Editorial

What a crazy year 2020 has been. As I write this in May, we’ve faced the worst bushfires on record, affecting hundreds of towns and communities across Australia. Now a global pandemic continues to have a devastating effect across the globe. Although our lives have been completely altered, it is amazing how quickly we adapt and start to accept this new normal.

I want to start by acknowledging that this is an incredibly difficult time for a lot of people. Being forced to self-isolate has meant job losses, financial hardship, a rise in depression and mental health issues; and there have been the deaths of more than a quarter of a million people, worldwide. Let’s not forget those affected by the fires; many of whom are still living in caravans and having to self-isolate in cramped and uncomfortable conditions.

There are silver linings, however. At the time of writing this, pollution across the world has fallen dramatically. People can see the stars in places where they have never been able to see them before. Mountains have come into view as the smog clears and blue skies appear. Families are spending more time together. People are stepping out into their gardens and onto balconies and growing food.

Those who were previously too busy are finding the time to prepare meals from scratch and experiment with new skills like baking bread, making clothes and fermenting. And people are reaching out to one another in their neighbourhoods and communities.

Now it’s not all blue skies, obviously. And it will be a relief for many when the pandemic slows down and we can return to some form of normal. But what we need to do is to see this as an opportunity for change. What this current pandemic has done has given us a glimpse of a possible future that we can create if we make different choices. This is an opportunity to see what the world might be like if we drove our cars less, travelled in planes less and spent more time at home. This is our opportunity to rethink our lives, our choices and our practices. I know it will need some fine-tuning, but maybe we realise we don’t want to go back to the life we were living, where we were too busy to say g’day to our neighbours, or spend time in the garden, or go for a walk with our loved ones and have some time to just be.

So, in this issue we’re sharing ideas to help inspire a new, positive future, starting with our story about Food Connect and how their local food system remained strong throughout the crisis. (page 56.) We have an article to help you bump up your food-growing production, no matter how small your space. (page 26.) We look at how putting a permaculture design in place on your property will help create a thriving and productive garden. (page 60.)

Let’s not forget the fires. Victor Steffensen shares his experience with cultural burning and how it can help reduce wildfire and help regenerate our landscapes. (page 66.) And we look at practices we can incorporate around our backyards and properties to help hold more water in the landscape, which will help reduce fire risk and improve our soil. (page 82.)

This is the time to dream of the future that we want, and this pandemic has given us an opportunity to see what it might look like; a preview of what we can achieve if we, as humanity, make changes in our production, consumption and lifestyles. A new reality where the earth can breathe and where we can breathe.

Happy reading,

Robyn

Author

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