Bryden Allen's Website

How this Green Living book came to be Written

Most of this book requires you to do some quite hard thinking. I thought we could start very easily and I simply describe how I came to do the work. This won’t require you to do any thinking at all - but you will get a vague feeling of what the work is all about.


I have never been over enamoured with either the materialism of this little world, or the benefits of joining big business. Thus when I finished my first degree, while the rest of my friends in the maths department were getting lucrative jobs with the national coal board and things like that, I sneaked off back to Australia (where I had been born) with the hope that I might be able to find an existence that was slightly more associated with the basics of life.  However that didn’t last long. The crucial day occurred when I was hitching up north in Queensland. During the night I was slightly sick through eating some slightly rotten carrots (and the mossies were bugging me as well). So to cool off I went out for a little walk but, to my horror, on returning to my tent I found a huge cane toad sitting bang in the middle of me sleeping bag. He could only be removed with the help of a large stick. So, on reflecting on this for the rest of the night, the life of wandering around seeking the meaning of life seemed too hard to me. So next morning I turned back and returned to Sydney. In the end I finished  up doing a PhD as a means of avoiding work for a while (fortunately my first degree results were sufficiently good so that getting a scholarship was no problem). Then the usual sorts of things happened - I got married, had children, had to get a serious job etc.


This is my proof of this connection.

However the idea of living a more basic life was not forgotten and so, when the Tuntable Falls Coordination Co-operative (often simply referred to simply as ‘Nimbin’) was forming, I was very keen to join in. However it soon became very evident that it was not what I wanted. Nimbin tended to be a complete escape from our current civilized world. But there is much in our current lifestyle that I like - I just wanted to chuck the bad bits and retain the good bits. But I must admit you have to do a lot of careful thinking before you can differentiate between the good and the bad bits (and how you can organize everything so that you do it with people who feel the same way will be damn hard). Meetings are not the places to do such thinking - you need to be alone and then write everything down very carefully. However I of course still joined. I visited there once with the family about 30 years ago - but we were a bit depressed. There were too many people there on welfare and/or drugs and things were getting a bit out of hand – besides it was far too far away. I should go back to see what is going on - but this would be very difficult now with a broken back.


My next association with this subject occurred while I was lecturing at Macquarie University in the late 1970s. I was giving a course in Linear Programming (a mathematical tool for optimising activities in industry), and my students came to me complaining that the large example I gave them on optimising a refinery was too difficult. They didn’t understand how oil refineries worked - so I should give them a problem that they did understand. I thought about this for quite a while and I soon realised this would be a superb opportunity for me to follow a subject very dear to my heart - namely how a genuinely green world could work. Now of course this is a horribly hard problem. So what I did was to do all the work and formed the model myself (LP is a very suitable tool for this kind of thing and I am quite adept at this sort of work). I wrote up the work as a paper called ‘Modelling the Energy/Agriculture Self-Sufficiency Problem’ (36 pages) and gave a copy to each student. All the students had to do was to understand the model and then form the equations (which I had already given several lectures on). But even then the students found it too hard – they wanted to return to the refinery problem the following year. Still the problem got me thinking about this whole subject again.


Probably what I should have done then was to do what I am doing here in this book now. But I didn’t – I tried something much harder and more abstract. I suddenly realized that, if all levels of government (i.e. local, municipal, state, nation and world) were given equal degrees of autonomy and independence, then the general government problem could be solved in a very logical and precise manner. This form would also result in giving more autonomy and independence to the local level of government. This is what I think our current world needs because this would result in more variety and choice being available at the local level (rather than globalisation which makes everything the same). So this was my big thing - it took me 20 years to do and is 362 pages long. It is called ‘Society of Choice’ (the opening page with the abstract is given at the back of this booklet). You can have a copy for $30 if you want to - but I don’t recommend it – it is simply too hard.


When my “Society of Choice” was finished my next appointed task was to produce some stories that would introduce the essential ideas behind this work in a much easier fashion. This task proceeded in very lackadaisical fashion for 3 years because I mainly went climbing. However, sadness and bitter grief, I then broke me back in a minor climbing accident and the simple fact of life was that the only thing I could then do was to work (i.e. to write). So life started again in earnest and so the stories started to form. But, as I started to get down to the details of how a low level society must run (and this of course must come out in the stories), I found I had to differ quite markedly from my “Society of Choice”. Thus:-
1)         Our current problems, associated with energy, water and pollution, needed to be dealt with in much more detail.
2)         Many of the problems now become easier because, in a small community, everyone knows everyone else (and what is going on). Thus it is much easier for everyone to make a fair appraisal of what they should vote for.
3)         One is now only really interested in one level of government, and so most of the general abstract nature of the problem can be avoided.
             Thus, in the end, the details and differences associated with forming a small independent community turned out to be so great that clearly I needed to write a separate book.


This last paragraph may give the impression that this work in merely an offshoot of my major work. This is false. My “Society of Choice” describes how a logical and consistent political system can be formed for all levels of government (i.e. local, municipal, state, nation and world) giving equality (and the maximum amount of freedom) to all people. This is an enormous theoretical challenge, and my final result turns out to be so complex and so different to the current world that no normal person can see how they would apply it in the present world. It is just too difficult. All that our little world really wants to know is how to start a grass-roots community that does not indulge in the worst excesses of our current world. This is what this piece of work does. So I now think that this work is a lot more important than my “Society of Choice” project.


I started this work in 2004 and the first year was spent studying the problem and thinking over the various possible solutions. The work clearly requires a great deal of technical knowledge which isn’t very easy to obtain. By far the best source of information has been the NSW Dept of Agriculture (they have some very patient agronomists there). I have joined the ‘Diggers’ Club’ and the ‘Solar Energy Society’ and they have helped a bit. I’ve studied a little at the ‘Sustainable Buildings’ offices with mixed success (their solutions were too much oriented towards big business). It was surprisingly hard to obtain the cold hard figures that I required. I wish there was a modern update of the ‘Physical Constants and Tables’ I used to have at school when doing physics (e.g. for obtaining the heat conductivity for Polystyrene). I have done my best, but I would very much appreciate receiving any corrections or extensions to my essential data.


Click on Green Living - book”(pdf), to go to the complete book.



You might now also like to look back at:

either my "Home Page" (which introduces this whole website lists all my webpages),

or Green Living (which introduces this major set of webpages).


My next normal webpage is "A Campaign to form a Green Community".


Updated on 14/11/2016.

































You can click on any of the following pictures and this will send you to the relevant webpage.