DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
I have a forum attached to my blog where people from all over the world meet to discuss simple life. There are about 7000 forum members now so we have an enormous amount of good information about growing food, cooking from scratch, family, simple living, routines, budgeting, baking and much more. Please click on the image above to go there. Newcomers will have to register. It's free, friendly and we're waiting for you.

12 June 2013

Workshops fire up passion for this solitary life

I've been thinking a lot about the recent workshops I've presented along with Hanno and Tricia and if I had to come up with one word to describe my feelings about the workshops, it's motivating. After both the Lockyer Valley workshop and the Blackheath workshop, I came away motivated and sure that what we're doing here it right for us, right for our community and a small step in the right direction towards repairing some of the environmental damage we've done in the past. I doubt we'll ever make up for our share of the damage our indiscriminate shopping has done but I swear I'll never stop trying to. I also felt a recommitment to the way we live after both workshops because of the people I spoke with and knowing that we'll all working in a similar way towards shared goals.


The two workshops were very different. Lockyer Valley was organised by a strong community group, originally formed to help oppose a gas pipeline snaking through the small communities in their valley. I'm very pleased to report that the pipeline didn't go ahead. The Lockyer Valley is a beautiful area just west of Brisbane that has a strong tradition of fresh food production. But now many of the primary producers are going out of business or moving to other work when it's available. Often it isn't. The workshop brought those people together to share ideas that may be beneficial for all of them and encouraged talks about a way forward. The group applied to the local council for a grant to pay for the workshops.

We held a community forum at the end of the workshop to create a list of actions to take into the future. There is a possibility they'll form a small simple living group and share ideas and skills. Carol Stephens, who leads the group, told me that many farmers are frugal by necessity rather than choice and they're in that situation when the general cost of living is rising. It makes life difficult. Carol said the pressures of falling commodity prices despite the rising cost of food in the supermarkets, rising production costs and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns all contribute to make primary production dangerously unsustainable. Farmers and family farms have always been the backbone of Australia and now that network of farmers is fragile.

One thing we can all do to help our farmers is to insist on buying Australian fruit, vegetables and meat. If you can travel out into these small rural communities on a weekend, stay, buy fresh produce there and that money will stay in the community. It's a small gesture but our farmers need our support and it is worth doing. We should also be asking our local members of parliament to address the problem of unclear food labelling in Australia. I want to see food labels that clearly indicate what has been produced in Australia and what is Australian owned. What is so difficult about that? A label that tells me a product has been processed in Australia from imported ingredients doesn't tell me anything. The government must do something about labelling now that benefits our farmers and the consumer, not the multi-national corporations that are filling more and more of our food shelves.


The more recent Blackheath workshop was full of people who were committed to living simply and who wanted to meet like-minded people. I organised that one and participants paid a fee to attend. I talked about various aspects of simple living, how Hanno and I work to save water, electricity and money, how we pay our bills and try to cut down on what we can. All of us want to live well on less and this little hall was a good place to talk about how we all try to do that. There was a calm and friendly atmosphere at Blackheath - similar to friends at a picnic. When I sat with those knitters, there was no other place I would have preferred to be. We shared recipes, stories and our hopes and, I think, we all thoroughly enjoyed the contact with others who share a similar outlook on life. I know I certainly did.

So when I drove back home from those workshops - both of them a long way from home, I had a chance to think about that time I spent out in those communities. And I have to tell you I came home feeling really motivated and inspired to keep going, keep blogging about what we're doing and keep writing about what this simple life is all about. Because it's different for each of us, there is no must-use recipe, there is no right way. These workshops are important and I must try to do more of them. They show me, as well as everyone who comes along to them, just how diverse, empowering and enriching simple life can be. And when we're all working alone in our homes far away from anyone who understands what we're doing and why we're doing it, the fond memory of those connections we made with like-minded people will see us through.

I'm going to start writing a new book soon and so I'm hoping to fit a few workshops in before that. There has been interest in Lismore and Brisbane so they may be possibilities. I also think Orange, Wagga, Canberra or Mudgee, as well as Dalby and Warwick in south-west Queensland might also be possible. If you're interested in attending a workshop, and you think others in your region may be interested, please let me know.

Below is the program of talks I'll be giving at the Sunshine Coast Libraries soon. The talks are free but you have to book. You can do that here.


