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Connecting to Country and Community with Ella Noah Bancroft (EP#164)

Join Ella Noah Bancroft for a heart-centered conversation about bridging the disconnect between indigenous and non-indigenous Australia through building better relationships, investing in country and community, and building businesses that replenish and work with the natural world rather than those that extract and destroy it. Tune in now.

Today on the podcast, we are graced with the presence of Ella Noah Bancroft, An indigenous-born artist, storyteller, published author, public speaker, mentor, and founder of The Returning Indigenous Organisation

A proud Bundjalung woman- for the past decade, Ella has been deeply invested in decolonizing to thrive across all aspects of community, helping both indigenous and non-indigenous folk connect to the immense depth of knowledge and spirit her culture and this great land holds. 

Ella, accompanied by Jataya, a young Bundjalung girl she mentors, chats with Mason about the recent Northern Rivers Floods in which she has played an integral role at the Koori Mail hub in Lismore. This 100% volunteer, First Nations-led response team for a natural disaster that shook the Northern Rivers to its core saw our First Nations brothers and sisters protect, support, and provide for a broken community when they had nothing. Ella shares her experience of volunteering at the hub and witnessing her community stand up as a backbone to the people of Lismore. "It's been an incredible way for us to reclaim what our cultural role is here, which is to protect all community, anybody that is on these lands, that we, us that have blood ties to these lands- It's our purpose to be here, to protect everybody. More than human kin and the natural world included in that space".  

This heart-centered, wisdom-filled conversation is about bridging the disconnect between indigenous and non-indigenous Australia through building better relationships, investing in country and community, and building businesses that replenish and work with the natural world rather than those that extract and destroy it.  A must-listen, tune in now. 

  

"Business doesn't need to eradicate just because we start to appreciate a more nature based world, or a more reciprocal way of being in the world. Actually, we can thrive and a big part of that thriving, I think is also moving away from individualistic needs and figuring out what community needs".

 

- Ella Noah Bancroft

 

Ella and Mason discuss:

  • Localisation.
  • Community.
  • Mental health.
  • Investing in community first.
  • First Nations wisdom; guiding us to a better world.
  • Lismore floods - the aftermath and where it's at now.
  • Investing in the natural world over the man-made world.
  • Koori Mail; A First Nation's led response team in the floods.
  • Community work for indigenous mob affected by the floods.
  • Businesses designed to work with and replenish the natural world.

 

 

 

Who is Ella Noah Bancroft?

Ella is a Bundjalung woman and also has bloodlines to England, Poland and Scotland. 

Indigenous born artist, storyteller, published author, public speaker, mentor and founder of “The Returning Indigenous Organisation."

Ella has been promoting re-wilding and the importance of system change, as a way back to deep relationship nature and decolonizing of personal, social and ecological well-being for 10 years. 

She has been on the board for Women Up North since 2019 . Women Up North is a Northern NSW service for women, children and young people who have experienced domestic or family violence or abuse.

Ella is an active community member to all humans, more than human kin and the natural world.

 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN ON APPLE PODCAST 

 

RESOURCE GUIDE:

 

Guest:

Koori Mail

Ella's website

Ella's instagram

Women Up North

Work with Ella Noah Bancroft

The Returning Indigenous Organisation

Donate to The Returning Indigenous Organisation

 

Books: 

It Takes Courage To Tell The Truth - book by Ella Noah Bancroft

 

Q: How Can I Support The SuperFeast Podcast?

A: Tell all your friends and family and share online! We’d also love it if you could subscribe and review this podcast on iTunes. Or check us out on Stitcher, CastBox, iHeart RADIO:)! Plus we're on Spotify

 

Check Out The Transcript Here:


Mason: (00:00)

Welcome. Thanks so much for coming. Here we go again. Sorry, I deleted our last interview.

 

Ella: (00:07)

It's so fine. It's so funny. Here we are.

 

Mason: (00:11)

And did you want to say hello? Got lots of people listening. Maybe later you can tell us what you're up to later.

 

Jataya: (00:16)

Hello guys.

 

Mason: (00:17)

Thank you so much for being here. Hello, far out. I mean, Koorie Mail, floods, all the other offerings you're doing. Just hearing about this also, what you're doing with some Aboriginal kids in the community and setting up that camp with some other beautiful souls. You're on. As always.

 

Ella: (00:34)

Yeah. I mean, it's just been nonstop this year, as I think everybody's been probably in a similar situation. I mean, the floods have completely taken over my life in the last three months, but while also coming into this more repair stages and out of the more kind of emergency response, I'm now starting to formulate a lot more of the programmes under the indigenous charity in which I run. And one of them is The Voice in which you all heard audience, is Jataya, she's one of my good friends and we hang out every Friday and sometimes she's involved in some of the programmes I do in the charity too. So yeah.

