Buttons and bread

Buttons

Buttons are small daily objects that quietly connect things. They join things up, they hold us together. This blog features buttons as a way of reminding us of the little things that lie behind the actions we take to build strong communities.

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The other part of this blog’s title represents the nourishment we get from participating in community life and that we can offer to others also. It is not the nourishment of the exotic, but the everyday sustenance of regular connections, ongoing work and play – bread rather than caviar.

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I am woman (part 2)

It’s 125 years since (white) women got the vote here in South Australia as well as the right to stand for parliament. I was at the library the other day, and the Council have put up images there of local women who, over the decades, have contributed to public and community life here in our part of the world. As well as these (slightly) more celebrated women, I think often of the many many women who make the world go around in the public and the private spheres, doing behind the scenes, often pedestrian work to get things happening and keep them going. The minutes that are written, the phone calls made, the food given to a neighbour in need. Those who give people lifts and teach them how to use technology and write grant applications and clean up after the meeting and remember birthdays and pick up the kids and clean the house and do the washing and and make the costume for the parade and organise fundraisers and visit those who are ill and all the rest. I know it’s been said a million times before, but let’s face it, women rock! We really really rock…

Here are a few pics of those local women (with shadows of surrounding trees marbling their images). (When you click to enlarge an image you should be able to read a little about each of them.) Let’s remember and celebrate the challenges and actions of women who came before us – the risks they took, the commitment they showed – and keep encouraging each other to go for justice and a better world now.

[The theme of this post, the power and importance of women in the world, has been highlighted in this blog before . That post includes a link to a version of the song ‘I am woman’ that I really like. I have put it in again this time, below the pictures…]

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Surprising creatures in daily life

Part 1: a sort of poem.

I went to a meeting for work this week – a regional gathering of people working in the hoarding and squalor space. There were a lot of people there, and lots of energy to find better ways to work together and support the people we work with. There were folk from many different agencies – the fire brigade, mental health, aged care, health, local government, community services, NDIS, and on and on. I arrived a bit late, and sat up the back, next to a woman from the RSPCA. I didn’t notice to begin with that she had a cage near her, filled with towels and woollen bundles, until I heard a little cheep-cheep. Turns out she had a couple of tiny birds with her, in a woollen pouch to keep them warm and in the dark. Real life tamagotchi babies that have to be kept close by. She showed us  after the meeting – a baby wattlebird and a baby magpie. Gorgeous. I took a couple of snaps – not very good ones, but you will get the idea… It was almost like having an actual metaphor in the room with us as we talked about overcoming big challenges for people struggling with trauma and workers struggling to get resources to help. Baby birds being supported to live, close to us all.

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Wattlebird on the left, Magpie on the right

Just to give a clearer idea of what the babies look like I have found a couple of pictures on the net – first wattlebird chicks and a couple of shots of baby magpies

Part 2: the house mascot

Early in the week I was momentarily shocked to see out of the corner of my eye a big green creature on the fence outside our building. On closer inspection it was only a child’s stuffed alligator, perhaps fallen out of a stroller, that someone had placed there, in an obvious place, so that if the family came looking they could find it again. It’s still there today, and I find it cheering and funny. A mascot for us here at Beacon Lodge, a playful guardian in the garden…

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I feel she needs a name… Gloria the ‘gator perhaps?

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With One Voice

Yesterday was party time for the choir I am part of, the ‘With One Voice’ choir. We had our end of year concert at Kingston Park, with families and friends present, and beautiful food and more music afterwards. Choir is a very happy weekly uplift for me – Wednesday nights after work, with a bunch of very pleasant people and the fantastic Heather and Michelle at the helm. We have supper afterwards and it has been really enjoyable to get to know more folk local to where I live, and to reconnect with some old pals too. It’s also been fantastic to be part of something that I don’t do much to organise!! Yesterday I provided some of my (over-)large supply of preserves to the raffle prizes, and did minimal other little jobs, but crikey did I appreciate the work of the committee and the other helpers. Without the behind the scenes people in any community venture – in this case doing things like organising food (which was spectacular), setting up the venue, coordinating raffle prizes, getting the sound organised, staffing and setting up the bar, setting up the tables, bringing tablecloths and flowers, printing the song sheets, packing up afterwards, doing dishes, organising the recycling of disposable plates and doubtless many more – nothing would happen.  It was a really good afternoon/evening! (Here are some pics – double click to enlarge as usual.)

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Dancing towards a better world

It was the 30th anniversary dinner for the Graham Smith Peace Trust last night. Guest speaker was Garry Stewart, artistic director for 20 years now of the Australian Dance Theatre. I love ADT and going to dance performances generally, so it was really interesting to hear from him. He started in the dance world after seeing a performance when he was a student – of social work no less – as a 19 year old. He said his calf muscles (or was it his legs, feet) ached every night for two years when he first started learning. He was quite old (for a dancer I mean) when he began, and had absolutely no background for this kind of life (not even sport he said), so what an amazing move to make.

I like to think that his social work orientation was not entirely lost though, in some of the more political work that he has done, and which he spoke about. Performances about refugee issues, terrorism (including a local connection with a performance about David Hicks and his detention in Guantanamo), robotics, movement and (dis)ability, the environment, nature, the self and more; community dance and indigenous connections. He also spoke about the way dance connects us with the earth, grounds us. How it  enables communication without a common verbal language. He showed clips – I just love the way people move! (Here is something from You Tube to give you a flavour…)

And here is another with highlights from a piece about identity and the body..

