Archive for the ‘activism’ Category

Free speech

July 8, 2011

This speaks for itself:

Thanks to @stephenfry for tweeting it.

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Ideas to make the world a better place #1

June 23, 2011

I was listening to Kim Scott being interviewed on Radio National’s AM programme this morning (he’s just won this year’s Miles Franklin award). I was struck when he emphasized the need for politicians to listen, really listen – not just talk to focus groups (the transcript’s not up yet so I can’t quote exactly).
This reminded me of an idea I’ve had for some time. Why not take away all our politicians’ cars and drivers and replace them with free public transport passes. This would have several advantages the pollies would mix with the people their policies affect, the public transport systems would improve (though here in Perth, WA we’ve got it pretty good), and the pollies’ carbon footprints would be reduced!
OK I can also think of reasons it would be at least partially impractical, but it would be worth a trial – don’t you think?

(Blogged from the train on my iPhone!)

20110623-083840.jpg

Oranges and Sunshine – Charity and Ghosts

June 17, 2011

Empty Cradles / Margaret HumphreysAround about 1994 I was browsing in New Edition bookshop in Fremantle and picked up a copy of Margaret Humphreys‘ book Empty Cradles.  I glanced at the beginning, began reading and was hooked.  I bought the book, took it home and read it straight through.  Now that compelling, horrifying, compasionate book has made it to the screen as the equally compelling, horrifying, compassionate film Oranges and Sunshine.

This is the story of the foundation of the Child Migrants Trust.  Of how, in 1986, Nottingham Social worker Margaret Humphreys’ work with adoptees led her to two women who’s lives had been devastated by forced child migration.  At first skeptical that Britain could’ve sent children across the world without parents or foster families, Margaret (Emily Watson), with the support of her husband Merv (Richard Dillane) works to find the women’s families.  To help them she visits Australia and makes the discovery that child migration affected more than just a handful of  children.  Her work snowballs as more and more “orphans” (as they were called, though many had parents living) come forward for assistance.  David Wenham and Hugo Weaving play Len and Jack, two of these damaged men, men who were promised the “Oranges and Sunshine” of the title, but for whom the reality was hardship and abuse.  Margaret and Merv’s lives are taken over  by the the quest to find the now grown children’s families before it is too late.Oranges and Sunshine

Directed by Jim Loach (son of Ken Loach) Oranges and Sunshine is a brilliant recreation of the mood of the book, the acting is understated, with Watson, Wenham and Weaving conveying worlds of emotion in the tiniest gesture.  My only quibble is that as a West Australian I had some trouble accepting Adelaide and South Australia as stand-ins for Perth and Western Australia (I had the same problem with Shine) but it’s not a criticism of this brilliant and moving film.

Margaret’s work for Child Migrants was recognised in Australia in 1993 when she was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia, and in Britain this year (2011) when she received a CBE.  The West Australian Government apologised to Child Migrants for their treatment in 1998, the Australian Government in 2009, and the British Government in 2010.

Go and see Oranges and Sunshine – no Australian or Briton should miss it.

I’ll leave you with another moving tribute to Child Migrants, Charity and Ghosts by the Stillsons.

Say Yes Australia! – a World Environment Day photo essay

June 6, 2011
Say Yes to Climate Action!

Say Yes to Climate Action!

Yesterday I joined about 3000 others at the Say Yes Australia rally in the Perth Cultural Center.   We were expressing our committment to government action on climate change.  Here’s the story of the rally in pictures:

Get Up!

Get Up! heading to "Say Yes Australia"

Crowd at the station

Crowd at the station - many heading to the rally!

Rally Crowd (and others) Perth station

Growing crowd as we walk through the station

Flyers for all!

Flyers for all!

A big crowd turned out

A big crowd turned out

Crowd in the James St Mall

...spilling into the James St mall

Crowd in the garden

... and filling all vantage points

Press coverage

Press coverage


And stirring speeches!

Banners large and small, organisational and individual:

Clean up Australia

Clean up Australia

Socialist alliance banner

Socialist Alliance

Our climate our vote

Our climate our vote

Great big new chance in futures

Great big new chance in futures

Price on pollution

Price on pollution

No CO2 tax will cost the earth

No CO2 tax will cost the earth

Business as usual

Business as usual

Yes!

