9th December, 2009

Dear Friends,

I hope this finds you well. Thanks for your support for our ‘slohas’ tour
last year. I’d like to let you know I will be visiting Japan again next week
and hope you can let your friends and networks know. You can find more
information about my schedule at http://www.sloth.gr.jp/top/top.html

During this short visit, the Sloth Club, Keke the Koala (
http://keke.sblo.jp/ ) and I will be launching ‘morinokoe’ - a movement to
protect the worlds remaining native forests.

Twenty years ago, I first visited Japan. I was following the trees being
cut down in Sarawak, Borneo. I quickly realised that most people in Japan
did not really understand or think about where the products they were using
every day came from. Most people were so busy just trying to live.

Ten years ago, we started the Sloth Club. We wanted to make it fun and
enjoyable, empowering and inspiring to be involved in the environment
movement. We encouraged people to consume less and enjoy life more. And
there are many positive changes, as more and more people are feeling
empowered enough to find true happiness without destroying life.

But the world’s last native forests are still being cut down and we’re
probably the last generation that can save them. In the case of Australia,
almost all the trees are turned into woodchips sent to Japan to make paper
products like tissues, toilet paper and office paper. So we are asking for
your help to use less paper and to ask paper companies to please import only
woodchips from plantations. After the 20th December, please check out
www.morinokoe.com to find out more.

Pacha, Yani and I live in Australia now (
http://anjaslowmotherdiary.blogspot.com/) in our ‘slohas’ house (
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZ2fgaz5se8), but my heart (like yours) is
beating for the whole Earth. It is challenging time and an exciting time.
People are hungry for positive solutions - models of a lifestyle that is
gentle to the Earth and is full of joy and happiness. We are creating new
cultures together by having the courage to face the truth of the global

I look forward to staying in contact with you,

For Life,

Anja Light

PS. If you do twitter, you may have fun following "kekethesloth".



November 2009

My head and heart are bursting - I’m on the rollercoaster of campaigning
again and its not very slow. Over the past few months, I’ve done less house
building and put more energy into trying to protect our native forests. It’s
a familiar feeling, after 20 years of campaigning, with lots of highs and
lows. It’s empowering and frustrating at the same time, and I am so lucky to
have my children, a beautiful place to live and my garden to bring me back
down to Earth when it all seems too much to bear.

The great news is that our house is almost complete. The composting toilet
is running well (no smell) and the solar panels on the roof produce more
electricity than we use in the house. Our garden is feeding many native
animals (possums, kangaroos, bandicoots) – and even we get some of the
produce from it! There are many projects for the New Year, including a
pirate ship treehouse and chicken coop (anyone want to come and help me
build it?!). I’ve had some wonderful Sloth visitors (Tomoko, Hikaru, Kai and
Sara) recently and we fantasize about future projects here: miso making,
straw bale constructions, a forest rotenburo – really, we can do anything!
(Actually Hikaru even made a great little video about the house construction
so far – here’s the link: )

Pacha and Yani love their little school and they are progressing well,
despite their unusual life experiences! I had an enjoyable time as the
President of the P and C Association this year being able to set up the
school food gardens, and sharing many ideas about alternative approaches to
education. The children absolutely love the garden and we have shared some
of the vegies. We cut up and shared one perfect organic tomato into 17
pieces for every class member, yummm! We were also able to feature the food
gardens in our little action to support the 350 climate change campaign –
growing our own vegies is such a practical and life-enhancing response to
the climate crisis.

In October, Pacha, Yani and I travelled to Tasmania and to Australia’s South
East to visit the forests being cut down to be sent to Japan as woodchips. I
went back to the magnificent forests I visited last year and saw that they
have now been smashed to produce tissues, toilet paper and office paper. We
were all very sad, but determined to do something positive and we feel very
lucky that we can offer to share this message in Japan. Please help us with
our campaign and check in with the Sloth Club to find out more. I’m
including some photos of our journey and you can see Yani talking about
forests on youtube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3ZYG3Miork Actually,
I have been trying to learn more about video editing and youtube and am
starting to get a few more clips on line. You might also want to check out
the movie we have about El Milagro in Ecaudor:

The Australian forest Japan consumer campaign and the 10th anniversary of
the Sloth Club is bringing me back to Japan in less than 2 weeks! It is very
exciting, the campaign will be fun and light-hearted and I look so much
forward to meeting my Sloth friends again! Looking forward to seeing you,

For Life, anja



The rain is causing a percussive symphony on the shed roof, the wind adding whining and roaring in the background. In the spaces where there is stillness, the crashing of the waves in the ocean fills the air. It is a perfect reason to sit here with a cup of dandelion tea and catch up with some story telling about our adventures in Woombah.

