Category Archives: What’s New

11Mar/16

Z-Day 2016 Australia

Ahoys me harties! Time to share what we’ve been working on for several weeks. ONE WEEK TO GO… eek!

12829253_10153298941637063_1003943142188672465_oI must give a huge thanks to Paul from the New Globe Theatre who basically gave us the venue to use. We’ll be returning the favour by focusing time helping him where needed and to assist in the defence of habitats, and of course to help 4ZZZ Eco-radio, Sea Shepherd and the other organisations I contribute to. A perfectly named venue don’t you think, ‘The New Globe Theatre’.

Also biggest thanks to Casey, our wonderful coordinator at TZM Australia, truly an honour working with you! And of course, to the rest of the TZM family and guest speakers/presenters.

Another massive thanks to me good ol’ pal of many many years Stephan who with his lovely lover are performing a set for us for free as their amazing band The Flumes. So some beautiful music to sooth the ears while getting a free professional massage, sipping a martini and chomping on a some vegan delights!

And of course a huge thank you to 4ZZZ the station that loves us all, I could never be doing what I’m doing without their endless support and love they share with me.

There will be free yummy vegan food and some of the most amazing presentations, all together under the one roof.

This is a free global event, everything is free, (oh except the drinks sorry) – as TZM we are working towards freeing humanity from the shackles of this detrimental and destructive economic system, one of the core tenants if you will. We all do this in volunteer roles, and use our own treasures to fund the parts in need of funding.

We truly hope you can make this event and support us in this. Sharing this event to get this out there for us would be wonderful! As we head towards a better existence for all life upon the Earth, and this beautiful planet restored to it true beauty.

If you’d like to be involved in some way, or wish to know more, send us an email or reserve your free ticket on Eventbrite. TZM are one of my favourite bunch of kind souls and more than a pleasure to contribute to.

RESERVE A FREE TICKET AS THERE ARE LIMITED SEATS IN THE THEATRE

Thank you!!!

L*
‘For the Oceans’
‘For the Forests’
‘For the Earth’

confirmed timetable

20Feb/16

Integral Philosophy = Zeitgeisty Education Strategy

As a #solarpunk writer and embodier of positive future living, I have long pondered how to “do primary school education right”. This month, my curiosity for learning about alternative approaches to bust the mainstream way-of-things-to-be-done led me to visit Brisbane Independent School (BIS) in the Western suburb of Pullenvale.

bis-tree-webI had met one of their teachers at a party and asked him so many questions that he invited me to their monthly open day morning tea, which happened to be a few days later. I was excited – I have driven past the BIS sign for years and wondered what it was like. Finally I would get some answers!

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BIS is community-run (half the board-members are parents) and has existed for 50 years. It is one of Australia’s few truly independent schools with no religious or other ties (like Montessori or Steiner schools) whatsoever. Its size and structure has changed a lot over the years; today there are 60 students, prep to Year 6, so 4 ½ to about 12 years old). Most of BIS’ changes happened because the school’s teaching approach has constantly been adapted based on new findings in educational best practise.

Yes, you read that right – Brisbane Independent School has been implementing and testing scientific findings on education for the last 50 years!

As a result, BIS used to be tres laissez-faire about 25 years ago but has since become much more structured. However, compared to the rigidity of mainstream schools, BIS is extremely flexible – and gorgeously so. Which makes perfect sense because as we all know, once size (or approach) does not suit all…

The isolated nature of the hectic cityIt is the first Wednesday of the month @9:55AM and I am greeted by trees, meadows, birdsong, gorgeous properties and a lawn-mowing Shetland pony (not the school’s!). BIS is located in the semi-rural Western suburb of Pullenvale, just off Moggill Road.

IMG_02301I breathe deeply. What a setting for a school! I meet another lady who is checking the school out for her super-cute young daughter. Together we find our way to the parents’ room and it’s all really casual and friendly. We fill out an info form (Reason for visit: Research for TZM and my novel), have some biscuits and listen to the princip’s introductory talk. Jen talks fast and likes to have a laugh, she is full of passion for her work and has lots of energy – good energy. I already feel like enrolling myself in this school (this feeling grows stronger over the next couple of hours, and is shared by the other visitors!). There are four other parent teams or mothers apart from me, a couple of young children who I quietly envy because they might be able to attend this school one day, as well as a student’s mum who is helping out in the background.

