Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Portrait of an Australian Photographer!

On Sunday night, after watching The Abby, unable to sleep, I stayed tuned to the ABC for a great documentary film called 'Girl in a mirror: a portrait of Carol Jerrems' (Kathy Drayton, 2005, Australia)

(Image removed)

Vale street by Carol Jerrems (1949-1980)
(Image courtesy of National Gallery of Australian)

Once again I found myself awakened to a new understanding of my world. I had been totally ignorant of this Iconic artist until I happened across a copy of Art and Australia Magazine at the library a year or so ago! I know I'd seen several of Jerrem's images before but had never known anything about them or where the photographer was from.

After watching Girl in a mirror I realized why the images seemed slightly familiar to me. The subjects were from West Heidelberg not far from where I grew up in the 70s and 80s! The young guys in the documentary seemed so familiar to me. Memories came flooding back of a less refined, less sympathetic and slightly rougher lifestyle that greeted me as a young person at the very end of the 1970s. Transition from primary school to Tech was an abrupt upheaval into a world of toughness and occasional violence. Welcome to the real world! Some kids didn't get through that stuff in one piece, some were spat out in pieces! Somehow I survived relatively unscathed... Dumb luck I reckon!

Now after about 20 years it's fascinating to look back on that time, but not to stare. Although I was only a small kid when Carol Jerrems was photographing the gritty core of Urban Australian life the characters are very familiar to me! Somehow she manages to combine tenderness, vulnerability and strength with a very strong undercurrent of harshness!
Vale street is a totally mesmerizing and personal image!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The most terrifying video

In 'The most terrifying video' the presenter is trying to put the whole question of what can be done about global warming into a realistic and sane context. What amazes me (if you read the many thousands of comments on Youtube) is that people are so resilient to the simple proposition that they refuse to consider the question honestly.

As the Federal election looms closer and our politicians are constantly trying to score points against each other on every other front. Which of them has what it takes to commit to a strong environmental policy? It seems this game of denial will go on until the opportunity to make a difference has passed! I often wonder how the real question can be so easily avoided by diversionary tactics about technicalities or degrees of probability and responsibility and minor points in fact etc...
If you're unsure of what I'm talking about give some thought to what the guy is saying in his videos.
It's a simple matter to consider really.

Are you prepared to consider the real question? It is not a hypothetical... it is our future!

Terrifying video 1

How it all ends
(This is the video he had to make in order to counter arguments made against his original statement. The fact that people would argue against his proposition illustrates just how difficult it is to initiate any real response to the environmental problems we face)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Rapid Creek Revival

Rapid Creek Revival

So much fun! Heaps of people turned up to the Rapid Creek shops on Saturday to enjoy a full day of entertainment and community involvement. I imagine that this event was called a revival because about two or three years ago the center was in a state of decline. There was a fair bit of vandalism around the area, very few people came to shop here because there is a much bigger shopping mall not far down the road. Sometime along the way the place was re-painted and started to be re-populated with community organizations and service bodies. Now it seems the whole center is being used again. The New Environment Hub is located in the shopping center and brings together various lobby groups, there is 'Greenies' the organic food store, Napcan, Down's Syndrome association, Mat Bonson MP's office, Asian food stores, Art space and framing shop, and heaps of other community based services that I can't remember now.
At the Revival there was heaps of stuff for kids to do and most of it free. Kids were running around all over the place, painting, drawing playing games and generally having a ball! The breezeway was full of stalls and people were deeply engaged in the community building event. For me this was the first opportunity I've had to check out some of the organizations whose stores are always closed by the time I knock off work. The day was a huge success thanks to a very determined and civic minded organizer and of course all the people who came together to create a very special atmosphere.

At 4:30 I peddled off to the Casuarina coastal reserve Landcare anniversary! We all met down on the Cnr of Tiwi Gardens Rd and Rocklands. Met some very nice people and saw how effective their land management and rehabilitation program has been. These landcare groups are essential to our open spaces being maintained and kept free of weeds! The local park ranger payed tribute to their work and confessed that Parks and Wildlife would struggle to manage these spaces without their help. We wandered down to a rehab area at the Freebeach which was growing very successfully. Too bad I had to leave before the BBQ... Thanks Guys!

Protest at Mindil

where da love?
The question of the Millennium

After racing home I stripped out of my sweat drenched shirt (It's getting pretty humid these days), chucked on my black T-shirt and we all headed to Mindil beach to protest against the Federal Government's obviously racist intervention into Indigenous communities.

It may seem a bit naive and presumptuous that a bunch of mostly non-indigenous city folk should be protesting against actions that are supposed to improve the lives of aboriginal people in communities most of us have never been to. How could we possibly understand what these people need? How dare we stand against an intervention that could protect the lives and welfare of innocent children from the most deplorable treatment? Well these may be valid arguments. But as far as I can see the Governments attitude toward aboriginal people has been heavy handed and insensitive.
As an Australian citizen I am particularly concerned when I see legislation created that, with the stroke of a pen, negates rights that took so long to establish. After such a long time of neglect and dysfunction I am suspicious of this military style invasion into indigenous communities. As if they will be able to drive the problem out by force. Considering the violent history between Indigenous and Balanda people in this country I can only imagine this will further feelings of alienation and lack of respect for Indigenous peoples rights. The distinct lack of community consultation only proves the governments lack of good will towards the people they are supposed to be helping.
What has astounded me even more than the Federal Government's dubious approach to save the children, was the response within the NT! Here is where I have truly noticed racist remarks and attitudes amongst our so called leaders! Immediately after the federal Government attempted to reduce the flow of alcohol into indigenous communities the minister responsible for alcohol in the NT Mr Chris Burns took up the cause of demanding exemptions for non indigenous people entering aboriginal land! Rather than recognizing and addressing the issue of excessive alcohol consumption he chose to demand what could only be described as racially discriminatory amendments to the legislation! Surely non-indigenous Territorians and visitors are capable of refraining from drinking while they are visiting these areas! Instead of supporting indigenous communities and creating laws that apply to all people on Aboriginal land our leaders demainded exemptions that would divide Territorians along racial lines! The only premise being that the non indigenous people should not be inconvenienced in any way for the sake of indigenous communities! To add insult to injury a group of prominent CLP members even took a cruise out to the Tiwi Islands where they anchored somewhere off the coast and had a little party which included the consumption of alcohol in very close proximity to a prohibited area! Why would they do this? If this was not a deliberate act of malice against the indigenous people of the area then it was a perfect example of the complete contempt and insensitivity these people have FOR their fellow citizens!

So! I must ask the question, and with the greatest sincerity and urgency! WHERE IS THE LOVE?

When we arrived a pretty large group had already assembled and ready to take the march to the shores of Mindil beach, traditional meeting and business place of Larakia People and their neighbors. A fitting site to make a stand against an out of touch government's racist policies!

Protesters gather at the market
The crowd gathers

A banner at the beach
Can we say we've really tried to help if so many recommendations are ignored?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Socialized and happy

Lately I've pulled out all the stops and have made a conscious decision to try and expose myself to all the cool stuff going on around Darwin through the buildup and the wet.

On the weekend the family spent Sunday arvo down at the Botanic gardens for a peace/non violence day in the park! There weren't many there but we had a great time! Music, Art and a great atmosphere. What a great way to spend the afternoon!

Local Drumming group ~ They got the beat

On Monday morning a friend and I ventured down to a water hole in the Mary River area to look for Gouldian Finches. We saw a couple but the photos are quite mottled also saw an array of other birds and counted five finch species! Cool! Oh and a few wallabies and a frog!
The Agile Wallabies where all around... they were quite social, most likely just thirsty.

Agile Wallaby (Macropus agilis)

On Wednesday we had our National Ride to Work Breakfast, about 30 people turned up at CDU and I think the total for all of Darwin was about 200! Great effort. Here's to the next one.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sleep...sleep baby

Sleep? Sleep.... Sleeeeeep... One day I'll get some sleep!
Heavy bags under my eyes and manic restless thoughts flying this way and that across my easily confused and restless mind. SLEEEEP

Well I hope to get some; some time I will! The problem is... I don't want to miss a thing! But without sleep I'm kind of drifting through it all. Like a ghost, or a caffeinated zombie.

So what's been happening? There has been some encouraging developments with The Patch. There could be a future in that place yet! The weeds grow inches in days and fill every scrap of space from the ground to the sky. Heaps of work to do there.

I bought a new CD for the first time in possibly years! Yay! A group from Melbourne called Tinpan Orange, I happened to be at the Parap market last week and was blown away by their style. You can hear samples of the music if you check out their Myspace site.

Discovered some murdered magpie geese on the roadside, wondered why? Maybe there's no good reason.

Met up with Trev who I've infected with my obsession with becak/rickshaw/pedicab action. He spent some of his time looking up suppliers to help me get one and even discussed making them with some welders! Thanks Trev!
So I'm walking along the roadside with Trev, his hands bleeding, cut by the glass he'd picked up from the verge, no shoes on his feet and he tells me about the dinner he had with the Chief Minister the other night. Apparently he was one of a few Territorians wh0 had earned a special Pride of Australia medal for their service to the community! Ha! He really deserves it too!
I wondered if any of the people behind those glaring disapproving faces at Hibiscus shops had ever done a single thing for their community? I noticed a distinct hostility projecting from people when Trev and I passed by. Maybe it was because of how he was dressed or maybe it was me they didn't like.

So today is ride to work day! And I've really gotta go! I'm helping to set it up and I'm running late! Too many things so little time and not enough sleep! When can I sleep? There's so much to do, my time is finite my eyes are stinging waiting for the lids to close!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Circus kids

One of the most popular events at this years Darwin festival was the Circus tent down in the Gardens precinct. We didn't manage to get there this year but heard plenty about it!
Apparently the Corrugated Iron Youth theatre include circus training in their wide array of skills and this has been a great hit with the kids.

Every couple of weeks we have a picnic down at a local park by the sea with a loosely formed group of friends. It's a great way to relax! There are often heaps of kids and they have a great time playing, climbing, kicking a ball, or searching the rock pools etc... all the usual stuff that kids like to do. At our last picnic One enterprising young man turned up on a unicycle! It was so cool! The kid was very young and already capable of riding the thing around like it was a two wheeled bike!
What a cool thing to do! I saw a window of opportunity open for my own child who is prone to climbing to great heights then launching herself at me without warning! I have often threatened to send her off to the circus, but now it is a distinct possibility!

Kid on a uni-cycle

Friday, October 05, 2007

Who walked today?

Did anyone else walk to work today?
I didn't see any of you. On my more than 2 km walk to work today I didn't notice one other person waling to work. Why do I ask? Well it was National Walk to work day today. I am sure others did, but on a two km walk which brought me past one of the largest employment hubs of Darwin I expected to see at least a few walkers. My neighbor walks every day but must have gone earlier.

I'm glad I walked! It was such a pleasant experience all but walking past Casuarina Shopping centre where I discovered that drivers don't only try to knock over cyclists! Pedestrians are on the menu as well!
It's been more than a year since I last walked to work and actually I can't even remember the last time I walked that distance. How slack!
Thanks to whoever came up with the idea. I thoroughly enjoyed my walk. Hopefully it won't be so long until the next time.