Happy New Year to everyone.

So many topics to write about. However, a theme which will come through this year in my messages, is the need for us to emphasis a little more, our 2nd Permaculture Principle, which is ‘Care for People’, obviously starting with ourselves first.

And I don’t mean selfishly, but all we ever have control over is the responsibility for our own actions, or lack of, and the meaning we give to things in our lives and whether that meaning serves us and others.

As some of you know, I have by choice not had a television at home for getting on 18 years. So I do listen to the radio whilst driving and do read quite a lot.

A recent brilliant interview on the ABC was with Richard Denniss, Author of the book, Curing Affluenza . He is also the highly regarded Chief Economist of the Australia Institute and has been a strategy advisor to Bob Brown, and chief of staff of Natasha Stott-Despoja.

The book so perfectly fits in with our 3rd principle of Permaculture which is ‘Share your Surplus, and limit consumption.

Reading the book, I became very aware that the introduction of Television in the 1950’s whilst promoted for information and entertainment, was primarily a marketing tool.

And that has led to the endless mindset for many people of searching for the perfect ‘new product’ that will fill the hole in their lives that was briefly plugged by the last ‘essential purchase’.

Richard makes a very clear distinction between consumerism for consumptions sake, and materialism. He argues that we need to become more materialistic, in other words, highly value the objects we have, seek lasting quality in what we buy and learn to fix them to ensure we gain the most out of them. Consumerism is often a quick thrill, a quick fix. Whereas ownership of quality items, often creates long term pleasure and an increase in quality of life.

The banks, manufacturers, advertisers, and retailers all make their fortune by selling us the dream that there is ‘happiness in them their hills’. Of course the last thing retailers want is for us to actually find it!

He also points out that ‘sharing’ is an opportunity to not only save money and resources, but is also a great way to make friends.

For some time now I have been planning on building a new lightweight aluminium trailer with a tipper function and inviting all those who live in my street to throw in $300 for a shared ownership arrangement. Seems silly to have 10 trailers which almost never get used, paying $1300 per year in total rego.

I did write an article called ‘Addicted to Stimulation’ a few years back addressing this issue from a different angle. It’s interesting to reflect on how vulnerable we humans are to the constant need for stimulation. And now the internet is a 24hr endless resource of anything you ever wanted to know or see or discover.

After finishing the book, I was left with a sense of optimism. Consumer demand will drive changes in manufacturing. People are getting sick of the endless rubbishy products coming from China designed to last anything from 10 minutes to at best, 30 seconds after the 12 month warranty expires. There is quality out there and many people are now open to other options of shared ownership.

I can highly recommend the book which is available in the Noosa Library system or perhaps someone may buy it and then donate it to our Permaculture Library.

Stay tuned for next months topic. Why we do what we do, and why those other annoying people simply have to do things differently! A guide to understanding and appreciating ourselves and others and living more harmoniously in community.

Vic Bateman

President, Permaculture Noosa