Should we write "Permaculture" for the Religion Question on the Australian Census?

Discussion in 'Environmental and Health Professionals Interested' started by Callum EHO, Jul 30, 2011.

  1. adrians

    adrians Junior Member

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    common people it isn't a religon and it never should be.

    WHat would Bill Mollison say, to you all?
     
  2. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    I just filled out the questions on my census form online. It is an amazingly simple survey. Difficult to imagine that they could glean any useful information from it.

    It seems to me like it would be left wide open for any kind of interpretation the prevailing paradigm could choose.

    I just feel abused.
     
  3. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day Grahame

    I can appreciate why you might feel this way, and I empathise with you or anyone else who may "feel abused" after having completed the process. However, please know that by participating in the Census, you have provided valuable input into one of the most respected knowledge banks in the world. The ABS states the Census is important because:

    ...[it] provides vital planning information for both the government and private sectors, and for a wide variety of community groups. Grants to state and local government are based on information from the Census.

    This information helps to shape your community and its future needs such as schools, hospitals and roads; and services for young people and the elderly.


    This is all very well, however from a permaculture perspective, it can (and does) do so much more. Let's say a group of people get together with the intention of forming a community (a Mandala Town scenario springs to mind). The first question they might ask themselves is "Where should we build our community"? Data recovered from the Census can help answer this question. Other questions that might arise early in the intentional community building process are "How will we attract more people to our community" and "Where will we find these people"? Again, the Census data is useful. On and on it goes.

    As a professional planner specialising in the field of socio-ecological research (and by extension, the planning and development of intentional community), I use the baseline data provided by the Census nearly every day. It provides me with an accurate social snapshot of any particular community, at any given scale, and in any given point of time over the previous 100-years. This information is vital when making decisions about where a new (in my case, intentional) community has the best chance of survival, indeed where it has the best social setting in order to thrive.

    I agree that the data derived from various individual Census questions when used in isolation of the other questions can seem to be of little value, other than for unscrupulous 'journalists' who will use it for compiling league tables to put on the front pages of tabloid newspapers, "Australia's poorest suburbs" is an apt example. But when used in conjunction with data derived from other Census questions, indeed other data sets (such as, community well being indicator surveys), a rich tapestry of social 'norms' (in any given situation, at any given scale) can be assembled. This matrix can then be used as a very powerful and useful tool for levering the best possible outcome for any given group or community one may be working with at the time.

    The Census allows us to look back over our shoulder, to see where in the past we got it 'wrong', in terms of our population and housing mix. It gives us another piece of the jigsaw, that when fully complete, will allow us to alter our course as we head into the uncharted waters of the future, and with a renewed hope for getting it 'right'.

    Cheerio, Markos
     
  4. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    I admire your optimism Markos! - I knew you would be the one to respond.

    I'm a bit more cynical than you obviously...

    I think you have illustrated my point well though. In the hands of someone like you the data could be turned into interesting support for doing something good and right. However, in the hands of someone, say, who was interested in getting their political party re-elected, it could be used for something entirely not good and wrong. My cynicism tells me that there are not a lot of people like you out there, and plenty of the later type.

    Like all data it can be interpreted in order to fit within a paradigm. I fail to see how any of the questions I answered could give any indication to anyone the way in which I think my country should be resourced. I hallucinate intact that my answers put me onto the pile of folks that are generally disregarded.

    This 'society' we live in is becoming less and less relevant to me and I really don't see how this census is going to make it one iota more relevant. But, I'm happy to stand corrected when I see the roads around here get ripped up and a train line make its way back to the town (although I saw no questions about that). I answered that we own a car, but that does't mean that I won't to own a car, it just means that the system dictates that I need too. I put down that my little girl goes to kinder, but it didn't ask me how far we travel so that she can go to a non-local Steiner kinder because the rubbish they try to palm off as a place for children to learn around here is manned by rubbish teachers who apparently have no idea about children. They asked me if I have tertiary qualifications, but they didn't ask me if that is relevant to my life. They asked me a while lot of questions that I had imperial answers too. But the answers really did nothing to represent how I would like to live. The was no quality to the questions.

    Seriously mate, I reckon the whole thing is bollocks. Give Wayne Swan a bunch of numbers and ask him what they mean, and I can tell you the same numbers will mean a completely different thing to me.

    If someone comes up with anything relating to Mandala Town from that census, I'll be the first to run through the streets singing the praises of the Census. Until then I remain to be convinced it is anything more than big brother collecting munitions.
     
  5. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day Grahame, my Friend

    Granted, the Census is purely interested in quantitative, rather than qualitative data-gathering. However, this does not mean that data recovered (and subsequently interpreted) from its base is unable to be put to 'good' (or for that matter, 'bad') use. However, here's an example of the 'good', and one that fits with the above-mentioned topic of intentional (permaculture) community building.

    Let's say, for example, I am consulting with a group of people who wish to develop a new IC in an existing community/locality. My consultative group have some pretty firm ideas about the socio-demographic characteristics they would like their future host community to possess. In a nutshell, they want to find a community that has a very diverse range of ages, gender, marital status', family blends, ethnic/cultural heritages, religious beliefs, educational backgrounds, skills and qualifications, income levels, experiences living in multiple dwellings, etc., etc., etc. As such, a detailed study of Census data can help me collate a short-list of potential communities/localities that might fit their brief. Of course, a ground-truthing, qualitative data-gathering exercise would need to follow in order to ensure that these potential communities really do possess the characteristics that my group are seeking.

    In sum, my mentor recently quoted an 'old saying' in a recent submission he made to a local land use planning matter, and it goes something like this:

    Data is not information
    Information is not knowledge
    Knowledge is not wisdom


    Cheerio, Markos
     
  6. barefootrim

    barefootrim Junior Member

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    permaculture as a religion on the census form,,,, ummm ? ,,, I'm sticking with "Night of the Jedi" sort of has more force to it really
     
  7. Callum EHO

    Callum EHO Junior Member

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    I tend to agree and wonder whether measurement of "religion" is as useful as other levels of social and environmental awareness that are less "sheepish".
     
  8. rowan

    rowan Junior Member

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    Maybe a good time to revive this question?

    I'm a skeptical permaculturalist, so the religious elements are those which I have least affinity for.
     

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