minimum 10 families needed. PLEASE BOOK NOW TO HELP US

CONFIRM THE WORKSHOP https://events.humanitix.com/family-first-aid-in-the-eco-garden  (If we don’t reach the minimum by April, we will refund you

Sat 8 – Sun 9 June: Central Coast Harvest Festival


With a range of unique events and experiences offered across thirty event hubs, you can truly choose your own adventure this Harvest Festival!

Fri 5 – Sun 7 July: Deep Ecology Immersion at Narara Ecovillage  


-Hosted by John Seed and Erika Aligno

Deep Ecology is a philosophy which understands that the illusion of separation between humans and the rest of the natural world is the engine driving the 6th mass extinction currently underway.

This workshop allows us to become aware of our rootedness in the living Earth and the renewal, empowerment and vision that invariably ensue.

  • When: 4pm Friday 5 to 4pm Sunday 7 July, 2024
  • Where: Narara Ecovillage Hall, 33 Gugandi Rd 2250
  • Cost: $150 TO $600 according to your means. 25% of proceeds go to rainforest conservation
  • More info & Registration here

Other Deep Ecology workshops around Australia this year, including OCTOBER at Narara Ecovillage. Reviews from previous participants.

Sun 13 Oct: Woytopia – seeking volunteers


Woytopia celebrates sustainable living with green/gardening talks, presentations, an eco-market, great music, food stalls, and kids’ entertainment.

Seeking volunteers to help with organising

For Sale

Land or houses for sale at Narara Ecovillage


Please check out this page on the village website:AVAILABLE NOW” at NEV