Monthly Archives: December 2014

Another Deck #writeme30


Layers too vague/ too sunk in history stink/ too heavy with rant/ go flag wave in some other window/ we don’t want it//


The Photo:


American Flag photo from Ben Duggan                              Photo supplied by Ben Duggan


The Response:


I’ve started and changed this response three times. Because there are many things this particular photo stirs in me.


I started thinking about the American education system, which got me thinking about the Australian education system and the many complex feelings and interactions I’m having with our system. I’m not in the right head space to share some of that, and also because of how it reflects on my son’s experience, I’m wary of both how I represent him and respect his privacy. I need to percolate more to find the right time and way to share some insights on that one.


The other big thing that sprang to mind in response to a photo of the American flag is #blacklivesmatter, which hopefully you’ve already seen and read about all over the internet. (If not, some places to start here and here and here). This is an important movement and conversation and I think the backlash against it speaks volumes.


Then I realized I was over thinking it all and trying to come up with something intelligent to add to the conversation and actually I’ve got nothing to add. Except my support that #blacklivesmatter.


So then what else could I write about for this #writeme30 post? My last few posts have all been quite personal and heavily poetic/creative writing. I wanted to step away a little this week and do some a bit more non-fiction.


So flags huh? Oh yeah flags.


Flags are a powerful symbol. We use them to show our allegiance, our pride, our sense of connection to a place and associated ideas of that place. How unfortunate that the Australian flag represents such a narrow experience of what it means to be Australian. And how unfortunate that it is most often flown by ‘everyday’ people in a show of racism dressed up as patriotism.


“In representing only Australia’s British heritage, the flag is anachronistic, and does not reflect the change to a multicultural, pluralist society. In particular, the flag makes no mention of indigenous Australians, many of whom regard the Union Jack as a symbol of colonial oppression and dispossession.”

– Source unknown


When the flag was decided on (by voting on competition entries) it was 1901. Aboriginal people still had murky voting rights and certainly considering how racist we still are – who do you think ‘decided’ on our flag and who and how it would represent us? #justsaying


Symbols can and do change over time. And so they should. Words come to mean new things. New information and sophistication in our thinking changes how we view events and ideas from the past. And so it should. So it should.


Our flag is frozen in time. It doesn’t represent who we even were then, let alone who we are now. Nor does our national anthem. So why do people want to hold on so tightly to a symbol that’s past it’s use by date? To hold onto a symbol that discounts the history and feelings of our first peoples (not to mention our new peoples)? Why does the mere suggestion of changing our flag create such anger and hostility?


Why, indeed?


And then after all of this stopping and starting and digging for something to say for this post – I realized that actually that’s all I really want to say about flags too.


“Sheldon Cooper: Why are you waving a white flag?

Amy Farrah Fowler: I’m surrendering… to fun!”

– Big Bang Theory


The Contributor:


Ben Duggan, founder of Raising Hope and another of the YSP tribe. Bless his cotton socks. Ben is embarking on a new adventure next year with Teach For Australia. He is pretty much a rockstar in a well tailored suit. I’m a fan.




Access Denied #writeme30


Sand breathers/ envious and bitter/ in tight skin and mottled waves/ they’ve waited their turn/ for you//


The Photo:

Beach Access photo from Ashlee Harrison                              Photo supplied by Ashlee Harrison


The Response:


Everyone longs for the beach. They talk about long summer days. Tans. Waves.




Not so much.


I love the idea of the ocean. I’m awed by it’s scale. It’s depth. It’s mystery. The sound of crashing waves. I love the taste of salt.


And I do like to visit the beach.


For maybe half an hour.


To stroll along while I eat an icecream.


After that?


I am mostly bored.


So the beach. Not so much.


I have a beautiful office a stone’s throw away from a gorgeous, picture perfect beach. It’s fairly wasted on me. I think sometimes a lot of wonderful things are wasted on me. Not because I don’t appreciate them. I do appreciate them in the sense that I feel grateful for the offers, the opportunities, and in that I recognize the enormous worth of every (well, most) single thing placed into my hands. Sometimes too much. But wasted in the sense that in the year I’ve had that office, in all the lunch breaks I’ve had, I’ve visited that beautiful beach once. Just once. And I think about all the people who long for the beach, whose souls are fed by its sights and sounds and who are stuck in tiny cubicles in the middle of the CBD.


I have other privileges I haven’t asked for.


I am white.


I am Australian.


And despite a less than stellar start to adulthood, I also now fit (rather awkwardly) into the ‘middleclass’ (whatever that means).


I didn’t ask for those privileges. I didn’t seek them. But I do benefit from them. In large and in subtle ways. On a daily basis.


I have a friend who loves the beach. She yearns for it. She works in remote Australia far away from the beach. She can’t visit the beach on her weekends. But she can see my Instagram photos of my visits to the beach. She can live vicariously through the access I provide. If I visited the beach more.


This is a bigger conversation I’m having with myself.



I don’t know what I’m trying to say with all of this exactly. Just that, it matters to me. Trying to find a way. To find justice. To have access. To share this light, this love, this world.


Access denied/ the way forward/ cleared with love/ words shouted into the wind/ together, or alone/ we must/ breathe//



The Contributor:


Ashlee Harrison. Clipboard Queen. Superhero in heels. Zero to Hero CEO.

“Cut the fluff.”


Another precious member of the YSP tribe. Check out and support her phenomenal work with Zero to Hero here.

Zero to Hero delivers school based programs to empower and educate young people to effectively deal with mental health issues.


What is #writeme30?