Thoughts on the recent trip to Australia and Hong Kong  - it was perhaps best described as a gardening trip – cultivating ideas in many places, and the experiment we were undertaking was gardening as a form of radical culture management.

Harbour viewworking across some really different settings gets you thinking about ‘what is happening here’

in each location there is a connection with the land, but in each place Adelaide, Alice Spings, Uluru, Hong Kong (urban and rural) it is remarkably different.

There is a phenomenology of place, which is shaping the relationship with land.

It is in every case passionate and committed, but it differs wildly in how it then translates into action.

Gardening – structurally and socially engaging with landscape is a fluid experience. It gives us a sense of place and of connection and can be a powerful endorsement and identifier of community.


It has common value across lots of different contexts, so there are perhaps some univerals – gardening gives us a great sense of creative engagement, it connects us to places, it connects us to our commuity through the climate, the soil, the plants.

It involves us in working within certain value structures – whether it is rural or urban – in the urban it makes the physical engagement with place push towards the cultural norm of value and belonging. If I put time in to this piece of land am I in efect investing into a location. And if that is the case does this then begin to have a value of that investment?

This is not the relationship with the land that I sensed in my work in the desert places, nor in Ark Eden. But move to cities and land has a completely other, economic meaning.

Enclosing what is belonging to everyone, land, as something which has personal ownrship, changes our relationship with nature.


Conflicts arise from the relationship – they can be environmental, social, physical, emotional and environmental. What happens depends in part on what relationship we wish to have with land, and this, in turn is conditioned by our social and cultural relationship with place and spaces.

The connections then, from place to place, are more than transfers of knowledge of action, they are cultural transactions related to the meanings of how we interpret the world around us. They are how we end up seeing.

Im not sure at all as yet we have really worked out how to see how other people see stuff, it is all about their gardening strategies, this forms their social identity.image









Collaboration is in my mind following the latest trips worldwide with the Foundation. IMG_2165 Ive posted this before, but it is worth another look at the furry caterpiller working together to solve a problem. The first thee months of 2014 were characterised by making connections and the power of community  - creating the links across a growing network of schools and exploring with them the ideas first captured by John D Lui in his work Hope in a Changing Climate, and the BIG idea of creating actions which can, when connected together, provide epic wins – much bigger than we could do on our own. We visited people and places around the world following requests to work and share our ideas with schools and communities. This was the basic plan of action, finding ways of making the ordinary extraordinary. photo It was a busy but hugely rewarding period of development for the Foundation, where we learnt much more about the processes and motivations underlying people’s interest in responding to poverty, climate and environmental change, and enhancing social justice through the emancipatory role of education.

Logic Turns on Circumstances Wherever our project finds itself engaging with people on the ground one presistent factor seems to glare out at us, that the logic of places is totally dependent upon the prevaling circumstances in which these communities find themselves. It is an obvious observation, but it makes the point that networks really do matter, so that we can begin to see the operating devices adopted worldwide across all sorts of different commuitiesin response to their local circumstance, and through the sharing of insights with others, we begin to be able to reconstruct with a slightly different ecological edge to the template. Without the perspective of others it is very easy to get drawn to a mono-culture perspective, and what is quite clear is that single solutions are not going to be the way forward. Some general themes were the focus of the visits made to Australia and Hong Kong looking into the way that new forms of collaboration could energise the school community to come through with creative, critically focused and constructive plans of activity for their school communities. In our vists the underlying theme was the idea of the epic win, and the processes of clarifying and focusing upon essentials and value, rather than simply consuming without reason. Establishing anything like a network across lots of different places is a great presumption, what we have done is to generate communities of interest around our work, who in their own distinctive ways are then developing interesting responses and exploring how they might connect between and across the different groupings.