 

Mason: (01:15)

Oh yeah. What was there something about tea, that you're up to? Did you, was that something you said in an email that Jataya is up to? No. Did I make that up?

 

Ella: (01:24)

Tea?

 

Mason: (01:24)

Programme... Something you were doing with tea?

 

Ella: (01:26)

Oh, no. We are actually at the moment. Jataya's wanting to start her first business venture being in the land of entrepreneurs. So we're actually looking at doing a beauty range, mostly with bush tucker infused oils. Right?

 

Jataya: (01:42)

Yeah.

 

Mason: (01:43)

Cool. Do you know what? Really cool. I love that. I think about oil infused beauty products a lot. It's not something I want to do myself, but I don't know why, I think about it a lot. And I think, especially when I'm using, I don't know what oil you're using, but have you tried Emu oil?

 

Ella: (02:03)

Yeah, I mean, we probably would just use a carrier oil. And I think what we tried to do is use as many local bush tucker ingredients. Like last week we went and grabbed and gathered a bunch of tea tree down at the tea tree lakes.

 

Mason: (02:15)

Cool.

 

Ella: (02:16)

And to just kind of infuse that oil and start with that as a first product and then move into things like lemon myrtle and hibiscus, native hibiscus and Davidson plum.

 

Mason: (02:26)

Yes.

 

Ella: (02:26)

Yeah.

 

Mason: (02:29)

Davidson plum is one of the most underrated medicines on this continent.

 

Ella: (02:33)

I would actually say that most bush tucker on this continent is really underrated and I've stated this before, but I feel like a lot of people are often getting super foods from other countries, but there are the best super foods right here in our backyards and it's just not getting the knowledge. So Jataya is going to leave the way, aren't you?

 

Mason: (02:55)

Good. Make sure... Yeah. Keep me in the loop on that.

 

Ella: (02:56)

Yeah.

 

Mason: (02:56)

I think maybe we talked about it in the last attempt of an interview. When I first started SuperFeast, I had Australian super foods as one of the categories that I put up there. And there was a few people I was working with and walking with and for my intention at the time, there was just something, was just like, no, that's not for you. Right. Not now thing. Mason, you stick with your Taoist herbs. That was an open source herbal system that is asking to be out there and can be scaled to meet rampaging Western degeneration. But it's always sat there. We just had our 10 year birthday, 11 year birthday, where we had our first one year offsite. And since, I was saying like, there's always any seed of intention in the business is going to grow at some point, especially since I know I'm not going to sell the company.

 

Mason: (03:47)

We're slow and steady, but that working with it, with, I don't want to create a product line, but just keep me in mind because I've always got that little... I just want to collab at somewhere when it links up and when the energy's there.

 

Ella: (03:59)

I did say to Jataya before we came, I said, "Mason's going to give us all of the business tips on how to create a successful product, didn't I?"

 

Jataya: (04:07)

Yeah.

 

Mason: (04:08)

I'd love to talk to you about them because yeah, I mean, I'm not a traditional businessman. It's chaos in my head, but I definitely have some experience.

 

Ella: (04:19)

We are also not traditional business women, more traditional women than business women.

 

Mason: (04:25)

I love it. And that's, I mean, I've been really thinking about business a lot and that story I had myself about, well, I'm not a real kind of businessman. And just talking to Helena a lot about it and just setting a few little standards around business that take you towards a localised mindset, which takes you out of being a good business woman or business person, or man or whatever. And I was just like, I've just been shaking it off at the moment. I've just been like, "I'm amazing." And you guys are amazing. We've got, we've really got this and we're doing it really well and pack such a punch. Especially when you do have those anchors, the things that Helena and Local Futures are talking about that a lot of people in this community have awareness of.

 

Mason: (05:13)

Just slight anchors around localization, which I know people would be like, "You get herbs from China." And I welcome that conversation a lot. I walk into it a lot and I can have a very... I love having that chat about not China. I just don't need to justify it. That's the other thing, when you're doing what you love, it's just like, "Well, I'm not having this chat to convince you of anything. I'm doing something really amazing." It's like, really, it's got a sole purpose for me. But I mean, what an amazing space to be in, to not be, I'm excited for you. And in that sense, yeah, maybe I can teach you everything about product development.

 

Jataya: (05:50)

Yeah.

 

Ella: (05:51)

I mean, mostly we know, looking at these stages, we are going to do a bunch of art practises after we finish here, we just collected a bunch of leaves and banksias and pods and seeds and everything. So we're going to attempt to try and do a logo, painting it, using nature as the basic stamps, I guess.

 

Mason: (06:10)

Just those little ideas, because creating a logo can be... My logo's changed a few times. Probably better on... Like that's our logo there. When I-

 

Jataya: (06:25)

Oh yeah.

 

Mason: (06:25)

Yeah. When I first created a logo, it didn't look like-

 

Jataya: (06:29)

[inaudible 00:06:29] as well.