Parents’ involvement is an important part of the running of this school, or rather, school community. Parents attend curriculum meetings, working bees and help out in various ways – without getting in the way of their child’s development of course. It can sap on kids’ confidence levels if they feel like their parents spend time at the school for their sake, rather than because they have a job to do.

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Jen briefly explains the school’s Integral Development Strategy, which translates into an extremely well-researched education philosophy centered around the individual.

From the BIS website:

“What is an Integral School?

Simply put it means we use Integral Philosophy as the core of our values and daily experience at the school. Integral Philosophy (Wilber, 2000) draws together a variety of human development models into one coherent system. Integral acknowledges the thousands of researchers and developers who’s theories have been coordinated into one model.

“What if we took literally everything that all the various cultures have to tell us about human potential – about spiritual growth, psychological growth, and social growth – and put it all on the table? What if we attempted to find the essential keys to human growth based on the sum total of human knowledge now open to us? What if we attempted, based on extensive cross-cultural study, to use all of the world’s great traditions to create a composite map, an all-inclusive or integral map that included the best elements of them all. “ (Ken Wilber)”

Click here for more detail on Integral Philosophy

Then we go for a look around. The three classrooms are huge and comprised of several areas for different learning content. Arts, Numeracy/Literacy, Play, fish tanks and for the older students IT and Science equipment.

KIRA-FILMINGThere is a library, a big hall, a heavenly arts room and big verandahs that lead to inviting outdoor areas with a massive sandpit, vegie gardens, several grassy areas with playground features and shade-giving climbing trees.

IMG_0233The increased demand for this type of education means there will be a fourth classroom (and teacher) next year and – hopefully – a high school in the next few years.

As we walk around and check out the different spaces, barefoot kids in colourful clothes (bare feet are the norm, plus no school uniforms) are playing in the garden, some are reading, a couple of girls are still in the classroom finishing their workbook exercises. A lot of the education here is self-paced and a lot of assessment is going on behind the scenes – who needs extra help with spelling, reading, maths or time-management? Who is not coping and why, who needs extra emotional support?

The isolated nature of the hectic cityJen and her team of three full-time teachers, three full-time teacher aides and a couple of part-time aides certainly have their hands full. Here the community aspect of the school comes in handy, as parents come in to help out in-class (on the day that I was there, a student’s doctor father was coming in to do a Wet Lab with the older kids dissecting toads or cow eyes or whatever it was – I’m sure we all remember that day of biology class…I spent it sitting on a table near the wide-open window, sticking my head out as far as I could while breathing through my mouth and trying not to retch). It is really interesting to learn more from Jen about the different developmental stages that make kids tick a certain way at a certain age, time and place.

values-chartBut how, you ask, does this work? Three classrooms for six or even seven grades?

A BIS day involves three different learning sessions comprised of activities that teach the Australian curriculum. At least during the middle session, children move fluidly between the different classrooms. Aha, that is why Jen could not answer the question of how many kids there are per grade. This flow is based on their individual learning style, on what learning goals or projects they need to complete and what their developmental levels are. Sometimes it can be scary for younger students to visit the older kids’ classroom for the first time, but it usually turns out to be much less scary than anticipated and staff provide plenty of help along the way. Plus, if children really do not cope well, they can always turn around and try again later. This usually just means that they have not yet reached the next developmental stage – no biggie, they’ll get there. No pressure!

Click here for more detail on the different classrooms

The isolated nature of the hectic cityThere are weekly Yoga and Jujitsu classes and the afternoon schedules relaxation and breathing (aka stress management) exercises as well as quality playtime.

YogaSeems crazy, and it involves a much deeper involvement in each individual to ensure no one slips between the cracks. It’s fascinating and really makes sense when you see it in action.

There is no homework for the first few years as there is no evidence suggesting that homework is beneficial for young students! When BIS students do start to get homework, it often becomes a fun activity because learning does not have the same stress attached to it from a young age. In normal schools kids’ spirits are being crushed by an iron homework regime from the start. So they have to sit still at school and learn, and then do more sitting still and learning at home in the afternoon? Crazy. That time should be reserved for playing, rest and self-expression!!

