Full On: (expression) Intense
We are back in Wanganui after a full-on week at the Eco Show in Taupo. We are more than a little exhausted after long work days and minimal sleep. The EcoShow is a national event that pulls together eco-conscious vendors, speakers, exhibitors, and the occasional by-stander. One such by-stander was our fellow volunteer, Jess, who is now my best New Zealand friend. I’ve heard that times of crisis bring people together. Although I could write pages about the events leading up to and during the show, Jess may be one of the few people on the planet who can understand what I mean when I say that this year’s EcoShow was a bit of a free-for-all. But, despite our many moments spent flabergasted, annoyed, or in all-out despair, I think I walk away from the week with more good memories than bad. I’ll share those ones with you.
First, off was the many cool exhibits and speakers that we got to see. It is really powerful to be surrounded by so many people doing really amazing things. I went to talks about alternative economic systems, food consumption and the environment, and using permaculture as a model for community development. Here are our (new) friends Neil and James building a shelter out of sandbags. Once done and sealed with plaster these homes are strong timber-free economical housing options. (Does James remind anyone of a certain Lord of The Rings Character?).Some of the workshops were held inside yurts, built in just a few hours on-site. They were beautiful spaces to learn in. Almost as beautiful as the pizza oven built in the shape as a dragon. I’m always food-biased.
We also got to see pretty much all of our New Zealand friends together in one place. New Zealand really is a small country and it turns out that most of our friends already knew one another. Weird.
Our new friend Jess, however didn’t know anyone, being new to the eco scene. Don’t worry, we quickly indoctrinated her into the perma-CULT and by the end of the weekend she was a full-fledged eco-princess/warrior/goddess. There aren’t too many people who you can spend 5-days with and not dislike at some point, but Jess is one of those people who makes everyone around her happier. Must be her fab British sense of humor, although sometimes it was hard to translate what she was saying. (Why can’t everyone just speak American?). So many opportunities for humor were just thrown in our lap this weekend… Like a past-his-prime lounge singer and way-too-into her prime hippy interpretive dancer. There are a short list of people who would’ve so thoroughly enjoyed these moments as much as Jess and I did, and to you: Ian Hamlet, Megan Hardie, Tom Morgan, Joe Poulan, and Steven P. Gallo (Nick Jr.), I dedicate the final two pictures from Eco Show.
Tele: (n.) T.V.
We are heading to Taupo for a week, beginning tomorrow, to help out with the EcoShow. But, before we head off, we wanted to share some pics of the newest members of our household. We started noticing these baby pukekos a few days ago. The big ones have been hanging around since we arrived, doing plenty of damage in our garden. Then we saw a commercial for some energy company on tv that featured a little family of pukekos. We laughed and laughed at how rediculously big their feet are in the commercial. Then our little fledglings arrived, and although we have been struggling to get evidence of them, we finally got a few shots (I maxed out the zoom on my camera trying not to scare the little buggers off). You might be able to see their gi-normous feet in picture number two. Each foot is truly about the size of their whole body.
I’m not sure how internet will be in Taupo, and we may just be too excited doing new things and meeting new people to post, but we will try to keep you updated.
Suss out: to sort out, to fix
The above two slides are from our presentation to the young friends (Quakers) tonight called: “Be the change”. I read an article from the Guardian citing a UN report:
“The richest 1% of adults in the world own 40% of the planet’s wealth… The report found the richest 10% of adults accounted for 85% of the world total of global assets. Half the world’s adult population, however, owned barely 1% of global wealth. Near the bottom of the list were India, with per capita wealth of $1,100, and Indonesia with assets per head of $1,400.”
The world is watching US lawmakers, businessmen, and consumers to see how they handle themselves in crisis. Maybe it is time for us to reevaluate our way of operating. Perhaps it is time for everyone to take just a few steps down the eightfold path and learn some lessons from the Buddha. The greed that has placed so much wealth in the hands of so few and has caused this faulty financial system can be changed on an individual level. Be the change you want to see!
