Bentley CSG Blockade: Open Letter to Brad Hazzard, NSW Minister for Police



Bentley CSG Blockade, NSW

5 May 2014

Open letter to the NSW Minister for Police, Brad Hazzard


Dear Minister:


I am a 71-year-old resident of the Northern Rivers of New South Wales and a Life Fellow of the Planning Institute of Australia.

I hold a doctorate in

environmental ethics from the Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy, Murdoch University.

In recent years…

In recent years, when you were the

Minister for Planning, you had a number of occasions to hear me speak on the value of community engagement regarding planning decisions that affect people’s lives.


Now I am writing you about  unconventional gas mining and, specifically, the Metgasco proposal to mine at Bentley in Northern NSW.


Bentley is just down the road from where I live.


I observed when you were Minister for Planning that you often appeared reluctant to listen to the voices of ordinary people speaking out to protect their homes and neighbourhoods.


Now we are speaking out to preserve the living Earth and the lives of all species for generations to come.



I am worried that you might use heavy-handed tactics as Police Minster. If you possibly had that intention, I seek to dissuade you.


A large group of conferenced residents – of all ages and political persuasions – is fighting to save the Northern Rivers from unconventional gas mining mining.


We are

fighting for our lives.


If you wish to be successful in your new position, I’d advise you to listen to the voices of the people of the Northern Rivers.


We know what we are talking about. We are not ratbags and we are certainly not taken over by factional interests. We are local grandmothers and grandfathers – and children and others – who simply want to protect the Earth.




Now is the time, Minister, to distinguish yourself as the Police Minister who was willing to listen.


We are willing to listen levitra for cheap real as well.


Please do not shut the door on conversations with the activists at Bentley.


We must Shut the Gate to Metgasco but we are open to talking with you.


We are peaceful, loving, non-violent local people seeking a better life for all who live on Earth.


We are singing our hearts out on the hilltop at Bentley.


We are singing for our lives.

Ironically, we are also singing for your life.



Kind regards,


Dr Wendy Sarkissian

[email protected]
























The Heat Dome: what can one woman do?

What can one woman do?

… when a woman knows she is to be hanged in a fortnight,

it concentrates her mind wonderfully.

After Samuel Johnson


Climatically, things are not well. The weather is crazy. The coldest Spring on record. Too cold to sit outside – in mid-May! The wettest summer on record is now predicted. And today, a derecho event, a long-lived, fast-moving thunderstorm, caused widespread wind damage in Ontario. Like a tornado. Climate change again!


My being trembles with despair.


When I was a young activist, we chanted Think global, act local. On principle, we agitated to prevent climate change’s negative impacts. Now I am reduced to adaptation. Does that matter? Will my small contribution be enough?


I reflect on the Before Time. In my working life I imagined myself as a bridge or a weaver. I combined community development and technical solutions. Making public housing safer for women. Or applying ecological design principles to parks and playgrounds while still making them fun for kids and restful for older people. I had a full life. I loved the interplay, the spaces in-between. But that work ended six years ago and I’ve faced some big challenges since then. Not the least was rebuilding my cognitive abilities and my confidence.


I’m surfing on my phone, aware that despair, my evil twin, is stalking me. Weather forecasters predict the return of the extreme heat emergency that struck British Columbia a year ago. Anthropogenic climate change. We brought this on ourselves!


I stop to breathe. My friends say I sound stressed. Yep. The Earth is dying and I feel guilty.


This bloody heat dome. Poor, vulnerable, old people bore the brunt of it last year. It’s always that way: climate change hits the poor hardest. In less than a week, nearly 700 people died here, most from heat stroke and heat exhaustion: nearly a 200% increase.


How could anyone let this happen? We know better. A few simple things might have saved all those people. And the problem wasn’t the heat. Many people are just plain ignorant about how to manage it. I didn’t struggle much. I had one bad night, similar to the hundreds I’d had in Australia. I used the old Aussie trick. Put a large beach towel on my bed. Soaked a towel, wrung it out. Aimed my fan at the bed and lay down with the wet towel on top of me. I slept for several hours.


