Less Stuff, More Merry: Re:Design and Re-imagine your Christmas

Less Stuff, More Merry: Re:Design and Re-imagine your Christmas

How to keep the thrills of Christmas, avoid the pitfalls, and evolve new traditions you really love

In this 2 hour hands-on webinar, we re-imagine Christmas. We set things up to elevate relationships and enliven each other’s home spaces. Christmas can be festive and playful, and not one bit consumed or consuming.
This is part of Cecilia Macaulay’s Permaculture Declutter and Reset series, with a party-feel and results that stay, forever.
You’ll get to ask questions, engage in activities, and be inspired by Cecilia’s beautiful photos and ideas that work.
We will start decluttering and enchanting your space, and have a show-and-tell at the end.

What is the essence of Christmas for you, and how could you embody this?

We will explore:
Designing a space for ease, and for satisfying social interactions
– Using Zones to Declutter and Reset your gathering space to be inspiring, free of obstacles.
– How to make and protect ‘creative void’ in which surprises happen.
– How to set up self and guests so plastic and disposables are avoided, and this feels like a freely-chosen adventure, elevating us to a new way of being
– Get unstuck with Cecilia’s ‘Five S’ method: ‘Separate’, Subtract’, ‘Second-nature’ and more, based on Permaculture, and Toyota’s Zen-inspired ‘Five S’ method of creating miracles

– How to be generous yet avoid giving consumer items
– How to gracefully request and give desirable gifts, creating value, not clutter.

– Creative ways to have juicy exchanges, especially with relatives we find challenging.

Inspired by Japanese culture and Permaculture, we will be creating new ‘patterns’ and ways of being you might use every day for the rest of your life.

Katie de Araujo and Cecilia Macaulay have been creating increasingly delightful family gatherings together for almost half a century…because they are sisters! How lucky they have overlapping missions, bringing a touch of wonder to daily life.
Katie de Araujo, founder of Body Centred Living, will get you feeling in your body, what a festive, glowing space feels like. A room and a day can feel as good as a smile, a clear breath and open posture. She says “Our Festive space holds both our base chakra’s need for safety our heart’s desire for belonging as well as our highest chakra’s need for a spiritual opening.”
Cecilia brings wisdom from Japanese culture and Permaculture (nature-based design), right to where you can use it. With Cecilia on your side, you’ll be making your regular days worthy of candlelight, a gift by you to world, and with moments of admiration sprinkled though.

Declutter your body, create a garden of food in your fridge

Declutter your body, create a garden of food in your fridge

By simply re-arranging the culture of your fridge, your body, mood and microbiome transform. Japanese-inspired design, fridge-inspired you!
About this Event
Welcome to Cecilia’s home reset series. When you open your fridge, you will hear the angels singing. Colorful fresh food will be saying ‘Eat me! Eat me! Those mysterious jars that squat in the back of your fridge will be gone to a better place, and never come back.
This is a one-hour online event with Permaculture designer Cecilia Macaulay. You will see inspiring ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures, and do decluttering in real-time. We will subtract one shelf (yes!) and amazingly have more space. User-friendly ‘families’ of food in your fridge will tell you exactly where to put things. New habits will feel as fun as making cubby houses when you were a kid, and soon become ‘second nature’.
Refrigerators have special powers. They are the ‘edge’ zone between the outside world of shops and gardens, and the inside world that becomes your body, your family. Once you’ve got your renewed fridge culture set, other areas of life transform. You can shop for unpackaged food, straight into containers, if you like. Unexpected food you grow or get gifted won’t end up forgotten. Dinner menus almost suggest themselves. Your diet becomes fresh and alive, and so does your body. Cleanup after dinner stops being scary. Everything will be visible, most things stacked in containers, smiling back at you from their usual spot, with their ‘family’.
In this event you will:
Do a Fridge declutter and re-set, in real-time, with opportunities to ask Cecilia questions as we go
Learn design principles that are fascinating, fun and stay with you for life: Zones, Reduce useless Diversity, make families of objects, creative void, and more. Cecilia brings wisdom from Japanese culture and Permaculture ( nature-based design), right to where you can use it, daily.
Learn how to communicate this new fridge culture to your family, and inspire them into habits that will become second-nature.
Amaze yourself with ‘Before’ and After pictures. Be the hero who changes culture, starting from the Fridge
“When you get a basic thing right, all these other things go right, by themselves”
Bill Mollison, Permaculture founder
What people say about Cecilia’s Declutter Series:
“After Cecilia’s online workshop, my husband wonders where his wife has gone.
I just want to put things in the right place right away. Now I can feel happy knowing if anyone drops by for a cuppa there is no need for me to be embarrassed by the state of my kitchen.
Once I got the sink right, I felt I knew how to do the other things. I transformed my cluttered study into a lovely ordered space and I no longer have to keep the door shut to hide the chaos. I am a ‘work in progress’ and its lovely to keep coming back to Cecilia’s events and get the encouragement I need to tackle even bigger things. I have always wanted to live an ordered, thoughtful life but it kept alluding me.” What’s special about Cecilia’s way is that their is absolutely no judgement and you come to realise that their are so many people feeling overwhelmed and stopped like I was. Anyone can really be impacted by Cecilia’s method I am sure. I can hardly believe the change in me but it’s just the beginning.I now have plans to venture out onto our property and transform it into a haven of nurture and abundance.”
Anne Tindal, South Gippsland.
Photo credit: Kristen Hong, HelloNutritarian

