Mark’s story on a 6 day solo in nature Nov 2012

One of the experiences I had on my 6 day solo in nature was lying in my sleeping bag just outside my tent fly looking up through the tree canopy to the night sky. I could see stars and I started to shut my eyes and go to sleep. Suddenly I heard rain drops falling on my stretched nylon tent fly an arms length away from where I was lying on the left of my sleeping bag. They made a drumming sound but I couldn’t feel any drops on my sleeping bag. The drops petered out to a drizzle and then fine spray just as fast as it had started. Maybe in the branches above I was being pissed on by a possum? I felt myself lucky that it wasn’t landing on me even though it was less than half a metre away. I decided to stay where I was and head back to sleep. Five minutes later a loud drumming sound of hail stones falling on, and bouncing off, my tent started. I felt two of these bounce off the tent and onto my sleeping bag and then it stopped. Maybe now I was being pooed on by the possum? Was it aiming to get me or just being indifferent?


I wondered what would happen to my sleeping bag if I rolled on top of possum poo all night. I decided this needed investigation and I reached out, for the only time on my solo I felt I needed to use my head torch, and looked for the poo. In the dead leaves and grass next to my sleeping bag near the top and the bottom I found two pellets of possum poo. They were quite firm and not sloppy. This was a good sign for my sleeping bag and for my poo handling. I shone the small circle of light in the darkness onto the poo. It was a clean green cylinder about a thumb width long and a quarter of a thumb width in diameter. I found two dead leaves to protect my fingers and thumb and then I gently bent the leaves in a pincer motion and picked up the possum poo and just threw it quickly and forcefully out from light and away from me and into the dark.

Water and rocksThree metres to my right was the beautiful, gently cascading stream that was my constant companion with lovely bubbling and burbling sounds over and between rocks day and night. Between me and the stream was also a little bush with its own ecosystem of ferns, leaves and dead vegetation decomposing to provide it with nutrients for life.

When I turned the light off and settled back to go to sleep in the darkness again I felt a dreadful feeling of regret wash over my body. I asked myself where did that poo go? I see myself as a responsible and thoughtful person and conscious of what to do with waste in an ecosystem. I now regretted not just carefully lifting the poo from the left side of my sleeping bag and gently resting it an arms length away under the little bush on the right side of my sleeping bag so that it could be nutrients for the grass and the bush without causing discomfort for me. In the emotional constriction and small circle of light with my concentrated awareness I had just thrown what I didn’t want away into the darkness, mindlessly unaware that there is no such place as “away”. I started to think, did the poo go in the stream? This was the water I was drinking. Will Peter and Danny downstream of me, and me, be drinking possum poo tainted water? I had an uneasy night’s sleep and reflected on how humanity lives mindlessly in the world like this all the time, creating and disposing of waste ignorant of the ecosystems we live in and how if we were more mindful and thoughtful we can work with nature to turn waste into food for some of the other organisms we live with.

The next day, when it was sunlight, I looked for the poo in and around the stream without luck. I hoped that Peter and Danny will survive downstream and forgive me. I accepted that if Claire was having similar dilemmas upstream from me, that I was still drinking the water. I wondered if people in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia could collaborate and listen to each other’s stories, mistakes and insights about the Murray-Darling River system and learn to honour and respect the water, each other and mother nature. My lesson: whenever life is narrow, focused and intense, relax, be present, connect with nature and be mindful and open before reacting unconsciously.

Other experiences I had involved a sea eagle, blue-tongue lizards, birds, bubbling water, ferns, sky and a snake.

Sunset Orange rocks and water Granite Mt Flowers

Blue tongue lizard

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Sacred Passage on Flinders Island with John Milton

I want to warmly invite you to come on a Sacred Passage in Flinders Island, Tasmania, with John Milton. Please see the brochure below.


