The Lost Stories are Bill Mollison’s articles published in the print magazine originally named Permaculture, then International Permaculture Journal and finally the Permaculture International Journal that was published between 1978 and 2000.
All stories and other content ©Permaculture Australia unless otherwise noted.autumn
Story by Bill Mollison, 1980, Autumn Edition.
There are now enough of us (the alternative society) with enough talents and land to link-up throughout Australia.
Already, we have set up an Australiawide (and NZ) distribution network through which we can distribute books and goods, seeds and manufactures.
Now after many group discussions we can isolate skills, needs and opportunities. Permaculture people are more or less one large, hard-working community.
What is proposed is:
Gene pools of plants and animals in each main climatic area, possible as a linked institute.
We have some 300 species at Stanley and expect to plant more. Others have sub-tropical and tropical areas under way.
These may eventually be a new sort of botanic garden system demonstrating design, technique and species assemblies for the area.
Our publications or goods can enter this at any point.
Tagari can cover Tasmania, and MeIbourne city has core groups in every state and nearly every district.
Shopfronts, markets, warehouses and groups need to be registered.
Brisbane Alternative Group (BAG) is developing an ECHO (Environmental Community Hostels Organisation). Contact Daryl Bellingham, c/- PO Box 238, North Quay, Brisbane, Old 4000.
BAG has plans for a hostel and we hope others take up this idea. Tagari is in the process.
What other system can we offer ‘ecological travelers’?
A catalogue of addresses of talent is needed — if we need a design engineer, lawyer, planner, poultry breeder, where do we find them?
Permaculture Nambour may collate this as a group project. The idea is not to list all people, but to list all the skills known to exist in any area with a key person there to locate each request.
Designs and Instruction Kits
As Tagari already lists and sells permaculture-related designs and catalogues these, we could include any others for resale and listing on a fair royalties basis.
Many of us have spare land or money and with these we could set up our own land bank and land loan system.
Who will run or will help run this?
Carriers are expensive — can we pool or run local transport for our own goods?
Who will collate?
Let us co-operate, not compete.
Again, PO Nambour has PO T-shirts and bumper stickers — ‘Permaculture is Growing’. Let us buy from them (and submit designs) instead of duplicating.
What other ways can we fund other groups?
Dare we tackle a combined insurance (fixed amount) scheme for ourselves, replacing funds only when they are used?
Now, who can help, who can suggest new and better links?
Talented, scattered and many
We are talented, many, scattered, mobile and ready tor the next evolution — that of a truly linked community.
It’s time (to pinch a phrase) and if life wasn’t meant to be easy at least it could be better organised to support the alternative.
By co-operating we can support each other instead of people who don’t care and people who use the profits for themselves.
In the second last paragraph Bill makes reference to what became two cultural artifacts from the late-1970s.
“It’s time”, with which he starts the paragraph, was a popular song of the Australian Labor Party’s 1972 election campaign that saw Gough Whitlam elected to lead an federal Labor government.
The later passage in the same paragraph, “life wasn’t meant to be easy”, was a line by 1970s Australian prime minister, Malcolm Fraser, that was taken out of context .
The line was a quote from George Bernard Shaw that, rather than signifying only difficulty, signified the taking of courage. Left from the quote by Malcolm Fraser’s critics was the rest of it: ” …my child, but take courage: it can be delightful.”
Links with other ideas
The article suggests that Bill Mollison and his Tagari Community communards saw the development of a national network as necessary to permaculture’s spread. Design consultants qualified through a consultant’s course at Tagari would form a core of the network.
The ‘alternative society’ mentioned is a reference to the large numbers then participating in what was a significant social movement around environmentally and socially-better ways of living. Although the movement was amorphous and lacked any set of core ethics and principles, those participating in it felt part of it and also felt themselves apart from mainstream society. Permaculture incorporated some of the elements of the movement and, in turn, came to influence it. Many of permaculture’s early recruits came from the alternative movement.
The ‘Accommodation’ idea listed under Proposals might be seen as the incipient idea that would years later manifest from outside the permaculture network as WWOOF — Willing Workers On Organic Farms — the farmstay-in-return-for-work scheme. Although not stated in the article, there is a tenuous like with Bill Mollison’s idea of permaculture educators and designers moving around the country, teaching and designing in different places.