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Winter solstice update

Hello freezing cold weather. It’s 7˚C at the moment but the sun is shining and we’re happy to be busy outside.

Today Mitch pruned the feijoas, while also contemplating pruning his bushman’s beard.

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Looks like he’s decided to keep it, to keep his face warm while he works outside. Good idea!

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He then chipped his prunings and fed them back to the feijoas for arvo tea.

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We were visited last week by Daniel BeeShepherd who cycled over from Castlemaine. (Did you notice that he even has a jar of honey in his drink-bottle holder?)

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Here is another great photo of Daniel. As he says: “I’m very keen on human-powered transport and don’t own a car. I usually get around using a pushbike and trailer, including when I service the bees. Permaculture has been a big influencing factor for me and I try to incorporate its principles into every aspect of my life.”

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We have been falling in love with fungi, as we do every year at this time. Here is a spore print of a field blewit (Lepista spp.) we found down towards the gully.

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We have been preparing for Kirsten, Nick and Ashar to come and live here.

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And we have been taking advantage of the colder weather to go through old things and unearthed this photo of Su from the late 80s. What a glamorous permie babe!

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We are helping organise a course at Fryers Forest. If you’d like to learn more about natural building and low impact construction, please come along. Bookings essential.

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Richard Telford took the following photo of David, Terry White, Ian Lillington and Carol McDonough at the Permaculture Australia AGM in Castlemaine over the weekend.

The award is not for the best hat, but the United Nations Association of Australia World Environment Day Award given to Castlemaine for being the Community of the Year in 2008. Carol accepted it on behalf of the town in 2008 and has been looking after it ever since. On the weekend she handed it on and presented it to Terry as the most worthy person to be custodian of it. As part of his acceptance speech, Terry gave a talk about the origins of the permaculture journal and permaculture association that he started in Maryborough in 1978, that were the precursor of Permaculture Australia, the only national permaculture body in Australia.

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That’s it from us for now. Just a reminder that there are just over three weeks before submissions close for the Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize.

Happy Hibernal Solstice to you all!

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A History from the Future

We are thrilled to be sharing with you an excerpt from David Holmgren’s A History from the Future – a prelude to his upcoming book RetroSuburbia.


A HISTORY FROM THE FUTURE: a prosperous way down

future-scenarios-logoLong time central Victorian resident and co-originator of the globally influential permaculture concept, David Holmgren draws on his Future Scenarios work to paint a picture of how simple household and community level strategies can build resilience to the hard emerging realities of economic contraction, peak oil and climate change.

Holmgren has spent decades modelling how low impact resilient ways of living and land use provide a happier and healthier alternative to dependent consumerism. In this story, based on an original presentation from the Local Lives Global Matters conference in Castlemaine 2015, he shows how these informed lifestyle choices and biological solutions become the basis for surfing the downslope of the emerging energy descent future.


A LOCAL STORY FROM 2086

Prelude: The World at Energy Peak 2000-2015

At the turn of the 21st century the evidence for energy descent driven by peak oil and climate change was already strong. The quasi religious belief in continuous economic growth had a strong hold on collective psychology in central Victoria as much as anywhere in the world. The global financial system began to unravel in 2008 at the same time that global production of conventional oil peaked. For a minority it was increasingly obvious that the policies put in place ensured that the collapse was even more severe when it did come. It was like the powers that be had pushed the accelerator hard to the floor in one of those supercharged sports cars of the time, to attempt to jump across the widening chasm that humanity was facing.

The collapse of global financial growth unfolded differently in different places but here the story had many upsides that were partly due to luck and partly a result of visionaries and innovators who helped create a better future. These are the bare bones of how we got from what a few people still consider was the golden age to what we call the Earth Steward culture.

