Open Day for Earth’s Future (& how to do more with less).

Built in the 1830s, Cleburne Historic Homestead is registered with the National Estate and the National Trust. It sits on four acres of mumirmina land in Risdon, and is considered a jewel of historic architecture. This was the venue for a recent Open Day for the Future.

After attending a Community Climate Expo in 2020, the current stewards of the land at Cleburne were inspired to hold an event that shared with others their appreciation of the past and deep concern for all our children’s future.

Permaculture Tasmania (PT) was one of many groups that filled the verandah. Each stall sharing information for making informed choices, finding strategies and learning practical skills to respond to the climate emergency.

PT chatted to visitors about stacking functions (Mollison’s Principle 2) which is also at the core of Integrate rather than segregate (Holmgren’s Principle 8).

To take greater action on climate change in Australia (and all developed countries), reducing consumption is a no brainer. Doing more with less is a fundamental permaculture principle and a choice everyone can make within their own context. Choosing the “right” inputs and using them wisely – with care for people, the planet, and fair share prioritised; is good permaculture design / living.

[Switching to first person here to give examples. Editors/grammar sticklers, please look away now and take a couple of deep breaths to ease the transition 😉 ]

Image source

Because garden examples demonstrate permaculture principles in action so well, we had borage seedlings on show. Borage stacks functions like a boss and you can read more about that here.

But what does function stacking look like beyond the garden? Simply, when adding to our homes or days, we choose things or arrange tasks (inputs) that provide multiple benefits as a result (outputs).

Leaving the house is a commonly offered example: Listing a number of errands to knock over while out and making a habit of bunching them into one “run” saves time – and money, if driving. So when I go the community garden to water I also function stack with pulling weeds, listening to favourite podcasts, and having time by myself if no one else is around. But having left the house, this will also be the time I pick up books on hold at the nearby library, collect spent coffee grounds from the cafĂ© next block over. And on my way home I can drop off or hunt for (or both) items at the op shop/tip shop or swing by the local grocer if I need anything.

Another: When I walk my dog, I’m not just making her day. Life at home is calmer with a tuckered out doggo.
I can pick up lemons from a neighbour and again will sometimes listen to podcasts if walking the streets. Regular neighborhood walks with Betsy has flagged foraging opportunities while she takes her time sniffing a pole. Or I spot new plants in season that might be useful for my studies or garden. And when we walk in the bush reserves I get to listen for birds, spot wildlife, pick up litter, and enjoy being surrounded by the the bush. Plus exercise too. One task – multiple benefits.

An example of things: When looking for a rolling pin last year I asked friends what they liked about theirs. My favourite response described a rolling pin (shaped somewhere between a french and a pastry rolling pin) that was also great for using one end to compact cabbage and veg into vessels for fermenting. It was made from a beautiful Tasmanian hardwood which was pleasing to look at and lovely to handle. I think it may also have served as an effective walnut cracker. Always the goal is to find more ways to do more with less.

Getting better at stacking functions in everyday actions and choices can deliver a multitude of benefits. One of those benefits includes reducing the resource consuming habits and clutter of over consumption.

A big thanks to PT member and volunteer Serena King, for buddying up on the PT stall ensuring we could have a full day presence at this event. The Open Day for the Future was a sold out event and despite terrible weather still had almost 300 attendees come through. Congratulations to Grey XR for organising and managing the day so well. We were in good climate minded company with representatives from a number of other climate organisations:

Australian Conservation Foundation
Australian Electric Vehicle Association
Australian Youth Climate Coalition
Clarence Climate Action
Climate Resilience Network
Good Car Company
Grassroots Action Network Tasmania
I Want Energy
Sea Shepherd Tasmania
The Greens
Quaker Earthcare Witness
XR Youth
XR Regenerative Culture
XR Letters to Grandchildren
XR Grey