How is this New Economy? Finding ways to earn an income while contributing to community well being and ecological sustainability is core to the New Economy movement. Organisations like Edgy are at the forefront of this.
Edgy Blue Mountains is a collaborative social enterprise exploring new ways to live and work in the 21st century. It’s made up of a team of young artists, writers, creators, designers and permaculture practitioners who are developing meaningful, fair and ethical livelihoods to meet their community’s needs.
The enterprise emerged after a group of twenty young people came together to participate in a free Permaculture and Social Enterprise Design course, followed by six months of mentoring in the skills necessary to initiate, develop and maintain a business.
According to Edgy members: “We’ve created an ever-evolving social enterprise in which any of us are free to collaborate and explore new ideas. We have this freedom as a result of the support we receive from our umbrella charity, The Big Fix Inc, which covers our start-up costs. This removes the financial barriers preventing many young people from testing new business models.”
“Our goal is to make enough to give each member of the collaborative fair pay for work.” Additional funds go into covering the shared costs of existing and future enterprises. This infrastructure will then be used to support even more young people as they design creative enterprises to solve the community’s challenges.
One community challenge that has already been solved is the social isolation experienced by many young people in an area with limited post-school pathways. A connected and supportive community has formed around the development of the enterprise.
By building the business from a Permaculture and Social Enterprise Design course, Edgy has been founded on shared ethics. These Permaculture ethics and principles are embedded in the enterprise at every level.
The name Edgy Blue Mountains, with the descriptor ‘growing in the gap’, refers to the ecological lens through which the enterprise was developed. According to the principle of the ‘edge effect’, most life occurs where two ecosystems overlap. Edgy’s business model incorporates intergenerational learning and connection, with young and older members of the community building ongoing relationships and ‘growing in the gap’ that traditionally separated the generations.
Projects to date have included garden maintenance and permaculture design for older community members. A major fundraising event also raised the capital needed to employ members of Edgy while they research and develop a new greywater recycling product– stay tuned!
Taryn, a member of the social enterprise, says, “I have benefited personally through learning the lost art of collaboration and also gaining some paid employment with Edgy. Far greater than that is the ripple effect created as the personal benefits we each receive flow outward into our wider communities.”
According to Saskya, “working as a collective, the project has allowed us to expand our awareness and start thinking outside the box for social and environmental solutions”.
To find out more about the work of Edgy and The Big Fix visit the website: https://thebigfix.org/
This article has been written collaboratively by William DeGeer, Joshua Wolterding, Taryn Srjoj, Saskya Clarke, Annabel Pettit and Lis Bastian.
Annabel’s specialty is communications and she regularly writes about and for The Big Fix: "I have recently moved to the city to become a student of literature, but a big part of me is also a student of life through the Pluriversity and Edgy Blue Mountains. I love this community and the power of writing and weaving it all together."
"I am a performance artist and musician with a strong interest in nature, storytelling, design and permaculture. I believe ‘growing in the gap’ can help create stronger communities and I plan to eventually start a Pluriversity in New Zealand."
"I am keen to be part of a cultural shift towards valuing Indigenous knowledge in Australia and my focus is on designing and developing native edible gardens. I also love hands on creativity and DIY projects."
"I’m a ceramic artist and permaculture designer who’s passionate about building community connection and bringing people together to experience nature and shared narratives as part of their inner journey."
"I am a writer and creator focused on bringing imagination and joy into growing our community with fair and ethical livelihoods for young people in the Blue Mountains. Gardening is just the start …”
Lis is the founder of The Big Fix which is a registered charity and an umbrella organisation for The Big Fix Media, Blue Mountains Pluriversity, Edgy Blue Mountains, Blackheath Community Farm and Blue Mountains Permaculture Institute (BMPI was co-founded with Rowe Morrow).