 

Mason: (06:30)

Yeah, exactly. And so for me that was just where I was at. A little bit of what I wanted, was I wanted people just to, like many people who create logos, it's just like, I want to feel nature. I want to feel geometric resonance when I look at that. And that was just my little seat of intention. Now that guides me because if I don't have that little starting place, like you guys do, let's use that something, let's go and collect materials and then see where those shapes take us and see how they work together. I mean, you have no idea, having that intentional platform for creating something like a logo, is just going to make your life so easy because people spend years trying to find perfect logos. But you've got an intention and a purpose behind it. So it will jump out at you now. Ah, I'm excited for you. That creative process you're in, gosh, this took a long time to-

 

Ella: (07:29)

I know, remember when they were blue? And I do love how beautiful and sleek and classy they are now. Not that I didn't love the blue, but you know, they just work much better with the [inaudible 00:07:38] palace vibes.

 

Mason: (07:39)

They do, don't they? I mean, that's, that Tahnee took the reins and was like, "I'm going to do the best thing for SuperFeast." And I was like, "Cool." I'm of the frame of mind. I was like, doesn't look like, who cares? Just make it look hectic and have big brains and deep roots and purples and the font is like wood. It was so obviously natural and daggy and Tahn's is like, well, let's take this a little bit, Chic it up a bit. But as we grow, it's a beautiful thing about having a forever business, is it's going to start, I think, yeah. We're starting to evolve into other, my hectic nature ways will emerge in some way, shape or form.

 

Ella: (08:20)

All those mushrooms you're taking, which are just forming all the different neural pathways and creating all the extra ideas in life.

 

Mason: (08:28)

I love tuning into the programmes you're offering and you're just such a community member. I mean, it's like localization, this is... I think that's the kind of common ground that we have there. I think I've seen you a couple of times at Helena's place there and it's just something so... Like I get lost in and I just chat to her every now and then. And I'm just like, "Ah, yeah. Okay, great." And you are... Every person I speak to, everyone in this business, you're a household name in the region here and more and more beyond. And you're just a really, you're a beacon of everything that that stands for. I love your programmes. I love hearing what you're up to. Full, just so much credit to you and how you stepped up during those floods. Do you want to just like... You burnt out talking about it? Do you want to give us a little download of Koori?

 

Ella: (09:21)

yeah. I mean Koori Mail, the hub, it started, it kicked off with Amarina Toby and Naomi Moran, who both are workers at Koori Mail. One is the General Manager and the other one did social media and they kind of set things up on the first day of the floods over there with a marquee and a table. We were obviously in Mullum, cleaning houses. But it wasn't until I sent a message to Amarina who was on socials and just like, "Okay, we need to get everything we can out to Mob." Because Mullumbimby was so well resourced. And I knew Lismore wouldn't have been that same way. So taking my energy and my contacts and my networks from here, we moved over there, I think on the 2nd of March.

 

Ella: (10:07)

And then the hub just started to expand. And I think one of the biggest things about that hub is that for us, it's the first time we've seen a First Nations led response team in this region for a natural disaster, but also kind of across the country that's worked on such a large scale of give back. We've been working with not only indigenous communities, but non-indigenous communities in Lismore and surrounds. Jataya has also come and done volunteering now on Fridays, in the op shop with Anni Rose. And we've really set up and established quite a amazing resource for our community. And it's still going, three months in, we're still there, six days a week. And we're trying to provide all the best services we can, from wellbeing teams, to free op shops, to free Koori Coles, is what we call, it hot meals every day, pumping out like a 1000 meals a day.

 

Mason: (11:00)

Wow.

 

Ella: (11:00)

And also helping people with volunteer registration, which is partnering up tradesmen or clean teams and just basic people that can go into people's homes and help assist them in all different realms in their life right now. So it felt hectic. And now it's starting to feel a little bit hopeful, but also there's no real light at the end of the tunnel right now. We don't really have any answers of what's going on with Lismore in general. And there's still so many homes, over 4,000 completely condemned, unlivable.

 

Ella: (11:37)

And as we are starting to notice right now at the hub, mental health is starting to definitely increase. As in people are out of that adrenal phase and they're into the reality and the shock of what's actually happened. There's a lot less support there. So that also increases the kind of collective vibration of mental anguish. And yeah, we're just trying to hold in there the best we can, but you know, we are also a completely unfunded group of volunteers just running that hub, essentially. Any of the money that is raised through Koori Mail is going directly into the hands of families and not into any admin whatsoever.

 

Mason: (12:15)

How's the funding going? As if you've seen the taper off, the slow down after, as the adrenaline goes down or is there been channels that have continued?

 

Ella: (12:24)

Yeah. I mean, the funding's been good for in terms of the two funds that we have. And Naomi Moran, who's the General Manager's really looking after that space, as in she's in charge of organising which families get certain things, but for example, Jataya' grandma just moved to Grafton. She had to go, when we organised her a youth and a delivery team to help. We're doing all these kinds of different services for indigenous people who have to move out of the region due to being flood affected or because they have to go because of housing. So yeah, it's a much bigger flow on effect than just the water.

