Sea change, Tree change FAIL #1

Discussion in 'The big picture' started by springtide, May 30, 2010.

  1. springtide

    springtide Junior Member

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    This is a long post written late at night but it's been on my mind to try and write it, so here goes....


    My father bought his first car at the age of 14, re-painted it, re-upholstered it and re-built the engine by the age of 16 and sold it before he got his license. In his early twenties he went back to high school, then went to uni and followed the family business of accounting. He did this because he enjoys “tweaking” things and it does not matter if it is a business or a car or a boat and it was a better income than a spray painter, it was his choiceand he still enjoys it.
    My uncle on the other hand was pushed straight into the family business and after 40 plus years i think he still hates it, I think he would have made a good fisherman or something.
    My wife and I have been trying to get out of the rat race for a few years and me a bit more than her. Getting out, relocating and changing your kids life is such a huge change and i never want to push them into a life that they did not want so i put a lot of thought into it over the last 4 years or so. But you know what they say about the best laid plans...
    What did/do we want – i want to spend more time at home and know where most of my food comes from, my wife wants to be self-sufficient as much as practical and our kids just want a big backyard. Both of us however are a bit addicted to suburbia – the kids need good schools, hospitals, etc. I need to work a bit and my wife still likes to visit the shops from time to time.
    So we planned to buy a block close to the city, with good soil and a nice view – now a good outlook may not seem to important but if you turn your life upside down, try to grow most of your own food, etc then we expected there would be some bad days so being able to have a cuppa and enjoy the serenity would be good for morale. Being off the grid would have been great but since batteries are expensive and not so great for the environment we figured a grid feed system would be better if we built close to the mains.
    So we thought we had considered most things but here is went wrong or at least the circumstances that are sending us home (for a now).

    LEAVING
    Originally i wanted to buy the block first and get some sort of planning permission for a house before we moved as this could have left us in limbo. We had both been looking after my wife’s uncle for a few years, this went from mowing the lawns once a month and taking him shopping , to explaining that his air con remote did not work the television, to talking with the nursing home people about large doses of morphine. During this time we got a sister in law to move in to his house and look after it and also sold our own. After he passed away we all moved into his house.... This was a mistake! We thought it would work for a while but our two children and 3 nocturnal teenagers in a 3 bedroom house it drove us nuts! So we basically ran for the door, we already had an offer accepted on a block so we went.

    BLOCK #1
    This was a done deal or so we thought. 7 acres on top of a hill, close to town, power close by, just needed the road widened for final approval on the 5 block subdivision, council agreed to sell a small amount of land to widen the road – but then we all found out that the council did not own the land, the university did and they did not need any more light pollution near their observatory. We had put a 6 month clause on the issue of title so we had an out - HIGHLY RECCOMENDED with any offer on an incomplete sub division, a year later and these blocks are still for sale and title has not been issued.

    RENTING IN TASMANIA
    This is a very expensive exercise – to be near Hobart in an ok but old 3 bedroom we are paying more than what we would be if we were in a 5 bedroom brand new place 20 minutes from Perth. Then add the cost of heating – i estimate about $75 a week on diesel (oil heaters appear to rule the rental market, eastern shore in Hobart means bottled gas or heat pumps (RC air con) which are still rare). Plus power and its costing us about $525 a week to wait for land to settle.

    BLOCK #2
    Much better soil, 5 acres, axe handle block, 1 seep and awesome views and still cheap by most standards.... Well firstly the owners did not try to get their mortgage discharged for the sub division till the last minute, then the new road went on to another sub division so they had to get their mortgage done too, then part of the council built new road went a metre on to someone else’s land and they were not to fussed on getting their land subdivided and mortgage changed – i think title has just been issued but we are only here for another 3 weeks or so.

    THE LOCALS
    We thought it was best if we rented close to school and the shops as this was where our kids would go to school and the shops, town pool, etc we would be using. Now both my wife and i had lived in the north of Tas for a few years so we thought we knew what to expect (nice people who were friendly as long as you don’t try to tell them that anything on the “Mainland” is better (mostly true anyhow)). Down south though you really have to be a fourth generation convict to be accepted as part of the community, it took my dad 7 years to get to know his neighbours and my friends from Devonport working down here have generally given up on trying to be social – they have met others from up north and all “hang out” on the weekend.

    GOD BLESS THE BOGANS
    I don’t know if anyone uses the phrase “bogan” any more but here they are still teenage mums, kids smoking, people with too many tattoos but they are talkative, helpful if asked and although i’m not about to get into grunge rock music they are pretty ok. The more “normal” dick and janes spend at least an hour in front of the mirror before they drop their kids off at school, stop their group discussions when a non local walks past and pretend not to hear you if you ask the time.

    THE RESULT
    There were a few more reasons why we left Perth but they aren’t my story, needless to say they have changed and we were facing one problem after another with the blocks we got serious on and being treated like proverbial lepers by this community. We went back to Perth for a wedding and i got into a huge conversation at the hairdressers with a complete stranger (this doesn’t really happen in Hobart). After a lot of long discussions and more than a few tears we thought “shag it” the cost of another six months renting is the same as loading up our sea container (the best way to move long distance) to here and back. It's just too expensive and we are not happy (i have not even started on the problems we had with building - the stage 2 kit home promised at $130k came in at $394K... somehow.)

    TRY AGAIN?
    It has been a great experience and i still love Tassie and yes we would try again because it’s a lifestyle we still believe in, and although this is a bloody long post i thought if it helps someone else do a better job then its a good thing. If you made it to the end thanks for reading.
     
