Today I looked out my window and saw that the mango tree has flowers.
This should be good news (yum! mangoes!), but it is actually frightening – they are flowering 5 months too early…Our natural systems are out of balance…We now have such overwhelming scientific evidence proving climate change yet witnessing the reality of the incredible changes taking place in our lifetime is still a deep shock.

And everything else seems to go on like it always has – governments and people seem so slow to change. In this sad country Australia we still spend billions of dollars on weapons and almost nothing on renewable energy. Recently there has been a lot of media here about ‘clean coal’ technology – new science that has not yet been proven but is a desperate attempt to justify the big profit fossil fuel coal industry. The government plan to encourage nuclear reactors is also building and we now will begin to open up new uranium mines.

I have been selected as the number 2 senate candidate for the Queensland Greens in the upcoming federal election. This means a great opportunity to raise awareness and encourage people to take action.

Last weekend Pacha, Yani and I stayed at Palm Island. It was like returning to Ecuador; a tropical paradise troubled with poverty, but brimming with potential. The Australian government spends millions of dollars each year on welfare payments and ‘projects’ for Palm Island but things don’t seem to improve. The population of 3000 people still share only 320 houses, most people live on a diet of fish and chips and coca-cola, there is a shocking alcohol and drug problem and children are often neglected.

I saw an article in a newspaper saying that a new house would cost $400 000 to build on Palm Island. I can’t understand why this can be so expensive. Why can’t volunteers be allowed to help construct lower cost ecological houses using some materials that could even be found on the island (eg. there are plantations of pine ready to harvest).

Like Ecuador many of these projects are ‘imposed’ by well-paid consultants from the outside, are very expensive, have little or no follow up and are almost doomed to failure. A simple, small, slow approach may be much more successful.

One of the ideas of the local council and other community representatives is the potential for income (and jobs) on Palm Island from tourism. This reminded me of Yakushima where our Sloth Club member, Tessei Shiba, has such a profound insight to a new type of tourism that is truly ‘engaged’, sustainable and honours the indigenous reverence and knowledge of the land and it’s spirits. Can Palm Island, in the beautiful Great Barrier Reef, bypass the mistakes of ‘tourism as usual’?
All I could do this time was bring some non-hybrid seeds from Seedsavers and share stories, songs and ideas with our hosts Robert and Svea Pitman. Next time maybe I can bring a group of ‘Slow’ friends from Japan, or a volunteer to set up permaculture gardens or build a straw bale house.

Pacha, Yani and I are very excited about my mother coming to visit soon. I am borrowing a sewing machine so we can get started on making hundreds of ‘Be the Change’ flags for bicycles and big Greens flags for election day. It always feels good to be doing something practical and ‘hands-on’to get a positive message out there!

Remember, you are welcome to come and help us here in Australia anytime. The garden here and at the school needs a lot of help – and there will be many exciting and inspiring campaigns ahead (like the Peace Convergence in June).

Love to all, For Life, anja,pacha and yani

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