Alternative Living Foundation - Armidale (edited)

Alternative Living Foundation - Armidale


John Judge

The Alternative Living Foundation was formed in late 1973. Initially the Foundation was proposed to be an organisation devoted to the accumulation, research into and distribution of ideas and methods of alternate technology (power sources, shelter, communication, and agriculture) but at the initial meeting we decided to widen the basis of the organisation to include sociological and cultural aspects of alternate life styles. That is to say, we would concern ourselves with the instigation and

support of any enterprise which would develop the social virtues of cooperation with, sensitivity to, and tolerance of, other  people. We also felt the need to work towards liberating culture from the market place and restoring it to the people ; it was with this thought in mind that we decided to promote and support participatory cultural activities. Of course, our original goal of establishing an information and research centre for alternate or 'soft' technology was retained and, in this respect,

we concern ourselves with alternate power sources and low cost building. Much work is already being done elsewhere on ecologically sane agricultural practices and rather than duplicate the work of others we felt it would be best to catalogue this material for the time being. Any projects we will undertake in the technological field will be concerned with alternate power sources and low cost building. We have built the inevitable dome (6.09 metre diam. 2v ICOSA) and learnt the importance

of precise workmanship (particularly with regard to the correct face, axial, and dihedran angles) to avoid 'spreading' of the seams and subsequent sealing problems. We also learnt that covering a dome is very difficult and short-lived. Our first large scale activity was to organise and prepare the logistic base for the Duval Creek workshop, which was planned to be a small scale coming together of people committed to the search for a life style which minimises individual alienation and enviromental ruin.

nThe workshop was a success despite the tiny resources of ALF at the time. We were fortunate to have at our disposal unlimited amounts of enthusiasm plus the organising skill of Graeme Dunstan and Ian Webster. The University of New England was more than helpful in lending us the land and giving us the use of tractors and four wheel drive vehicles, including a truck. It rained mercilessly for the weeks before the workshop, our dam was washed away, we bogged two tractors and Graeme was unhappy about the bad I Ching he threw. Nevertheless we persevered and the workshop came off. We made valuable contacts and shared valuable experiences, we were able to leave the site as we found it and 'the man' was impressed. We didn't even get the traditional visit from the constabulary. Following Duval, our efforts this year have been directed towards setting up a food co-op and an 'intentional' community (Graeme's term, the idea being an intentional as opposed to an accidental coming together of people to fot in a community). The first goal was achieved early in first term 1974 with the support of the Students' Representation Council (S.R.C.) and the student body. It survived a bout of rip-off pilfering (to the tune of a couple of hundred dollars) and with closer supervision and employment of a manager-overseer the co-op has been able to survive quite well. We are happy to extend cooperative activities to include a workshop-garage which will enable people (shareholders) to perform their mechanical and engineering repairs at low cost and at the same time gain valuable experience, helping them to lift themselves out of the specialised straight-jacket 'progressive' society seems bent on imposing. Such a workshop would also provide us with facilities for our technological experiments. The workshop should be a reality before the end of 1974. ALF has had a close association with the Armidale Community Action Centre (A.C.A.C.) wh ich functions as a focus for several university-community activist groups and resides in an unused (co n d e mn e d ) bakery. The bakery and the attached shop have been the venue for a number of ALF activities including 'ALF's night out' dances and Saturday afternoon tea-party 'church' fetes. The centre has a comprehensive book shop which helps to pay the building rental. We have still to establish the intentional co- operative community somewhere in the New England area. We would like to widen our communication links in fact we would like to consider ourselves as part of an alternative communications network which can circulate ideas and enthusiasm to those who are in need of them. We are developing a resource centre where we hope to accumulate material on all aspects of alternative living. In conjunction with this, we wish to carry out projects to test the feasibility of the various ideas and techniques that have been claimed to be suitable for alternative living. We are currently very interested in pise (rammed earth) building and should be

starting on our first experimental structure in July 1974. Following this (probably summer 1974/1975) we will be building a methane gas generator. We would like to hear from anybody who has information that may be worth distributing and we would also like people to feel that they can contact us as a possible source of information.*


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