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#lateraldrifting on the journey, not the destination

1 min read

passed through Manangatang last night & spent a most entertaining evening with a few of the locals.

that's what roadtrips are all about, making new friends so each journey can be as much about reconnecting the dots as getting to a destination. (the fact it has a wicked name is just icing on the cake :)

 

have you seen @theBoxtrolls? if not: do. like, NOW. #whoa #wordsfail #thankfuckforart #LAIKA #creativeactivism / @saaclub

1 min read

Spotted a dear friend's fb recommendation of The Boxtrolls (by LAIKA, based on the book Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow) last night. He's one of those friends where if they say sommat is good, you go watch it. So I did.

Oh. My. Word.

Such truth and beauty from story and art is so refreshing. Creative activism indeed... 

I want to say so much more about it but - argh! Please watch it so I can talk to someone about it... And make sure you watch the end credits ALL the way to the end.

(and thanks Dave, love ya bones x)

 

 

Inaugural #VillageGreens veggie stall at Aldinga Arts Eco Village #permaculture #aldingaartsecovillage

1 min read

Ellie, Lucy and Nat launch Village Greens at Aldinga Eco Village

Yesterday Lucy, Nat and Ellie launched their Village Greens veggie stall at Aldinga Arts Eco Village (where and I are now based). I've been doing some WWOOFing by way of exchange and was delighted to have helped with the harvest and preparation for this delicious event.

For more photos from the day visit this flickr set, or to find out more about Village Greens head to http://villagegreens.com.au.

NomNomNom!

 

fascinating connection btw loneliness and art - rings so true for nomadicy: http://aeon.co/magazine/culture/olivia-laing-me-lonely-in-manhattan/

2 min read

"Something funny happens to people who are lonely. The lonelier they get, the less adept they become at navigating social currents. Loneliness grows around them, like mould or fur, a prophylactic that inhibits contact, no matter how badly contact is desired. Loneliness is accretive, extending and perpetuating itself. Once it becomes impacted, it isn’t easy to dislodge.

"It seems that this is what loneliness is designed to do: to provoke the restoration of social bonds. Like pain itself, it exists to alert the organism to a state of untenability, to prompt a change in circumstance. We are social animals, the theory goes, and so isolation is — or was, at some unspecified point in our evolutionary journey — unsafe for us."

I struggle often with loneliness which can so easily bleed in to depression before you've even noticed.

Disconnection is just one of the many challenges of a nomadic life. So many people assume buslife is a constant holiday. It's rich and beautiful and rewarding in so many ways, but with so many disconnections and instabilities I often wonder if it's psychologically healthy :/

Seriously grateful to the people all over the world who understand this and offer love, kindness, patience & virtual or physical (especially physical!) hugs during those times. You know who you are. I love you with all my heart. Thank you x

 

"freeloaders" or cultural explorers? the case for nomadicy...

6 min read

just saw this article... 

http://www.ntnews.com.au/news/our-parks-awash-with-freeloading-backpackers/story-fnjbnts7-1227197443...


and immediately thought: "wicked, I've been wanting to have a discussion about this for ages!". please feel free to comment/share, I'd really love a big chat around all these issues, especially if you've got good suggestions for better ways of living a nomadic life (and free park ups which don't piss anyone off and aren't illegal - there are very few of them these days).


first: not all of humanity wants to live in a corporate world. we don't all want the threat of a mortgage hanging over our heads (in fact very few even can get such things without rich parents taking up the slack). we also don't want/can't afford to live in holiday parks - sure some of these are holiday travellers, but some of us are fulltime nomads. we need access to free camps, common land, which we use in return for taking responsibility for them (because we do actually care about the environment, that's one of the reasons we choose to live this life, off-grid and self-sustaining). 
as mentioned in the article, most of us choose parkups that are away from residential areas so we won't bother anyone, but even they are becoming privatised. and yes, we do congregate sometimes when we're travelling round - who doesn't want a social life? why should that social life exist in pubs and clubs? some of us don't drink and are far from interested in yet another commercialised environment. 
when gathering we all learn from each others' bus/van designs, share good places to park (which don't piss anyone off and aren't illegal) and generally learn more about the world through the eyes of other open-minded cultural explorers. it's the absolute best way to see this incredible country!

