Dharmananda in photos

If you haven’t read about our journey visiting Australian intentional communities, check out either my 2015 or 2016 introductions. This gallery features some of the photos from our visit to Dharmananda in northeastern New South Wales, a lush rainforested region of incredible beauty.

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The community house just after sunrise

 

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The bunkhouse – our home during our stay

 

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Leigh preparing a field with his trusty tractor

 

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Creative owner-built homes

 

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The cows doing their morning routine

 

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Lots of healthy grazing country for these cows

 

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The community kitchen

 

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You can’t get fresher bananas than this!

 

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Maggie is making cheese

 

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Stunning light through the meditation forest

 

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The community kitchen in the forest

 

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Thank you guerrilla artists who decorate the brutal potholes around here!!

 

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The Channon’s famous monthly markets

 

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Musicians at The Channon market

 

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Folks selling stuff at The Channon market

 

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Amazing plants at Dharmananda

 

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Wildlife taking refuge in this healthy wilderness

 

 

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Lifestyle Report – as of Mar 2013

This is my third Report (since 2011…oops! I’ve been busy) as a way of assessing my successes, targets, improvements and areas I need to be more vigilant with when it comes to simple, ethical, environmentally sustainable and community living.

It might not be an interesting entry to read but it’s a way to keep myself accountable and constantly improving my lifestyle. NEW to this installment is the addition of my recent vegan ways.

I’ve highlighted positive changes in green and backwards steps red. So, as of today:

ETHICAL/SUSTAINABLE LIVING

• grocery shopping (with % of how often I do it)
became a vegan (Feb 2013)
— local green grocer for veg (75%)
— leftover bread free at end of baker business day (10% – eating less bread but not near bakery anymore);
— skip-dipping/dumpster diving (0% – slack but they are hard to find and I’m not really looking)
— major supermarket for all else (80%);
— Fair Trade where possible (tea, chocolate, recent clothing)
— organic where possible/affordable (25% – food, soap & shampoo)
— use Ethical Guide to boycott bad companies, GM food (50% – need more vigilance here);
— boycott food with known cruel processes (100% where known)
— food miles, locally produced (50%)
— meat consumption (0% of meals)
— dairy consumption (5% – just a couple of slips)

• grow own food (5-10% – tomatoes, eggplant, herbs)

• household shopping: I only buy new from store if I can’t get from op shop or build myself;
— purchased new in past year:
—– furniture (0%)
—– clothes (10%)
—–accessories (15%)
—– car (0%)

• home energy:
— electricity:
—– solar/renewable = no
—– aircon/heating (15%)
—– computer (off at night)
—– fridge (2/5 star rating)
—– dryer (0%);
— water:
—– rainwater tank (0% – no longer have one)
—– grey water for garden (15% – washing machine only)
—– shower avg. duration (5 mins)
—– garden (10%)
—– dishwasher (0%)
—– washing machine (top loader 2/5 star rating)

• waste:
— food scraps (100% goes to compost);
— wasted food (5%);
— recyclables like glass, paper, aluminium cans (95% to recycle bin, 5% kept for food/household storage);
— wasted paper (minimal use of printer, kitchen & recycled toilet paper)
— wood (90% saved for building material); haven’t built much now that I have what I need!
— white goods, electronics, equipment (10% – new stereo receiver);

Areas to Improve: fewer food miles; support local; buy organic if it makes sense & affordable; grow more of our own food; continue to consume less energy & town water. As it gets colder, it is tempting to use more heating but I’ll just have to be as resolute as possible and put on more clothes! Press onwards with vegan lifestyle.

.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

.

SIMPLE LIVING
• build most of my own furniture (lounge daybeds, coffee table, office desk, outdoor tables & seats)
• other furnishings have been donated (bed, futon, tv & DVD) or secondhand (kitchen table & chairs, office chair, rug);
• buy nothing that isn’t essential to the household or work
had to move stored furniture from Queensland to South Australia
• work less, spend more time connecting with friends & family; (has been a very busy past 3 years. Trying to find that work-life balance again)
• spend money on essentials, friends, charities;

Areas to Improve: connect more with real (not virtual) people

.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

.

ENVIRONMENTAL
• approx. annual carbon footprint (avg. based on lifestyle as of today): 7 tonnes of CO2 (Aus avg. 16 tonnes; world avg. 4 tonnes). This is not including my poor flight behavior below 😦
• car usage per month – approx 400kms ; mileage (approx 10kms/L)
• bus instead of drive (15%)
• ride/walk/skate instead of motor transport (10% – 15min walk to shops)
• return flights in past year – domestic (6), international (1); Unfortunately, the past couple of years have been baaad. Last year was mostly the flights during our tour around the country for our documentary film.

Areas to Improve: take fewer flights; walk/skate/bus more rather than car; use less electricity; aim for 7-8 tonnes/yr CO2

.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

.

