Retrosuburbia: A Downshifter’s Guide To A Resilient Future

Over the last two decades I have explored permaculture as a set of thinking tools for the energy-descent future and outlined a nuanced and over-the-horizon view of the diverse ways in which that energy-descent future might unfold. Since then ‘resilience’ has displaced ‘sustainability’ as the buzzword about the future, while ‘energy-descent’ still lurks on the conceptual fringe.

My soon to be released book– ‘RetroSuburbia’ (due to be published late 2016) – focuses on residential landscapes, backyards and behaviours in suburbia, where most Australians live or were raised. Less theoretical and dense than some of my previous work, ‘RetroSuburbia’ builds on my ‘Aussie Street’ presentations, showing how ordinary Australians can downshift and retrofit their houses, gardens and lifestyles to be more sustainable and resilient; to survive and thrive.

With this energy-descent future looming, the ‘lucky country’ is likely to get a big shake-up, with: the bursting of the property bubble; the ongoing collapse of prices for Australian exports; more extreme weather events; and geopolitical crises. We don’t have time – decades – to redesign and rebuild our cities, so we have to retrofit our suburbs to cope with a future where we might have more time, but far less capital and fewer resources.