Basically, ignorance killed many lonely, isolated older people. They lived alone in rental apartments in older buildings without air conditioning. The unlucky ones lived on upper floors with poorly insulated roofs. Some also suffered from anxiety and depression.


So, what happened with our emergency services, I hear you ask? Swamped! Completely swamped by emergency calls. The emergency services collapsed. Totally! They sent taxis to collect sick people. A fire inspector told me about one desperate family who pushed their grandfather in a wheelbarrow to the local fire station. He died of heat stroke en route.


I turn back to my phone. I must do something.


On the Web I find two clever suggestions from the City of Vancouver: (1) turn apartment lobbies and lounges into temporary cool rooms for older or vulnerable tenants; and (2) install sprinklers and portable misting outside building entrances. Excellent! I’ll start with the cool room idea. I live in an un-airconditioned 1947 concrete building. Perfect! I bet my neighbours won’t schlepp four blocks to our only cooling centre. Anyway, the City advises we should not go out to seek relief during a heat alert.




I’m reading Joanna Macy’s new book: Active Hope. It’s a practice, like Tai chi or gardening and we can apply its three simple steps in any situation:


(1) We take a clear view of reality;


(2) We find the direction we’d like things to move in or the values we’d like to see expressed; and


(3) We take steps to move ourselves or our situation in that direction.


Following this wise guidance, I get to work.


I don’t think my fragile neighbours would go to the cooling centre three blocks away. Older people can be funny old birds. I bet some will feel shy or hesitant about showing up at a cooling centre even if they knew what and where they were. I imagine one old person saying something like this:


What should I expect at the cooling centre? What should I wear? What do I need to bring? Do I need special permission to get in? How long can I stay? Do I have to pay? Do I need to prove I live nearby? Do they have bathrooms there? Will I be safe with so many strangers around? Can I sleep there? What about my purse, my medicines, my dentures, my walker, my cane? Can I bring my cat?


My view, my values and my steps. Here I go. I decide the secret is to stay home and help each other. Care for each other. Soon I’m dreaming in Technicolor: a cool room for our 65 tenants with a misting spray outside the front door. Chris and I measure the spacious lobby: 370 square feet. I send the floor plan to the fire inspector, a spirited young woman with dark, sparking eyes. She visits and gives my temporary cool room an enthusiastic thumbs up. Her senior officers love the idea, too.


A dozen more chairs will be fine. She’ll make a sign with the permitted occupancy level that we can post. We have a large industrial fan and deck chairs on our rooftop. No problems with fire exits because we have five ground-floor exits. And to cool us down more, we can stand under a patio misting system outside our front door. (Cost: $28, delivered.)


I’m dreaming in Surround Sound now, imagining a bunch of us old folks sitting around, chatting, laughing supporting each other, and sharing. Sharing, well pretty much anything: cold drinks, pizza, games… I’ve a music system and a cooler. We are sitting together, sharing our fears about what’s happening with our erratic weather. We have music. The room sparkles with laughter. We wander in and out of the cool misting spray.


My building superintendent is a gem who eagerly supports the idea. He nods, gives me his laconic grin, and I know we can pull this off together. Head office must decide, of course, he says. So, I email the downtown property manager. He refuses. Point blank. He spoke to his insurer. My cool room much too high-risk to even think about. Homeless people could wander in and hurt us, he says. Tenants congregating in our lobby could be trampled to death by their neighbours racing to the main door to escape a fire. (We have five ground-floor exits.) Such a gathering of hot bodies could become a COVID super-spreader event among my most vulnerable neighbours. And worst of all: “What if someone dies seeking refuge in our cool room? Our company would be responsible.”


Later he writes, “We are not a cooling centre.”


