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Book Reviews

THE ART OF F RUGAL HEDONISM: A GUIDE TO SPENDING LESS WHILE ENJOYING EVERYTHING MORE

by Annie Raser-Rowland with Adam Grubb (Melliodora Publishing 2016).

Review by Kirsten Bradley

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In the current climate, where lots of folks want to downsize, downshift, simplify radically, barter + trade, go no-waste, grow good food, and reconsider where working for years from nine to five in an office actually gets them in terms of health and happiness, this book is both an antidote and an inspiration of sorts.

The Art of Frugal Hedonism is about living – very – lightly on this planet, while having a rocking good time. Both Annie and Adam have been doing urban frugalism, rather radically, for many years now, and it does certainly seem like they are having a good time.

But the book is not just talking about the fact that we all need more time, and less clothes (though that’s part of it) to live a good and happy life. It’s also packed with quirky but solid advice for ways to re-use, barter, DIY, dumpster dive, swap and generally cut down on all the everyday consumption you can think of. For the sake of limiting consumption on this one-andonly planet of ours, and also for the sake of living well, with a stronger community, and saving the money you do have for things that actually matter.

A PATCH FROM SCRATCH

by Megan Forward (Penguin Random House 2016).

Review by Ruby Woodger Rosenfeldt (aged 10) and Sydney Miller (aged 9)

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A Patch from Scratch is about a family that decides to grow a garden in their backyard in the city. They want to live more like people on a farm.

They buy chickens, make compost, plant seeds and make garden beds. They make things to eat out of the food they grow; they make pizza, salad and lemonade.

They have to protect their garden from the possums and bugs.

It’s fun because they can eat all the food that they grow. When they have finished their patch they are so exhausted they can’t even move.

The book is filled with interesting, detailed drawings showing all the things they do.

RADICAL MYCOLOGY: A TREATISE ON SEEING & WORKING WITH FUNGI

by Peter McCoy (Chthaeus Press 2016).

Review by Tyler Cameron

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Besides amateur and DIY mycologists, this book is essential reading for everyone in the permaculture movement. Fungi are often overlooked in permaculture designs, but Radical Mycology attempts to reconnect us with our ‘mycohistory’, while providing clear and concise instructions on how to cultivate fungi to remediate the planet and ourselves. This book represents an exciting opportunity for the permaculture community to deepen its ecological knowledge and advance human–fungi relations.

Seamlessly woven with the author’s fungal philosophy, the book inoculates readers with strands of the ‘mycelial web of knowledge’, and teaches us everything from identifying fungi in the wild, collecting spore prints and tissue samples, through to the complete process of low-cost cultivation and ‘mycoremediation’. On top of these practical elements, readers are equipped with tools to cultivate a community of fungi-lovers, and to spread the spores of DIY mycology further. A new generation of mycophiles and radical mycologists

will take on the ‘fungamental’ principles and patterns of mushroom cultivation – directly influenced by the Holmgren’s twelve principles of permaculture – to begin using fungi to restore broken ecologies and social systems.

CHILD OF THE EARTH: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY

by Glen Ochre (Groupwork Press 2016).

Review by Richard Telford

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This book captures the extraordinary life and times of Glen Ochre: from her traumatic origins in outback NSW, to raising a family in poverty as a single parent and setting up a ‘radical revolutionary’ communal house, the precursor to the Commonground Intentional Community, to the final moments before her death. Her story is one of overcoming extreme hardship throughout her life, drawing on the wisdom of the earth itself to transform adversity into strength – inspiring new ways of living and working together.

It’s clear from her writing that Glen faced a lot of pain on her own, which is probably why she reinforces the importance of collaborating, looking towards positive outcomes and a sense of fairness – linking back to her gypsy heritage.

It’s a challenging and moving read. A wonderful example of building resilience, in ourselves and our communities; a legacy she left for us all.

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