 

Mason: (13:00)

Yeah. I mean, in terms of a response, it's been the adrenal adjustment response. I mean, where a month afterwards, I guess the adrenalization started to go down, but now as you said, there's... It's getting to such an extreme extent where the crashing is gone. The resilience is starting to actually, people start going into eggshells and the mental health stuff really starts taking roots. Not just, "Oh my God, this is hard." It's like, "No shit, this is going to have legs if we don't address it." How, I mean, it's a hard one. It's a very macro question about how you are approaching it. Especially approaching with Mob, and of course there's great Western approaches to it, that are valid and awesome, but have you, is there anything unique that you are bringing that you're saying is actually working and landing, mental health wise?

 

Ella: (13:52)

I mean, I think in terms of indigenous and non-indigenous and run by indigenous people at the hub, the one big thing I'm seeing is, an actual transformation in the reconciliation journey where a lot of Lismore and beyond are really seeing this First Nation's response team with deep respect. And I think for some people, it's the first time they've been given that opportunity to be seen as a respectful person in their community. You know unfortunately we have a horrible history in this country of racism and it impacts indigenous people. And I am a fair skinned indigenous person who gets to actually walk through the world and not have to deal with that racism so much. In fact, I just deal with people telling me, "You don't look black." But that's okay rather than what other people in, our team and beyond, and family members that I have, have to deal with.

 

Ella: (14:47)

So one thing that's great about this actually is, that for our team, it's an incredible way for us to have purpose and to show up to the community and to say, "This is what we're going to do to protect you because that's our role." And reclaim what our cultural role is here, which is to protect all community, anybody that is on these lands, that we, us that have blood ties to these lands. It's our purpose to be here, to protect everybody. More than human kin and the natural world included in that space.

 

Ella: (15:18)

In terms of what programmes are we looking to implement? At the moment we just are starting to apply for grants because the biggest thing for us is actually yes, the healing and the rebuild. And one of those things is how do we bring cultural camps together, which are based on health and wellness, but through an indigenous lens and looking at it in-

 

Mason: (15:39)

Indigenous run.

 

Ella: (15:40)

Yeah. And all indigenous run. So that's some programmes we're looking to implement, myself included with my charity, The Returning. But also Uncle Noel King, who is a dear law man and elder, trying to secure him funding to start working with youth. And also just continue the youth work that all of us want to be doing really. It's like a dream for us to be able to work with our young ones and teach them different ways of being in this world that can be so chaotic, regardless of your race.

 

Mason: (16:11)

And acknowledgement of that blood tie, as you said. And the role thing, I mean, no accident that it comes up, we're talking about mental health. The role, there's no like, "Oh, maybe let's just go and create that role." It exists, it's something that's not been acknowledged. It's not been valued. It's like, "Okay, it's a nice little ornamental thing, maybe that we'll talk about." And be like, "Oh wow, that's an interesting culture." It's like, no, we don't have that. It's why you can see the gaps in acknowledgement of elders so on and so forth. You can see it's a blatant gap. You can see it's such an obvious medicine for everyone on this land for where we're at, to go towards that.

 

Mason: (16:59)

Reconciliation's... Like integration just to, that respect treaty, it's just so... You can feel, I was talking to you about the kind of day that I'm having, and I'm having a real release of energy day. I feel like I've put in such a hard six months personally, and something's changed and I can feel a calmness coming over me internally. And that times a billion is what you can start to feel if we just acknowledge that, if even just the existence of those roles being innate. I mean, it's always something, you're talking about it. It's just like, oh God, it's an invisible real thing. It's so hard for Western culture to acknowledge that invisible. It's happening so slowly. But my God, that's, I think you just nailed something there, the mental health for all of us going forward.

 

Ella: (17:54)

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think one of the biggest things, I don't know if Jataya agrees with me on this. But for me, I got grown up with a really strong responsibility of respect. And I think that's something lacking in the Western culture that doesn't matter who you are around, if they're older Aboriginal people in your community, you call them auntie and uncle. We call people who aren't even our pops, pop. Right, Jataya?

 

Jataya: (18:21)

Yeah, that's what I have to do.

 

Ella: (18:23)

Yeah. It's what we have to do because we get told from a really young age, "Respect your elders." And that kind of way of being in the world, that ripples out to everything. It's not just us respecting our elders, but it's also us respecting our cousins.

 

Jataya: (18:37)

And remember we was talking about America?

 

Ella: (18:39)

Yeah.

 

Jataya: (18:40)

Yeah. We was talking about America and we were saying something about like, if they come over to our country, it's different to their one because they're kind of like Boujee and they're like fast food and Australia's kind of like down to earth, they're like slow food.

