Showing posts with label philosophy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label philosophy. Show all posts

Sunday, 17 September 2017

This whole ban the burka thing is getting on my goat

Recently I was thinking about how loud and vehement people are when they are asked to take a side on the 'Ban the burka' debate; I'm beginning to think that Pauline Hanson's voice is more the result of her choice of topic rather than a natural result of her genetics. I stand on the no side of the debate, a little closer to the centre than extreme though.

I can see the need to be able to identify people in security situations (like the oft quoted banks and schools situations) but I can also empathise with the wearers of burkas and hijabs, etc. Imagine yourself in a situation where you are asked to take off a piece of clothing and expose a part of your body you have been culturally indoctrinated to believe is sacred and private (your bra and top for instance) and to walk down the street without this piece of clothing, to expose your private parts to the world. I don't know about you, but I would not be comfortable going to the bank topless, but that is exactly what we are telling women they must do if we ban the burka.

The belief that our breasts are private is not present in every culture; many tribal societies cultural norms do not include covering the breasts (I can hear people saying "Yes, but they are primitive", which leads me to conclude that cultures who require their women to cover more body parts are less primitive, but that's a slippery slope). In our Australian culture we cover our breasts, in the Muslim culture they cover their hair and sometimes their faces, is there actually a difference?

Many people argue that being forced to cover up is repression of women, an opinion I agree with. However I also believe that being forced to expose yourself is also repression. If we truly want to free Muslim women from repression shouldn't we just give them the choice about whether they wear their traditional clothing or not?

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Musings about our lifestyle- Rambling post with gratuitous photos warning

A gratuitous photo of the bush around our humpy

This morning I was searching the internet for a tutorial about making wall lining out of newspaper (I'm on holidays...that's what you do on holidays isn't it?) and the closest I could get was a post or two on 'brown bagging'; which is basically using brown paper as wallpaper over existing wall lining. Being unable to find anything about making actual wall lining, I extended my search to cover building in slum conditions and alternate wall linings, all to no avail. This search started me thinking about my position in the blogging world....

Another gratuitous photo of my dogs watching me spin

I know of many people living as we do here in our humpy; living in knocked together shacks made from scrounged materials and making improvements slowly as low incomes allow. This cannot be a phenomenon indigenous to our area alone, surely there are humpy dwellers all over the world, so why is there so little information about it on the internet? My musings came up with a few possible reasons;

People who live in humpies tend to not be computer literate; While I can't speak for other areas, where we live this tends to be true. People living in the bush are mostly older, perennially low income earners who have never had the opportunity to use computers for recreation and have no desire to do so. This has led to a situation where really clever and useful ideas are not shared among humpy dwellers as we tend to be anti-social beings who don't talk to others or have people over much. It also leads to non-humpy dwellers viewing us as lazy or incompetent, when in fact it requires  huge amount of work, ingenuity and determination to maintain any semblance of social acceptability living in a humpy (showering outdoors at mid winter comes to mind).

People are ashamed to be seen as 'living rough'; While I haven't found this to be the case here (as humpy dwellers are a large minority there is no shame in it), the reactions of a few people visiting my place for the first time has led me to believe that they expect me to be ashamed. I casually mentioned the fact that we still take all our waste water out of the house in buckets at a social event recently and had a lady goggle at me (until that point I had only imagined what a goggle looked like but now I know it is quite a comical facial expression). She avoided me for the rest of the evening (obviously fearing that low standards are communicable). Reactions generally range from outright wonder to shock and pity, but most people come to the enjoy their visits to the madness that is my home. I don't believe I need to be ashamed of my home....yes it's a mess....yes it's open to nature (which is often smelly)...but it's warm and dry and it provides me so much entertainment I rarely want to be  anywhere else.

People want to keep their lifestyle private; This is a very valid reason, people in my area tend to be private (we move here to be hermits) and enjoy being unseen and forgotten in the bush. Being private is perfectly acceptable and should be respected. It is a shame not to share all the amazing things we contrive to make life more comfortable in our humpies, but privacy is a right we need to respect.

It didn't occur to them that others may benefit from the information; This is a common reason, I often see some system or contraption at someone's humpy and rave over how clever the idea is (e.g. using old bathtubs as a reed bed system which produces mulch for an orchard) only to have the inventor say "but..everyone knows how to do that.." or words to that effect. We need to realize that our little niche lifestyle is highly specialized and we have skills not shared by the rest of humanity. People new to the lifestyle could benefit greatly from learning the simple skills we possess (like learning to shop once a month and managing time in town so everything gets done).

A new trellis for passion fruit made from an old industrial window shade

Our combined pavers and cement floor

A gratuitous guinea fowl

Book Book one of our yard chooks

If you are a humpy dweller (or have been a humpy dweller), please feel free to share your wisdom here in the comments section, or on your own blog, or even by talking to the neighbors. We have valuable's time we started valuing them and sharing them with others.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The anything-but-simple country life.

Recently I read a post on a friend's blog about 'simple country living', as I typed my comment it occurred to me that this was a great subject for a post.