It was really exciting to get back to Adelaide, Alice Springs and Uluru and meet up with many great friends who work there. The recent trip to meet and work with them in the school networks of South Australia and Northern Territory went really well. We now have a growing network of schools with whom we are working in South Australia, where we were invited to support a series of enquiry meetings with school principals and system leaders and two full-day workshops looking into the ways that each school can dream, generate hope, and act to make substantive sustainable change to their community. photo At the smaller workshops we asked each participant to bring along something edible form home or locally grown which could be shared during the day – we were overwhelmed with sumptious carrot cake, home grown salads and breads, it was wonderful. We also shared coffee that was badged by Padiham Green School children and shared the story from the coffee as an example of how simple and practical connections through education, farming and trade could generate resource revenue to help fund other locally conceived eco-projects…we are now in the process of developing a solution to get coffee up and going as part of the networks activity in South Australia with the Catholic Education SA team. BiCyDNZIYAAlu1ACoffee from our project photoNetwork meeting with 180 staff from South Australia Catholic Schools – a great day of thinking and plotting together! We now have plans to meet monthly on skype with the coordinating group and continue sharing the development in the coming months as the plans begin to be implemented. Moving on to Alice Springs and a week in the hot dry desert landscape of central region, it was great to get back and catch up with friends working in the Yipirinya School – a place of many languages and cultures which reflects the locality of Alice Sprigs as a connecting point in the region.


Working with this community is always a warm and inspiring experience. Particularly special this time was sitting with Marjorie Williams (Luritja) Sarah-Lee Fishook (Warlpiri) Jennifer Inkamala (Western Arernte) mobs, along with Gail Barker from AISNT and Heather Jeffries the language instructor. Jennifer (in the black T shirt) is a leading expert on honey ants and has recently made a film about taking the children to find 2 We are working on a planned permaculture development here with the school staff involved in the growing project, this will include a bush medicine site and a bush tucker site including bush banana, bush onion, bush tomato, bush raisins, and medicine to include Emunca (my favourite) and Arada. Up then to Uluru BjVWYfjCMAA4dZr BjVWgN4CcAAVpLF BjVWTGDCAAAzY90 BjVWm3iCMAAVisMand meeting with the staff from Nyangatjatjara College, Uluru. Amongst the highlights of this leg of the trip was the fabulous soccer game during which three goals were expertly notched away by the visiting Pom, however age gave way and the remainder of teh game was spent hobbling rather a lot! Pictures to come I am told! There are some extraordinary desert growing experiment projects underway at the school, in temperatures hitting 45 degrees and over the system created from old junk is so simple, it operates as a wicking system drawing water from a reserviour under the growing bed which occasionally needs topping up, but only occasionally. The results are astonshing, abundant vegetables which are all consumed eagerly in the school lunch room on a daily basis. imageimage another highlight was a trip to the rock Uluru, it is simply spectacular. The students who came with us all had video cameras and recorded the trip and are making a film together of the day. The relationship of people and place is often overplayed what I love about working with the mob at Uluru is that they are utterly down to earth and no more so than the students. Quote of the trip came inside a painted cave with ancient images on the ceiling ” this is our art room!” on to a week in Hong Kong and Ark Eden, where I spoke at the annual sustainability conference at Renaissance College, and had the pleasure of meeting some inspiring student teams doing great sustainability work across Hong Kong, and also staying with Jenny at the wonderful and inspiring ark Eden site. I spoke during the week at the Ellen MacArthur education conference via webinar to the uk from the top of a huge tower buildings overlooking the harbour Harbour viewof Hong Kong.imageimageimage


We have been invited to speak at OuiShare which looks like it will be a pretty awesome time in Paris in May!

OuiShare is think-and-do-tank with the mission to empower citizens, public institutions and

companies to create a collaborative economy: an economy based on sharing, collaboration and

openness, relying on horizontal networks and communities. We believe that such an economy

can solve many of the complex challenges the world faces, and enable everyone to access to

the resources and opportunities they need to thrive.