If I had a dollar for every risk-averse manager I’ve encountered in 50 years as a planner…


But I keep trying. I craft a list of simple “stay cool” guidelines for tenants. Like putting ice on your pulse points, setting up a cross-breeze, freezing a damp towel. If one person who reads them escapes a lonely, terrifying death, I’ll feel vindicated.


I email a few pages of my tips to the downtown property manager, who quickly replies:


I want to be clear that we are not authorizing you to share your draft notice with our tenants on our behalf and we don’t intend on consulting you further regarding our notice. Please be advised that this company will not be taking a leadership role in any public health measures or recommendations for our tenants, as doing so would be highly inappropriate and irresponsible on our part. We are not public health officials nor do we profess to have any expertise in the area. We are property managers.


What to do? Then I have an uncomfortable conversation with myself. Where am I coming from? Where does my hesitancy originate? Why do I fear that my climate change activism is not good enough? I remember my career as a community planner. Who cares about writing a few guidelines or encouraging a dozen overheated tenants to sit in a cool room for a few hours? That is not real work! Not real activism.


Blessedly, Rumi’s wise words interrupt my orgy of self-abnegation:


This talk is like stamping new coins. They pile up,

while the real work is being done outside

by someone digging in the ground.


Of course, the real work of climate change is not talk. It’s action, however humble. Hopeful action. It’s about care, about digging in the ground of our lives: community. Sure, I face limits. And I must set my sights high. I must regain my hope. I must show up. I am a climate activist so I must turn my back on fear and embrace active hope.


And when I look inside my heart, hope is exactly what I find.


I email Diane at my activist church. Of course, those wise, gentle people agree to distribute my “stay cool” guidelines to a congregation overflowing with older folk. I can talk about them at the next meeting. Next stop: Angela at the Red Cross. Their “Friendly Calls” program will distribute them to isolated people. And Susan at the West End Seniors Network. They will publish my guidelines in their next newsletter. Only three phone calls! I can go much deeper, much further… The editor of an activist weekly is eager to talk about cool rooms.


Before I can catch my breath, CBC radio takes up the issue. I do two radio interviews about the cool room idea. Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health issue a bulletin to landlords and strata managers asking them to relax regulations to permit cool rooms in building lobbies. My Aussie friends chime in sympathetically, explaining how to stay cool in a hot place. Soon LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are buzzing about cool rooms and “stay cool” guidelines.


Then I’m on CBC radio:


Maybe we will save lives, after all. I know one thing: to make a difference in our climate crises, we must understand what caring feels like.


I leave my desk and walk over to my living room window. A vertical curtain of raindrops shimmers. I open the window and breathe in the damp air. Below me, my city sleeps.


I breathe in hope.


And hope breathes me.

The Struggle for Little Mountain: Why You Should Help!

The struggle for Little Mountain…and my memories of Little Norway

I spent some of my early years in emergency housing in Little Norway in Toronto (right next to the Maple Leaf Stadium). Toronto was experiencing a massive post-war housing shortage and an Emergency Housing Program was implemented, making housing available to returning veterans. It made  a powerful impression on me. I remember it well, though I was only three years old when we moved in and five when we left. We lived in barracks that had been occupied during the War by personnel from the Norwegian Air Force. The site was at the front of Bathurst Street near the Lake. Some of the Stanley Barracks buildings were demolished and others converted to family housing for civilian use. Several families were living there by July 1946, when this photo of me was taken.

By August 1947, 772 people were living there, with many families with children. Lots of children! Some residents complained about unsanitary living conditions and lack of sufficient heating. Rents were $25 to $40 a month! (We paid $25.)

I remember that my mother was ashamed and fearful. Little Norway, she felt, was beneath her. She came from an upper-middle-class established family in leafy, sedate Orillia. Even a small child could sense that her mother felt she was slipping into a lower class. She wondered how and why she’d ended up in such a desperate and barren place. Her son had died at birth the year before and she was fragile and anxious. I now realise that she was chronically depressed.

