Invitation – Join me for my confirmation presentation!

If you’re in the Sunshine Coast area (Queensland, Australia) I invite you to attend my confirmation presentation where I will be exploring the doctoral research I’ve undertaken to date and the anticipated future directions of the research leading to submission for examination within the next year or two.

Details of the seminar are:

Title: Seed: cultivating permaculture-travel memoir through applied permaculture design.

Presenter: Nina Gartrell, DCA Candidate

When: Friday 10th April 2015 between 10am-10.30am

Where: KG.07 Business Conference Room, Sippy Downs campus, University of the Sunshine Coast

Staff, students, graduates and members of the public are welcome to attend.

My research endeavours to productively fuse permaculture and travel memoir to create new understandings of sustainability. The project grew organically out of the rich lived-experiences I accumulated during an extended period of wanderlust and experimentation in sustainable living practices. It marries my recent experience as a permaculture practitioner with my ongoing passion for travel and writing.

The concept for the research is to apply the principles of permaculture design to the analysis, contextualisation and creation of an innovative form of travel memoir. The aim is to generate a prototype of permaculture-travel memoir and a blueprint of how permaculture can be used and adapted as the basis of an ecologically informed creative writing praxis.

The creative artefact, entitled Seed: the Art and Mystery of Permatravel, is a permaculture-travel memoir inspired by a flightless journey from England to Australia that I undertook in 2012-2013. The journey was conceived as an experiment in permaculture-designed (ethical) travel and will be portrayed in the creative artefact as a personal quest to locate and learn from individuals and communities who embody the ideal of ‘permanent culture‘ and who practice ‘permanent agriculture‘. From forest gardening in the UK, to rammed earth construction in the Middle Atlas Mountains and from synergistic gardening in Tuscany to biological pest control on the island of Koh Phangan the creative artefact explores the diverse techniques individuals use to meet their needs for food, energy, water and shelter sustainably from their local environment. The research draws on key concepts and critical discourses in ecocriticism, environmental anthropology, environmental philosophy, sociology of tourism and applied permaculture design.

In 2007 I resigned from a position as a research assistant at a reputable Australian university to travel to India. Within two months of leaving Australia I met my lifelong partner and ‘discovered’ permaculture. I spent the following six years abroad: gaining accreditation as a permaculture designer; planting a food forest; building a turf-roof barn; traveling extensively; and working in London as a freelance journalist. In 2013 I returned to my home on the Sunshine Coast where I am currently putting down roots and cultivating a garden: a space in which to grow the many seeds (literal and figurative) I collected over the course of my travels. The biggest seed I am tending is my doctoral research on ‘permatravel’ and ‘permaculture-travel memoir’. I have a Bachelor of Communications (Literary Studies; Film and Media Studies) and a BA(Hons) awarded from Griffith University. I received the University Medal for my Honours dissertation.

Here’s me in the role of ‘perm-traveller’ (I’ll try and look a little more presentable on friday… hope to see you there!



Filed under Doctoral Research, Earth Care, Permaculture, Social Justice, Travel, Writing

12 responses to “Invitation – Join me for my confirmation presentation!

  1. pat seaforth

    sorry we cant be with you there but good luck from pat and billx

  2. Hello Nina
    Love the concept of Permaculture Travel Memior. Heres a short film I did on Rico Zook and my travels with him in India which you and your readers might appreciate.
    Heaven On Earth

  3. Rita

    Nina, all the best tomorrow. I would have loved to come and hear you talk but have another commitment. Your thesis topic sounds so interesting and will have an influence in the academic world and the way we travel (I hope). I am always keenly looking forward to your blog posts and savour reading them. Best wishes, Rita..

  4. fran

    Would love to attend if at all possible! Hopefully I’ll see you there. What’s parking like?

    • Nina Gartrell

      Hi Fran, It would be lovely to see you there if you can make it. It should be quite an intimate session: maybe about a dozen people. There should be plenty of parking because it’s mid-semester break, not many people around. Be prepared with small change. I think it costs $3 to park.

