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This blog documents Steven and Nil's adventures as they continue their search for a better world... a better way of living. Each entry offers commentary about current events, ideas or possibilities for the future or examples of what others have already implemented. We will also be sharing our experiences on the road in a campervan (our new home) to demonstrate the possibility of living a mobile, spontaneous and adventurous lifestyle. A lifestyle not dictated by routine and ritual but one led by passion and fashioned by the people and experiences we encounter. We are no longer battling to achieve a work-life balance but rather interweaving our work and our life—as Confucius said: “Choose a job that you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

It’s an exciting time to be alive as we are in the midst of a great transition. Social changes and disruption of existing systems are being driven by our newfound ability to connect and share information through the Internet coupled with an enormous range of new technologies.

Follow our blog and join us on this journey…

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Shelli van Santen: Life in Wild Places with Rainbow and Hildegard
conservation, inspirational stories, urban sustainability, waste

“Imagine all the people sharing all the world” ~John Lennon

Shelli had always wanted to study marine science but it wasn’t till 6 years ago at age 39—having raised 2 kids and been a stay at home mum—that she finally took the plunge. She enrolled in a degree at Southern Cross University, Lismore and recalls how terrified she had felt as she drove into the university grounds on that first day of classes. At the time, she had rarely spent a night apart from her then husband but this was a journey of empowering herself and she was determined to see it through.

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Scott Hall & Syntropic Farming: Growing a Food Forest
conservation, food, inspirational stories, urban sustainability

We have come to visit Scott Hall, a fifth generation farmer based at Chillingham NSW to learn about his early trials with Syntropic Agroforestry Farming practices. Agroforestry is a practice that integrates horticulture—the growing of crops and pastureland—within a forest of trees and shrubs, creating a system that is abundant, diverse, healthy, ecologically sound and a wonderful template for holistic land management. Food production is done using the planet’s ‘engine’, ensuring we are in sync with nature, creating abundance and a system that tends toward zero marginal costs.

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Robert Pekin: Putting the Culture Back into Agriculture
food, inspirational stories, urban sustainability, waste

When Robert Pekin was forced off his dairy farm in the late 1990’s—a farm that had been in his family for generations—he dedicated his life to to creating a fairer food system. In the lead up to losing his farm, he witnessed how the co-op he had been a member of was taken over by corporate executives who were only there to serve the big supermarket and their agenda to drive prices down. Rob wanted to revolutionise this business and create a system that was both fair to the farmer but also ensured that people were eating food that was fresh, in season, ecologically grown with no toxic chemicals and sourced regionally. After losing his farm, Rob embarked on a long road of learning and dealing with his loss, before settling in Brisbane to launch Food Connect. That was back in May 2005, after a trial 3 month run in 2004 and a radio interview that convinced him there was massive interest in the community.

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Tweed Council: ‘Living for the Future’ Home Expo and a Peek into the Future
economics, public interest, urban sustainability, waste

As we chat with Glenn from TAFE NSW, a small 3D printer is converting a strand of plastic thread—derived from recycled products—into a prototype of a wind turbine. We are at the Future Home Expo, organised by Tweed Council. While our politicians think the future of Australia lies in ‘clean coal’—no oxymoron there—it is heartening to know that our education system is STEAMing—Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths + Art & Design—ahead in leaps and bounds, to give our youngsters the skills for the future.

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Jo Low Impact and a Life Without Money
education, inspirational stories, urban sustainability, waste

The real measure of your wealth is how much you'd be worth if you lost all your money. ~Anonymous

Would you have the courage to walk away from your job, your bank account and your comfortable home and trial a life without money? Do you think you have built up enough social capital to make such a choice? Jo Nemeth has been living a money-less life since April 2015 using excess resources as opposed to new ones, and exchanging her skills and the currency of time to obtain what she needs. She doesn’t plan to always live this way but is keen to minimise her environmental footprint, experiment with the gifting culture and demonstrate there are other ways to live. She also hoped it would start a conversation. Well, it certainly has done that!

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Building the New Economy Network Australia (NENA): Brisbane Conference 2017
economics, urban sustainability

How do we unravel the mess?

This Is the question posed to us by Michelle Maloney—who together with the Australian Earth Laws Alliance—has been at the core of initiating and driving the New Economy Network Australia (NENA). Three hundred and fifty people from all walks of life and every state and territory in Australia have convened in Brisbane to discuss what a new economy future might look like. Gathered under one roof are academics & activists, engineers & architects, politicians & poets, economists & advocates for alternative currencies, techies & foodies, indigenous Australians & millennials, artists and journalists…and a couple of nomad activists now living and working on the road! The buzz in the room is spine tingling. After more than two years of travelling around Australia talking about resilient local economies it is so inspiring to be here.