Kmareephotography-SHOOT7-57-of-139There is no punitive system, but the school does follow some basic rules and teaches consequences. For example, one consequence of unruly (pun intended, and makes me consider the word “unruly” in a new light) behaviour might be losing your license to use the arts room for a week.

The teachers have weekly meetings where they discuss every student’s progression and developmental stage, making sure they are supported as holistic as possible. BIS teachers also do lots of personal development through weekend workshops and bi-weekly training in non-violent communication and integral philosophy.

The school follows the Australian curriculum and there is testing but it is not taken overly serious by teachers and parents – resulting in students who are not overly stressed like those in mainstream schools. NAPLAN testing is done at BIS but parents can decide to pull their child out if it becomes a major stress factor.

“The Naplan test day is a day like any other at BIS.” says Jen and, as I look around, imagining myself over twenty years younger and enrolled here, I believe her.

And somehow, it all comes together and works. BIS graduates do really well overall, they do degrees and get into all kinds of fields later on. The transition to high school can be hard for some, but then it is easy for others – just like with kids from mainstream schools. At least BIS kids have been learning for years how to deal with stress, how to resolve conflict and and how to express themselves in different ways. Apparently one former student expressed her surprise at the “emotional immaturity” of the other kids at her new high school.

After two hours and many questions (most of them asked by curious me while the “real” parents are busy with their kids and wondering whether their family might fit into this school) I walk back to the car park. The school’s mission is “to nurture, develop and trust our pupils’ innate love of learning and positive values” – they tick all the boxes and I feel empowered knowing that futuristic school design is not so futuristic after all, just hugely undervalued. How I wish that more schools could follow this really rather simple (yet by no means easy!) and intuitive approach to educating our little ones. Unfortunately Brisbane Independent School is one of only a few schools in the world that follow Integral Philosophy.

Tying it back to the train of TZM thought, I enjoy linking the concepts of Integral Philosophy to our transition as one Earthly People towards awakening and system change. The transition to a NLRBE (Natural Law Resource Based Economy) has many different developmental stages and so does each human being. The evolution of mind, body and soul clearly happens in bursts, mostly out of whack with each other (mainly because our system is so out of whack), sometimes in blissful harmony with each other.

Each of us has a slightly different process, a different recipe for learning and living, and most of us do not enjoy being pushed into anything – be that into learning institutions, belief systems, economic structures or new thought trains.

Our own education is really quite an intimate affair, especially as we grow into double-digits and begin to search for meaning and passions. We need to explore on our own sometimes, into different directions, guided by teachers, rather than being forced into one-size-must-fit-all scenarios which persist only because they are cheap and not challenged on a large enough scale.

Education is one of TZM’s big focus points– not just for adults but also for children. The UK’s TZM Education project is already kicking some serious arse by going into schools and presenting (un)common sense to our future generations. And even though many of us Geisters choose not to procreate, we have many teachers in our midst and are passionate about finding ways to “get education right” in preparation for a NLRBE. BIS is a stand-out example as well as a most interesting case study of a self-organising system, and I believe there is a lot to learn from its – sadly – very unique approach to education.

05Jan/16

Visit to Christie Walk and Adelaide Chapter

The Brisbane chapter of the Australian Zeitgeist movement has been visiting communities near to Brisbane to analyse what it takes to make a community and what factors make communities work. The latest visit was 1,600km, well outside our usual visits and comfort zone. We had the opportunity to meet with another chapter, Adelaide TZM, which while it may seem like a regular occurrence for some international chapters, was a mastery of the “tyranny of distance” Australia enjoys.sa meetingThe tour was organised not without complaint, due to the $40 fee per human participant. Given our large numbers, -Simon Cole- did try to reduce it somewhat. But that $40 fee seemed to be part of the external resource acquisition model for the community in question, which does bring into play what factors make a community truly sustainable in the long run.

