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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

The early years: creating community

Carol: People – it was a time of great movement. Because it was a big exodus from the city. We got back here in about ’74.

Leigh: Post Aquarius there was a lot happening.

Carol: That’s right.

Leigh: Tuntable was happening.

Carol: Everyone was moving around, people would come and it was really tough times, you know. I think it was, it was Kathy Lette, that funny writer, she said – and this is absolutely how it was – that men sat around agreeing with each other like ‘yeah man’ ‘yeah right on man’ while the women cooked brown rice. That’s an exact description of how it was!

Leigh: ‘Yeah man’, ‘the system’s fucked man.’ Yeah, yeah man. [laughs].

Carol: Anyway, I found it extremely difficult too, because it wasn’t the culture that I was looking to create. Anyway, slowly, slowly, different… That’s right there was Charlie Zammit and there were different people came and went and came and went and came and went. And because we had, actually, a vision to do something – and Bill Metcalf who has written a lot about community, he divided people into the ‘because-of’s’ and ‘the in-order-to’s’. And we were an ‘in-order-to’ category and we were surrounded often by ‘because-of’s’; this is ‘oh the systems fucked man’ but they took the dole. And that was quite – I found that really hard to handle. And one of the things we did was to say ‘you can’t live here if you take the dole.’ Because at that time – I mean it’s a bit different now cause jobs are short – but at that time you could come and go from jobs quite easily. And my view is that the dole isn’t there for educated – these were educated, university-educated people who were dropping out largely. And you wouldn’t get a steel worker in Wollongong saying ‘oh yeah I want my money to go to an educated person, so they can do what Bob saw happening under the gum tree’. [laughs]

So that was a great filter. That filtered out a lot of the ‘because-of’s’. And then we started getting the ‘in-order-to’s’. But the thing about forming a community is that the people who are creating it have to be ready, in some way, to have the right people around. And so there was quite a bit of turmoil for a very long time because of our lack of being ready. You know we just didn’t have skills – when something went wrong, it went deeply, deeply wrong. Our meetings were hideous, absolutely hideous. And, I thought at one time in the early eighties, either I’ll leave here or I’ve got to learn how to deal with it. So that’s when I started patching together information and courses and going to courses. Because there was nothing in the early ‘80s in this regional area, or there was very little. Every university now there’s something on conflict resolution. So I started out, Family Life, now called Interrelate.

Leigh: Family Life…. yes.

Carol: ‘Family Life’ used to run these courses on interpersonal processes, so I started with that and learned to get a bit more assertive and so on. And then I’d do more, and then I brought it back to the community. People were interested. And so as a group we started to learn. And then, you know in the early ‘90s, I realised I knew enough to be a corporate consultant. So that’s what I became [laughs]. Funny way to get a career, but anyway!

So then I ended up tutoring at Southern Cross University in group processes and I had to read the books and so I said ‘I know that’ ‘I know that’ ‘oh there’s a name for that!’ All of that, that was quite funny. But, yes, so it sort of happened from the ground up in that way. But it’s taken a long time, for the community, for people to mature enough, for people to be able to live together with that level of interdependency. Yeah.

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