second: public toilets get locked up around 7pm in Australia. sure it's horrid when someone craps on your doorstep (and personally I can control my bowels so I don't have to do this unless I'm out bush, in which case I have a shovel for that!), but if the toilets weren't locked overnight this wouldn't have to happen. also bear in mind that this might not always be the campers - when I lived in Sydney there was an old homeless woman (clearly ignored by any welfare/care system) who used to crap in my porch on a regular basis. and we all know about men relieving themselves in doorways - or anywhere they like! it's not just nomads who do this, some people are just jerks.

third: it makes me really mad when I see ANYONE littering. we all have a responsibility to our/other people's environments as well as the planet itself. littering is lazy and thoughtless (whether it's rubbish or cigarette butts, in fact especially cig butts considering their fire risk and chemical waste). but I'll bet you have a crappy neighbour who has piles of junk outside their homes or lets their rubbish blow all over the roads. i regularly see drivers/walkers throw butts / rubbish onto streets/pavements: again, it's not just nomads who litter, some people are just jerks. 
in fact at a lot of the places where I parkup by the sea, it's the fishermen who leave junk (beer bottles, food packaging and even hooks) behind them. providing more bins isn't always the answer either. I've known part-timers complain about there not being a bin at an overnight roadside stop, FFS just take it with you and throw it away (in recycling bins) in town! or better still, reduce your use of packaging entirely so your waste is minimal!

fourth: 'wearing their underwear'... really?! this is Australia, the whole damn country wears its underwear (aka 'bikinis and budgie smugglers') every damn day!! so, yet again, it's not just nomads who do this!

fifth: washing/brushing teeth - we all have to keep ourselves hygienic. spitting toothpaste or soapy water (onto grass, not pavements) is less of an issue for me when those products aren't full of chemicals. I use Eco or natural alternatives - I brush my teeth with coconut oil most of the time. water evaporates (or in fact adds moisture to dry ground) and even businessmen spit much worse stuff from their mouths walking down city streets. so, again, it's not just nomads who do this!

sixth: hanging laundry from trees - I handwash or use a launderette washer then hang my clothes up in the bus (in this heat they dry v quickly) but then I have a reasonably sized vehicle. I've seen families at public parks hanging their own tea towels etc up on makeshift lines. what's the harm in that? and again, not just nomads...

so, by all means dismiss us by calling us names like 'freeloaders' but be aware that  some humans are jerks regardless of their choice of home or lifestyle; don't just tarnish us all with the same brush. maybe try to talk to us instead of reporting us to council/police - we're actually quite personable folk and we'd certainly enjoy an open discussion (no one takes kindly to threats or abuse, so ideally don't start with that). maybe we could even change each others' stereotype projections and learn to accept otherness a little more, that wouldn't do our society much harm, now would it?

bear in mind a nomadic life is not always easy, and it's certainly not always a holiday for those of us who live this way all year round. we have made this choice, sacrificing 'the easy life' because we believe in a better world, one that is not driven by consumerism or the daily commute to provide profit to our bosses' shareholders. some of us do work in 'normal' jobs but most are freelance - and we all pay our taxes like regular folk. some of us aren't even on the dole! (I know, *gasp*).

and FFS... GIVE US ACCESS TO COMMON LAND! not every single block of our existence needs to be commercialised. if you just give us a place where we can do our thing, we'll be out of your hair! 
 

"It's not you. It's your cage." fascinating article on addiction by @johannhari101 - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/the-real-cause-of-addicti_b_6506936.html

3 min read

so many lovely quotes to pull from this article:

"So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection".

"There is an alternative. You can build a system that is designed to help drug addicts to reconnect with the world -- and so leave behind their addictions. .... Nearly fifteen years ago, Portugal had one of the worst drug problems in Europe, with 1 percent of the population addicted to heroin. They had tried a drug war, and the problem just kept getting worse. So they decided to do something radically different. They resolved to decriminalize all drugs, and transfer all the money they used to spend on arresting and jailing drug addicts, and spend it instead on reconnecting them -- to their own feelings, and to the wider society. The most crucial step is to get them secure housing, and subsidized jobs so they have a purpose in life, and something to get out of bed for. I watched as they are helped, in warm and welcoming clinics, to learn how to reconnect with their feelings, after years of trauma and stunning them into silence with drugs."

"Suddenly, they were a group, all bonded to each other, and to the society, and responsible for each other's care." (which also happens to be the entire basis for The Commons!)

"This isn't only relevant to the addicts I love. It is relevant to all of us, because it forces us to think differently about ourselves. Human beings are bonding animals. We need to connect and love. The wisest sentence of the twentieth century was E.M. Forster's -- "only connect." But we have created an environment and a culture that cut us off from connection, or offer only the parody of it offered by the Internet. The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live -- constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us."

