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Afterthoughts

An inspirational model

John and Sunday Reed were two of the most important patrons of Australian modern art. When they purchased their semi-rural property in Heidelberg, in 1934, intended as a self-sufficient place to reflect, explore, work and live a simple life, they would have hardly imagined that 80 year laters Heide would be regarded as the birthplace of Australian modernism, an iconic cultural institution with inspiring art, gardens and social history, and an inspirational model of sustainable practices that continue to reinforce their connection to land as the very essence of their belief structure and subsequent social organisation.

John and Sunday evidently attended to local nature and restored value to local sustenance cultures and economies through their ‘voluntary simplicity’ and ‘re-learning of intimacy with self and nature'; their  'habitation and re-inhabitation' of Heide, has had 'an important bearing on internalising its associated cultural characteristics, and shaping needs and livelihoods according to the land’ (Selby and Kagawa, 2010, p. 45). Their lived appreciation of the narrative of place and their interdependence with nature, culture, human and other species is evident upon examining Heide stories; their relationship with Heide, with each other and with those whom they loved, admired, cared for and supported with unremitting belief, broadens our perspectives and empowers us to debate the overarching conceptual and organising frame of sustainability, presenting Heide as a true place for interdisciplinary learning.

The Heide stories articulate a unique position about a place in allowing us to confront the complex realities of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous worldviews (Somerville et al., 2011), inviting us to compare and contrast the orthodoxies that have permeated our society, interrogating the ‘rationality’ of the present (Ferreira, 2009, p. 612), challenging our existing perceptions and positions of dominance. Illuminating how certain points of view have become the ‘norm’ in our thinking and practices, the features along Heide Sustainability Art Trail provoke new ways of thinking in terms of relationships, patterns, connectedness and context between art, architecture, people, culture, nature, economy and politics...

This type of thinking, according to Ferreira (2009), leads to ‘transformative learning’ through ‘empowering a cognitive, spiritual and perceptual awakening to the wholeness of everything’ (p. 43) and to the development of 'critical consciousness', that ultimately nurtures and empowers our want and need to transform our society for a more sustainable future.

  • Conclusion

We must not let the wonders of this planet be destroyed by our selfish self-destructive technological processes, but protect them by conserving their self-organisation. We need 'environmental wisdom' — explicit knowledge, also involving aesthetics and intuition, which emerges from long periods of co-evolution of people and nature in local systems and contributes to the creation of landscapes that sustain ecosystems and humans together (Tilbury et al., 2002). Heide’s commitment to art, culture, history and environment through sustainable existence serves as an inspiring model of an ecological and relational system with sustainable perception, conception and practice. As a place of culture and learning, Heide presents a profound educational potential by promoting a greater coherence between all three pillars of sustainability — environment, society, and economy — regarded as principal in achieving sustainable development goals (Pulselli et al., 2008).

Heide, in its past, present, and hopefully future incarnations serves as a valuable example that bridges scientific thought and environmental wisdom with aesthetics, culture, people and highlights an eco-dynamic model that can re-establish the interrupted dialogue between local communities and the life-world.

 

References:

Ferreira, J. A. (2009). Unsettling orthodoxies: Education for the environment/for sustainability. Environmental Education Research, 15(5), 607-620.

Pulselli, F. M., Bastianoni, S., Marchettini, N., & Tiezzi, E. (2008). The road to sustainability: GDP and future generations. Southampton, Boston: WIT Press.

Selby, D., & Kagawa, F. (2010). Runaway climate change as challenge to the ‘closing circle’ of education for sustainable development. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, 4(1), 37-50.

Somerville, M., Power, K., & de Carteret, P. (2011). Landscapes and learning: Place studies for a global world. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense.

Tilbury, D., Stevenson, R. B., Fien, J., & Schreuder, D. (2002). Education and sustainability: Responding to the global challenge. Cambridge, England: International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.