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Humble Be Workshop with Kyle Bush


use the Humble Be Workshop identity to record and share “ Iwork that I do as a designer and photographer, but it is also intended to be a collection of resources and opportunities that allow anyone to explore their own understanding of, and participation in, the world around them.

... This can be related to environmental awareness, but true sustainability considers social and economic aspects as well, and so the things that you might find on the website could be anything from where to find local food, to documentaries about global economic systems, to links to artists who engage in political activism through their creations.

How would you describe your own background?

Active, independent, transient, family orientated… responsibility laden. I come from a single parent family that had a family business from the time I was eight years of age, and so I learned from a very early age the meaning of responsibility and the value of hard work. Because my family unit was spread so thin I had to very quickly learn how to be independent and self-sufficient. I think these attitudes toward life in general shaped the way I approached education and employment as I grew up. As I started to make choices about my future (as you get forced to do way too early!) I was constantly questioning whether or not what was expected of me was what I actually wanted, and ever since I have been trying to find the answer to that. My education is in architecture and design, I have been lucky enough to travel and experience a variety of cultures in interesting ways through my study but also through my own exploration, and over the years have participated in a lot of hands-on work and learning which has made me appreciate craftsmanship, resourcefulness and creativity, as well as academia. I have also been drawn to teaching and have tutored for a few years in Architecture at the university I studied at (QUT) and have been involved in a lot of outreach programs aimed at encouraging equittable tertiary education opportunities for high school students through QUT’s Student Ambassador Program. Generally, I’ve put my mind to most things that I’ve started and have constantly been searching for ways to make things more interesting, engaging, and rewarding for myself as a learner. How beneficial and inspiring that can be is something I would love for everyone to understand so that they get the spark of motivation that is so necessary to pursue it for themselves.

compiling info and documenting my work with a bit more purpose and once the site went live, it was received really well. Under the ‘Build’ component of Humble Be Workshop is Kyle’s Ranch Keperra Project. “The Ranch is a post war timber home in north-west suburban Brisbane which has been modified a number of times since first being built. With three split levels all meeting at a semi-atrium-like space, northern aspect for the main living areas, odd little additions here and there, and 807 square metres of land, there is plenty to work with. The vision of this home is to retain the majority of the existing structure and make creative programme, spatial and material adjustments that will enhance its environmental performance significantly. It is hoped that The Ranch will become a showpiece of sustainable design and retrofitting by achieving entirely passive means of heating and cooling through thermal mass, insulative and natural ventilation strategies, and by using predominantly reclaimed and recylcled materials for all work done on the property.”

What is the typical daily routine at The Ranch?

We usually all wake up quite early and have breakfast and a cuppa in the back yard. One of us might go and let the chickens free, our neighbour usually comes around to give them her food scraps from the night before, I usually take a morning wee into the banana circle so the trees get a bit of breakfast too, and we just casually wander

What inspired you to create Humble Be Workshop?

It was actually just a way for to promote my photography in the beginning. I was trying to think of a brand that I could use as an alias for myself so that I could hand out little booklets of photos to galleries and cafe’s. After a night of drunken sketching the logo and name was sorted, then I started with the website so that I had somewhere to direct interested people to more images and info. I got a bit carried away with it and before I knew it I had put photos of all of the other design and build stuff I had been doing and started to think that maybe all of my other creative friends would like a piece of the action too. I had a chat to a friend of mine who helped me figure out exactly what I wanted to do with it, and I finally decided that for some reason I was compelled to connect the public to creative ideas and people, and to share the knowledge that I have gathered over the years about how to be thrifty and inventive in the quest to be more sustainable and active in our society. I started

around and check the garden to see if anything is ripe to pick or if there are flowers that need fertilizing. Then we go off to whatever we have on that day – my mum generally works from home so she retreats to the study and sporadically shouts out some useful fact

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or idea for the garden she has found on the internet while ‘hard at work’, my mate is living with us at the moment and he goes off to work for the city council or on days off will tinker with little projects of his own in the workshop, and if I’m not tutoring at QUT I will get stuck into whatever needs doing around the place. At the moment I’m preparing for a photography exhibition so I’m spending most of my days designing and building elements of the installation. Then when the night comes round we all have a big cook up and sit around the table for dinner before heading off to read or do a bit of internet housekeeping until bedtime.