What is a simple country life? Is it living on a bush block, keeping chooks and a cow? Making your own preserves and cooking from scratch? Is it watching the sun rise over an unsullied tree line every morning? or is it hauling endless buckets of water to trees and garden and learning to do basic veterinary repairs yourself because the vet's travel fees are more than you earn in a week?

For me it is all these things and more.

So why do some people stay and others leave? Is it because the realities of life are just too...well...real?

I thought I would put together a little list of some of the realities I have noticed in my thirty plus years as a bush dweller and my six years as a humpy dweller, feel free to add your own realities in a comment;

Things are not convenient; you will run out of gas on Saturday night and all the local shops are shut on Sundays.

Other beings live here too, most of whom want to eat your vegetable garden and/or your chooks.

Everyone knows your business, even if you only see them every few months.

When there is a crisis you are expected to contribute, turn up for fire fighting, donate to families who have lost homes, go to funerals, pick up car parts in town, etc. Next time it might be your crisis.

Nobody cares what you have, only what you can do...unless you have an operational tractor, then everyone will care.

Relax and be yourself; everyone knows if you are 'bunging it on' anyway.

The most interesting people in the world live near you; the woman who worked for the World Bank and brokered loans between countries (and makes great yoghurt), the man who taught mathematics and astronomy in a Melbourne university (and has a semi-rigid truck licence for the fire truck), the woman who trained animals for TV shows (and knows the easy way to tan skins). Get to know them.

Death is inevitable, chooks are eaten by snakes and quolls, dogs are bitten by snakes, sheep and cattle go down with paralysis tick and wallabies are hit on the road by cars. This is the biggest life lesson the bush has to teach you, accept it and make good use of every minute.

Can you add to my list?

Monday, 13 October 2014

What we do to reduce our carbon footprint

We all want to reduce our carbon footprint...right?
Well when you live like we do here in our little humpy, the usual advice doesn't always apply.
There are thousands of 'Reduce your carbon footprint' sites on the internet, mostly giving the same advice. Have a look at just a few;
Australian Museum
Green Wiki

In general the advice seems to be;
Reuse and Recycle what you can (already doing that)
Eat less red meat (I think once a week qualifies as less)
Drink tap water rather than bottled water (check)
Buy less and buy to last (That's us all over)
Use less heating and cooling (no air conditioners here)
Use less electricity (ours is solar so it doesn't apply)
Wash in cold water (There's a hot water option?)
Don't fly as much (We can't reduce this; we don't fly)
Don't drive as much and use public transport (I don't drive and go everywhere on the school bus)
Shop locally, especially fresh foods (Yep)
Grow some vegetables at home (Yep)

What do we do to reduce our carbon footprint?

We use solar power only, no grid electricity. We do use a generator once a week though.

We collect all our own water via a roof and tank system, we use very little fuel to pump the water up to a header tank to supply the house via gravity feed.

We don't buy anything we don't need and all our groceries come from the local Co- Op.

We have a vegetable garden, which could be better but I'm working on it.

I don't drive, I go everywhere on the local school buses or car pool. My partner does have a car for work though.

We sort our rubbish carefully and reuse everything we can and recycle everything we can. Making eco bricks with soft drink bottles and plastic rubbish has been a big step forward in this area. So has our use of old tyres for construction materials.

Of this list there are one or two things we could do better;

My partner has a four wheel drive for work, it uses a LOT of fuel in the course of his working week; we do need to invest in a more fuel efficient vehicle so he can go about the countryside saving carbon (he installs solar electricity systems) AND producing less carbon. I wish there was a work horse type vehicle available in an electric option with a range greater than 200 km.

At the moment we use gas for refrigeration, I would like to change this to an electric fridge (and I dream of a freezer) but that will require double the solar panels we have now, a new set of batteries and maybe a new inverter (the thing that changes 12 Volt power to 240 Volt power).

We run our generator on petrol; it is used once a week for four hours to charge the batteries (just an extra boost) while I do the washing as the washing machine uses too much power to run on solar (although a bigger inverter would fix that problem). To get away from this fuel use we would need to either upgrade our inverter or build/buy a hand operated washing machine. I am swayed towards building a hand operated machine myself, but like all hand operated things it needs more time to do things that way. Maybe when I am finished studying....

What do you do to reduce your carbon footprint?
What else can we do to reduce ours? Ideas welcome.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Burning off; we don't, do you?

Well it's bushfire season again. spring would be my favourite time of year if not for bushfires. In this area most people burn around their homes before summer to protect them from bushfire, unfortunately the vast majority of bushfires start from these 'controlled burns' when the wind changes and the fire becomes 'uncontrolled'. The whole argument for and against burning can get very 'heated', we don't burn but we do take some steps to protect our home from fire, now and in the future.
The CSIRO is of the opinion that fire is an essential part of our ecosystem and that we need to continue the practice to maintain the bush. Most people seem to agree with the notion that the Aboriginal peoples used fire to change the landscape so we should too, but they seem to forget that fire was used as a hunting tool and to clear migration paths not as an ecological aid. Aboriginal peoples gradually changed the ecology by using fire; species that survive and even need fire gradually became more common and the ecosystem became more and more fire friendly.
 Many Australian species rely on hot fires to germinate seedlings, these same plants are usually the ones who drop lots of leaves in the spring, have very flammable bark and catch fire very quickly. Plants that have evolved to need fire for germination do everything in their power to produce the right conditions for fire (makes sense doesn't it). Species that do not use fire to germinate tend to have more water stored in their leaves and stems, have smooth, non flammable (to a degree) trunks and stems and do not catch fire easily.