Yes!

The fence of lost things : random acts of kindness at South Beach

January 11, 2011

Thankyou to all the people who hung lost property on the fence of lost things – I found my missing kayaking glove two or three days after I lost it in the ocean!

Random acts of kindness - the fence of lost things

Random acts of kindness - the fence of lost things

Beware the grey ones

November 28, 2010

I’m having a bit of a binge reading JB Priestley and came across this strangley pertinent quote in his short story The Grey Ones (collected in The other place and other stories of the same sort (1953)):

Between them, [they] managed to put an end to everything that added a little colour and sparkle to life round our way. Of course they always had a good excuse — economy and all that. But I noticed [they] only made economies in one direction, on what you might call the anti-grey side, and never stirred to save money in other directions, in what was heavily official, pompous, interfering, irritating, depressing, calculated to make you lose heart. And you must have noticed yourself that we never do save money in those directions, either in municipal or national affairs…

To me it feels oddly like a call to arms…

Hullabaloos

October 4, 2010

…Just how much noise can we make in shared spaces? How do we negotiate our clashing freedoms and tastes as our population grows? An article in The West this weekend on mediating disputes between neighbours got me thinking some more about this… particularly after I came across a wedding party having photos at the Maritime Museum on Saturday afternoon – their giant stretch limo was not to my taste but hey, my taste wouldn’t be theirs either (and wedding critiquing is a great spectator sport) – but did they have to have the doors open and the sound system imposing their choice of music on everyone in the carpark and forecourt? Perhaps this is the problem with noise – you can look away from a sight you don’t like but you can’t turn off your ears…

Just like Arthur Ransome and Dorothy Sayers I particularly hate noise in wild places, whether (in the example that formed my opinion on these things) in the Norfolk broads…

He paddled faster again, and presently heard a strange jumble of noise from farther down the river. Faint at first, two tunes quietly quarrelling with each other, it grew louder as he came nearer until at last it seemed that the two tunes were having a fight at the top of their voices.

Suddenly he knew that all this noise was coming from one boat, a big motor-cruiser… But he could hardly hear himself speak for noise. There was nobody to be seen on the deck of the Margoletta. All the Hullabalooos were down below in the two cabins and in one cabin there was a wireless set and a loudspeaker, and in the other they were working the gramaphone.

Coot Club / Arthur Ransome (1934) Puffin ed. 1969 p. 53-54

or on the river in Oxford…

A punt went past … then a noisy party with a gramophone bawling “Love in Bloom”… then a bunch of both sexes and all ages in an inrigger with another gramophone whining “Love in Bloom” — the Town at play… And here was Miss Harriet Vane … savagely resenting the approach of a boatload of idiots whose gramophone was playing (for a change) “Love in Bloom.”

Gaudy Night / Dorothy Sayers (1935) NEL ed. 1978 p. 285-286

…or in your local park or reserve. Surely you are there to experience the beauty of the place, experience the wildlife, share it with your friends – loud music will cut you off from this, and worse, cut off anyone else who is there. If you want a wall of sound that’s fine, just hire a venue where you can wall it in and limit it to those who choose to share it. Don’t do something like this:

Speak up about it and you’re just a grumpy old killjoy who won’t own up to secret jealousy… dear me!

So please, before you turn your music up where others can hear it – whether it’s a tradie’s radio, a house party, a boombox at the beach, a party boat, remember your music goes far beyond the space you are in – keep it down or take it somewhere else…

Hulbert Street Fiesta 2010 – the greenest street in Fremantle?

