In this episode, Morag Gamble talks with Damon Gameau about his film, Regenerating Australia.
Damon Gameau is an award-winning filmmaker, author, father and activist. His 2015 movie, That Sugar Film, broke Australian box office records, and his other feature-length film, 2040, was one of the highest-grossing Australian documentaries of all time.
His latest offering, Regenerating Australia, is a short film that explores what Australia could look like in 2030 if we listened to the needs of its people. Based on interviews with a diverse group of Australians about their hopes for the future, the film features well-known voices like Kerry O’Brien, Sandra Sully, Gorgi Coghlan, Tim Flannery, Larissa Behrend and David Pocock.
Morag and Damon discuss:
- Creating a safe space for young people to talk about climate change and take action;
- The power of storytelling for creating change;
- The upcoming Australian Federal election;
- There is no saviour coming to combat climate change – it requires action from the network of changemakers within Australia and the world – our very own mycelial network;
- What the Northern Rivers flooding in NSW taught us about the importance of localisation and self-governance;
- How we measure success now and how we might measure it in the future;
- Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics;
- The problem with apocalyptic storylines;
- How do we put climate change solutions front and centre so they’re funded;
- What drives change;
- Regenerating Songlines Australia, a continent-wide network that connects regenerative projects and practitioners led by First Nations peoples and inclusive of all Australians;
- The rise of regenerative farming in Australia, contributed partly by Southern Cross University’s Regenerative Agriculture Course;
- How we can incentivise regeneration of our land;
- Gregory Landau’s recently formed Regen Network;
- Australia’s reliance on fossil fuels and reluctance to give them up;
- The power of Indigenous knowledge and the role it can play in healing our planet.
PODCAST HOST: MORAG GAMBLE
This show is hosted by speaker, filmmaker, humanitarian, author, global teacher of permaculture teachers and Permayouth mentor, Morag Gamble of the Permaculture Education Institute.
This podcast is an initiative of the Permaculture Education Institute and our Permaculture Educators Program – teaching permaculture teachers on 6 continents.
Hello and welcome. I’m Morag Gamble and you’re tuning into the Sense-making in a Changing World podcast.
It’s my delight to welcome Damon Gameau to the show — award winning filmmaker and director of Regenerating Australia — new short film he’s currently touring around the country, hosting conversations about what Australia could look like in 2030.
Damon and I are talking on Gubbi Gubbi country, shortly after his recent screening on the film in Maroochydore.
Back in 2015, Damon made That Sugar Film. That was his feature documentary and it broke all Australian box office records. And his last film, 2040, was one of the highest grossing Australian documentaries of all time. And, it was released around the world, offering a sense of hope and possibility. In Regenerating Australia. Damon brings his focus back to Australia and what we can do if we put life at the center of our decision making and put on our regenerative lens and start telling a different story about ourselves collectively, and living into a different story of Australia, an ecological civilization. So Damon’s film is now screening around the country. And you can also organize a community screening, I’ll put the links below that you can check out and remember to that every episode of this show is hosted and sponsored by the Permaculture Education Institute, which is the host of the globally recognized permaculture educators program.
Before we begin, I’d like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the unseeded lands from which I’m speaking with you, and also where Damon is located while we’re in conversation. This is the land of the Gubbi Gubbi. And I like to pay my deep respect to their elders past, present and emerging. And I’d like to recognize their deep care for this land, the waters, the air and biodiversity. And it’s centering indigenous knowledge that it’s going to bring the deep change necessary. So let’s dive in. And please make sure to check out the show notes for links to Damon’s film and his website. And also our work here at the permaculture Education Institute. Oh, and make sure to subscribe so you get notification of all our new podcast episodes. And please leave us a lovely review because it really does help the bots find out a little podcast. And finally, I’d love for you to share this with a friend or group to my silly ideas and open conversations for positive practical change. Gather some friends, watch the film together over some local food. Imagine together what your community in a regenerative world looks like.
Thank you so much for joining me today. Damon, it’s an absolute delight to see you again. It was just eight hours ago, that were in the cinema with you at your part of your national tour of your new film, Regenerating Australia. So thanks for joining me.
My pleasure. I’ve been following you and aware of you, Morag, for a long time. So it’s great for me to chat as well.
