An interview with William Woodbridge on the Lake Ginninderra teepee

ConorHickey 25 February 2012 84
teepee

William Woodbridge is a typical second year university student. He is 21 years of age, has quite a relaxed attitude towards life and doesn’t mind thinking outside the square a bit.

Those of you who use Ginninderra Drive are already familiar with some of his creative thinking.

A floating teepee has become a topic of interest in Canberra and William Woodbridge is the man behind it.
Seeking to escape the monetary shackles of life living on the University of Canberra campus, Will created his floating home.

william woodbridge

“It’s deliciously hippyish,” says Will with a massive grin as he eats peach from the can.

Will tells me that he decided to leave on-campus accommodation after he accidentally set off a fire alarm while cooking. He says the company that ran his residence, Campus Living Villages, charged him $350. I tried to contact Campus Living Villages but their general manager was unavailable for comment until Monday.

After being hit with the fine, he decided that he did not want to live life on campus anymore and so looked for alternative styles of living.

As I sat there on his front porch listening to his explanation of how his raft came to be, a man rows up in a canoe.

The man says that his wife “forced him to check it out.”

Will is completely unfazed by the attention his floating home has gathered in recent weeks.

“I would invite you onboard for a cold drink if the ice in my esky hadn’t melted,” Will says to the man.

After a few minutes of raft relating chatting the man bids Will well and rows back to shore.

supplies

Will tells me that his new home attracts the odd visitor, although not always of the nice kind.

“Everyone has been really friendly and nice so far, which is why the generator was a bit of a surprise,” Will tells me,” says Will.

Will is alluding to the fact that sometime on Friday his generator, which he used to power his television and to recharge his laptop, was stolen from his lockbox on the back of the raft.

Despite this he remains quite optimistic.

“It will probably come back, Canberra is too small a place for something like that to happen and go unnoticed,” he says.

He has created flyers which he has taped to his teepee and lockbox, telling all who venture close enough to his raft that his generator has been stolen.

stolen generator

Our conversation progressed to the inspirations of the raft. He said after having left on campus accommodation, and living out the back of a car, he settled on the idea of a raft.

“I came up with a number of designs I could live in while on the raft, the first one was a square house boat type thing, I looked at, you know, a canvas hutch, various sorts of huts and a straight forward tent, and eventually my uncle suggested a teepee.

”So I looked at the design and ergonomics of a teepee, they can stay quite warm, the teepee because it has a cone shape, it’s very stable and because its rounded the wind doesn’t catch on it.”

teepee

True to what Will tells me, the teepee has held up through the storms of last week. Will maintains the storms were never a problem, and that if they got bad enough, he would simply delay his trip home in his leaky tinny.

tinny

He tells me that the ACT Government has been in contact with him, and has asked him to move along. Will says he has been in discussion with Territories and Municipal Services, he hopes the discussion with them can lead to an arrangement where he stays on the lake.

With a possible eviction notice heading his way, Will seems relatively unfazed. He does not want to leave his teepee because it will mean him becoming homeless. Yet despite the outlook of a grim future Will is completely calm.

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84 Responses to An interview with William Woodbridge on the Lake Ginninderra teepee
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SnapperJack SnapperJack 3:38 pm 27 Feb 12

Thumper said :

I don’t hate him, In fact I think it’s brilliant.

However, Mr Williamson needs to learn that, sorry to quote Malcolm Fraser, life wan’t meant to be easy.

Yes, life was certainly easy for Fraser doing nothing for seven years as PM (even with a majority of six in the Senate for most of his term), and leaving the hard work of financial deregulation, floating the dollar, macroeconomic reform and the introduction of foreign banks to Bob Hawke and Paul Keating.

p1 p1 2:57 pm 27 Feb 12

johnboy said :

You say it like that would be a bad thing!

Houseboats on the lake would be awesome. Think of it as opening up new land for a caravan park. I suggest the area along the Kingston foreshore.

Duffbowl Duffbowl 2:48 pm 27 Feb 12

Interesting list of pages young Will has under “Activities and Interests”…
– League of the South (white, southern US, nationalist)
– La Voz de Aztlan (The Voice of Aztlan; hispanic separatists from the southwestern US)
– Black Panthers (African-American separatists)
– NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)
– U.N.N.M. “United Nuwaubian Nation Of Moors” (US based African-American psuedo-Islamist)
– Jewish Defence League
– Aryan Nation
– White Order of Thule (Aryan, pre-Christian, closely linked with Aryan Nation et al)

p1 p1 2:40 pm 27 Feb 12

HenryBG said :

Bad analogy – Teepee-man isn’t denying anybody access to their property, unlike the generator thief has done.