My Daddy had just returned from the War. He’d been a RCAF wireless operator. He was not ashamed. He accepted his responsibility for military service (he was much too old to be drafted and had enlisted). Little Norway was, by his account, the only housing he could find during an acute city-wide housing shortage. We were eligible and he took it.


Camp Little Norway 1940

Camp Little Norway 1940, as a Norwegian Air base


I remember living in constant terror of polio. The young boy in the next apartment had it and he was crippled by it. I had to keep my distance from him. The hygiene of the shared bathrooms that were only occasionally cleaned also frightened my mother. She was often frightened and anxious for my health and safety. Our stay at Little Norway was short — not more than two years. And in just over three years, I had a baby sister and we were living in a brand new house in Vancouver!






Little Norway Housing for Returned Servicemen and their Families, 1946

Little Norway Emergency Housing, 1945

Little Norway Park

Little Norway housing is no more.


There’s a waterfront park where our housing once stood. See:

It does not feel right to me to find a park there when I visit in 2006 but I guess it’s progress. And cities always need parks. They were barracks, after all, not really permanent housing for families. But to me, as a small child, it was “home”.

I remember picking mushrooms in the neighbouring Coronation Park with my grandmother and marveling at how she could discern between an edible mushroom and a toadstool.

Little Norway was fine with me and I was fine with Little Norway. To me, it was big, not little. It had a big impact on my life.


Young Wendy in Little Norway ca. 1945

Young Wendy in Coronation Park near Little Norway, summer 1946





I am certain that this early exposure to the fear and stigma of housing for disadvantaged people made a profound impact on me and sensitised me to important social housing issues.


Here are some of my drawings, based on my memories (and one photo).


Little Norway from memory
Little Norway from memory

Little Norway site plan from memory

Little Norway site plan from memory

From Little Norway to Little Mountain

You can see that it’s not surprising that I’m a strong supporter of Vancouver  documentary filmmaker, David Vaisbord, who is giving everything he has to tell the compelling story of the Little Mountain

housing project in Vancouver.

 Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign


David Vaisbord has launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to help complete a documentary that has been six years in the making.



David’s story is a poignant one. Little Mountain is not a little story either. It’s a huge story and one we all need to know about. Understand. And share.


Had I been living in Toronto when Little Norway housing was bulldozed to make way for private housing and a public park, I’d have been seeking a heart-present filmmaker like David to help with the activist project of saving — or at least documenting — this precious gem of Toronto’s history.


Maybe more than just documentation could have been the outcome. As is the case with Little Mountain.


David Vaisbord’s project


David’s project has resulted in much more than documentation. That’s the magic of it.


David’s story of Little Mountain goes like this.    When the British Columbia government began tearing down the buildings at Vancouver’s oldest social housing complex, they had evicted everyone except three families, which refused to leave: a woman and her aged mother, two blind senior citizens, and a pensioner and her cat.  Together with the immense support of their community, the residents won the right to stay in the last row house on Little Mountain until new housing was built.

Summer time at Little Mountain

Summer time at Little Mountain

Mother and child on the grass, Little Mountain

Mother and child on the grass, Little Mountain



The action by the residents of Little Mountain and the community had a powerful impact that resonates today around the work.    Their activism – supported by the documentary filmmaker —  resulted in changes to Vancouver’s municipal bylaws.  

Finally, when the British Columbia Government tried a second time to evict the last tenants, the residents and their supporters staged an even stronger fight. And, with the help of their community, they brought a final defeat to the eviction process.




A sunny day at Little Mountain

A sunny day at Little Mountain










New housing

As a direct result of their courage and resolve, 54 units of NEW SOCIAL HOUSING for senior citizens are being completed on the site.

It’s the only new housing to be built on the 16-acre site.  It’s a triumph of community activism and it’s a story that needs to be told around the world.


We all need to hear about examples of “the study of success”, as Australian urbanist High Stretton called it, to keep our activist fires alight.


Vaisbord’s documentary will be complete once the former tenants move out of the last row house and into their new building.