COMMUNITY
• I now live with my wife so no more commuting to see one another; most friends are the same distance or closer now though
• intentional community living (share house or close living) = no
• share property or resources with community (some household items, driving, food with my wife’s best friend; borrow from other friends occasionally)
• collect hard rubbish from neighbourhood
• engage in conversation or help with mentally/physically challenged people in neighbourhood (0%)
• give to charities (monthly to: 1 x global aid, 1 x animal, 1 x activism organisation, 1 x community fund )
• volunteer with some friends’ and charitable projects
community gatherings for shared weekly meals and social activities

Areas to Improve: aim to achieve closer and more intentional community; share more resources; be more accepting of minority/disadvantaged; give more to charities; get more involved with meaningful & helpful projects

MARCH 2013 SUMMARY: overall, doing the right things still but still not socialising much due to workload. Some areas I can still be a bit more green. Would love to get more friends to jump onboard different aspects of sustainable, ethical or green living but am still trying to take the approach of “be the change you want to see in the world” however it is not always easy not to promote/preach, be judgmental or not be hypocritical…

Lifestyle Report – as of May 2011

This is my second Report (since January’s) as a way of assessing my successes, targets, improvements and areas I need to be more vigilant with when it comes to simple, ethical, environmentally sustainable and community living.

It might not be an interesting entry to read but it’s a way to keep myself accountable and constantly improving my lifestyle.

I’ve highlighted positive changes in green and backwards steps red. So, as of today:

ETHICAL/SUSTAINABLE LIVING

• grocery shopping (with % of how often I do it)
— local green grocer for veg (60%)
— leftover bread free at end of baker business day (100%);
— skip-dipping/dumpster diving (0% but aiming to re-introduce it;
May: have been looking , but it’s hard to find anything in Adelaide)
— major supermarket for all else (100%);
— Fair Trade where possible (tea, chocolate, recent clothing)
— some organic (10% – food, soap & shampoo)
— use Ethical Guide to boycott bad companies, GM food (95%);
— boycott food with known cruel processes eg. veal (100% where known)
— food miles, locally produced (25%)
— meat consumption (15% of meals; May: this is mostly due to being poor)

• grow own food (not yet 0% but get some from friend 3%)

• household shopping: I only buy new from store if I can’t get from op shop or build myself;
— purchased new in past year:
—– furniture (0%)
—– clothes (10%)
—–accessories (15%)
—– car ( 0%)

• home energy:
— electricity:
—– solar/renewable = no
—– aircon/heating (10%)
—– computer (on 24/7, asleep when away & at night)
—– fridge (2/5 star rating)
—– dryer (0%)
—– water pump (everytime the tap is turned on);
— water:
—– rainwater tank (90%)
—– shower grey water for garden (0% May: stopped when I realised I didn’t have time to deal
with the garden and water is from tank anyway)
—– shower avg. duration (5 mins)
—– garden (0%)
—– dishwasher (0%)
—– washing machine (top loader 2/5 star rating)

• waste:
— food scraps (90%; goes to compost);
— wasted food (5%);
— recyclables like glass, paper, aluminium cans (95% to recycle bin, 5% kept for food/household storage);
— wasted paper (minimal use of printer, kitchen & recycled toilet paper)
— wood (90% saved for building material); May: haven’t built much now that I have what I need!
— white goods, electronics, equipment (0%);

Areas to Improve: fewer food miles; support local; buy organic if it makes sense & affordable (May: been very tight on cash the past few months so it’s hard to justify extra costs for organic sometimes); grow some own food; continue to consume less energy & town water. As it gets colder, it is tempting to use more heating but I’ll just have to be as resolute as possible and put on more clothes!

.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

.

SIMPLE LIVING
• build most of my own furniture (lounge daybeds, coffee table, office desk, outdoor tables & seats)
• other furnishings have been donated (bed, futon, tv & DVD) or secondhand (kitchen table & chairs, office chair, rug); May: acquired two wooden trestle tables and some deck chairs i hard rubbish
• buy nothing that isn’t essential to the household or work
• work less, spend more time connecting with friends & family; May: disappointed as work has been all-consuming for the last 3 months; on the positive side, a chunk of that is due to a doco I’ll be shooting soon which is about helping people in need, so I think that’s good.
• spend money on essentials, friends, charities; May: out of necessity, been spending very little on me

Areas to Improve: connect more with real (not virtual) people

.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

.