John Milton is a remarkable human being, a very powerful spiritual teacher and certainly a revered elder of the global environmental movement. Way of Nature Australia, of which I am a board member, is bringing John to Australia for the third time to run the 10-day Sacred Passage. John has previously guided this retreat on coast of Flinders Island and in the rainforest of SE Queensland. Although I haven’t spent time in nature with John (as my fellow board members have) I have had many powerful life shaping solo and group experiences in nature in Australia and remote mountain ranges around the world.

I am going on this Sacred Passage to gain insight into John’s wisdom, collected from many traditions, to deepen and enrich my relationship with nature, each other and myself. This journey is important for me for learning compassion, humility and respect in strengthening my purpose and my work in the world Transforming Business, Society and Self – Building Capacity for Deep Innovation. Nature is a wonderful teacher. As Albert Einstein said “Look deep into nature, and you will understand everything better.”

This is a deeply connecting experience with nature and yourself. I would greatly value you joining me, John and others if you are also called by this unique opportunity.

We are now marketing this retreat and have already started filling the limited 12 places we have available. Please note the early bird price.

You may well have seen Way of Nature Australia or our retreats appear in Facebook or LinkedIn. If not you might like to join our Facebook group or see the Sacred Passage event page on LinkedIn  By all means please share these pages with your networks. That would help a lot as we continue to grow the Way of Nature community.

If you are looking for a shorter more local experience hosted by Way of Nature Australia stewards you could also consider a 4 day retreat from 12th – 16th September 2012 available at

I hope the Sacred Passage might be of interest to you and would be pleased to chat about it if that would help.

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Marie Spain as remembered by Charlotte Wood

Charlotte Wood is a family friend from Cooma and tells a lovely story about my mum Marie and Charlotte’s father John. Charlotte weaves this into her stories about the importance of food in hard times and good in an ABC interview

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My Learning Insights from Umpiyara

Reflecting on my learning journey I see deeper awareness in my self at several levels. Four of these levels are:

1. A rich experience of searching for, preparing and eating local food and bush medicines e.g. muka (witchetty grub), kangaroo tail and also crafting and creating from local trees boomerangs, coolamon and digging sticks with patience, presence and skill with Auntie Barbara and Uncle Rollie as well as dot paintings with Auntie Pixie and sisters.

2. A deeper insight into the perpetual and institutionalised paternalism and belittling by the machinery of government and administration of indigenous affairs evolved and refined into an industry over many years of colonisation. Australian indigenous people continue to be marginalised and dispossessed by a system that does not understand the rich gifts of deep honour and respect for people and nature that it could learn. Even though we considered ourselves as guests visiting our hosts’ homelands the administrative process of permits only allowed us to be the initiators and was disempowering to the traditional owners on their own country. More of the history of this story is graciously and powerfully explained by Uncle Bob Randall in his 52min film Kanyini

3. An enjoyable and embracing experience of unconditional love by living and camping with the Randall family, teachers and elders and my 12 mala mob colleagues. Especially relevant to me was to see and live in action the decision making process used in the Randall family by Dorothea and Uncle Bob and all family members to be in the present moment with unconditional love and include all points of view and gut reactions and intuitions from family members and guests. We as 12 guests also started to live in the present moment and make decisions with unconditional love together as a family honouring and respecting each other and our needs. I highly recommend living and experiencing being in community like this with any of your colleagues and family on any projects you are engaged in.

4. The most powerful insight for me comes from having an experience of stepping outside of my Modern/Western culture and into a totally different culture (like a fish out of the water it doesn’t see swimming in every day) to take a stance that Albert Einstein recommends when he said “You can’t solve a problem at the same level of thinking that created it”. I feel and experience daily how our Modern/Western culture is stuck and unable to take wise action in the systems of our economy, banking, finance, health, security, education, water, food and energy. Each of these systems improve by more involvement by citizens, with people and community solutions, rather than by trying to fix them with more money and treating people as consumers. By bringing together humanity’s richest wisdom, strongest fundamental higher order core values and mental models we can design and co-create a world that is prosperous, not based on greed and infinite growth, but that is a steady state nourishing system that loves all the children of all species for all time. Donella Meadows shows us that the highest leverage points for changing systems happen in our mental models. Indigenous cultures, despite their marginalisation and profound dislocation and pain, have a deep respect for mother nature and the earth systems that sustains and nourishes humans. At this time in human history we now have a great opportunity to relearn this long human tradition of wisdom and live in a respectful, compassionate and loving way on our planet, despite (or even as necessity to) the deep challenges we face.

