October has beena time of production and harvest for me. Visiting Japan again for the Life Speaks tour was invigorating and full of new potential – how wonderful it was to reconnect with the growing Slow tribe of Japan!

Among the many highlights (report coming) was the Soil and Peace festival in Hibiya park – how beautiful to see faces of such joy, hope and practical knowledge about how to live sustainably under the looming office towers of the Tokyo concrete jungle. And the incredible experience of riding in a horse pulled cart through Kokobunji (thanks Yorita-san), connecting the station with café Slow. I will never forget the look on the face of the man in the snazzy sports car that pulled up beside us– watching us with a smiling expression that said (to me): “wow – I have the latest sportscar – but that buggy is even cooler…wonder where I can get one…”.

It’s true, I think the Sloth Club and the Slow movement is the ‘coolest’ trend in town. I was blown away by the massive ‘thermos’ advertisements in Tokyo station and all over the Yamanote line encouraging people to bring along their own drinks, and the fact that so many restaurants now have re-useable chopsticks…maybe the zooni campaign has really made a difference…congratulations Sloths!

But now I am back in our little forest oasis in Australia enjoying the fruits of non-labour. Seriously, I haven’t really done much at all in my garden, just set up a simple permaculture system where the plants look after each other – and take a look at these pictures. The first harvest of my solar powered grey water recycling system – a delicious bunch of bananas!

Yes, those world famous banana plants that also provided the Living the Good Life’s festival’s vegetarian hut with banana leaf serving plates!!! All the kitchen waste water from my house goes into a ‘grease trap’ filled with filtering charcoal (from our many celebratory bon fires), then into a banana circle. So simple and it doesn’t cost anything – and provides a food resource! (Why do we humans tend to make living so complicated and expensive?...)

The other banana circles (also planted with comfrey, yarrow and canna lilies) double as my compost heaps – and all sorts of interesting food grows out of them – this time it is some kind of pumpkin. The garden is alive with many different kinds of insects and lots of bees on the Chinese cabbage plants going to seed – seems to keep everything healthy. I only spend around ½ hour a day working in the garden, watering, pulling out a few weeds, harvesting for meals…it really is so easy and so fulfilling.

Over the past two weeks since Japan though, most of my time has been spent behind a computer screen…cringe…I’ve been working on the very serious matter of writing a business plan for a new company I plan to launch soon called: slowsmallsimple. Actually its really everything I’ve been doing for the past 20 years and that I want to keep doing for another 20 years – just a little bit more formalised and perhaps more organised…My aim is to be able to support my family, while inspiring a sustainable lifestyle shift – a Culture where Life Matters. Any extra funds will support community projects in ‘developing’ countries with threatened forests, like Ecuador and Sarawak.

And, of course, I’m still involved with the school P and C committee. At the moment I’m proposing a new community builders program (over 3 years) to engage and stimulate the local community towards a happy, healthy, sustainable and resilient future…hmmmmm…..yes, maybe just a little bit ambitious! But (as usual) I feel compelled to act – with joy and a positive vision.

Pacha and Yani (and Ollie) were so happy to see me again – and very happy with the natto I brought back for them from Japan! Pacha has just had her dance concert – she shines with joy when she dances (I wonder if all Mums feel like that when they watch their children perform?). Ollie has become more affectionate since my return – seems he appreciates me more!

We are all very excited about Kae coming to volunteer with us from December (the garden will be amazing!) – and by fantastic luck, I could buy (funded by the Life Speaks tour) a funky, retro caravan (built in the 70s), lovingly cared for by its last owners and a perfect place for visitors to stay! We now have lots of inside house space for about 10 people at a time, so you are welcome to visit.

Love, For Life,

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