Working with people is the hardest part of my work, it’s also the majority of it. I know it sounds awful and it might not be wise to put this in writing, but I have said (more than once) that if it wasn’t for people, ‘insert name of project’ would be perfect.
I don’t dislike people by any means, but we’re a diverse bunch us humans and some of us are especially unique – in both good and interesting ways. And of course, how we interact with people is often a reflection on ourselves, so please don’t think I sit up on my hill judging folk. I do believe that when you judge others, you’re judging yourself – I get that.
But people are hard work. Working with them meaningfully is hard work. You have to… well, really work at it – constantly.
And of course we all have our own baggage which we accumulate over life. Whether that’s trauma, anxiety, stupid political policies/laws imposed on us, mental illness, old age (and the mental fatigue that can come with it), sickness or stress, people can get way complicated.
A while ago, around 13 years ago to be exact, I had already developed a similar perspective to the one I’ve just outlined above. However, despite this somewhat ‘dark’ outlook on humans, I recognised that if we want a healthy future for our one and only Earth, if we want to develop strong, vibrant community cultures and if we want our children to be born into a world worth living in, then we need to cooperate with people to create this.
Around that same time, I stopped sitting in tree sits trying to help protect Tasmania’s old growth forests and started looking into this thing called Permaculture more. I liked the ethics – earth care, people care and fair share. In particular, people care caught my eye, head and heart. That’s we’re it’s at I thought to myself. My work and life needs to be focused on earth care and fair share BUT this shizzle will only happen if we actually work together to make it happen. We need to look after ourselves and one another, but we also need to collaborate and coordinate to create a world worth living in.
So yes, if it wasn’t for people, everything would be so much easier and straightforward. But we are here, and the good news is that we have everything we need to get this ‘living fairly’ business right.
And so, most of my work is people-centred, because I chose it to be so. I remind myself this on days when a brick wall is more receptive than some folk I have to communicate with.
And of course, the hard moments are all worth it when you get to have the golden times like these….
The Live and Learn project 2014: Working with refugee families, teaching them how to establish food gardens in a cold climate
The Australian City Farms & Community Garden Network’s national gathering, Food 4 Thought, (Hobart 2014) organising team
2010, Melbourne, Cultivating Community – The Composter’s Composium relay race
2010, Doing a worm farm workshop for a community garden while working with Cultivating Community
Felicity, one of the ace participants of The Compost Kings & Queens Project, Hobart 2013
I only take photos of the happy, celebratory moments so haven’t got any ‘hard moment’ photos to show you. It doesn’t bode well when you’re having a rough time with people to pull out your camera and say ‘hey, can you just hold that pose/crazy face expression you’re pulling right now’. So I show you the good times, because that’s what fuels me, inspires me and reminds me of the opportunities we have to do amazingly great, useful and fun things with our lives, for ourselves, each other and our one and only Earth.
- Social permaculture: The invisible structures within permaculture
*Your blogger is Hannah Moloney, Co-Director of Good Life Permaculture and lover of all things fun and garden-esk.