SUE JACKSON Therapist | Writer | Photographer | Activist

An avid blogger for the last fifteen years, I believe in the power of the word to change the world. I have participated in, and reported on, a range of protests during this period, including the successful East-West Link campaign and, more recently, our wonderful, home-grown Extinction Rebellion (XR). If you believe, like I do, that it is time for ordinary people to rise up in defence of the planet, I encourage you to explore this blog, share it with your networks, and – of course – take action.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Local Lives Global Matters conference Castlemaine

This was the informal relaxed atmosphere that greeted me yesterday when I arrived for Day 1 at the 'Local Lives Global Matters' conference in Castlemaine.
Jaara Jaara elder Rick Nelson's smoking ceremony set the tone:

After a very early start I had snoozed on the train from Melbourne (you wouldn't want to do that driving a car!). Confronted with this tranquil scene exiting the station, frenetic Melbourne already seemed light years away. 

Peak hour in Castlemaine

And strolling past the planter boxes adorning the streets en route to the opening got me in the perfect mood for a conference about localisation, low food miles and a future of 'energy descent': 

I decided to attend this conference because I had been so impressed when I travelled to Byron Bay in 2013 for the Economics of Happiness conference. Many of the presenters who featured there were also guests in Castlemaine. And then there were those I had never encountered before:
Kyle Magee, in a totally inspirational workshop entitled Media Liberation, presented a video about his life's mission to bring the destructive impact of advertising to public attention. Kyle does this by removing or covering up advertising in public spaces, something for which he has been arrested and imprisoned many times. For Kyle, incarceration is worth it because he believes that, until the media is not subsidised by advertisers, the public will never be able to learn what is really going on in the world. And until advertising no longer bombards us in public places, people, especially children, will always feel lousy about themselves because they never match up to its perfect ideals. They will also continue to believe that the key to happiness is material possessions.
This shift from material to spiritual aspirations was a key theme at the conference, one that was also promoted by one of my heroes, David Holmgren, an originator of Permaculture.

Although I had read some of David's works, I had never heard him speak before, so I was totally unprepared for his droll and engaging style. He believes that inevitably and imminently the world will be facing an energy descent (which he was keen to emphasize is not necessarily the same as 'collapse'). He suggests that in anticipation we need to be building resilience and community so that we can continue to live well through the hard times ahead.

Farmer George Ryan with Anitra Neilsen from RMIT

Anitra Neilson, who presented with George Ryan, a beleaguered and impassioned local farmer, has written a book with the intriguing title 'Life Without Money'. In it she outlines strategies for living more equitably in a world already consuming way beyond its capacity. I look forward to reading her book.
There might not have been much money changing hands yesterday - the most glorious vegetarian lunch cost a mere $8 and we were encouraged to return for seconds - but there was a tremendous amount of riches on offer. Sadly I could only attend the conference for a single day, and so can only offer some tastings, but if you are free tomorrow (Sunday) and fancy a trip to a glorious country town followed by inspiring workshops, contact the organisers.
Local Lives Global Matters is one event that truly delivers on its promo: 'a conference for future's sake'.