 

Ella: (19:05)

Yeah. We've been talking a lot about the impact of America also on our culture too, not our indigenous culture, but that other side of our mainstream culture. And that how we like, people who don't have necessarily strong ties to country or strong relationships can come over and be bit disrespectful. Right.

 

Mason: (19:29)

The... What do you see as a solution for that? It's a big question.

 

Jataya: (19:39)

Yeah. I know.

 

Mason: (19:39)

Any little steps or things that you think would be nice to ensure that there's a little more respect for country? Even using bush foods and you're someone, your culture, your heritage has a deep relationship with bush foods, bringing those into the full... Aah, having that been a product that teaches people something about the land when they get here.

 

Jataya: (20:04)

Yeah. Overseas and other countries, I'll say, I'll introduce them to places that you can't go, like rocks that you can't take. Because some people think it's an ornament you could put in your house and decorate. But which as you really can't. So you have to ask the elder to probably tell you to not take it or not, or they'll have to smoke you before you step foot on the land.

 

Ella: (20:42)

And what that is, like the concept that every single thing on country, including little rocks have spiritual meaning and they actually also are living, right? So when you take that rock away from that place, you're disrupting the natural environment there. Jataya is really big on not taking any rocks or crystals or anything from places before checking in, either with ancestors or with elders or-

 

Jataya: (21:09)

Yeah, because my mom just very drawn to rocks and she took a rock from Tweed Heads and she got caught and she fainted or passed out and they had to get her out of this trippy thing. And she'll see these black fellers trying to spear her in the toilet.

 

Mason: (21:35)

Whoa.

 

Jataya: (21:35)

And the teacher, they went on the bus up to Tweed Heads. I don't know, it was South Tweed Heads or somewhere there. Well they went into this, it's like a park or something and it was like a big Bora Ring and they didn't see it.

 

Ella: (21:53)

And a Bora Ring is a traditional men's side. So traditionally-

 

Jataya: (21:59)

[inaudible 00:21:59] And after they started feeling very weird, they started seeing stuff. When they went to the toilet, mom was feeling kind of not well. She felt like someone was watching her and all the kids started seeing, they got paralysed. That's why my mom never talks about what happened. She doesn't like me taking rocks because me and her are very obsessed with rocks. That's why she doesn't like me taking crystals. So she rather me buying crystals from the shop.

 

Ella: (22:38)

Yeah.

 

Mason: (22:41)

Yeah. Well, she learnt firsthand. I actually did that in... That happened to me in Venezuela. I was on a very sacred mountain, on a tabletop mountain and it had these really unique crystal rocks at the top. And I picked one up and knew I wasn't meant to take it and was just walking with it and something distracted me. And I didn't even realise I put it in my pocket and left with it. And got half, I don't know for how far, I got like four months more in doing my journey of South America and found this rock. And the feeling of guilt. And I luckily didn't have an experience where there was anyone aggressively coming for me, but it was just like said to me, pretty much point blank, "You have to take me back. This hurts to be away from this place." And I still have it. And it sits on my altar, just going, one day and I look at it and I go, "I promise. I'm going to take you back one day. Don't you worry." So yeah. I'm going to definitely feel you on that one.

 

Ella: (23:46)

There's a... We were speaking about that with the rocks, but it's funny because Alice Springs, the post office there it's full of rocks. People that have taken stuff from Uluru and then have returned it. And the whole post office is full of all of these packages of rocks from overseas and from across the nation.

 

Mason: (24:05)

And the stories are full on, in terms of everything in my life started going wrong. And then I read, finally I found an article that said, "You got to send the rock back if this is happening." And I, they were like, "My gosh, that's me. I've lost it. I've been sick. Or this has happened." And they sent it back and they're like, "Okay, feeling good. Everything's back to normal now." That's magic.

 

Ella: (24:27)

That's magic. And it also highlights a little bit of the disconnect between indigenous and non-indigenous Australia. Because if we had better communication and relationships, we'd be able to inform each other about these things and tell the stories that deserve to rightfully be told. Jataya had more access to more people in her life, she could explain to them the importance of not taking rocks and so forth.

 

Mason: (24:51)

We've got that crusty diminishing of senses in the West. And we are so distracted and again, there's no, there's a value, like [inaudible 00:25:05] a friend of mine, once said, "Hey Mas, you want to know the difference between us black fellas and you white fellas?" And I was like, "Great. This is going to be, in his great, am I going to get schooled?" And we go outside and he's like, "Look up, what do you see?" And I was like, beautiful clear night. So I'm like, "Milky way, stars." And he was like, "That's it, you guys look at the shiny things. We look at the space between the stars." And it always, it's guided everything that I do because I'm like, I know there's a pulpy invisibleness, which is when, when we're talking about connection to country, stepping into an innate role, that's present. Innate respect, awareness of not having yourself so distracted and shut off from nature that you can feel the aliveness of everything around you.