Yeah, it’s really great to meet up and one of the things I wanted to start with maybe was, while you were there, screening this film, and and on the panel. From the back of the room, my son, my 14 year old son piped up, and he was asking a question about well, how do we, how do we talk about creating a safe zone where young people feel like there’s a future that’s worth living? And I thought that was a pretty awesome question. You know, all of the things that you’re talking about, about Regenerating Australia, putting life at the center of all the decisions, is about creating this cleaner, fairer future, but also a safer future. So, do you get those kinds of questions a lot from young people?
Well, I’d say that children easily asked the best questions, the eloquence and how astute they are with these topics. And often they’re the ones that ask those deeper questions. So, they will often pushed me or challeng me around systemic change, or, you know, we can’t talk about climate change without First Nations justice. And, certainly in the last five years, I feel very lucky to have met some really incredible activists right around the world from different countries age between, particularly, 15 and 21. It’s not just the passion and clarity they have around climate, but just watching them self-organize these groups and build these networks around governance and decision making. To me, that’s almost more exciting than the surface level work they’re doing. It’s just they’re setting up these networks for when they do have leadership or power in the years ahead. And they’re just so well versed and they’re so across what needs to be done. We had a screening in Adelaide a couple of weeks ago, and this young fella, probably I think he was 20 just stood up halfway through the screening in the questions and he said, “Look, I’m a sixth generation farmer here. And I’ve just managed to convince my great grandfather and my grandfather, to switch to regen ag”. And he kinda gave this explanation of how he did it, and how the family is all all on board. And he’s 20. And the room just erupted into applause. And he was just so well spoken. You just think this is it, like this is the glimpse at what this generation is capable of, and they’re asking the right questions, just to get back to your question. It’s the way and what they’re asking that the adults aren’t, it’s a very different framework. So out of all the things that gives me the most optimism, it is probably that generation, not all of them, of course, and that’s why I think we focus so heavily on the education materials with, with 2040 and now this film, is because I go to so many of these schools and talk to these kids, and some of them are very emotional afterwards. And they say, you know, all we’re learning is how bad things are, or you know, how endangered certain animals are, we’re not learning about solutions, and we want to be a part of the solutions. We want to know what our careers are in the future, because we know better than you guys that the world’s changing, and it’s going to be very different in five or 10 years. So why are we still teaching the same things we did 30 years ago? It’s just not appropriate anymore. So they’re craving this information. And I’ve had a lot of them in tears, actually, afterwards; especially with the new film. Just saying, I just I didn’t think we could do it, I didn’t think there was any chance we could pull this off, you know. Fifteen year olds are talking amongst their friends about no having kids, you know, like, that’s where we’re at. So we need to be so careful. We don’t want to shy away from the urgency. Absolutely. They get that. But we do, we have to make sure that we’re also offering up those viable solutions. And, gosh, I think what an exciting potential generation to be a part of to lead the way in the greatest transformation that our species will go through in the next decades. God, what an opportunity to start doing things differently.
Yeah, you know, as we were walking away from the film, so I took my three kids there that 9, 14 and 15. And I think what they took away… they’ve grown up in and amongst an eco village in the permaculture world and and you know, they get all of that. What they said was something about the power of film that can really draw you in and to create this sort of whole systems approach and invite a whole lot of people together to have a conversation about that. I think they were incredibly inspired by the tool, the method you’re using to bring about the conversation. So you know, it’s where do you see this possibility go for this communication? I mean, that’s one of the questions I was trying to frame last night about, how do we get the word out? Like you’re saying, like, this is not even a mainstream movie, but you’re taking it around. Like, is that something to do with the length of the film as well? you chose to do a shorter film so that it can be taken to classes, it can be taken to workplaces? Like how are we getting this out of we can’t get into mainstream media yet?
