Buttons and bread


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.


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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Making things (happen)

As a bit of a follow up to last week’s blog post and the power of working with others to create change in the world, I read something that I found interesting and inspiring during the week. On the surface it is about art, but it is also about changing the world and making things happen, a bit at a time and also on a larger scale. It’s about living an active and collaborative life and reaching for ways to make things better. The book it came from is called Draw your Weapons by Sarah Sentilles, and she is referencing someone called Elaine Scarry, who wrote a book (in the 1980’s) called “The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World”. Here is the quote:

“Art – bringing a physical object into the world where there previously was not one – illustrates on a small scale what’s possible on a larger scale… You imagine ————– and you paint ————. You take something from inside your mind and put it out in the real world – from my head to my hand, from my head to your hand – which means that what was once inside your mind is now shareable. Imagining a city, you make a house… Imagining a political utopia, you help build a country. Imagining the elimination of suffering in the world, you nurse a sick friend.

…[T]he creation of an artifact – a sentence, a cup, a piece of lace – [is] a fragment of world alteration. And if you can make these smaller changes, …if you can alter the world in fragments, just think what can be imagined together, what might be possible in community: a total reinvention of the world.”

Another angle on this is that those fragments of world alteration that we are all part of here in our everyday mundane and ordinary lives, ‘change the world’ because we are part of the world, and if things change here the world as a whole is a little bit different as a result. I love this thought as I beaver away at work or in the community – it doesn’t seem like much, and in many ways of course it isn’t and can’t be – but we are in the world and our little moves forward are part of the big picture.

(Pictures today from the internet, illustrating lace and cups as per the quote above, plus the covers of the books mentioned.)



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I went to the Art Gallery last night and saw the exhibition of Aboriginal art that is part of the Tarnanthi Festival. It was all really beautiful and thought provoking, and I could have spent hours more time there (but they closed!). One of the pieces was called ‘Every face has a story, every story has a face: Kulila!’. I have taken photos of it above, including the comment made by the artists, and a list of their names. (Here is a link to a page on the Art Gallery’s website that includes more info and better pictures!)

I was particularly struck that the word Kulila means Listen. The women work together to make their sculptures and talk over their lives while they do so, so they can make their lives better. What a gift this must be, to talk and listen and make together, something women have been doing for a long long time.

The rest of the title of the work also affected me – every face does have a story and every story does have a face – this is something that I know really well from work; talking and listening to lots of different people with lots of experiences and stories and faces over a long period of time. And the listening, exploring, working things out does make a difference, does make things better (often), as the artists’ statement above says… not just for the ‘faces’ – the individuals involved, but also for the ‘stories’ – the issues and concerns and social challenges that people live with and through. Working together creatively, listening to each other, leads in quiet ways to a different world.


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Two galahs, evening, the last sunset

As a last reflection on 2017, here are some pictures I took in Auburn, mostly on the last night of the year, of the beautiful evening and the sunset from the top of the hill (a place I have photographed before for this blog). It’s hard to take sunset snaps directly, but I have put them in to give a sense of the quiet and the beauty. The galahs and the moon were taken a night or so earlier.


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The large and small – an end of year walk

I went for a walk tonight – my last beach walk for the year as I will go to Auburn tomorrow. It was beautiful out, and lots of ordinary-but-not-if-you-look things to see along the way. Here are the pics I took, with captions if you click on them, to describe what is going on (though it is obvious mostly!), from evidence of air, to marching birds, to washing birds, to flowers and feathers and geology and the moon, sand and sea, long views and close ups. The world is gorgeous in big and little ways isn’t it?

Happy New Year!

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Taking the plunge

Here’s a video to get us in the mood for jumping into adventure (or not) in the new year!

Go for it!

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Christmas flowers (hint: not holly)

It’s funny how we here in the southern summer have so completely taken on northern hemispherical ideas about Christmas – the snow and wintry looks to so many cards, the Christmas decorations daubed with pretend snow and the ‘frosted’ trees. Yesterday at work someone brought in shortbread they had made and sprinkled with icing sugar ‘for snow’ she said. Then of course there is the red of holly berries, a bit of brightness in a grey world in winter, but here it’s not to be seen (we have the plant but not the berries).

Here, to go with long, light days and blasting sun we have a million agapanthus plants. I know I have said that before about strelitzias, but truly, ag’s are in every other garden or more, and in car parks and public parks and in drifts along verges and in singles in odd places. And it’s Christmas when this happens. And agapanthus means “love flower” in Greek, so it’s on the money there too symbolically. Perhaps we should assert a cultural/climatic/seasonal/geographical/botanical difference and have blue and green as the colours of the season and on cards and Christmas dec’s (the flowers have a very convenient round shape – easy to turn snowy baubles into floral ones). What do you think??

Here are some shots of the gazillion plants that are about (including one shot of a white flowering agapanthus – which are also around but not in quite such numbers as the blue). I could take another hundred in half an hour…

Wishing you all happy times over the coming week!

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Kangaroo loose in the back garden

I went to see Nicky in Port Willunga a few days ago, for her birthday. It was a lovely evening and great to celebrate a good friend by sharing a meal on the back decking of their recently renovated place.

Anyway, we were enjoying the ambience of a summer evening, when we were joined by… a kangaroo of all things, which came into the garden and had a very long drink from the birdbath. It was a lovely sight, and a special birthday treat, although we were a bit worried that maybe it was not in the best of shape, and it did have some difficulty working out how to get out of the yard. After it found the gate it went across the road to the front door of the neighbour’s house – the kids called out to their parents that there was a kangaroo at the door! The snaps I took aren’t fantastic but you get the idea…

Not quite sure if there is a metaphor in it, but happy birthday Nicky, and may all your birdbaths be visited by marsupials!


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