Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The 'C' is for Curmudgeon - why Xmas need not be so gross.


Yep, it’s that time again. Minds are lost, stress levels rise and we all go a little ‘na’nas trying to figure out which throw away gift will best provide momentary gratitude and fleeting approval. Schedules are juggled as we try and figure how much we can fit in our fridge; the whole idea of ‘sustainable living’ is shirked as a tad unrealistic as we find ourselves thinking, who the hell has the time to find/make biodegradable baubles and vegan mince pies?

Junk and stuff is gathered - lights, tinsel, stars, hats; food pushes the insides of your belly so hard buttons erupt. Momentarily we’ll pause to how wasteful, silly and cruel Christmas is as we’re advertised to by sweltering young Indian students dresses as Santa hold ‘Christmas Mega Sale’ signs.

And for those die-hards who make the effort to be sustainable during the silly season (we applaud you), it’s not always so easy to enforce your ideas onto others.

But then again, maybe it is? Here are some common silly season scenarios that are just begging for not only a sustainable bur practical and humane touch – warm and fuzzies guaranteed.

a) Kris Kringle

No it’s not fair! You have to buy something for your [insert obligatory recipient]. Thanks to Kris Kringle, most of us will end up in an awkward buying position- especially if you draw a work colleague or family member you don’t rate/know/like the smell of. What to do?

b) Person you have the hots for or would really like to impress

This time of year is also the time where that casual fling might just turn into a budding romance and is the perfect time to make the move on someone you’ve been eyeing off all year. What better way to say ‘so…how bout it?’ that with an excellent little gift – but what to give?

c) You’re a jerk

There’s also the situation where at sometime throughout the year you have been a real little (or big) jerk. You may have drunkenly said something that hurt the cleaners feelings, fed your ciggy butts to the dolphins, revelled in polystyrene, flown across the world a few times – something that warrants absolution. Help is at hand.

The answer:

The good folks at A4UNHCR, Australia’s branch of the United Nations Refugee Agency have decided to send the World’s Biggest Relief Package to the 300,000 refugees living in Dadaab, a camp near the Kenyan-Somali border.

And while we all know the UNHCR are good folks, this year you too can bask in their karmic glow all the while ticking the virtue box at Kris Kringle, impressing that special someone, proving you’re not a jerk and most importantly helping out someone whose life is pretty hellish right about now. Winners all round.

So, spend $12 bucks on a Jerry can (bout the same cost as 2 rolls of wrapping paper and a dodgy card), or shell out a little more coin if you can afford it to make to make the UNHCR’s World’s Biggest Package – HUGE.

Why?

Originally built for 90,000 people Dadaab is now home to more than 300,000 people, mostly those who have fled Somalia. So as you can imagine it is ridiculously overcrowded, no loos, limited food, without fresh water – the list goes on. Santa certainly does not visit Dadaab.

Add to this conundrum a dash of imminent flooding in the coming months and life in Dadaab is going to get even trickier - it’s a really rough deal, and we’re bloody lucky we weren’t born Somali – but don’t thank your stars, be part of the World’s Biggest Package.

Check out the website (great design once again from a Republic of Everyone/Circul8 collaboration), click some stuff, learn something new and maybe even part with a little cash.

www.worldsbiggestpackage.com

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Get your rocks-off!...NY is simply [bike] pornographic


I've already confessed to fetishising bikes so finding NYC absolutely titillating will come as no surprise.

Mayor Bloomberg's award-winning work has made the five boroughs easy for cyclists , (I assume for the fact that one would need to be rich/mad/ostensibly patient to even consider driving) which means that NY is now awash with bicycles.

A bike is moored to a post every few metres. Each has its unique character: some are bawdy and over the top, others technological perversities; there are elegant fixies, and sissy bars and banana saddles galore.

Beyond simply painting the tarmac green and hoping for the best, the City has constructed dedicated bike lanes that isolate cyclists from other traffic. It means the chances of being run off the road by an angry bus or cab are lower and cyclists are guarded from surprise 'clothesline-style' dismounts (opening-car doors frighten the hell out of me).

Glorious pedestrian-free lanes that safely deliver over bridges, maps, bike fashion parades, guitar-shaped bike racks, bike clubs, big signs, greenways - not just being utilised by the slightly mad and fit, but by Nannas, business people, students, littler kids. Almost everybody in NYC is riding a bike - hallelujah!

[This said, the fact that I saw at most two people wearing stack hats was a little worrying, the whole ' I don't have to wear a helmet - you can make me' ethos must be firmly entrenched in the Bill of Rights...somewhere.]

Sydney could have all this and more. And while progress is being made, it is excruciatingly slow. People are still not confident enough to commute, when it comes to creating bike infrastructure it absolutely must be case of 'build it and they will come'.

We all know that bikes can save the world - obesity, peak oil, emissions, mental health etc. etc. - yet there is still widespread resistance. Silly duffers on Burke street protesting because they'll lose their car spot and obstructionist 'can't-do, won't-do' attitudes from unimaginative councillors means that rather than burgeoning into a progressive cosmopolitan city, Sydney will inevitably be known as a dirty, congested cesspit of a city. Particularly as the population swells in numbers (and size - yes, I mean fatter).

It's a calamity. But not hopeless. Doing your bit is easy.

1. Get your rocks-off with bike porn for a little inspiration - I will upload the best of mine and there is more here http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=126567&id=630785807
2. Get on yer' bike (especially all those duffers spending thousands of dollars on 'Boot-Camp' every morning - if you just rode to work your bum would be hard within weeks, you'd get to sleep in, save money and not undergo ritual public humiliation)
3. Have a whinge

Enjoy. And sincere apologies to my NY colleagues, pausing every few metres while I took pictures of bikes must have been really, really annoying - but you'll be 'right ;)



Thursday, November 12, 2009

New York By Peer Review - Jesse Presley Jones


Irish Artist and current fellow at the Location One artspace, Jesse Presley Jones is another peer of Dan Cass, with whom I reviewed New York City.

