DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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20 May 2013

Visiting the Lockyer Valley

A couple of years ago, Queensland experienced severe flooding in many areas. I still remember the shock and sadness I felt when I watched TV coverage of the floodwaters rushing through Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley in 2011. Ordinary life was being lived in Toowoomba one minute, the next, a wall of water shot through the city centre, carrying with it everything in its path. That wall of water moved west across the ridges and then down into the Lockyer Valley. Many people died, houses and cars were washed away and entire townships devastated. My father's family were early settlers in the Lockyer Valley, he was born in Forest Hill and many of my ancestors are buried at the Laidley Cemetery. When I watched that flooding disaster unfold, I was heartbroken. I will always remember it.

Hanno and I visited the Lockyer Valley on the weekend. The small community group, Citizens of the Lockyer Valley, invited us to present a workshop in the beautiful old hall at Stockyard Creek. Inside, not only did we find members of this strong and resilient community, we found framed collections of flood photos - a solemn testament to what happened in the valley.

 In the kitchen getting ready to make laundry liquid.
Outside the Stockyard Creek hall.  Photos by Hanno.

The workshop began with a welcome and short speech by the local mayor. His council provided funding for the weekend and I was delighted to know there was strong support for the event. Soon after we got down to the business of sharing, discussion and demonstrations. We spoke about simple living, budgeting, growing vegetables, composting, heirloom seeds and chickens, dishcloths, preserving, freezing, green cleaners and grocery shopping. We made up 40 litres of laundry liquid and showed how to blanch vegetables. It was a busy workshop, interrupted only by country hospitality - the urn bubbled away, cakes, slices, scones and salad rolls were laid on the table. There were a number of people there who read this blog so I was delighted to meet them and put faces to what is sometimes "the great unknown" to me. We ended late yesterday afternoon with a community forum. That resulted in several suggestions for projects the group may take forward to help local people transition to a simpler life. It was such a positive way to end what had been a wonderful weekend.

Many of the people who came along thanked us for being there and for sharing our lives with them, but I felt thankful that we'd been invited. This little group is the first grass roots  group to ask me to present a workshop for them and from what I could they were are the perfect model for how small communities should be and what they can achieve. I loved every minute of it.

ADDITION 1: If you're attending the Simple Living workshops in Blackheath on June 1 and 2, and will be travelling in from the Bathurst area, can you email me please. Hopefully, if there are a few of you, we might be able to arrange a car pool.

ADDITION 2: Jill, a local from Laidley, emailed and told me my explanation of the flood waters was not quite right. Here is her explanation: The flood waters in Toowoomba in 2011 did not come into the Lockyer Valley. Rain fell along the range and some water fell in Toowoomba and went west and some fell down the scarp and went east to parts of the Lockyer Valley and probably hit Withcott, Helidon, Grantham and Murphy's Creek.
Mind you it rained and thundered all day on the day of the flood here in Laidley so the flooding here was locally manufactured. There is no gap in the range at this point to let the water through and all creeks in T'ba flow westwards.
I also need to point out that the flooding here in Laidley and also in Glenore Grove was far worse on Australia Day this year but we are small settlements and easily forgotten.
The flood in 2011 was 1 metre and in 2013 it was 1.5 metres and also much faster and more destructive, dragging away the topsoil from many farms (remember this is one of the few areas of good agricultural land in Australia) and digging holes of about 50 centimetres in all sorts of places around town. Some businesses have just re-opened and there is still a lot of repair work in individual shops and homes.  
Thanks Jill.


21 comments:

  1. Sounds like a lovely weekend. You and Hanno are truly making an impact in the world! Could you tell us some ideas suggested for communities to help support residents who are trying to transition to a simpler life? Many thanks.
    Helen in the US

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    1. Helen, thanks for your comment. I think this may be a good topic for a post. We'll get more input from other readers if we do it that way. I'll get to it later in the week.

