By Jodie Passmore
We are Betty, Didi (short for Didier), Aron and Jodie. We got the keys to our place on 23rd December last year and it truly felt like coming home!
Long-time lurkers of WEV, we have lived over east for nearly 20 years following film work from the Gold Coast to Victoria, and a couple of gigs in Tassie. It was a wonderfully full life of travel that we were able to continue when Didi was born, being fortunate enough to take him to China and Japan for work. We saw people living in tiny spaces, rolling their tatami mats up in the morning and rented a tiny studio at the back of Fox Studios with two kids, a wall bed and kitchenette for over a year. Instead of spending (more) exorbitant funds on rent, we had a little left for camping trips on the South Coast, weekend trips to the Blue Mountains, enough to pay Sydney prices for organic veg, etc. We became very good at keeping things minimal and carrying just what we needed. Every place we went the kids bought a box full of toys from the op-shop, and then we’d return them on the way out. We went to Tiny House festivals in Bendigo and started thinking seriously about what kind of life we wanted to create for the kids. The environmental impacts of the film industry started to feel at odds.
We always knew when we were finished with the film industry we’d love to return to the West and to be down south, growing. That would be the dream. We continued to check in on the Witchcliffe Ecovillage and started to visit ecovillages (in their various incarnations) around Australia – Curumbin, Castlemaine, Narara, etc. There were incredible things happening and it became a time where we really had to focus on our top priorities. Though both having grown up in Perth, the drive to keep our children near their grandparents was strong.
Then Covid happened. We beelined across the Nullarbor in four days (the highlight for the kids was meeting dingo pups) and suddenly WEV was ready to go! We decided the days of unsustainable travel and the crazy requirements of working within Covid-bubbles were done. Time to find new vocations and commit to more than simply setting up composts wherever we went. Somehow, we both felt like life was about to start. And the fact that both of our kids were completely thrilled about all new adventures just made everything feel so right.
We applied for a loan on the back of lucrative freelance careers and were promptly told that the new Covid measures meant no arts industry incomes were being considered unless they were permanent full-time contracts. Aron went to work as an Early Childhood Educator in a childcare centre so we could re-apply for our mortgage, six months to the day.
We are here now. We have built a small place. We are loving our lives here. It feels wonderful to meet so many people who have incredible stories that have brought them here. So many skills and talents in this village of ours. The kids’ days are rich and full and their burgeoning friendships with young and old(er) are truly wonderful to witness. We’ve got plenty to do but are slowly relaxing into the idea of it all happening alongside spending time with each other and our kids. We feel so grateful to Mike, Michelle, Jeff and Jo for staying the (no doubt tricky at times) course and are so excited about all the various projects emerging among fellow Ecovillagers.