As far as I could tell, Dan and Jesse met in Coober Pedy while shooting a film that was an adaptation of a Bertolt Brecht play. I have to admit I hadn't heard of Jesse or her art before but the Whisper Choir she conducted in Bucharest looked intriguing.

Jesse had been in New York for about a week - so not really a Phyllis-type experience but a great one nonetheless. An Irish artist, I met her at her Soho studio in the Location One artspace. As I walked in I was greeted by angry Richard Bell art - which was even more pointy taken out of the Australian context and dropped into NYC. It made Australia feel like a silly (racist) pimply teenager.

Anyways, Jesse and I meandered East over toward Bowery and the New Museum.

There's nothing like a gaudy artspace to help bond with an artist. It was the loudest, screechiest, over-done art gallery space I have ever been to in my whole entire life. Though it did give us something to tak about.

It's a pretty controversial space. Though no-one can doubt that it has been beautifully built, the heavy involvement of curators in the process has made the space feel like a five-year old chucking a tanty in a supermarket. The building screams attention and detracts from the works.

This was most offensive on the top floor where there was some great installation video art. But instead of being able to quietly sit-down and watch and attempt to 'get' it, the bloody door kept screeching open for the endless thoroughfare of people trying to get in and out of the room.

Having given-up, we had a coffee and checked-out the book store (which was by far the highlight of the whole experience) - which was kinda cool, Jesse kept pointing out books made by friends of hers and one where she herself featured. Needless to say, I was super impressed.

We headed-out and cruised the Bric-a-Brac, street art and cemetaries. Jesse gave some insight into how New York (calm and well-behaved) compared to Dublin (angry and a bit mental). It was also really interesting meeting an artist who was completely 'normal'. Not a skinny jean, hipster do, abnoxious iconic t-shirt or word of wank at all - it really made me think how freaking weird and pretentious the Sydney art scene actually is.

Friday, October 30, 2009

New York By Peer Review - Ciao Phyllis Arnold, you are Gotham


Ciao Phyllis Arnold, you are Gotham.

Phyllis Arnold began with the wonderful Walter Jennings. She invited us to her Upper East Side apartment for wine and cheese, proclaimed that she “was Gotham” and triple-checked none of us were allergic to cats (we would then have to go someplace else).

None of us ladies had ever met anyone called ‘Phyllis’ before, and in the lead-up to our visit, she was the subject of much speculation, like:

- “Phyllis is 80, has 20 cats and lots of newspapers”

- “Fast-talking ‘proper woman’, bookish, dusty academic”

- “Phyllis is kinda like a Jewish version of Samantha”

- “Phyllis has four kids and is an evangelical Christian”

- “This will be awkward”.

We were so far way off.

Phyllis Arnold is not only Gotham, but deserves her own genre. We hung out with Phyllis for a few hours at her apartment, this is some of the best of Phyllis:

- “You do work with [insert PR company], ow dear uuunnnh…well that’s owkay hunny, we can still tawk”

- “My fawther was a musician and so you never approwch and awtist after a show…but I would break that rule for Russel Crow”

- “I can count on my hands how many times I’ve been to Brooklyn – 9 times. If I have to go over a bridge or through a tunnel – well…that’s travelling”

- “My friend said ‘Phyllis, Brooklyn’s not a third-world country’ – I’m not sow shaw”

- “Ow look, Bear [the cat] is showing us how to do it”

- “Do not text me…it’ll take 2 days to reply, send me an email…”

- “Bear (cat), get owffa the table” as Phyllis chases Bear across the room with a spray bottle full of water.

AMAZING. Though she looked not a day over 50, 66 year-old Phyllis was the only person we met that had grown up in Manhattan, she has been married once and ‘did her time in Connecticut’. She’s not much of a cook, but put on a great spread of meatballs (gleaned from a friend’s freezer, a toothpick in each), orange cheese, a great dip and plenty of other treats.

We asked Phyllis where to get a Martini, so she calls about five people, she (rightly) assumed they know is calling and immediately launches into a “I need a place, four lovely friends from Australia, they wanna good martini”…”Nawh, don’t text…email the address…ok..ciao”, the other person left talking on the phone, Phyllis ended the call. The lady don’t mess around!

We were treated to two bottles of incredible Zinfandel courtesy of her lovely sky-diving (he took an 80-year old up recently) friend and his upstate winery, the wine was topped-off with tequilas and Baileys on ice (oh yeah!). She told us all about what it was to grow-up and be a true New Yawkan – good and bad as well as her stories of travel, love and some brilliant life lessons “it awl gets better after 25! Trust me…”.

As our wonderful time with Phyllis came to an end, she asked if we could do her a favour as she ran into the bathroom ‘”Oh this stuff is a-mazing stuff, I’ve never used anything better, and so cheap you have to send me some from Awstralia – that would be just great..oh…we don’t have it here”, Phyllis emerged from the bathroom moments later with none other than a pink can of Cedel hairspray in her hand….

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New York By Peer Review - The Oxfam Connection


In New York City there’s Manhattan and there’s Brooklyn. Across the bridge things are much less shiny, but oh so interesting. Rachel lives in Brooklyn. An Oxfam peer recommended by two wonderful women there was never any doubt that Rach would be anything less than a rockstar.

Despite the ankle-deep rain, a foiled cab ride and a minor Subway incident I made my way over to hang out with Rachel, her friend Elyssa and housemate Chris.

Over a few beers, some ridiculously good Little Italian pastry and blue corn chips we talked about the organising Rachel had done, most recently on the Obama campaign, with Mayor Bloomberg (apparently being the Mayor of NY is comparably difficult to being the President) and how that type of experience compares to the grassroots climate movement in Australia.

Undoubtedly those involved with the Obama organising did a great job – but talking to Rachel it became apparent that the stratosphere status and ridiculous fees campaign ‘consultants’ attract may not be worth it. The Obama campaign was heavily resourced, worth millions upon millionsof dollars, controlled and hierarchical – can it really be replicated in a different, social political, media and economic context?

