Turning Setbacks into Success Stories

A while ago I wrote about my plans to live off the grid and build a permaculture garden and sustainability centre. I thought it was time to write an update about the progress of my ambitions.

Firstly, my partner and I were not successful in securing a loan sufficient to achieve our goals of living on a large block of land in the country. Therefore, rather than buying a piece of substandard property (which is all we could afford) we have decided to put our plans on hold for roughly a year so as to save enough for our dreams to become a reality.

At first, I was frustrated and extremely disappointed with this development. However, I now realise that if my plans are worth doing then they are worth doing well. Creating a successful sustainability centre will take a degree of time and planning and I now have the space and time to assess what I really want to achieve. It is highly likely that if I were to start this initiative now, I would be thrown into the deep end and become overwhelmed with the scale of the task. As it is often said, we learn the most from our mistakes and setbacks. So rather than being disheartened, I have decided to turn this extra time into an opportunity for research and personal development.

Recently, I have been looking at existing models similar to what I would like to create and am keeping a catalogue of information and links regarding permaculture, education, energy and sustainability. It is exciting to see that across the world from Melbourne to New York, people have put together sustainability initiatives which mirror some of my core ideas. These initiatives include large permaculture gardens, learning and education facilities and sustainable community hubs.

However, I have noticed that the majority of these initiatives are primarily located in urban centres. This means that I have the opportunity to fill the gap that exists in regional North East Victoria which is a region generally associated with agriculture and conservatism.

Paradoxically it is often regional and rural areas which lack awareness about environmental and sustainability issues. This is despite the fact that these regions will be hard hit by tragedies such as droughts, bushfires and other natural disasters which are set to gradually worsen due to changes in the climate. Therefore it is essential that rural citizens have the chance to learn about sustainability initiatives and discover what they can do in their daily lives to minimise the burden placed on the Earth’s resources.

Over the next year, whilst undertaking my Master’s degree I will endeavour to visit as many existing centres for sustainability as possible. This will enable me to develop my ideas and to see what’s feasible and what’s not.

As well as this, I hope to travel overseas to India, Nepal and Tibet to give me a greater appreciation of different cultures and an understanding of the sustainability challenges that they also face. I believe it is so important to understand nature and sustainability not only from a local perspective but also from a global social and cultural one. We all live on this Earth together and can gain so many insights from observing diverse traditions, cultures and environments.

So far on this journey I have learnt to embrace challenges as opportunities and to use the world around me for endless inspiration. If my efforts can change the lives of just a few citizens and give them the resources to contribute to a sustainable future then it will all be worth it in the end.

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Sustainability Centre England

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TOP PHOTO: Melbourne’s ‘CERES Community Environment Park’ website: http://www.ceres.org.au/greentech/greentech.html

MIDDLE PHOTO: England’s ‘Sustainability Centre’ website: http://www.sustainability-centre.org/text.php?page=Whathappenshere?

BOTTOM PHOTO: Frontier volunteers teaching children about community gardening. Website: http://www.frontiergap.com/ProjectView.aspx?id=449

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