Title
Date
Time
End Time
Library
Registered
Max
Living simply
living smart
9/07/2013
10:00 AM
11:30 AM
Coolum Library
14
25
Living simply
living smart
10/07/2013
10:00 AM
11:30 AM
Nambour Library
25
35
Living simply
living smart
11/07/2013
10:00 AM
11:30 AM
Maleny Library
14
40
Living simply
living smart
17/07/2013
10:00 AM
11:30 AM
Cooroy Library
15
40
Living simply
living smart
26/07/2013
10:00 AM
11:30 AM
Kawana Library
13
25
Living simply
living smart
31/07/2013
2:00 PM
3:30 PM
Beerwah Library
12
30
Living simply
living smart
2/08/2013
10:00 AM
11:30 AM
Maroochydore Library
19
40
Living simply
living smart
6/08/2013
10:00 AM
11:30 AM
Caloundra Library
32
40
Living simply
living smart
15/08/2013
1:00 PM
2:30 PM
Noosa Library
20
55

Additional Reading
Report on food labelling law and policy (Australia).

41 comments:

  1. What a lovely, motivating post Rhonda. It makes me wish i was living in Australia so i could attend one of your workshops. i hope the Lockyer Valley group manage to help their community find some sustainable solutions; it's frightening that primary food producers are having such a hard time especially when it impacts fundamentally on us all.

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  2. Dear Rhonda- recently there was an article in an NZ Farming magazine that stated how much food is wasted in Australia and how most of the Canneries have now closed down. It also stated that the supermarkets are getting cunning and are packaging food items in "look alike" packaging common to the Australian supermarket chains but is in actual fact from overseas and you would not know unless you read the labels.
    Karen NZ

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  3. I appreciate and think it's important to emphasize that it's not an "all or nothing" program. Too many projects that would lead to simple living come on so strong and are so radical that people are put off and say, "Well I could never live that way so there is no point in trying any of this." But anything that a person does towards becoming more self sufficient is a step in the right direction and often will lead to more modifications in their life.

    As a side note since the beginning of the year I have begun cleaning with baking soda and just love it----it works great. Last week at Walmart I saw on the shelf in the cleaning products and laundry aisle a four pound box of Arm and Hammer Baking Soda. Last year at this time, despite having made my own laundry detergent for several years, my response would have been, "What's this doing in the laundry aisle and who could ever use up this much baking soda before it lost it's oomph?" This time my thought was that here was a useful size and it cost half as much as the small boxes used for baking. Yea!

    Victoria
    Indiana USA

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  4. Thank you Rhonda and Trica for giving up your time in Blackhealth. I had so much fun and learnt so much more. A few of us girls have kept in touch and have been encouraging each other during this journey of "Simple Living" and are going to try and catch up again.
    I came home and made so soap, some washing liquid and and popped my seed into the fridge.

    Can't wait for you next book.

    Love Sam
    oldgreenpastures.wordpress.com

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  5. I live here on the Central Coast of NSW. I'd love to come to a workshop if you get down somewhere near here!

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    Replies
    1. Ditto to this! I also live on the Central Coast, but would drive the hour, or catch a train,to Newcastle as well.

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    2. Ladies, I'll look into it. The main task is finding a venue that suits our needs which isn't too expensive.

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    3. Hi Rhonda Jean! I'd love to go to another workshop! I went to the one on Saturday in Blackheath and live on the central coast - it was quite a drive for me.

      I have a lovely big home and could quite easily host a workshop at my home if you were interested? :-)

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  6. Rhonda,
    You are great and I love your blog. I have been inspired by what you do. I am slowly simplifying and have been striving to live debt free thanks to your blog.
    I am learning to knit, crochet, sew, and cook from scratch-- while raising a daughter. Thank you.

    Kim

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  7. Rhonda, I am looking forward to attending Beerwah library on 3st July. Best wishes. Jean.

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  8. Rhonda, as I was inspired by your blog I started up my own a week or so ago and today's post, funnily enough, was about our last Simple Living Group Toowoomba's morning tea and swap last Saturday. As this group was formed as a result of your visit to our local library, I was amazed when I read your post this morning to see that you were writing about workshops.