The Obama campaigner price tag question aside, it's good to know that in the US (well the Peoples Republic of NYC) there is an exuberant and progressive energy, beautifully skilled and creative organising going-on. The universal challenge is to ensure that the momentum can be built and good people don’t become frustrated and burnt-out.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

NY By Peer-Review: Peter Singer



So when I asked people 'who do you know that is interesting in NY?' I guess I kind of expected...well, I'm not so sure really. I certainly didn't expect Peter Singer. But if anyone was going to introduce me to a celebrity academic, one-time Greens Senate Candidate and all-round brave thinker, it was going to be Dan Cass.

So thanks Dan.

After a few emails, moments of intellectual self-doubt (would my ethics be judged by a professional?) induced by a New Yorker friend Matt (whose nurse Mum was blown-away by Peter's piece in the New York Times about health care), I met Peter and his wife Renata next to a Surviva Ball at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge and tagged along with them on the 350.org day of action.

Renata and Peter have lived in New York city for the last 20 years. Peter is an academic at Princeton and Renata works at a local NGO - their accents only slightly impinged by the NY twang, they still very much had the laconic, relaxed 'Aus-Melbourne' going on.

Obviously I had heard of Peter Singer, and may have even read his books courtesy of my Mum's libary and political science degree, but I don't remember them and am not particularly on top of his politics. So I did what anyone else would do and googled him.

If you've not read his books or papers (of which there are many), Peter goes where its not comfortable. From infanticide, to animal rights to euthanasia - it's brave logic. What I didn't know was that he writes on environmental policy, and that to him meat consumption huge climate issue.

I haven't really considered this in much depth as to me it feels like a self-evident lifestyle issue, when I'm more concerned about big structural concerns (coal). Most 'movement' people I know don't eat a great deal of meat and personally, I'll eat what ever is in front of me and am a big fan of Kangaroo.

I raise this, to which Peter said "someone did some research and said that if beef were to be replaced by Kangaroo in Australia, the entire current existence of the Roo population would need to increase fivefold to supply the equivalent amount of meat". Sensical.

I also lamented the 'knowing to much' and bliss of ignorance. To which he said something to the effect of "well in the States most people are ignorant and they are causing the problem - is it fair that the rest of us take responsibility for this?" (or something like that). I guess it reminded me of the whole 'if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem' adage.

So, say I am part of the solution. Does walking over the Brooklyn Bridge in the rain, with people around you chanting slogans to cars really make a difference? You could argue media coverage and awareness make it worthwhile but for the most densely populated city in the world, 400 people showing-up to care about our common future of an estimated 22 million is pretty lame.

Nonetheless. It was an interesting experience because it made me think and also afforded the opportunity to be somewhat voyeristic about the movement - a bit of an outsider for a day.




Friday, October 23, 2009

The Green Drinks NY Folks - NY by Peer Review.


So the first of the NY by Peer-Review stops was in a cute little office tucked-away in Nolita - it was the wonderful Liane's idea.

Margaret began Green Drinks NY 8 years ago, works on it full-time and now has something like 10,000 people on her e-list - it's big! Not only that, but there is a manual, a media kit, sponsors, a regular newsletter, (people pay to come) and best of all - the Yes Men are known on occassions to rock-up in Surviva Suits.

Yep. Jealous? Yep.

In Sydney, our Green Drinks (GreenUps) is still really fresh and like many great things happening in sustainability requires lot's of 'love time'. It's been really interesting to see how other people are turning their passions into their livelihoods. It's a bloody hard balance to strike.

I also found out that not so long ago Dan and some other folks from the Melbourne Green Drinks caught-up with Margaret, which is amazing and just goes to show the strength of the network and energy it has not only at home but all over the place.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New York By Peer Review - what is it?


Despite the fact that I blatantly am, I'm not at all comfortable being a tourist.

I'm also pretty lazy when it comes to finding things to do in new places.

I'm also a firm believer that a city is its people - not it's galleries, shops and buildings.

So as I am currently in New York, I am trialling a new way of traveling -it's called New York by Peer Review. Basically, this is how it works:

1. You ask about 10-20 people that know you pretty well from home (they can be work mates, family, friends whatev - diversity is good) the question ' if there's one person you think I should meet in New York, who would it be?'.

2. You then ask them to introduce you to this person via email.

3. If this person is open to the idea, you make a time for a cup of tea or coffee at this person's favourite cafe or spot.

Within minutes, you may realise that you have absolutely nothing in common with this person and because its a quick chat over coffee - you can leave. Or, you might hit it off extraordinarily and hang-out all day.

Though I've been here three days already, NY by Peer Review begins on Wednesday.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Can design help save the world? David Berman


I went along to see Dave Berman speak at the AGDA conference "Can Design Help Change the World", these are some of my favourite quotes from from his somewhat hyperactive, but sensational and thought-provoking presentation.

The whole article will be published on Bindarri in the next couple of days.

“ Right now to 4 billion humans, the Internet is just a rumour. But in the next 10 years the majority of humans will have access. But the experience won’t be on a computer screen it will be on the small screen – the truly mobile screen. When we get there, will we use [small screen interactions] to convince larger and larger populations that they don’t really belong in our societies? That they have to be whiter, or taller or smell nicer? Will we use it to ‘trick’ them into buying more stuff they don’t need or will we use it to share ideas that really deserve to be shared?”

In Ghana, where 20% of pharmaceuticals are fake designers have worked with companies to create a labelling system. A parent of a sick child SMSs the product barcode for verification as to whether or not the product is legitimate – “It’s a beautiful, simple communication idea that saves lives.” says Berman.

“The design profession is an old one and we get to choose what its all about. Hoping that most choose to share the faith the world needs – democracy, telecommunications, hope and justice - it’s the stuff the world really needs, not selling more sugar water to children in Africa.”

