Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
My name is Dan and I live in a house that I built on the back of a truck. I travel the east coast of Australia, collaborating with communities of admirable people to regenerate depleted ecosystems. My ‘work’ manifests in many ways, from building earthen homes to planting food forests.
I designed and built my mobile-house over the course of a few years while I was working and studying. I had very little building knowledge when I started. It was an intimidating project, but I so desperately wanted the freedom that it was going to give me, that I managed to persist in learning all the skills that I needed to make the dream come true. I had to learn how to weld, build timber frames and rig up all the solar and water appliances myself. I’ve been living in it for about a year now and I don’t see myself moving out any time soon. It’s super cozy and designed to carry everything I need…which isn’t much!
How do you do it?
I deeply believe in taking responsibility for the ways that I interact with the world. I have observed many of my old habits depleting the ecosystems that support me and I am choosing to form new habits that will support all life as well as my own.
The practice and philosophy of permaculture has helped identify practical and tangible ways that I can support the growth of healthy ecosystems. A big part of my work centers around building biomass and biodiversity through the establishment of food forests. Forests are the lungs of the planet and now more than ever, this planet needs to breathe! By observing how nature builds forests, we can mimic these processes to build fertile topsoil, create habitats for animals and feed ourselves in the process!
Why do you do it?
I insist on doing work that I care about and believe in. This often means volunteering or even sometimes refusing to be paid for work so that I can maintain the autonomy to do what feels right.
My primary work is facilitating the emergence of a community bound by the creation of beautiful living spaces and food systems. I’m a custodian of a small property on the Mid North Coast of NSW, where this community is laying its roots. We are currently establishing a food forest based on permaculture principles and are about to start running workshops to build a few guest houses using natural building techniques.
Natural building refers to the practice of building using raw materials such as clay, sand and straw. There are so many different techniques under the umbrella of ‘natural building’ including straw bale, rammed earth and mud brick, however what unites them all is how accessible these techniques are! You don’t need to go to school to learn how to build a house, just kick off your boot and play in the mud! Well perhaps it’s a bit more complex than that…but the best way to learn is to volunteer to support others who are needing help on their builds. One of the things about natural building is that while it requires little to no training, it is extremely labor intensive. You’ll find that most natural buildings are a big communal effort of many individuals coming together to make light work of it.
Before I started travelling, I had no idea just how many people were collaborating towards co-creating a beautiful world. I’m truly inspired by the work of the people I’ve met so far and the journey is still so young.
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