Monday, November 28, 2011

the faraway shed

I have a falling down shed at the bottom of my garden.

Well that sounds a lot more grandiose than it is. The “garden” is a small backyard. The “shed” is a brick, wood and possibly asbestos structure that’s slowly being reclaimed by the elements. It’s a dusty, dirty and in parts damp, white elephant taking up far too much precious inner-city space.

Apart from discarded items earmarked for a mythical garage sale, it’s home to the bikes, old accounts and dead computers. The drier, lighter front section was the NB’s studio. When the weather was neither too hot or too cold, it served the purpose admirably.

The other week, grabbing my bike to commute to a meeting on a spectacular evening, I noticed the sun streaming perfectly onto a recently discarded chair. The next sunny afternoon I hatched a plan and the reading space was born.

You see, despite having a “room of my own”, a house actually, my attention is so often hijacked by technology. Anywhere my wireless goes, my smart phone or laptop begs for attention. How often does a quick online task turn into a long journey down the rabbit hole?

With a pile of books from the library begging to be read, I’ve begun slipping away to the shed late in the afternoon. With the light streaming in and a ridiculously comfortable chair (despite the stuffing escaping in spots), reading a chapter of a book has never been so inviting. I can’t hear the door, phone and conveniently the shed is a 3G dead spot. Perfect.

And sure it’s dirty but even the dust motes remind me of a much-loved cubby I escaped to as a child. It was a roughly assembled platform a good 10 feet up a solid tree, plywood walls and a bit of discarded corrugated iron for a roof, that had been loving assembled by the boy next door’s father. We’d hide up there for hours, reading books like The Faraway Tree, enthralled in the magical world of Enid Blyton.

Like that childhood cubby, the seasons will change and the slant of sun on the chair will shift. I’ll find a new reading spot and the dusty chair will be forgotten.

But for now I love my childhood and adult worlds colliding. And time to read? A ridiculous luxury in this digital age!

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Doyle vs Reality

Last week I went public and uploaded my bit to the Doyle Vs Reality project.

It's over 5 weeks since I sent Mr Doyle a letter, asking him to be accountable for his actions regarding sending the thugs in to break up the OM City Square camp. Sadly he's not felt the need to reply. Didn't his mother teach him manners?

Yes THAT day in October - live action outside my work

Is his mother alive? If I sent her a letter, I reckon she'd write one back.

A face only a mother could love

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

making a silk purse out of a sow's ear

This week I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of StreetSmart’s grant recipients. We got to see behind the scenes at The Social Studio and break (injera) bread with Marcus and Kelly from FareShare.

I’d heard of Fareshare, largely through @msmadwoman’s singles cooking for a cause events, but knew little of the logistics behind this burgeoning organization. These guys turn industrial quantities of donated ingredients into (correct me if I got the number wrong Marcus) half a million meals a year.

200,000 people in Victoria are classified as food insecure, regularly missing meals because they can’t afford to eat. While much of the food and labour is donated, the out of pocket cost of turning a pallet of just-within-sell-by-date-chicken into chicken pies is about 50 cents a meal. That’s the culinary equivalent of making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

Which got me thinking. Having been a victim of Westpac taking over my handpicked non-big-four bank twice now, I’m still choking on the $90 million they’ve spent to rebadge the recently acquired St George Bank back into (the previously raided and closed) Bank of Melbourne. While banks like Westpac are known for their corporate philanthropy, such as releasing staff to do voluntary work for a few days a year (in places like the FareShare kitchen) I’d have preferred they spent the money buying 180 million extra meals for disadvantaged locals.

While we’d like to think these grassroots organizations would love us to volunteer our time, in reality they’d prefer our (and the corporates) money. See the contact details below if you’d like to share the love this season.

Streetsmart: If you aren’t eating out at any participating restaurants this festive season, you can donate directly

FareShare: donate online every buck buys two meals.

The Social Studio: provides a variety of ways you can contribute to helping refugees start a new life, from having a coffee at the café or buying a new frock, to donating directly.

M.A.D Woman: has a range of innovative fundraising events for everyone (not just singles).

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

nostalgia vs trainspotting

The weird things you find on Youtube.

I grew up in a suburb 8 minutes by train to downtown Wellington. From from starting high school in the late 70's until leaving home in my second year at uni, this was my daily commute. Five tunnels and a rickety bridge. Ah, fond memories.

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Friday, November 11, 2011

occupy Jon Faine (and other Melbourne icons)

Did you catch this John Faine interview earlier in the week with Mayor Doyle?

Faine's adversarial interview style gives me the irrits. Doyle's blanket denial had me screaming at the radio. Both men I loathe.

But it's worth a listen.

One thing's for sure. Doyle saw a whole different protest to the one I witnessed.

And three weeks on, he still hasn't replied to my email.


In other news, read Suzy Freeman-Greene's opinion piece in The Age about the Occupation that another City Council and the police turn a blind eye to, despite the group's violent history.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wellington architecture

Growing up, my father documented the passing of Wellington buildings more than his own children's milestones.

Sure, there's the odd picture of one of us kids from behind staring into a gaping hole in the ground where the week before a building of note had stood (and been captured by him on his medium format camera).

Christchurch has seen so much of it's architectural landscape destroyed, first by nature then bulldozers in the name of safety, that I thought my hometown on all it's faultlines deserved a little closer attention on my recent trip.

Am hoping some Wellington friends will enlighten me to the real names of these buildings.

Once kitch, now hip - frosted stag doors at the resurrected Maranui cafe.

The old Modelcrafts and Hobbies building, now home to the Lido.

How come I never fully noticed this modern gem before? The lovely Avid gallery is on the ground floor, opposite the library.

Tower Life Building.

Tower building and that other beauty in the background opposite Queen's Wharf.

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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

adventure tourism

Most people know that the Bungy jumping empire originated in NZ. The South Island in particular is littered with dangerous sports that brings adrenaline junkies flocking from around the world. From heliskiing to white knucklewater rafting, Aotearoa has the lot.

Now a government department appears to be cashing in on the trend.

The Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority is offering bus tours of the Red Zone. The Christchurch CBD has been off limits to most Cantabrians since the February quake, now there's a partial reopening just in time for the Christmas retail rush and CERA now runs a bus trip through the changed landscape.

The terms and conditions of the tour catapult a once benign outing into an adventure sport, complete with the following disclaimer.

Terms and conditions

When you phone CERA to make a booking you will be asked to respond to questions about terms and conditions in order for the booking to be completed. These include:

“The CBD red zone is an active demolition site and it is still dangerous. Do you appreciate that despite our best efforts you could still be trapped by an earthquake or falling building in the CBD red zone and you might not survive.”

“Do you still wish to participate in this visit?”

So do you?

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