    On our local TV news at night there is rarely a time when there isn't coverage about our farmers protesting against the CSG companies. I am just amazed that anyone would even consider polluting such a rich belt of food production like the Darling Downs. We are all at different stages of getting back to living as simply as we can and, for me, supporting our local food produce stores is part of that. In fact, here it is cheaper to buy fruit and vegies from them than it is from the supermarket. Keep up the good work as it is appreciated by many in this country.

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    Replies
    1. Nanna Chel, I LOVE what you are doing with the Simple Living Group, and it has made me think how something similar could be set up in my area. I've just joined the new CWA branch here, and perhaps there are other like-minded people I will meet through that group...
      Loretta

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    2. Loretta, I'd like to see thee small group all over the country. Joining the CWA is a start but you could also email the convenor of the Toowoomba group, Margy. I'm giving a talk for the Beerwah CWA girls next week. I see it as another great opportunity to talk about this important topic.

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    3. Thank you Rhonda, I might do that! Our CWA gp is just finding its feet, but I'm hoping that a few of us are like-minded and might be able to get a Simple Living group started in the future. How I WISH you could come down here and give a talk to us in south-west Victoria!!
      Loretta

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  9. Hi Rhonda
    I look forward to your posts everyday, I have been reading your blog for about 2 yrs now, I lived simply when my boys were small, then I started working outside of the house and fell off the wagon, then last yr I was made redundant, purchased your book and climbed back onboard, this time I am determined not too fall off again, although I am working outside of the home. Thankyou for the wakeup call.

    Donna

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  10. Good morning Rhonda, I agree completely with the need to support our local producers. We live in the Scenic Rim region in SE Qld and are seeing dairy farms continuing to close. We are however keeping our fingers crossed, as one dairy is set to produce and market its own milk direct to local stores. We hope this is a success, as these enterprises are needed in Australia, not only for our country to prosper, but to survive. Best wishes to you and everyone else here. Regards, Barb.

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  11. That's exactly how I feel when we give talks, or have people come for tours of the farm. We are a growing group of people a movement really. And I can't think of a more purposeful, rewarding creative, nourishing way to live. that list could go on forever. I have never felt so content in all my life!

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    Replies
    1. I agree totally, Kate. It is a growing movement and a wonderful way to live.

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  12. Hello Rhonda, thank you for a very motivating post once again. Always find l feel less alone in my quest after reading your posts. About labelling food grown in ones own country; here in Norway such produce is labelled "Nyt Norge" - meaning "enjoy Norway". It really makes supporting Norwegian farmers much easier and l try to do that. I try to steer clear of imported vegetables unless it is something paticular l need that is not grown in this country. Wish l could attend one of your workshops! Pam

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  13. I'm so glad that the workshops were motivating for you too Rhonda, it's great that it charged your batteries too. I'm thinking about what I can offer in the local community as a result of the B'heath workshop.

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  14. Rhonda, the workshop was simply wonderful, and great to get together with other like-minded people. It's also good to read that you enjoyed them as much as we did, and also found them motivating. Thank you so much for doing them.

    I also agree that this life is different for everyone. Each person can only do what they can do. That's what I'm doing - it is an ongoing thing, just a bit at a time.

    My big takeaway from the workshop was how inspiring it can be getting together with other like-minded people, so am trying to find them in my area. So if anyone out there is from around Bathurst, if they could check out my thread about this on the forum and contact me, it would be great.

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  15. Hello Rhonda,
    I bought your book over 12 months ago and have been reading your blog since then too. I live in the suburbs of Melbourne with my husband and our dog in a rental property. I had been feeling a slow, growing discontent with the life that was being sold to us. Advertising, tv shows and even friends and family kept telling us that we needed to own more, earn more, eat out more and buy a huge house on a tiny block.

    Buying your book was the first step in my quiet subversive action against all of that pressure. Since then I have asked a dear friend to teach me how to knit and sew and another lovely new friend is teaching me to cook from scratch and grow my own vegies. I have haggled with my energy provider for a better discount, tackled my husband's tax debt (with him of course), reduced our cost of living and begun saving for a small house on a bigger block.

    It's been such a liberating experience. I feel calmer and more in control of my life. It's also been great for spending time with other women who I really admire and learning skills from them. As I lost my mother when I was 21 I feel like I am learning the skills that she would have taught me (she did begin), and gaining from building these strong, sharing relationships.

