Much has happened over the past year. Peace Valley has grown and evolved as it became obvious that there is a need for reconnection to the land and to nature before people are able to actively choose ecosystem restoration work; to care for something one must first have a relationship with it. The focus of the project has shifted towards one of providing the space for people to heal and reconnect to the land and all of nature through mainly experiential learning.
During the Easter week Joy attended CCC19 at Findhorn in Scotland. Over 350 people from more than 40 countries gathered at Findhorn to look at the deeper issues of our current crisis of climate change, mass extinction, social inequality and breakdown etc. Keynote speakers included Vandana Shiva, Charles Eisenstein, Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq, Bill Mckibbon, Polly Higgins (prerecorded) and many others. This was a melting pot of folk who realsie the importance of acting from a deeper place of knowing, acting on behalf of life and all beings and acting above all from love.
This was our first full week long event and all went very well. The week included both theory and practice of community living with lots of shared activities, play, laughter, deep personal sharing, and song. In fact it was so successful we'll be doing more of the same later in the year!
How to put words to what happened here at the Weaving Peace Family Weekend just gone is very hard. We didn't JUST weave Peace, we wove pure magic! Ceremony was held to ground and heal, an international group of all ages played, ate, sang, swam and wove together sharing stories and laughter in harmony and with deep respect and reverence for each other and the natural world we share. The ancestors and the creatures were there witnessing and sharing the love. A pair of glossy black cockatoos did a low fly by over us during the ceremony as if to give their approval.
Last week a strong, swirling local wind destroyed the main Peace Valley camp area. Unbelievably little real damage was done apart from some bent poles. So this has been taken as an opportunity to rebuild better, more beautiful and in a more robust fashion. The deconstruction and clean up following the storm is now mostly complete and the new is starting to grow. Similarly Peace Valley itself is currently being redefined as the focus shifts from ecosystem restoration to INNER ecosystem restoration. Healing our inner world opens the way for more outward healing in all areas.
Chantal and I took a weekend away from the bush, we enjoyed 5 Rhythms dance and visited the Farmers Market at Mullumbimby, also Blue Knob Market, the sea at Brunswick Heads, the Weave and Mend Festival at Nimbin and then finished with a look around the Lismore Car Boot Market before heading back to Peace Valley. It was a colourful weekend with inputs for all senses!
Over the weekend of September 7th to 9th the first ever dedicated TreeSisters in person gathering was held at Peace Valley. It was a weekend of magic and wonder as over 20 TreeSisters enjoyed building deep friendship and weaving connection both literally and metaphorically during a workshop held by Nina. We also dived deep into grief and other often unexpressed emotion around our lives and the current state of the planet, we planted trees, sang and drummed together, ate wonderful food, shared deeply and laughed a lot.
These months have been a time of further consolidation of the project with improvements at camp, networking locally and internationally. Peace Valley has reached out to the Boonah Community Garden, Boonah Organisation for a Sustainable Shire, Turnstyle Community Hub in Brisbane and the local Githabul Rangers in Kyogle. The first steps to creating a native edible forest garden which is dedicated to TreeSisters have been made. A very successful weekend was spent planting the first trees. Several enquiries about volunteering/visiting have been made both from local Australians and travellers.
This week a series of workshops are being held to educate about the techniques of indigenous land management using fire as the tool. I was able to attend one of these at the property of Ivan Davison at the top end of the gorge towards the Head. It was a great day with a group of people as diverse as government environment officers, indigenous ranger groups from the local Githabul and also from the Bunya mountains, a senior fire officer and his wife, local landowners and other interested parties. All were there to learn.
We did it, a forest garden is in the ground, growing for future generations! It was a great event, lots of laughter and time to just be together. When we got down to the work of planting though it went so smoothly and easily it was amazing. It's stage one of the planting and mostly there are big rainforest trees in place, e.g. figs, lilly pillys etc with space for mid and lower story plantings later. We planted in a spiral and on the outside of this put in a circle of common acacia as a protective ring.
This month we replanted a small area of rainforest after some Lantana had been removed. It was a purposefully intensive planting to mimic what would be likely to happen naturally. As always Bushcare events are very sociable, include a little enjoyable work and finish with the knowledge that we've done something worthwhile! It's fun to spend time with fellow tree huggers!