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dirty Kev Campaign

The whole idea of the campaign is to apply a bit of peer-group pressure on K-Rudd so that he chooses the interests of people over those of already uber-wealthy coporate executives.

You can sign the pledge - www.dirtykev.org


Whattya say?


Frankie Magazine -Adopt an Activist

Frankie Magazine - Home

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Something to inspire

The Camp for Climate Action took place last year in Newcastle - check out the video to find our what its all about. Climate Camp 09 is on again and happening in Helensburgh, 40 minutes south of Sydney. If you're a bit over the whole Government-Business boring climate debate, come on down! There's a little bit of something for everyone.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Can Design Help Save the World? Andy Polaine


Can Graphic Design Save the Planet?

No.

Can it help?

Maybe…

How Can Graphic Design Help Save the World, hosted by the Australian Graphic Design Association, featured leading design thinkers including Jacqueline Gothe, Andy Polaine, David Berman and Rick Pryor to share ideas about whether we as graphic/designers can be part of a world-saving solution.

I went along to have a listen and was inspired to hear some incredibly insightful thinking on the topic of whether graphic design actually can save the world. Here’s a bit of what was going on:

Andy Polaine
Andy Polaine is a Germany-based practitioner of service interactions design. He has worked in Australia as well as in Europe on a range of projects and now runs his own consultancy Polaine www.polaine.com .

Andy Polaine is not convinced that graphic design can save the world, “instead, we need to reframe the question and think about what power we have to help save the world”, “this inspires a more indigenous mode of thinking, reframes the question of salvation, and calls upon designers to make a genuine connection with the world and work collaboratively within it” he said.

When he was a design teacher in Australia, Andy was surprised by the influence that European and American design had on his students, particularly given the richness of Australian colour and patterns, “It was as if the Australian landscape and culture were somehow ‘off-limits’ as a source of inspiration to students” to him this suggested a much deeper lack of connectedness or collaborative relationship between designers and the environment, culture and community.

Years later, Andy now notices a growing industry movement where lead designers are advocating a more collaborative and connected approach to their work. “The power of design is its ability to connect people and increasingly we’re seeing more work like that of David Lancashire that incorporates community, the environment and culture and having some great results” said Andy.
Saving the planet is a BIG wicked problem.

In the book, Designing Design Kenya Hara talks about how design tackles small, big and wicked problems. Climate change is a massively complex and wicked problem where by changing one part of the system there are intricate follow-on effects. Andy likens saving the world, and climate change in particular to a Vaseline-coated-octopus type of wicked problem, but says that designers are in a good position to tackle problems like these using creative right-brain thinking.

“Most wicked problems stem from many small acts of thoughtlessness ” says Andy. “At home in Germany, I did the right thing and took my old TV to the recycle depot and it was terrible and powerful to be confronted by the multiplier effect of my and others decisions – there were mountains of TVs”.

The feeling of terror and confrontation evoked having seen the multiplier effect of consumption is something that designers can use for a positive effect says Andy. Designers, and particularly graphic designers have the power to evidence the ‘mountains of TVs’ as a tangible way of communicating the consequences of small acts of thoughtlessness. Andy says that though often the last in the process of developing a product, graphic design is the first thing a consumer sees and its creators have a great deal of power to influence better buying decisions.

Service and Interactions design – designers influencing behaviour.
Service and interactions design seeks to influence decision-making processes further up the organisational chain. Essentially good service and interactions design works to build upon an understanding of how people experience the world, their interactions within it and how designers can become more powerful change agents.

Incorporating the elements of co-design, research and collaboration, services design signifies a major shift from traditional top-down processes and helps tackle wicked problems like climate change. Unlike processes common to government and business, service and interactions design and thinking is transdisciplinary and human-centred, blurring the distinction between ‘professional’ decisions and those based on personal values.

To demonstrate the benefits of good service design, Andy compared train travel in Germany to that in Australia. “In Germany train travel is a nice experience that people want to do, it is comfortable, you can enjoy a meal – and people do it in large numbers. This just isn’t the case in Australia: chairs are often slashed and uncomfortable; there is a lack of information surrounding timetables, platforms are inaccessible and information difficult to obtain. These are design flaws that put people off using low-emissions transport in Australia. Again, this is where design can be quite powerful – designers help us make small decisions that collectively benefit the planet in a strong way.
Let’s make the invisible, visible.

Minimalist design hides small, big and wicked problems.

“Where things are made, where things end-up and the whole system of global manufacturing and production is largely invisible to end-consumers. By designing in a way that makes them visible we nudge action” says Andy.

For example, the Smart Meter is a piece of design that tells you in money terms how much energy you are using and which home appliances are most energy intensive. You can set a price cap on the Smart Metre which when you’re close to exceeding sounds a warning beep so that you run around switching things off to make it stop. This design considers that people don’t have a clue what a kilowatt is or means, but certainly understands energy use as money lost and react to annoying sounds. Design has the power to catalyses processes of thoughtful action.

“The climate change debate has evolved from being about saving polar bears, to being about money. Powerful design goes beyond re-educating people and instead seeks to understand peoples’ behaviour and influences it by making the invisible visible” says Andy.

Which brought Andy’s discussion back to the need to shift our framework for thinking to one that seeks an indigenous understanding of the world and mimics its interconnectedness and collaborations.

“Design can help save the world by making sense of complexity. We’re accustomed to the consequences of our actions being pushed beyond our line of site, and it’s interesting to hear indigenous people talk about the process of interconnectivity – its network thinking, and not so utterly intangible anymore because we have the internet as a powerful metaphor for understanding how we interact and connect online” said Andy.

Design in its most simple form is about making complex problems, big problems and wicked problems easier to deal with and this is how graphic designers have the power to help change the world.

Check-out
http://thisisindexed.com
http://www.worldmapper.org www.polaine.com

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I wish I was Scottish.