My reasoning for not burning is that species who don't use fire and are not so flammable can find a haven here, around our humpy (at a distance of about 30 metres), and will slow the speed of fires advancing on our home simply by being less flammable. We don't need to plant them, we just provide the right conditions for them to germinate (I hope). Instead of burning I choose to graze the area immediately around the humpy with sheep. The sheep clear the long, dry grass, the smaller eucalypt saplings and the lantana (slowly) and keep the area fairly bare. We also have a huge clean up every fire season to get rid of any rubbish we have lying on the ground that may provide a place for sparks to ignite. By rubbish I mean household rubbish not tree heads and such. We are gradually working to clear several piles of tree heads within the 30 metre radius of the humpy, we use them as hugelkultur material and firewood, we clear slowly so as to not kill or immediately dehome the little animals that have taken up residence in them since they were pushed up about ten years ago.

You can see how bare the ground is around the humpy

Our humpy is in a terrible position when it comes to fire danger; in a saddle at the top of a hill, a fire can come at us from any direction and be traveling uphill (and therefore faster) and the humpy itself has lots of nooks and crannies that would be spark friendly. Still we are working to correct these things and we haven't had a fire here in the six years of our residence. We may be lucky enough to make our home fire proof enough to survive the next big fire season; as long as it's not this year.
Do you burn off around your property? Do you feel safe from fires?

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Its Spring, get outside

I love being outside; the sound of life busily happening all around me, the smell of flowers, hot earth and animals (even poop), watching animals and plants doing what they do and the feel of the sun and wind on my skin. At this time of year, if you live in a humpy, there is a lot to do outside which apparently keeps me healthy and will prolong my life.

This clip just confirms what I knew all along. I bet you did too.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Are we educating conformists

This post was going to be about pit toilets.....but I had an interesting conversation with my friend Megan about what schools should be like. This post is now going to be about the need for a paradigm shift in education.
I decided to become a teacher for very selfish reasons; I enjoy seeing children discover something new. I enjoy seeing the joy that glows on their faces when they discover that they CAN reason their way through and solve their own problems. I am discovering a dark side to the current system though; the insistence on conformity, from the highest levels of management to the students themselves. There is a written code of conduct for teachers in NSW, it lays out the behavior and duties of teachers and it makes a lot of sense, but there is also an unspoken code which consists of things like being called 'miss' or 'sir', even if being called 'miss' makes you look guiltily over your shoulder for the teacher, expecting to get into trouble for playing when you should be working. What is it about being called by a title that gives a person power? Why do we want to drive students to learning by the judicious use of this power, rather than trying to lead them to learning by making it fun?
I am just a student of the art of education, I don't know all the answers and never will (my perception is too small for that), but I do question what I can do to change education from inside the system and wonder if my musings are even valid.
According to Sir Ken, the modern education system is designed to inhibit divergent thinking; a talent which we need to continue to grow as a species.
This Clip of Sir Ken Robinson brings up some very interesting points; not least of which is the cookie cutter system we have evolved to teach our children what we think they should know in order to get a job. We can't know what the world will be like when our current students leave school so how can we prepare them for it?
I would like some opinions about what a good education looks like.
Whay are the most important subjects to teach?
Should we make full use of all the technology available to teach (iPhone, iPod, social media)?
Is the old fashioned way of teaching values valid or do we need to change?

Monday, 8 July 2013

Cultivate Social and Emotional Skills with Ecoliteracy | Edutopia

Cultivate Social and Emotional Skills with Ecoliteracy | Edutopia

This is a great post about environmental education. lots of information.
I became an environmental educator because of principle one of this post; empathy for all living things. Having empathy doesn't mean that we don't eat meat, it means that we give the animal we are going to eat the best possible life it can have and kill it quickly and as painlessly as possible and treat the sacrifice with the respect it deserves.

We have a grace we say which encompasses my philosophy perfectly;

"Great are the life forms that let us eat them,
one day our bodies too will be food.
Great is the Goddess that made things so yummy,
and great are the hands that make them taste good."

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Some background

I thought it was about time I introduced the Humpy. We moved to our bush block in 2008 and built a shed after living in a tiny caravan for three months with two teenage girls (incentives to build galore). Unfortunately my partner discovered that three walls will hold up a roof and deemed that to be shelter enough.
Since then we have successfully built a lot of ramshackle animal housing and got a few creature comforts for ourselves too.
Have a browse through the early days of the Humpy.