Confessions of a Door-knocker

I’ve been non-existent in the blog-o-sphere for a while now, primarily because the time I had set aside has been taken up by my new hobby, federal politics. Not a phrase I expected to be writing either, because generally speaking the state of federal politics in Australia isn’t inspiring, although like a train smash you can’t help but watch it unfold.

I was keen to get a peek at the system from the inside, and when the opportunity came up to join a volunteer program for the only Green’s MP in the federal parliament it was too good a chance to miss. For someone writing a blog based on issues of sustainability supporting the Green’s is pretty much a fait accompli, but having to consciously reflect on why I vote Green, and to then share this reasoning with complete strangers has been a bit of an eye opener. The fact that the current government decided to call an early election and pitch my eager but inexperienced self unexpectedly into a federal campaign was a complete bonus.

Yes ladies and gentleman, I have become one of ‘those’ people. I turn up on your doorstep on a sunny Saturday morning with clip board in hand, and just as you’re starting to think about the options for a fun filled weekend of debauchery and excess, are sidetracked by a super sincere and enthusiastic member of the public enquiring as to your political viewpoint and the issues that matter to you. Unsurprisingly the vast majority of you aren’t home. Hello! There is a federal election happening people, “Keep Calm and Keep at Home” should be your mantra from this point forward, otherwise anyone could get elected in this country, yes I’m looking at you Ricky Muir.

door_knocking

What has most impressed me about the Australian electorate so far is their capacity for quick thinking. I don’t want to give anyone ideas but the range of diversionary tactics has been quite impressive, although the give away is the complete look of horror on your face as you open the door and realise that I am not a welcome friend/lover/pizza delivery. The most audacious approach, and not one I could successfully pull off myself, is to pretend that no one is knocking on the door. There are a surprisingly large amount of audibly active households who ignore the plaintive sound of my door-knocking or bell ringing. Beyond that the time poor explanations are sound but not always supported by visible evidence. If I had a dollar for every person who was ‘just leaving for work’, ‘too busy studying’, ‘on Skype with my family’, or ‘changing the baby’s nappy’ I’d be able to pay my children their pocket money on a more regular basis. In many respects though I appreciate your attempt to let me down easy, as if nothing in the world would have made you happier than to have a chat, but the universe had sadly devised to keep us apart.

In comparison there is a small percentage of Australians’ who have no compunction in making it clear that they would rather walk on sharp blood letting objects for many, many hours than share a thought or two on the state of the nation. I appreciate your honesty, if not the the door closing forcefully in my direction. Equally, there is small percentage of enthusiastic, communicative, and open residents who enjoy a chat about whats going on in the world and how to go about fixing the things that frustrate them. To these people I say thank you – my faith in humanity is restored each and every time you stop to meaningfully engage with a complete stranger on your door step (I bet the Mormon’s just love you too).

And to the comfortably retired curmudgeon who’s chief concern was maintaining his superannuation funds in the face of a) lazy, stupid and entitled young people aka “welfare bludgers”, b) “millions of refugee’s” flooding into Australia, c) “Do-gooders” like me,   and d) “socialist loopy’s like Bernie Sanders” I salute you for having the courage to fiercely resist all of the changes that have occurred in the world since 1989. Let me know how that works out for you.

 

 

 

Transitions Film Festival Melbourne: 18th Feb – 3rd Mar (Cinema Nova)

Choose your poison, there are any number of great documentaries on offer for your viewing delight, starting today –

The Transitions Film Festival is visionary program dedicated to spotlighting the complex challenges, cutting-edge ideas, creative innovations and mega-trends that are redefining what it means to be human.

We present positive, solutions-focused films and showcase cutting-edge ideas from around the world, along with the creative, academic, governmental, community and business leaders who are creating change locally.

 

Sustainable Living Festival: Melbourne 6-28 Feb.

Looking for some action this February in Melbourne? A smorgasbord of sustainability ideas are served up to you on a platter at the Sustainable Living Festival in and around the streets of Melbourne – can’t wait!