I am eager to support this important project because there’s an inspiring and compelling story to be told about how a government was taught an important lesson about ethics and compassion at the hands of its most vulnerable citizens.


David Vaisbord is hoping to raise $50,000.


The money will go towards shooting final scenes, interviews, editing, and post-production.


David is offering perks that range from a precious ounce of Ground Social Housing, to a day-long workshop in hyperlocal documentary filmmaking, to an invitation to a personal dinner prior to the film’s premiere.


Are you able to support his important project? If you are, please visit his site before June 23rd, the closing date of the campaign!


For more information

See: The Little Mountain Film:  for more information and a link to the four-minute trailer on the campaign site.


Additional information can be  found on the campaign’s Facebook site at:


Contact David directly

Or contact David directly at his gmail account:  [email protected]


David Vaisbord in front of the last building

David Vaisbord in front of the last building

With all my heart I believe that this is a project worth supporting.


All of us who value public housing — and housing security generally — should cheer on this brilliant community-led initiative. And support David’s important documentary film.

Emboldened by the Bentley Blockade


It’s been ten days since the text arrived announcing the suspension of Metgasco’s license to drill for oil at Bentley.


Only ten days — and life has changed dramatically for many of us.


I search for a word for this new feeling and find an old one:


Embolden: “To give someone the courage or confidence to do something.”

What really happened at Bentley?




I did not camp there and visited on only a few occasions, so I can’t say for sure.


What I do sense is the aftermath–the spin-offs, the unintended effects.


At the final Bentley dawn service on Tuesday 20th May, Ruth Rosenhek begged several hundred cheering Protectors and supporters to go gently after the close of the Bentley Blockade, to keep up the warm hugs and looking into people’s eyes when she’d meet them in the street in Lismore.


Everyone was nodding agreement. We must not let this fade; we must keep this connection.



Most local people I speak with confess to having had a good long cry after the victory. I certainly did.


Some are in a shocked and fragile state.


Most are simply astonished.


And even those known as being “the voice of reason” admit the need to celebrate such a magnificent triumph.


Whatever happens next — here and elsewhere – the Bentley Blockade was a massive victory that Australia will never forget.


The ham-fisted tactics of a cowboy mining operation have brought forth the most sophisticated social action this country has seen in decades.


Metgasco has done us all a great favour.


We are emboldened. Our courage and confidence have been strengthened.


The Bentley Blockade is a powerful symbol for those who believe in freedom. Everything about the operation communicated care, love and concern.


What could be more heart-warming than the Camp’s beautifully tended vegetable garden?

The Bentley Vegetable Garden
The Bentley Blockade Vegetable Garden


“We who believe in freedom cannot rest”


When I was younger, I listened to Holly Near and Sweet Honey in the Rock sing Ella’s Song:


“We who believe in freedom cannot rest.


We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”


So many people – and so many older people – putting their lives on hold to camp in harsh conditions powerfully affected the rest of us. We cannot rest now.


All of my communications with local people begin and end with Bentley. “Go, Bentley” is a salute to all who showed they cared.




I remember — in 1992 — when I discovered that I was consecrated in the service of the Earth.


See: Wendy Sarkissian Consecration story 2012


My heart softened and opened. I ached with love. I’d wake to the shock that I loved the Earth. My heart vibrated with the power of that knowledge.


It’s that way now with Bentley. Waking with a yearning heart, soft and open.


I yearn to return and place bouquets at the Bentley gates.


In gratitude to the Protectors who gave us so much more than social action.


I bless them – all of them, that motley crew – for renewing my courage and confidence.


Emboldened, I turn my face to the morning sun.


I believe in freedom.


I cannot rest.


I am ready for more.










Emboldened by the Bentley Blockade


Metgasco’s “Community Consultative”: a Moment of Hilarity for the Bentley Blockade

I am old enough to have studied Latin in high school. It helps make me a good speller.

 A moment of hilarity

And today, Latin provided a moment of hilarity in battle to bring Metgasco to see reason about gas mining in the Northern Rivers.