September 19, 2010

I think I’m pretty green, my friends think I’m pretty green, I:

Solar panels on my roof

Solar panels on my roof

  • Have a moderately passive solar house
  • Have solar panels on the roof  (and am in credit with the power company) and a solar desk light
  • When I have to buy new appliances I try to get more energy efficient ones
  • Turn off standby power at the wall and use timers and motion sensors on lights
  • Have a rain water tank for drinking and the vegies and manually reuse some grey water
  • Don’t possess a clothes dryer or airconditioning
  • Grow some of my own fruit and vegies (with varing success)
  • Have a worm farm and compost bin for food scraps
  • Catch the train to work and cycle or walk for short trips
  • Clean with microfibre and bicarb and vineagar
  • Buy much of my clothing from op-shops – and work on my reduce, reuse, recycling…
Hulbert Street Sustainbility Fiesta 2010 poster

Hulbert Street Sustainbility Fiesta 2010

…but I don’t have anything on the people of Hulbert St South Fremantle – today I went down and wandered through the third annual Hulbert Street Sustainability Fiesta.   Hulbert Street is a cul-de-sac for cars but you can enter at the top end by foot or bicycle and all the green goodness starts right there at The Painted Fish (sustainable accommodation in a seaside garden).   Tim and Shani started the popular eco accommodation in 2006 and their passion for sustainablity has flowed down through the street.  Each year green living and community spirit is celebrated by closing off the street, erecting booths and opening their homes and gardens to the rest of the world.  This was my first visit to the fiesta. (I’ve seen inside The Painted Fish before when visiting friends who were staying there and I often cycle down Hulbert St.)  So here are a few random observations from a first time Fiesta goer…

  • Entry by gold coin donation, please recycle the flyer, wrist stamp (suspect water based ink as it ran and I had to be careful not to transfer it to my white T-shirt!)
  • Music from a bee costumed bloke who incorporated whoever was passing into his song, and further down the street a buskers patch for community groups and locals
  • Vege growing – the Hulbert St mob grow vegies anywhere – in their own yards and guerilla gardens on the street.  Lots of stalls selling raised garden beds plus equipment and seedlings
  • Sustainable transport – cycles, electric bikes and modified cycles for sale in the stalls; billy carts, bicycles, scooters and the Freo motorised bathtub brigade (now solar powered) on the street
  • Sustainable power – Solar Shop had a booth, many houses had solar power and there were a few exercise bike set up to generate power with kids trying out how hard they had to pedal to power a small TV (and other appliances)
  • Food – home made, gluten free, fresh, raw – it was all there!  Thanks to the gluten-free lady for the free sample ginger and macadamia Wallaby bar, yum!
  • Lots of the houses were open – demo’s of sustainable living and artists studios but we were on our bikes and short of time so we didn’t visit.
  • Pre-loved everything – many books and clothes (I didn’t look closely as I was on the bike and hadn’t brought much money
  • Guerilla knitting at the Duoro Road exit!

There was much more to see – next year I’ll go on foot and take a bit more time – it’s definitely worth a visit!

Hulbert Street Sustainability Fiesta 2010 - a flickr set

Hulbert Street Sustainability Fiesta 2010 - a flickr set

Seeing double – Bratz Bring it On Again!

September 17, 2010


Seeing double - Bratz Bring it On Again!

Seeing double - Bratz Bring it On Again!

The things you see whilst waiting in line at the checkout… Teenage stereotyping writ large, does someone at IGA have a sense of humour (or an interest in visual culture and femminism?)…

Bicycle parking activism!

January 16, 2009

I’ve been waging a campaign at my local shops to get the supermarket to stop customers using the bicycle parking rails as trolley parks.  Years ago I wrote to centre management and they replaced the old “toast rack” style bike parking with proper Australian Standard compliant rails.  Recently the rails have been used as de-facto trolley bays.

Trolleys in the bike bays

Trolleys in the bike bays

The carpark was badly designed, with no trolley park next to the supermarket.  I spoke to staff at the supermarket and they were not always terribly sympathetic or helpful, so in the end I wrote to the center managagement.  (I was beginning to feel that cyclists were second class citizens!)

More bike parking problems

More bike parking problems

 

Before...

Before...

After...

After...

 

Things began to improve, with trolleys being moved, usually on request.

 

Today I went to the shops (in the car ‘cos cycling in 42deg heat is a bit much) and found a newly installed trolley bay and relocated bike rails.

Hooray, redesigned rails and trolley bays

Hooray, redesigned rails and trolley bays

Hooray!  I’ve told the staff how good it is and will write a thanks to centre management.

For the full story have a look at this flickr set!  Just goes to show you shouldn’t give up, keep on asking and write letters and you can change things.


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