Sand Talk, by Tyson Yunkaporta
Sand Talk

Over the break I was given Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World by Tyson Yunkaporta.

After finishing it I wanted to share my excitement with my family and friends but my clumsy attempts to relate what I’d just read never got much beyond “How good is reading!” 

My difficulty explaining Sand Talk got me writing some thoughts down.

Tyson Yunkaporta works at Deakin Uni as a senior lecturer in Indigenous Knowledge, he belongs to the Apalech Clan from Western Cape York but his ancestry is Nungar, Koori and Scottish.

With his work, his clan and his heritage Yunkaporta treads carefully across one cultural tightrope after another (I could see him joking in his way about walking beneath them most of the time).

In Sand Talk Yunkaporta brings in drawings, sacred objects, jokes and occasional feedback from the spirit-world to help tell a series of yarns delving into how our economy, education system, Protestant work-ethic, smartphone addictions etc have shrivelled our connection to each other and the Earth.

The yarns, often at Yunkaporta’s expense, roll through Indigenous history, pattern language, nineteenth century Prussian child-raising, modern day Aboriginal burial rituals, even the depression experienced by thousands of viewers of James Cameron’s 2009 movie Avatar, all add up to reveal in one way or another how Indigenous thinking could help industrial societies get through our current climate and ecological emergencies.

Early on Yunkaporta tackles the big question – Why are we here?

With the hope of getting onto real business Yunkaporta casually proceeds to answer in short order explaining our species’ role….

….We are here to care for the Earth – plain and simple.

Immediately I want to know what I can do be the best environmental steward I can be -stopping flying, going plastic free, investing our Super more ethically all flash through my mind.

Yunkaporta has other ideas about building sustainable connections and relationships and believes starting with “I” is not the best place to begin solving complex social and environmental problems

Instead he suggests beginning with “us two” adding more and more diverse “us two’s”, always staying open and adapting along the way.

It’s the kind of book that in one moment fires up my child-like neural pathways as I read about the importance of keeping my child-like neural pathways open but in the next is making me feel so tired I fall asleep in my chair as I try to absorb how Indigenous thinking can treat space and time as the same thing.

In one of these Sand Talk naps my mental divide between city and country breaks down – the water in my tap is the same as the water in Lake Tali Karng, the air in my lounge room is the same as the air above Waratah Bay, the environment in my fridge is just as much the environment as the slopes around Falls Creek

I’m not sure what to do with this but it’s not how I thought about these things before I nodded off.

Sand Talk makes me rethink the big things; work, spirituality, sending our kids to school, the nature of cities, my ongoing war with the blackberry down in the bottom paddock. 

I know it’s a good book because for now I’m totally stumped over all of them.

Bringing it home

This year’s COVID-19 travel restrictions has left many growers critically short of the  pickers they need to bring in the harvest.

This week Kane Busch (that’s Kane above) from Busch Organics in Lindenow ploughed in 50,000 celery plants because he didn’t have people to help harvest them. 

So many other growers are in the same position.

Thinking of a field of broccoli or stone fruit or grapes that has taken so much effort to get to harvest being left to rot is heartbreaking – to a farmer it can be the difference between being around or not for next season.

If you or someone you know is looking for a working experience unlike anything you’ll have in your life drop us an email and we’ll help put you in contact.

Have a great week



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