Tag Archives: FYA

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.

 

*

 

Living Off Grid #madesimple #offgrid

IMG_4300

So I’ve mentioned before the #futurepresent residency I was part of earlier this year. And it’s been playing on my mind. Climate change. How we live. The impact my choices are having. How tough it is to make choices that reduce that impact. Where to start?

If my facebook feed is anything to go by there’s a growing interest in off grid living from both an environmental and financial perspective. During Future Present we were lucky enough to spend a day with Roberta and John in Milang, who live almost entirely off grid – including growing most of their own food. Roberta said the only things they buy from the supermarket are rice, dishwashing liquid and toilet paper and they buy fresh milk directly from the dairy down the road. Roberta and John’s place was like stepping into a whole other world, they have a beautiful sprawling garden on 3/4 of an acre with a number of larger and smaller structures and dwellings they’ve built, including a beautiful house made from predominantly recycled materials. The day spent with them is one of the Future Present site visits that’s stayed with me the most. Roberta talked a lot about the time it takes to live their lifestyle and that they love it but it is a sacrifice, there are things they actively choose to miss out on to make it easier. John and Roberta have chosen a fairly extreme version of off grid living which aligns with their other values of living a simpler life. And of course, it’s some of those sacrifices that scare others away from off grid living, the other issue of course is that even when we do want to make some off grid choices, it can be really confusing knowing where to start or knowing what will actually work with our lifestyles – particularly in relation to powering our homes.

Which brings me to my agenda in writing this post – I’ve been part of a beautiful tribe of rad young entreprenuers this year with Foundation for Young Australia’s ‘Young Social Pioneers’ and one of the rad lads from our little tribe is somewhat of an expert on off grid options and is putting together a resource for people who want to make some changes for either environmental or financial reasons (or both). They’ve just made ‘Off Grid Made Simple’ live and would love some people (other than friends and family) to jump on and test the site and make sure it’s user friendly and appealing and then provide some feedback to their team as they tweak it all and make it the best resource it can be. So dear readers – jump on, have a look and flick your thoughts through to Michael Furey (yes, he even has a superhero name!) so we can all make some simple but awesome choices about our energy use.

 

http://www.offgridmadesimple.com/

A free resource to get you on your way, get to grips with the basics and finally get you off your grid addiction, and released into a world of abundant natural energy.

future presen set

Get a REAL job #artslife

 

This life. These creative pursuits.

They are not my hobbies.

They are not something I enjoy doing and so choose to ‘find’ time for in my life.

 

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This is my life.

My career.

My journey.

Sometimes, my obsession.

And absolutely my ‘real’ job.

 

And it’s evolving all the time.

 

I’ve spent a lot of time this year trying to articulate what and why I do. Trying to pin the words to paper. Trying to find words that make sense and ring true. For me and for everyone else.

 

The other YSPers and I have given time at every residency trying to articulate our missions over the last 12months. The ‘why’ driving what we each do. We’ve brainstormed together and solo. We’ve written and spoken draft after draft after draft. And I’ve struggled. Really struggled to pin to paper what it is I do and why.

 

For anyone who lives a creative life or a life that’s ‘offbeat’ in any other way, you know why you do it and what it is. And you know how hard it is to explain to everyone else what it is and why you do it. It’s something that has no words because it needs no words for you. It just makes sense (you think). It’s what you do and who you are. So when someone asks you to put it into words, it’s pretty darn difficult.

 

This year I’ve played with and explored various mission and vision statement iterations, including:

 

  • I want to be the kind of person that offers something meaningful to the world. The kind of person who experiences life as frightening, confusing and painful but as deeply, deeply precious and worth my effort.

 

  • Our mission is to create systematic change in how people think about failure. For us that means making quiet trouble with everyone we meet by interrogating and responding to rage inducing situations through an artistic lens.

 

  • My personal mission is to continue striving for opportunities for myself and others to claim our sorrows as a journey to joy and to create space in our lives to sing our heartsongs with passion, hope and courage.

 

  • We empower and enable regional communities to reshape and claim personal and civic narratives using an artistic lens.

 

  • We challenge communities and individuals to reclaim failure as a crucial ingredient in resilience and joy.

 

  • Our mission is to challenge and inspire young people in regional communities to use to arts as a mechanism for social change and empowerment. As part of this mission we also support regional communities to support and foster the skills and aspirations of their young people.

 

  • My mission is to use the arts to be an agent of change – to inspire, support and provoke individuals and communities to actively shape the world around them for the better.

 

  • I bring together professional artists, doers, thinkers and change makers to work with young people as mentors and provocateurs on community arts projects to unlock their possibility.

 

All of these things are partly or wholly true, but still none of them quite sit right. They feel too full of jargon or they rest on old ideas about myself (and how I work) so don’t capture the space I’m really in RIGHT NOW.

 

At ATF last year OK Radio asked why Theatre?

“Theatre people are all very nice people […] And I wonder if that is our problem,” asked Liska. “We choose an art form where we can sit next to each other and touch each other and we’re very good people.”

“Revolutions are not often caused by polite people, or good people,” said Cooper. “Sometimes we wonder if we have to stop making art to get something done. I really like art but I have a lot of questions about what it’s good for and if it’s needed.”

–        Kelly Cooper and Pavol Liska (OK Radio, Nature Theater of Oklahoma)

 

Last month during Future Present, surrounded by a bunch of socially aware artists, again this idea. Why art? Is that the best use of your time, does it actually achieve your mission? Or would you be better off using your time as an activist, a social worker, a teacher, a farmer?

 

And going deeper throughout YSP, talking about ‘impact’ – how do you measure it? What impact does your work actually have (and is it the impact you want to have)? How can you have the greatest impact with the limited hours in your life?

 

I care about many things. I believe in changing the world. As more than just rhetoric. I believe I have a responsibility to leave the world better than I found it. To use whatever small skills and talents I have to help. I love teaching and advocating and activating and making and creating. I am driven to do many things. I am also a parent, a lover, a daughter, a sister, a friend. My time is limited and precious.

 

And so, I toss these questions around. Over and over. In my head. In my mouth. On paper. I spin myself around in circles. The questioning is hard, partly because there is no one answer. And there is no clear answer. And mostly because no one can answer for me, what it means for ME, only I can discover that.

 

Last night I stumbled across a free ebook titled “Making Your Life As An Artist” and though I didn’t relate to every single word, the book as a whole REALLY resonated with me.

 

There were moments when I read a paragraph and realised I was holding my breath, caught in these words someone else had pinned to paper and how they so neatly echo words I’ve circled around and around and come back to in my own heart.

 

“Just like scientists, we begin with a question, something we don’t know.

We go into our studio and research that question.

(…)

Just as in science, a negative result is as important as a positive result.

Finding that a certain drug does not cure cancer is a crucial discovery. And an artistic experiment that fails produces important information.

When you are working beyond what is known, when you are questioning assumptions that haven’t been questioned, you generate a lot of useful failure.

Failure in science and art is a sign that the process is working.

(….)

diverse ecosystems
 are more resilient, more able to respond to disturbance. The same is true of culture. Diversity of thought and imagination makes us more culturally resilient, more able to thrive in times of great change.

– Andrew Simonet (Making Life As an Artist, ebook)

 

Many things that had me nodding along. Catching my breath. Gripping the edge of the computer. But perhaps most of all this:

 

Artists have a lot of effects on the world: our work impacts education, citizenship, multiculturalism, urban renewal. But those are effects of our role; they are not the role.

Our role is to ask rigorous and reckless cultural questions, do our research, and share the results. When we do our role well, all kinds of other things happen.

– Andrew Simonet (Making Life As an Artist, ebook)

 

And so last night I sat and I wrote exactly in the moment who I am and what I’m doing (or trying to do). The last seven or so years of thinking, dreaming and doing coalescing and coming together to pin some words to paper.

 

It’s not finished, because it’ll never be finished. I’m evolving and growing all the time. And that’s okay. It’s G.E. for right now.

 

Transparency and sharing the journey publicly (to be of benefit to others) is important to me. So, you can read the words I finally pinned to paper last night where they’ve become my new ‘about’ section here.

 

I’m feeling good. It’s nice.

 

Sydney Silence #poetry

Softly

Fall

On skylights

On tall ships

On hair curled

Straightened

Softened with longing

Pitch your voice to me

Raindance your inner song.