Friday, October 28, 2011

A life choice dilemma

Finally I've arrived home after having spent about 4 and a half hours sitting on the locally manufactured bricks at Maningrida airport terminal. Although I am impressed that they make their own... I am not so satisfied with them as a day bed!

(Maningrida Bricks, Glad I didn't have to sleep on them!)

I've just spent a day at Elcho Island, where I had to go as part of my work. It kills me to think that I'm flying all that way just for one day! I'm trying to live simply and in the process reduce my carbon emissions, I ride my bicycle everywhere around town yet here I am jumping on a damned plane and flying across the country like some kind of jet-setting wanker executive! Or actually a lot more like the hundreds, possibly thousands of contract laborers, (and qualified tradesmen of course) who fly in and fly out of remote communities every week! It sucks and it kind of makes me sick to think about how ridiculous the situation is! Don't get me wrong, I do like flying and I really like visiting the people and staying in Arnhem land Communities but it's just not sustainable and besides my job simply isn't so important that it should require me to travel like this... yet here I go again! Anyway, I was on my way home this morning when the plane had technical difficulties and we had to wait for someone to come from Darwin to fix it. four hours later and we're wondering if we'll ever leave.
If the aroma of burning av gass and the sound of screaming engines turned me on then today would have been a real treat! Unfortunately I was kind of keen to get back to Darwin to see my wife and kids and to throw myself into sweat labor down at the Mulch Pit! It was possibly some kind of a blessing that I shouldn't complain about but I did have other plans and wasn't feeling terribly philosophical about the delay... at first.

Having recently read 'Radical Simplicity: small footprints on a finite Earth', by Jim Merkel (who happens to be an ex military weapons developer and trader) I am well aware that this trip alone has completely engulfed any fuel I would have used driving to work throughout the year...
The book is interesting but Jim lost me with all the calculations! Even if I was into maths I don't think I'd ever enjoy scrutinizing my consumption to the extent that he advocates. It just isn't fun! Anyway since I've read the book and now have a hundred formulas for finding out exactly how many planets it would take to sustain my consumption of resources. I am seriously reconsidering what I do for a living and how I can find a more acceptable way to put bread on the table.

There are several positive aspects to my work, which I shouldn't take for granted. I come in contact with some amazing and inspiring people.I have learned so much from them that I always balk at the decision to leave. It's a very peculiar problem... to leave would feel like deserting my family... actually because of the Yolngu system of adoption and Malk it would be exactly like deserting my family... and that is the biggest dilemma! So I guess I'll stick with it for a while.

cashew Elcho Island
(A very healthy cashew, hidden in a jungle)

The thing that has really been firing me up lately is my interest in learning more about growing food. How shared gardens can actually build resilient and caring communities! It might sound a bit mooshy but this is something that energizes me! Nightcliff Uniting Church has recently taken the extraordinary step of  employing a Permaculturist to coordinate activities at The Mulch Pit! I think that's an amazing and thing to do! A community that runs on the smell of an oily rag has deemed it's appropriate to employ someone to develop their permaculture garden! That's awesome!
I recently spent some time with Dan, and was instantly infected with his love for plants, soil and everything that lives in a permaculture system! I've always been interested and my minor involvement down at the The Patch gave me a sense of why I think it's such a special thing to do but now that I've been talking to Dan at the Mulch Pit, and having just spent 4 hours reading our mate Robbie Lloyd's book 'Going Walkabout through the Suburbs' (about creating inclusive societies) I'm thinking that now is the time for me to start studying permaculture.

Timothy @ the farm
(Timothy with his banana and sugar cane plantation)

Meanwhile back on Elcho this morning I was fortunate to spend time with the Community Minister, Timothy Buthimang, my Mari. Timothy is a devoted gardener and a Uniting Church 'Community Minister', although he can illustrate many things through the metaphor of gardening, he is a man of action and wisdom... a Worrier of the Spirit who is a living demonstration of the power of wuburr (sweat) to overcome adversity! His lessons provide real fruit! Timothy has maintained a garden of some description for many years. Recently Buthimang's farm/plantation was burned by a wildfire, but he showed me this morning that he has reclaimed the garden from the ashes and now has some very healthy banana and sugar cane growing in the ground. He has pots full of Pawpaw seedlings and various melon varieties as well. Having spent time with Timothy, I know what I need to be doing.

So here's to gardening tomorrow!

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