True Ecovillage pioneers: Michael and Britta Sorensen

Hello, we are Michael and Britta Sorensen and Flot the dog. We will be moving onto a cottage lot in cluster 1B, but we are seasoned locals already having lived in Margaret River for the last 26 years. Michael is originally from Perth and has spent some time in Europe. Britta originates from the bicultural border-country of Germany and Denmark. Michael is an architect specialising in contemporary sustainable buildings and Britta is an installation artist working with recycled materials – mainly textiles – and experiential processes.

In our Margaret River life, we have gone through a whole evolution of sustainable living. When we arrived, we had the common dream of self-sufficiency on a few acres. We bought a couple of paddocks with an old groupie farmhouse and started modern settler-life. It was exciting and exhausting work to revegetate, dig a dam, sink a bore, collect rainwater, improve soils, put in extensive food gardens, renovate the old house and build some tourist accommodation for steady income. We learnt a lot about living on the land, connection to country, climate, plants, the bush, wildlife and how all things are interdependent.

We had our little mini farm for about 18 years before we, with great pain and after much fighting, had to sacrifice it for the MR Bypass. During all those years Michael worked on many residential and some commercial architecture projects all over the region and sometimes further afield. Britta paused her art endeavours for some years and focussed on horticulture and landscape design and working with Michael when needed. Her European approach to food hoarding had her taking jams, pickles, potted plants and excess garden produce to the farmer’s markets for years.

Eight years ago, we downsized to a 3000sqm block on the western side of Margaret River town overlooking the river valley. Here we built a contemporary sustainable house on a deliberately small footprint and put in an extensive food garden. Sick and tired of our architecture clients demanding obese and wasteful houses, we designed this place as a model for modern sustainability. Over the years, we have opened and shown it to thousands of people during Open House, Open Garden, Permaculture and other sustainability events. Now we have sold it and we are ready for the next chapter in our journey towards living lightly on this earth.

On the fringe we have been involved with WEV all the way from its concept design and can’t wait to come and live the vision. So many times along the way when hurdles seemed gigantic and enormously frustrating, we have tried to encourage Mike and Michelle reciting the steady mantra: this project is bigger than all of us; it wants to live; the world needs it. We are so grateful to them that they found the strength, stamina and courage to carry on every time WEV got stuck in bureaucracy and we admire and applaud the massive energy and enthusiasm all team members past and present have invested in this stunning development. Now it is for the newly fledgling community to make it work, and we are proud and excited to be part of it.

When we are not designing or gardening, Michael plays cricket or – given half a chance – snowboards. Britta cooks, bakes, ferments, writes, bush and beach walks, does yoga, meditates… And we also love hosting dinners, parties and all sorts of gatherings. We used to run the TransitionMR community café in the Organic Garden for years and Michael is a reputable community event barista. We are natural networkers and active in various Shire committees and community groups like Arts Margaret River, TransitionMR, Death and Dying Matters, Artists Anonymous – and we can’t wait to get to know you all! Exciting times ahead.