12234897_10153651757626011_1982126279163074358_nThe tour was pre-buttered up with snacks and the promise of more to come, which seemed to quiet the masses of which we now numbered around a dozen. The walkway into the community was impressive, with a large tunnel entryway built to handle trucks, and adorned with artwork depicting the history of Christie walk. The entryway was not only aesthetic and socially gathering in nature, it helped physically support the final addition to the community, a 5 storey apartment block that served as the main living abode, the shared communal room and the fully functioning shared “laundromat”.

The first place we were shown was one of the largest ( and first constructed) houses towards the rear of the block. The usual residents were away and had generously allowed us to inquisition their lifestyle. I was immediately taken aback by the warmth of the interior, both in a scale of Celsius and of the soul. The back yard was ornamented by a food and aesthetic garden. My personal favourite decoration was the old rusty tuba light fitting hanging from the upstairs room supports. I must admit I have a slight soft spot for unorthodox garden decorations and the musical instrument I played in my last years of high school, which was the tuba. The most impractical of all instruments bar the piano.

inside cwThe high set support beams were made from reused Oregon timber from a nearby warehouse, more than enough to support the structure, beautifully reconstructed and preserved, as if deliberately within a museum. The walls were especially thick, constructed of concrete and plaster sealed compressed hay bales with a layer of hebel (autoclaved aerated concrete) to give support more than insulation. The double glazing and door/window seals combined with the natural 3 storey design gave enough insulation to the house that even in the worst 4 day heat waves Adelaide has to offer the house only required ceiling fans and not air conditioning. While not “mud, organically grown hemp brick and sawdust” the house offered a balance between the modern consumer culture construction materials of down-town Adelaide and living in a hand thatched stick house designed to be constructed on an income of less than $2 a day. Paul Downton was the architect of this house.

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There are a few things to be said specific of Adelaide housing that do not apply to many other areas. For a seaside city, it suffers huge heat extremes. From sleet (minimal snow) during winter, to blazing hot winds from the deserts of central Australia, the temperature can vary from -3C to 45C in as little as a week. The Australian natural disasters it does avoid are flood (its sea side and flat), earthquakes and cyclones (hurricanes/tornadoes/typhoons). It does have very reactive soils, 1.5m rise/fall seasonally is not unheard of. Building a solid foundation and a steel-reinforced concrete slab have overcome this, but of course this detracts from the sustainability of the construction. The house in question, however, has a >100 year lifespan, eclipsing modern Australian building techniques by 60 years.

12278716_10153742545547090_2654338970530196775_nThe next question is what happens once people actually have to live there? Well, the orchestrators of Christie Walk do have a lot of help from those thick sound-insulating walls. But of course whenever they venture from those walls into their community, problems do occur. The community does have a “conflict resolution process” documented, but they haven’t actually had to use it yet. That appears to be because the housing is so well set up and the initial participants were so well matched. However, it’s also because only the well-educated and affluent can afford to live there; those who (in this case) happen to be stable and attracted to a sustainable lifestyle. As the older residents move to retirement homes and the younger generation inherit their share of the land, so does the torch of responsibility pass on.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe property “ownership” and “stewardship” are very much tied to the current economic system just like the building approvals were. The land is owned within 3 corporations. The first was the owner of the whole block and the purveyor of the land to the first stage of construction, the separate apartments at the rear of the block. The second corporation was established to build the second stage, the rear adjoined housing. The final stage was a corporation to construct the 5 storey apartment block at the front of the premises . Each corporation is required to hold annual general meetings and report income to the Australian Tax office. The corporations are “strata community title”, something unique to New South Wales and South Australia, although NSW has effectively wiped new titles under this scheme in 2015.

balconyThe succession plan of this community is to some extent at the mercy of the dollar, in that the inheritants of the community who are not necessarily interested in living there, can easily sell their space on the open market. Free market speculators come along, buy and sell shares and alter the members of the community to feed their own profits. The market profiteers will slowly but surely fill the tenancies with whomever can pay, rather than whoever is best suited to add value to the community by living there. This community is subject to that, because the community corporations can’t legally decide who can or can not live there so long as they can afford to buy a share.

