An exclusive exposé by undercover investigative reporter, I’magenuine Debunking.
Posing as a potential tenant, I spent a harrowing 5 days – as long as I could last – of a 1 month trial to uncover the truth of inequality at Equanimity Foundation.
Perpetrated by its pretentious ‘founder’ Shiraz Socialist Simon Cole, Equanimity Foundation claims to “look forward to a shared determination to bring about a glocal (globally-conscious, locally living) coexistence that benefits everyone and … serves to demonstrate how a high quality of life can be achieved with minimal cash flow.” High quality indeed, for the Lord of the Manor upstairs, not the slaves he keeps downstairs in cramped squalor. Cole, who liberally employs the royal ‘we’ and avoids possessive pronouns to create the illusion of community, also claims to be “inspired … to use technology to free humanity from drudgery”. In fact, the self-styled permaculure officianado requires the manual labour of his minions to keep himself in luxury and organic food which he secretly sells for an exorbitant profit.
Newcomers to EF are greeted with a spurious explanation of its financial arrangements, claiming income from its Solar Panels (on the maximum Feed in Tariff) covers ‘only the rates’; hence the necessity for rent from tenants (which he likes to call a ‘subscription’ for ‘membership’; again another ploy to dupe the gullible into a sense of camaraderie). Crying poor, the inhouse dictator points to all the expenses he’s burdened with; communications utilities, sewage and water connection fees (when in fact the premises are self-sufficient in rainwater), maintenance, insurance, garden supplies and replacement costs. Obviously he’s trying to recoup the expense of building his extravagant lifestyle, which includes the complex rain harvesting system and other techniques to dodge outgoings, such as insulation (throughout), ceiling fans, solar hot water and energy efficient appliances and lighting. This is all presented as a model of ‘sustainable living’ and ‘removing support from the monetary system’. In fact (although I wasn’t there long enough to ascertain this for certain) the rent supplements his comfortable university wage. One tiny room goes for an outrageous sum of $80 per week plus 5 hours of hard labour, paid at (yes, you guessed it) MINIMUM WAGE!
On top of this, if his poor tenants actually want a small share of the garden produce they grow for him, he has the temerity to charge them for it, at prices you’d expect from a high-end deli in New Farm! This involves a detailed ledger that is policed every week.
Currently, he has one serf trapped in his grip. Poor Zeena (name changed for the sake of anonymity) is compelled by poverty and the structural violence of our economic system to eke out an existence in this hell hole. She occupies the smallest room downstairs with cheap, substandard facilities. Meanwhile upstairs, the Lord enjoys a gas stovetop (despite railing against fossil fuels), dishwasher, air conditioning, decorative fittings and open-plan living. Zeena watches him wash his new hybrid vehicle (of course, it HAS to be a hybrid!) while she’s forbidden to use the water for her old, broken down Honda Civic. Zeena is the most humble, long-suffering woman I have ever met. She is loath to complain about anything. Little wonder she’s been trapped there alone for more than a year, despite Shiraz Socialist Simon’s efforts to entice another victim into his dominion. New comers are told there is no bond. But this is just another trick to suck the desperate and homeless into his web of deceit. Once in, victims are corralled into a daily regimen of rules and restrictions that would have put Alcatraz to shame.
I tried to encourage Zeena to escape with me, but she was too fearful. On the day he wasn’t home, I saw my opportunity and made a dash for it, promising to help Zeena make her own getaway later. When she does, no doubt she will be able to add to the litany of hypocrisies at Equanimity Foundation.
Something has to be done about this Coopers Plains snob. Slowly, the neighbours are becoming aware of how supercilious and condescending this monster in their midst is. In the end, he will come undone, as all tyrants do.