Reading time: 4 minutes
Perhaps, the peculiar name of Wurruk’an doesn’t strike a chord with some of us.
I have never heard of that place too until I stumbled upon an interesting documentary about that community on YouTube recently.
The documentary titled “A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity” was released in June 2016.
It was written and produced by Jordan Osmond (Happen Films) and Samuel Alexander (Simplicity Institute).
Where did the name come from?
To begin with, the word “wurruk” is an Australian indigenous term that has two meanings: “Earth” and “story”.
Consequently, “k’an” is a Mayan word for “seed”,
As a whole, the name Wurruk’an can be interpreted as the community members’ desire to express their endeavor to “seed a new Earth story”.
How did they get the idea?
It began with a small group of people who wanted to demonstrate a ‘simpler way’ of living based on the concept of permaculture.
For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, permaculture means “the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient”.
The term was coined by David Holmgren and Bill Mollison in 1978.
Back then, Holmgren was a graduate student at the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education’s Department of Environmental Design.
Mollison was a senior lecturer in Environmental Psychology at the University of Tasmania.
What the pioneers of Wurruk’an had in mind had in 2015 was the idea of creating an inclusive gathering place where they can promote permaculture as an alternative way of life in the modern world.
They then decided to start their small community on a humble but beautiful body of land, water, and forest in the Gunai District of Gippsland, Victoria. Australia.
The 20-acre wide area is located about 2 hours from Melbourne.
About 40 percent of the land has been cleared for dwellings and farming while native forest still occupies the rest of it (12 acres).
Wurruk’an was built on these principles:
- building a new world from within the shell of the old;
- learning the skills of self-sufficiency;
- experimenting with alternative technologies;
- reconnecting with nature;
- moving toward systems of renewable energy;
- seeking to envision and prefigure a world that respects people, place, and the planet; and
- provoking a broader social conversation about the need to transcend consumer culture based on notions of sufficiency, frugality, mindfulness, local economy, non-violence, and appropriate technology.
So, what the residents of Wurruk’an do every day?
All of them are involved in various sorts of community activities including farming, meetings, cooking, eating and building infrastructures especially houses.
Farm plots there mainly filled with fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, garlic, quinoa, pumpkins, potatoes, and zucchinis.
Animals like cows, chickens, ducks, and geese are reared here too.
Organic farming is practiced in Wurruk’an, in parallel with the community main objectives.
Cooking is done using wood stoves and foods are commonly shared among neighbors.
Buildings, mostly houses, were constructed from recycled or salvaged materials, costing as low as $400.
Simple living ain’t free
Community members in Wurruk’an are expected to contribute around $250 per month.
The money will then go to garden projects, designing new tools, maintaining infrastructures, utilities, internet, bulk food orders, and animal feed.
Enough is plenty
In their vision statement, the founders of Wurruk’an mention that the notion of “simpler way” doesn’t mean the community has to go back to the Stone Age.
They are neither anti-development nor anti-progress.
Not surprisingly, the inhabitants of Wurruk’an still enjoy modern devices like personal computers, smartphones, and the internet.
As in the way they put it, voluntary simplicity is “a way of life based on very modest material and energy needs but which is nevertheless rich in other dimensions”.
Wurruk’an is also about “creating an economy based on sufficiency, knowing how much to live well, and discovering that enough is plenty.”
From time to time, Wurruk’an opens two or three slots for new residents.