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A U S T R A L I A

S P E L L O F T H E L A N D

CRYSTAL WATERS I T WAS A SOFT LA N D IN G at

B ris bane. H a v in g le f t wet, N o v em b e r B r i t a in b e h in d , i t was w o n d e r fu l to a r r iv e in s p r in g . We w e re m e t by Evan R a ym ond, in h is shorts a n d sleeveless s h i r t , and fe l t h a p p y to be w a rm on o u r f irs t v is it to Queensland.

T h e w a rm th was n o t o n ly in the air, b u t also in Evan’s welcome. He d ro ve us s tra ig h t to C rys ta l Waters, a c om m u n i ty set in the h i l ls no rth -w e s t o f B risbane. H a v in g h e a rd and read so m u ch a b o u t i t , we w e re e xc ite d to v is it.

E v a n ’ s p a r tn e r , M o r a g G am b le , h a d been s tu d y in g a t S chum a che r College f o r n e a r ly a year, so we met as o ld fr ie n d s . H e r f r ie n d ly face and sweet sm i le m ade us fe e l a t hom e and re la xed a t once. T h e fe e l in g o f fa t ig u e f r o m a n e a r ly tw e n t y - fo u r h o u r f l i g h t was w ip e d away by he r co n v iv ia l com pany. I t is a p i t y th a t we had to come to such a p r o f o u n d ly ecological c om m u n i ty by such deva s ta t in g ly unecolog ic a l means - the aeroplane.

C ry s ta l W a te rs , b u i l t o n a 650acre s ite , is a f la g s h ip c o m m u n i ty : the f i r s t v i l la g e in th e w o r ld to be consciously designed u s in g p e rm a c u l tu r e p r in c ip le s . Set u p in 1988, th e re are now about e ig h ty fam ilie s l iv i n g o n 83 one -a c re re s id e n t ia l p lo ts . A p a r t f r o m these p r iv a te p lo ts most o f th e re m a in in g la n d is held co l le c t iv e ly by the c om m u n it y and is used f o r a g r ic u l t u r e , a q u a c u l tu re , fo re s try and w i ld l i fe .

PERMACULTURE is a fa r - re a c h in g ecological idea, o r ig in a l ly fo rm u la te d by the A u s tra l ia n B i l l M o l l is o n in the 1970s. P e rm a cu ltu re means designin g a n d m a in t a in in g a way o f l ife w h ic h has th e d ive rs ity , stability, re silie nce and se lf-o rg a n iz in g qualities o f a n a tu ra l ecosystem. I t is th e h a r m o n io u s in te g r a t io n o f la n d and people in such a way th a t the needs o f fo od , energy and she lte r are met w i t h o u t d im in i s h in g th e n a tu r a l w o r ld . T h e p ra c t ic e o f p e rm a c u ltu re

SATISH K UMAR& JU N E M ITCHELL B r i e f e n c o u n t e r w i t h a n a n c i e n t la n d .

creates an ethics o f c u l tu re and a g r i c u l tu re w h ic h embodies p r in c ip le s o f perm anence.

T h e id e a o f p e rm a c u l tu r e is a ttr a c t iv e a n d i t is b e in g ta lk e d and w r i t te n about g lobally, b u t th e re are ve ry few places w he re you can see i t in practice. C ry s ta l Waters is one o f th em .

I n most in d u s t r ia l iz e d societies, and A u s tra l ia is no e x cep t io n , m a k in g th in g s by hand, d o in g physical w o r k , g e t t in g y o u r hands d i r t y o r p u t t in g y o u r fee t in th e so il is fast d is a p p e a r in g . T h e m a n u a l sk i lls o f fa rm in g , b u i ld in g , fu r n i t u r e -m a k in g c ra f tw o rk are b e in g lost. M o re and m o re , h a ndm ade th in g s are im p o r t ed f r o m n o n - in d u s tr ia l iz e d c o u n tr ie s w he re la b o u r is cheap. In in d u s t r ia l ized societies p e o p le d o n ’ t make th in g s , th ey have th in gs.

C rys ta l Waters stands against th a t t id e . I t is n o t a c om m u n it y o f m e re consum e rs . I t is a c o m m u n i t y o f m akers and doers. H e re th e re are c a rp e n te rs , b u i ld e r s , g a rd e n e rs , fa rm e rs , h o r t ic u l tu r is ts , f lo w e r g ro w ers, le a th e r w o rke rs , architects, elect r ic ia n s , fo re s te rs , m echanics, w e ld e rs , te c h n ic ia n s , re s to re rs , r e p a i re rs and re cycle rs . T h e way o f p e rm a c u ltu re is to use less and re use more.

NESTLING AMONG THE r o l l in g h i lls th e re are seventeen small dams w i th m u l t ip le uses. T h e presence o f such s t i l l a n d s o o th in g p o n d s g ives th e c om m u n it y its name. We stayed in a guest co tta ge j u s t above such a peaceful p o o l o f water. T h e cottage con ta in ed a d r y compost to i le t , com p le te ly fre e o f any odour. T h e w a te r fo r the shower was heated b y a solar panel above the b e d ro om and a l l o u r d r i n k i n g w a te r was c o l le c te d f r o m th e r o o f as ra in w a te r . T h e k i tc h e n waste w en t to feed the chickens, and th e ch ic kens fe r t i l iz e d th e t r o p ic a l f r u i t o f mangoes and papayas. W h a t was n o t consum ed by th e chickens w e n t on th e com post. A system in h a rm o n y w i th n a tu re .