The goss now is that Metgasco is encouraging its shareholders to write to the Minister Anthony Roberts and the Office of Coal Seam Gas and say – wait for it – that the community consultation they undertook for the Bentley tight sands gas site was excellent.

I gagged when I heard it.

So I thought I’d better have a look online at Metgasco’s community consultation policies – to give me something to assess them by.

Well, that’s where the Latin came in!

Here is the website at 10:35 am on Thursday 22 May 2014. For posterity.

Metgasco website Thursday 22 May 2014 at 10:35 am

Metgasco website Thursday 22 May 2014 at 10:35 am




I can easily imagine the desperate in-house conversation in the Metgasco office, which would have gone something like this:







Fred, we gotta get some sort of consultation policy online while we’re negotiating with the Minster and the Office of Coal Seam Gas.

You know that stuff. It’s easy to write. Just a few bullet points. Any sort of placeholder will do, Fred.

Just get something up and get it up quickly and make sure it’s got all the usual buzzwords in it. Got that, Fred?

  And Fred (or Freda), bless their heart, did not realise that on a website and a blog you have an option to go public. (Or stay private.)

Metgasco is public with their ungrammatical “Community Consultative” Latin page.

Here’s what it says in Latin.


Community Consultative

Sed odio nisi, lacinia eu interdum in, varius sit amet arcu? Maecenas aliquam sapien in ipsum dapibus bibendum. Quisque ac justo nunc. Quisque vulputate sem vel est adipiscing pharetra! Praesent interdum magna in quam dapibus sit amet ornare augue euismod.

Suspendisse facilisis condimentum lacus eu suscipit. Pellentesque eu enim lorem, vehicula iaculis nibh.

Quisque egestas leo a purus feugiat et mattis augue mattis. Nullam sagittis tempus enim ut laoreet.

Nulla mollis, est vel accumsan dictum, ante tortor ultricies enim, eu fermentum purus est at augue. Praesent scelerisque erat vel ante tempus tempor. Nunc imperdiet auctor eros nec mattis.Phasellus interdum varius tellus id bibendum. Mauris elementum mauris auctor magna venenatis vitae luctus libero imperdiet.

Nam euismod, arcu a accumsan malesuada, sem mauris vestibulum libero, sed rutrum mi eros vel augue.

Duis scelerisque, massa eu mattis dapibus, mi nisi elementum lorem, quis hendrerit justo nisl sit amet augue. Maecenas congue varius justo, et placerat est auctor ut. Curabitur pharetra justo non magna ullamcorper fermentum. Praesent imperdiet aliquet erat sed molestie. Maecenas orci justo, pellentesque id tempor ut, facilisis a ligula.

 And here’s what an on-line translation yielded. My favourite line is this:

I’m a great quiver just, do not worry yeast.



 But the hatred unless, on the fringe of EU is at times in the is various cancer cells? Learn some Tips for the same protein drink. Each and just now. Korea’s beef, whether the scenario is immigration processing! So sometimes it’s the tips on how to decorate the likelihood of protein is an important investment.

 Americans spent to improve the park fun and exciting. Technology that your kids for their vehicle, the vehicles targeted options.

 Anyone want a lot of research and a lot of travel attitude. Here’s arrows, for the time is to be proud of.

 No soft or scientific sense, window glass for computer troubleshooting is free at the company. It’s a crime, either at the time. Now the financing of the United States or mattis. Phasellus sometimes variable region this dynamic. Important source of data elements to create the magic of free software financing.

 For more, player-oriented styling, a lot of drugs manufacturing department, but to help my team or organization.

 It’s chocolate, the mass of the football a lot of protein, my dear, unless the element of the Internet, which of the players Bureau to the righteous, It’s OK. Developers across the various equity and real estate is the seller. I’m a great quiver just, do not worry yeast. It’s modern, but it was effective employee. It’s the United States, the just, the kids that time had been when, easy of a bonus.


