Technically, I live in the "Greater Metropolitan Area" of Adelaide but there is no public transport here, so I left home just after 7 am to get to the end of the trainline and park my car, in time for the 7.54 am train. The hour long trip got me to Adelaide just before the 9 am start and I had a 10 minute walk to the venue. I was a few minutes late for the "housekeeping" announcements, but in plenty of time for the first speaker, Nicole Foss from The Automatic Earth.
Nicole Foss's presentation was concerned with the economic issues that our society/civilisation is facing. However, as she said, this emphasis is merely because the financial 'hurdle" is closer than the energy or environmental ones that are to follow. While I agree with this premise and understand the reasons for it, other speakers concentrated on different issues... sustainability of the economy, transport issues and biodiversity.... and the common theme always seemed to come back to the idea of community. Whether people are moving towards self sufficiency in food and energy, active transport or environmental regeneration, the conversation always leads to community and local involvement.
The concluding remarks did cover issues that are fairly confronting... changes that are going to happen whether we are prepared or not, but once again, the optimistic note continued with the theme of community and cooperation.
The only misgiving that I had during the day was the concern about biodiversity in the South Australian area. I know that biodiversity is significant and that the birds, insects and wild life... those that remaiin in my garden... do benefit my vegetables. In the last decade, as I have grown food, but also increased some of the native species in my yard.
As I walked back towards the railway station, I really did feel a little more hopeful, despite the broken beer bottles and garbage on the footpath. At the railway station, there were police with a dog checking everyone who got off the trains that came into the station. As I waited for the Gawler Central train, I saw several people that were selected by the dog and who were then taken aside by police. I have no idea what the problem was, but the attendance of at least ten police officers in their new black shirts and looking rather threatening seemed such a contrast to the feeling of community and friendliness that I had enjoyed during the day. I don't look forward to being "in the city" these days.
I arrived back at Gawler Central by almost 7 pm and as I drove home, the moon rose above the Northern Adelaide Hills and the bare paddocks (we have had very little rain) I felt pleased to be back in my own community... Kapunda is a small town, by "city standards". If one goes to the corner shop or the post office, there is a good chance that one will be there for some time.... and several conversations later, errands are done and one returns home feeling accepted and supported in a particular way. It's true that "everyone knows your business" as they say, but that is what community feels like.