Over the past month there has been a lot of activity here. Taka has been helping us as a WWOOFer and we have been visited by Hiroko (from Yakushima and Tasmania) and Misako and daughter 3 year old Hanaka.

It’s kind of embarrassing to say that the building project here is still going on and is taking so much time and will probably go on forever! Even though I am supposed to be a Sloth, I have deeply programmed conditioning to ‘achieve’ and ‘produce’ and ‘progress’. I make impossible deadlines to get building done using recycled materials, very little money and being highly creative dealing with the authorities and the regulations needed to be followed in this kind of project. There has been wonderful help from local handy people who give their skills and creative ideas for very little cost and let me do whatever I can to help.

Over the past month we have:
Travelled 20 hours by train to Ayr in north QLD to hold a garage sale that cleared out most of our belongings and check on our old house there, Continued with the permaculture plan in Woombah, putting together banana circles and swaling to help capture and direct the water flows on the land (Yani has been especially helpful in gardening and figuring out the best place for a pond).

Had a big cement tank delivered for the grey water system, Put in cedar shutters inside the house to be able to allow for airflow and light between rooms, Installed another louvre window, Created the framing and inner cladding for the bathroom (and found a nice deep tub to put in there), Picked up a big truckload of assorted bits and pieces of recycled materials (sliding doors, tiles, splashback, pavers, staircase stringers, doors, etc, etc) from the Gold Coast – a huge adventure (and not possible without the help of Taka).

Built a staircase to the mezzanine floor using metal stringers from the dump, hardwood treads from a local salvage timber yard and our own wattle trees for the handrails.

Set up a ‘dance floor’ area upstairs for Pacha and Yani in front of two huge wardrobe mirrors on the extra carpet our neighbour Mick gave us a couple of days ago.

Last week came the excellent news from the local council that I have had the
building approval for my design in converting this shed into a dwelling. I am now an official ‘owner-builder’ with the legal right to create a home made from things that find their way to the dumps and secondhand shops.

Though sometimes frustrating, it is also immensely satisfying to be doing things this way, creatively, originally, organically. The design moves and shifts depending on what I have been able to scrounge and scavange. Last week I saw a pile of thrown away building materials beside a new house construction. I timidly asked if I could recycle some of the material – no problem. On our fishing trip to the local beach, I picked up a few pieces of driftwood to make a towel rack.

As the weather cools down there is a little more urgency in putting in the insulation and interior cladding (and a bathtub!) – yet, the temperature is still so mild here (10 to 20 C), that we can really just put some extra layers of clothes on.

Pacha and Yani are coping wonderfully well with everything and are still enjoying school very much. The Iluka Public school is lucky to have some specially talented teachers and assistants, including their dance teacher, Mandy, who directed them in a prize winning dance competition last week. As the President of the P and C, I have not been able to do much yet, once our bathroom is done I hope to get onto the school gardens.

Yani changes his life ambition at least once per week. Last week, when our neighbours gave him a hand repaired fishing rod, he wanted to be a ‘fisher’, this week when there was a school presentation about cane toads, he wanted to be a wildlife ranger...

This past month was also about ‘visitors’. We are lucky to have friends who don’t mind a ‘simple life’. Both Taka (for a months), then Misako and Hanaka (for a few days), stayed in the caravan and I hope they were comfortable there. For Taka it was the first visit to Australia and the first experience of Wwoofing (willing workers on organic farms). He was great with Pacha and Yani and tried his best to adjust to a completely new lifestyle. I pushed him pretty hard to ask more questions and try to learn more about where he was and what he was doing. I realised that my childhood was probably much more ‘hands-on’ than a normal person in Japan where academic success is probably the most important achievement.