Yeah, yeah. So that was one of the…we had really great uptake of 2040, with corporates and other organizations. But what would come up quite a bit was you know, it is tricky to schedule an hour and a half film in the middle of the day, or as part of an HR exercise or whatnot. So yeah, there was a, I guess, again, a strategic approach with this, to sort of make it really bite sized and friendly. So they could do it in a lunch break. Or, you know, government departments can watch it because they just don’t have the capacity, especially on these topics. Most people when you talk about an ecological film, they go straight to, “oh gosh, it’s going to be depressing. I don’t want to sit there for an hour and a half and see how the world’s falling apart. I get that every day I sit on news.” So there’s work to be done there to bring people back into watching these types of films. And so yeah, absolutely. That was a deliberate strategy, as was using that sort of back casting framework, as was using familiar voices like Kerry O’Brien and Sandra Sully, that people have grown up with and become accustomed to in their living rooms and trust them, to have them read these new stories was all part of that sort of thinking and strategy of how we do this. But to your first point. I really do think that storytellers you know, they’re the only way through. If the storytellers can’t find a way, then a way can’t be found. We are a species that’s evolved to tell stories. And we live in a collective story, whether we aware of it or not, we all walk around with our own story of who we are in our heads that greatly shapes how we interact with the world and who we are. But we forget that we’re also operating in a collective story. And that collective story tells us that we’re inherently greedy and selfish, that we’re disconnected from the living world, that we have to grow at all costs. They’re all stories that we can change, and people don’t realize that. So I do feel that we have, as storytellers, a massive responsibility to have an intervention on that narrative. And say, are you aware of who is controlling this story? Whether it’s, you know, giant Hollywood studios, whether it’s giant advertising agencies. They are shaping the values, and the values then influence the culture, and then the culture determines what thrives or dies. So, I think I’ve said it before, but it’s like, if humanity is a forest, and people are the seeds, then then the culture is the soil. And its health determines how we grow. And right now that culture has been influenced by very powerful, wealthy monopolies that are not allowing the seeds to grow in a way that is healthy and what we need. So that’s the deeper layer when we talk about the physical of like: we need more solar panels, we need batteries. Yeah, great. Okay, that’s important, but it’s actually the deeper cultural philosophical metaphor story that needs to shift if we’re going to pull this off. Otherwise, we’re just, we’re tinkering around the edges. And we won’t get to where we want to get to.
There’s something about that living soil, and this whole kind of the mycelial network there, the metaphor of that, which is something that I’ve been drawing on a lot lately, because, you know, this conversation about, well, where’s the power to change? Like, uh, you know, I often come across, people say, Well, you know, the change is up there, and I don’t, I just don’t feel like I have the capacity to impact that change. But yet, I kind of somehow feel like the power is in the mycelial network of change makers that are everywhere around the world, like, I literally come across people, you know, from refugee settlements, to, you know, apartment in the middle of New York to wherever. And it’s the connectivity between those in this, like, and it’s kind of what I see in the permaculture network, that it’s, it connects people without necessarily being visible every now and then you’ll see these little mushrooms pop up, that become visible and make it visible, but it’s there. And that’s where this power of change and the new stories are emerging. They’re everywhere, absolutely everywhere. And that helps me to feel like there’s a possibility for change, rather than having to wait till we get a government change, which is something that we really have a possibility to do here in Australia right now, with this rise, and I think you’re helping that with this film to actually bring this voice into and it’s like, what a perfect time did you pick this time to do this film?
No, I was supposed to release it last October. But then because of COVID, and all sorts of things, it just kept getting pushed and pushed. And now it’s ended up that our last screening is back at home, which is our 72nd screening, and it’s on Friday, the 20th of May the night before the election. So yeah, it’s been really interesting. And, you know, obviously, the conversation has been shaped by that as well. But you’re right. I remember reading something when I was younger, around. I’m not sure who said it, but he said it: the people that want to change the world will be the ones that don’t want to take credit for it. And that there is no sort of, it’s like, (NAME)’s quote to around, the next border will be a community, that I think people are starting to realize that the only way we’re going to win this, is to form those networks. Those decentralized horizontal networks. There is no savior. You know, it’s not Elon Musk, it’s not anyone else, it actually takes all of us. And I guess the reality of what we’re facing in the decades ahead, and we’ve seen it firsthand, especially in my community in the Northern Rivers in the last couple of months is: the crisis and the shocks that are coming, are going to force us to know our communities better than we’ve ever known them before. So, we may as well start now. Start that connection. Because we saw that with, you know, no telecommunications, very little petrol and food, no help federally or from the state government, that the human network had to form itself rapidly. And it did, it was extraordinary in a couple of days, what happened. That anyone, you know, race, religion, politics all fell away, and humanity kicked in, and said, right, what needs to be done, I can offer this. Ego’s fell away, if anyone tried to take control, they literally bounced off the magnetism of the network that had formed. Lots of women running that to be honest. And just to see that happen, the crowdfunding, the offering of services was a glimpse to me at what the new system can look like. And it might take a long time to get there. But we’re going to have the technology soon to be able to do that in various forms. That we will be able to self govern in a lot of ways. And we won’t need these big centralized institutions. We will need to monitor and be careful and have transparency in all those sort of things. But it was just like, Okay, right, we can build a better world based on altruism and deep collaboration as human beings, as opposed to this system thatincentivizes the worst in us, and the selfish element and the domination and the hierarchy and the sociopath, they get rewarded right now. And that’s just not who we are. It’s an attribute we have some have it more than others. But, you know, we’ve got to build something that that brings out our best intrinsic qualities. And that’s obviously a discussion, a bigger discussion and starts with education, all sorts of things. But I’m very excited by that conversations being had in places that people wouldn’t expect by some of the best minds in the world. They’re coming together and having those discussions right now about what a new and better system look like. How do we design that architecture from the ground up that incentivizes and rewards the best parts of us.
