Miles began his career in 1968 at Perth Kings Park and Botanical Gardens WA, before completing a PDC in 1983 with Bill Mollison. His roles have included Secretary, Earth Bank Society; Plant nursery manager, Zaytuna Farm; NASAA inspector, Co- housing and MO development; Permaculture Advisor, Lesotho; and volunteering in multiple Australian Indigenous communities. He is also a PA member and volunteer with the Permafund team, and a Permaculture Elder. Miles has Diplomas in both Horticulture & Permaculture, and an Associate Degree in Training Development. He lives at the Tasman Ecovillage, Southern Tasmania.
In the following article, Miles recalls some of his experiences during permaculture’s formative years when ethical investment systems were in development.
“During the late 1980s Bill Mollison promoted an interest in ethical investment as an alternative to the banks. The concept of an Earth Bank was raised at an ethical investment workshop led by Bill in Fremantle. One of the results of the workshop was the forming of the Earthbank Society of WA. Related to that was the forming of August Investments by Damien Lynch in 1981. I was one of its founding members and the first secretary of Earthbank Society WA. After the initial interest declined and for various reasons, the Society was dissolved.
An ethical investment company, Entone, was formed by some of the members of the Earthbank Society. This was dissolved in the early 1990s and some of its shareholders took up shares in August Investments. In the 1990s this became Australian Ethical Investment Ltd, which continues to this day in a very successful, new mode Australian Ethical.
The 1980s were a very active time for social and environmental change. The alternative movement, as it became known, included the birth of the permaculture community. I was very fortunate to be a permaculture design student of Bill Mollison for a PDC in Stanley in the winter of 1983. I am now back in Tasmania in the winter of 2020, still contributing to the permaculture story.
The Down to Earth Association held a number of Confests in the 1980s, with several in WA. I was involved in the organisation and running of the Nanga Confest and the two Confests in York in WA. Permaculture presentations and workshops were included. Dr Jim Cairns and Bill Mollison often had close encounters at these events with both of them having almost superstar status. I recall Bill and Jim doing a credible waltz in the elaborate foyer of the Grand Peninsula Hotel, originally a gentlemen’s club. I can’t recall who took the lead during the waltz!
Up to the late 1980s the sea port of Fremantle was a place of very diverse cultural activities including art, music, permaculture, the Earthbank Society, co-housing and a LETS system. There was the pre-America’s Cup era (BC) and post America’s Cup (AC) era. After the Cup, Fremantle became much sought after by the rich and trendy, a change from previously when it was a homely pre- development town with low cost rent and housing.
Permaculture continues its evolutionary journey, on a road increasingly travelled. The concept of a permanent agriculture remains the core of its’ values and vision. As the permaculture community increases in numbers so does its’ diversity of form and content. It can be seen as an open book with endless blank pages to be written on. The lack of dogma and openness to all humanity is its strength and resilience. The field is open to the intellect. My interest in ethical investment continues as I and others contemplate how best to leave an ethical and perpetual legacy for favourite charities, the community and generations to follow. “
How does ethical investment related to permaculture? As taken from the Permaculture Principles website: “The permaculture journey begins with the ethics and design principles. We apply this thinking to the seven different domains required to create a sustainable culture, including finance and economics. Alternative exchange systems reduce reliance on the fragile monetary economy.”
Miles is an Ordinary member and volunteer of Permaculture Australia, the national permaculture member based organisation. Not a member? Sign up and join us here today.
PA’s Permafund has provided dozens of small grants to permaculture community projects in Australia and internationally. Donations over $2 are tax deductible in Australia and can be set up as recurring or one off donations. Find out more including how to donate here and to leave a bequest to PA, including Permafund here.
For more information on ethical investments and content mentioned above: