BPG Book club – Term 2, 2022 RETROSUBURBIA by David Holmgren

RETROSUBURBIA is the latest book by Permaculture founder David Holmgren and considered by many as his most accessible and broadly relevant. In it, he outlines why retrofitting the suburbs is the key to sustainable humansettlement in a low-carbon, post peak-oil world. With numerous case studies based in central Victoria, this book is practical and highly relevant to our area.  The book club is FREE and open to all who are interested and able to commit to the reading and participation in the club.

RETROSUBURBIA discusses creating a simple but rich & abundant lifestyle by working through three main themes: built, biological and behavioural. We will meet over the 9 weeks of Term 2, commencing on April 27 and concluding on June 22.  You don't have to have read the book before April 27 but you do need to commit to reading during the term! 

Our time each week will focus on small group discussions of questions arising from the chapters discussed. Each week we discuss several chapters of the book. No need to purchase: there are 16 copies of the book available for loan. [Further information about the]

This is an in-person bookclub, to be held at Chestnut Farm, Invermay (10 mins from Ballarat Town Hall) from 7 - 9 pm each week.  Zoom may be an option for those who don't live locally, are not vaccinated or who cannot attend particular nights due to family responsibilities, illness, etc.  You will not usually be able to join the group after the term has started, so please sign up NOW!    The club will be facilitated by BPG President & long-term permie Steve Burns, but Steve's role is wrangling the discussion rather than presenting.  Previous RS bookclubs have featured very lively group discussion.  The issues, topics and case studies are highly engaging and the group usually wants to talk all night!  Look forward to a fun night that will also stimulate serious thinking about life direction & choices.

FREE event but you must book here:

Session plan:

April 27 - Introductions & agreements, Retrosuburbia talk by David Holmgren

May 4 - Chapters 1 - 3 Setting the Scene

May 11 - Ch 4 - 7 Built environment strategies, case studies & group discussion

May 18 - Ch 8 - 13 Built environment strategies, case studies & group discussion

May 25 Ch 14 - 18 Built environment strategies, case studies & group discussion

June 1 Ch 19 - 23  Biological environment (aka garden & farm!) strategies, case studies & group discussion

June 8 - Ch 24 - 28 Behavioural environment strategies  case studies & group discussion (where the rubber hits the road)

June 15 - Ch 29 - 34 Behavioural strategies continued

June 22 - Group & personal reflections and goal setting.  What is your RS vision?  Action Plan?


Community resilience building with Ben Habib

Practical workshop on building community responses to threats like pandemics, 'natural' disasters, climate crisis or totalitarian regimes!

Bushfires and COVID, floods and storms, supply chain disruptions and energy shocks…the last two years have been extremely challenging and disorienting for all of us. But through our hardship and heartbreak, a new world is being born.

Join Ben Habib, International Relations lecturer, environmental educator, mental health advocate and host of the Edge Dwellers Café Podcast, to explore the best of our grassroots responses to this crisis.

In this interactive workshop we will strategise how to scale up our crisis adaptations across the community and play our part in shaping this new world.

The workshop is based on Ben’s internationally-published research, with activities Ben has developed in his award-winning subject “International Politics of Climate Change” at La Trobe University and in his teaching in permaculture design courses with CERES and the Ballarat Permaculture Guild.

We are the answer we’ve been looking for!

About our presenter:

Dr. Benjamin Habib is a Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. Ben is an internationally published scholar with a current research interest in three areas: (1) intersections between grassroots sustainability and regeneration projects, environmental movements and international climate politics; (2) traditional and non-traditional security in North Korea; and (3) undergraduate teaching pedagogy.

Ben teaches into the Permaculture Design Course (PDC)focusing on the application of permaculture design principles to socio-economic systems. He is also a staunch advocate for mental health and neurodiversity.

Ben completed his PhD candidature at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia in 2011, after graduating with a B. Arts (Hons) from Flinders University and a B. Arts from the University of South Australia. He has also studied at Keimyung University in Daegu, South Korea.


BPG Committee meetings

The Ballarat Permaculture Guild committee meets once a month to organise and coordinate the activities of the Guild.   For the last 2 years,  we've been meeting online, which has been quite effective and more environmentally friendly than driving to a central meeting point (especially for members who live out of town). The social connection was missing,  though,  so this year we're rotating physical locations, visiting a different member's house each month.  Those who can't make it in person still participate online - that's them on the laptop screen at the end of the table! This is a quick shot from our March 2022 meeting.  Before the meeting,  we also had a quick tour of James' eco- extension to his Golden Point miners cottage.. bonus!

PDC, Permaculture courses

2022 Permaculture Design Course (PDC)

Ballarat Permaculture Guild will NOT run its popular Permaculture Design Course in 2022.

We will run the course again in 2023, when we expect the impact of the COVID pandemic to have diminished.  Our 2020 course was cancelled after 3 weekends and the 2021 course had to have weekends rescheduled three times due to lockdowns, which created major logistical headaches!

Our focus on permaculture education remains as strong as ever, though!

In 2022, we will run:

  • Multiple Introduction to Permaculture days (new one day format)
  • Retrosuburbia bookclubs each term (via Zoom, for maximum accessibility)
  • Half and single day events featuring our amazing PDC presenters
  • Half and single day workshops on practical skills

BPG financial members also access the fabulous Milkwood Permaculture Living course at a 25% discount.  The Permaculture Living course is a 12 week practically focussed course accessed online but requiring positive practical actions at home.  It has been thoroughly enjoyed by many BPG members over the last 18 months, especially during COVID lockdowns!

We also look forward to getting together again at social events, permablitzes, produce swaps, film nights, fruit harvests and more.  It’s been great to have online events but some of us are looking forward to real hugs rather than virtual curtsies!