Ngara Institute

Ngara Institute – the Activists Think Tank

The Ngara Institute is a not-for- profit activist think tank which puts people, communities and the planet before increasingly predatory capitalism. We offer an intellectual and engaging space to critically reflect on how we can achieve a more just, peaceful and sustainable world based on the common good rather than private interest.

Politics in the Pub

Ngara Institute organised in 2016 a monthly ‘Politics in the Pub’ gathering in the Courthouse Pub Mullumbimby.  Each month a new guest speaker is invited. Around 180 people attend and it has become one of the Byron Shires most active regular political events. Visit the Ngara website for the upcoming program.

The Purpose of the institute is to:

  • provide a counter narrative to the views and opinions of Australian neoliberal think tanks;
  • foster critical thinking about local, national, and international issues such as peace, globalisation, diminishing democracy, climate change, financial greed and growing inequality;
  • work alongside other peace and justice organisations for a more equitable, non-violent and compassionate future based on social justice and human rights and pursuit of the common good;
  • assert and support values and practices that enhance the life of all species and ecosystems;
  • learn and apply indigenous world views to all areas of life;
  • articulate and encourage post-carbon- growth scenarios;
  • revitalise local-democratic civic cultures, neighbourliness and cooperative systems of production;
  • inspire and promote viable and workable solutions to the complex challenges we all face.



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Latest Posts from the Ngara FB Group


6 hours ago

Bobbi Allan

There are rumours HQ of the alt-left is in Mullumbimby?? ... See MoreSee Less

There are rumours HQ of the alt-left is in Mullumbimby??

Comment on Facebook

It is lucky that universal health care and community gardens are the same thing.....make compost...eat well....

21 hours ago

Helen Barratt

A Letter From The #NgaraInstitute Convenor Dr Richard Hil - Why talk about the common good?

'I’ve just come back from the US. I’m still recovering: not from the jet lag or the political volatility (bad though it is), but rather from witnessing the destruction wrought by inequality and corporate greed. The impact of such are evident across the country, but particularly so in places like Detroit. Motor City may be considered an extreme example of economic decline but then again, a lot of US cities have been depopulated in varying degrees thanks to economic downturn, or rather, the machinations of corporate capitalism.'

'Detroit has become a symbol not only of what happens when automation, foreign competition, racial injustice, divestment and displacement take hold. It’s predominantly Black population has long been at the mercy of rapacious financial companies, and has suffered the consequences. A third of the city’s residents live below the poverty line, homelessness is rife, the education system has been trashed, public services culled.

And things aren’t getting better. Despite all the talk of urban renewal, revitalisation, green shoots and so forth, Detroit’s Afro American population are largely missing out on the “economic miracle". Many have instead opted to build up their own communities through the creation of schools, community gardens and various support services. That’s the more exhilarating story about Detroit, not the concocted version of edgy, cool and chic marketed by big business. (See my recent article in New Matilda:' newmatilda.com/…/…/being-nobody-in-the-real-detroit/).

'In the face of massive budget cuts by the Trump administration (care of the Heritage Foundation), communities across the US are having to build internal capital through the pooling of resources (meagre though they often are), and help create the systems and services they need. Faced with the rapacious thuggery of the corporate elites, there is no other choice. Communities are seeking to rebuild and strengthen networks, connections, relationships: the very foundations of a good society and the common good.'

'Remember Margaret Thatcher’s infamous mantra: “…there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families”. Really? That’s it? Apparently so, according to the former Iron Lady. Thatcher’s confident yet misguided assessment of our world ignores many things, but is particularly remiss when it comes to the central importance of human connection and cooperation in making coexistence, community and everyday life possible. It also runs counter to what goes on in much of the animal world, in nature, and in more gratifying forms of human life.'

'We shouldn’t be surprised that the neoliberal dogma espoused by Thatcher and others has given rise to what Anne Manne refers to as a “new culture of narcissism”, or that hyper individualism has generated what George Monbiot describes as “a plague of loneliness”. It’s not surprising either that mental health problems have increased markedly over recent decades, or that addictions and social isolation abound. In the US, 140 people die each day from opioid overdoses, much of which can be attributed, as the research suggests, to social disconnection and isolation. Economic inequality and unemployment has exacerbated loneliness and eroded the social capital upon which communities once thrived.'

