Monday, April 30, 2012

A Brief Sojourn Through The Chinese Countryside

Or, Tramps Afield in Southern China.

My latest blog post has been written as a guest writer for a different blog, but I'll put a note on here for anyone of the usual readers who are interested in what I am up to these days.

The blog is a great new company called Carmel Organics.
** edit: There is something wrong with the document as posted to the blog, see the article here instead,

After a lovely time in China, and a very pleasant stop-over in Moscow I am now having a very interesting time in Isreal, updates to follow.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Great Investigation

Hello Dear Readers,

It has struck me with great interest to know what you all think about the upcoming Valentine's Day.

In fact, I have taken to questioning people randomly on the street to determine public opinion on the matter, as Kirsten, from the UK can reliably attest :-).

Initially I intended to do a series of interviews in the laid back-tourist town of Queenstown, New Zealand. Unfortunately my time there has been cut short and I would like to use this opportunity to ask you, dear readers, what you think of the entire situation. Don't be shy, share it out.

I am especially interested in this because interviews to date have indicated that, contrary to what marketers would have you believe, many people think that the day is over-commercialized and that having a day "assigned" to caring about people is silly.

What do you think? If you like the day, what is your idea of a great Valentine's Day?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dear Ladies, Gentlemen, Scholars,
I last wrote you upon my arrival at Symara Organic Farm. Symara was a taste of the romance of the Australian Outback. The Outback is a land of stories. There are few places in the world in which stories are written about the place itself, and the Outback is one of them. The stunning landscapes and sense of place are a good start to give a place this quality.
As usual, the people make or break the experience and they certainly made it at Symara. With generous, trusting hosts and some very interesting WWOOFers we got involved in a great project to build a grey water system for the showers and laundry. This particular type of system is called a “reed bed”. Reeds, as it happens, are remarkably good at cleaning grey water. They are able to reduce the biological oxygen demand as well as other nutrient loads and make the water useable in a pond or to water vegetables. Without such treatment the water can quickly breed bacteria, making it a hazard.
Visiting the market with Ray is certainly a signature Symara experience. It’s not very often that I wake up half an hour after midnight and start work at 1 am. Combining this with the experience of working the till at the market is a very odd experience indeed. Working the cash at a farmer’s market bears an erie resemblance to public speaking, with all the anxiety and lower mental function attached. If you thought adding and subtracting was easy, try doing it in a hurry when money is involved after not sleeping much.
This is Symara’s nursery. I enjoy agricultural landscapes with a sort of dynamic tension. On the one hand I find them very beautiful. On the other it is obvious what they displace. The problems they create. Short of abandoning the agrarian model, which I’m afraid it is too late to do, I suppose we will have to try to make it work as well as we can. There is lots of room for improvement.
After my time in Symara I joined a group of people for two weeks in Brisbane. We were all participants in a course about social justice in Brisbane. Our study material was quite broad, including topics like how refugees integrate into Brisbane, what it is like to hear voices in your head, collecting food from the garbage, and subverting hierarchical organizations. In this particular photo we have set up in downtown Brisbane in the Queen Street Mall to make a protest highlighting the excessively consumerized nature of the Christmas season. It involved singing a modified version of that “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...” Not that we were all serious :-). We also enjoyed many cups of coffee, good friends, food and late night conversations. In fact, one of my course buddies ‘adopted’ me for Christmas, inviting me to come down to the Gold Coast to hang out with them for Christmas eve and day. Thank you Laraghy family! Tune in next week to beautiful scenes Sandy Creek Organics, adventures with absinthe and A Most Curious Place (known to many as Crystal Waters.)