Kai: (n. – Maori) Food
Iwi: (n. – Maori) Tribe
Before I left the states I spent 6 wonderful weeks with my brother-in-law, Joe, and niece, Annie (while everyone else was either working or extremely pregnant, or both). We scoped out playgrounds in two states and thought we had found the best playground ever. Well, I hate to break it to you Joe, but Montville ain’t got nothin’ on Kai Iwi beach (appropriately named since our little food tribe descended on the beach with a picnic dinner feast last night).
Kai Iwi playground is nestled in a cove where a small creek meets the ocean. You can cross a bridge to the playground, or can access it by climbing over a huge pile of driftwood (more like drift trees) from the beach. While we were there about a dozen school kids, enjoying the first day of a two-week vacation, were building a fort and bonfire. Like many kiwi kids they were barefoot and unsupervised. No plastic parts here, the playground has been constructed all from driftwood (and bits of metal). It boasts a pirate ship with a two-story slide and a zip line that flies out over the creek (a definite no-no in US parks). There were swings, some kind of crazy tee-pee merry-go-round, and heaps of other attractions, but clearly the “flying fox” was our favorite.
Even without the playground Kai Iwi is an amazing spot. Nothing beats hanging out barefoot in the sand. I realized over the past few weeks how lucky I was when I moved to Genesee Valley, Salt Lake City, and Proctor to have an amazing group of instant friends. Some people draw energy from themselves, from alone-time. Some people build their energy off of others. I am definitely the latter and it is nice to be part of an iwi again.
Loo: (n.) toilet
Here in the southern hemisphere today is the spring equinox. The Celtic planting calender next to our loo tells me that Alban Eiler is a time where light and dark are in balance, a time for celebrating beginnings and praising the goddess of dawn, wisdom, and enlightenment.
That seems fitting given the fact that we officially sold our farm in New Hampshire this week. We’ve been contemplating the Buddhist notion that all suffering is caused by attachment and are balancing the loss we feel for the farm with the excitement of the new friends and connections we are building in New Zealand. Last night our friends at the Environment Center threw an equinox party with a speaker about transition towns, heaps of food, and music-making.
Those of you in the northern hemisphere are also celebrating an equinox today. Alban Elued, the autumn equinox, is also a time of balance between light and dark. It is a time of feeling fulfillment and completion, closing the cycle of seasons, and also a time of preparation for the winter. Hmmm… preparation for winter… I think we moved at the perfect time.
Oh and look who figured out how to work the camera just in time to snap some pictures of the festivities last night. Good on ya Nelson!
New Zealand finds new ways to surprise us every day. Let’s take a sojourn to our local supermarket.
Succulent Lamb and Mint potato chips?
Even Subway is in on the act.
Just who did ask for that Subway? I may be bold enough to brave Sylvia’s green juice, but I haven’t been brave enough yet to tackle the mint sensation sweeping this small nation. There are some things about New Zealand that I just don’t get.
Heaps: (adj.) a lot
We read an article in the paper the other day announcing proudly that while New Zealand has been the butt of jokes for years because of its 40:1 sheep:human population, that population has in fact halved and now there are only 20 times as many sheep per people in New Zealand. The fact that this was a headline in a national paper, may be self-defeating.
We had heard that in New Zealand there were more sheep than people, but after seeing factory farms in the US that fact didn’t seem too surprising. Undoubtedly if they can fit tens of thousands of cattle into a square mile, then it shouldn’t be hard to surpass a population of four million people spread out over two islands. But here in New Zealand factory farming, feed lots, and corn-fed cattle is unheard of. “What do you mean you can’t find grass-fed meat where you live? What else would cows eat?” asks our friend Lisa. Not surprisingly, “spray-free” fruits and veggies are also much easier to find here. The things we take for granted in the states. When did “conventional” foods become the ones that require the most sprays, shipping, processing, and corn?
Here are a few photos of our six hour bus ride from Hamilton to Wanganui, where we will be house-sitting for 9 weeks. We rode almost the entire length of the north island and passed endless miles of fields with sheep and cattle grazing. No doubt, millions of sheep and cattle grazing happily, and not one feed lot.