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Twenty-five years is a long time. Not many things last that long.
The Moora Moora Co-operative, near Healesville, Victoria celebrated its 25th birthday in November, 1999. It was established as an experiment in a better way to live, an alternative to suburban alienation.
The world was very different in 1974. Concepts like 'overpopulation', 'pollution', 'recycling', 'ecology', 'greenhouse effect' and the like were considered the province of unrealistic, rebellious youngsters. 'You can't stop progress' was a cliche.
Some of us didn't think ourselves to be unrealistic. We felt we were rebellious for good reason. We voted with our feet, and with what little money we had, to trial a different way of doing things. In some ways the movement we were a part of has been very successful. We have changed the world.
Unfortunately, the forces opposing us have not been idle, and many of our 'unrealistic' predictions have come true. The only hope of survival for humanity is if there is a general change in consciousness, a change in how we as a species live. We can't go on destroying our own life support system without punishment.
Moora Moora contains many people who are active conservationists. The Co-operative has a 'Learning Centre': we occasionally organise courses, and rent our facilities to others of like mind. And we run a biannual Festival which is designed to be both fun and educational.
The next Festival, on Saturday 26th February, 2000, has the theme 'Giving Children a Future'. Regular features like alternative building, solar energy and alternative health readily fit into this concept, but we are also focusing on activities children and their parents can do.
Why has Moora Moora survived? Urban communes have a life expectancy of about two years (probably because our culture trains us to compete rather than cooperate). Many other brave experiments of the '70s have died, or been transformed into a collection of strangers as in a suburb.
Some organisations are monocultures like a wheat field. Examples are shoe shops and churches. Others are more versatile: they're like a vegetable garden. Department stores and the Salvation Army are examples.
Perhaps Moora Moora's successful survival is due to the fact that it has always been more like a permaculture garden of purposes. It was set up with three aims: conservation, cooperation and education. Different members have always put these in different orders of importance, put different interpretations on them, and implemented them in different ways. We have no guru, we don't all subscribe to a single philosophy, we're all strong individuals who react badly to being told what to do. Our ideas are like a wild garden where people sometimes act in symbiosis, while competing at other times. So, there is no simple answer to questions like: 'What is Moora Moora's purpose?' 'Where is it going?'
A few recent examples might illustrate the organic way Moora Moora grows.
There could be many more examples. Like a real organism, Moora Moora grows in new directions without much planning -- and when do have plans, they soon become of historical interest only.
Life in a living community can sometimes be challenging, frustrating or surprising. It is rarely boring.
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