Entropia: what if the Transition Movement succeeded?

What would a society look like if the Transition Movement succeeded in its ambitious goals of decarbonising and relocalising the economy? Over the last six months I have written a book of fiction which offers one answer to that question. The book is called Entropia: Life Beyond Industrial Civilisation, and the blurb is available at the link below.

If anyone is interested in getting a copy or sharing the link, the book’s website is here: http://www.bookofentropia.com/ Thanks for your support!


Two other quick notes: (1) Just a reminder that the Coburg Farmers Market is on again this Saturday, at North Coburg Primary, on O’Hea Street, Coburg – it’s on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month; (2) Also, Climate Action Moreland (CAM) is having a meeting at 6.30p,-8pm on Monday 24 June, at the Edinburgh Castle. The CAM newsletter is available here.



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Coburg Better Block – Sunday 16 June

Hi folks, something exciting is taking place this Sunday 16 June in Coburg – The Coburg “Better Block” Project. Come on down and get involved – from 11am to 3pm. Sounds like fun. Details below:

Residents of High Street in Coburg will give their street a one day makeover, in the hope of ushering in some permanent street improvements. On Sunday June 16 they will hold Melbourne’s first Better Block, inspired by the Better Block movement in the United States.

“All the nature strips on High Street have been covered over and the trees are concreted in. Basically the street’s looking a bit sickly,” said High Street resident and event co-organiser Jules Martin. “We’re holding Coburg Better Block so we can test some improvements we’d like to make to the streetscape and experience a revitalised street.”

The temporary improvements being trialled on the day include installing trees (kindly supplied by Fleming’s Nurseries), productive gardens growing edible plants, pedestrian safety improvements and putting back the nature strips using astroturf.

Residents, friends and family as well as a number of businesses are all getting involved with creating the temporary street improvements for Coburg Better Block. The project will gather feedback from the community on the day about the changes and ultimately the project aims to provide street improvement suggestions to the City of Moreland. Coburg Better Block is also about bringing the neighbourhood together for a street party.

“We’re really excited to see High Street made over,” said event co-organiser Helen Rowe. “We hope a lot of locals come along on the day to see what we’ve achieved, tell us what they think and join in the fun at the street party”.

To create the street party atmosphere, the day will include: a visit from Jason Roberts (Better Block co-founder from Dallas, Texas), activities for kids, street chess, a pop up parklet, a Melbourne Water raingarden demonstration, food, music, coffee and magic tea!

Coburg Better Block was inspired by the work of the Better Block Project (www.betterblock.org) a program helping communities across the USA and around the world to rapidly improve their neighbourhoods. Andrew Howard, Better Block co-founder, presented a keynote at the Sustainable Living Festival earlier this year.


Jules Martin 0421 472 533 (High Street resident & Coburg Better Block co-organiser) Liz Franzmann 0410 391 379 (Coburg Better Block co-organiser) Helen Rowe 0423 194 366 (Coburg Better Block co-organiser)

For further information: www.facebook.com/CoburgBetterBlock

This event is being delivered with support from: The Sharehood www.thesharehood.org Fleming’s Nurseries www.flemings.com.au Melbourne Water www.melbournewater.com.au

The Coburg Better Block team has liaised with Moreland City Council staff, who have approved a road closure for High St (between Murray St and Soudan St) for the event. Councillors and council staff members are being invited to attend.


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Coburg Farmers’ Market (Photos) / Green Left Comedy Debate

Hi everyone,

Last Saturday was the inaugural Coburg Farmers’ Market, and it was a roaring success. I was expecting things to get off to a slow start and build through word of mouth over a few weeks. Not so! Word of mouth had already done its thing. As seen from the photos below (thanks Helen and Nat), the market was extremely well attended, justifying all the hard work of the organisers. These markets are taking place on the 2nd and 4th saturday of every month, from 8am-1pm, at North Coburg Primary, O’Hea Street, Coburg. Tell your friends and neighbours. And if you can’t always make it to the market, there is always Local Organics.

Before you look at the photos, let me say also that Transition Coburg has been invited to have an information table at Coburg’s annual Green Left Comedy Debate, taking place Friday 10 May, from 6.30am, at the Coburg Town Hall. A worthy cause to support, so hopefully I’ll see some of you down there. Should be fun. The theme of the debate is “Election 2013: Gina and Clive should run the country!”


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How to Build a Cheap Raised Bed

Hi folks, first of all, just a reminder that the first Coburg Farmers’ Market is on tomorrow (Saturday), at North Coburg Primary School, on O’Hea Street, from 8am-1pm. Secondly, I’ve written a post on building raised beds below which might be of interest to some.

