Social change projects from around the world with Kai Saywer

Kai Sawyer, peace activist, student of nonviolence, and permaculture educator from Japan, shares his story of exploring the world of “peace” and “sustainability” in a 2-3 hour presentation on Wednesday the 22nd of February at Abdallah House in Seymour.

Please join us at 6pm for a Pot Luck dinner (bring food to share) before the presentation which will begin at 7:30pm. Space is limited to around 30 guests, so please call Richard on 0402 503 763 if you want to come. Kai will be requesting for a donation, so please consider contributing.

“From the 9/11 terrorist attacks, to living in the jungle of Costa Rica with no running water or electricity, to my visits to various amazing permaculture communities. My story focuses more on people and relationships (social permaculture), social change and empowerment, rather than food production. I conclude with how I am cultivating the cultural soil to plant radical practices of peace and ecology through my project called Tokyo Urban Permaculture.

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Get involved in the development of the proposed Wallan to Heathcote Rail Trail

Together with the City of Greater Bendigo and the Victorian State Government, Mitchell Shire Council is assessing the feasibility of a new 65km rail trail from Wallan to Heathcote for recreational walkers, cyclists and possibly horse riders.

Members of the local community are invited to have a say on the possible route with a number of ways to share your thoughts until Monday 20 March 2017. Community listening posts will be held in Pyalong, Wallan and Kilmore over the coming weeks, or you can complete a survey or make an online submission.

Head to the Mitchell Shire’s Engaging Mitchell website to find out more, and download all the relevant documentation. Alternatively, you can contact Vanessa Wiltshire, Business Development & Engagement Officer on 5734 6200 or

Repair Café: Toss it? No way!

A few of our Seymour BEAM members have been exploring the idea of having get togethers where items that otherwise might be discarded or replaced are repaired. So far we have had 2 small gatherings to discuss the concept and have repaired quite a few things that have been needing attention for longer than we’d like to say. As well as the satisfaction of having reduced waste and made something functional again, it is an enjoyable way to connect with like minded locals, and you never know what might come out of that!

Having discovered there is a world wide Repair Cafe organisation that supports this approach, we are holding a Repair Cafe orientation meeting at Irene’s house on Saturday 18 February 2-4pm to see if this idea will fly. If you are wildly enthusiastic, or just interested, in the possibility of creating a regular event, say monthly, we would love to see you there on the day. It would be great if you brought something that you would like to have repaired e.g. a blocked vacuum cleaner or pants that need a patch! If you can’t come and are keen to find out more contact the numbers below. It seems to fit well with the BEAM principles, especially taking a collaborative approach and everyone has something to offer.

And of course being a Repair Cafe there will be tea, coffee and cake available!

For further information contact Irene Telford. You may also like to check out the international repair café website to find out more about this new initiative.

Sustainable Seymour Projects on the go!

Sustainable Seymour Update February 2017

Renewable energy continues to be the main thrust of the Sustainable Seymour group.

Pumped Hydro: The pumped hydro feasibility study is under way, led by Roger Dargaville from the Melbourne Energy Institute. On 25 November, a meeting in Seymour with Roger and six staff from Goulburn Valley Water was followed by inspections of the two project sites at Trawool and Euroa. The meeting was attended by Jeff Wilmot, Richard Telford, Julie Mitchell, Malcolm Green and Bob Brown from Seymour and Shirley Saywell, Andi Kofler and Charlie Brydon from Euroa. Jeff reports:

Due to the low head and large amount of water needed, the capacity of the Strathbogie project, utilising Waterhouse and Abbinga reservoirs, is about 2 MW, which is the capacity of the diesel generator now used at peak times. But at such time,s the water demand for other purposes is also high so may not be available for hydro-generation. New pipe is also needed which could cost $4 million.

At Trawool the head a(290 metres) and volume of water (5o megalitres) being considered equate to potential energy of 40 MWh. Generator capacity could be 4 MW or more depending on the time required to run. The potential income from “arbitraging”, ie buying cheap power to pump and generating at times of expensive power, could be $1 million per year. The granite wall would withstand the daily cycling involved as it is impervious. There would be no safety issues as the water level would change slowly, but some kind of cage would be required over the outlet pipe. The reservoir would still be available for recreation. Another possible purpose for generation could be to level the output of the Cherry Tree Range wind farm across the river.

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BEAM Bulk Food Scheme update

The BEAM Bulk Foods Scheme (BBFS) has been running since June 2013 with great success and a growing number of families and even towns (Yea) are utilising the system. Recently, we’ve been able to offer more organic food by using Terra Madre Wholesale plus we are now sourcing products like dried fruit and seeds directly from smaller, local suppliers, such as Organic Delights in Tatura and Australian Pumpkin Seeds in Ovens.