 

Mason: (25:54)

We're just so good at shutting it off and you don't have to feel bad because you can just keep on substance, watching stuff-

 

Ella: (26:03)

Screen time.

 

Mason: (26:04)

Screen time. Well, a job like, "I'm a busy CEO. I don't have bloody time for that." It's easy. I can feel, for me it would be very different nonetheless. But when you talk about there been a natural role that's present within you. It's why everyone in this community is just trying to talk about purpose. Which quite often I feel is just too much of a shiny buzzword that I'm like, "Ugh, I don't know, yuck. I get what you're saying." But because it's so stagnant, but there've been a continuous localised to yourself role, that's consistently emerging. I mean, we don't have a culture that guides that out of you, or teaches you what those feelings are. Or teaches you, this is exactly what it is, that would-

 

Ella: (26:52)

I think that there's a difference. The purposing through the Western lens is one that, people see purpose is associated to something with fame and fortune. If it falls under those categories, then you have purpose. Whereas imagine if we said to our young people, "Your purpose here is to be connected and to be as connected as you possibly can to yourself, to country, to your family, to your community and whatever shape or form that looks like, go out there and do that." I think it's about reframing what we consider purpose to be in the context of culture.

 

Mason: (27:24)

I mean, when you bring up the bush foods talk, is that connection to country and ancestors. That is, I feel, it's the biggest thing I see in the West being like a, "Oh wow. You know, isn't that a nice ornamental relationship thing." But it's the easiest to kind of think, "Oh, that's really cool." And it's the easiest as well... It's the thing, if the magic gets hand back, that's all I think about. I think about it in the context as well of what happened to Chinese medicine. Especially in the fifties when Mao Tse Tung came and chopped the magic, the shamanic connection to the spirit of the herbs, the development of one's shen, which is coming into your own innate, purposefulness, all got cut out and kept, ooh great. The deficiency of this Chi and, but you got to use the textbook and it's all symptom based. It's all westernised now. And they cut the magic out and the magic is now being re cultivated.

 

Mason: (28:25)

But to an extent, there's the, you can see it very consciously in some areas, very unconsciously in others. You're not, it's just like, "Oh, great. A nice... That's a great culture that we have there." And let's... The NRL have, indigenous round, this round, it's awesome, of course, awesome. But then come on... Magic.

 

Ella: (28:48)

Yeah. The magic, that's all about the magic. I tell you one thing though, while Jataya is here, the most magical thing I experience with her, when we are mentoring, is actually the way that she interacts with the natural world. Because she does something that I don't see many people do, which is actually play and explore and be in her imagination. And before, when we were at the tea tree lakes, I was just watching her and she plays with nature. She is actively in a space where she is having this amazing interaction of play and joy. And I think we have a lot to learn, not only from younger people, but also from that space in which she looks through.

 

Jataya: (29:30)

Yeah. It's like my cousins that don't connect with [inaudible 00:29:35] that much. When I used to hang around them, they would only go to the beaches, only sometimes. Because they were more connected to technology and TikTok and Snapchat. I was more connected to nature. I would even swim in the water at nighttime. I would even probably sleep on the beach. I slept on the beach. I told them, "Do you just want to go to the beach?" And they said, "Yeah." So we went to the beach and we like sat there and we just looked down the beach for hours. Then we went home and we went to sleep. And yeah, I'm very connected with nature.

 

Ella: (30:22)

Yeah. You are.

 

Mason: (30:29)

[inaudible 00:30:29] the opportunity to connect with nature as well?

 

Jataya: (30:31)

Yeah. It kind of finds the real beauty in nature and it finds your real soul because when I was on technology and I felt that wasn't my space. I felt like I wasn't connected. But when I'm around nature now, really grounded.

 

Mason: (30:58)

Mm. I think about Tahnee's, Tahnee's my wife and her teacher, Paul Grille. I'm trying to think, remember the name of his teacher, Japanese man, Mia Moto. Not Mia Moto, that's the... Anyway, he just talks about the collective karma, a lot, of a country. And I don't know if I tried to bypass feeling it. I've gone through my existential guilt phase and that's not really that useful for too long. And then coming to a point of, I just really want to feel it. You want to really like acknowledge it and sit in it. I've been born here and you can see there is an economy that's not just going to go away and there is no just going back and there's only going forward.

 

Mason: (31:47)

And I just, I think about that comic journey a lot. And in terms of the path of redemption for Australia and for the Australian culture, because there's just something. I don't feel like... I love Australia. And I'm like not saying this to have anyone think that I'm just, I'm bashing Australia. But there is a hollowness. You feel it. The culture is, I love Western Australian culture, as well. I'm not going to lie about that. And I love life. I love life a lot and enjoy it. And, but there is ignore, I could like for me anyway, there's such a hollowness of non, like the value again, in Taoism value perception comes at metal when it's going right.