Declutter and Reset your Honorable Bathroom: Togetherness Design Series

Declutter and Reset your Honorable Bathroom: Togetherness Design Series

Turn your bathroom into the spiritual ‘rainforest’ of your house. Transform chronic bathroom confusion into a clear and orderly realm that stays that way, without force or unwilling effort.
Join Permaculture Designer Cecilia Macaulay online, and experience her inspiring take on how we can re-set our homes and our world, starting from where we already are.
In the hour together you will see pictures and hear stories that will energize you, and a re-interpretation of Japanese and nature-based design that will become part of who you are.
In this event you will:
Do a bathroom declutter and re-set, in real-time, with opportunities to ask Cecilia questions as we go
Learn design principles that are fascinating, fun and stay with you for life: Zones for inside your house, reduce useless diversity, make families of objects, creative void, and more. Cecilia brings wisdom from Japanese culture and Nature-based design, right to where you can use it, daily.
Find ways to set up other people in your home for bathroom success, no more mess. Wait for the surprises to emerge, as your home culture changes
Amaze yourself with ‘Before’ and After pictures. Be the hero who changes culture, starting from the bathroom sink.

What people say:
“Today was a whole day of ‘scales coming off my eyes.

Until now, I thought Permaculture was just something you did outside. I realized that permaculture design principles as just as much for inside our house.

We can also use permaculture design on ourselves and the people around us.

Listening to Cecilia’s stories, it’s like my heart is freed up to have more trust, love, respect, and value for what is around me, and to feel it from other people, as well as from myself.

I realized just how many unnecessary burdens and challenges I give myself every day. What a shock!

From now on, I’m going to change the way I’ve viewed asking for help (which was always scary for me). Its not as a way of burdening others, but of creating new possibilities for how we relate to each other.

What do I want to learn tomorrow? specific design tricks, especially ones that make things lovely without costs.”

– Aoi Kuruta, Japan.

Thinking of leadership

This story was first published in Open Forum in 2017.
Too much has been written about leadership. Too many books, Too many articles. So much has been written that we now risk submergence below the sheer weight of printed material.
Sure, the literature on leadership has succeeded in identifying particular types of leadership — leadership from behind, leadership by example, leadership by position — and that is useful and I will talk about examples later.
It is understandable that much leadership literature is directed at business. Business has to respond to and survive in a world beset by new technologies, a flowing stream of new ideas, dodgy economic trends, confused political leadership and changing social expectations. It looks for security in an environment in which there is no resource security, no market security, no security that is lasting in a world increasingly churned by change.

The cult of the entrepreneur

Once, we had business leadership heroes. IBM in the latter years of the Twentieth Century. Bill Gates. Steve Jobs. They have gone or faded. Now, we have clumsy, sometimes-malfunctioning and deceptive corporations and institutions in which there is declining public trust.
The likes of Gates and Jobs were entrepreneurs. They took calculated chances that sometimes failed but for the most part worked. We still have entrepreneurs and they are held up as glaring examples of leadership. All too often they bloom then fade like one-day daisies in a garden.
I don’t know if it is correct to talk of the cult of the entrepreneur, but we hear so much about it that to has started to sound like a cult. Hopeful young people flood to workshops yet few succeed in applying whatever knowledge they gain. Small businesses in Australia are frequently short-lived, though this might have to do with the churn in ideas, technology and economics as much as with entrepreneurs not succeeding or burning out.
Most of us cannot be entrepreneurs because we can’t afford the financial and other risks involved. Or the long, tiring hours. After attending a workshop on entrepreneuralism, a friend told me that he did not want to become an entrepreneur because of the demands of doing that would entail. Yet, he is a person of knowledge and ideas.