Where did your interest in permaculture come from?

I actually used it as a framework for a major architectural design project I did while I was studying in the UK. The project was based in a South African township and the issues I recognised included local food security, health, detrimental gender inequality due to lack of integration between age groups and genders, individual financial security, lack of individual purpose and motivation – all of which can be addressed by engaging local populations in intensive productive enterprise gardening. From that point on I was enamored with Permacultural philosophy because it just makes complete sense, and it makes the current popular practice of modern society seem quite crude, absurd and misguided.

What is your hope for the future of permaculture?

I think that more and more permaculture is becoming a household word and we’re starting to see it pop up in alot of different places. Take Permablitz for example – A community driven initiative founded in Melbourne, but now seen all over Australia where volunteers descend on a household for a day or two and transform it into a productive wonderland. The Transition Towns movement is also a champion of Permaculture, and that is now making impacts globally. My hope is that Permacultural philosophy starts to infiltrate the professional sector to have influence over things beyond gardening, because despite the common understanding of it, Permaculture is much more broad than just how to grow food. It also deals with

concepts of economic structure, community planning, architecture and design, and can be applied to almost anything that functions as a system of parts – which is almost everything.

What is your vision for the future of The Ranch?

Much like the initial vision, it’s to see it become a showcase of experimental design and construction using reclaimed materials, an educational facility of some sort running workshops based around resource autonomy, creative building techniques, organic gardening, and to be a place with lots of different things going on all of the time. Since beginning the work here, we’ve actually had alot of interest from neighbours in the street, and that would be a fantastic thing to try and encourage. It would be amazing to see it become a local hub of activity and sharing where people from outside gained some feeling of ownership over the place and what it stands for. I also hope that it will be an ongoing source of creative experimentation and expression for me and anyone else who wants to be involved.

How could individuals become involved with The Ranch project?

We always welcome any input from anyone. The door is always open for people who are interested in what we’re doing and in learning more about how to do it themselves, and of course to share any insight or knowledge they might have. The best way would be to email me directly to organise a visit and we would go from there.

How do you see Humble Be growing and developing?

There is no way of knowing how the Humble Be Workshop will change in the future. I am going to continue to add to the info dump, use it as a platform for anything creative I do in the future and hopefully use it as a tool for creative networking through the creatives section of the site as that grows. Who knows...maybe one day it will replace facebook? I just hope it becomes a useful tool for people other than myself eventually. The dream at this stage would be for it to make it into someone else’s favourites folder.

What changes could the everyday person make in their own environment to become more self-sufficient?

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Having chooks is a huge step in the right direction. Hens are one of the most important parts of a sustainable living system because they give you a dense source of protein and energy every single day, they are basically a walking compost bin, if you contain them on a patch of land they will systematically get rid of the grass and weeds, turn the soil, and fertilize it for you ready to plant some food crops straight into. Get the boys (and girls too if they want) to wee in the yard instead of the toilet - a vast amount of our fresh drinking water gets flushed down the toilet everyday and the high amounts of nitrogen in your number one’s is to plants what spinach is to popeye.

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See how many times you can use water before it leaves your property – some people hook their bathroom sink up to the toilet cistern so their used sink water becomes their next flush.

Put your fridge near an open window so that it stays as cool as possible – appliances that heat and cool are the ones that suck all of the power so the less pressure you put on them the less energy they use. Also, only use the stove as long as you actually need to – eggs will boil hard if you just bring the water to the boil and then leave the saucepan off the hotplate for ten minutes with the lid on. To be self sufficient you have to meet the demand of your needs. So if you reduce your needs as much as possible the job becomes much easier. Do things like grow your own food, reuse as much as possible (recycling should be a last resort), ride a bike or walk instead of driving and very quickly your cost of living and your resource demand will drop dramatically.

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self sufficient you have to meet the demand of “ Toyourbeneeds. So if you reduce your needs as much as possible the job becomes much easier. �

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Humble Be Workshop