Hopefully see some of you tomorrow,



I’ve been advancing my guerilla gardening efforts recently, with a significant new raised bed now beautifying my nature strip, as seen in the featured picture. I thought in this post I could provide a brief overview of how to build a cheap raised bed, either for use on your nature strip or in your front or backyards. This overview might seem a bit basic for the handy builders among you, so I direct this post to those who are beginning their journey into guerilla gardening and urban agriculture. I was moved to write this post after attending an environmental festival recently where raised beds like the one I have built were priced between $800 and $1000! Mine cost considerably less than $100, including the soil and plants. I also earned the joy of construction, making me doubly well off. Below I describe the method for building a raised garden bed two boards high, which provides good depth.

First thing you need to get is wood. You should aim for untreated hardwood or railway sleepers. Don’t buy wood brand new – it’s too expensive. In any case, it’s better to recycle, so find yourself a salvage yard. In Melbourne, secondhand hardwood boards can be sourced from between $3 or $4 a metre. Do the math and work out how much wood you need – not just the boards, but also a stake that can be used to attach the boards together (see below). Cut to size.


I then use the small stakes to join the side boards together.

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In situ, attach the end boards to the sideboards, as seen below.

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Then soak lots of newspaper and cardboard in water and then lay it in bottom of the garden bed. This keeps weeds and grass at bay.


A raised bed this size will require a fair amount of soil, and I ordered some in (to supplement backyard too). I highly recommend Bulleen Art and Garden for great soil. Don’t skimp on soil. The cheapest stuff can be more sand than soil, which is no good for growing food. Soil is the foundation of a flourishing garden.


Start filling your bed with soil.


If you can get organised enough, grow your own seedlings rather than buying them. You’ll save lots of money.



Time to plant the bed up!


And in a month or so it will look like this. (Note mandarin tree at the end which I planted a year or so ago.)



Tell me that isn’t a beautiful nature strip! I dream of a day when every nature strip in suburbia looks like this (see Samuel Alexander, “The Sufficiency Economy“).

Obviously, the same building method works just as well in the backyard/front yard.



Finally, see the competition being run by Reclaim the Curb, offering good prize money for Australia’s best curb-side garden bed!

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Coburg Farmers Market Begins 27 April!

Hi everyone,

I’m very happy to report that the first Coburg Farmers Market will be commencing on Saturday 27 April, and will take place on the 2nd and 4th saturday of every month thereafter. The markets are to be held at North Coburg Primary School on O’Hea street, and they go from 8am til 1pm. Bring your own shopping bags and spread the word! This is an achievement to be proud of, with special credit going to Nat.

There will be a marquee at the market which will be a place for people to get information about the market and make connections with folks from Transition Coburg, Robinson’s Reserve Neighbourhood House, Peppertree Place, etc. Nat will be operating the marquee, but hopefully others from these groups will be able to attend regularly to help assist in networking and distribution of information. These markets might also be a good opportunity for Transition Coburg ‘get togethers,’ and a place where we can potentially organise and hold workshops, talks, etc.

Hopefully see some of y’all soon,


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Cancelling Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Here is info on an event organised by Climate Action Moreland and Environment Victoria (from Sallyrose).

Join us This Saturday 20/4/2013  1pm outside the Mechanic Institute Hall corner Sydney Rd and Dawson Street Brunswick

“Every year over $10 billion of taxpayer money is spent subsidising big polluters, including some of the world’s most profitable mining companies. That’s the equivalent of giving them $65 million from people in this electorate alone.

I would rather this money was spent in the community on public transport, safe well lit bicycle tracks and investment in sustainable energy projects.”

What would you and other Moreland residents rather spend this money on – come and tell us This Saturday 20/4/2013 1 pm outside the Mechanic Institute Hall corner Sydney Rd and Dawson Street Brunswick – help us ‘cancel’ the giant $65 million cheque to big polluters

The event is part of a series of rolling actions happening across Victoria in the lead up to the Federal budget calling for a substantial reduction in $10 billion dollars in fossil fuel subsidies currently handed to big polluters every year.

Hope to see you family and friends on Saturday

Local Contact: SallyRose Carbines  0431 445 930 sallyrose15@optusnet.com.au


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A Few Photos from the Preserving Day

Hi everyone, just a few photos below from the preserving day. Good times had by all. Thanks to Local Organics for supplying such delicious fruit. (Also, a reminder that Peppertree Place is having its monthly community garden gathering / foodswap on 6th April, 10a,-12pm. All welcome.)


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Preserving, Farmers Market, Coffee Grounds

Hi everyone, just three short notes today.

First, the preserving day is happening this saturday, 1pm-4pm. There’s still space if you’d like to be involved, or just to watch, learn, and chat. (See previous post for details).  Makers and Menders is also taking place saturday, 11am-1pm.