 

Mason: (32:32)

We're at this phase where we need to purify. And through precision of cutting away shit, that was great. Sorry. Cutting away that's no longer needed so that we're clean and clear. We can feel what's valuable. And this culture, we're on the edge because, it's like, come on. It needs to get fully acknowledged and we need to, and Western economic culture is like, "It's going to be a massive sacrifice if we acknowledge that connection to country. And it's going to mean resources, it's going to mean things can't go ahead." It's like, you have no idea what it will blossom into though for Australian culture. You have no idea the abundance that comes from that path being actually taken off the ornamental reconciliation and actually, ah, grounded in.

 

Ella: (33:28)

I feel like the hollowness in which you might be feeling, or some people might be feeling, around this culture, it's actually an immatureness or a lack of knowledge. Our culture is so, and when I talk about our culture, I mean the modern Australian culture, it's so immature. If you look at it in context of the world, but especially if you look at it into context for our ancestors' culture, which is 65 plus 1000 years old.

 

Ella: (33:55)

Now the reality within that is that it's complex and rich and the knowledge is vast. And that's what makes it feel so whole. And this un whole element that you may be feeling is probably that, it's that it hasn't evolved enough. It hasn't been around for long enough to have this fullness. It's like a half a moon instead of a full moon.

 

Ella: (34:17)

It doesn't give you the same impact. It doesn't light you up the same way. And the economic system, I always say to people, what do you want to invest in? You should be investing in the natural world by, rather than the manmade world. Because the reality is that the manmade world is constantly in opposition to the natural world, especially in the way that the economic system is set up, which is built around extraction. And nothing in the natural world is built around extraction. It's built around reciprocity and more than reciprocity actually. It's built in the fact that you leave more than what you took.

 

Mason: (34:51)

Better than you found it.

 

Ella: (34:53)

Exactly.

 

Mason: (34:54)

That's the only, if people want to get into conversation with me about Chinese herbs and the only reason I'm able to get through it is because we've got at least [inaudible 00:35:02] sourcing that has that philosophy, because otherwise that's when the crustiness comes. If you are having land being utilised and it doesn't leave it up for an intergenerational crop or intergenerational industry or whatever it is, that's when, I don't know for me, that sensitivity gets uncomfortable when you're so deep into business, if you are willing to go through that. Because you feel that, it gets really hard to sleep at night. You can start, your conscience starts emerging, which is, "Gosh, that's what we need." That localization piece, I-

 

Ella: (35:41)

But I think you can do business. I just think we can do business better.

 

Mason: (35:46)

Absolutely better, yeah.

 

Ella: (35:46)

Business doesn't need to eradicate just because we start to appreciate a more nature based world, or a more reciprocal way of being in the world. It actually, we can thrive and a big part of that thriving, I think is also moving away from individualistic needs and figuring out what community needs.

 

Mason: (36:03)

Well, what's a rhythm that allows that? Because where does that feedback loop from a local community come into it because that's, yeah.

 

Ella: (36:14)

I don't know for me, I think it's all about investing in your community rather than investing in yourself. Because at the end of the day, I could have bags full of gold and be standing on top of a mountain completely by myself and I'll still be lonely. And, or, I can have a couple of dollars in a small little billy bag and be surrounded by a group of people around the fire and feel happier than I've ever felt in my life. And we need to remember those moments, when we are with family, when we're with people, when we're in togetherness, we don't feel alone in the world. And that's why it's so important to invest in the people we love and our community, because that's what's going to make us feel the best that we can possibly feel in this world.

 

Mason: (36:52)

Are there a couple of businesses and I'm with you as well. I never think this economic structure even needs to crumble. I'm kind of not a crumbler. I can see that things change. And what needs to happen is I have to have a smooth transition because that transformation, I think, is way better than crumbling. In terms of business first, are there a couple of businesses that you're really liking initiatives and doing it right? Rather than again, I use the word ornamental a lot because I've got a good bullshit radar when it comes to doing the right thing by the community, in business. And that's probably because I'm so savage on myself, I've have conversations with myself in the shower, arguing my points about why I'm doing something consciously or not and rip myself to shreds. So I'm really good at doing that.

 

Ella: (37:41)

Yeah. I mean, I feel like SuperFeast shows up all the time for our community, whether that be for in free products and support, supporting our community leaders, supporting people who aren't economically able to purchase. You guys stepped up in the floods, you donated so much products to Mullum and to Lismore and it was been so well received by everybody. That's part of having a business and being accountable to your community. We actually live in a really good region where I think, because our community's quite tight, a lot of really entrepreneurial, smaller businesses that are birthed here on Bundjalung country, do end up having a more conscious role or a more participative role within their community.