Photo Erica Zabowski

Choose from a vast array of nothing, or perhaps a different path. Photo Erica Zabowski

First Energy Descent Crisis 2017-2026

In 2017 the Australian property bubble burst. For our communities, this marked the start of the First Energy Descent Crisis (of the 21st century). Ballarat Bank was the first financial institution to fail and a government forced take over by the Commonwealth Bank saw the Community Bank network hived off as local lending co-ops backed by local government hoping to restart economic activity in regional towns that were increasingly on their own as State and Federal governments focused on dealing with hardship and social unrest in the cities.

The crisis was world wide, so dramatically reduced global Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the peak of global oil (what they called Total Liquids at the time) the same year was very much in line with the 1972 Limits To Growth report default scenario showing industrial output peaking about that time. More recent studies suggest that net energy available to support humanity peaked closer to the turn of the millennium but it’s all a moot point because it seems that economic growth had been a net drain on human welfare for decades before that.

As capital investment in oil fell off a cliff, and production from existing fields declined at nearly 10% there was a second oil price shock, a US currency collapse and a short war between the USA and China in 2022. Australia got punished in the trade embargo imposed by China. The economic crisis in China had already caused nearly 100 million of the recently urbanised workers to return to the villages, and reimposition of a command economy to continue the shift to renewable energy and revitalise agriculture. Consequently China was able to cope without Australian coal and gas and there was so much scrap steel in the world that the iron ore exports had come to a standstill.

While oil and food remained costly (at least relative to falling wages) most manufactured goods were dirt-cheap. Solar panels from China (somehow getting around the trade embargo) accelerated the trend for retail customers going off grid which, combined with collapse of commercial demand for electricity, led to a “Death Spiral” in the power grid with rising prices and increasing blackouts (and surges due to excess wind and solar inputs).

A newly elected Federal Labor government renationalised the power grid, along with price controls, rationing an Australia ID card allowing rationed access to subsidised supermarkets that had been experiencing shortages of fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy.

In Victoria, a Liberal government implemented policies to encourage people to be more self-reliant. Permaculture education was adopted as a framework for integrating aspects of self-reliance including home food production, owner building, water harvesting and waste management.

Rationing of fuel led to hitch-hiking, ride sharing and in rural areas a rush to convert vehicles to wood gas. Bicycles became the default personal transport around town in Castlemanine but in Daylesford and Hepburn, electric bikes and vehicles powered by the Hepburn Wind charging stations installed for tourists before the property bubble burst maintained mobility for locals.

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Charcoal powered public transport from Japan. Photo: ‘Lover of Romance’

Conversion of vehicles to wood gas by a range of bush mechanics and ex-hot rodders had mixed success. The market value of higher powered larger vehicles and trucks rose as a result of the first wave of conversions. The Castlemaine Obtainium Engineering Institute was established to test and improve local designs and prototypes. One of the motivations was a competitive spirit with the electric car networks centred in Daylesford and Ballarat.

Use of Bitcoin (a virtual currency), local currencies, precious metals and barter all increased to support exchange in the rapidly growing informal and grey economies. Bitcoin then failed in mysterious circumstances after being targeted for funding terrorism.

The Internet began functioning again after major breakdowns during the conflict between the US and China. But Facebook and Amazon were bankrupt, cyberspace was littered with defunct and unmaintained sites and Internet marketing was plagued by cyber crime and draconian government regulations. Local computer networks using wireless technology, as well as a revival of two-way radio, started building back to basics communication pathways.


A History from the Future eBookletTo read the full story, purchase the eBook here or get the download for FREE when you sign up to our mailing list for updates to David Holmgren’s upcoming book RetroSuburbia, due for release in March 2017.

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Persimmons, pumpkins and permie dancing

With the corn we harvested and shucked in March, we cooked up a delicious feast of tortillas.

IMG_5044We dug up potatoes to store for winter,

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and relocated naughty runaway artichokes.

