With American Thanksgiving this week, it seems appropriate for a couple of ex-pats to give thanks to all of our partners and supporters in Whanganui. We came here three years ago with next to nothing to a villa with no power, no water, no hot water cylinder, hardly any wiring, a handful of broken windows, and thousands a tiny holes in the roof. Oh, one other thing, we were newly-weds, and there literally was no threshold at the front door.
No threshold at our front door.
Note to readers: Think twice before undertaking a major renovation two months into marriage.
But that was then and this is now. Now we have, in no particular order: one of the most sustainable suburban properties in the country; a section full of healthy, organic kai; a power bill that averages under $30 per month; an active, healthy toddler; and one of the best grass roots, community-based, sustainability education programmes in the ‘Western World’ (ie, OECD nations).
While the first four items on the list we did more-or-less ourselves (using qualified trades people where required), the last was only accomplished through partnering with dozens of individuals, community groups, and businesses across this awesome city. Aside from the core work on our villa, nearly every other project we have successfully engaged with in Whanganui has been the result of partnership. We appreciate all of our partners, and hope to continue our work together. There are too many to mention without forgetting a few, so best just to say, “Thanks to all. Chur! Chur!”
Community Garden @ Day One
Together we have: attracted respected international thinkers and writers to Whanganui; offered over 50 free and donation sustainability programmes; run 20 below-cost workshops offering expert advice on eco-thrifty renovation and organic food production; visited 10 local and rural schools; delivered close to 80 free home energy audits; answered dozens of telephone inquiries on energy efficiency; and, developed a community garden on our ‘front lawn.’
Solar Sausage Sizzle
Some say, “success breeds success,” and we have certainly witnessed that, going from strength to strength as more River City residents see the logic of eco-thrifty design thinking. Granted, it’s hard to argue against creating win-win-win situations that save money, help people, and protect the environment, but it is shocking how many people and organizations try! What is that about old dogs?
Note to readers: If you are a climate change denier, please don’t ring me to argue your point. I am far too polite to hang up on you, and far too busy to listen to your conspiracy theories.
Interestingly, a completely unexpected form of thanks that has come my way lately appears to be associated with some opinion pieces I wrote for the Chronicle: one connecting the WDC rates structure, widening wealth inequality; and social problems; one on the futility to shifting sand around Castlecliff Beach when it all blew back into place in a fortnight; and, one on the comic tragedy of wasting approximately $200 of ratepayers’ money per year running outdoor lighting during daylight hours in front of Central Library.
Since the first piece ran in October, I’ve been asked by complete strangers to: a) run for mayor; b) run for Parliament. (Previously, I had only been asked to stand for Council.) I reckon that is about as fine a “thank you” one can get from a stranger.
But with no elections on the near horizon, what’s a poor boy to do? I reckon I’ll continue to build local partnerships, help those in need save power and money, tend the community garden in front of our home, change nappies, walk on the beach with bubba, surf as much as practicable, and grow the world’s best garlic.
Community Garden @ Day 500
And what can you do? Come visit us at the River Traders Market on 7th December for free advice on healthy homes and healthy food.
Also make a $20 donation to The ECO School and receive a free 2014 Permaculture Principles Calendar. Available at these locations:
• Whanganui Environment Base @ Whanganui Resource Recovery Centre, Maria Place
• Community Education Service (CES), Taupo Quay
• Delicious Café and Wine Bar, 132 Victoria Avenue
• Riverside Osteopathy, 15 Pitt Street
Happy Mo-vember, Estwing