In countries with a much lesser climate impact than dear old Terra Australis, the media and general public are getting behind civil disobedience as a legitimate and necessary way to pressure government's into taking meaningful action on climate change.

Take for example excerpts from the Sunday Herald journalist Edd McCracken's coverage on recent civil disobedience as part of the Scottish climate camp. A conveyor belt near the Glentaggart opencast mine responsible for transporting hundreds of tonnes of coal to the Ravenstruther rail depot daily - was cut:

""If the government wants a strong Climate Change Bill, then we are just
helping them enforce it," says camp spokesman and seasoned activist Dan
Glass. "We're the law enforcers, doing it on the ground. If they say they
want a strong Climate Change Bill, great, we'll help them do it.""

Earlier this year, Scottish Coal was given permission to mine 1.7 million
tonnes of coal on land belonging to Lord Home, where the camp is situated.
The opencast mine would come within 1000m of the local hospital.

Some 650 objections to the proposals were received, but the project was
still given the go-ahead. Locals have long blamed the three existing
opencast mines, including Glentaggart, for the area's above-average rates of
cancer and asthma.

One local councillor says that, while he supported the camp, he had "no time
to sit in a field for a week. I've had three funerals to go to." All three
people had died of a disease he claims was related to the coal mine.

It's an excellent article: http://www.sundayherald.com/news/heraldnews/display.var.2524596.0.0.php

Particularly in the UK climate camp has achieved significant status, positive press coverage and attracted a greater diversity people waving the flag for legitimate climate action that serves people - not industry, not businessmen, and not politicians but real people.

And this is why we need climate camp in Australia. It's not about a bunch of dread-locked, ill-informed trouble-makers without jobs sitting around thinking of ways to 'fuck shit-up'. Climate camp is perhaps the only chance that you're ever going to get to learn about what's going-on without the filters of greed and fear. Be a part of community and actually stop greenhouse gas emissions.

No amount of carbon offsetting, green star ratings of photo opps compares to stopping greenhouse gas emission from being release into the air, protect our drinking water supply from being taken from us by multinational companies or leave our kids a decent inheritance.

I wish a lot of people would pull their heads out of their arses, show a bit of courage and actually 'do' something (opposed to dosomething.org) to change the ridiculous economic, social and governmental circumstances that do little more than hurt people.

climatecamp.org.au - consider yourself invited.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Because what the world needs now..


Apologies for this Sydney-centric post. But don't let geography stymie your support of Climate Camp...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I get my jollies from the Yes Men

Never heard of them? Well golly gosh where have you been?

Here is some vintage Yes Men to get you up to speed:

On November 29, 2004, an email comes in to DowEthics.com [ a mock site set-up by the Yes Men] BBC World Television wants a Dow representative to discuss the company's position on the 1984 Bhopal tragedy on this, its 20th anniversary.

So they politely respond to the email and set a 'Representative' taking full responsibility for the Bhopal disaster:



This is where you can find out more http://www.theyesmen.org/

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

Government using international 'Eco-terror' threat to push through draconian laws to silence grassroots protesters.

Only days after releasing a government paper calling for harsher and tighter penalties being applied to activists disrupting coal-fired power stations, the Government is using the threat of violence by a largely unknown and widely condemned group to garner support for the tough new laws.

It smells very, very Howardishy.

This is typical of Martin Ferguson and the Rudd Government whose tactics are smelling more and like Tampa-style fear mongering each day. The timing of the so-called 'ELF letter' is a little too convenient to be true and has played perfectly into the hands of business and government interests who would undoubtedly benefit from support of harsh penalties which would see peaceful protesters come down-upon like a tonne of bricks.

This 'I'll scratch-your-back' protection of business interests flies in the face for the public’s call for action on climate change and Rudd's promises of transparency in government. The legislation threatens to impinge upon the rights of people to legitimately express their frustration with the government’s incessant subservience to coal companies.

And could it be that direct action in Australia is actually working? Rather than getting on with the job and providing real climate change solutions, government seems more interested in doing the job of private security firms and locking-up activists on behalf of their buddies. This only proves that the government have no real solution for getting us off coal, and will continue to line their pockets with dirty corporate dollars. All the more reason to continue practicing Non-Violent-Direct -Action.

As we saw from last year's blackouts that left most Victorians in the dark (will the new energy disruption laws apply to government as well?!), power companies are struggling to supply baseload energy as it is - talk of climate change solutions in Australi is pure rhetoric the emissions keep rising. .

Non-violent direct action is a legitimate way that everyday Australians can demand action. Far from Elves or radical student groups a growing number of 'activists' are, concerned Mums, Dads, Granparents, former coal miners and unionists tired of being ignored and let down. Normal people don’t have the privilege or power to play political games and make convenient laws - we certainly don't have political or economic agendas, we're fed-up and no-one seems to be listening.

The Government is attempting to paint those brave enough to speak out for climate justice, green jobs and a just transition to a low carbon economy in a non-violent way as ‘eco-terrorists’ as a way to rush in laws that protect their mates. Effectively the government are sacrificing our democratic rights for a regime run by polluting business, for polluting business.

We won’t tolerate or be intimidated by the Government, who rather than ‘cracking-down’ on greenhouse gas emissions, is giving polluters $12billion worth of permits to further infect the air we breathe. It is ludicrous that the law be manipulated into taking a hard line on communities whose right and responsibility it is to protest against recklessness and greed.

Grass roots climate groups like Friends of the Earth Sydney will continue to help communities organise and have their voices heard. Dozens of groups around Australia are, and will continue to peacefully protest using their bodies at power stations, aluminium smelters, coal mines to send a clear message – we are fed-up with a government that represents the dollars of the few and ignores the rights of many. This is why we will be playing a major role in the organising The Camp for Climate Action in Helensburgh.