If this is what Metgasco want us to read about their community consultation policy, that’s fine with me because it accords perfectly with that we’ve experienced in this region. That it’s incomprehensible.

I live only 40 kilometres from the proposed Bentley gas well.

I am here, on my half-acre property — just up the road. Waiting.

Nobody knocked on my door, nobody rang, emailed or asked my opinion in any form.

And I get lots of mail and the local post office is very reliable.

I get lots of phone calls and emails.

All my communication systems are working fine. Metgasco: the problem of non-communication must be at your end.


  • Am I not a “stakeholder?”

  • Not living close enough?

  • Not likely to be affected?

  • Not seeking influence?

  • Not caring about my health and that of my community?

  • Not one of the “usual suspects”?

Until this morning, I thought Metgasco’s community consultation policy did not exist.

Now I know it does exist.

But it’s in Latin.

I think I’ll keep my gate locked, just in case.

While I wait for the English version of Metgasco’s “Community Consultative”, whatever that is….

And while I wait for the phone to ring.

UPDATE 5:14 pm May 22nd:

Fred or Freda are on the job at Metgasco.

A neighbour emails that “Community Consultative” (in Latin) has been removed from the Metgasco website.

In its place, a long, self justifying letter from the Chair about how great the community consultation has been and how it’s even better than the State Government’s community consultation. Eek!

I searched for the Metgasco Community Relations Policy while I was at it. It’s half a page of bullet points!

These folks need help!

Meanwhile, the rest of us must go gently.












The Sun also Rises



The sun also arises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to its place where it arose.

It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other;

nothing is deprived of its warmth.


I’m not much for reading the Bible but I love the odd aphorism. And lately, Ecclesiastes’ “the sun also rises” and Psalm 19 have been ringing in my head.

So I thought I’d better unpack what it meant to me.

Recently, the Beloved and I sold our rural property.

What? I hear you gasp? After all these years of struggle as owner builders?

Yes, that’s true. After all those years of struggle. Being a niche, green, feminist, left-wing, activist consultant was a difficult balancing act – especially throughout the Global Financial Crisis.

I blogged about that in January 2014:

Work was hard to find and debts mounted as the house was still not finished. All our savings and super went into the building project.


We love it. But professional work did not come as expected.

A loving friend has bought the house and we stay on as renters.

Now we are engaged in another project: renovating the shed as a secondary dwelling. Living on a building site again. Muddy boots in the hall. Again.

Many friends and family were aghast to hear that we’d sold the farm.

But what else could we do? It was either a loving friend or the bank. And we did not want to lose everything we had worked for.


So I say back to my incredulous friends, “The sun also rises.”


What I mean is – through the same trees  – with the same birds singing – the same sun still rises and sets– whether your name is on the title or not.


If you do not own a property and are a renter, the same breeze blows, the same kookaburra arrives for a peek at life around dinner time. His or her same family members laugh in unison from the neighbouring tree. The same rainbow lorikeet dreams in the same bottle brush.



The same joey suckles with his same wallaby mother.

I am not saying that housing security is not important. It’s everything to everyone and a constant worry to anyone who is a renter. It’s everything to us, which is why we bless our generous friend.

I am simply saying that life goes on.

The Earth continues to flourish – offering hope and opportunity in response to our caring (Go, Bentley!).

The same sun rises and sets.

Our human dramas are but a small and ephemeral part of a much larger world.

We come and go and the Earth remains.

Capitalism, finance, banks, mortgages, investments, interest, valuations and property – they are all made up – and they can’t hold a candle to the same sun.

The same sun that also rises.


sunset nimbin





Update 23 July 2015: The sun is still rising over the hills and melting the fog in the valley.   And we have experienced even more love and care with a new friend taking over when the old friend could not continue.


And other generous folk helping out in numerous ways. We have learned more about generosity, caring, home, attachment, territory, resilience and fear than we bargained for.


And a bit about betrayal along the way, as well, just to keep the mix interesting!