Morag: Yeah, that’s really exciting. I love the fact, you brought that into the film so strongly about that, you know, what is the kind of democracy that we do need in order to facilitate these changes that we want to see in the world? And something else that I think that you brought in really beautifully into the film, too, was this idea of well, what are we measuring? You know, what are we measuring to see whether we’re successful or not? And, you know, at all levels of our being, and what is it? What could we do if we actually put life at the center, as the core value for all of our decisions? Whether you know, is the enlightenment of the soil of of communities, if that was the key measuring stick? How would things change? You know, like,
So, for those that haven’t seen the film, I sort of do this graphic at the start, which really sets up where we are as a country ecologically, and you know, looking not just to climate change, but you know, our wildlife extinctions and the land clearing that we do, like really shocking metrics. And what’s interesting is that I often do that at the start, and I did it to a group of business leaders in regional Victoria. There was about 300 of them, largely men over 40. And afterwards, they were just stunned at that graphic. And they were saying, why don’t we know that? Like, I’ve got kids. Is that really happening? And I say, yeah it is. And then you tell them. well, how do you measure your success? Well, my business, you know, we look at the GDP we look at the ASX. And I say, well , that’s it exactly. So this is all the externalities that you’re not looking at when you’re focused on that. So I do think there’s a willingness and if people could understand it better, we could change things quite dramatically. They just don’t even know those metrics exist that you know, or it’s just something in the distance, it’s fine. We’ll be right nature will get through. So you’re right, I’d love to think that in 10 years, so we’re measuring soil health on the news or, or deforestation rates, or the things that actually, our survival depends on. And we still might have a financial metric of some sort. Sure, no worries. But let’s make sure that the realities of that are baked in like, like a genuine progress index or something like that, which does exist, which says, Yeah, okay, we can still measure our wealth success, but let’s make sure we see what’s come at the cost of, as well.
Yeah. And you know, what I love about, you know, Kate Raworth’s Donot Model is that, that being the safe zone, so you know, like, we’ve overshot in so many ways, but also that the undershoot, you know, that, how we’re, it’s this beautiful ring, the, like, the sweet zone, where, where life thrives socially, economically, ecologically. You know, and I think it just is such a simple model. I really love Kate’s work, you know, I think it’s just so important for reimagining because, you know, it’s the, it’s the different metrics, it’s different models, that just simply help us to kind of see ourselves differently. And, you know, the planetary boundaries conversation is something that really needs to get further out. It’s terrifying at one point, and, you know, sometimes I feel completely overwhelmed by it. But at the same time, you know, I think the, the vision and the possibility of this ecological civilization is, is enormous. And I was talking to Rupert Read the other day, and he was talking about this idea that civilization collapse is not inevitable. And I think that’s, you know, a lot of the young people that I speak to have this attitude like: you know, it’s all over really anyway, so like, why should I care? And why don’t I just do whatever I can, because I’ve only got a few years left, anyway. And it terrifies me that that is this image that they’re holding of the world. And so this possibility of hope, the possibility that there is another way of moving forward. That as many different possible ways that we can share that forward…
Yeah, well, that’s it. I mean, I find that really, you know, that overwhelmingly apocalyptic narrative that’s out there, and a lot of scientists and people are perpetuating, I just think is so dangerous, because I mean, change is not linear. The future is not linear. It’s not a natural progression, and never has been, we’ve had enormous disruption throughout history. When something’s come along, whether it’s the printing press that suddenly decentralized information and changed the entire way we view the world and led to the enlightenment, and all sorts of things, or even the motorcar that was invented. It wasn’t just the car that came along. It just spawned entire redesigns of cities, for roads and new industries, like we cannot ever really understand what we’re capable of. And so I get so frustrated by that, because we are losing people to that nihilism. And they just disengage and they switch off not just the kids, but adults go, it’s all too hard. I’m actually just going to really enjoy my life because who knows what’s around the corner, and our kids are just giving in. And, of course, that’s one possible pathway. There’s no doubt about that. And it’s, for many people, if we can’t continue on our current path it is it is a likely trajectory in many ways, some kind of chaotic breakdown, which you could argue we’ve already begun in some places, some areas, but some of those I don’t think might necessarily be a bad thing. Like, I just think we also what does it look like to collapse as a society? Is it having anything you want at your beck and call any time from anywhere in the world? Well, you’re gonna have to have let go of some of that. Is that what you call societal collapse? It’s all like working out what that what that barrier actually means? Sorry, what that measurement means. But I also think there’s these other beautiful pathways forward.