I remember looking at Taka after we had just spent 14 hours loading secondhand materials onto a truck, driving 4 hours in it, then unloading in the dark and the rain in Woombah and asking him ‘do you think your mother would ever do this?’ He answered: ‘I don’t think so’… Yes, I admit, our lives are a little bit out of the

One the day Taka left for the Jarlanbah permaculture community in Nimbin, Misako and 3 year old Hanaka arrived in Woombah. I think it was love at first sight with Hanaka to Pacha (and vice versa) – as the girls danced and sang and jumped all over the place. I will never forget the look of sheer joy and abandon as Hanaka ran down the beach at Shark Bay with Yani and Pacha – her spirit flying free! This is the feeling that connects us with Life – everyone should make the opportunity to do this whenever they can! I seriously think that Pacha could guide groups of young people from cities in Japan about how to ‘set their inner wild child free’!

We are very much looking forward to more visitors to nurture and be inspired by this part of the world.

For Life, anja, pacha and yani



Dear Friends,

The sounds of nature around Pacha, Yani and I have changed. Kookaburra’s
laughter has replaced the shrieking of the Cock of the Rock in Intag,
Ecuador. The roaring of the river has changed to the sound of occasional
cars, playing kids and lawnmowers. The trees are taller and sleeker and not
covered by bromiliads and other epyphites. The smell is of eucalyptus and
clean, dry air - no longer the moist, rich air of the cloud forest.
Kangaroos replace horses and cows grazing on our front lawn. We miss our
raw, wild life in Ecuador, but life is much easier for us here in Australia.

We are still in the process of moving here permanently. I have been busy as
a builder, drawing up plans to convert the big shed into a house and
applying for permission from the local council. It has been a big learning
experience and again, very different from our lives in Ecuador where there
are far less rules! Hopefully within a month we will have permission to
build a bathroom and composting toilet that will make our lives here more
comfortable. (Luckily we are well trained in simplicity from our lives in

I have finally been able to connect onto the internet here in our
‘semi-house’ and am excited to be able to share this next stage of our life
adventure! Last year was wonderful, but exhausting, it seems like we have
been moving for years. I am trying to trace the fragments and people, my
global family, of the past 20 years, that have been scattered over many
countries and many places in those countries. I am longing to plant and
nurture the trees that the children will be able to pick fruit from in 10
years, in one place. It seems, right now, that Woombah, in northern NSW, is
that place.

It’s hard to imagine a place that is more like the paradise I grew up in on
the Gold Coast 37 years ago – river, ocean, forest, mangrove, rainforest,
sacred Aboriginal sites, small school, small community where people really
know each other and enough space to provide food for ourselves. Our
neighbours are kind and always helpful and we share seeds and plant
cuttings. We’re starting a local seed network and many people have joined
the call to put solar panels on their roof for electricity production. It’s
good…really good.

And Pacha and Yani seem very happy. They love going to school and, to my
surprise, don’t seem to be behind the other kids in schoolwork, despite not
having formal schooling for most of last year. I did a little bit of home
schooling in Ecuador, but it seems the excitement of travel and new
experiences and new languages has stimulated that part of their brain where
learning happens. It has confirmed to me that while formal school is
important, real learning happens in many different ways. The challenges of
the world that our children are growing up in makes new demands - of
adaptability, flexibility, creativity and knowing what ‘enough’ is. Pacha,
Yani and I learning and growing in this quest to find a happy, healthy life
in this changing world.

A big part of my happiness comes from being of service - and it seems that I
still can’t say ‘no’ to an active campaign. This month I ran for the Greens
in the state election for Queensland (I am still officially living there).
It’s always pretty tough, and we never have money to spend on the campaigns,
but I think it was worth it to offer a Green choice to voters on election
day. A highlight was running this campaign with my sister, Inge, who also
juggled her campaigning with her duties as a parent to 3 children. We did
well considering what we could put in, though generally people seem more and
more disconnected from politics - busier in their own lives, in despair that
there will ever be a real change. But society is changing – shouldn’t
politics reflect that? Maybe we just have to wait a little longer.

I didn’t win the state election for the Greens, though I was recently
elected President of the Parents and Citizen’s association of the Iluka
Public School! And, who knows, maybe this will have a more positive outcome
in the long run. I am so excited to work on establishing food gardens and
putting solar panels on the roof – there are so many ways that parents can
become involved in making school a place where children learn not only
reading and writing, but how to live. As always, the hardest part is
finding enough time to do it all!

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