New film, book on permaculture

August 5, 2011
Herb fence. Enmore, Sydney. Photo:

Anima Mundi: Permaculture, Climate Change, Peak Oil & the Soul of the World
Directed by Peter Downey
Permaculture Pioneers: Stories from the New Frontier
Edited by Kerry Dawborn & Caroline Smith
Available from
Sydney launch of Permaculture Pioneers & premier of Anima Mundi
August 25, 7pm, Chauvel Cinema, Paddington Town Hall
$20/$10 conc. Benefit for the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, 100% Renewables Campaign & Beyond Zero Emissions. Purchase tickets here

Permaculture is one of Australia’s greatest intellectual exports.

It has helped people worldwide to design ecologically sustainable strategies for their homes, gardens, farms and communities.

The new book Permaculture Pioneers charts a history of the first three decades of permaculture through the personal stories of 25 Australian permaculturists.

The stories in this book represent the scope, depth and diversity of Australian permaculture.

They explore some of the influences on those who have embraced it, record milestones and highlight recurring themes.

For Australians and others around the world whose lives have been changed by permaculture, this book provides a context for articulating and celebrating their stories and experiences.

Even more, it invites each of us, permaculturists or not, to embrace our power in designing our world out of the best in ourselves, for the benefit of the whole Earth community.

Like tough, resilient pioneer plants with their ability to grow in barren and hostile ground, social pioneers work courageously at the edges of accepted norms, bringing new ideas and opportunities.

They build knowledge, experience and new perspectives — fertile soil for those who follow.

Anima Mundi is by Australian filmmaker Peter Downey. It brings together an extraordinary mix of voices, juxtaposed with old newsreel footage and advertisements to help us understand the systemic trap that we find ourselves in and the difficulty of change.

Future possible energy descent scenarios underline the urgent need for relocalisation and the building of local lifeboats of sustainability.

It flips from the long view of extraterrestrials studying Earthling modes of life to exquisite micro scenes of nature. Familiar events from our world, such as the loss of biodiversity, take on new meanings when seen through the eyes of trees.

One of the voices in this film, Michael Ruppert, author of Crossing The Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil, describes Anima Mundi thus: “This is an unbelievably enlightening, refreshing and inspiring look at our immediate world from a Gaian [‘living earth’] viewpoint.

“The crises and challenges of our time are seen from the perspective of a living planet, then woven with compellingly clear explanations and insights from a broad, global palette of writers, thinkers and activists who show us that Mother Earth is indeed a living thing and that she will respond when treated as such.

“When epochal changes occur they need to be examined from a multitude of viewpoints. Peter Charles Downey has given us an indispensable and beautifully crafted work of art that is an essential facet in the shining gemstone of a new human consciousness.

“For all my years of work in the field I heard, saw and understood issues in ways that were new, fresh and integrating.

“David Holmgren, as are all those interviewed, is a giant of an emerging consciousness — a prototype of the emerging new species I call Post-Petroleum Human. Anima Mundi lovingly and eloquently does a superb job of presenting our world — and our place in it — in a way that is calming, reassuring, while at the same time allowing us to comprehend and absorb the insanity of the world view held by humankind for thousands of years.

“For all the films I have appeared in, Anima Mundi leaves me with a deep personal sense of satisfaction. What the film gave me for the first time was a very clear understanding of where I and my life’s work fit into this emerging consciousness. Finally, I see that I am and have been a warrior for Gaia all along; one of many.

“Watching this film was a deeply personal and uplifting experience. It is a must see for all who would help to lead us into a ‘new paradigm’ because it so clearly and lovingly shows us the direction we need to go if we are to survive and endure.”

Other voices in this film include, Indian activist Vandana Shiva on the seed, myself on deep ecology, Dr Christine James on psychology, Noam Chomsky on activism and Stefan Harding on Gaia, the living Earth.

Through these voices a picture emerges of the current transition of human industrial civilization being ushered in by peak oil and climate change.

For those in Sydney, a great evening of entertainment is shaping up for August 25 with the Sydney launch of Permaculture Pioneers. There will be a talk by permaculture founder David Holmgren.

This will be followed by the Sydney premiere of Anima Mundi and a talk by Costa Georgidias of SBS’s Costa’s Garden Odyssey, titled “Why coal seam gas is everyone’s business: How our food security and water security are being decided without us!”

The $20/$10 entry fee is to benefit three climate action groups: Australian Youth Climate Coalition, 100% Renewables Campaign and Beyond Zero Emissions and they (as well as other environment and permaculture groups) will have tables and information displays in the foyer for the networking session after the events finish at 9pm.

Local organic fingerfood will be served by Food Connect and drinks will be on sale from the bar. It will be an opportunity to engage with like-minded people.

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