The Camp for Climate Action will culminate in a peaceful direct action on Sunday October 11th. In the spirit of the great global history of civil disobedience (Gandhi’s salt march, the American civil rights movement, the protection of Tasmania’s Franklin River), the Climate Camp is a chance, at this crucial moment in history, for ordinary people to stand up for a safe climate and keep fossil fuels in the ground.

www.climatecamp.org.au

http://www.theage.com.au/national/ecoterror-threat-sparks-law-review-20090615-carn.html
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25642578-5013404,00.html
http://www.smh.com.au/environment/greenpeace-slams-threat-to-power-station-boss-20090615-c836.html

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Whose idea was hightide heels?



Belgian artist Paul Schietekat, heels crossed with flippers, its odd but not as odd as some of the commentary on them in fashion blogs where some are saying, "I think Posh Spice should adopt this style, she almost always wears heels", here's hoping someone's taking the piss.

Anyways weird and wonderful - perhaps an interesting take on adaptation and how unprepared we really are? As a commentary on climate change I think itcan work. The concept of linking an well-known sexualised icon with something that is practical and quickly identifiable with the sea and it rising is a strong one. It could also make quite a direct red carpet statement should a Hollywood starlet (or perhaps Eco Warrior Miranda Kerr) were brave enough to ditch the Jimmy Choos and instead struggle walking in these babies. Maybe as a reference to people who are going to be struggling to keep their homes. Hmmmm...


Friday, May 22, 2009

Due to budget cuts this is your new cubicle.


My friend passed this on to me - way, way too funny not to post.

EFFECTIVE JANUARY 13, 2009


NEW OFFICE POLICY

Dress Code:
1) You are advised to come to work dressed according to
your salary.

2) If we see you wearing Prada shoes and carrying a
Gucci bag, we will assume you are doing well financially
and therefore do not need a raise.

3) If you dress poorly, you need to learn to manage your
money better, so that you may buy nicer clothes, and
therefore you do not need a raise.

4) If you dress just right, you are right where you need
to be and therefore you do not need a raise...

Sick Days:
We will no longer accept a doctor's statement as proof
of sickness. If you are able to go to the doctor, you are able to come to work.

Personal Days:
Each employee will receive 104 personal days a year.
They are called Saturdays & Sundays.
Bereavement Leave:
This is no excuse for missing work. There is nothing you can do for dead friends,
relatives or co-workers. Every effort should be made to have non-employees attend
the funeral arrangements in your place. In rare cases where employee involvement is
necessary, the funeral should be scheduled in the late afternoon. We will be glad to
allow you to work through your lunch hour and subsequently leave one hour early.

Bathroom Breaks:
Entirely too much time is being spent in the toilet.
There is now a strict three-minute time limit in the
stalls. At the end of three minutes, an alarm will
sound, the toilet paper roll will retract, the stall
door will open, and a picture will be taken. After your
second offense, your picture will be posted on the
company bulletin board under the 'Chronic Offenders'
category. Anyone caught smiling in the picture will be
sectioned under the company's mental health policy.

Lunch Break:

* Skinny people get 30 minutes for lunch, as they need
to eat more, so that they can look healthy

* Normal size people get 15 minutes for lunch to get a
balanced meal to maintain their average figure.

* Chubby people get 5 minutes for lunch, because that's
all the time needed to drink a Slim-Fast.

Thank you for your loyalty to our company... We are here
to provide a positive employment experience. Therefore,
all questions, comments, concerns, complaints,
frustrations, irritations, aggravations, insinuations,
allegations, accusations, contemplations, consternation
and input should be directed elsewhere.

The Management
Pass this on to all who are employed!


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Triple-whammy protest at Parliament House during Budget Speech




Way to go Rising Tide! A triple-whammy disturbance at Parliament House protests against the Government's inaction on climate change and the futility of the CPRS.

Find our more www.risingtide.org.au

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Apply British Pre-emptive Terror Laws to your daily lives and piss everyone off

On Tuesday April 14 in Britain, 114 people were arrested on “suspicion of conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass and criminal damage”.

This is remarkable because these people were arrested not because they did anything wrong, but because police thought that they were planning to. This is a bit scary basically because it gives someone the power to react to a situation or threat that doesn't actually exist.

I figured that if British cops can do this, well then so can I. So I tested these powers all last week to see what kind of affect it would have:

Monday: I woke-up, pre-empting that everyone in my office at work would be sick and give me swine flu, so I stayed home.
Outcome: My boss was pissed, but I cited the British example and said that I needed no evidence and that my action was justified on the basis that I was averting a potentially life-threatening situation.

Tuesday: At breakfast time, I was suspected that I would be hungry again at lunchtime. So I ate my breakfast and lunch at 8am.
Outcome: Suspicion and pre-emptive action led to sickness from excess consumption early on and hunger later in the day.

Wednesday: I was in a shoe shop. I suspected a woman buying exceptionally tall patent leather red and blue stilettos would cause criminal damage and potentially trespass to the nether regions of fashion if allowed to make that purchase. I stopped her.
Outcome: Outrage and disbelief, to which I responded that I had persuasive evidence and could convince a jury that the woman was conspiring to commit a crime if allowed to buy the shoes. I am banned from the shop indefinitely.

Thursday: I went to the pub after work and told the barman that he should stop serving my boyfriend beer on the basis that he may or may not 'do something' to me later.
Outcome: An awkward conversation with a security guard, friends and colleagues about whether I was in an abusive relationship.

Friday: My Mum called. I suggested that she give me Power of Attorney over her and Dad and that I could really do with my inheritance now. This suggestion was made based on my long-held suspicion that she has in fact already got Alzheimer's and Dad can't look after himself.
Outcome: She hung up on me, my brother phoned shortly after to ask whether I was alright, and gloat that my portion of any inheritance would be donated to the Country Women's Association.

Saturday: I lept out of a Taxi without paying and ran away, - I didn't like the look in the Driver's eyes.
Outcome: I walked home in the rain, got blisters and am too scared to take a cab again in case I'm recognised as the cab-jumper that I am and some pre-emptive action is taken out on me.

