All Things Sustainable

ecology, economy, community

Four Winds at Easter

Four Winds is a biennial Festival held at Easter on alternate years in the little town Bermagui and at an amazing outdoor location in Barragga Bay. It is a festival of music and artistic endeavour and it takes place over four days.
There is always a free concert held in Bermagui and this year it was held at the Bermagui Fishermen’s Wharf. The proceedings opened with a Welcome to Country, a sandy space had been created for the Djaadjawan indigenous female dancers who were part of the welcome.
The Pelican, an ocean going research catamaran formed the stage and performers were ferried to their destination on a punt.

Taking a punt, a great way to travel to the gig.

Taking a punt, a great way to travel to the gig.

As the evening progressed the Pelican revealed she was really well dressed for the occasion, the sun went down and the lights came on..The Pelican at 4 Winds
It was great evening although some of us on the balcony found that from time to time the chatter drowned out the music. But this was Friday and just the start of a weekend full of magical music in a location widely referred to as Nature’s Concert Hall. It is hard to imagine a more beautiful or more appropriate setting for such musical talent. The Sound Shell that provides brilliant acoustics, the natural amphitheater, the lake and the water lilies that could have been taken from a Monet painting…GE
And of course the music. Whether it was the string quintet performing against a backdrop of waterlilies, music so beautiful it catches at your throat and almost brings tears to your eyes..4 Winds string quintet or Dejan Lazic demonstrating the depth of his talents on the new Overs piano took us on trip through time with the work of three composers that stretched across three centuries. Domenico Scarlatti who was writing in the early1700s, Franz Liszt from the nineteenth century and finishing with twentieth century composer Bela Bartok… or Giovanni Sollima who can do such wonderful things with a cello that you think he must have somebody else with another instrument hidden somewhere close by…GE
Four Winds was all this and so much more.


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A government of Vandals

In Sustainability, Society and You we have looked at business and the trust deficit. I can say for sure that this week has left me with a distinct trust deficit and not only in relationship to business. In response to their actions and announcements I now see my government as one that is determined to degrade any environmental or climate change action or legislation and is prepared to drive coal production as far and fast as it can. A government of vandals, they are trying to drag us all into a bleak future of 6deg temperatures.
I saw the approval of the proposal to allow Abbotts Point dredging spoil to be dumped on the Great Barrier Reef in order to facilitate coal exports to China and India, the Tasmanian forest classification about to be downgraded to facilitate the logging industry and seismic surveys about to be approved in waters south of Kangaroo Island that are home to many whales including the very rare Shepherds Beaked whale, in the interests of the oil industry.
Western Australia has started shooting sharks because they are the top ocean predator and sometimes they attack people who trespass on their territory. This is occurring in an ocean that is being continually disturbed by the actions of huge companies mining for oil and gas, so disruption to migration paths are likely and it is hardly surprising that normal behavior is changed.
Meanwhile the CSG industry tries to reassure us that the risk of contaminating ground water by pumping carcinogens underground is all in the best interest of the farmers and the whole population. And whatever you do don’t talk about climate change, even though Queensland farmers are still in drought and many may go under if the promised rain fails to materialise.
Government is elected to act in the best interest of the people. There is a certain cognitive dissonance here I think.

On the beach in the heat

Bermagu Beach

Horseshoe Bay

Friday 18th January 2013, a beautiful morning in Bermagui, fine and hot but with a refreshing breeze coming off the ocean. On the beach an energetic group explored contact improvisation and “fight – dance” movement. As the day progresses the heat is mounting, we caught up with friends for lunch and shared some sustainably harvested fresh fish, fresh calamari and chips of unknown pedigree.

Around lunchtime the temperature rocketed reaching a very uncomfortable 46 degrees centigrade, a record for the area. It was so hot we had to swim but by then sea was up and there was quite a rip, the beach we chose was not patrolled and the surf was getting wild so we did not stay long in the water.

I went home and when I opened the door the house felt cool by comparison but when I checked the temperature it read 36C – usually way outside my comfort level! I shook the sand from my shoes, my beach towel, my hair, my ears, my bathers, my cleavage and had a quick shower but I left the car full of sand – I will deal with that tomorrow.

An hour or so later a gusting wind blew the outside furniture across the deck and as the cool change came through the temperature dropped by about 20 degrees. I walked down and fed the chooks.

The gum trees rained dead leaves. The grass crackled underfoot. Elsewhere in the State many fires were burning, some only 50kms away and Rural Fire Service volunteers were working stressed and exhausted probably as they battled to save houses and livestock. I just wish we could get some rain.

30kms Dinner in Cobargo

Growing the Vegies for Cobargo’s 30km dinner

The Well Thumbed Bookshop will auspice the first Cobargo 30km dinner 0n 15th March 2013.  To make sure that it will happen about fifteen keen residents from the area gathered at the bookshop to start the planning and alert producers large and small to sow and grow and reserve everything needed for the dinner. Everything except the salt, pepper, flour, tea, coffee, sugar, salad vinegar and jelly will be grown or produced within a 30 kilometer radius of Cobargo and the chefs, cooks, dishwashers, waiters etc will all be local to the area as well.

The number attending will be limited to a maximum of 120 and the call is out to the residents and businesses to start growing produce for the event. The menu has been outlined but some things will undoubtedly change as the vagaries of the weather dictate the availability of the produce.

The locally grown and produced quality wines, locally made beer and homemade cordial will complement a range of dishes on a menu put together with consideration for local seasonal fruits and foods.

The Cuban Story

Mike from SCPA and our Cuban visitor Roberto Perez

Breaking the journey from Melbourne to Woolongong Roberto Perez, director of an important Cuban NGO, called in at the little village of Cobargo. The locals arranged for Roberto to speak and then showed a segment of the film “The Power of Community”. This was followed by dinner and finally a general discussion of questions raised during the evening.

A larger than life figure with a load of charisma Roberto experienced the crash that occurred in the early 1990s when the Soviet Union collapsed and ceased its support of Cuba ending the supply of oil on which the country depended. During this time all international trade with Cuba ceased.

Cuban agriculture had been been geared to the export market and they grew things like tobacco, sugar and other commodities, there was no local food grown and hence no food security. When the food  and oil imports stopped the population faced starvation and paralysis. The story of how they dealt with this crisis is documented in the film “The Power of Community”

What I find interesting is the contrast between what happened in Cuba and what happened in Russia.

Cuba developed an agrarian community, growing food in and around its towns and in spite of extreme poverty they also chose to make sure that every child was educated and that free health and dental care was available to everyone. During the emergency they decentralised health care and education, establishing schools and universities in rural areas. Meanwhile Russia undergoing similar problems allowed its assets and wealth to be appropriated by so-called entrepreneurs and left its vulnerable citizens to fall by the wayside hence creating yet another oligarchy.

Now Cuba, still out in the cold as far as most international trade is concerned, has better health outcomes in terms of longevity and neonatal survival than the USA. It does trade with some South American countries, swapping doctors for oil for example, and it sent doctors to East Timor to help them in their time of need. They recognise that poverty and hunger are related to lack of access to land and they are developing a Usufruct system of land tenure that gives free access and use of the land for four years and if it is farmed successfully  then there is lifetime tenure.

I wonder which path our government would take if it was faced with a similar problem, would it drop education and public health and let the oligarchs win?  I am rather afraid that they would.