Started in January 2012 in Paris, OuiShare is now an international leader in the collaborative

economy field. A non-profit organization which has rapidly evolved from a handful of enthusiasts

to a global movement in 25 countries in Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, our network

of 50 expert “Connectors” engage over 2000 members and contributors worldwide.


What we do

OuiShare activities consist of building community, producing knowledge and incubating projects

around the topics of communities and the collaborative economy, as well as offering support to

individuals and organizations through professional services and education.

1. Community Building

● Regular events and meetups in local communities across the globe

● Large scale events and conferences such as OuiShare Fest

● Online conversations groups (per city, language or topic) for community members

● Creating links between community members and with existing networks

2. Knowledge Production (think tank)

● Publishing in-depth analysis from community members in the OuiShare Magazine

● Animating a global network of experts via knowledge groups (transport,

● Research papers and studies about the collaborative economy and communities

● Workshops and co-creation of events about public policy and economic models

● Publications such as manifestos, white papers, public policy briefs, books, etc.

● Public Speaking at various events, conferences and seminars


3. Project Incubator (do tank)

Development of projects and tools to foster the collaborative economy, such as:

● OuiShare Magazine, our contributive online magazine launched in July 2012

● OuiShare Jobs, a job board focused on the collaborative economy

● OuiKit, a community lab to experiment resource sharing systems within the OuiShare

4. Services

A number of OuiShare members have been individually freelancing as consultants on their

respective geographical areas with their specific angle/specialization. In order to benefit from

the potential of the collective knowledge and workforce, a commercial branch of professional

services is being currently set up, and will work with people and organizations large and small

seeking to move the collaborative economy forward.


Key facts

● Founded in January 2012, OuiShare now has over 2000 members from 25 countries in

Europe, the Middle East, North and Latin America.

● Over 120 events organised in 55 cities

● Over 80 different online discussion groups

● The first international OuiShare Fest about the Collaborative Economy in Paris attracted

over 3,000 visitors in 3 days (2 – 4 May 2013).


What is the Collaborative Economy?


The collaborative economy is defined as practices and business models based on

horizontal networks and participation of a community, transforming how we live, work

and create.

This economy is built on distributed power and trust within communities as opposed to

centralized institutions, blurring the lines between producer and consumer. These communities

meet and interact on online networks and peer-to-peer platforms, as well as in shared spaces

such as fablabs and coworking spaces.

The phenomenon can be seen as the sum of the following key developments:

● Collaborative Consumption

Collaborative consumption is the seamless circulation of products and services among

individuals through sharing, swapping, trading, renting, borrowing or giving, fostering

access over ownershipand reducing waste.

● Crowdfunding and Person-to-Person Banking

Crowdfunding and person-to-person banking enable the circulation of capital between

individuals to fund creative, social and entrepreneurial projects.


● Open Knowledge

Open knowledge enables anyone to freely use, reuse, and redistribute knowledge such as

content, data, code or designs. This principle is the foundation of commons-based peer

production (such as free software, the creative commons, open science, …) as well

asopen education, open data and open governance.


● Open Design and Manufacturing

Open design and manufacturing democratize the process of designing, producing and

distributing physical goods by combining open knowledge with distributed infrastructures.

They rely on tools, spaces, communities and marketplaces and are fueled by the maker

movement, the culture of hacking and Do-It-Yourself (DIY).


● Open and Horizontal Governance

Open and horizontal governance are transforming organizations, public services and civic

action. Leading examples include civic engagement platforms, participatory budgeting,

open government initiatives, co-operatives, open value networks, horizontal organizations,

swarms, do-cracries and holacracies.

In a wierd place in my head this last week having been on the road for over a month in Asia and Australia. It was fabulous, scary, inspiring, troubling, fun and tiring all rolled together I guess the ingredients of a great trip.