ENVIRONMENTAL
• approx. annual carbon footprint (avg. based on lifestyle as of today): 9.1 tonnes of CO2 (Aus avg. 16 tonnes; world avg. 4 tonnes)
• car usage per month – approx 300kms ; mileage (approx 10kms/L)
• bus instead of drive (15%)
• ride/walk/skate instead of motor transport (15% – 20min walk to shops)
• return flights in past year – domestic (3), international (0); May: about to embark on massive trip for doco for which I will be shedding environmental tears…26,000kms planned. This will blow my current Carbon Footprint figure out of the water 😦

Areas to Improve: take fewer flights; walk/skate/bus more rather than car; use less electricity; aim for 7-8 tonnes/yr CO2

.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

.

COMMUNITY
• I live walking distance to my girlfriend and a couple of other friends; 5 minute drive to a couple more
• intentional community living (share house or close living) = no
• share property or resources with community (some household items, driving, food with girlfriend & her housemate; borrow from other friends occasionally)
• collect hard rubbish from neighbourhood
• engage in conversation or help with mentally/physically challenged people in neighbourhood (30%)
• give to charities (monthly to: 1 x global aid, 1 x animal, 1 x heart foundation, 1 x activism organisation )
• volunteer with some friends’ and charitable projects

Areas to Improve: aim to achieve closer and more intentional community; share more resources; be more accepting of minority/disadvantaged; give more to charities; get more involved with meaningful & helpful projects

MAY SUMMARY: overall, doing the right things still but not socialising much due to workload which is not a routine I want to get stuck in. That said, I still work from home and can shuffle my schedule around. In addition, I don’t commute which saves on time, carbon pollution and gives me more opportunity to be social. Some areas I can still be a bit more green.

Actions + words

Sometimes I think it’s easy to say but not do (when really you should), while other times you do but don’t tell (when really you should).

I find it’s so easy to either say or think that I should be doing something a certain way (like being more ethical, doing more exercise, helping people, eating more healthily, being more pro-active with many things, stopping unproductive behavior…to name a few), but then get stuffed up when it comes to putting these things into practice. Conversely, some activities are easy to do (eating unhealthily guilt-free, spending too much time on Facebook, enjoying the company of friends), even ones that might have been difficult in the past or are sometimes difficult for other people too (living simply with less stuff, earning less, shopping a bit more ethically/organically/fairly, focusing more on other people than myself), but don’t get talked about.

For example, today I woke up with a wretched pain in my back from an albeit long, 13-hour workday shooting a wedding yesterday. Fair enough, I was on my feet nearly the whole day, but the pain was made worse due to my aversion to exercise. Even simply doing a few crunches every day will strengthen my torso and keep my back from bearing all the load. I know this stuff, but I don’t just do it. A few minutes a day will save my ongoing pain and yet I just can’t get myself to expend the effort. I even say these things to myself while sitting in the kitchen eating a block of chocolate (Fair Trade chocolate, at least!). Sigh. These words are something that need some action attached to them!

On the contrary, I have surprisingly easily slipped into a low-consuming life, becoming quite adamant about staying away from consuming holy lands (aka. shopping malls), taking a hard line about racking up credit card debt, building my own furniture, being careful what I eat and how much I eat out, and being satisfied in general with less. While I act this out every day, it wasn’t until very recently that I’ve been talking up this lifestyle (in this humble little bloggie-blog!), something I still feel a bit funny about though as I am not pretending to know what I’m talking about.

Perhaps what I’m trying to decide is when is it important to just act with no words, when is it good to have words but no action and when do you need both?

I’m always quite happy to lavish my lovely girlfriend, Heidi, with lots of thanks and praise for guiding me into this more responsible world of frugality and giving, but she has learned with her lifestyle choices that sometimes actions need to speak for themselves. As I believe she quite rightly assumes, people are very reluctant to be told that they are doing something wrong and should change; they need to just see how it works for someone else and feel inclined to question why you do what you do. Seeing that this way of living or things that you’re doing makes them happy or less stressed or just feels right, might incite them to do it themselves, or at least ask more questions. One can always hope that if it’s a good thing, the idea or action will cascade through to their friends and so on and so on

Maybe words and actions are both required sometimes though; I was just reading from a brilliant and well-written book The Rough Guide to Ethical Living, and they suggest that it’s all well and good to eat organic, shop Fair Trade and make other ethical decisions about where your food and products come from, but sometimes the action of making the right choice needs to include a message that communicates what you’re doing. Simply making the choice doesn’t specifically tell one brand or retailer why you’re not shopping with them (if it’s due to their brand/product being seen as having poor production practices, eg. treatment of people or animals, poor emissions, or marketing practices); you need to not only make the purchase, but indicate what your problem is with the other brand/product. Even more ideal and impactful in terms of acting and telling is to cut your own carbon emissions then writing to your local MP and “encouraging them to lean on the government to pass legislation which requires everyone to reduce their greenhouse emissions.”