"The writer George Monbiot has called this "the age of loneliness." We have created human societies where it is easier for people to become cut off from all human connections than ever before. Bruce Alexander -- the creator of Rat Park -- told me that for too long, we have talked exclusively about individual recovery from addiction. We need now to talk about social recovery -- how we all recover, together, from the sickness of isolation that is sinking on us like a thick fog."

"But this new evidence isn't just a challenge to us politically. It doesn't just force us to change our minds. It forces us to change our hearts."

yesyesyesyesyesyes... fix the infrastructure and the culture will fix itself.

 

Dear God, Australia. What in the fuck are you doing?

1 min read

So, let me get this straight. 

First, white Australians march innocent Aboriginal Australians to their deaths off the Great Australian Bight. 

Now, white Australians want to search for oil (a resource we know to be dwindling whilst renewable resources flourish at an exponential rate) in the ocean off this stunning landscape, at the cost of every living marine creature in its vicinity and untold harm to its (and our) surrounding ecosystem. 

I love this country dearly, but I categorically despair at our society's desire for the profit of the few over life itself.

And we wonder why the earth is fighting back?
Dear God, Australia. What in the fuck are you doing?

http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/92490861

 

Sunday Afternoon Activists Club

1 min read

Giddily excited to be launching the Sunday Afternoon Activists Club! (aka 'book club meets high tea for creative activism chats'). 

Join the inaugural @saaclub, 2-4pm on Feb 1st 2015 at CIA studios / @ciahq - http://rbrt.cc/saaclub1

Free bookings come with a discount code for 'Beautiful Trouble: a toolbox for revolution' and lashings of tea & biscuits.

(and please show our brand spanking new social feeds some love! http://twitter.com/saaclub and https://www.facebook.com/sundayafternoonactivistsclub)

 

random moments of nerd-confidence

2 min read

A few months ago i got these two old 12v computer fans rigged in the rear air vents to increase airflow through the bus. I dont have aircon or back windows that suck air through the bus, so even though it's not a lot of flow they work remarkably well and I tend to leave them running all the time. 

The other night all the 12v lighting went out, but the fans were still spinning. It took a few mins for me to realise that the fans were actually blowing the other way - it was extremely gusty and the wind must have been blowing the fans so hard in the opposite direction that it blew a fuse in my solar rig. Simple fix: replace the fuse! Except I've left a bunch of my tech boxes at cia studios, and was at the beach that night so I didn't have any spares on me, grr.

A couple of years back that probably would have freaked me out, not knowing what to look for/where to start troubleshooting - even though I've been rewiring/replacing fuses on 240v plugs since I was eight. Sometimes the paralytic assumption of not-knowing overrides any attempt to just try thinking it through to see what pops up, something I've been working on trying to rewire in my own brain.

This is really just me giving myself a little pat on the back for using my brain to think it through and fix it without asking someone else for advice (albeit the next day after buying spares). I'm finding that learning is part reading/asking questions and part trusting yourself to have the basic common sense to work it out from existing experience. It's not much, but it's a nice moment of nerd-confidence and bodes well for the inevitable bigger troubleshooting that'll come in due course.

(and, note to self: unplug 12v air vent fans when it's windy and always keep spare fuses IN THE GODDAMN BUS!)

 

some ramblings on statistics and politics...

7 min read

I consider myself a relatively smart human, but I can be extremely dim sometimes. I'm nearing the age where I should automatically earn the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything, but mostly that means I have a lot of life-experience. I do have a BA and an MA, but both in the arts so you can probably take that with a pinch of salt!

Coming from the UK apparently (and somewhat laughably) means wherever I travel people assume I've had a good education. I had a shonky education, mostly because my parents moved a lot when I was a kid - I went to eight primary schools and two secondary schools. This was fine for things like art and literature because reading and creativity can happen anywhere, especially with an illustrator for a mum (and reading was a great solo activity when escaping the consistent bullying from always being the new girl). 

What this meant mostly for me was a complete lack of grounding in science and math. At one school they'd teach physics/biology/etc as discrete subjects, at another it would be general science, and then back to another with their discrete and more detailed subjects. In Math I'd be taught addition at one school then straight on to algebra at another, then back to subtraction at yet another... I have so little grounding that i don't even know what I don't know when it comes to the basics of either, something which has plagued me my whole life.

