A worthy aspiration is to become tree-like. You pick a good spot, make the most of the natural forces that comes you way, and soon, just by growing to your destined shape and not stopping, all sorts of creatues turn up. They meet and greet (and sometimes eat) each other in the shelter you provide. They will look after you while they are at it, bringing nourishment and support as a side effect of whatever it is they go about doing in their lives. There will be magpies and possums and moths and mushrooms, a party every day. My Sydney household was like that. So was my Melbourne household. Even my little Tokyo apartment had a community of people and animals and plants that gathered there.
Not many trees get to throw their all-creature parties in different locations. I've been practicing though, practicing the art of making Permaculture-powered, Cecilia-flavoured households. Its always when they are at their most flourishing and loved that they come to an end. But I know the recipe and get quicker and quicker at re-creating them.
If you know somebody who wants to create a convivial, love-filled permaculture paradise house, send them my way. I can guide them in choosing the house, people, the 'cultural guidelines' that will have it all work out. I'd love to see a whole city of such households, and get invited to their dinner parties.
Whats worked for me is:
1. Great houses. Historical, not new. 4 bedrooms at least, big gardens, high ceilings and a large central room, with friendly neighbours and 10 minutes from the city. I was patient, and got all this in both Melbourne and Sydney.
2. Chickens. The enthusiasm and earnestness of their characters sets the tone, and they turn our rubbish into perfectly packaged gifts every day, for us to collect from the garden. Chickens get us living our days floating on gratitude, and in turn giving to each other.
3. People with a dream. Potential housemates don't need references, they just need to have something lovely aspiration, freely-chosen, that they are pursuing. 'I want to bring aromatherapy to hospitals in Japan' said one nurse-housemate. 'I want to make earrings from Japanese paper, and sell them at markets' said another. You are in! It takes a village to make a dream happen, so they will need me for advice and encouragement, and this makes us see each other as blessings, and be good to each other.
4. Sociable Introverts. Observant, curious, and with a good capacity for freely-given effort.
5. Diversity of income: High-paying interesting Airbnb guests, medium paying interesting long term guests, and wonderuful volunteers staying for free and creating amazing things for us all.
6. Non-diversity of cleaning standards. 'If you leave dirty dishes around I won't actually complain. I'm your housemate, not your mother, and that would be no fun. Instead, I will advertise your room. I'll probably re-choose you though, because you are so lovely.
Permaculture's co-founder David Holmgren has just released 'Retrosuburbia'. Its theme is how we don't need to run away to wilderness to save the world, we can do it by fitting more people and more conviviality into the pre-exisiting suburbs. Retro-fitting what we've got, and turning it into the world we want to live in. That has been my mission too, from the very beginning of my Permaculture life. I'm so pleased to see that Cecilia and her shareable house philosophy made it to David's book. Buy it if you like. Or just email me for the bits on how to be tree-like, and just by being you, create a place that your exact favourite kind of creature seeks out and joyfully swoops down on. 'I'm home!' they will say.
You made it happen for them.