Live local challenge day 4 #livelocal

One of the things I’ve been wanting to do is catch up with the neighbours about the challenge, but some are away on a long trip and everyone else is holed up inside waiting for the incessant rain to stop.

Normally this is a pretty social suburb and families get together to play soccer after school or to let the dogs run around off leash at the park.  Many others go for walks together or walk their dogs together.

But the rain means none of that is happening.  Sadly this has crimped my simple plan to pop over to the park and talk to everyone about the Live Local challenge.

If the rain stops today, the plan is to ride my bike to get some fresh bread from the local bakery.  Otherwise will need to take the car.  I will also check where the bakery gets their ingredients from.

On Monday I’m going to walk up to the local school (hopefully the rain will have passed) and see if they are interested in hearing about Live Local stuff.  Suspect they will be interested to hear about it as the school kids already have a vegie garden and make their own compost.

More info about the Live Local Challenge or follow the Twitter stream

Live local challenge day 3 #livelocal

Since today was a big work from home day I had the opportunity to take a break and explore the origins of some of the foods already in my cupboards.

For example, during afternoon tea breaks  I’m partial to a particular 99% fat free chocolate drink that comes in sachets.  Previously I’ve never bothered to ask where it comes from or where the ingredients come from.

Today as I made a cup of hot chocolate (using my nifty Girl Geek Dinner mug pictured) I read the packaging. According to the very helpful woman on their customer service line, this product is packaged in Rowville Victoria (about 1,000 km away)  using Australian ingredients, except for some milk powder imported from New Zealand.

Then encouraged by this exercise I continued my exploration of the cupboard.  It turns out that we have three kinds of honey:

  1. rainforest honey from Bateman’s Bay NSW (about 230 km away)
  2. organic outback honey from Dubbo NSW (about 390 km away)
  3. iron bark honey from Stockleigh QLD (about 1,000 km away)

Next time I head to the store I’ll be checking out locally produced honey – but it might be a while since we’re already got three jars.  I’m still not sure how easy it will be to find locally produced honey in the big supermarkets near my place.  The only wholefoods outlet that is relatively close to me is Macro Wholefoods, and it was just acquired by Woolworths. It will be interesting to see what changes there.

A good example of how you can get caught by inattention was at the large supermarket yesterday looking at canned tomatoes. There were two almost identical cans from same brand, but closer inspection revealed that one was imported from Italy and the other was Australian.  It was very easy to confuse the two.

Dinner tonight is some more of the vegies I picked up the other day, together with some chick peas from Bathurst NSW (about 190 kms away) and cheese from Bega NSW (about 450 km away). The cheese & chick peas were already on-hand and it seems wasteful not to use them. Thinking about doing a vegie bake with tomatoes & cheese, and a glass of Hunter red from Pokolbin NSW (about 120 km away).

The interesting thing about this challenge is that it is really making me think about where things are really from.  The package might say “Australia” but closer inquiry often reveals “imported ingredients”. At the mall yesterday it was interesting to see the huge variety of foods in the deli – they came from all over the world. I’m starting to wonder how sustainable all that choice is in the long term?

More info about the Live Local Challenge or follow the Twitter stream

Live local challenge day 2 #livelocal

fresh produce live local challengeWell a lot more planning went into today after yesterday’s experiences. Due to my schedule there’s been some interesting decisions to make about transport too.


  • finally made it to the shops (a 30 km round trip) by car and combined the trip with taking a sick friend to the doctor
  • had conversations with people at the market stalls to find out where their produce came from
  • got zucchinis and carrots from Wallacia, free range eggs from Minchinbury, and mushrooms from somewhere out near Penrith (I can’t remember the place)
  • finally remembered to take my calico bag


  • could not find any tasty tomatoes from any closer than Hanwood (600 km from here, but they are really tasty) – suspect we’ll be growing our own tomatoes soon
  • nor could I find limes from any closer than “Australia” (who knows what that really means?)
  • discovered I need more reusable shopping bags than I currently own

Found out that quite a few people in shops don’t know where the stuff they sell comes from, it just appears from a wholesaler – so knowing the provenance of produce remains a challenge.

Still drinking my imported coffee (mainly because it was a 1 kg bag and there’s a lot left, it seems wasteful to buy more at this stage).

Due to business commitments I need to be in the city all afternoon and evening. This means that public transport is not an option for getting home.

The choice is between driving there & back or catching the train there and getting a (very expensive) taxi back. A combination of personal economics & the current rainy/cold weather led to a decision to take the car.

The entire Live Local process is causing me to be much more conscious about so many decisions that are typically made automatically. I’m definitely thinking more about journeys and how a single journey can be made to achieve more than one thing at a time.

The use of public transport in Sydney is really easy if you are on spoke and going straight into the city. But it is really hard and time consuming to go across town. I have regular business meetings in Parramatta, Ryde, North Ryde and the city – and this makes trying to bundle up meetings important but not always possible.

More info about the Live Local Challenge or follow the Twitter stream

Who else is interested in the future?