Sunday: I got serious and attempted a pre-emptive arrest on a woman whose dog had shat on the nature strip. I had reason to suspect that she would not pick-up the poo given that she had no plastic bag on her.
Outcome: Verbal abuse and a Jack Russel nips marks on my ankle.

For a week I followed the precedent of the British Police and took pre-emptive action on the basis of unproven suspicious, and justified it with in – in my view- persuasive evidence that an act of terrorism, trespass, law-breaking or other major life-threatening crime may take place. What did I learn?

1)Power trips and suspicion can justify just about any type of ridiculous, unfair and humiliating behaviour.
2)This approach tends to piss people off – a lot. Most people seemed very uncomfortable that I was alleging that they were about to commit a crime before it had taken-place.
3)That people don't cop shit very lightly nor respond well to the idea that one person can accuse them of being guilty of doing something before they have done it.

So though I am in trouble with work, my Mum and my boyfriend, am banned at shops and have bite marks on my ankle, I do take some heart in the idea that people won't accept 'pre-emptive arrests' in my immediate vicinity.It also furthers my resolve that the English are whingers and take a lot of shit if they allow this to happen in theirs.

Based on an article that appeared in the UK Guardian on April 14 http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/leading-articles/leading-article-mass-arrests-have-no-place-in-a-democratic-country-1668276.html

Introducing Nikki Williams, NSW Mining CEO and "incredibly passionate environmentalist"

Like in Australia, the US the coal industry go to some pretty extreme lengths to to make themselves seem like 'good, nice, safe and friendly people'.

The latest from the US Blog www.thisisreality.org say that the US Coal Lobby have just undertaken an $20 million online media blitz for “shaping public attitudes on coal”. In Washington, for every pro-environment lobbyist there are 5 working for coal companies.

Undoubtedly, this kind of money means more spruiking of 'clean coal', which as a climate change response is just as true as someone telling you that brushing your teeth with fairy floss will mean less trips to the dentist or that camel-toes in women's pants are flattering.

So why does the coal lobby spend so much money trying to convince us that coal is clean (it isn't), jobs will be lost if we transition to renewable energy (they won't) or that going to Copenhagen with a 5% emissions reduction target is 'responsible' (ummmm...nup!)?

This behaviour can be explained by greed and the risk of large corporate profits being scaled-back and divided-up. There is much rhetoric about a 'buffet' of solutions to our climate problem, but fundamentally this means divvying up coal profits into smaller chunks and sharing the profit pie. It also explains while Carbon Capture and Storage is being flogged as a 'solution' as it keeps money in the hands of vested coal interests.

So how to protect your greedy interests and get away with it?

There's no better magic wand that PR. The Coal Lobby's vested interests are protected by a glossy veneer produced by multi-billion dollar PR and Marketing campaigns, the objective being to wolvishly dress bad intentions in sheep's clothing for the explicit purpose of ensuring that profits are protected and no-one looses their million-dollar home in Rose Bay.

I have reproduced excerpts below from a PR company representing NSW Mining - what gall! The PR company suggested that a green publication use “passionate environmentalist” and NSW Mining CEO Nikki Willams as a spokesperson for a future story on the environment, this raises a few questions:

PR People: “NSW Mining is one of the most profitable Australian industries. Contributing more than $2 billion annually in taxes and royalties, NSW generates about 250,000 direct and indirect jobs in NSW.”

So you can afford a just transition to renewable energy and green jobs? Why then are you asking for tax-payer handouts under the CPRS and a 5% emissions reduction target?

PR People: “If you are working on any environmental/mining stories and would like some expert input, NSW Mining CEO Nikki Williams is wonderful spokesperson and an incredibly passionate environmentalist.”

Obviously – I've seen her at the local coop, a couple of protests and riding her bike to work (not).

PR People: “...To give you a little background on her, 49 year old Nikki is a senior marketing and business development manager who has worked the African, Asian and European geographies with Shell and Exxon operating in the coal, oil, gas and chemical industries.”

She is obviously very good at selling coal. And what an outstanding environmental track-record Nikki, might I nominate you for a Banksia Award?

And it gets better:

“She (Nikki) has been CEO of the Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association; Business Development Director for the UK based QP Group; GM Marketing and Business Development for corProcure; Director Public Affairs for the World Coal Institute; Regional Supply Manager for Shell Coal International – trading 13 mt of coal from China, South Africa, Australia, Russia and Eastern Europe; Business Development Manager (Sub-Saharan Africa) for Shell Gas International; and Industrial Relations Officer with Esso Australia.”

Has anyone ever told Nikki that burning coal is a major contributor to climate change. Obviously, part of the solution Nikki, 13 megatonnes traden - you little ripper!

Don't call us Nikki, we'll call you.

If you see any other PR releases trying to sell the coal industry spokespeople as 'environmentalists' I would be very interested to see them.

Canadian Gold Diggers – One More Reason Why Wedding Bands are Crap.


Canadian Gold Diggers, Barrick Gold are not very nice, and if I was a Canadian I would be very upset with them for lots of reason, here are but a few:

Not only does Barrick Gold not give a crap about things like threatened species of birds, ecology or people, but for the last 10 years they have also added dumping cyanide, human rights abuses, and murder to their mounting list of 'favourite nasty things to do'.

But the thing that most annoys me about Barrick Gold, is that they are fairytale wedding dream stealers - I can never look at a wedding band the same and associate it with a nice romantic notion, instead I'm more likely to think of an open-cut gold pit. Ugly, very ugly.

Recently, Barrick Gold have proposed a mining site expansion which means ripping-off another 5 gigalitres of water a year in one of Australia's most drought-stricken areas, Lake Cowal.

Lake Cowal is referred to traditional owners as the 'Sacred Heartland of the Wiradjuri nation”, yet for 10 years Traditional Owners have been fighting against Barack Gold Mines to shut the Lake Cowal open-cut gold pit down.

