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This website aims to develop case studies of the development of farming practices and attendant transformations of local ecologies of defined blocks of land. Through these biographies of particular plots of land we are developing localised analyses of the wider historical trends in the political economy/ecology of the Northern Rivers.
Ray Flanagan, Leigh Davidson, Carol Perry & JJ Bruce’s Stories

Ray Flanagan, Leigh Davidson, Carol Perry & JJ Bruce’s Stories

By on Jul 1, 2013 in Dharmananda | 0 comments

Go to: Introductions | Dharmananda: from individual title to a multiple occupancy | WWOOFers | Growing food | Neighbours | Introducing Carol | The early years: creating community | Neighbours | Channon Markets | The Fire Brigade | Generational change and building community | The farm’s history | Bananas | Old roads | Finding a sense of belonging | Mr deSorzi | The Ivans | Back to the early days | Being a local

Generational change and building community

Carol: We lived in our own circles and it was small enough then that when you went to a party everybody from the Valley was at the party.

Ray: Yeah.

Carol: It’s really different now. Then it broke up into more affinity groups. We were in our own circles and one thing I did notice about that was there were no elders, we’re all of an age and I really felt the absence of elders. And when I started working in Lismore that’s when I started to meet others and I was co-coordinator of Lismore Neighbourhood Centre and so there were a lot of volunteers there and they were older women and I really enjoyed having that eldership around. Even though we were, you know, vastly different it was an important thing for me.

For the older members – rather than JJ – what does it feel like to now be amongst an older generation and long-time settlers? What does that feel like forty years on?

Ray: Yes, it feels pretty good. I think I have a good rapport with a lot of the younger people in the area and I feel like I get respect from them. And they’ve all grown up in more alternate families so it feels yeah, it just feels like a big family in a lot of ways. So I guess that community is in the wider sense, has really come back. Yeah, that’s what it feels like to me.

Carol: Well I’ve acted like, I call us, here on the farm, ‘the old guard’. And I regard it as my job to mentor the younger people so that they will pass on the skills and that I’m actively trying to make sure that all the skill sets that we have brought to this place, that’s made it what it is, are replaced. And so I’ve been actively looking for people to replace those skill sets. You know we did discuss it at a meeting and I‘m actively mentoring where people want that sort of support – in my skill set.

Well JJ what do you see as having been passed on to you?

JJ: Well I would say I’m one of those people that sought Carol out. We have breakfast regularly and I learn from her about interpersonal communication and it’s a part of the community that I am interested in. So that’s yeah, directly there. I liked when you asked me what gaps, or what holes did I fill up when I came. I think the gaps I feel I am filling are – the people that are closest to those gaps are the people that I am actively seeking out as mentors, you know? It’s Leigh with the cows, its Carol with interpersonal stuff – not that I think there was a gap necessarily in those things but that’s the generational thing I think – that’s where I see myself moving.

And what were the key characteristics that you felt were central to the community?

JJ: The key characteristics I think are – and Ray outlined them before – it’s that eating-together and working-together culture, working in the garden then eating the produce from the garden. Maybe Leigh said that. I see that as key and it was interesting in a conversation that Carol and I had recently, we were talking about the community and the positive energy in the community and relating that to a building project that’s going on at the moment at the back of the main house – a renovation project. I think that’s a very important thing, that there’s a focus. People have a focus and an epicentre and having the main house there is obviously that – for meals and for making cheese and yoghurt and the daily running of and production that everyone is interested in – or partakes of.

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