I first came across Matt through my girlfriend who bumped into him at a market in Eumundi, Queensland. This is one of the markets he regularly sells his handmade Bee Eco cloth wraps. The wraps are a reusable, natural alternative to plastic food wraps; something that has gone from being a small thing Matt and his family did for themselves, to now being a fully fledged business.
Matt and I talk about many things in this conversation, but one the has stuck with me in the weeks since is his reflections on where to take his business. In a world that would encourage him to make it as large and profitable as possible, he reflected that he has no interest in doing that. For his family, they enjoy the process of making the wraps together, of selling them at the market together, and if others want to copy what they do and put Matt out of business, then that is okay. The world will be better for it and he and his family will find something else to do.
I love that idea of deciding for myself how big I want to make something, how much I want to earn from it, and what it becomes. It tilts the scales away from product/market fit, to something Jonathan Fields calls the product/maker fit.
The Devine’s live off-grid in more than one way. In the most typical way, they are disconnected from the power and water grids, using solar power and tank water. In less typical ways, they are disconnected from the school grid, having someone come and teach their kids on their property two days per week, with the rest of their educational experience coming from the very different way they experience the world.
There are no screens in the Devine household. The kids wake up when they are ready, and create their days by working out for themselves what needs to be done on the family’s large block of land. Everything from helping in the vegetable garden, working with the fruit trees, or helping with the construction of their latest building project.
And then there is the market. This mixing pot of people, wares and weather, where the kids can busk and learn and observe time passing on a different rhythm, the rhythm of seasons.
Simpler ways of living that are connected to the land, and enable a contribution rather than a deduction to our ecosystem have been a feature of recent episodes (see Samuel Alexander, Patrick Jones, Karen Ellis, Matt Wicking, Kate Dundas, Cameron Elliott). It is something I have been feeling a connection with, and a challenge about the way I live.
I want to live in a way that connects me more to my planet, animals, plants and people. I want to give back and serve these, rather than see myself as above them and therefore able to take without consequence.
Matt left me with much to contemplate, and also a gift of his Bee Eco wraps. Already these have enable me to change my behaviour, removing my need to use plastic food wrap. At the moment my current challenge to myself is about the TV screen I have in my house. I see it is over-the-top, necessary, and taking me away from connecting with the world around me. I am reluctant to make a more, telling myself that my kids won’t be able to handle it. More likely I don’t think I will be able to handle it, that I will experience social exclusion as a result.
I haven’t resolved this yet, but have a suspicion that as I am able to act on these impulses I will open myself up to so many good things.
Matt and his family are living in a connected, off-grid way. It was awesome to see the way they live, and to hear Matt’s thoughts. I hope you enjoy our conversation.