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Anthony’s Plastic Journey: Raising Awareness, Inspiring Change
conservation, education, inspirational stories, urban sustainability, waste

It may come as a surprise to you that most of the fish species you are consuming today have been eating toxic plastic trash in the ocean. The extent of the problem might even alarm you. The 2016 World Economic Forum Report informs us that by the year 2050, plastic will outweigh all of the fish in the oceans. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch a collection of marine debris comprising of micro plastic and larger items of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean can now be seen from space. This is not the only patch, just the biggest. The majority of this garbage is from land-based activities although accidents at sea also contribute about 20% of material to this ever-growing garbage patch.

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The Kindness of Strangers
food, urban sustainability

One of the most enjoyable aspects of life on the road are the friendships we are making all over Australia. We keep in touch with this new network via Facebook or emails and often have reunions in faraway campsite if they are nomadic or at their homes when we revisit their towns.

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Jedda’s Dream: Equine-Guided Learning and Healing at Watagan Windhorse
education, inspirational stories, photography

"I have seen things so beautiful they have brought tears to my eyes. Yet none of them can match the gracefulness and beauty of a horse running free." ~ Author Unknown

With deep gratitude to Scilla and Jedda for their input to this blogpost.
Jedda Britten is a young woman bravely choosing a 'road less travelled'. Branching off from a secure professional teacher's path, her life journey is presenting Nature as her classroom and horses as her four-legged assistants. With the support of her family and mentorship from an 'elder' in the field, she is setting up Watagan Windhorse, a bush-based equine-facilitated service in the Hunter Region offering growth and learning programs to children, young people and adults.

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Water: A Basic Human Right
public interest, urban sustainability, water

Everyday I like to start my day by reading stories of positive change around the world. I am tempted to share many of them but I refrain from doing so. Today I could not go past this story.

Here in Australia we take water—the most basic of human needs—for granted. I am also often surprised to realise that so many people are completely unaware that one in ten people on this planet—our common home—do not have access to clean water. That 2.3 billion people in the world—one in three—do not have a access to a decent toilet. That 800 children a day, or 1 child every 2 minutes dies each year due to diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation.

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Whale Migration
conservation, photography

Watching the whales migrate is poetry in motion.

Ever since coming to Australia 20 years ago, I have been fascinated by these majestic creatures. Every year between April & November, the humpback whales make the trek north from the icy cold waters of Antarctica to the warmer waters in Australia. The humpbacks travel up to 10,000 kilometres in what is one of the great migrations!

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Book Signing in Eumundi
photography, politics, urban sustainability

We are ten minutes into our book signing and I am already getting a little despondent from flashing my smile and saying good morning. This might turn out to be a long day. A few people pretend they haven’t heard. A few quicken their step when they see our table laden with books for sale and refuse to catch my eye as they stride past. A few actually respond with a good morning but keep walking. Then, our first potential customer stops and I feel relieved. Perhaps this might turn out all right after all.

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SBS Interview: Toward Sustainable Cities from a Sri Lankan Engineer in Australia
economics, public interest, urban sustainability

When I received a call from Charitha Adikari, who asked if she could interview me for SBS Sinahala I was excited. It would be a chance to share our ideas and reach a wider audience for the land of my birth. Charitha had found out about PolisPlan on the internet, and intrigued by our work, gave me a call. When I said yes, I assumed the interview would be in English. It's now 30 years since I left home. My Sinhalese is rusty at the best of times and there's no way I can explain the concepts we are grappling with in any language except English. When she calls to start the interview, she asks if I could introduce myself in Sinhalese. After a hesitant start I quickly switch to English. It takes awhile for my Sinhalese brain to wake up and we didn’t have time for that! Charitha translates most of what I said, but there are snatches of me talking in English.

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Circular Economy Innovation Hubs: An Update from the Road
economics, public interest, urban sustainability

“We shape our buildings and thereafter they shape us” ~Winston Churchill

We are excited to let you know that researchers from the University of Queensland’s (UQ) Global Change Institute (GCI) as well as CSIRO have now confirmed their interest in helping us to plan, design and eventually build our vision for a Circular Economy Innovation Hub. We are currently exploring options for the right place to build this first demonstration project and have just been invited to present our ideas to a Council we hope will look favourably on the proposal.

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