My mantra for the new world is “Unconditional Love – get used to it!”

In deep gratitude to the teachers, elders and family members who hosted us.

For more visit Mala Mob wiki

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“What are you up to?”

Here’s my answer to the question I was asked “what you are up to; what is drawing you to be involved in bringing forth a just, sustainable and fulfilling world?”

My overall purpose is to be mindful and intentional when learning to love and support people whilst hospicing the death of the old economy and to love and support people whilst midwifing the birth of the new economy.

More specifically

I am co-creating a strong foundation for Way of Nature Australia ( We have launched programs for 2012. Our purpose is to deepen and enrich our relationship with nature, each other and ourselves. We also seek to nourish a growing community of people having authentic transformational experiences in nature.

In May 2012 I am hosting a Learning Journey: On-Country Cross Cultural Experience at Umpiyara Homelands with teachers and elders in the Central Desert of Australia (including Bob Randall), Part of the invitation says

“A Learning Journey can be judged successful by how much it destabilises and challenges our worldview.

As we journey together, we encourage you to welcome those moments when you feel confronted, surprised. Each one is an opportunity to see your own mind, to notice your beliefs and assumptions. And be open to change.

I look forward to your participation in this fantastic opportunity to learn further ways of knowing, doing and being to care for self, people and country for Australia, the Earth and ourselves.”

I am part of a community of ATD symposium hosts collaborating across Australia to bring forth a just, sustainable and fulfilling world
In March I am co-hosting a symposium in Wagga for 40 change agents wanting to take this message and way of being into their local community at all levels including local government.

I am a member of a local board initiating a project in Canberra called Canberra City Farm see
Canberra regional community living in harmony with a viable and healthy local environment.

To develop a hub where we creatively share knowledge and experience of living in harmony with a viable and healthy local environment through:
• Nurturing healthy soil to grow healthy food
• Learning by doing
• Engaging and linking with the community
• Demonstrating options for sustainable living
• Fostering caring communities

I am a volunteer story teller and capacity builder for demonstrating how Australia can take a stand to power its whole economy on 100% renewable energy in 10 years for an investment of 3% of GDP

I am a member of a local community group called SEE Change (SEE = Society, Environment and Economy) that aims to inspire, inform and support action to reduce Canberra’s ecological footprint. I have an intention to partner with SEE Change volunteers to run regular symposiums in partnership with SEE Change to engage a wider number of Canberrans in this conversation

I am continuing to participate in and mutually support a learning community of change agents in the Leading Social Change program
The invitation is at

I have an intention to explore the capacity of a local dialogue group based at the Australian National University to host an Art of Hosting and Harvesting Conversations that Matter learning experience in Canberra to partner with world best practice to engage leaders in the Australian government and university community trying to transform complex systemic problems

I am a loose and engaged member of a network of change agents called Transform Australia

I am partnering with a local architect and building small business to design and build a $200k 8 star energy efficient house that can flourish and be available to many people in different modules in Canberra

I have an intention to co-create a project that is a Locally Grown Food website that works like google (just search for postcode and food type)
To help food eaters around the world find and purchase locally grown food and locally processed (prepared) food
To reduce the distance food travels from grower to eater
To support the flourishing of small efficient local distribution businesses and systems
To return food waste as nutrients to enrich the soil and grow more food
To return food containers to their owners and eliminate waste
To share knowledge and learning about locally grown food

I am a father to three children discovering how to refreshingly engage with the world in creative and life affirming ways. One of my intentions is to build a new economy whilst honouring each of their needs and aspirations.

