International Permaculture Day 2017 in Sydney got underway with a well-attended showing of the permaculture film, Inhabit, at the Randwick Community Centre.
As people came into the hall they were greeted with the music of Charlie McGee of the Incredible Vegetable Sound System whose permaculture-themed songs were appropriate for the day.
Yummy food, brewed coffee and a variety of teas welcomed people as they took the time to socialise before the film. Interesting were the number who cycled to the event, one woman making the hilly ride from Bronte.
Representing Permaculture Australia, I briefly introduced the film and permaculture though more than a few there were already familiar with it, especially those who had attended the courses and workshops at the community centre. We looked at what permaculture is, what International Permaculture Day is and what Permaculture Australia is.
Inhabit is a film about permaculture from the US. Themed around food production and environmental improvement and around 90 minutes in length, the film visits farms, suburban gardens, community gardens and a rooftop farm in the city that grows hydroponically.
What stood out is how many of those interviewed placed what they were doing in a philosophical framework. It was clear they had thought through the why and what of their work. Philosophy, we know, is about understanding the purpose, the methods, the contexts of what we do. It frames our work. Philosophy is no stranger to permaculture, as the film demonstrated.
Following the film, attendees broke into three groups for a discussion around three focus questions, on per group. These were:
- what did you find interesting in the film?
- what motivated the people appearing in the film?
- what projects could we do or what projects do you know of here?
This is what Fiona Campbell usually does with films that she shows at the community centre as part of her role as Randwick Council’s sustainability educator. It’s a successful tactic that lets people think through what they have seen and talk about it.
There was time for announcements at the end of the discussion. Virginia Littlejohn, from Permaculture Australia’s Permafund, reminded people that with the end of the financial year coming up, now might be the time to take advantage of Permafund’s tax-deductible status. I mentioned that the local, Clovelly, branch of Bendigo Bank would hold a Sustainability and Social Impact Forum at the Hub on 7 June with speakers on ethical/philanthropic investment and finance, affordable housing solutions, sustainable architecture, community gardens, environmental protection, composting, solar energy and permaculture.
The discussion continued over supper — tasty corn fritters and pea and fetta fritters with a variety of dipping sauces; sliced capsicum, cucumber and raw beans for dipping; fruit salad; carrot cake; brewed coffee and teas.
A woman who attends many of the events at the community centre told me she had said to her husband not to make dinner for her because she knew that at the events Fiona organises attendees are well fed.
Seeing the people there, watching the way they discussed the film and how they socialised made me realise that International Permaculture Day is an event that brings people together and through which they become acquainted with the design system.
Mixing the learning opportunity with the opportunity to network and socialise around simple, good food has proven a successful formula.
Now, it’s on to International Permaculture day 2018.