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We exhaled deep sighs of relief with the coming of the rain,

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and we farewelled Lori, who returned to the US. Lori, pictured here with this season’s latest fashion, the scarf biologique, is our last MIAOW (Melliodora Interns and Other Workers) for a while. Ordinarily we don’t take MIAOWs over the winter, though we do start booking people in to come and stay from September onward. This year we are taking an extended break from our usual MIAOW scheduling as we look forward to settling the Milkwood crew in to their new digs in early July.

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We heartily welcomed these gorgeous visitors with their generous box of shroomy delights. Thanks Tess and Oliver!

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Last month, the R/1 students from the Yorketown Area School in South Australia created a book of drawings for Charlie Mgee after listening to his music during their Science, Literacy and Music lessons. Charlie received this book at the Food Forest in SA where David was teaching at this year’s PDC.

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As we hung up the last of our tomato vines to ripen

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we welcomed the onset of citrus season and look forward to rereading Morag Gamble’s great post on Ways to Use Abundant Mandarins (fruit & peel).

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Autumn really is the season of giving thanks. Here is Su with the gorgeous Kat Lavers exchanging persimmons for pumpkins. Thanks Kat! You made Su sooooooo happy.

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We had another visitor join us here in Hepburn. Woody from Artist as Family came and spent the day being the apprentice’s apprentice. Your care and gentleness was much appreciated, Mitch,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAas were your awesome dance moves.

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Thanks too for taking this photo of this morning’s frost, the first big one for the season.

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Thanks to Hamish and Christian, too, for their work building the stone wall on the east side of the house. It’s looking so good!

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OK. That’s enough chit chat. It’s been fun and all but we’d better get back to work. Hope you are working hard and dreaming big, filling your barrows with pleasures accumulated and shared.

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If you are considering writing a poem for the Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize, our inbox still has plenty of room. Entries close July 15 so there’s still lots of time.

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Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize

We are thrilled to announce the launch of the inaugural Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize. The specifics are as follows:

Major prize: AUD$1000

All entries must be received by 11.59 pm EST, Friday July 15 2016.
The shortlist and winner will be announced during the Daylesford Words in Winter festival, August 5-7, 2016 2016.
The judges for the 2016 competition are Richard Perry and Bronwyn Blaiklock.

Entry terms and conditions

1. Entrants must be citizens of Australia or New Zealand or have permanent resident status in Australia or New Zealand.
2. Poems must be unpublished (including online) and not under consideration by other publishers.
3. Poems that have won or are under consideration in other competitions are not eligible.
4. Poems must have an environmental theme.
5. All poems must be written in English.
6. The winning poems will be published on www.holmgren.com.au
7. An entry fee of $10 will be charged and is payable via bank transfer, PayPal, cash or cheque. A receipt will be sent as confirmation once the money has been received.
8. The name of the poet must not appear on the manuscript (including the header or footer) since all poems will be considered anonymously.
9. Poems must be no more than 80 lines.
10. Multiple entries are permitted, though a $10 fee applies to each poem.
11. Please ensure you are satisfied with your poem before submitting. Poems that are withdrawn and subsequently resubmitted will incur a second fee.
12. The competition closes 11.59 pm EST, Friday July 15, 2016.
13. Selection will be made by the judges. The judges’ decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into.

Please click here for submission details.


About the judges

Richard Perry, a Hepburn Shire resident, is emeritus professor of Asian art history at York University, Toronto, a former teacher at the Victorian College of the Arts, and has served as editor and writer for numerous journals in the U.S. and Canada.

Bronwyn Blaiklock, a resident of Ballarat, has been active in the arts and music education industries for 20 years across three states as artistic director, performer (piano, piano accordion), writer, arts administrator, adjudicator and educator. Founder of the Pure Poetry project, Bronwyn facilitates the creative development of new collaborative performance works by emerging and established writers and composers. Her poetry has been anthologised in numerous Australian publications, and her first collection, Etching My Initials, was published in 2016 by Melbourne Poets Union as #23 in the Union Poets Chapbook Series. Bronwyn has contributed to state-wide literary initiatives through membership on the Board of Writers Victoria (2009-2014).


