RetroSuburbia: What it Looks Like

Permaculture co-founder David Holmgren’s upcoming book, RetroSuburbia, “highlights the ongoing and incremental changes we can make to our built, biological and behavioural landscapes. Focused on his home territory; Melbourne, Victorian regional towns and more generally southern Australia, the suburban retrofit concepts have national and global application. Due for publication in late 2017.”

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More from the website:

“RetroSuburbia explains and illustrates patterns, designs and behavioural strategies applied by those already on the downshifting path to a resilient future, using permaculture ethics and principles. It is organised as a pattern language of interlocking and complementary design solutions to perennial problems faced by those applying a more systematic, whole-of-household approach to retrofitting their houses, gardens and living arrangements. It includes some proven design specifications and pointers, references technical sources and case studies, but is more of a strategic guide than a technical manual.

Rather than reviewing the latest technology for thermally efficient heating, the book has an overview of wood energy options that increase resilience and productivity of the household, some of which can be manufactured in a home workshop. Rather than details on how to grow vegetables or raise chooks, it describes the different systems for doing so, and their pros and cons in various situations. A lot of the technical detail is conveyed with graphics. This book will help you get your hands dirty tackling tricky issues with creative solutions, including those that might be seen as socially or even legally questionable. Harness the tradition of Aussie DIY to reclaim common sense self reliance while ignoring the overregulation, risk management myopic and dependence on centralised authority that afflicts affluent Australia. In the process, help create a broader, more holistic culture of DIO (doing it ourselves) which rebuilds the non-monetary economies of the household and community.”

Our home in Castlecliff, Whanganui, is used as a case study. Independent of Holmgren, we came to many of the same conclusions and design strategies. The success of our suburban retrofit speaks for itself: a warm, cosy, low-energy home and abundant food production on a small section. Regarding the issues brought up by Holmgren, there would be few properties in New Zealand that match this one in terms of the key characteristics of resilience.

In November, 2010 we started renovating the old villa…

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…which is now a high performance passive solar home.

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We started with a section full of weeds and rubbish six years ago.

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It is now full of fruit trees, natives, annual gardens and a pizza oven.

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Side yard before.

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Side yard after.

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Learn more about retrofitting suburbia.

Thursday, 11th May, 6:30-7:30 PM

Central Library, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Dr. Nelson Lebo, Eco Design Advisor, Palmerston North City Council.

 

Peace, Estwing