A different entrepreneurship

Through working in small business, government and the community sector I have come to realise that although entrepreneuralism is commonly associated with business, there are people out there working the chancy world of social entrepreneurship. They do this voluntarily or for little money, yet it involves leadership qualities as much as does any business.

Permaculture is a platform of ethics, design principles and characteristics upon which its practitioners develop useful applications.

One rainy morning I sat in Cafe Nero, my local caffeine filling station, and asked myself who were these people, these social entrepreneurs? I didn’t set out to list those I know working in the permaculture design system, but theirs’ were the names that appeared on my page.
Permaculture is commonly explained as a system of design for creating resilient communities. I prefer to think of permaculture as a platform of ethics, design principles and characteristics upon which its practitioners develop useful applications. Those might include urban agriculture, food security, energy and water efficient building design, community work, small scale international development, education and more.  Application is broad, and when it comes to the business side of it I think immediately of a landscape architect I know with his own small business, an architect specialising in passive and active solar design, someone who started a food distribution business, a young woman working in community exchange systems and a couple magazine publishers.
So, how did those names that came to mind that wet morning in Cafe Nero, and how do they demonstrate leadership?


With Bill Mollison, David Holmgren co-invented the permaculture design system.
His approach is an intellectual one. David is a thinker. An author. An educator. He is a leader through being one of the two originators of the design system — what we call ‘first starters’ advantage’. It is this, combined with his work, that lends him his intellectual and leadership authority.
Through writing books and articles, through public talks at conferences and maintaining an authoritative website, David built a credibility few if any in the field would challenge. Interestingly, he eschews participation in discussions on social media, preferring to remain aloof.
David’s, then, is leadership through being a public intellectual atop his first starter advantage in developing the design system.


Rosemary Morrow is different. Not for this woman now somewhere in her seventies the intellectual approach of David. Instead, Rosemary has built her leadership by doing, by her experience in the world.
That experience includes decades of teaching permaculture design. Perhaps more importantly, her leadership is built on her work in small-scale international development and working with her local community in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, Australia.
We might call her’s ‘leadership-by-doing’. She is down-to-earth, approachable and modest, illustrating the importance of personality to leadership.
For the past few years Rosemary has been passing on her extensive life experience in permaculture by teaching her own approach to community education to others.
Rosemary’s, then, is leadership by experience applied through an open, friendly personality.


I like to think of Hannah Moloney’s style of leadership as leading-through-exuberance.
Hannah is a young Hobart woman who, with husband Anton, set up the aptly-named Good Life Permaculture, a name that suits Hannah’s outgoing personality. Hannah’s style, her language and her personal presentation attracts a primarily young cohort of students to her courses and to the other enterprises she engages in.
Of all mentioned so far, Hannah and Anton come closest to the conventional model of the entrepreneur as someone building their own small business.
Hannah’s, then, is leadership by exuberance and personal style.


As one of the permaculture design system’s pioneers, Robyn Francis’ story is one of persistence. She not only persisted in teaching permaculture design through the decades, she persisted in developing her Djanbung Gardens permaculture centre in Nimbin. Since the mid-1990s it has been her educational base that she has turned it into something of a cultural centre in the town, a centre that attracts people from across Australia and that is visited by permaculture practitioners from other counties.
In doing these things and more Robyn faced substantial challenges. In meeting those challenges she helped establish a place for women in the worldwide leadership of permaculture. In doing this she was not alone and the success of herself and other women is suggested by the number of them in this short and inadequate article.
Robyn has also broadened the application of the permaculture design system, taking it into planning, international development and the teaching of specialist skills. I must add to this list of accomplishments her work in permaculture education, not only in teaching the permaculture design course but her role in developing Australia’s nationally accredited permaculture education program, Accredited Permaculture Training.
Robyn, then, leads through persistence and innovation in permaculture.


Cecilia Macaulay leads by a personality different to that of many other women in permaculture. They tend to present as earthy, practical woman whereas Cecilia, with her stylish clothing and through regularly visiting a hairdresser, comes across with a feminine presence that is extraverted, light and gentle.
As well as being an illustrator Cecilia is something of a domestic decluttering maven who applies the principles of permaculture design to home organisation. In doing this she brings a strong dose of the Japanese design ethic, having spent some time in the country. There can be an almost zen-like look to her work.
Whereas Hannah Moloney leads through her practical, can-do, exuberant personality, Cecilia leads through a feminine personality but one with a quiet exuberance.