I look forward to collaborating with you to discover new energising opportunities

For the Earth and each other

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Way of Nature Australia 2012 programs

The Way of Nature Australia Stewards group is pleased to announce our programs for 2012.

As you know, one of my projects in 2011 was co-creating a strong foundation for Way of Nature Australia.

I’m pleased to report that we are now ready to take this important work to the next level. We have a great team, we’ve improved our website, fine tuned our retreat format – and it feels great! Thank you for your feedback.

To begin 2012, I’m excited to announce our first two retreats in beautiful bush lands on the south coast of Sydney, Australia.

Given your interest in how we individually and collectively live in partnership with nature on our planet home, I’d love to make a special invitation for you to be one of our first attendees this year.

We warmly invite you to join us on this deeply reflective connecting experience in Nature.

Our purpose is to deepen and enrich our relationship with nature, each other and ourselves. We also seek to nourish a growing community of people having authentic transformational experiences in nature. For participant stories of their experience see

Here’s some details on our next two 4 day Nature Quest retreats…

• 21st-25th March 2012 (Wed 6.00 pm – Sun 3.00 pm)
• 2nd – 6th May 2012 (Wed 6.00 pm – Sun 3.00 pm)

Tapitallee, Nowra NSW

Click here for more details

One thing we are most committed to is creating a community whereby we can support each other in our lives. We hope our retreats will provide a space for you to slow down, become grounded and have you return home feeling connected and inspired to more fully engage in life and your purpose.

Please feel free to call or email me if you have any questions or if we have information missing from the website.
You might also know others who you would love to share these opportunities with and we would be delighted for you to let them know about the coming retreats.

To be kept informed of future events and news, please Register your name and email via the website.

I look forward to having you be part of our growing community.

For the Earth and each other


On behalf of WONA Stewards Group.

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Rachel’s report back on Leading Social Change spring gathering

Here’s Rachel’s report back to all the participants of the Leading Social Change program.

“Many thanks to Pennie and Phoebe for organising our spring equinox get-together, and Pennie for her generous and fun hosting. We all had a wonderful time sitting out on Pennie’s deck with a fire nearby, and it felt magical. It was hard to believe we were in a suburb at times! We missed those of you that weren’t able to come along, and hope you can come along to our Beltane gathering.

Aside from finding out what everyone has been doing since our last day together in July, we all planted some seeds (pumpkin, rocket and calendula), along with an intention for spring.

Here is a brief summary of what everyone has been doing. Thanks to Mark, Laura and Sarah for sending on their news. I have included it in this email.

Peter talked about his winter sabbatical – including meeting up with Steve on his travels. Peter is helping his adult children to increase their fitness for their trek in Nepal later this year. Peter has been busy with Healthy Soils.

Michael has been working with another farmer in the region to develop a farming apprentice scheme. It will build/transfer farming skills, help new farmers to gain some experience as well as capital for later starting their own farms. He has also started planting some vegetables, which is a less familiar growing process for him.

Has not been very slow! She is working with the Chorus of Women who will be performing at a local church in October. This is creating some personal challenges for some of the choir members who are not religious, and for those who are religious performing in front of an audience that will have a significant number of non-church goers. She is wondering if spring is re-energising her.

John is still thinking about options for internships on the farm. He will be doing a permaculture design for his farm as part of his university course.

Has taken on leading a group of Dickson residents who are appealing a planning decision to allow a high density development to go ahead. While the appeal is taking a lot of Jane’s time and energy, she is also discovering the diverse interests and backgrounds of people in her local community.

Barbara has regained some energy with the change of seasons, and also has the agreement of the Greens to support an amendment to the draft waste management plan for the ACT.