 

There are heaps of ways to change the world, and changing it in our own way, doing our own thing and using our own particular talents and passions is inspiring to hear about and to take heart from. Hearing Garry’s story, and hearing again about the Graham Smith and the Peace Trust made for an uplifting and moving night. I was reminded of the story from Rebecca Solnit (again! I have a thing about her at the moment obviously!) about a species of moth which feeds on the tears of sleeping birds. She writes: “Moths drink the tears of sleeping birds. The birds sleep on, inadvertent givers. The moths fly on, enriched. We feed on sorrows, on stories, on the spaciousness they open up when they let us travel in our imagination beyond our own limits, when they dissolve the boundaries that confine us and urge us to extend the potentialities of our imperfect, broken, incomplete selves…”

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Pam and the joeys

An old friend of this blog, the lovely Pam, sent through an update from her life in WA this week. Pam wrote a number of stories in the early days, including some of our most popular ones including this one about her favourite tree and this one about pottery and change. It was great to hear from her and about her adventures as a wildlife rescuer, and to see some pics of the little joeys she is caring for. Pam has such a great spirit and strength. She has been through a lot in her life, so it is fantastic to hear that she is having some fun now. 

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Hi all. There are a lot of people on here I don’t know anymore but I wanted to tell you a little about my life. I now live in Albany in WA which is an amazing place. Today is the 5 year anniversary since I left Adelaide. We left with basically nothing – we didn’t even have a clean pair of knickers or jocks but we had the boys bikes and the cat and dog which was extremely important and in this five years so much has happened it’s like I’ve lived two lives. The boys are growing up so much – in this time Mitchell has even left home. Now I have mentioned Mitchell I’ll tell you a little bit about this child. One day he came into the bedroom and said ‘Mum, I’ve been asked to join the junior council members for Albany’ and I said how did you do that and he said I wrote a letter because I was concerned about the suicide rate in Albany and that there was nothing for Albany teens to do so he became a member of the Albany council. There was a picture of him in the newspaper because he got a huge amount of money for a new skatepark to be put in. He organises competitions and lots of other things. I went to watch and there’s all these people going ‘good job Mitchell’, ‘well done’ and I didn’t even realise he was doing all this. He is an amazing person.

Next an update on me. I always thought that my life would be just about kids cause that’s all I ever knew and that’s all I ever wanted to do was look after kids since I was 17. Well I found new things. When the government gave me this house I actually cried because I was so sad and disappointed and thought how bad this house looked there was nothing out the back just weeds. But since then the boys and I put in the decking together. We have put in a pond and veggies, fruit trees and a garden. I have included some pictures  for you to see. I have always wondered why I was given this big butt – so that I could shuffle around on it to pull out the weeds!

 

The other passion in my life is my Joeys. I became a carer for rescued baby kangaroos. I had a mentor who taught me how to look after them; I go to the meetings (yes Elizabeth shock horror I go to meetings!) and I do rescues and I look after the babies afterwards. I adore my Joeys; as you will see in the pictures they take up most of my backyard. They’re always jumping around in the backyard. Over here in WA they go to soft release and then they are set free in the state forest but I know that in South Australia you’re not allowed to let them go. They are an amazing creature and I absolutely love doing this.

I know this probably sounds like a bit of a brag but it’s ok to have a bit of a brag because I’ve done well and I’m proud of what I’ve done and I’ve come along way. There’s a lot of help along the way but you do get there in the end and if you don’t give up it does get better and better until you are living your best life which I am doing. I have had babies since I was 17 and didn’t think I was capable of much else. Well I realise I’m a capable of a lot and yes there are bad days but the good days outweigh the bad so if you are having a struggle please keep going just for a few more days because you never know what day things will get better – but they will. Please enjoy my photos – I have more photos of Joeys than I have my own kids! They are all unique just as our kids are. Thank you Elizabeth for letting me tell you or about my life. Lots of love Pam

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Sweet protest

Adani

Black throated finch

Last week was national bird week. Among other activities, there has been a ‘backyard count’ throughout Australia and there is a vote going on for the country’s favourite bird. It’s a two stage process this year, with a ‘run-off’ second round after narrowing the field to a final 10. I was very chuffed to see, when I voted myself in round 1, that the little endangered finch which is threatened by the proposed Adani coal mine in Queensland is in the lead. I gather that lots of conservation and environmentally aware people are using this as a gentle way to raise awareness and make a point. Great!

If you are interested in having a look at the field and casting your vote, here is the link

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Colour and succulents

It was Deirdre’s birthday this week – she had a party yesterday to celebrate. She and David have fairly recently (in the past couple of years or so) bought a house after renting forever. It is a weird transition sometimes; the responsibility of debt a bit freaky in my memory, the ‘permanence’. Deirdre has appeared here before – she is wired for colour and vibrancy – and her new place reflects that big time. One of the benefits of your own place is that you can decorate how you want, and they have taken to the color theme in a bold and glorious way. Yesterday we birthday guests participated in this process of moving from a neutral, ‘tasteful’  palette to something much wilder and warmer. It was fun.

Here are some pics – a kind of before through to after (click to enlarge as usual)…

Everyone had a good time – Layla was great as a kind of coordinator and others of us did bits or cheered from the sidelines. I did a little bit of the top yellow layer and some of the yellow drips, but mostly took pics thinking of this blog (a kind of virtual neutral wall that I paint week after week).

Here are some other photos of Deirdre’s colourful place and her succulents…

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