Yeah, I really love that you say it’s not linear as well. And I think, you know, we have the capacity to radically shift our narratives and our political responses as well. I mean, we just need to look at what’s happened, how much we’ve been able to release funds and possibilities to address threats to global humanity lately, whether that be war, whether that be like medical things, whatever, we have the capacity. And I remember listening to Richard Dennis, a few years ago, from The Australia Institute, talking about how, you know, we could solve… it was a poverty week, he said, we could solve poverty, (clicks fingers) like that. We have the funds. We’re in a rich country, we could solve that. It’s just that we don’t have the political will to put that front and center. So I guess this question is, how can we front and center life? How can we front and center all of these things so that the political will is there to finance these solutions? Where is this financing coming from to activate all these solutions that we’re talking about? And that you’re putting forward in the film?
Yeah, I mean, I think we’re seeing that. I think that, again, I would use what’s happened in Ukraine as an example to. Like, obviously, people started to see a lot of countries, how their investment in Russian oil and gas was, and how much that was fueling that particular war, that they made some really incredible change. I mean, Germany, I think it’s the clearest example where they brought forward their renewable energy target by a decade. They contributed $200 billion in the signing of a pen. So this is what we’re capable of, I just think that there’s such an addiction to the current systems. And those incentives, and also like, you know, if we come right down to what is driving this, and while we haven’t got that the action we need, you know. You think about this system, if I’m okay, if I’m a gas company, if I’m a forestry company, if I’m a fishing company, even if I think, ah, you know, I don’t really want to catch all these fish or cut down these trees. That’s the reality, our system says, Well, if I don’t do it, someone else is going to do it. So I have to do it. Otherwise, we’re gonna go bankrupt, we lose my job security, I might, I might have kids. So there’s an illusion of choice for people. But there’s actually no choice that we are inhabiting a system that is destroying and extracting, beyond our decision making, really. So unless we can address that game theory, those, what some people call generator functions of this system, there’s lots of them. That’s a huge driver. Again, we’re just going to keep having these conversations. And we might do a little bit of tinkering here and there. But we need this full system redesign, you know, at its very core, what are we valuing? And I see the glimpses of that in things like Gregory Landau has just formed this, this Regen Network, and the idea of what’s happening for farmers now that are starting to see Oh, my God, I might get paid to look after and heal my landscape, or I might get paid to reinstate kelp and seagrass forests. So there’s a way we’re sort of looking where there’s literally trillions of dollars now going into the climate solution space. And Gregory estimates that that sort of carbon market, or the repair of earth, will be a multi trillion dollar industry by 2040, or 2050. As much as what the oil and gas is worth now. So maybe as part of our transition, there is a way to use the commodification, the money system that we have, to start incentivizing different regenerative practices as opposed to degenerative practices right now. That might be something we do, is we transition to whatever that next system is, which in reality isn’t gonna come for, you know, at least 50, 60 or 100 years even more, but at least there might be some really smart mitigating things we can do in the meantime. And as I said before, those chats aren’t radical right now. They’re being had by government officials by really senior unit UN figures, bringing in the best minds from MIT and Stanford and all other places around the world to have those chats. And I’ve been fortunate enough to witness a couple of them and just sit in on them and you know, your heart just like, it’s just like, oh my god, these people with these incredible brains arechatting about the things that you and I are, and with the same level of rigor and precision and thoroughness, you know, it’s just, okay. Something’s going on, you know. Whether it’s enough and whether we get there in time, but that gives me enormous optimism that at least those conversations are being had by the right people.
