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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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Everything is Connected: Green Institute Conference 2017
politics, public interest, urban sustainability

“You are the universe, you aren’t in the universe.” ~Eckhart Tolle

We have travelled to Old Parliament House, in Canberra to attend and present at the Green Institute Conference, ‘Everything is Connected’. It is the 25th anniversary since the federation of the Australian Greens, so it is a time to both reflect on the past and look to the future. While many people will say the Greens are a ‘one issue party’, many Greens will counter with the argument that they are a broad church and that they are just as passionate on issues that range from social justice and foreign policy to energy and economic policy.

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The Hotel Hotel for People People
efficiency, travel, urban sustainability

New Acton is the innovative precinct that claims to put Canberra on the map for design, creativity and originality. It is definitely a suburb for the well heeled, but Canberra is home to politicians, diplomats as well as a transient home for travellers keen to get a glimpse of our capital city, so there is certainly no lack of custom for this posh precinct and all it offers.

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Behind the Line: Musings from Canberra
history, politics, public interest

I am beginning to wonder if Pauline is right. Perhaps, we are being swamped by migrants! Or perhaps it's time for us to wake up and acknowledge that we are a multi cultural nation of migrants and that being a global citizen might actually be a good thing.

But the law is the law and the rest of us are required to abide by it.

The particular law in question at this time is Section 44(i) of the Australian Constitution that says a person is incapable of being elected to Federal Parliament if they have dual citizenship. A number of politicians appear to have been caught out because they didn’t do their due diligence. The two major political parties are resisting the calls for an audit to determine how many more there might be. Perhaps that money spent on the postal ballot might have been put to better use.

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Louise Hardman: The Plastic Collective (Empower*Innovate*Create)
conservation, inspirational stories, urban sustainability, waste

Louise still remembers the autopsy and the moment she saw the large amounts of plastic in the stomach of a sea turtle 25 years ago. A few years later she visited Thailand with her daughter and watched a little girl throw rubbish into the river. It was how everyone disposed of rubbish, believing that the river magically took the waste away. The seeds of an idea to do something about marine pollution were born. University degrees in zoology, marine science and environmental education took her down the path of teaching, keen to educate the next generation. But it wasn’t till she was laid up in bed after a couple of accidents that the thought to process plastic waste into new products started to germinate. Unable to walk for a few months, Louise developed an idea for a start up business and The Pacific Collective was born. Now known as The Plastic Collective she is developing a machine known as the Shruder, for shredding and extruding plastic waste.

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From Wasteland to Wetland
conservation, public interest, waste, water

After mining the area since 1969 for antimony, Broken Hill Antimony abandoned this site in 1974, leaving behind 16,000 tons of waste tailings as a spreading plume along the foreshore of this wetland. They left—having on sold the site to a private buyer—without any attempt to remediate or rehabilitate the site. The tailings were rich in leachable material and included antimony, arsenic, mercury, lead as well as residues of cyanide. The soluble leachate and insoluble sediment caused large impacts on the flora and fauna using the wetland.

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Reconnecting with Food: Where has it come from and how was it grown?
food, public interest, urban sustainability

There are many reasons why we are drawn to the towns and villages of Northern Rivers and the mid North Coast of NSW. The abundant access to regional, pesticide free organic food through farmers markets and local grocers is one of them. Clear and transparent food labelling and chats with local farmers are also part of this equation. While I am trying to be more discerning about the food we eat and how it has been grown, I am often frustrated at the lack of transparent labelling. This is why I so enjoy shopping at local markets or in this instance at the Happy Frog in Coffs Harbour. About 80% of groceries in Australia are sourced from the big supermarkets, which leave many of us quite disconnected from the origins of the food we are eating.

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Look At Me Now

“Look At Me Now.
Even the name demands attention. Headlands are vantage points for viewing other places but this headland calls for the gaze to be turned onto itself. It particularly demands an awareness of time. There is an urgency to this call to ‘Look At Me Now’ and the suggestion that a series of looks, a sequence of repeated observations, might offer different conclusions each time. What do you see when you look at me this time?”

These were the words I found on the notice board on our Sunday walk at the 'Look At Me Now' headland walk at Coffs Harbour.

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A Sustainability Challenge from Byron Shire
conservation, efficiency, energy, urban sustainability, waste, water

Do you know how much water and energy your family consumes? When you purchase your groceries, do you think about what’s in season, how it’s packaged or how far it has travelled? Have you thought about the toxins in the cleaning products you use? The answers to these questions are not just about the environment. They are also about your budget, your health and how you can be more resilient, so if you’re up for a challenge read on…

I recently came across the sustainability challenge sheets that Byron Shire has compiled for their residents. These provide information and strategies to help residents reduce their energy usage, buy local, minimise packaging and avoid unhealthy chemicals. I hope that by sharing this information, it might provoke some conversations in the places where you live and work or that it might even lead you to set up a challenge for your own family.

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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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