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The Maple Street Co-op

Joan McVilly


Joan grew up in a large family of siblings and foster siblings, her parents inspiring a love of community, human connection, and a deep interest in ecology. “I had hiking boots from the age of 2 and we bushwalked as a family. Our home was caring and inclusive. It’s no surprise that later in life I was drawn to work in ecology and community”, Joan tells us. After a stint in higher education, and time spent in the US where she met the early Greenpeace campaigners on the west coast, and then went on to the UK where she volunteered for this very new environmental organisation. “At Bermondsey Docks in London we created the Rainbow Warrior from a retired fishing research vessel. I remember being on the ship, chased out of the port by the ‘Spanish Armada’”, she said smilingly. “At that time, I was motivated by deep-rooted activism, I wanted to put my body where my heart is. Although it was good highlighting the dumping of nuclear waste and that whales and seals are sentient beings, I grew a realisation that heart-centred change would make a bigger difference to the world.”

Joan joined a religious community in the USA then on return to Australia invested herself in deep ecological exploration. She played a key role helping to set up the Wild Mountains Trust, which focusses on environmental education. She then moved close to Eumundi, slipping into life at Bellbunya, an intentional community. After 8 years, Joan searched for a new home using 3 clear criteria to guide her - a cooler climate, a walking lifestyle and a place with a strong community.

Maleny was the place. “I walk almost everywhere but I do drive to volunteer at Mary Cairncross, which is real nourishment for me. Becoming a member of the Co-op was one of the first things I did when I move here. I so appreciate it! I trust the work that goes into selecting the products for their ethical and local provenance. It reduces the need for me to do my own research! Buying unpackaged products is important to me, I use my own jars and bags for most foods. My hopes for the Co-op? Less plastic packaging!  And it’s so important to keep the Co-op as a place for local produce that can be provided to everyone.”

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