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  2. Hi Rhonda,
    So pleased you enjoyed presenting the workshop. I'm sure the ladies attending will 'spread the word' about living simply.
    Kind Regards,

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    1. Women and men, Lucybelle. There were quite a number of very enthusiastic men there as well.

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  3. What a wonderful workshop! It's lovely when communities come together to learn worthwhile skills. It's a fun way to create real day to day change! Good on you for sharing your skills!

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  4. Your post today brought back memories. My sister in law's family comes from that area & i remember as a teenager attending some functions in the hall at Stockyard Creek.

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  5. Aren't little community events wonderful! On the weekend we had a little laneway party I organised with a neighbour from the apartments that share our little lane. It was so lovely to meet people who have been neighbours for years yet many I had never laid eyes on before! It was a very simple affair but so valuable I think.

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  6. The warm fireplaceMay 20, 2013 7:42 am

    What a wonderful weekend, getting the message out there and people implementing it in there lives must make you feel so very happy.
    Sue

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  7. Rhonda, I was hoping you had brought your winter woollies as it was a very cold weekend in the area. I think a couple of ladies from our Toowoomba Simple Living Group attended the workshop so I will hear all about it at our workshop next Saturday on making a sourdough starter. I was sorry I wasn't able to go and knew it would be a great weekend as country people are always very hospitable.

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    1. Hi Chel, yes, Margy and a couple of the Toowoomba ladies were there. It was great to meet up again. It was cold alright but the Valley ladies had plenty of hot tea and coffee for us (and I took my gloves and shawl). ;- )

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  8. Rhonda sorry to bother you I sent a note about a problem I had and was hoping it would help others, I hit publish them my computer shut down so not sure if it sent? It was in regards to going to the Dr over and over even if they they find nothing, if you feel something is wrong keep going until you find the one Dr that will go that extra step, it is so worth it! Even if like my case it took 25 years :) I posted on my blog but you reach so many more people the I! Have a great day :)

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    1. Kim, this is the first comment I've received from you today. The other must be lost somewhere.

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  9. Hi Rhonda, So glad to meet you at our wonderful hall this past week end. I enjoyed the workshop so much and met a few new people as well. It is good to know there is a wider community out there with the same views.
    I am not sure how to link to my blog but I did a post on the week end if you would like to drop by and have a look. The washing liquid washes great and will be making that all the time now, once again thanks to you and Hanno.

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    1. Hi! Your name links automatically to your blog so if people wan to read your post they just click on your name. It was really wonderful meeting you. :- )

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  10. With tears I sat and watched events unfold as the floods devasted comunties in Queensland, as a Victorian we have first hand knowledge of what nature can do in a few short hours. We also witnessed how communties and the country banded together to help others in need. I along with my sisters became part of the effort to help after the fires in our state. It looks like you had a wonderful and productive weekend.

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  11. Oh, how I wish I could come to one of your workshops! It sounds like it was a very busy and fulfilling time. How great to give back to a community that has seen such devastation. Kirsten x

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  12. Hi Rhonda, I was wondering if you still have any seats available for your Blackheath workshop coming up? Regards Dru

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    1. Hello Dru, I have one place on Saturday 1 June. I'm just about to walk out the door to drive north for a workshop at Hervey Bay. Please send me an email at rhondahetzel@gmail.com and I'll send you the details when I come home this afternoon.

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  13. Hi Rhonda. Thanks for a great weekend. Mum and I enjoyed it a great deal. Yesterday I went and picked some of my tomatoes to ripen inside like you suggested. Everyone is looking forward to trying them. I also used the laundry detergent on some blankets I forgot to wash at the end of winter last year and it worked very well. Thanks again. Alexia

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    1. Hi Alexia, I'm so pleased you tried the laundry liquid. We had a great time on the weekend and we really enjoyed meeting so many wonderful people. Please say hello to your mum for me.

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  14. I would love to come to your workshop, I doubt that will happen, ( I live in Canada) but I have your book!

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Thank you for your comment today. I love reading your opinions and thoughts. We have built up a wonderfully diverse community here that I'm very proud to be a part of.

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