Sure he has. He has taken some of the amenity of a lake previously devoid of residential teepees away from the community, just like some arse puppet took away some (all) of the amenity of his generator.

arescarti42 said :

Invalid argument. Exactly the same problem occurs when someone swims or rows a boat on the lake, when someone swims in the lake, no one else can swim in that same spot and all value in that spot goes to that person.

The tragedy of the commons doesn’t apply to either situation because the lake is not a depletable resource in that context.

That’s not to say that if squatting for free on the lake was legal, that it wouldn’t pose problems.

Actually, the tragedy of the commons applies pretty well. Imagine 1000 people all wanted free accommodation, built rafts and placed them in the lake. The current resource of a nice quiet body of water, with deserted shores, plenty of parking, etc would quickly be replaced by a crowded, polluted (even more then now) pond, alive with the buzz of generators and with all the car parks full and boat ramps busy. All a result of people making resource use decisions which make perfect sense from their own perspective.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 2:35 pm 27 Feb 12

arescarti42 said :

Actually it would appear that building a teepee and floating it on the lake is the cheapest option available.

(Ex-fines and court costs, they’re equivalent to 18 months rent)

Duffbowl Duffbowl 2:16 pm 27 Feb 12

Also, dependent on the depth of the lake where Will is anchored, he could submerge his drinks in the lake itself on a long line. While they won’t be as cool as if from a fridge or ice filled esky, they will cooler than sitting in the sun (if we have sunshine…)

Duffbowl Duffbowl 2:14 pm 27 Feb 12

poetix said :

In drawing attention to how difficult keeping a home is for people on low incomes he is doing an important thing in a beautiful way. I can’t believe people are attacking him for creating this floating home, or worrying about where he found the materials to do it.

While I think there is method in his madness, and he has provided a novel way of protesting / raising awareness of accomodation issues, there are still some smokey questions.

If, as described, he has appropriated the property of others for his personal and sole use, how is that beneficial to society generally, and the owner of the property in particular? I know I would be rather annoyed if someone took an item of mine for their personal and sole use.

Of course, if RiotActors have no objections to their property being appropriate for such purposes, please feel free to let me know. 😉

arescarti42 arescarti42 1:53 pm 27 Feb 12

Skidbladnir said :

Its not like student residences are the only accomodation option in Canberra, and they are certainly the cheapest option available.

Actually it would appear that building a teepee and floating it on the lake is the cheapest option available.

p1 said :

Within the current system though, the suggestion the Willy be allowed to continue to live on the lake rent free is to suggest that some of the value of the lake be made available to him alone, when previously it was a community resource. Not a big deal you say? True, but the Tragedy of the commons suggests that the lake would quickly be full of dilapidated moored accommodation, much of it without the aesthetic charm of a well constructed teepee.

Invalid argument. Exactly the same problem occurs when someone swims or rows a boat on the lake, when someone swims in the lake, no one else can swim in that same spot and all value in that spot goes to that person.

The tragedy of the commons doesn’t apply to either situation because the lake is not a depletable resource in that context.

That’s not to say that if squatting for free on the lake was legal, that it wouldn’t pose problems.

HenryBG HenryBG 1:15 pm 27 Feb 12

p1 said :

So if he is all for people taking whatever resource suits them, why is he sad about his generator being taken? We can only assume the personª who took it needed it for something more then Wills?

ª – a person, I might add, who is a total С¢?

Bad analogy – Teepee-man isn’t denying anybody access to their property, unlike the generator thief has done.

poetix poetix 12:55 pm 27 Feb 12

I would love it if he generated (sorry) enough comments to win the Mully. The cup could be rowed out to him, although it might lower the tone of the teepee.

In drawing attention to how difficult keeping a home is for people on low incomes he is doing an important thing in a beautiful way. I can’t believe people are attacking him for creating this floating home, or worrying about where he found the materials to do it.

Hank Hank 12:50 pm 27 Feb 12

johnboy said :

I think some of you need the think bigger.

Imagine a Lake Ginninderra covered in teepee rafts as low cost accomodation.

Just think how cool the parties would be!

Ain’t no party like a teepee party!

p1 p1 12:10 pm 27 Feb 12

AAMC said :

Also, I get the impression that he has a lot of resources at his disposal. To build and deploy/launch a raft of that “impressiveness” requires materials, tools, power supply, large trailer, tow car, several people, a tender (tinny), a location to build it (possibly mum and/or dads driveway), not to mention where he lived while the construction was underway or his stylish Indiana Jones style hat..

Yes and no. I was part of a small group which knocked up a raft of a similar size a few years back and camped a few nights on the lake. We built it by the lakeside, so there was no large cars or big trailers required, and we sourced the majority of the building materials through stuff people already had and donations. While his is somewhat prettier, the same might well still be possible if he has good friends/contacts.