Over time we have noticed a higher demand for items that can store well for a much longer period of time. We’ve also noticed that there is always one order which is slightly smaller than the rest, usually the last one for the year when people are busy doing many other things! We’re proposing to reduce the frequency of orders from four to three per year. This will also allow us to choose dates which avoid school holidays and the generally hectic times on the calendar.

The proposed order dates for 2017 are:
Round 1
Round 2
Round 3
Post list
15 Feb
14 Jun
4 Oct
Orders Due
1 Mar
28 Jun
18 Oct
Dividing up day
16 Mar
20 Jul
2 Nov
We would like to trial the new system in 2017, however items such as toilet paper will still be available from Blue Tongue Berries storage at any time. Anyone wishing to provide feedback are invited to email Cynthia our bulk foods coordinator at or come along to this Sunday’s Tallarook farmers market where both BEAM and Cynthia will be present.


End of Year Get Together at Tahbilk

Please join the BEAM committee, along with Euroa Environment Group and Strathbogie Voices at our annual end of year celebration at Tahbilk Winery, Nagambie.

Come along and bring your friends – it should be a great day out. See details below, and a map to the venue here. Please RSVP to book your spot! email: or call Caro on 5784 1177 or 0400 831 3302016-beam-end-of-year Download the PDF of the flyer here.

Community Renewable Energy Projects discussion paper- your chance to have a say

The state government has recently launched the “Community Renewable Energy Projects: PiLoR and planning issues discussion paper”. This provides an opportunity for all Victorians to push for change to laws which are currently restricting community owned renewable energy projects.


Yes to Renewables are calling on the government to:

  • Create a clear set of characteristics that define community renewable energy projects
  • Waive the $40,000 rates fee for community energy projects
  • Remove the blanket ban zones from wind farm planning laws for all wind projects

You can use the Y2R submission template to send through your response quickly and easily. Submissions are due by November 28.

Plastic is not so Fantastic

Rivers and Ranges Community Leadership Program (RRCLP) is the newest of Victoria’s many leadership programs. The program covers the municipal areas of Mitchell, Murrindindi, Nillumbik, Whittlesea and Yarra Ranges. The program is based on community capacity and resilience building for the purposes of creating leaders connected to their local regions.   As such, they are well placed to identify local issues and needs and identify solutions. Leaders are a good resource in building resilient, connected and thriving communities.

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The program takes a group of up to 24 diverse participants through a ten-month learning experience and exposes them to leaders at all levels of government. At the completion of the project the participants are expected to participate in community leadership and service.

Each cohort of RRCLP completes an environmental or art project as part of their learning. This year’s cohort split into two teams to complete separate environmental projects.

Team Bravo have chosen to tackle the problem of plastic in the environment. We are working with the Flowerdale Men’s Shed to produce a song about the 5 ‘r’s – refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle. This song will be released via social media and we will attempt to measure the project’s impact via this platform also.

As a complimentary addition to the project, we have printed reusable calico bags which we will distribute at the November Tallarook Farmer’s Market complete with information regarding the dangers of plastic and ways to reduce its use. These bags will also contain either a reusable keep-cup or reusable plastic drink bottle.


Children at the Flowerdale Primary School decorated some of the bags during a session where they learned about the 5 ‘r’s. We have surveyed the children on their use of the 5 ‘r’s and will measure the impact, if any, at the completion of the project via a follow-up survey. We are hoping the final survey will show a decreased use of plastic and a better understanding of the issues. The children were very engaged during their session.

Collaboration with other community groups was another strong element of our project and we will be creating a map to show connections between community groups both before and after the project’s completion. BEAM Mitchell Environment Group was very supportive of our project and have produced a flyer with tips on reducing plastic use for inclusion in the bags. Many other groups offered support along the way.

All involved groups will be acknowledged by use of the bags.

You can follow our progress on our facebook page by the name of Plastic Not So Fantastic.

Linda Kennedy

Ten tips to reduce plastic

  1. Take your own shopping bags (don’t accept single use plastic bags)
  1. Drink from a reusable drink bottle or keep cup
  1. Choose items with less packaging
  1. Shop at the farm gate or at Farmers’ Markets
  1. Buy in bulk
  1. Say no to plastic straws
  1. Take lunch to work or school in a reusable lunch box (without added plastic wrapping)
  1. Grow your own veggies
  1. Don’t line your bin with plastic (easy if you have chooks to eat messy scraps)
  1. Shop second hand or at op shops

And now here’s Charlie Mgee with his song Plastic! from his new album Grow Do It.