Wednesday, February 18, 2015

That Australian life - community gardens

In our conversation on least liked vegetables and related matters, 2T argued that all foods could taste good, even karela or the bitter gourd. There was a reference in the discussion to a poem by Kipling. I couldn't remember, but had to look it up. Mowgli's Song against People from the second Jungle Book. The poem begins:
I WILL let loose against you the fleet-footed vines -
I will call in the Jungle to stamp out your lines !
The roofs shall fade before it,
The house-beams shall fall;
And the Karela, the bitter Karela,
Shall cover it all ! 
In the gates of these your councils my people shall sing.
In the doors of these your garners the Bat-folk shall cling;
And the snake shall be your watchman,
By a hearthstone unswept;
For the Karela, the bitter Karela,
Shall fruit where ye slept !
I suspect that 2T is a considerable cook. Certainly his passing references to curries made me feel quite hungry! But the point about combination of tastes where the flavour comes from combination is well taken, and not just about food either.

In another comment, Evan outlined
Moving to sustainability.Which means renewable sources of power and other necessities.
Suburban sufficiency in food and as much else as possible.
Tax breaks and other support for new industries.
Education that values children.
City and suburb design that value people and their health.
You will see from this story that ACT Territories and Municipal Services Minister Shane Rattenbury and the leader of the Greens in the ACT Legislative Assembly clearly shares some of Evan's views.The piece begins:
Territories and Municipal Services Minister Shane Rattenbury aims to free up more unused public land for growing food in Canberra and plans a registration system for backyard beekeepers this year, among measures to boost food self-sufficiency in Canberra. 
The roundtable convened by the Minister also looked at areas where Canberra was over-regulated, "including a requirement to weigh individual eggs, a specified size for hand-washing sinks and rules covering selling food"!

The rise in Australia of the community garden and indeed of more communal ways of living  is a reaction to an increasingly pressured and restrictive urban life style.

I am not a Green supporter. Like other groups, they wish to regulate and control the things they disagree with while promoting or allowing those things that they approve. Since I am predisposed to dislike regulation and controls (Australia is choking on the stuff) and have a particular dislike of some elements of Green thinking on things like National Parks, I tend to see Green thinking as soft-headed dictatorial thinking. However, that doesn't mean that I am not sympathetic to some of the arguments involved.

 As an observer fascinated by the evolving texture of Australian life, I am a strong supporter of things like communal gardens or indeed anything that provides individual fulfillment and allows variety. To return to 2T, the flavour lies in the combination.      


2 tanners said...

I blush at your compliments, Jim, but yes, I'm the chief cook of the family. My curries have been good since I read my first Charmaine Solomon cookbook (unabashed plug), my stirfries have been perfected through trial and (very) honest family feedback, my risottos have required feedback, trial, adjusting for taste and reading the rice packet. Finally my roasts require top ingredients and were learned at my mother's knee.

All of the above, while true, is metaphorical. Listening. Learning. Research. Feedback. Good inputs. Expertise from a number of sources. And listening again.

To my despairing friends, I do not see a likely user of the above simple recipe, but I live in hope.

Jim Belshaw said...

You make me a little envious, 2T. My culinary peak arrived when I was single, and Charmaine did help.

Things went downhill after marriage and the girls! Even when I was chief cook, my time, capacity and the tastes of the eaters limited scope except for very particular dishes.

Anonymous said...

There are community gardens at Oaks Estate near me although what used to be flourishing gardens are now somewhat neglected.

Suspect that community gardens need a few very keen individuals to keep them going.

I like just about every vegetable when young and fresh so I found it hard to identify my least favourite vegetable. Maybe turnips because it is hard to find really fresh young turnips.

Very pleased that you are quoting old Rudyard, a most unjustly ignored writer.

Oh, and as I recall, you used to cook a lovely roast chicken.


Jim Belshaw said...

I still cook a mean roast chicken, Sue, but I remember your superb East Coast Laksa. I haven't had anything like that since.

On the Oaks Estate community gardens, it does come back to individuals. I am still in touch with a few of the old Queanbeyan activists.

Evan said...

Good on the ACT.

"I am not a Green supporter. Like other groups, they wish to regulate and control the things they disagree with while promoting or allowing those things that they approve." I don't think it is only the Greens who do this Jim!

Are you a libertarian?

I find the increasing numbers of community gardens very encouraging.

My aging stomach means only mild curries for me these days.

We (my wife and I) recently purchased - due to an inheritance - and it has a great kitchen. So we both hope to do more cooking.

Jim Belshaw said...

Am I a libertarian? No. The political tradition I belong to has a strong communitarian/cooperative element that is incompatible with what I see as libertarianism.

Do I have libertarian tendencies and have I become more so? Yes. The tyranny of the majority is central to the New England populist tradition that I belong too, as is the idea that Government actions always involve some loss of freedom.

And no, it is not just the Greens, although many have a theological intensity that reminds me of the worst features of Calvin or, for that matter, IS.

Aging stomachs! Oh dear. That's true for me. I look forward to your kitchen reports!

Evan said...

I think you need to read some Bookchin or other Social Ecologists.

They are kind of communitarian anarchists.

Jim Belshaw said...

Mmmm. Both Bookchin and Social Ecologists strike me as a tad confused. In the structures they talk about, what determines the line between the public and private space? How do you prevent the imposition of authoritarian or majoritarian rule?

Evan said...

Good questions.

I'm not convinced our current modes respect the private sphere (see legislation about us being taken from our homes, interrogated without charge and being forbidden from discussing on pain of gaol time, as well as proposed data retention and much else) and majoritarian rule (see torture of children to deter those fleeing in fear of their lives from coming here).

Jim Belshaw said...

You have me there, Evan. So how do we select the best from different forms of thinking?

Evan said...

I think values are different to thinking.

You can rationally design a beautiful school and an abattoir just as easily.

I think it's possible to choose among systems and know their likely outcomes. Eg first past the post vs multi-member electorates with proportional representation.

We do need though to be able to talk about values (which means getting beyond the neo-liberal dominance).

And this can be done fairly easily by telling stories about the future, asking people about their hopes for their children and so on.

There will still be discussions about efficient means.

And I think people respond best when dealing with a situation they are involved in. The internet and the crowd-funding sites and so one are helping with this I think. Most people can get beyond ideology when wanting to make a difference to a specific situation I think.

Long answer I know. I hope a relevant one.

Jim Belshaw said...

Values are different from thinking, Evan. I also think that we need to be able to talk about values, although I'm not sure about the neoliberal dominance. I agree that stories are a good way of getting a message across.

But values themselves are also dangerous, for they also form the base for bigotry. I think here we can make a distinction between values and beliefs.

This response is clouded. Need to think about it more!

Evan said...

I mostly agree.

Look forward to the clarification.