The occupants are not a random demographic of people. Far from it, simply to afford to own even a shared premises in an Australian city one needs between $200,000 and $1,000,000AU. Furthering the narrowing is the fact that almost all the current occupants have university degrees in varied backgrounds. This excludes the lower socio-economic class from the community, as does everywhere else within the CBD of a major Australian city.

The self sustainability aspect of this community has risen above the purely economic means of the participants, who could easily afford to simply buy everything they need within walking distance. Much of the food and energy needs are met within the community itself. Numerous gardens including a spectacular rooftop garden for stage 2 (including 2 bee hives ) demonstrate the goal of self sufficiency within this community. There is ample solar hot water and photovoltaic systems, although the residents do pine for an excess to sell onwards to the grid, and there was no apparent energy storage or “island-mode” electrical systems installed to allow true energy self-sufficiency.

ladyAs an interesting side-note, many of the occupants consider themselves “klepto-parasites” borrowing or “unauthorised borrowing” whatever they can to reuse the waste the rest of the city can’t be bothered to use. The rented properties are popular with Flinders University professors and postgraduates, adding to the intellectual discussions in the common room for the duration of their intern-ships. The members of TZM (well Simon Cole actually) gave a great introduction to what we are all about to the community over a delightful lunch put on by the members of Christie Walk themselves. We seeded the idea of vertical hydroponics in place of a simple vegetable patch that would produce much more for them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe community laundry, I have found, is the most interesting part of the tour, if not the most pleasing to the eye. Communal bicycle, recycling, gardening and eating all take a rear seat to this as far as I am concerned. The community collectively , without an actual leadership, decided to establish this model. It worked without some members wanting to be involved, yet once established, everyone has used it. Its principals are simple. Collectively buy a washer and a dryer so good, so industrial, that it sits outside planned obsolescence and is easy to repair should it break. Share collectively its use, repair, upkeep and replacement. This dull white room was the most hopeful part of the entire tour for the engineer inside me, even if its doesn’t make for a good closing statement.

So I will end with this: economically entangled systems of community do exist within Australia and they do work, but without our support and participation they will be lost to ideas such as inheritance, ownership and council planning. It is up to each one of us to support and learn from such models if we are to build a larger and therefore more sustainable earth-wide community within our current paradigm of the developer-capitalist-built city.

20Nov/15

For the open-minded critical thinkers

Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to have a legitimate reason to visit beautiful Byron Bay. Not that you ever really need one to visit one of the most progressive small towns in Australia… and some of the most scenic beaches, home to pods of dolphins and visiting whales.

Thanks Kyle Taylor "Hey Byron Bay, this photo was taken by me during a freedive in winter shot with the GoPro Hero 4." Follow Kyle on Instagram www.instagram.com/kylextaylor

Thanks Kyle Taylor
“Hey Byron Bay, this photo was taken by me during a freedive in winter shot with the GoPro Hero 4.” Follow Kyle on Instagram www.instagram.com/kylextaylor

Nestled in the most Eastern corner of the Australian mainland, Byron Bay seems to attract a range of forward-thinkers – artists, sustainable entrepreneurs, activists and innovators. Byron hosts two Steiner Schools, a council that is working towards 100% renewables, passionate buskers who have independently made it big-time, and stories of people who were once so terribly caught up in the current zeitgeist you would have thought it impossible for them to find their way out… but did. People like Steph and Mark Darwin, who started the Truthology Foundation, which lead to the event I actually came to attend – The Freedom Summit. As described on their website, it’s “an engaging selection of international and local speakers covering topics including civil rights, sovereignty, money & debt, the government corporation, food safety, the environment, climate, consciousness, sustainability, health and well being”.

As a disclaimer, in previous years, Mark has said to come to this event with an open mind. Now, as the adamant Zeitgeist Movement supporter I am, I’ve obviously been on the journey of discovering the truth about our social, political and economic system, so I believe once you’ve made it to this stage you need to have a somewhat ‘open mind’.10382213_932123330156808_3946799193995422186_o

However, I have found in a fondly satirical sense that Zeitgeist supporters such as myself do often seem to have more of an inclination to jump on logical fallacies and poorly researched claims very quickly, to protect ourselves and others from supporting any particular could-be charlatan. Which I must say, makes us look like a bit like a bunch of pessimistic sceptical critics at times… not the open-minded peace-loving activist we’d like to portray. And I’m not denying that this distinct characterisitic of the Movement isn’t essential, but it can sometimes intimidate other people outside the Movement who DO actually understand where the core problems of our system stem, but are exploring some of these controversial issues.