Steve Batley is a Sydney-based landscape architect, horticulture and permaculture educator with his own small business, Sydney Organic Gardens. His approach to leadership is in some ways similar to Cecilia McCauley’s in that it is quiet, calm and considered. Steve doesn’t get fazed. It is also based on extensive knowledge of landscape design supplemented by a good working knowledge of horticulture.
As with many others in this article, Steve’s personality counts for much of his popularity as an educator at the Randwick Sustainabilty Hub and elsewhere. His leadership style could perhaps be described as conciliatory, with a soft masculinity and an ability to communicate permaculture and design concepts clearly in simple language.

Robert and Emma-Kate

Robert Pekin and Emma Kate Rose are entrepreneurial leaders in the classic, small business mold as well as social entrepreneurs.
Once a dairy farmer, Robert and partner, Emma Kate Rose, set up the successful, hybrid community supported agriculture business, Brisbane Food Connect, a social enterprise. Emma-Kate is a director and focuses mainly on marketing. The service links Brisbane region family and small scale farmers with eaters in the city to provide fresh, mainly organic foods. The couple are acknowledged as pioneers in this new approach to food and are called upon to advise start-ups across the country. With others, they created the Food Connect Foundation to assist social enterprise in the fair food business.
The couple are also active in the impact investment and community economics scene and led workshops at the 2017 conference of the New Economy Network Australia.
Robert and Emma Kate’s is a practical approach to developing business, based on the ethics and design principles of permaculture.


The late Bill Mollison’s leadership was different again. As co-inventor of the permaculture design system Bill, like David, fell into the natural leadership of first-starter. But his leadership stemmed from far more than that. It came out of a career that included scientific field research and, later, an academia about which he was critical.
Bill’s was also an intellectual leadership though his expression of that was different to David Holmgren’s style. That’s because Bill combined the intellectual and the practical. He was the sort of person who could discuss the theory of farm dam construction, design a farm dam and go out and build it. This is what people found attractive in him, this blend of the intellect and the practical combined with common sense.
Bill was something else, however. He was an iconoclast. A challenger of fixed, entrenched ideas whether those of academics, government or society. He would challenge these in a way that was designed to shake people out of their fixed views. That could put people off but it helped those ready for change to make that mental leap into a new way of seeing things and acting. In doing this Bill was a motivator.
Bill formulated his ideas in a number of books and a TV series called The Global Gardener that was broadcast on Australia’s ABC TV in the nineties.
His leadership, then, was that of first-starter combined with an assertive personality that was dismissive of pretentiousness and bad ideas. It was the challenging attitude of the iconoclast.

A crucible of leadership

The permaculture design system has turned out to be something of a crucible of informal leadership in civil society. Informality has been important because there is no leadership-by-appointed-position in permaculture. The design system self-structures as a distributed network. There is no head office. There is no CEO.
This makes it different to leadership in business or the leadeship of the go-it-alone entrepreneur. It calls upon the skills of the social entrepreneur in the way it works with people. Sure, there are small businesses built around permaculture and small business entrepreneurship has played a role in those. For the most part, though, leadership in permaculture has been based on personality, extensive knowledge and on daring to just get out there and do something. Taking action is much admired in permaculture circles.

Training for leadership

Just as in other fields of endeavour there is a need for training in permaculture to bring out sometimes latent leadership qualities.
People like Robina McCurdy in Aotearoa-New Zealand; Robyn Clayfield from Crystal Waters Permaculture Village; Erin Young with her sociocracy education for group decision making; and local government sustainability educator, Fiona Campbell, with her community resilience and community leadership course offer training in different aspects of leadership and entrepreneurialism.
Permaculture educators, too, are leaders and are too numerous to fully list here. Suffice to mention the Milkwood duo, Nick Ritar and Kirsten Bradley, who came later to permaculture and who for some years now have offered a range of training options to build the leadership skills of permaculture educators. For the past few years, Rosemary Morrow has been passing on her educational knowledge to others.
Now, thanks to this training, we see new leaders emerging: horticultural educators, Emma Daniell and Jon Kingston, an agricultural scientist; Annette Loudon, now a catalyst assisting people set up community exchange systems for cashless trading; Julian Lee with his science education program for young children.
Those mentioned are just a few. There are so many more.