This week I visited and joined the Bulk Buyers at Turnstyle Community Hub in Brisbane. How cool to meet so many motivated people doing their bit for the environment. They engage local organic farmers and suppliers and meet every Wednesday to share out the food. It's totally volunteer run and non profit.
Thanks to the Parson's at Maryvale for putting on another Bunya Festival. I was able to attend for the entire event. Over the weekend I learnt about some bush tucker, gained a preliminary knowledge of use of fire for land management, met some wonderful people and had the pleasure and honour of being able to attend a forum discussion held by indigenous elders. To experience their deep respect for each other, the earth and all life and hear their heartfelt wish towards a healthy Australia for all it's peoples was humbling.
After several attempts, I'm finally living in the Yurt. The first stage was to create a flat surface which involved tree stumps, pallets and ply, the erecting the frame and putting up the tarp cover. It transpired the floor I'd constructed was slightly too large and the canvas not quite large enough. So back to getting a couple of adjustments and extras sewn to overcome the issue and hey presto, a new home is born! There is something special in a circular living space, it's very nurturing and relaxing: maybe it's just not 'edgy'!
I had a wonderful day assisting one of the landowners in the Cambanoora Gorge to plant some native trees at the edge of her property. Peace Valley supplied a mix of trees all grown from local seed including Hoop Pine, Silky Oak and Common Acacia. We had a day of laughter and work combined with sun, shade and rain intersperced through the day. Then a herd of cows came through to complicate matters, showing us the urgent need to put up strong protection for each tree we planted!
Thanks to Hans, Barbara and Peter who supplied composting worms for Peace Valley. For a start they are housed in a ceramic garden pot. As it fills another pot will be placed on top. This worked for me in Germany and the idea should function here too! The compost from worm farms is very good for the garden.
On Sunday two groups of visitors arrived, Barbara, Peter, Wes and Hans, a local farming family and Beryl from Bushcare with her friend Jenny from Brisbane. We had a lovely day exploring Bindarrabi, talking about the Peace Valley project and had a great meal together. In true community spirit we all pitched in with home made Swiss bread, salad from the garden, soup and cheese. I was so busy enjoying the day that I didn't take photos, so please enjoy this local flower instead!
Susanne arrived to visit Bindarrabi with the Brisbane Naturalists and instead of heading off walking into the bush to explore the local wildlife, she joined me at Peace Valley for two days. We tidied, mulched, repotted, set cuttings and erected the shade cloth frame over the garden. The weather was perfect, shade when we needed it, rain exactly on time and sun always peeping out to make everything sparkle. We had no agenda, enjoyed working (or should I say playing!), preparing food, and eating together.
A wonderful synchronicity occurred when Steve was here with his Bobcat with some time on his hands. I took immediate advantage and asked him to come over to Peace Valley and dig a drainage ditch at the back of the camp. He did, in a short 30 minutes, what would have taken days manually. The camp sits in a flood area so some drainage was imperative. Every time it rained heavily the camp got soaked, not anymore as the water can swing past the camp and drain harmlessly into Bladygrass at the side of the camp
September saw the delivery of a 20ft container for use as both office and storeroom and installation of a satellite internet connection at the camp. Also Joy attended the NENA (New Economy Network for Australia) conference in Brisbane and a small meditation retreat was held at Peace Valley in collaboration with Caresse Cranwell of Ecollaborations.
Andrew, Ulla and Mike spent time at Peace Valley bringing their energy, friendship and many gifts. It's been a pleasure to have them here and we were very busy. Some of the jobs we shared were planting tomatoes, arrowroot and yacon, repairing the camp kitchen roof, starting to lay the Yurt floor, erect the frame for grapes and shade for the vegetable garden and preparing the new drink water tank for use. They all left inspired and I am deeply grateful for their contribution to the project
A family of yellow tailed blacks have been visiting the camp over the last few days. They have a beautifully wild cry. Their diet includes large grubs found deep inside small eucalyptus trees or bigger branches. To get to the grubs the birds chew the wood causing trees to weaken and later break and fall at the weak point. The moral of this story pitch your tent out in the open!