If he went to Lake G for year twelve though, it suggests he is from Canberra? What kind of local lives on Campus?

p1 p1 12:06 pm 27 Feb 12

trevar said :

I hardly think he’s screaming. He’s taken responsibility for himself, grown up and realised that the accommodation choices made by the rest of his society are rather foolish and unnecessary. It hardly makes sense to be leasing land and/or shelter when a lake surface is freely available and you can afford the materials to build a floating home.

Seems to me the only ones doing anything vaguely like throwing a tantrum are those who say William should be paying someone else rent, rather than thinking for himself… and why would they care? No doubt they have an investment property and William’s initiative, if it were to be taken up by more people, threatens their profits. Landlords may get some serious competition soon, so suck it up, princesses!

If it is Williams intention to start an “Occupy” style movement, advocating that complete reworking of the current concepts of property rights and the financial system, then fine, you may well be on the right track. People with investment properties would certainly loose out it a majority of people currently renting decided to just live, camp, squat, wherever they could without paying any rent. Personally I wouldn’t be entirely displeased if we could all live in a communist utopia.

Within the current system though, the suggestion the Willy be allowed to continue to live on the lake rent free is to suggest that some of the value of the lake be made available to him alone, when previously it was a community resource. Not a big deal you say? True, but the Tragedy of the commons suggests that the lake would quickly be full of dilapidated moored accommodation, much of it without the aesthetic charm of a well constructed teepee.

So if he is all for people taking whatever resource suits them, why is he sad about his generator being taken? We can only assume the personª who took it needed it for something more then Wills?

ª – a person, I might add, who is a total С¢?

AAMC AAMC 11:39 am 27 Feb 12

I note form ‘Bill’s’ face book page that he is a former student of the Lake Ginninderra college in 2008, I wonder where he has been living for the last 4 years; before he set off the smoke alarm?

Also, I get the impression that he has a lot of resources at his disposal. To build and deploy/launch a raft of that “impressiveness” requires materials, tools, power supply, large trailer, tow car, several people, a tender (tinny), a location to build it (possibly mum and/or dads driveway), not to mention where he lived while the construction was underway or his stylish Indiana Jones style hat.

Don’t get me wrong I love the idea of living on the lake and legitimate protest, but to frame his situation as on the edge of homelessness seems a little absurd.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 10:51 am 27 Feb 12

Skidbladnir said :

Its not like student residences are the only accomodation option in Canberra, and they are certainly the cheapest option available.

Bah, insert word “not” after certainly.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 10:08 am 27 Feb 12

devils_advocate said :

Yawn. Even first-years are taught that bargain theory doesn’t hold up when one stronger party is in a position to unilaterally dictate terms. F, please resubmit within 1 week.

Well, it does, but then the only choice left to the powerless party is “Take it or leave it” so it doesn’t get covered in academia to any degree.
Its not like student residences are the only accomodation option in Canberra, and they are certainly the cheapest option available.

But since nobody seems to be caring about the fact that UC Village have built an entire business model around being exempt from law (beyond even what is allowed in NSW) yet somehow fill rooms with willing residents, I’ll just keep on the “Lake camping is not legal” train, because sometimes I enjoy train wreck coverage.

john87_no1 john87_no1 9:44 am 27 Feb 12

Have you people no sense of adventure!

“It is in the compelling zest of high adventure and of victory, and in creative action, that man finds his supreme joys.”

Chop71 Chop71 9:26 am 27 Feb 12

johnboy said :

I think some of you need the think bigger.

Imagine a Lake Ginninderra covered in teepee rafts as low cost accomodation.

Just think how cool the parties would be!

Spring Break

devils_advocate devils_advocate 8:44 am 27 Feb 12

Skidbladnir said :

If his issue was the fine he incurred for the smoke alarm, he brought it on himself by signing the Agreement with UC Village to live on-campus, clearly without reading it.
Campus residents do not get the same tenancy rights as non-campus residents (mostly in exchange for being a few minutes from their classes…), and are instead bound by whichever Terms the Village offers, as its a private agreement without the requirements of a Residential Tenancy Agreement.
The Rules do now, and have under the last version also, explicitly cover the “our smoke alarms are sensitive, please take care or tenants will be hit with the (inevitable) callout fee” angle.
Rules (which make up a part of the agreement) available here, Agreement available on request.

Yawn. Even first-years are taught that bargain theory doesn’t hold up when one stronger party is in a position to unilaterally dictate terms. F, please resubmit within 1 week.

mattapalooza mattapalooza 11:04 pm 26 Feb 12

Good on him!

He’s a young fella making a point!

A city full of political wannabe’s and this bloke has the inclination to take a stand.
Regardless of whether he’s wrong or right, good on him!

At least someone is finally using the lake!

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