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



Dear Friends,

This truly is a Slow Mother diary! so very slow. I am sure it happens to you too, so much happens that there seems to be no time to share the stories as they speed by! I know that many people who read this blog have had the chance recently to hear the inspiration and knowledge of that great teacher in action, Satish Kumar. By a lovely coincidence, my friend Sally McKinnon from the Ethos Foundation is organising his tour in May for Australia.

So here (finally!) are some news updates.
I was not selected as the lead Green senate candidate for my state, but I will probably be the 2nd or 3rd candidate on the team and was selected to be on the campaign planning team for the upcoming national election (sometime between August and January 2008). So my life is still very busy on political issues (if you are interested in reading more check: www.anjalight.com). I would very much appreciate any help for this campaign and would like to put out the call again for volunteers to come and help us (more information below)!

In quiet Ayr the weather is cooling down and it is time to plant vegetables again, here in my garden and at the school too. Over the past few weeks I have been spending more and more time on the computer, writing media releases and responding to local issues, brainstorming campaign ideas and expanding local networks. It is hard to see results in this kind of campaigning. It's always much easier to see change when you do things in your own life growing vegetables, riding around on your bicycle or watching your electricity bill go down as you use less energy. One deals with many more words and one deals with actions!

Pacha, Yani and I are all very well, healthy and active. Pacha has just learnt how to ride her bicycle without training wheels and we now all ride to school. Yani is doing beautiful art work and always impresses me with his attention to detail (he loves colour matching his clothes). We have also recently returned from a visit to my family on the Gold Coast - enjoying quality family time and playing in the ocean.

Our next travel plans are to Palm Island (next week) - only 2 hours by boat from nearby Townsville. This is an island that was used as a dumping ground for Queensland's indigenous peoples. Families from many different tribes were forcibly moved to the island mostly so that their lands could be taken by white settlers similar to the strategies used in Hokkaido. It was also used like a penal colony aboriginal 'trouble maker'were sent here throughout the 1900s. It is 素amousas one of the most violent places outside a war zone (according to the Guinness book of records), and also a place where Aboriginal people are struggling for their rights.

In 2004, an Aboriginal man was killed by police and there has been a growing movement calling for justice on this issue. Around 3000 people live on Palm Island, but there are only 320 houses. Services like education and health are controlled by the state government and so do not reflect the real needs and wishes of the people. Palm Island is a lush, tropical island, but almost all the food needed here is brought in from outside.

Pacha, Yani and I going to visit the island to connect with people and celebrate the beauty of the place (in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef). I will bring my guitar and a big package of seeds from Seedsavers. We will meet with local people involved in some projects or local initiatives and see if there is any way we can help. Perhaps sharing the story of Slow tourism that empowers the community to create their own vision of a sustainable and hopeful future will be useful. I will let you know how our visit goes.

In June, we will travel to another beautiful place, Shoalwater Bay, near Rockhampton, to protest a massive military exercise. For two weeks beginning 19th June, nearly 14, 000 US military personnel along with 12,400 Australian troops will take part in live aerial, ship to shore and land based artillery bombardments in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area which is partly within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and is habitat to many endangered species including the endangered dugong and green turtle. The Peace Convergence will be a peaceful gathering in the Shoalwater region on 18th 24 June 2007. You are invited to join us and hundreds of people from around Australia for peaceful protests against these war games. Please contact me if you are interested.

The countdown is coming for our return to Ecuador - still planned for early 2008. Before we go we must let go of everything we have collected to make our some in Australia and to find a good family to look after our house and garden. Harder than anything else is getting go of my family for however long we will be away. My Mother is now in her mid seventies and it is a hard thought to be so far away from her. Of course, we also have family in Ecuador and all of the 銑uque痴ide are very excited to see Pacha and Yani again.

I also want to make sure that I am prepared to be useful in Ecuador by doing things like re-activating the volunteers program, organising the next the alternative expo, developing alternative education options, helping organise more Slow tours and providing a safe, stable and stimulating base for Pacha and Yani at El Milagro.

So, the life of a Slow Mother and her family goes on!

Love to you all,
For Life, anja