About Venievenie

In her late 50’s Venie Holmgren began to write poetry and her first published anthology, The Sun Collection for the Planet in 1989, became a poetry ‘best seller’. At the same time, she applied her environmental activist skills and commitment to the campaign to save native forests near her home on the far south coast of NSW, where she was arrested twice for obstructing log trucks. After 16 years of solo self-reliant living she moved to the local town of Pambula where she penned her travel memoir, several more books of poetry and travelled widely as a performance poet. In 2010 Venie moved to Hepburn where she wrote her last poetry collection, The Tea-house Poems. In January 2016, Venie “caught the bus” at the age of 93 .

You can read more of Venie’s life here:
www.theguardian.com/books/australia-books-blog/2015/mar/25/in-praise-of-venie-holmgren-at-92-still-an-activist-adventurer-and-a-poet

 

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Build it, chop it, grow it, pick it, preserve it

It’s not much to look at, we know, but we wanted to start this post with a blank canvas: the exciting possibility of the empty page, a timely reminder to observe

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and interact:

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There has been much observing these last few weeks, looking around to see what we could use for a retaining wall. Hello willow. Thanks so much to Mitch, the current Melliodora apprentice, for this fantastic series of photos:

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This week we welcomed Lori who will be MIAOWing with us for three weeks. Lori did her PDC at Bullock’s Permaculture Homestead in Orcas Island, Washington and has been an active member of the Seattle Permaculture Guild. Lori says that her vision for the future is to infiltrate the mainstream education system and inject it with permaculture. “My goal is to bring this message to young people in a way that inspires them to perpetuate it.” We hope you reach your goal Lori!

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With Lori’s help we picked olives

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cut and dehydrated feijoas, and scooped out their sherbety flesh to freeze them.

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We made kraut,

krautspelt sourdough

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and fresh goats cheese.

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And we looked up. We gave thanks for the rain, the falling leaf mulch, and the kiwi chandeliers.

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A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity

In 2015 a small community formed an emerging ecovillage in Gippsland, Victoria, and challenged themselves to explore a radically simpler way of life based on material sufficiency, frugality, permaculture, alternative technology and local economy. Made by Jordan Osmond and Samuel Alexander, A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity is a documentary that tells the story of this community’s living experiment, in the hope of sparking a broader conversation about the challenges and opportunities of living in an age of limits.

The documentary also presents new and exclusive interviews with leading activists and educators in the world’s most promising social movements, including David Holmgren (permaculture), Helena Norberg-Hodge (localisation), Ted Trainer (the simpler way), Nicole Foss (energy and finance), Bill Metcalf (intentional communities) and Graham Turner (limits to growth).

FILM PREMIER DETAILS

Friday, June 3, 2016 from 6:15 PM to 9:30 PM.
Victorian Trades Hall Council (New Council Chambers) – 54 Victoria Street, Carlton, VIC 3053.

Doors open at 6.15pm, with time to mingle before Samuel Alexander introduces the film at 6.45pm. The screening begins at 7pm. After the film at 8.30pm, the filmmakers will welcome comments and questions about the issues raised, and a panel, including David Holmgren, will also answer questions. The evening will wrap up around 9.30pm.

There will be nibbles and drinks prior to the screening. Please bring your own cup/mug to minimise the use of recyclables.

You can pre-order tickets here.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEYREEnymnk]

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Singing our autumn song

We are happy to report that feijoa season is officially open here in central Victoria. Hooray! A special big thanks to the rosellas for leaving us some on the ground to harvest. If you live nearby come on down on Wednesday afternoon. We’ll have some to purchase for $4 a kilo.

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We’d love to say that we have excess quinoa and cherry guavas to share too, but this season we just have enough for home use.

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While we thank the rosellas, the white-winged choughs stand by awaiting their praise for doing such a neat job digging up the garden and everything we’ve just planted.