    So, thank you for guiding me along this pathway, I know it is the right path for us. If you are ever all the way down here in Melbourne I'd love to go to a workshop, or you can drop by for a cup of tea and homemade cake!
    Thank you,
    Erin

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    Replies
    1. Rhonda, I'll come to a workshop if you are in Melbourne. You could come here for a cuppa too. Hanno and yourself are always welcome to stay if you need a bed.

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    2. Make that 3 Rhonda! And I bet there would be more. Maybe we have the beginnings of a Simple living group in Melbourne already??
      Got me thinking...
      kate

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    3. Hi Rhonda, you can add another to the Melbourne workshop wish list! Would love to go to a Workshop even if I have to drive over 3 hours from home to get there. Unless there's more interest from my way up on the coast of East Gippsland. Loved your post on Tea on the 24th April, Margaret's and Lizzys comments brought back many fond memories of tea with my nan. Thank you Rhonda for sharing your knowledge and the kind encouragement that you give.

      Cherish

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    4. Thanks for sharing your story with us Erin. As you have discovered, stepping away from the mainstream towards a simpler life is liberating and enriching. Melbourne is too far for Hanno and I to drive at the moment, and we don't fly anymore. However, my publisher is in Melbourne and Hanno and I are hoping to drive to Tasmania on holiday sometime in the next couple of years so popping in for a cuppa is still on the cards and maybe we could fit in a workshop along the way.

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  16. Oh, I'll come if you do one in Canberra. We have just bought a property about an hour away and will be doing up a 1920s teeny-tiny cottage and putting in our veg patch; hopefully chickens come spring. It will be our first non-defence house - we have so many ideas we can't wait to put into practice! I'd love to meet some like minded people in the flesh in a new town.

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  17. Rhonda, I tried to comment this morning, but it seems not to have loaded. Anyway, I would be very interested in a workshop in Canberra, and would be happy to assist with logistics etc if needed.

    Depending on timing, I might also be able to offer you accommodation, and certainly a meal anytime.

    Jenny 54

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  18. Hi Rhonda, This post was very motivating. It was exciting to see you have Lismore in your sights. I work in lismore but live 30 mins away. I would love to attend one if you came that way. I would love to meet some more like minded souls and learn more about simple living too :)

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    Replies
    1. Lismore looks like a genuine possibility, Justyce.

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  19. Hi Rhonda, I have been following your blog for a long time now I love the simple life and have been encouraging my children, family, friends an all that are interested to be like minded. I live In the Mudgee area and would love for you to come and share your wisdom to my community. I am the Secretary of a women's ministry group and we have a large venue that would be suitable for a workshop free of charge.

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    Replies
    1. I live in the Hunter Valley ( not all that far from Kate at Purple Pear) but my son lives in Mudgee so if you go there I'm sure I'll have a bed. Lol.

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  20. wish I was closer, I totally agree about labelling - so much we don't know about what we're eating.

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  21. Rhonda, I am in cq and know from the forum there are a few of us up here keen for a workshop.

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  22. It would be nice if you had a workshop in Ipswich. as i don't drive & rely on public transport or family it's hard for me to get places.

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  23. Rhonda, I would love to attend your workshop in Warwick if you have one there sometime.

    Lyn in Northern New South Wales.

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  24. I'm from Canberra and I'd love to se you and I think my parents would too!

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  25. Rhonda, I am so excited!! I have been able to book in to see you at Nambour Library on 10th July. I messaged all my kids to let them know I was going to hear you speak as they all know how much I love your book and your blog. You are a treasure Rhonda and I can't wait to hear you speak about the things that make your life the wonderful life it is.
    Gaye

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  26. I would love to see in action. I'm in Toowoomba but happy to travel in any direction. Dalby, Warwick, Ipswich, or brissy. As long as I know it's on I can book it in. Didn't know your Lockyer one or the T'bar one last year was on the same day as one of my exams :) Cant wait. Hubby and I are just starting on our way on this part. Feel it's even more important as we have a toddler and I want to teach her all the things I have to share with her...

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  27. Hello Rhonda, I'm another keen fan from the Canberra area & would love to see you down this way however, we travel to Orange every now & then so that would work for us too. Thanks for your efforts in writing your blog, it's the highlight of my day & keeps me focussed & on track to a simpler, more meaningful life for me & my family.

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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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