The Retrosuburban Rich List 


David Holmgren, aka the co-originator of Permaculture, is coming to CERES in October for a conversation about his new book Retrosuburbia; The Downshifters Guide to a Resilient Future.

I’ve been reading this latest chapter in David’s 40 year Permaculture journey and beneath the practical strategies on retrofitting our houses, gardens and neighbourhoods David is constantly re-examining what it means to be wealthy.

It brings to mind the Rich Lists” published each year  ranking the Bill Gates’s, the Geoff Bezos’s, Gina Reinhardt’s and Frank Lowy’s of this world – counting up the billions they have gained or lost since the last “Rich List” was announced.

Allied with our fascination for which person has the most unimaginably largest pile of cash there are any number of wealth creation books promising us exponential growth in our own investment property and stock portfolios.

Among all the fuss it’s interesting however to note that scientists studying well-being report that earning anything beyond $70,000 a year doesn’t seem to make much difference to our general happiness.

In Retrosuburbia David Holmgren takes this thought further describing a way of living that flips our culture of maximum accumulation on its head and asks us, in the face of an uncertain economic and climate future, to reconsider what true wealth is.

In doing this he suggests that our current notions around affluence aren’t permanently fixed just ideas we’ve become acculturated to living through the consumer age.

With this paradigm shift in mind I’ve developed my own Cosmo-style Holmgren Human Wealth Indicator Survey as a tool to help us re-evaluate our current wealth statuses.

For every question you answer “yes”, score a point if you:

1.       Have at least one person to share life’s important moments with and who accepts you completely – including the unattractive and less evolved parts?

2.       Enjoy good physical or mental health and access to free healthcare when you need it?

3.       Have time to spend with loved ones, family, friends making passata or beekeeping?

4.       Live near a natural place you can walk, ride, swim or gather edible weeds in?

5.       Have neighbours who also think knocking down shared fences, planting nature strip orchards and pot-luck dinners are awesome ideas?

6.       Perform a meaningful vocation 3 days per week (4 days max) alongside like-minded people?

7.       Know of somewhere you could grow a few veggies or keep quail, chooks, or maybe keep a goat?

8.       Regularly smile, say hello or stop to chat with three or more people while walking to the local shops, fix-it café, school or food swap?

9.       Have access to a tiny house you could get away to for a quiet weekend?

10.     Often find yourself with an abundance of eggs, fruit, compost or credit on your power bill?

11.     Can walk, ride, PT or car-share to most places you need to go?

12.     Are able at short notice to borrow a cargo bike, sewing machine, hammer drill or get hold of a kombucha scoby?

13.     Have been given three or more home grown,  preserved, knitted or handcrafted items in the past 12 months?

14.    Know somebody/somewhere you could go to if you wanted to learn how to build a composting toilet, develop a food coop app or finance a co-housing development?

15.    Belong to a group you regularly swap seeds, attend working bees, rescue food waste or sing ukulele songs with?

16.    Know that if your house was swallowed by a giant sink-hole you’d have a place to stay, friends to help clean up and someone with a ute to go find new things on next council throw-out day?

17.     Feel that as you age you will be able look after yourself, be near like-minded people and generally be well-cared for?

Interpreting your score;

1- 7      Check out David’s book –  this is an exciting time to be an Australian suburban dweller, there are opportunities to divest and engage galore.

7-10     Comfortably well off  –  Consider yourself “doing alright” with plenty of upside to come in your journey.

11-13   Wealthy – wow you’ve made the transition and some kind of thanksgiving street party is in order.

14-16   Ultra-rich – like you’re living the retrosuburban equivalent of owning a super yacht in Monaco only with a chicken tractor in Thornbury.

17         Blessed beyond measure – no doubt you are spending a lot of time sharing the surplus of your extraordinarily bountiful life with your Sustainable Street-mates.

The wonderful David Holmgren will be in conversation at CERES Sunday 10.30am,21st October


New Food Host in Oakleigh East


On the first week of term 4, (that’s in two weeks) a brand new Food Host will open in McKenzie Court, Oakleigh East, with the first delivery happening on Wednesday 10th Oct.

We’d like to give a warm welcome to Evonne and her family.  Evonne has a great passion to bring organics to her neighbourhood and is currently keenly spreading the word around her local raw/vegan scene!

Have a great week



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