I’m talking about highly debated issues like vaccines, chemtrails, alternative medicine, GMO’s etc.

Whose blood is already boiling?

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Well, mine isn’t. I don’t want to start a discussion about these particular topics – but more about ways of thinking. I’ve decided to take Mark’s advice on this one – apply an open mind – not to shonky science, poorly researched claims or evidence, logical fallacies or bullshit slogans – but to other people who are on our side, who have gone down the rabbit hole and understand that our economic system is a fraud, and take that default position in NOT trusting the government.

I want to create bridges between those of a similar mindset – not barriers. Noam Chomsky said it himself – “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum….”

It seems at the beginning of this journey, it’s all about discovering the problems, but it gets old and repetitive after awhile. I’m now more interested in meeting motivated people, connecting people with complimenting skills, and to work on things that we do agree on – which is building a community of people who want to find solutions… and to make them happen. And I found that generally the people who attended and spoke at the Freedom Summit were like this – solution-focused.

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One inspirational activists I met there was Kip Andersen, the creator of the Cowspiracy documentary, who shared in an entertaining way, how detrimental the cattle industry is to the environment, and discussed the real implications of consuming beef and dairy products. After his presentation I was fortunate enough to have a quick chat with him (before going for a quick dip in the ocean) about my struggle with transitioning from vegetarian to vegan. I told him how much I love cheese – and he insightfully shared how addictive cheese actually was. His approach was empathetic and understanding, but very encouraging. It was a pleasure to be able to connect with someone who has worked so hard in uncovering the negligence in Greenpeace’s environmental campaigns.

Kip Andersen

Me with Kip Andersen, Cowspiracy Filmmaker

Other notable presenters included Damon Gameau from That Sugar Film, who talked about the negative effects of the hidden sugars in so many popular food products; Max Igan, who shared heart-wrenching stories from Palestine and his research on ISIS and Israeli military funding; Paul Madden, who brought to the forefront the outrageous mass genocide going on in West Papua all in the name of profit; Nicky Mih who gave us an update on her Free to Shine project protecting girls in Cambodia from the sex trade industry; and Gunham Badi Jakamarra who spoke of his experience uncovering the fraud of the Crowns’ claim to Sovereignty over the tribes of Australia.

Unsurprisingly, but much to my disappointment, the Australian government wouldn’t allow one of the most anticipated speakers into the country – Ken O’Keefe, an ex-marine who renounced his U.S citizenship after becoming fed up with injustices, and now spends a great deal of his time sharing his knowledge on false flag operations, including 9/11. Check out one of his interviews here.


Fortunately, he was able to skype in for fifteen minutes from Bali, carrying a powerful message of empowerment and positivity.

IMAG1799I also met other activists in the stall area who were promoting their Earthship courses, books, health products, organic foods and much more.IMAG1766

I was only able to attend for the Friday and Saturday so I finished the eye-opening experience with the most enlightening and well-prepared presentations I’ve ever seen, by Lyn White of Animals Australia. Lyn shared her experience as a police officer, then as an investigator of animal cruelty especially in factory farming, live exports, puppy factories and greyhound racing. Her presentation was underpinned with the fact that animals feel how we feel and suffer how we suffer. That the acts of violence in the name of meat production produce mass suffering… and that we have a responsibility to make change. I was moved by her dedication to the cause and motivated to continue striving to make the planet better for other earthlings too.

IMAG1800A big thanks again to all people involved in organising and supporting this enriching and powerful event. Click here for more information on the Freedom Summit.

22Oct/15

Zeitgeist Media Festival Wrap-up


The lead up was full on. The program was tight. The sound equipment was always going to pose challenges. And the Brisbane chapter of the Zeitgeist Movement mastered all challenges, learned many valuable lessons on the way and put on an event that will be long remembered as fun and chilled-out while also being informative and carrying a powerful message of empowerment.