  2. frosty

    frosty Junior Member

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    sorry to hear of all the problems Springtide ......... we occasionally ponder the big move but keep deciding there are too many unknowns

    so do you mean you are coming back to WA ?

    frosty
     
  3. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    All the best with what ever you decide Springtide. What doesn't kill you can make you strong. Perhaps there is a story or two in there for the grandkids.
     
  4. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    Ya woos. :)
     
  5. springtide

    springtide Junior Member

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    Yep, back to W.A. i guess my main thing with this blog - and i did a pretty bad job of it in the first paragraph is that i am surrounded by examples of kids brought up with their parents ideals and regretted it (my mum was strict methodist upbringing, taught sunday school, did nursing/missionary work in PNG, Rabaul, etc now she is the full reiki, auras, smudge the house, etc). So i want to live the life and teach my kids permaculture / sustainable living but i want them to know what maccas tastes like (along with the feed lot cows, high fructose corn syrup, etc) so they can make good decisions about how to live their lives, decisions that will last and make us all healthier and happier.
     
  6. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    You don't have to give up on the dream. You can do permaculture in suburbia. I am. I can't fit in a herd of cows maybe, but the challenges to live well, within my (and the earth's) means, and to teach my kids how to grow stuff so they can do it too is no less do-able on a suburban block. You just need to reshape your vision.
    Hang in there....
     
  7. Moe

    Moe Junior Member

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    Theres gotta be better communities to join though. I like the idea of knowing my neighbors. Hell, i've tried here for sure, but people just think i'm weird, or think i want something from them. I knock on peoples doors and say hey how you been? Offer people beers n stuff. People are friendly and will stay and have a chat, but its never more than that. Everyones too friggin "busy" I suppose. Either that or they don't see theres a problem with the way it is now. I think it stupid, we live down the street and no one knows anyone. What ever happened to "love thy neighbor".
     
  8. Don Hansford

    Don Hansford Junior Member

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    That can get you arrested nowadays (unless you're in a reality TV show). :)
     
  9. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    You are not alone, Moe. Keep knocking on those doors:

    Intentional Communities Australia

    Cheerio, Markus.
     
  10. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    I guess I got lucky moving into a new culdesac at the same time as everyone else. There are only 2 of us that garden, but plenty that drink beer! Too busy it probably right, and just plain not used to it! (Having friendly neighbours that is....)
     
  11. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    I've been thinking about this topic a bit as I've been out contemplating with a shovel...

    It seems to me that community is really the make or break aspect of a permaculture tree change.

    When we moved here we new that becoming part of the community was going to be important, my wife joined play groups, book clubs, the local community group and generally got involved straight away. I am less of a public man but I joined the CFA, got talking to the folks of the local Landcare (a little batty but honest enough), started gardening locally and generally got to know the neighbours. Now, I would say we haven't yet made many great friends, but have made good friends and plenty of acquaintances.

    I have already encouraged a few families to start vegie patches.
    It turns out the neighbour has read a lot about permaculture (which was just so unexpected) even if he has never 'done' anything about it, it is still there in his mind.

    When we decided my wife would have a home birth, we joined a home birthing group, and met some great people from the area. Now we are friends with one family who have been thinking about living a sustainable lifestyle for a while. We introduced them to permaculture and they have really taken it on, in return I have learnt a lot of practical skills from them.

    This sort of thing has taken 3 years, we may be the hippies at the edge of town, but I think we are genuinely now part of the community and I feel like, just from being here we have started to alter the community ever so slightly, just by the things we talk about, just by being who we are. And I am richer for belonging to a community, any community. I don't think it is always about everyone getting along famously, but it is about respect and contribution. Most of the people around here are just like your ordinary masses with narry an environmental bone in their bodies and fundamentally different outlooks on life to us.

    SO all you really have to do is "Be the change that you wish to see in the world".

    To me there is so much that is compelling about permaculture and I believe that lots of people really do want to live this lifestyle but just don't know the first thing about it. So I'm working on the principle of "if you build it they will come".

    Peace folks
     
  12. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Grahame and Family

    Probably the greatest lesson that you have provided in sharing the above with us (and for which I for one am truly grateful) is the fact that '...this sort of thing has taken 3 years'. Indeed, it is all about time. During this time you have integrated yourselves well into your local community through participating in cultural activities that are appropriate to your own ideology, yet acceptable among your wider community. You are creating change from within. You are doing it quietly, with reasoned intent, and in a manner that is both deliberative and pedagogically sound. Community is the true essence of permaculture. Humans are, without a doubt, social and ecological beings. Whether it be our local or wider communities, in either a social or an ecological sense, we are all connected and dependent upon each other. Permaculture is one (very good) way of bringing this knowledge home to a world that has (largely) come to worship the individual over the whole. Well done to you and your wonderful family on your efforts thus far.

    Warm regards, Markos.
     
  13. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    I do believe that the most seditious thing we can do is build models in the community that says " this is a great way to live" and people will follow you and perhaps forget consumerism.
    Community IS the thing, the rest is fill IMO
     
  14. springtide

    springtide Junior Member

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    I have to agree a bit there with purplepear, i was stuck watching that "escape to the country" show where these people fall in love with the idea of living in the country and get help finding some cottage thing that symbolises what they want to be - to garden or space for the kids or whatever. The show promotes this way to live without even checking out what the community is like and they make 1/2 the "dream". Lots of the houses they find are awesome for nearly anything but what if your neighbours suck?
    House for investment = easy.
    House for a home = not too hard.
    House for a lifestyle = complicated.

    Cheers all.
     
  15. kerrip

    kerrip Junior Member

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    My thoughts exactly!!!!!!!!!!
     
  16. springtide

    springtide Junior Member

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    Ah well, i guess i am not as selfish as i need to be. I will try harder!
     

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