Yeah. And I think, knowing that is really hopeful, because I think often, because it’s not publicly visible, these types of conversations, the awareness that they’re being had. I mean, I was in Westminster, actually, in the Houses of Parliament when the the Climate Declaration was being made. And I was walking through the Houses of Parliament, with one of my friends– an MP there–and was meeting all these ministers and they’re saying, Oh, this is my permaculture friend from Australia. I love permaculture and I was like, knocked over, I was thinking, Oh, my gosh, like I’m here meeting with these ministers saying: oh, yeah, I’ve got a permaculture allotment. And I’m thinking, why is it that I’m walking through the Houses of Parliament here, and there’s an awareness and there’s a, you know, an ecological food bill that’s gone through whether it’s fully applied, and it’s working out or not. I came back to Australia, and I started trying to have these conversations, and I just met with this wall. And then that last election happened, and I think, why is Australia? Why is Australia, you know, the global embarrassment? We were even called out by the chief of the UN as, you know, being the dangerous radicals because of our focus on fossil fuels. Like is it simply that we have so much fossil fuels, that’s the basis of our economy, that we’re just not making the shift, like we’re bottom of the bottom of the pile of people — welll, not people, but government’s doing climate action.
Well, it’s that the whole notion of that that idea of the lucky country. And what was actually meant by that phrase was that, you know, we haven’t had to do much for our wealth, we are extraordinary lucky that we landed on these incredible resources that the world needed. And so you know, over the last 20 years, we’ve just eradicated any sort of diversity in our manufacturing, or diversity, our income, and we’ve relied so heavily on these fossil fuel exports. And especially during COVID, where we got smashed, we lost our money on education, we lost our money on tourism, which are a two of the other ones that sit right up high in our top five. So we’ve just hedged all our bets on this one industry that the rest of the world is moving away from and knows we can’t do any more. So, you know, that’s a huge factor. And we’ve made an extraordinary amount of money. And we continue to make extraordinary amounts of money from that industry, just listen to some of those stories from, you know, The Hunter of the coal. And when they were first starting those first few years, and they were so proud, they were exporting something like 100 tonnes a day or something. And now it’s like 100-and-something-million, like it’s just obscene numbers. And so that coupled with that industry that has taken over our politics, that has taken over our media, that when you’ve got those three working together with the amount of money that they have, controlling a narrative, as we talked about before, but also controlling the political system, it’s very hard to create change. And they’ve also devised strategies and techniques to protect themselves. That’s what powerful systems can do is, is build protection mechanisms through policy and all sorts of other rules that, you know, some of the independents are feeling the full force of right now, as all the dirty tricks start to be played, because the incumbents like to keep it that way. And whether that’s through the stories they tell, or the tactics they use. So that is a massive issue in our country, and is why we are a laughingstock in other parts of the world. But I’m confident that there’s enough momentum from the majority of Australians, we’re always going to have minorities that don’t want to change, and certainly I’ve come across them. But I think we are very close to a tipping point in this country. And when it happens by God, things are gonna move so quickly here, because of what’s available, not just the solar and the wind, but our landscapes and the regeneration potential. And what our farmers are doing that are some of the leading pioneers in the world, the permaculture movement, all the things you’re involved with, I mean, not to mention the greatest resource we have, which is the oldest living culture on earth with their incredible integrated knowledge systems and this observational science that we have at our disposal. Like that’s my my dream. I didn’t, you know, obviously, I think we’ll get there by 2030. But somewhere in that 2030s decade, just imagine people going back on the country and being paid to restore regenerate the landscape through burning practices again, or just sequestration rates and getting kids out and like viable jobs, that people getting their hands in the soil. That’s all possible that’s in our future. In fact, we have to do it if we’re going to turn things around. It’s, it’s not something we can say, oh, wouldn’t it be nice, we’re going to be forced into doing that stuff as people realize how dire the situation is, and how much regeneration is going to be required. They’re not there yet. A lot a lot of us do. But you know, these shocks are going to keep happening happening, like the floods and the fires. We’re gonna get more of those and every time we do, we’ll bring more and more people into the movement, wanting to know what the solutions are. So that’s unfortunately, the negative or I suppose it’s the silver lining of all these catastrophes we’re going to see is that it will galvanize the movement and get stronger action.