This is sound advice; I think I’m going to get into the habit of regularly writing to retailers (like, Coles – boycott Nestlé!), writing to brands (like, Nestlé – irresponsible marketing practices!) or MPs about a variety of green/sustainability things. I hope anyone reading this can challenge themselves to put into action at least one thing that they have been telling themselves to do but haven’t acted on it; or conversely, if you’re doing something great but no one knows about it that’s ok but you could be influencing a whole lot more people with being a bit more pro-active with letting them know about it! But don’t listen to me (yes, listen to me! heehee).

Lifestyle Report – as of Jan 2011

As a way of assessing my successes, targets, improvements and areas I need to be more vigilant with when it comes to simple, ethical, environmentally sustainable and community living, I’m going to blog here in this format regularly.

It might not be an interesting entry to read but it’s a way to keep myself accountable and constantly improving my lifestyle.

So, as of today:

ETHICAL/SUSTAINABLE LIVING

• grocery shopping (with % of how often I do it)
— local green grocer for veg (25%);
— leftover bread free at end of baker business day (100%);
— skip-dipping/dumpster diving (0% but aiming to re-introduce it)
— major supermarket for all else (100%);
— Fair Trade where possible (tea, chocolate, recent clothing)
— some organic (10% – food, soap & shampoo)
— use Ethical Guide to boycott bad companies, GM food (95%);
— boycott food with known cruel processes eg. veal (100% where known)
— food miles, locally produced (25%)
— meat consumption (25% of meals)

• grow own food (not yet 0% but get some from friend 3%)

• household shopping: I only buy new from store if I can’t get from op shop or build myself;
— purchased new in past year:
—– furniture (0%)
—– clothes (10%)
—–accessories (15%)
—– car (40%)

• home energy:
— electricity:
—– solar/renewable = no
—– aircon/heating (10%)
—– computer (on 24/7, asleep when away & at night)
—– fridge (2/5 star rating)
—– dryer (0%)
—– water pump (everytime the tap is turned on);
— water:
—– rainwater tank (75%)
—– shower grey water for garden (10%)
—– shower avg. duration (5 mins)
—– garden (0%)
—– dishwasher (0%)
—– washing machine (top loader 2/5 star rating)

• waste:
— food scraps (75% to compost);
— wasted food (10%);
— recyclables like glass, paper, aluminium cans (90% to recycle bin, 10% kept for food/household storage);
— wasted paper (minimal use of printer, kitchen & recycled toilet paper)
— wood (90% saved for building material);
— white goods, electronics, equipment (0%);

Areas to Improve: fewer food miles; support local; buy organic if it makes sense & affordable; grow some own food; consume less energy & town water.

.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

.

SIMPLE LIVING
• build most of my own furniture (lounge daybeds, coffee table, office desk, outdoor tables & seats)
• other furnishings have been donated (bed, futon, tv & DVD) or secondhand (kitchen table & chairs, office chair, rug)
• buy nothing that isn’t essential to the household or work
• work less, spend more time connecting with friends & family
• spend money on essentials, friends, charities

Areas to Improve: connect more with real (not virtual) people; volunteer more time to help others

.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

.

ENVIRONMENTAL
• approx. annual carbon footprint (avg. based on lifestyle as of today): 9.24 tonnes of CO2 (Aus avg. 16 tonnes; world avg. 4 tonnes)
• car usage per month – approx 500kms; mileage (approx 10kms/L)
• bus instead of drive (15%)
• ride/walk/skate instead of motor transport (15% – 20min walk to shops)
• return flights in past year – domestic (4), international (0)

Areas to Improve: take fewer flights; walk/skate/bus more rather than car; use less electricity; aim for 7-8 tonnes/yr CO2

.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

.

COMMUNITY
• I live walking distance to my girlfriend and a couple of other friends; 5 minute drive to a couple more
• intentional community living (share house or close living) = no
• share property or resources with community (some household items, driving, food with girlfriend & her housemate; borrow from other friends occasionally)
• collect hard rubbish from neighbourhood
• engage in conversation or help with mentally/physically challenged people in neighbourhood (50%)
• give to charities (monthly to: 1 x global aid, 1 x animal, 1 x heart foundation)
• volunteer with some friends’ and charitable projects

Areas to Improve: aim to achieve closer and more intentional community; share more resources; be more accepting of minority/disadvantaged; give more to charities; get more involved with meaningful & helpful projects

Do I Need It? poster

Do I Need It?

web version of Do I Need It? poster

Here’s a poster that I designed which was conceived of by my friend Penny. I think she’s done a great job of streamlining a path that everyone should go on to decide on whether to make a purchase or not. It essentially allows you to follow a flow-chart style path to determine whether or not you can really justify purchasing that new so-and-so that you’ve got your eye on. If everyone just diverted from that new item path more often, we’d become more responsible shoppers!

I made it into a print-quality A3 poster size in PDF format (link below) which would be perfect for posting somewhere influential where people will see it (hint hint!).

Do_I_Need_It-poster – A3, 300dpi PDF