in response to this very problematic video advertising australia, some awesome people have made this:


i’m sipping fresh lemon verbena tea and digesting 70% cocoa, vegan chocolate, as i sit down to write this. the food forest is one gormet establishment. as i speak, people are in the kitchen preparing gelato to have after tonights’ cob oven pizza.

it’s such a great place to be. hard work, but great. every day i’m learning really great things like how to hold chickens and how to tell if fruit is ripe. we usually get up early before it gets hot to pick and weed. then move into the processing room to grade fruit and veg for selling, and to chop it up and dry it.

that’s a terrible task. you get to listen to lovely music while chopping up yummy fruit like nectarines and figs. if you’re not sure if it’s ripe, you have to taste test too. tragic.

i’ve also been goinf into adelaide a bit to organise an exhibition i’m in for the fringe festival called cellar sweatshop. 7 artists using recycled materials etc. shoule be fun. adelaide is full of wholesome people who like gardening and bikes and organics and other things i think are important. i like it here.

ah. what a strange place. a strange notion. a strange feeling.

here i am though. battling through the first weeks. pinching myself often to see whether i still exist. i miss eva. i miss germany. i miss being wrapped in the safety of 8 layers of clothing and not knowing.

i was excited about knowing people again, but then i’m not sure that i do. people and times change. everything feels familiar, but isn’t. no-one wants to see the photos, and i understand. except that i need to reassure me that it exists, and that i haven’t just lost a year of my life. that there is a reason that everthing feels so far away.

it can only get better i guess.

Last weekend Eva and I had a romantic weekend in Amsterdam. We met some ace people from there at the G8, who were working on a campaign about meat production in Europe . They dressed up in cute pig suits and handed out 8 different postcards with info to the theme. Anyway, they’d been nagging us to come visit since July, so we took the opportunity.natasmallamsterdam07.jpg

It was really great. My last visits to the canal city have been short and sour, tainted by rain, too many people and too many tourists. So this visit was perfect to dispel my prejudices and enjoy the city, which is indeed more than overfilled and rainy. A friend lent us her apartment for the weekend, so we had our own little space to sleep in in. My mate Bettina popped by from Paris. The sun shone. It was generally lovely.

We did an activist type tour, where we didn’t go into one museum and damned if i can tell you what the biggest church looks like… but we went to an info night, and a queer party, and a squatted block with fnb. It feels like such an international community. love it. And to cap it all off, we hitched back to Hamburg faster than the bus!

ach. i’m in hamburg again where it’s cold and rainy and i’m reminded that i’d have no qualms about going home to sunny sydney… if it weren’t for the lovely people i know here. i’m on my final tour now. 18 days to go. then schwoopdewoop. on a plane home again. eva is so sweet. she made an advents tea package into an australia tea collection, with a different sort of tea each day before i go.

crazy! i’m looking forward to it. dreaming of it most every night. but i’m a bit scared too. this whole two country love is so absurd. challenging, exciting but sad too. it means you are always missing someone.

if you’re reading this, then i’m probably missing you. xoxox 1021

renatarol.jpg by Laura Wills

In October, Eva and i were in Austria to visit Laura and see her exhibition. Super. so beautiful. she is such a great drawer!

We spent a few days exploring the city in the chilly sunshine. Chanced critical mass, and a party at Free Shop down the road. It’s so great to see all these ace little projects going on around the world! Then we went to Italy to look for the sun, unfortunately missing it by a few weeks. It rained in Florence (which is not in the picture i had of the city). Loud and little and cold, but with excellent coffee and pizza! We imagined the holiday filled with days, lounging on the beach in the sunshine, but had in the end only an afternoon which fitted the above description. We saw the leaning tower of Pisa from the highway nearby. It was that kind of holiday.

(warning, kitsch. at least we had each other. ah…:)

this is my mate Laura and I in the Mauerpark in Berlin. Another friend of mine makes these ace public furniture works out of grass. for more info (in german) and a picture in photography language, renatalola.jpg

Where the apples are crisp and the potatoes ripe for the harvest.
I just spent the weekend at Karlshof. And am now feeling all blissed out and excited by life.
The Karlshof is a farming project 85km north of Berlin. The project was founded in 2005 in its current form to produce non-commercial agriculture. 8 people are currently living there, plus 2 children on about 20ha with fruit trees, a big vegie garden, potatoes, sunflowers and some grains. The new project began with a harvest of potatoes that are distributed through networks and to individuals for free. People are encouraged to work at Karlshof in exchange, or to offer whatever support they are able to supply, however it is not essential. They don’t want to continue a capitalist mentality of worth or value, selling or even swapping. They produce for the joy of producing and share whatever they have with whoever asks for it. Karlshof was purchased by a not-for-profit organization in Berlin and is supported financially by donations.
I was at Karlshof for the Global Agriculture Action Network, and stayed on for the beginning of the potato harvest.
For the network meeting and the potato harvest came a diverse mixture of people from a number of countries. It was so exciting to be surrounded by people who have so much energy and great ideas, especially in the area of farming. I get so down hearing the news and reading about the state the world is in. But its projects like this that gives me the energy to persist, and hope. There is really so much out there! I heard about a cooperative project in Spain where over 80 households support a farm on the outskirts of Madrid. A group of 8 or so farms in France, Austria and Germany founded in the 70s, some with up to 80 people. Sharing food and politics, living together and maintaining activist activities. A few communes in Germany. A haven in Italy near the sea with olives and grapes and tomatoes the size of your hand! SSSSoooo exciting! It makes me really positive that it’s possible to start something up back home, and excited to do a little travelling to go visit these places and learn. Yipeee!!

In mid August Eva and I attended the open day at the Concentration Centre Uckermark, about 2 hours north of Berlin.

It was super interesting for me.

I must say, I had previously admired the way Germany dealt with their gruesome past. However this time round, I guess I’ve delved a little further into the history, seen it from a more critical perspective, and learnt, unfortunately, that it’s not all so praiseworthy. This concentration centre we visited was for girls who were problematic, or anti-social, for girls who rebelled or had “loose” sexual relationships. The Nazis named it a “Youth Protection” Centre, meaning for the protection of the Arian youth in mainstream society. Life in the concentration centre was hard for the imprisoned girls, between 16 and 21. They were strictly disciplined, fed little and had to do forced labour. Many of course died. However the history is somewhat unclear and is still being pieced together.

It was only in the 70’s that the centre was officially acknowledged as a concentration centre. Until the 90’s the area served as military land in East Germany and all the buildings were replaced with tanker garages. In 1995 a sign was finally erected on the grounds saying, “you are not forgotten”. The larger, nearby concentration centre Ravensbrück was refurbished as a memorial centre, however there was no money left for the girls centre, Uckermark. Since 1997 there have been yearly DIY womyns camps at the centre in order to create a remembrance site. On these camps significant work has been done including research, oral history, signposting of the area, exhibitions and artworks.  The work done by these womyn is truly amazing and inspiring. It was an extremely moving experience to be there.

woohoo. mum, roger, and my mate ulli are in town and we are trying to see as many tourist sights in as little days as possible. while the rest of europe floods or scoulders, berlin is perfect. mumullimesmall3.jpg