Monday, July 12, 2010

Will the real Joneses please stand up?

""Keeping up with the Joneses" is a catchphrase in many parts of the English-speaking world referring to the comparison to one's neighbour as a benchmark for social caste or the accumulation of material goods. To fail to "keep up with the Joneses" is perceived as demonstrating socio-economic or cultural inferiority... often causing conspicuous consumption and/or overconsumption."  Wikipedia

This blog plays on the idea that there is a new version of the Joneses who realise that consumption or financial wealth doesn't always make you happy, but quality of life and other things like giving back to society and having time for family and community do.  For those who didn't immediately get the joke in the description of our site, our tag-line tilts our hat at the notion of being the change you want to see in the world.  And this is a very big movement we're part of.  Look at the success of the Prius for example, compared to the Honda Civic.  A post-mortem on why the Prius dominated the market, was it didn't look like their existing similar model (Carolla), so people could drive around showing that they were keeping up with the new Joneses and wanted to do something about climate change, without having to wear tie die shirts, grow a beard, attend a protest rally or be ostracised by their neighbours.  Nearly everyone likes the idea gardening, socialising, spending time outdoors, or chickens, but not everyone likes a hippy.  If you're reading this, you'll be well aware that green is the new black.  Hippy is so 1960, eco-friendly is so 2010 and you get to buy all this new stuff too! (irony intended).

Anyway Mr Jones (the fictitious dad caricature of our abun-dense project) decided to go a permaculture art project on Saturday to see if he could learn another thing or two about how to be the Joneses from other people who were doing the same thing in Surry Hills.

So we rocked up and introduced ourselves and our concept of the Joneses.  The response by the project director PJ, "Oh, cool, is your last name Jones as well?"  

"Oh, cool, is your last name Jones as well?"  

And so we met Patrick Jones, his partner Meg, and son Zephyr - the REAL Joneses.  Our name isn't even Jones.  How embarrassing is that?

In the day that followed, we got our hands dirty a bit, realised that our companion planting list has some very big gaps in it (we were asked to help out on that bit), but the big thing for us was watching the people - those walking by with puzzled looks on their faces, those jumping the fence to find out what was going on, those jumping the fence to get their hands dirty, those bringing plants, and some other Joneses doing inspiring stuff and acting as a beacon for new Joneses, like our new mates Costa, the crew from the Museum of Contemporary Art.  Probably 200-300 people got involved on Saturday to finish the project, all of whom now have some sort of connection with it.

If you're ever in Surry Hills, I'd recommend having a walk through the site to see how little space you need and how densely you can plant an abundant food forest.  And if you're ever driving through Surry Hills to the Eastern Suburbs down Albion Street and stop at the lights at South Dowling, look out your left window and you don't even have to get out of your car.

To find out more about that project, and to meet the real Joneses, have a look at their site, The Artist as Family.  Quite possibly, these Joneses are the Joneses we want to be in the world.

Oh, and if you want to see what our fake Mr Jones looks like, he's in their photo gallery from Saturday with his head down planting.

1 comment:

  1. Just came across this short video which is just gold. The whole notion of the Jonses of course is that it's not about 1 person, it's actually about a small group of people who set new norms. Definitely worth the 3 minutes.

    Are you dancing?

    The Jonses