I really love that part of the film, where you’re talking about indigenous learning centers, you know. And also talking about indigenous voices being, you know, front and center in all layers of government as well, that that shift in the indigenous voices everywhere, and that, that’s what we need to know now.
Oh, we have to. We’re not going to get there without it. It’s just, what an offering, what a gift we have in this country to have these people here and we’ve just not told our full story yet. You know, we haven’t written that chapter, the integration chapter. And when we do write it, like it’s just going to be so spectacular. And for anyone who hasn’t read them yet, the knowledge learning series that’s been put out: songlines, and country. I’ve just finished those two. And I mean, I should just be essential reading for the curriculum. They’re so beautifully written. And explain what is available and how potent that culture is. And it’s right on our doorsteps. It’s, you know, we can embrace that and get enough people to understand that I think, yeah, obviously things would be very different in the years ahead.
Yeah, there’s an amazing group called Regenerating Songlines Australia. So this is a group I’m part of and it’s fantastic that indigenous leaders from around Australia are coming together to, to reimagine continued the song line stories today, and mapping out again, what’s going on in the world and bringing us you know, along with them, and I, like I’m just so honored to be part of that group. And, you know, learning so much in that space.
Yeah, I remember. Coming back, I remember going to New Zealand just before COVID. And like walking through their airport and seeing you walk through this big wooden carving, and you see the Maori culture, and you hear the songs playing. And it’s just the most beautiful welcome. And then recently, I went with my family to Fiji for a little bit and just the richness of that culture arriving there and being sung out all the time. And then we came home and landed at Brisbane Airport, and it was just Border Force tape, and not a smile from a guard. And it was a full police presence, that I just thought, what have we done — what’s happened to this country? There was no welcome. There was no aspect of any of our culture, not even a beaming smile, nothing. It was just this kind of intense fear-based, regimented, and I thought, oh, we’ve gone, we’ve really lost our way, you know, and, and this is how we welcome people to our beautiful country, you know, little signs that you get that those little, tells of where we are culturally, and I thought that was just an interesting one.
Yeah, I think that sort of, for me, what I’m really focusing on too, lately is the culture of permaculture. And you know, a lot of the work that I do with refugees, for example, is around song and art and dance. And it comes from the heart. It’s this heart space change, it’s, and it’s the space to have the conversations. It’s something that sparks that. It’s not just like, oh, here’s the solution, here’s how you do it. Here’s the recipe, like we know all that stuff, like it’s there. And there’s like innovations happening, but it’s when you when it’s when it hits somewhere else. And it’s this whole body, but not just your body, it’s your body in connection with other bodies and the place that you’re in. And that comes through that music and the dance and the story, you know, like it’s something else.
I’m sorry, you didn’t get this experience last night because we couldn’t organize it. But for all the events, we’ve either had a didgeridoo performance or dances. And just to see what that does to the audience, just that anchoring, where you’ve come in from your day, you sit in a cinema or anything, I’m just going to watch a movie and suddenly you just get whacked with this kind of, deep heartspace. It just grounds everyone and puts them in a really receptive mood and really changes the night. So it’s so important, and we’ve just lost, especially in this country, and what we’ve done to the arts and how we’ve eroded it, and and how it’s been neglected from any climate discussion or system, you know, and that’s the only way you know, we’ve just got to embrace the arts and get artists to understand how potent their role is in this moment, because I think, you know, we’ve lost so many of them to thinking I just got to, you know, get as many streaming hits on Spotify, and they’ve just got no money I get all that. But by God, we need their gifts in this moment.
Yeah. So what are your key calls to action that are coming out of this film and that, you know, that you’d like to ask people to do when you when you go to schools for example, what are your calls to action to young people?