As we walked f r o m th e guest co ttage to M o ra g and Evan’s house we e n c o u n te r e d k a n g a ro o s a n d w a l la b ies g ra z in g a n d la z in g . We w e re s u rp r is e d th a t th ey were n e i th e r shy n o r f r ig h te n e d o f us. B u t th e re are no dogs o r cats a t C ry s ta l Waters so w i ld l i fe f lo u r is h e s u n h in d e r e d . T h e a b u n d a n c e o f w a te r h e ld in dams and in th e M a ry r iv e r also facilita tes th e th r iv in g o f countless creatures.

T h e r e was a m u d - b r ic k house n e x t d o o r to o u r cottage w h ic h was perhaps the most a ttra c t iv e house o f the eco-village. A l l th e m a te r ia l used to b u i ld th is house came f r o m th e lo ca l ity its e lf. T h e use o f such n a tu ra l m a te r ia l and th e s im p l ic i ty o f design have created a b u i ld in g o f d is a rm in g beauty and ye t i t has a ll the conven ie n c e o f a c o o l, c o m fo r ta b le and a i ry dw e ll in g .

M a s s -p ro d u c e d m o d e r n houses a re no lo n g e r built', th e y are assembled. P re fa b r ic a te d , o f f - th e -s h e lf m a te r ia l is p u t to g e th e r a n d im posed on th e la n d . N o w o n d e r th e y lack soul. M o d e r n houses, b u i l t by com m e rc ia l developers, la ck th e o rgan ic f l a i r o f the m u d - b r ic k dom e we v is it ed a n d a d m i re d . S ta n d in g u n d e r o n e o f th e arches, l o o k in g a t th e w a te r ga rd en s u r r o u n d e d by banana and pom eg rana te trees, was an aesth e t ic e xpe r ie n c e . T h e q u a l i ty o f a house b u i l t w ith h um a n im a g in a t io n , lo ca l m a te r ia ls a n d unselfconscious design cannot be measured in te rm s o f money. B u t th is is w h a t tra n s fo rm s an o r d in a r y d w e l l in g in to a place o f crea t ive l iv in g . Even a t C ry s ta l Wate rs th is k in d o f d w e l l in g is a ra r ity . Some o f the o th e r b u i ld in g s seem to have been assembled to o q u ic k ly and th e re fo re g ive o f f an au ra o f haste.

Such m in o r c ritic ism s aside, C ry s ta l Waters is l ik e a life boat. W h i le the top-heavy, e x tra vagant, w asteful and a r ro g a n t in d u s t r ia l sh ip sinks, com

1 0 Resurgence No. 195 July/August 1999 Waratah Flowers, Tasmania

PHOTOGRAPH: PETER DOMBROVSKIS

m u n i t ie s o f th is k in d w i l l act as in s p i ra t io n a l examples o f how to save the E a r th . I n 1995, th e v i ta l c o n t r ib u t io n o f C ry s ta l Waters was re c o g n iz e d in t e r n a t io n a l ly w h e n i t received th e UN In t e rn a t io n a l W o r ld H a b ita t Award.

I t is fo r tu n a te fo r C rys ta l Waters th a t i t is s itu a te d near th e to w n o f M a le n y w here a co -operative c u l tu re th r iv es. T h e re are seventeen successf u l co-operatives engaged in a range o f business and services, in c lu d in g an o rg an ic fo odsto re , a bookstore, a cafe a n d re s ta u ra n t , o r c h a rd s and renew able energy supplie rs . U n d e r p in n in g th em all is the c re d i t u n io n w h ic h acts as th e bank. I t has its one a n d o n ly b ra n c h on M a p le S tre e t.

T h is b a n k w i l l g iv e c r e d i t o n ly to p e o p le a n d businesses o p e r a t in g w i th in th e d is t r ic t o f Maleny.

W hen we d ro p p e d in to the o ffic e o f the c re d i t u n io n th e s ta f f were e x tre m e ly fr ie n d ly . O ne o f th em came o u t to ta lk to us. We sat on a w o o d en bench u n d e r th e tre es in th e b a n k ’s f r o n t garden. W h ic h bank in the w o r ld w o u ld o f fe r such a c o u r te ous welcom e to com p le te strangers? A f te r e x p e r ie n c in g th e v ib ra n t ac t iv i t y o f co -o pe ra t iv e ven tu re s in M a le ny, th e re is no d o u b t th a t the local econom y here is n o t m e re ly a u to p i an d re am : i t is a reality.

A n y readers w is h in g to v is it C ry s ta l Waters o r p a r t ic ip a te in one o f its p e rm a c u l t u r e courses s h o u ld c o n tact: M o ra g Gamble and Evan Raym o n d a t 50 C ry s ta l Waters E co -v i lla ge, MS 16 M a le n y , Q u e e n s la n d 4552, A u s tra l ia . T e l./fa x : +61 (0)754 944833.

S Y D N E Y WE WERE MET AT Sydney a i r p o r t by S tephen Cross w h o is a gentle, generous and congenial man. A scholar o f H in d u philosophy, S tephen spends h a l f the year in A u s tra l ia and h a l f in E ng la nd . I n b o th c o u n tr ie s he is an active m em b e r o f the Temenos c i r cle. I t was th e Temenos F o u n d a t io n o f A u s t ra l ia w h ic h h a d i n v i t e d us to Sydney. There is a p ro fo und and an

Resurgence No. 195 July/August 1999 1 1