Is having some serendipitous experiences with her Wagga project. She may have found a site for her project and to live.

Is very excited about her honours thesis and is enjoying the drafting of it. Phoebe will have finished it in 6 weeks. She attended the City Farm meeting, which had about 70 attendees. Some committees have formed as a result of the meeting.

Is making some progress assisting clients that have an intractable neighbourhood conflict. She has had good feedback about the personal impact the peer mediation program had on the participants. She spent some time at another school that has been doing a project on conflict. These are 12 year olds who are modelling how to lead social change in their school community!

Mark’s story is here

My project consists in settling back to my life in Paris and bringing in the learnings from my rich Aussie experience.

From the LSC group, I’ve become aware that to thrive I need to be involved in the community. I’ve felt so “alive” while being around you. When I read in the e-mails about all the projects you’re involved in I’m thinking: but why did I leave? I had just found out the right persons I want to be around!!

The other alternative (less extreme that quitting everything to come back to Australia straight away!) is to look for inspiring groups of people here in Paris! In such a big city it should exist! And I’m pretty sure some of my friends would get on board with me! But it is hard to figure out where to start looking…

And another main issue is that my job is already starting to take too much space over my personal life, just as it used to be… I spend too many hours at work and it leaves me with very little time and energy to get involved in other projects… For instance last week I had planned to go to a conference on community gardens around Paris but of course I had to cancel it because of I had too much work…

Having stepped back for some months, I am also now much more aware of what is not done properly in my company. Indeed, there has always been important management issues but I find it harder to cope with them now. Especially when I think of the definition of a leader we’ve been talking: “a leader leads by making others powerful” … This does not seem to be the way directors and managers deal with the team… Being aware of all this I am trying to speak out more than I used to, to show that I disagree with some things. As a consequence my manager told me that it seems that Australia made me rebellious and is now calling me Crocodile Dundee!

But there are also some nice things about being back to work: interesting projects (related to the evaluation of the benefits of recycling  paper or to the assessment of the environmental performances of insulation materials made of hemp or wood fibre to give 2 examples of what I am working on at the moment), friendly colleagues, (a salary)  and the feeling of being appreciated as a colleague.

And also thanks to the LSC experience I have these great little sayings popping up during the day like self n°2 or rule #6! I love it!

So my project for the next 6 weeks is to work on finding the right balance between my job and my personal life. But I am not so sure that this is compatible with working at my current company…I just came back so I still want to give it a try because I like what I’m doing and the people I’m working with. And I have recently read about delayed gratification so let’s see!

Kind thoughts to you all

A bientôt

To where has my project progressed?

Well, so far, mostly in my head, although small progress this week in the digging of a hole.  The boys needed to assist, and hence the slow progress.  I have refurbished the bathroom in the apartment, upon Laura and Laurent’s departure.  As a consequence we have a spare bath.  This bath is going into the hole and will become a berry bed/bath/bog.  Can’t wait.  My beautiful cross the way neighbour has offered us some raspberry plants and when I am ready to plant they will be ready for me to collect.  This is the beginning of the garden out the front for all to see and ponder as they pass by.  Much more to work on but slow and steady, as they say.  The hole was dug as my birthday present from my two older sons, Oscar and Hugo.

What would I like this group to help with regarding my activity, project, or intentions for the next six weeks?

Already I have had some input from Judy and Tom and Rachel.  Together with these three I have a lovely stash of manure and compost, all brewing as I write.  How gorgeous is this?  I look forward to hearing more Barbara about your conversation with Caroline.  I also spoke with her about your idea at the last Canberra Conversation.  I had not progressed with this information as she directed me to Heather Tomlinson (is this the correct name and spelling?).  This conversation led to a very different outcome, with many questions to be answered.  I hope that your renewed enthusiasm and the like minded people with whom you are now conversing goes really well.

My important intention for the next six weeks…I just wish I could be with you all tonight to share this beginning.

Love to you all”

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