Week 9

Activity of the week- Basket weaving

Nimbin is the strangest little town, associated mainly with drug culture and criminal behaviour.  The first time I explored Nimbin was 14 years ago, when Bee and I went to do some shopping, pushing Izzy in the stroller down the main street.  A man further down the street started to scream insults at a man who was an equal distance behind us.  We were smack, bang in the middle of these two crazy old men who were screaming obscenities (all the ones I love and the one I’m not too keen on), waving hostile arms and making the usual gestures. Bee was 7 years old.  She looked up at me and said “Mummy, why are those two men screaming at us?”  I explained that their animosity was the result of, on the one hand,  an unfortunate purchase of an ineffective product, and, on the other, a refusal to apologise or make amends.   We hightailed it out of there.  A month or so later, I went back and was witness to another dispute, this time at the pub.  I hopped in my car, drove out of Nimbin, and never went back.

But, scratch the surface of this misunderstood and underrated town, and you find that Nimbin, the home of the 1973 Aquarius Festival (basically Australia’s Woodstock) has a lot of knowledge to offer the world.  In 2010, I worked at Nimbin Central school for a year and my eyes were opened to extraordinary people living sustainably and responsibly, connecting with nature and each other in a real community where knowledge is shared freely and the spirit of humanity is celebrated joyously.  I loved the atmosphere.

Anyway, last year Etienne and I went to the Weave and Mend Festival just outside of Nimbin, at the suggestion of our neighbour Bec (thanks honey).  Etienne has been making baskets for 15 years so he took some basket making materials to teach people how to make carry baskets with a common weed that needs eradicating -cat’s claw as pictured below.  I went along to learn how to make banana leaf baskets. Pictured below are the baskets we made that day- mine is the little one beside Etienne’s big cat’s claw basket.

Version 2

In typical Nimbin fashion, there was no cost, and no-one made any money.  Instead, people shared their knowledge and skills for the pleasure of knowing that they were able to help someone else acquire a new skill, hone their creativity, and take a small step toward self-sufficiency.  We all sat on the ground on mats under a huge marquee and learned from each other, laughed with each other, and enjoyed the simple pleasure of the company of people who believe in the power of connection.  All the basket making materials were free and had been collected by weavers to be distributed to learners as the need arose.  Fabulous!

So last week, I decided to start making baskets at home.  I couldn’t remember how to start the basket that I learned at the Weave and Mend Festival so I asked our friend Jillian, a great basket weaver, for some help to get mw started.  Myself and another friend Deb, went up to Jillian’s place where she had lined all the materials out on a table.  We spent the morning listening and learning, then practicing making banana cord and using it as the base of a basket.  We shared a lovely lunch and continued weaving into the afternoon.  I’ll post a pic when I’m finished.

I approached a shop in Nimbin to see if they wanted to sell Etienne’s baskets. They have taken them on consignment. DSCN0035.jpgPictured here are some of Etienne’s baskets that we are selling through The Green Bank in Nimbin.



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