What an amazing workshop with Ben Habib

On Saturday May 7, BPG hosted Dr Ben Habib Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations (La Trobe University) for a fascinating workshop titled “Community resilience building” Part of the focus of the workshop was “sifting for gems in the rubble of COVID” so that we could learn from the previous two years as we adapt to the climate crisis.

Ben challenged permaculture to realise its potential and go beyond small scale, local inititatives. As he said, “The forces destroying our planet are global – acting local isn't good enough!”

Much of the workshop consisted of small group discussion following personal reflections. Some of the tasks & questions included:

  • Draw a picture to represent the pandemic
  • What did the pandemic force you to face about yourself?
  • How did you adapt to COVID restrictions? (what worked for you? what didn't?)
  • What worked for your community?
  • How do we constructively work with diverse people?
  • What does climate change adaptation mean for you? For your community? For Australia? For the world?
  • Who are your climate allies? [how do you work with them? How often do you interact with them?]
The focus on community responses during the pandemic brought out many issues – the impact of corrosive minorities and anger, the danger of silo thinking, the need to see the humanity in all, the fact that working at different levels of scale requires different tactics and strategies.

This thoughtful and challenging material was delivered within a gentle, interactive framework that catered for participants at all levels. After the event, half the class joined Ben & organisers at a local Indian restaurant to continue the discussion!

[Ben Habib is a futured presenter during the BPG Permaculture Design Course. We highly recommend attending any of Ben's classes or talks!]


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.


Buninyong’s Smart Building and Living Expo – come visit BPG’s stall

This Sunday 20th of March 2022 from 10am to 3:30pm

Come visit the Ballarat Permaculture Guild this Sunday at the Buninyong Smart Building and Living Expo! The Smart Building and Living Expo will be showcasing a range of local, sustainable building and lifestyle services and products. It also boasts the largest electric vehicle display in regional Victoria (so if you were thinking fuel prices are too high, now may be the time to have a serious look at going electric!). We will be hosting a stall with the Hidden Orchard to talk all things permaculture. There will be books and a display as well as delicious jams and chutneys from THO. Members will be there on the day if you have been thinking of joining but just haven't taken that next step. Come along, meet our friendly members and have a chat!