The Sustainable Living Festival aims to accelerate the uptake of sustainable living and seeks solutions to global warming that will return the planet to a safe climate as fast as humanly possible. The Festival raises awareness and provides tools for change by showcasing leading solutions to the ecological and social challenges we face.
The Festival’s three week program engages individuals and communities across Victoria to host and promote sustainability events. Celebrating the very best examples of ecological and social sustainability the event embraces interactive workshops, talks, demonstrations, artworks, exhibits, films and live performances

October is Food Month

How we produce, consume and dispose of food is critical to creating a sustainable future for cities.

image courtesy of www.dur.ac.uk
image courtesy of http://www.dur.ac.uk

October is a hotbed of foody action for you to explore, with anything from organics, nutrition, carbon footprints and food security all getting an opportunity to promote their value. Jump on-line to explore in more detail:

People’s Climate March November 27-29 2015

Coming up in November is the world wide ‘Peoples Climate March’ event. With momentum building towards the Paris Climate Conference, what better way to get involved in your nearest city (and way cheaper than a ticket to Paris). From what I can ascertain on the web and the airwaves, every group you can imagine engaged with the environment or issues of social justice and equality is facilitating participation at the event.

Image courtesy of www.climateactionmorland.org
Image courtesy of http://www.climateactionmorland.org

Check for your local arrangements, put the date in your calendar, and if you’re in Melbourne (November 27th, 5.30pm) I hope we’ll be standing shoulder to shoulder.

World Cities Day October 31st 2015

Is it coincidence that the UN’s World Cities Day falls on the same day as Halloween? I’m imagining a zombie apocalypse tearing through the streets of New York as a fantastic awareness raiser.

Image courtesy of www.bloombergview.com
Image courtesy of http://www.bloombergview.com

This years theme is based on promoting togetherness and harmony, making our cities and neighbourhoods inclusive and liveable (definitely not Zombies then).

FareShare Kitchen Garden

“Urban agriculture is about food reliance: it involves creating work and is a reaction to food insecurity, particularly for the poor… Many who move to urban areas do not find the jobs and opportunities they seek. Therefore, adopting UA is a common survival strategy used by the poor not only to deal with food security and poverty, but also to organise with fellow citizens and improve the quality of life of their communities.” Mark Redwood

I had the good fortune to intern with FareShare in late 2014 and saw first hand the amazing work they do to rescue food that would otherwise end up in landfill, and cook 1 million+ meals to feed those in need in and around Melbourne.

If that wasn’t challenging enough, FareShare has recently announced a new project, to grow its own significant quantities of fresh vegetables and produce on vacant land found within the city boundaries.

Image courtesy of www.fareshare.net.au
Image courtesy of http://www.fareshare.net.au

This need exists because urban expansion and the evolution of globalised, industrial-scale agriculture and food supply chains have led to the virtual disappearance of agriculture from many cities. Consequently, many cities face huge logistical challenges in importing food from distant locations and are left vulnerable to changes in food production in these locations, to rises in food transport costs or disruptions to the supply chain. The resulting reliance on imported food has a large social cost, as poor urban residents are the most vulnerable and have the greatest difficulty in accessing affordable food, along with significant environmental impacts.

The potential benefits of supporting urban agriculture are huge:

  • Creation of greater food security, and employment, especially for the poor
  • Saving of transportation and infrastructure costs
  • Mental health and wellbeing
  • Social capital and community pride

Worldwide examples of urban agriculture include:

The urban environment doesn’t need to be a barren, soulless place. Far from it, as cities become increasingly more dense and complex, food as a force for restoration, nourishment and replenishment will only become more important to the people and communities that inhabit our cities. When combined with other key elements such as nature and water, we can create a holistic and synergistic approach promoting health and wellbeing, vibrancy, biodiversity, and an urban metabolism that mimics nature.

Newsflash: If this wasn’t enough, FareShare have announced a new initiative, ‘The Garden Collective’, with three pilot schools (Fitzroy High, Northcote High and Glenroy Neighbourhood Learning Centre) all contributing food from their harvests to the FareShare kitchen. Another great example of combining community resources to achieve a more sustainable city.