The aboriginal cave


After working another day in the vines, we drove out with our supervisor, Rod Smith, to Baiame Cave. Rod is your quintessential Aussie bloke, speaking in a thick Outback accent, but only when absolutely necessary. At age 76, he works all day for the vineyard, then heads home for chores at his enormous spread called Glen Anne.

Along the winding public road through Glen Anne is an ancient aboriginal meeting place called Baiame (Rod pronounced it “Buy Amy”) Cave. Not really a cave, it’s an alcove eroded out of the sandstone cliff. The alcove wall features a prominent painting of Baiame, which Australian anthropologists believe is 4,000 years old.

Baiame is one of the tribal names for the All-Father. Wanaruah aborigines tell stories of how Baiame created everything and how he taught the people how to live before departing this world at Mount Yengo. At the cave, he is depicted with long arms outstretched to either side, not unlike a crucifix at the apex of a church.

I was fascinated by the similarity between these aboriginal stories and the origin stories of American Indians – and biblical accounts. The Creator comes in human form to teach people the rules and rites of life. He departs but continues to guide those who seek the truth.

Experts believe aborigines arrived in Australia 40,000 years ago – either by boat or land bridges that were submerged at the end of the last Ice Age. Meanwhile, the people we call Native Americans were arriving from Asia via land bridges to North America some 14,000 years ago. Similarities in their origin stories must go back more than 40,000 years!

Do the stories contain similar characters and themes because they reflect actual events in a remote past beyond all reckoning? Or, as Carl Jung suggested, are they products of a common subconscious filled with images hard-wired into the human psyche? Or some other explanation – will we ever know for sure?

One thing we do know – aboriginal people lived on this planet for 40,000 years without leaving much of a mark. They lived sustainably within their ecosystem. White man, however, has taken less than 200 years to bring us all to the brink of extinction.

On Social Permaculture

aul Hudson of Mullumbimby says permaculture must include Care for People and Fair Share of the Surplus.
aul Hudson of Mullumbimby says permaculture must include Care for People and Fair Share of the Surplus.

By Steven Saint Thomas

When Paul Hudson helped coach homeless men to compete in a Sydney soccer tournament, he says he was practicing permaculture. After all, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren identified three ethical pillars for a sustainable society: Care for the Earth, Care for People and Fair Share of the Surplus.

Hudson and other permaculturists would call the pursuit of the latter two ethical pillars “Social Permaculture.”

“Most people think of permaculture as growing something or producing a yield in fruit and veggies to eat,” says Hudson, who works in a health food store in Australia’s Byron Bay when he’s not developing his own bush homestead near Mullumbimby. “However, a successful permaculture system requires that people work together. Without an involved community where people know each other, a local food system cannot exist.”

Hudson says “community” includes people who are less fortunate – people who are homeless or without jobs, struggling with various disabilities, or from other cultures or countries. Care for People means integrating these people into society rather than shutting them out.

Street Soccer in his native Sydney was a good way to achieve this goal. Everyone is invited to play soccer and compete on teams. Tournaments are not only fun, but allow players to advance to regional play-offs, culminating in the annual Homeless World Cup.

One of the reasons Hudson likes the Street Soccer model is that it goes beyond charity and handouts. Homeless people are active participants and see the rewards of their labors.

“Welfare creates two classes: people who need the support financially and people well off enough to give it to them,” Hudson says. “Social Permaculture aims to help people reintegrate into society. That means you empower them. They’re all valuable parts of the community.”

Many Street Soccer players are also working themselves towards self-reliance by selling The Big Issue, a professionally produced street paper published in 10 countries, including Australia. Homeless or financially vulnerable people can buy copies of the paper wholesale at about half the cover price. They keep the markup as self-employed vendors.

Structured as a nonprofit organization, The Big Issue provides vendors with resources and counseling. It also sponsors 18 Street Soccer teams across Australia. People are not receiving charity, they’re simply Sharing the Surplus.

“Think about people who are on the edge, who wake up in the morning with no purpose for their day or prospects for the future,” Hudson says. “Suddenly they have employment or they are part of team surrounded with support. The track record is very good for participants getting off substance abuse or finding jobs or permanent housing.”

Hudson hasn’t gone to the mainstream World Cup, but he’s been able to attend two Homeless World Cup championships – one in Melbourne (2008) and one in Rio de Janeiro (2010). Team Australia didn’t win either one, but Hudson says the feeling of empowerment you get from representing your country on a world stage is unbeatable.