Given the current shitfest of economic and climate crises in the world, I've been wanting to try to understand more, to get some of the basics down in my head. But when your mind isn't tuned to such thinking  - and all that math! - it's not easy. Plus my memory sucks, so I don't feel capable of articulating myself in debates, which frustrates me hugely.

Recently I was talking about this with someone, berating myself for not being able to remember the statistics that would allow me to sit at the table in these discussions. They said something which surprised me "You don't need to quote the stats to be actively involved in the conversation, that's someone else's problem. You bring your own beliefs to those discussions, and who knows, if you can get them to listen you might teach THEM something!". I've been thinking about this a lot since, and they're right.

We all know the old adage of taking your car into the garage (especially if you're female). A mechanic rubs his chin, sucks air through his teeth and says "oooooh, yeah, that's gonna cost ya". I've learned through my nearly 20years working with technology that the same can apply there too... but it can be reframed. You can learn code, you can run servers, you can take apart or build computers from scratch. You can change the direction of the conversation by having your own life experiences to add in to the mix. As soon as you realise the tech guy can be your best friend if you can show you understand - and care - even just a little, your life with them, with tech, changes.

I've been learning mechanics since living in the bus too - homeJames is in great condition for a 24year old and I fully intend on keeping her that way. The subsequent conversations I've had with (usually men) who ask about the bus (whereupon I quote her specs fluidly and with genuine passion) have been understandably entertaining.

But I've still struggled to find 'my place' within the sociopolitical, and especially economic, debates. I get confused by numbers. I get even more confused when stats quoted by one person are completely different to stats quoted by another (as beautifully illustrated in this article http://blogs.channel4.com/factcheck/factcheck-tories-sums-correctly/19765). Where do these numbers even come from? Having run a couple of freelance ventures in two countries, a limited company in the UK and project budgets of up to $2.4 million, I've learned that numbers are tricky in practice - they can be hard to control even for the most fastidious of producers! I have observed, and struggled with, how easy it can be for others to obfuscate... truth in numbers is relative, it seems. Stats are the worst!

Last night this thought rolled through my mind:

"Statistics are merely a way for self-confessed 'smart' people to control the conversation. We all have the right to reject their control and distraction tactics and bring the conversation back to what matters to us instead". 

For me what matters is morality, humanness... and we don't have stats for emotions! I'm horrified by how inhuman the world has become (or maybe always was, I dunno, I'm just looking at the now). So in future, when I happen to be in conversations with people who spout stats at me, I'm going to try harder to reclaim that control, bring the conversation back to what counts. Not 'how many jobs did x party versus y party create' but 'how are those employees actually surviving? - do they have any sort of quality of life? can they pay their mortgages, get to work via affordable and safe public transport or be able to afford to run a reasonably serviced vehicle? do their kids have the chance of a decent education, a reasonable income in a field they love, the freedom to choose not just what car they buy but their sexual preference? 

Stats don't solve problems, they fuel the 'us v them' bullshit. Governments spend so much time and money building their brands and living in their wealth culture bubbles they have no idea what's going on in the real world. They're so busy trying to look good they'll do anything to obfuscate meaning. Change the numbers, redefine the parameters for the statistics, no one will notice... and by the end of the page anyone with a soul will be so damned confused they'll give up and walk away... just like the less experienced at the car mechanic or those who don't want to become geeks, they're just trying to get their computer fixed. You're not less intelligent than someone with more experience, you're just less experienced. But I'll bet you're a damn-sight more experienced at something else that the so-called 'smart person' wouldn't even begin to know how to comprehend.

Watching the UK head toward another election, another sad-assed, low turnout because there is NO ONE TO VOTE FOR ANYMORE... here's my plea:

Get involved in discussion, ideally with strangers, people outside your social media echo chambers and your safe havens of offices. Go talk to homeless people on the streets, actively take yourself out of the city/town/village you call home and see how other people are living, write to your MP and demand the opportunity to thrash this shit out (no, that probably isn't possible, but it should be!). Don't talk at them, listen. Ask what their lives are like, what scares them, if they say things you don't agree with, try to rephrase what they said so you know you understand them correctly. Listen, listen, listen. Then ask yourself what you really think you need, they need, the world needs. Sure it won't help much - with no electoral reform there can be no real democratic choice any more - but at least you'll be able to look yourself in the face in the morning and know you've tried to reclaim - and be part of - the debate.

But above all, be yourself, know your own mind, set the agenda for your own beliefs and choose a cause your heart tells you to battle (no one can fight them all). And never, ever, let anyone else make you think you're less intelligent than they are simply because you don't automatically swallow their rhetoric.