Here’s a short video with another person I met at the Future Summit 09 in Melbourne. This is Alex Jones, who is Chairman of the Deafness Forum of Australia, he’s talking to us in Auslan (Australian Sign Language). Alex raises the really important issue of access for all. After all, what’s a great future if we call can’t share in it?

What he’s saying is:

“Hi, I’m Alex Jones – chairman of the Deafness Forum of Australia. This organisation is the peak body for the deafness sector. We advocate and lobby for the rights of Deaf, hearing impaired, Deafblind people – to improve their lives in Australia. I’m here at the summit to contribute a huge factor on ‘access issues’ across all areas of the megatrends raised in this Summit. Access for all is the reason I’m here. Cheerios.”

Live local challenge day 1

Well today has included a bit of win and a bit of fail for the challenge …


  • caught the train to the city & back for meetings
  • walked between meetings (even though it was raining)
  • had a good chat with the blokes at the takeway shop about where their produce came from – turns out their spices are the only thing that comes from far away (overseas via Bankstown)
  • decided against using the heater to keep warm (see picture on right)


  • did not manage to purchase any food for the house so resorted to takeaway
  • did not manage to buy any local wine either (suspect Hunter is closest for north side Sydney folks – does that mean I have to drink red?)
  • forgot to take my calico bag with me in case I bought any stuff (no good if it’s on the kitchen table and you’re in the city)


Things I have learned today include that living local requires more planning and forethought.  Everything I pick up needs to be thought about, labels to be read and trade-off decisions made.  In summary, better planning & lots more thought is on the agenda.

More info about the Live Local Challenge or follow the Twitter stream

Comments on this blog

~ just saw an interesting question that came in as a comment on one of my posts recently. There’s been a bit of a backlog of comments awaiting moderation due to a busy schedule. A certain m.f.aurelius (whom I suspect is a mister) asked:

I’m wondering if it’s your policy to censor and edit comments, as you’ve done in the comments in response to this article? Is there any point to allowing comments on a blog if you edit them so as to alter their meaning?

It seems like a good time to explain my approach to this matter:

1: Please refer to the rules of engagement for this blog. If you don’t like them please feel free to go read & engage with other blogs.

2: I do not edit the content of comments, they are either approved and published or not published based on the principles outlined the rules of engagement. There is no compulsion for me to approve every comment posted.

3: Comments that disagree with posts have often been approved & published. Comments that include a combination of scatological, sexist and racist statements are generally deleted.

Future and the Summit

I was really lucky to be able to attend the Australian Davos Connection’s Future Summit 2009 in Melbourne earlier this week.

When I walked into the venue it was a bit intimidating, so many serious looking people in suits. And from the attendee list I knew that many of them were CEOs, senior Public Servants, politicians, senior Defence personnel, journalists and writers. It was a pretty impressive crowd.

Then I started to get curious about these people, who were they, why were they here, why did they think that this conference was important? So I grabbed the camera and started to ask people those three questions on video.

The videos are gradually being uploaded onto YouTube.  Here’s one from Tony Press, Director of the Australian Antarctic Division, talking about climate change:

It was inspiring to hear these stories and to know that people really do care about creating a better future. The big question that arose for me is:

What can I do today that will make tomorrow better?

Live Local Kick-off

Just back from catching up with everyone at the livelocal challenge launch dinner tonight after a busy 3 days in Melbourne for the Future Summit.

Lovely to see @frombecca in real life! All of the food was served on communal dishes on long shared tables, the wine was from Mudgee, and ice cream was divine. That was the fun bit.

Now it is Wednesday and it is time to start my challenge. The rules are simple and follow below. The first thing that’s got me thinking is where the food I eat comes from. There’s not much food in my house so it’s off to the shops tomorrow to have a chat with the greengrocer.

Here’s some background on the challenge: The challenge is to live local for a week – seven days – and to document your efforts to do so. You can do this anytime.

What is living local?

To live local is to make the most of your community.

  • meeting your neighbours and the people who work in your community
  • eating delicious food grown as close to where you live as possible
  • minimising use of fossil fuels, especially for transport*

* This will be the hardest one for a lot of people. Walking, bicycles and public transit are good ways to reduce (and to keep you closer to your own neighbourhood!). But this challenge is about experimenting and being creative, not about absolutes. See rules #2 and #3 below.


  1. Send an email to info AT livelocal DOT org DOT au and tell us when you’re starting or post a comment here. (You don’t have to do this, but we’ll offer you love and support if you do.)
  2. You can’t be disqualified or fail. You are merely trying, and thinking about how hard and/or easy it is to live locally.
  3. If you HAVE to drive a car somewhere, we’re more interested in you discussing the factors that led to that. If you’ve gotta fly to Melbourne, what reasons made this necessary? And when you do manage to avoid driving or flying, what compromises did you make?
  4. Document! We want people to share in and get inspired by your experience and your victories and trials and tribulations. Blog, Twitter, call your friends, talk about it during meals.
  5. Or, why not add an experiment to tell the stories about some or all of your adventures?

Go on – join in!