On this Day in 1788…

Image of setting sun in similar style to the Aboriginal Flag, accompanying a piece on Australia Day
Photograph by Oliver Frank

Today was a public holiday here in Australia. 26th January is known to some as Australia Day, to others as Invasion Day. A day of celebration for some, for others, a day of mourning and/or activism- acknowledging the past and present injustices to the indigenous peoples of this country- for others still, simply a welcome time off from work.

Today, I didn’t celebrate, but thoughts of injustices were on my mind. There are gaps in health, mortality, education, social inclusion, services- you name it, there is a gaping hole that divides the original custodians of this land from its other inhabitants. I was not going to write about it, until an email from a friend inspired me to share some words, a quote attributed to Lilla Watson, although she prefers to see it attributed to ‘Aboriginal activist’s group, Queensland, 1970s’.

If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time.

But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.

I love the quote, as ‘help’ is too often about making the ‘helper’ feel good without an understanding of what is really needed- be it a government initiative, or the voluntary act of an individual. The alternative is acknowledging the other person’s humanity and seeing that we need one another- a good place to start- with a paradigm shift still needed, some 40 odd years after those words were spoken, and 228 years since the arrival of the First Fleet.

 

26/01/2017: This was first published on 26th January 2016. It is still relevant a year on. Prison populations, education, employment and morbidity and mortality rates have not made any forward leaps for positive change. This time around though, I am not merely a saddened spectator but playing a small part in change by participating in a Reconciliation Action Plan working group at my place of work.

26/01/2018: A year on and the sentiments and their cause remain. I am still part of the Reconciliation Action Plan group at work, but now with a more formalised role, representing my business group. I haven’t personally made any tangible steps toward the RAP but I have clarity now in what I can contribute, following a seminar I attended on Aboriginal Water Values in late 2017. It is sometimes overwhelming to see injustice and not know where or how to make a difference- but what better way than in one’s area of expertise and circle of influence? I will focus on ways to ensure that cultural values of water are a factor in water management decisions. Without elaborating on the seminar that I found inspiring and how water is intrinsic to indigenous culture, I will leave you with a trailer for the documentary ‘Ringbalin’ which I saw for the first time at the seminar.

Ringbalin Trailer from Ringbalin on Vimeo.

 

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2017 Blog Navel Gaze

Grab your celebratory beverage of choice and join me as I reminisce on most viewed posts; a hilarious search term that landed a confused internet user on my blog; my wild card entry of a post that had a great impact on my creative output for the year; and finally, resolutions for 2018! Continue reading

Food for Thought

I was surprised to read a story in The Guardian this morning about legislation that has been passed in France, making it illegal for supermarkets to dispose of, or purposely spoil, surplus or out of date food. The forced act of goodwill will see supermarkets signing contracts with charities to distribute the otherwise wasted food. I think this is a great idea but a sad indictment of human nature and corporations that it has to be passed as law. The story reminded me of a poem I wrote inspired by Jean-François Millet’s The Gleaners, as well as my experiences while working at a Franprix (supermarket chain) in Paris some years ago (maybe another blog post with that story). Finishing my night shift at the supermarket, it wasn’t unusual to see people who didn’t fit the stereotype of needy or homeless rummaging through bins which overflowed with dairy produce that had passed a day or two over their best before warning, bread that had gone crusty, tomatoes that were ripe to the point of almost bursting and bananas that save for the dark brown patches, would have otherwise been edible. Well, I guess even the dark brown patches are edible when you are hungry. Anyway, I was glad to see the story and thought I’d also mention a great documentary I watched some years back on the very topic – The Gleaners and I by Agnes Varda (first four minutes below). I loved the interesting characters Varda revealed and the de-stigmatisation of surviving on what most of society deems as trash, while also highlighting the glut of food produced and wasted while so many people go hungry.

 

First published 23 May 2015.

On the Pulse

In this season of mass consumption and mass waste that leaves our planet hungover and bleary-eyed long after the party’s over, I thought it timely to share a post I wrote early last year on the impact of food choices on our planet. Further to food choices are how we source and package our foods – I have recently taken an interest in zero waste and would love to hear from people who are living a zero waste lifestyle.

Work in Progress

on the pulse(3)

We’re part way into 2016, and being February, you probably already know it’s the lunar Year of the Monkey, but did you know that 2016 is also International Year of Pulses (IYP2016)? To raise awareness of the initiative and celebrate those goodies that pack a punch in soups, dahls, curries, salads and all manner of meals, bloggers What the Ducks! and Palm Rae Urban Potager organised a blogger action day for today, and I’ve joined the bean wagon! I learnt of it via Janice at Ontheland.

The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) states that designation of IYP2016 by the 68th UN General Assembly:

…aims to heighten public awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production aimed towards food security and nutrition.

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Storyteller Series

I was lucky enough to be featured on Nadine Tomlinson’s Storyteller Series. Nadine, a friend, fellow blogger and speculative fiction writer asked great questions on creativity and life — are there any other topics worth discussing? If you want to read my thoughts on those topics, head over to Nadine’s blog where you’ll also find posts in which Nadine shares insights on the creative process and writing inspiration. Thanks Nadine, it was a real pleasure!


Welcome to Storyteller Series, where I highlight writers, authors, and those who tell, publish, and promote stories. This month, I’m featuring Mek. She was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and emigrated to Sydney, Australia at the age of six. After taking the safe route of a chemical engineering degree rather than exploring her love of art,+…

via Mek: An Artistic Storyteller — Nadine Tomlinson • Speculative Fiction Writer

Tales from the Diaspora

I’ll admit it, I hung my parents out to dry long ago. However, I am not immune to the occasional glimmer of compassion brought on by insights into the complexity of their lives and factors that contributed to making them the people I know. A recent glimmer can be traced to a late onset appreciation of The Weeknd’s I Feel it Coming. One minute I was grooving to my new favourite song, switching from the original to alternate versions including an 80s version complete with hair and outfit of that era. I also came across a cool trick to edit the url of the original to be transported to an ambient verison but I can’t remember how to do it- please let me know if you know what I’m talking about.

While I was wading in the sink hole of ProcrastYounationTube™, a video by Eritrean-American Bethlehem Awate, titled When Habesha Parents Discover the Weeknd…caught my eye, ‘Habesha’ being a loose term for people from the highlands of the Horn of Africa. For the sake of simplicity, and because I am not a scholar in the area, let’s say it is a loose umbrella term for Ethiopians and Eritreans. Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd is Canadian of Ethiopian descent. I was born in Ethiopia, moving to Australia at the age of six where I have since spent most of my life, save for a four year stint in Europe. Continue reading

Matter of Fact

I’m chuffed to have received the One Lovely Blog Award! I was nominated by reader, writer, editor, minimalist poet, new blogger WREADITOR–  go check out his blog! The honour came with the responsibility of carefully selecting seven facts about myself to share. I hope they surprise and amuse you. Some contain facts within the facts, giving you even more inside knowledge! Continue reading