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The day began with the setup of the venue. What a strange feeling to be at the iconic Rumpus Room in the heart of West End at 9.30am! We moved seats and tables, put up fabric across windows to display art and set up the creative corner and workshop tables with art supplies. Blu Tack was in high demand. We set up a clothes drive outside for all those people who were in need. All the while the tech team was busy sorting out cables, leads, stands, speakers and and and… it was a great feeling to make the venue our own!

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Our members started trickling in. More art, more instruments, cakes, board games and helping hands. Simon Cole’s beautiful banner designed by Casey went up above the front doors. What a team!

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It was nearly 11am. Where are the people? Ah well, we don’t start till 11.30 anyway. Give ’em time, we know what it’s like. No stress – that had been our motto all along, and our generous hosts at the Rumpus Room had added to that vibe over the months – Nathan and Leon are the most chilled-out guys an inexperienced event organiser like myself could have hoped for! Then the guests started to arrive.

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We started at 11.30. Casey rocked the mic in her usual nonchalant style that we all love and admire.

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Our first musician was Damien Cooper who had traveled up from Lismore. A worthy opener for ZMF 2015 delivering a mix of excellent covers and original songs with a gorgeous voice, aided by a fancy foot pedal and some fine guitar skills.

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Next up was John Gordon, a one-time environmental engineer, long-time activist against coal mining and fracking, and singer songwriter from Alloura in the Darling Downs. His songs carried a powerful message. Australia’s mining industry is rampant, corrupt and does not take into account the long-term impacts of its operations. Check out John’s protest song “Australia, whore of the world”, it gives me goose bumps every time.

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Rhi Smith was up next. An aspiring actor, she performed the final scene from Charlie Chaplin’s movie “The Great Dictator”. More goosebump material. And the technical feedback issues from our mix and match sound gear did not faze Rhi in the slightest – as she said herself later: The show must go on! And what a visionary Charlie was, ripping into capitalism like that almost 100 years ago!

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Then it was my turn! Presentation time! And time to drive the Solarpunk train right into my eager audience. I was finally feeling a little nervous. All seats were filled, standing room only – everybody was curious to hear about this brand new genre which aligns perfectly with TZM’s visions and values. Positive future fiction, anyone? Yes, of course I also plugged my soon-to-be-published Solarpunk novel “The Last Patriarchs” as well as my dream/plan for an artist collective in Brisbane, Australia and the world!

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And then it was finally time for The TZM Brisbane Band to show and tell. Anita Diamond, Aceso, Barry Kopittke and Clayt Tomson started jamming together when we began to organise they performed the TZM theme song, the Rise Against cover ‘Hero of War‘ and even an original composition. Great conscious tunes and we look forward to hearing more!

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We had scheduled an Open Mic Session next, but everybody seemed to have such a great time mingling and networking that we ran with the way things were going. The festival vibe really was in full swing. The creative corner was bustling, Zac’s board games were getting a work out and Lafe’s Charlton’s workshop had people get in touch with their inner child.

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It was great to see our visitors checking out the artwork from a range of local artists – the inspiring paintings of blockades in Tara and the Pilliga State Forest by environmental activist Frida Forsberg (who is now part of Brisbane’s ‘Clean Air Alliance’ that is campaigning to get coal trains chugging throught 21 suburbs covered to protect residents from coal dust) – the beautiful, trippy and at times haunting drawings by Liezl Le Roux Garbrielle Fernandez’ inspiring comics that convey complex topics in a simplistic way – the animal photography by wildlife carer Jess Gibbins – the interactive puzzle of the world by Minou Duval which carried several powerful messages for peace and unity – Aceso‘s gorgeous Peace Angel hugging Earth to her chest – the Lojban showcase by Timothy Diamond. On top of that were drawings by Casey, James Hill and myself as well as prints of inspirational Solarpunk and TZM-themed art.

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The place was buzzing. So much networking, so many chats. So much appreciation for each other. The vibe was so chilled-out, pretty much like all of TZM Brisbane’s events, which is one of the many reasons why I love to be a part of it!