To the young people it’s around you know, getting in groups–that collaboration piece or forming those networks because, you know, some of these kids say like, I’ve just got these views but it’s very hard I’m on my own and trying to get them to you know, there’s so many, as you’d know, environment clubs or ecological clubs, we’ve had about 15 regeneration clubs start at schools, since the film’s come out, which has been really wonderful. And, you know, we try and help those those groups to talk to their principal or learn the governance of the school. Like, what a great learning to understand the politics of that little micro system, and, you know, the barriers to change and all those things that they’re going to need and the skills in the wider world. And, you know, as you know, it just alleviates any anxiety when they feel like they’re progressing and moving and meeting with others and collaborating. And they’re on a forward path. So that’s one aspect. But I think for the film at large, the idea of this, again, was to create the beginnings. I mean, there are some aspects of this already out there but to enhance or plug in another node to that mycelium network of a regenerative community in Australia. And to amplify the work that people are already doing. What happened in the Listening campaign that we did around the country for the film was that there was a real gap between people’s ideas and then bringing them to fruition. And so that’s what this did, it says, right, we’ve got this fund, and we’ve got a whole lot of subject matter experts. So if you do have an idea, you know, submit it, and we’ll help you develop it to a point we won’t say no to any idea, and some of those will get these grants of $20, $50, $100 $250,000. And just the ideas that have come in already. I mean, we’re you know, we’re 40 screenings in but there’s been almost 200 ideas submitted and, you know, 80% of them are so beautiful and regenerative in their principles that involves so many cascading benefits, a lot of indigenous elements toit, a lot of community benefits to it, decentralizing. It’s beyond what we expected. And, again, very hopeful that these people are thinking like this out there, and they want to connect with others. And so we’re really hoping that now we can take all these learnings and whichever government comes in next, we can say, right, look at this, check out the quality of these ideas, let’s really ramp this up, you know. We’ve only put a small amount of millions of dollars into it. But imagine we go this $50 or $100 million. And then we bring in those impact investors to start scaling this up or not, or start having them community-owned, whatever it might be. Just to kickstart that idea of people that are feeling a bit listless and frustrated by the lack of leadership, well, how about you plug into this network of people that are really getting it done. Get some learnings, join with others, meet people in your community, because it doesn’t matter who wins this election, we’re still going to have to do that, you know, it’s going to take all of us doing as best as we can to pull off the task ahead of us. So that was really the idea. And again, as you said, and had that conversation with your children, just to remind people that there are things we can do. And they’re not, it’s not a distant utopian fantasy, all those things we show in this film already happening in some form, like it’s not made up like 2040, they’re all here now. It just it takes political will and scaling up and more funding and more involvement and more community energy into them. But we just gotta give people a sense that it’s possible. Because like I said, I’ve just I just fear how many people we are losing to the it’s all too hard narrative or that we’re doomed. Let’s just give up. You know, we’ve just got to push while there’s a tiny gap, it’s still opening that doorway. We’ve just got to rush as many people through as we can.
Yeah. And I also liked the fact that you know, you were you were not too distant in the future, a lot of the narrative around climate change is like, what can we do by 2050? What can we do by 2040? But 2030? Like, what can what is possible by then, you know, and it is these these changes can happen quickly, change is possible. Change is not linear, this so all of these things that we were just saying now, and I think to the other thing that really stuck with me, that you said that I wasn’t aware of is how many of our farmers in Australia are already doing regenerative practices. Can you just maybe just repeat the the number?
Yeah, we had. We had one of the sites from Southern Cross University and they they’ve just they’ve got a regenerative agriculture course, Lorrain Gordon runs that, you can get a master’s in it. And they said that there are around 40,000 farmers in Australia, and they found that just under 9000 of them, had already started some form of organic, biological or regenerative farming. So almost a quarter of our farmers were on that track, which is just incredible. And Lorraine was saying on the panel that she thinks that the explosion in these practices in the last five years, which has taken everyone by surprise in this country means that regenerative agriculture will be the mainstream agriculture in the next five to six years.
MORAG: That’s incredible.
Damon: which is incredible. Yeah, I mean, when you throw in a robust carbon or biodiversity market that’s properly robust and transparent, which you know, Terry McCosker and other people are working on, the potential of that to then say to farmers, well, not only will we pay you for your for your healthier food, but you’ll also get paid to look after the frogs in your wetland there or, or put more carbon in your soil. Suddenly, they get an extra $80, $100-whatever, $1,000 a year from caring for country. That’s when things really start to fire up and escalate. And we start seeing, you know, Indigenous Rangers working with conservative farmers and we start to see kids getting back on the left, like, that’s when you know, we can all be very, very excited. And that’s potentially not very far away.
Yeah, this is imminent, we’re talking about.