 

Ella: (38:24)

And that's awesome, but it'd be great if we could see that with the larger organisations. And I think the issue is that they're so removed, even multi conglomerates are so removed. They wouldn't even know what local means. They wouldn't even know who their local community is. Because it's too global. It's too big and it's become too large for them to be able to support all of those people around the world. So, again, we come back to localisation, but it's like, we're lucky here in Bundjalung country that we have all of these young, amazing people that are often pretty environmentally aligned, who are still trying to make business and do it right. And I would say that a lot of the businesses here are doing it right, or at least trying their best to.

 

Mason: (39:05)

Are there any... Because I mean, there's definitely a time and thank you. I'm really proud of what SuperFeast does for the community. I'm also... Oh I need, I can tell if I stay too busy or don't plan ahead that I don't let those initiatives become their next scalable initiative. And that's something we really tried and what really got me into the place we've been able to do that recently, is I had chat with Helena. Just I think, well, that's right, we were just helping out with some design actually for local futures and... Oh no World Localization day. And she was talking about, "Are you going to sell?"

 

Mason: (39:47)

And I was like, Helena. I talk... I do this in my head a lot because I've been kind of vocal about other companies that have sold and everyone's like, "Well everyone has their price and think about all the good that you can do and they're keeping these things in place." And something felt so off, and I'll probably build businesses that I will sell. I don't mind. It's not about that practise. But, when I talk to her and I've been talking to my, a few friends about it. I'm like, I think I'm going to dig in to the constitution and say, no, I've run through 200 million, all of it. I think I'm a no. And so once I did that, it stopped, it kind of clicked me out of that stream of constant... Even though we're doing well. I think we're a good business. I'm not thinking we're going to compared to, I don't know, a big bank or something-

 

Ella: (40:45)

Target.

 

Mason: (40:45)

Along... Yeah, Target. But still, that you do get swept away in the efficiency and the scaling and that economic framework that is void of nature. And it doesn't have that kind of... Oh, well, yeah, we'll finish up soon. 1:47. We'll finish up. It doesn't have natural lines. And as soon as I kind of clicked in, I was like, "I think I'm not going to sell." And that's one of my critical drivers. And my purpose is like at least a minimum 100 year family owned, team run, team driven, SuperFeast. All of a sudden I was like, oh, there's all of those initiatives that maybe were coming from maybe a little bit of guilt or a little bit of rushing or they just, I was trying to jam them in. And they naturally become things you need to tick, even though we are doing well. And everyone looking from the outside in would be like, "SuperFeast isn't just ticking boxes." And we're not, but it was like, it feels like that when you're running.

 

Mason: (41:44)

But now it opens up and I'm like, "Ah, now there's the space." Because I'm not swept up in that excessive growth economy and there's time. There's a little bit of "Wow, oh, there's maybe that connection to country kind of thing that we could actually start cultivating a little bit in the business." So yeah. And I just like, when I'm chatting to you about this, it really helps me clarify the future direction. So I really appreciate you coming in and jamming about these things.

 

Ella: (42:16)

Thanks for having us.

 

Jataya: (42:17)

Thank you.

 

Ella: (42:18)

This is Jataya's first ever podcast audience. So please give her a round of applause wherever you are for her debut.

 

Jataya: (42:27)

Yeah. I was kind of shy coming in here. So I just got out of my comfort zone. I told Ella when we went to the sushi shop. And yeah, so I just told her that and I'll just get out of my comfort zone because I've always been uncomfortable. For my whole life, I've been uncomfortable speaking, getting on stage or singing and yeah.

 

Ella: (42:59)

And now she's using her voice and she's, well she just turned 15 too. So this year we're embarking on a year of getting out of our comfort zone. Right Tay Tay?

 

Jataya: (43:08)

Yeah.

 

Ella: (43:08)

Yeah.

 

Mason: (43:09)

Well I'm really [inaudible 00:43:11] because I wouldn't have known that you were shy I guess, but I guess because you are talking about things you're really passionate about and you believe in, is it a bit easier to talk?

 

Jataya: (43:20)

Yeah.

 

Mason: (43:23)

Well done. I'm really... If there's any places you'd like people to, who can come and follow along on the journey at any point, maybe we can get updates as well through Ella's page.

 

Ella: (43:36)

Yeah. And we will, we'll put updates through my page when Jataya, if she starts on Instagram or something with the business. But at the moment we're just working with the creation and being in the fun and the play of making the product right now. Right?

 

Jataya: (43:49)

Yep.

 

Ella: (43:50)

Yeah.

 

Mason: (43:50)

Yay. So good. Anywhere you want to send people to your charity and to the-

 

Ella: (43:56)

Everybody just go to thereturning.com.au/donate. And if you have any dollars, I'd love it.

 

Mason: (44:03)

Yeah. Love this, loved this conversation. Thank you so much for coming in. And will you come in again?

 

Ella: (44:10)

Yep.

 

Mason: (44:11)

Great.

 

Ella: (44:13)

Part two with Tay Tay.

 

Mason: (44:14)

Yay. Bye everyone.


 



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