  5. Kay

    Oh Nina, so so sorry we are unable to attend, we would love to be there with you, we hope it goes really well for you and wish you all the best, looking forward to hearing about it and more blogs, much love K and S xx

  6. Holly

    Good luck beautiful x

  7. Kelly Chambers

    Hi Nina,
    I have seen a few confirmation presentations before and I would like to congratulate you on a brilliant presentation. You spoke with confidence, passion and eloquence that communicated your research proposal that left me excited to hear more. Bringing together so many ideas in such a short amount of time is not easy – you did it well! Thanks, it was a pleasure to hear of such an interesting project.
    I did have a question after I left – and is about the cultural interface and experience of introductions to Indigenous communities. How did you come to immerse yourself in indigenous communities? and Why was this necessary? I’m interested in indigenous knowledges and how these are shared but importantly how these are necessary too.
    Say, Hi to ‘Robbie’ for me and good luck.

    • Nina Gartrell

      Hi Kelly! I was wondering who the mystery beardie guy was up the back – it was you! So good of you to come. Thank you. And thank you for the lovely feedback. Yeah, I was really happy with how the presentation went. I received a lot of encouragement and some really useful suggestions which I hope I’ll be able to feed-back into the research to improve and hone it. The gist from my supervisors and the examiner were: now Ive got my footings, to run riot with the storytelling: get creative and try to lose all self-consciousness about where the story is going or how to tell it. Free reign! (‘Robbie’ says ‘HI’ right back at ya). As for your question – indigenous encounters… I suppose encounters with indigenous peoples weren’t particularly necessary to the task of reaching Australia from England without flying. However, we did hope to have some. I guess that hope stems from the idea (correct or otherwise) that there are some peoples ‘out there’ whose affinity with the land, and whose knowledge and respect of how to care for land or country is born out of a deep and abiding relationship to that place: it comes back to the idea of ‘permanence’ or duration. And I suppose our desire for this contact is because we ourselves feel severed or alienated from our own indigenous roots, and having become ourselves better at consuming than producing – we wanted to find examples of people who were still relatively self-reliant: able to build their homes, provide for the food, shelter, energy and other material and non-material needs form the local environment. What we were seeking was examples of durable land management practices that don’t degrade or disrupt the ability of that land to accommodate habitation (human and non-human) into the future – with the intention that we replicate or adapt some of these practices at home to improve our own self-sufficiency skills: we ourselves having lost so much of our knowledge of land care – particularly those of us from settler societies whose connection to land is only very recent. In the narrative I want to explore the idea of ‘roots’, and of attachment to place – how long attachment takes to form? Under what conditions? What mind-sets? What activities (i.e. gardening and seed-saving). Interestingly, before setting out, I’d thought WWOOF would be a way into encounters with indigenous communities but funnily enough, WWOOF wasn’t. The majority of the individuals with whom we WWOOFed and Couch Surfed, were themselves not indigenes but were from other places, which is an interesting phenomenon in and of itself. Oftentimes the couples/families we stayed with were mixed-nationality couples. For instance: in Athens we stayed with a Greek/USA couple, and in the north of Spain, a Catalan/Italian couple. In Georgia with WWOOFed with a French farmer, and in Thailand with another French farmer. In Spain we WWOOFed with an English woman… Even the family we stayed with in Kazakhstan were of Russian stock. Which throws up a lot of questions about what it means to be ‘indigenous’ in these mega-mobile highly-globalised times. The handful of times we connected with indigenous communities it was by chance, surreptitious. For instance, in Morocco we took a local bus to a village ‘off the map’. When we inquired about the local method of rammed earth construction our host offered to introduce us to the village builders – with whom we spent practically every hour of the following week – going to work with them, eating with them, singing and dancing in the evenings… not a word of common language between us, not a penny changed hands, but all the while a great feeling of sharing knowledge, culture, skills, and giving thanks for the the time we spent together, which was as rich and joyful as it was unexpected. Encounters like this were powerful – because it gave us a glimpse of how life is lived in other countries/cultures, and traditional methods of living in harmony (sustainably) with nature – using local, natural resources. And also how kinship and friendship can transcend conventional boundaries of language/wealth/gender/nationality… I hope that the narrative I produce will help to problematic some of the issues I’ve raised here, and capture the permaculture ethic of long-term care for earth and people.

  8. Would have so loved to have been there – love to you and Richie x NI & Di

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