'We know from the work of Susan Pinker and others, that deep social connection, a sense of place and belonging, sharing, loving and caring enables people to live longer and more fruitful lives. Neoliberalism, which at its centre is a profoundly dehumanising ideology, views us not as citizens but denizens bound by a life of competitiveness and acquisition. This assault on the idea of community, of society, reflects the interests of neoliberal capitalism. It seeks to turn us into atomised rather than social beings. There is no sense of the common good, the public interest, or cooperative purpose – only private interest.'

'That’s why building good, respectful and joyous relationships; creating communities, working together for the common good, and promoting peace and sustainability, are all acts of political resistance and renewal. The more we build such connections the more we render neoliberalism obsolete.'

'On 23rd August at the Politics in the Pub, The Courthouse Hotel, Mullumbimby, Tim Hollo from the Green Institute and Professor Stuart Rees from the Sydney Peace Foundation ponder how we can advance a sense of common purpose underpinned by a commitment to social justice and human rights.'

Come along and participate in the discussion, and be part of the Ngara community. Help us think and act our way out of the current mess!
... See MoreSee Less

A Letter From The #NgaraInstitute Convenor Dr Richard Hil - Why talk about the common good?

I’ve just come back from the US. I’m still recovering: not from the jet lag or the political volatility (bad though it is), but rather from witnessing the destruction wrought by inequality and corporate greed. The impact of such are evident across the country, but particularly so in places like Detroit. Motor City may be considered an extreme example of economic decline but then again, a lot of US cities have been depopulated in varying degrees thanks to economic downturn, or rather, the machinations of corporate capitalism.

Detroit has become a symbol not only of what happens when automation, foreign competition, racial injustice, divestment and displacement take hold. It’s predominantly Black population has long been at the mercy of rapacious financial companies, and has suffered the consequences. A third of the city’s residents live below the poverty line, homelessness is rife, the education system has been trashed, public services culled.

And things aren’t getting better. Despite all the talk of urban renewal, revitalisation, green shoots and so forth, Detroit’s Afro American population are largely missing out on the “economic miracle. Many have instead opted to build up their own communities through the creation of schools, community gardens and various support services. That’s the more exhilarating story about Detroit, not the concocted version of edgy, cool and chic marketed by big business. (See my recent article in New Matilda: https://newmatilda.com/…/…/being-nobody-in-the-real-detroit/).

In the face of massive budget cuts by the Trump administration (care of the Heritage Foundation), communities across the US are having to build internal capital through the pooling of resources (meagre though they often are), and help create the systems and services they need. Faced with the rapacious thuggery of the corporate elites, there is no other choice. Communities are seeking to rebuild and strengthen networks, connections, relationships: the very foundations of a good society and the common good.

Remember Margaret Thatcher’s infamous mantra: “…there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families”. Really? That’s it? Apparently so, according to the former Iron Lady. Thatcher’s confident yet misguided assessment of our world ignores many things, but is particularly remiss when it comes to the central importance of human connection and cooperation in making coexistence, community and everyday life possible. It also runs counter to what goes on in much of the animal world, in nature, and in more gratifying forms of human life.

We shouldn’t be surprised that the neoliberal dogma espoused by Thatcher and others has given rise to what Anne Manne refers to as a “new culture of narcissism”, or that hyper individualism has generated what George Monbiot describes as “a plague of loneliness”. It’s not surprising either that mental health problems have increased markedly over recent decades, or that addictions and social isolation abound. In the US, 140 people die each day from opioid overdoses, much of which can be attributed, as the research suggests, to social disconnection and isolation. Economic inequality and unemployment has exacerbated loneliness and eroded the social capital upon which communities once thrived.

We know from the work of Susan Pinker and others, that deep social connection, a sense of place and belonging, sharing, loving and caring enables people to live longer and more fruitful lives. Neoliberalism, which at its centre is a profoundly dehumanising ideology, views us not as citizens but denizens bound by a life of competitiveness and acquisition. This assault on the idea of community, of society, reflects the interests of neoliberal capitalism. It seeks to turn us into atomised rather than social beings. There is no sense of the common good, the public interest, or cooperative purpose – only private interest.

That’s why building good, respectful and joyous relationships; creating communities, working together for the common good, and promoting peace and sustainability, are all acts of political resistance and renewal. The more we build such connections the more we render neoliberalism obsolete.

On 23rd August at the Politics in the Pub, The Courthouse Hotel, Mullumbimby, Tim Hollo from the Green Institute and Professor Stuart Rees from the Sydney Peace Foundation ponder how we can advance a sense of common purpose underpinned by a commitment to social justice and human rights.

Come along and participate in the discussion, and be part of the Ngara community. Help us think and act our way out of the current mess!
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