Along the journey I saw a lot of drought, a lot of urban decay, a lot of rural neglect,  a lot of people who were in search of something that modern life was not providing, a lot of places which were struggling to deal with change of temperature, work and economics and shifts of cultural focus.Unknown-1

Alonside all of that I heard politicians describe recovery, breakthrough, negotiated settlements, progress. The narratives of one world didn’t really correlate with the everyday narratives which were evidently being experienced by people on the ground. It is this terrain which shapes our daily lives, a tension, an edge between different world stories.

So part of our work during the trip was to expose that story through the core of what makes our world tick, trade – and to see how ethical trade focused on trust, transparency and traceability might facilitate new insights and ways of living together.

To do this I have been exploring how to make the ethical coffee project a reality through simple links in the value chain which connect farmers we work with in Uganda with roasters and schools who in turn learn how to use the coffee to sell on to parents and make a good dollop for school funds.  Fine out more at or just email me at and more will be revealed.

In addition we are looking at selling it direct, so again, if you want great coffee get in touch.

The feeling I’m getting back is amazing, loads of interest, and whereas before it always seemed a struggle, suddenly we are finding things are clicking together and people are interested and engaged. I wonder if it is simply a numbers game, where the more people connected to something the more it begins to happen. Anyhow, we create and we create the right things and then we create some more.


Next step of the journey is to begin to shape the ideas for an eco-pedagogy that reflect some of the reality of our time and construct a way of learning into that which can remain positive but realistic  - an evolving mode of learner engagement which can facilitate real new thinking about how we might deal with crisis. It is real, it is happening, it is everywhere, and I don’t yet believe the hype from big business that they have suddenly gone green. It is perhaps too far down the line for that, so lets get our heads together on the nature of the narrative, and begin to get real with the next steps we might be needing to take.image copy



Ochrogaster lunifer (Herrich-Schaffer, [1855])
Processionary Caterpillar
(one synonym : Teara contraria Walker, 1855)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley
Ochrogaster lunifer
(Photo: courtesy of Cathy Mardell, Port Macquarie)
Ochrogaster lunifer
These Caterpillars are grey and hairy with a brown head. They are famous for walking in processions. Their hairs are thought to cause skin rash ( urticaria ) in sensitive people, although it has been asserted that it is the hairs on the dead larval skins and adult moths that cause these problems. The rash can last for months after the exposure, and easily become infected. Remedies suggested for easing the problem are

  • vinegar,
  • a hot bath, and
  • cheap skin cream such as “Skin Repair”Not only do humans suffer from irritation from the hairs. The hairs have also been implicated in causing abortions in horses, by puncturing the intestinal walls allowing infection by pathogenic bacteria.


    Ochrogaster luniferIMG_2165
    When disturbed, the Caterpillars are inclined to curl up into a tight hairy spiral. The Caterpillars feed nocturnally on a variety of Australian native trees and shrubs, including the Wattles ( MIMOSACEAE ) :


  • Raspberry Jam Wattle ( Acacia acuminata ),
  • Hickory Wattle ( Acacia aulacocarpa ),
  • Black Wattle ( Acacia concurrens ),
  • Lightwood Wattle ( Acacia implexa ), and
  • Sydney Wattle ( Acacia longifolia ),as well as


  • White Box ( Eucalyptus albensMYRTACEAE ),
  • Red Maple ( Acer rubrumSAPINDACEAE ), and
  • Beefwood ( Grevillea striataPROTEACEAE ). 

    Ochrogaster lunifer
    nest high in a Gum tree
    (Photo: courtesy of Deborah Keogh, Scone, New South Wales)

During the daytime, the Caterpillars hide communally in a nest, a shelter of silk, frass, old skins, and other debris. Sometimes this is located on a shoot at the end of a branch, or sometimes high on the trunk.


Ochrogaster lunifer
nest at base of a food plant, opened to show the caterpillars inside
(Photo: courtesy of Andrew Sharrock, Maclean, New South Wales)
Sometimes this is located on the ground at the base of the foodplant. The different nesting habits are evidence that there may be two or more species currently being included under this name. The hairs from old skins in such a nest can get blown around and spread over adjacent vegetation, which is of concern for humans and animals in the area.