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As a guard against beak and wind, and to later use as stakes, we left half the corn stalks in place and planted the broadbeans alongside them.

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We received a copy of a new book just released in Chile – a permaculure book for children.

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We spent some time off-site, helping to build a house in the community of Fryers Forest.

strawbale building“Yep, let’s put the swimming pool over here.”

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We also undertook some earthworks of our own, removing a crumbling stone wall so we can reconstruct another sturdier one.

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We also had some larger earthworks done, to dig out the nutrient-rich silt from the goose pond while it’s empty.

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We shovelled the thick mud to use for various projects

earthworks3including to help repair a leaky dam in the gully

earthworks4and beautify our persons.

earthworks5Exhausted and satisfied, we sat down to share a meal together.

colourful lunchSome of us snoozed peacefully in the hot house,

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while some of us embraced one another out of comfort and a deep need to express our abundant love.

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Milkwood to Melliodora

Photo by Artist as Family

It is with much anticipation and excitement that we share with you the news that Kirsten, Nick and Ashar from Milkwood Permaculture in Kiama will be coming to live here at Melliodora.

In mid-Winter this year, they will be farewelling their friends, family and networks and will be heading our way to do a 12-month residency in permaculture living and homesteading. We reckon we all have a lot to share and learn from each other.

As they write so beautifully on their website:

We’ve found that there’s nothing stronger than a collaborative force, whatever the challenge. Our planet is at tipping point and our role is to help in whatever way we can, and to create momentum by helping other organizations do the same.

We look forward to welcoming you, Nick, Kirsten and Ashar – don’t forget to bring your woollies! xx

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Milk plus wood

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Pascoe & Holmgren: Land & Culture

Well, what a night! Thank you to everyone who came along to Land Cultures to hear Bruce and David tell stories and share knowledges and experiences. The Daylesford Town Hall was packed with keen punters of all ages. If you weren’t able to make it, we’ll share the podcast and video as soon as they’re available. For now, here are a few photos that capture the wonderful spirit of the night. Thank you Oliver Holmgren for the pics and thank you to the Hepburn Relocalisation Network for organising the event with the support of the Hepburn Shire Council.

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A traditional smoking ceremony

 

Graham Atkinson says Womin-dji-ka (welcome) to Dja Dja Wurrung country

 

Packed to the rafters.

Patrick Jones MCs the proceedings.

 

Pete O’Mara addresses the crowd

 

Bruce and David with their partners Lyn and Su.

 

David responds to Bruce

 

A full house

Thank you to Mike Brown, Cameron Saunders and Anthony Petrucci for recording the talks and Q&A session afterwards. Here is the podcast for those who couldn’t make it on the night, or for those who’d like to relive it:

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/258551095″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”70%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

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Melliodora meanderings

We woke to the possibilities of a brand new day.

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We repaired the small jetty to inspire the rain gods.

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We shared food with loved ones.

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We cleaned windows.

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We harvested amaranth.

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We marvelled at the colour and tenacity of self-sown seeds.

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We welcomed three new MIAOWs (Melliodora Interns and Other Workers). This is James. James completed a permaculture course at Ceres in Melbourne and says he is passionate about nature, organic/bio-dynamic agriculture and working in harmony with the land.

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This is Thierry. Thierry is a Canadian WWOOFing around Australia. He did his PDC at the Noosa Forest Retreat with Geoff Lawton. ‘Lately,’ he says, ‘I have been very interested in landscape designing, like the keyline system. This has brought an increased interest on my part in permaculture and the practices and methods used in this type of agriculture.’

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And this is Michele. Michele is from Italy and did his PDC with Saviana Parodi in a lovely Italian eco-village.

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We admired the abundance of life and death and how they cohabitate so beautifully this time of year.

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We had a PDC teacher training get together with Dave Jacke.

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We finished rebuilding the little jetty.

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And we cleared our schedule for this Thursday to make room for an exciting day of events:

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