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After the break it was Aceso’s turn to give a voice to nature and transport us collectively to another world. Seriously, she was SO good. Everybody said that, not just me. On the piano, then on the guitar, all the while mesmerising us with her beautiful voice and performing all her own material. Neither Casey nor I had the heart to stop this talented young woman (and just maybe we forgot to look at the time, too…) and Aceso went a bit over her time slot – but what the heck, we had done so well staying on schedule so far! Leon and Nathan weren’t fazed about a slightly later end to the day of course, and Aceso finished her set even though we probably could have listened to her for another 45 minutes…

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It was time for our short film and trailer! And time for some serious sound hickups, not that our camera woman Candice Stone was thrown off by that. She is a film maker with a mission and her speech moved us all. Muddy Scales is a community-based documentary highlighting the Great Barrier Reef and the coastal developments, especially mining, that are building alongside it. Mining and its fallout have a massive impact on the reef, the land and the community. Near Mackay the pristine homeland of the local Aboriginal community is threatened by the Urannah dam proposal which is supposed to supply water for the proposed Carmichael mine in the Galilee Basin. Candice spoke about the generosity of the people she met on the way and about the love for this land, this Earth, that makes us stand up to corporations and governments. Muddy Scales will be out soon, exciting times! We would like to thank Candice once again for taking time out of her busy schedule to film our event and wish her all the best for the journey ahead!

And here I should mention our very special guest Scuppers, the semi-wild Goose who had come all the way down from Cairns. She has her own facebook page advocating for her home – the ocean and the reef and the great land that is not just our home, but also hers.

“We have a special guest here, it’s a goose. Can she hang out in the outside area there?” I asked Leon, just another oddball request for the day.

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“Sure, of course, bring her in!” he replied, unfazed, sharing a memory about his own escaped pet goose. So Scuppers joined us in the Rumpus Room and supported Candice, and what a personality this gorgeous bird has, what a powerful voice of nature!

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Our closing act was Epoxy Love from Bindarabbi. TZM Brisbane visits sustainable communities all around Australia and met this lovely duo on one of our recent excursions to the eco community. Mic and sound issues prevented Jade and Christopher from performing together, but their music and message was loud and clear and full of humour and insight. More love, less fear. We look forward to see you perform together at our next event!

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Time for prizes and closing words! The mic’s had had enough. Ah well, I can raise my voice good and swell.

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We had three $250 gift cards to give away that were generously donated to us by deep grey photographic studios. One went to Leon and Nathan from the Rumpus Room (and I sure look forward to see their portraits up on the wall there soon!), one to Candice and her campaign (seriously, she added so much to our event by offering her help and expertise and I can’t wait to check out the final edit of our big event! Get to it, editor-in-chief-Eris!) and one to said Eris and Matt who formed our tech team and did an absolutely stellar job with the mixed and matched sound gear.

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After another big thanks to our hosts, all helpers and guests (and a call-out to anyone who could help with the pack up) it was over. Not that it’s really over. It feels more like it’s the beginning! The buzz in the air, all the new connections formed…
TZM Brisbane is alive and kicking, and we look forward to building a bright, positive future, full of sharing and collaboration, in an RBE where we can have festivals like this one all the time!

One massive thanks to Comet, who is not just one of our members but also hosts EcoRadio on Brisbane’s much-loved and always supportive local community radio station 4zzz. Thank you for your untiring work and love for the planet – your support and connections definitely brought our event up a few levels!

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And of course a huge thanks to all our other helpers and guests who came and made this event so special, including those who brought yummy healthy snacks.

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Our theme for the event was empowerment. What we realised in Saturday was that we were not just empowered by the amazing performers and artworks, even though that was a big part of it. But rather, our whole group was empowered by putting on this event. I myself got huge doses of empowerment as the main organiser, having never done anything like it before. It forced me to come out of my introvert’s shell, liaise with a range of people, extend my network and learn to stay centered and calm under pressure. The event empowered the team spirit in Casey and me as we reflected over post-festival drinks what a great team we make. The appreciation and gratitude from our members, guests and artists translated into an uplifted, empowered Zeitgeist in all of us, and that is our goal after all, not just for TZM Brisbane, but for the whole world!

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Additional photos and videos coming soon.