The presence of the nests of these caterpillars on properties with breeding horses has been associated with spontaneous abortions in these horses. The case is not proven, and mechanisms for such a cause and effect are unclear. The only reasonable suggestion so far has been that possibly the hairs carry pathogenic bacteria, whose infection causes the abortions. Much work needs to be done to investigate this properly.


Ochrogaster lunifer
(Photo: courtesy of Bryce Burrows)
When mature, the caterpillars go walkabout to find somewhere to pupate, having grown to a length of about 4 cms. The Caterpillars also go walkabout if they totally defoliate their food tree and have to locate another one. Each Caterpillar when it walks, leaves a trail of silk from its spinneret near its mouth. When a Caterpillar of this species encounters such a silken trail, it starts to follow it.


Ochrogaster lunifer
silk ‘rope’ of threads laid by the train of caterpillars ascending and descending the trunk every night
(Photo: courtesy of Judy Ormond and Lyn Loger, Nathalia Wildflower Group Inc)
Thus the Caterpillars when they walk are inclined to follow each other, nose to tail, like a minature freight train. Cathy Mardell of Port Macquarie reported counting 203 in one such procession.


Ochrogaster lunifer
cocoon opened to show the pupa inside
(Photo: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)
They pupate in a silk cocoon in ground debris.


Ochrogaster lunifer
The adult moth have a wingspan of about 4 cms. They have forewings that are dark grey or brown, and hindwings that are white shading to grey at the base. Some have a pale dot in the centre of each forewing. The moths have a yellow banded abdomen which ends in a white tuft of hairs. These and the hairs on their feet can cause Urticaria. It is unwise to handle the moths directly.


Ochrogaster lunifer
acting dead: display posture
(Photo: courtesy of John Moore, Ravenshoe, Queensland)
When disturbed, the moths are inclined to lie still on one side with a curled abdomen, so appearing dead.


Ochrogaster lunifer
Some have white lines across the wings. Again, the variety of colour forms suggests that there may be more than one species present in Australia.


Ochrogaster lunifer
pale brown form
(Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)
Female adult moths lay several hundred eggs, and lay their eggs in one mass on a food tree. They cover them with a layer of hairs from their tail. The female moths have no mouthparts and so die after a few days.


Ochrogaster lunifer
(Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)
Specimens have been obtained from every mainland state and territory in Australia, including:

The Hitch Hikers Guide to Earth is part of an ongoing investigation of the ways in which we live as globalconsumers or earth users.  It constructs a situation where we, who are commonly assumed to be passive and guided by established rules and norms, can engage with ideas and operate differently to  any predisposed expectations.

We get to this revised position through socialisation, observation, experimentation, action and reflection.

The project hopes to make a new type of discussion more possible and accessible. We still might ask the obvious question of ‘what do we do?’ in the light of the games challenges, we may deepen our consideration of the subject through inquiry and hypothesis and find new pathways and new lines of research into these critical sustainability issues and themes.

The goal of the game is to generate an output: A guide book to planet earth- well, let’s see if that happens, it may or may not be achieved… we could also perhaps think of the goal as having been achieved if everyday ways of of doing things become more transparent and questioned. This suggests that how we do things, can be investigated through questions of choice and intent, through designed methods, and through the range of perspectives we draw upon to guide and inform our choices.

This pitches the placement of our proposed game towards something akin to a study of systems of combined action, where there are a range of operations of enquiry which help to compose what we often call ‘culture.’ If we can illuminate the characteristic actions that we adopt, and which we often take for granted, and draw attention to the way that these shape us and inform how we function as consumers – then we are starting to fashion a different way of thinking about culture as something we are continually reconstructing, and as such, something we have the power to change – this is the basis of transformation and is critical for an ecological conversion, a culture change to occur.