Second, I’m very happy to report that the Farmers Market we got organised is going to be kicking off in late April. Final details still to be confirmed, but Nat tells me that Transition Coburg is welcome to have a stall. We need to do some brainstorming about how best to use this opportunity. Any ideas? Let’s meet soon to discuss (details to come).

Finally, Zainil was telling me the other day about how she had been collecting coffee grounds from her local cafe for use in her garden. Coffee grounds are useful in the garden for at least three reasons: (1) they provide a good source of nitrogen for the compost bin; (2) they can be used to help break up clay soil; (3) they deter slugs.

I approached my local cafe (The Post Office Hotel) and asked if I could pick up their coffee grounds a couple of times a week, and they were only too happy. I leave them with small/medium rubbish bin, which they fill up with coffee grounds. When I come to pick it up, I leave them with another empty bin, and take the full one. I’m happy, because I get good stuff for my garden, and they’re happy because they’re reducing waste. It’s win-win. Perhaps others might like to approach there local cafes and initiate a similar arrangement?

More soon – hope everyone’s well.


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Preserving Day – 23rd March

Hi everyone,

In our last discussion of what projects Transition Coburg should aim for this year, there was some interest in organising a preserving day. We’ve now locked in a date – which is dictated somewhat by local harvests of fruit – and a venue.

The preserving day will be held at (and in collaboration with) Robinson’s Reserve Neighbourhood House (104a Reynard Street, Coburg) on 23rd March, from 1pm-4pm. Thanks again to Greg, co-ordinator of the house, for his ongoing support for Transition Coburg.

Preserving food in season is one important means of reducing our carbon footprints, as it means we don’t have to order in as much food from the other side of the world via carbon-intensive transport. It is also a means of building resilience and self-sufficiency into our local economies.

If you would like to attend the preserving day, it’s important that you respond to this email and let me know, as I’ll need to keep tabs on numbers. As always, everyone’s welcome.

There’ll be at least two Fowlers units on the day, so for those who do not have their own and who would like to learn about preserving, this will provide an opportunity to see the process at work. If you are intending to preserve your own food, however, you’ll need to bring your own equipment (at least your own Fowler’s jars and lids, as we can do more than one session of boiling the jars in the two systems I’ll be bringing). One place I know you can get fowlers equipment is from the store Bee Sustainable, at 500 Lygon Street.

N.B. Given that there will be large pots of boiling water, Greg from the Neighbourhood House has rightly raised the issue of safety. While all Transition Coburg events previously have welcomed the attendance of children, I’d suggest that this might be one event when the little ones stay at home.

Also, this is a great opportunity to support Local Organics, the wonderful new supplier of local, organic food to Coburg and surrounding areas. If you would like to attend the preserving day, please consider ordering your fruit from Local Organics. Angie tells me that their suppliers should have tomatoes, plums, and perhaps pears and apples ready for 23rd of March.

Please contact Angie if you would like to make a fruit order with Local Organics: organicveggieboxes@gmail.com

(P.S. if you are not an experienced preserver, I’d advise against preserving tomatoes for safety reasons – if not done properly, tomatoes can go bad – and instead go for plums or pears or apples.)

Finally, there is an free talk by Michael Green on ‘Deinvestment from Fossil Fuels’ talking place on 14 March at the Sporting Club Hotel, 6pm. Organised by MEFL: details here.

Ok, that’s all for now. Again, please let me know if you’d like to attend on the preserving day on 23rd of March, either as an observer or a participant. Should be fun!




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2013 Screenings of the film “Economics of Happiness”

Greg from Robinson Reserve Neighbourhood House has organised a monthly screening of ‘Economics of Happiness’ in 2013 (starting 27th Feb!). This is an excellent film, touching on many issues related to Transition Initiatives, especially localisation of economy. If you are interested, Greg has provided the details below:

The film ‘Economics of Happiness’ is being shown at Robinson Reserve Neighbourhood House (104a Reynard Street, Coburg) between 5pm and 6pm on the Fourth Wednesday of Every Month during 2013 (March to Nov). No cost but small donations appreciated. (Starts 27th of February).

This documentary invites communities to consider: Has our Global Economy delivered us all a ‘happier life’?

Those who remember the loss of manufacturing jobs from Coburg to cheap-labour nations through the 1980s and 90s will have first-hand experience with the impact of Global Economy on Coburg at that time.  Our local experience could make this film of great interest.

We invite people to view the film and come back with friends to view it again if they choose to.

We can also screen the film at other times if there is clear demand or someone to volunteer to coordinate the screening, as we have access to a  copy with license for unlimited public viewing of the film.

Tea and Coffee provided by our community house and our kitchen if available for heating meals (etc).

Everyone is encouraged to stay afterwards to discuss the film and its impact on personal perspectives.


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