Says the Save Lake Cowal website “On 27 March 2006 the mine became fully operational despite opposition from Traditional Owners within the Wiradjuri Nation, the Coalition to Protect Lake Cowal and concerned citizens around Australia.

Barrick owns eight mines in Australia.

The company has been accused of a number of environmentally unsound practices, as well as illegal trading activities.

In January 2003, a 26-year old woman was killed in a pitwall collapse at a Barrick mine in Western Australia.”

Nice folk eh? So next time you're thinking about buying some gold, spare a thought that it takes 18 tonnes of earth, generating 12 cubic metres of tailings, to produce enough gold for an average wedding band. For more info visit: www.nodirtygold.org

http://www.savelakecowal.org

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Enviroporn - Fuck for Forest...Come against Coal?

Language warning.

Often observers of the environmental movement comment that 'green needs to be more sexy'. And goodness knows there has been a few attempts - Mark Rastovich is pretty sexy, and some may say the same of Hollywood starlets that spruik dolphins, whales and trees...

And while many of us have may have lost hope, its safe to say that there are people who do give a shit...I'm pleased to tell you that for every person out there that can't get a root, there are roots going into the ground courtesy of some special German and Brazilian friends!

Fuck for Forests www.fuckforforest.com is a not for profit porn site where money paid to see fucking in or for forests goes toward reforestation, conservation and planting projects in South America.

This is what they say its all about:
"
Fuckforforest is a non-profit eco porn organization. FFF is created by people who want to have a exciting experience and a good feeling for protecting nature, having real fun with sex and nudity, not faked, not staged, but impulsive and living. With the help from sexually free people and by showing the beauty of natural love, nudity and sex we wish to direct attention to and collect money for the Earth’s threatened nature. Saving the planet IS sexy!"


I had a quick look, though the design of the site is pretty crap, the pics aren't too bad and I 'liked the links and the forum', in a way that I guess sleazy men say "I buy Playboy for the articles". I didn't quite get why everyone is mega dreadlocked on top and shave to within an inch of their lives down below. Maybe 'hairy activist' is an overused cliche and in Germany and (of course) Brazil, activists wax...a lot!

So, if we can apply the novel and fun lessons of Fuck For Forest to other campaigns what might we call them? Here's a few to start, leave your ideas below!

www.comeagainstcoal.com
www.nymphsagainstnukes.com
www.randyforrenewables.com
www.pussyagainstprivatisation.com

Because apparently the climate movement just isn't sexy enough...ha!


Thanks Cat.



Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Whose idea was fibreglass?



I met Dave at the pub through a friend of mine. Dave makes beautiful surfboards out of sustainable materials. And with the Australian Government dolling out $900 willy nilly to stimulate the economy – I've just decided how I'm going to spend mine. I asked Dave some things.

Q.I'm blind and just snapped my old board on a badly timed road-crossing adventure, so I need a new board . And I would also like this board to attract members of the opposite sex, why should I ride your board and not the one the Quicksilver rep is trying to spruik me?

A. Ours are stronger and more durable. Lower overall environmental impact and less hazardous to construct. Light weight. Snappier flex characteristics = smoother faster ride. Beautiful Australian aesthetic due to local timber with unique grain patterns.

Q. Timber hey? So you DO cut down trees, why is that any better than using fibre glass?
A. Timber is all sourced from Australian managed plantations certified by the Australian Forestry Standard and Good Environmental Choice Australia. Species used are fast growing species that can be sustainably managed.

Q. So it weighs a bloody tonne hey, I ain't no Hawaiian Duke or animated penguin, will it sink?
A. We still use a foam core. This is necessary to keep the boards at a modern weight. We use a type of foam called Extruded Polystyrene which is waterproof, recyclable, has superior strength properties and does not contain isocyanates like traditional polyurethane foam. It was the use of isocyanates that led to the closure of Clark Foam (the worlds largest surfboard blank manufacturer) in the United States a couple of years ago. Most boards made in Australia still use this type of foam. This traditional foam is not recyclable.

Q. How do they ride? Are they heavier, flimsier, quicker, last longer etc.?
A. The ride is smooth and fast. Our boards are a comparable weight to a standard sanded finish polyester board and lighter than a gloss finished polyester board. Due to the composite glass/timber construction we use the boards are extremely strong and don't get pressure dents on the deck like standard boards. It is our goal to design boards that can be passed on to the next generation rather than ending up as landfill.

Q. Why didn't you just go and shape boards with all of the traditional materials and get rich quick like the rest of them?
A. I used to shape boards out of traditional materials but a chain of events led to me being obsessed with doing something better. I studied Environmental Science at University so always had an increased awareness about the need to lower our consumption and the impact of our products.

Often returning from surf trips with snapped boards always left this feeling of guilt and after years of shaping standard boards I was concerned about the impact this was having on my own health. When I first started Treehouse I had been living overseas and reconnecting with Australia made me really want to create boards that also had a connection to the Australian environment...that had a real Australian character about them. I put over three times the amount of labour into each of these boards than I was putting into making traditional boards...so it definitely makes things harder financially but its a passion. I have no interest in shaping boards out of traditional materials now.


Q. What has the response been?
A. The response has been really positive so far. The boards always attract a lot of attention on the beach and all of my customers are loving riding them. I often get emails from customers telling me about a great surf they just had and how much fun they had on the board. On the other hand there are still the sceptics out there who think that a modern surfboard needs to be white and have three fins but you can't please everyone. Quite a few of those skeptics now own one of our boards after trying them.

Q. What do you think is the biggest environmental challenge facing the surfing industry?
A. I believe the biggest initial challenge is to change the culture of surfing. Many surfers and surfing based organisations are very environmentally aware but for a lifestyle that is so closely linked with nature I think as a group and as individuals we can do a lot better. Lets face it...we drive to the beach...we fly overseas and jump on boats looking for waves...we go though a surfboard every few seasons on average...we go through a wetsuit every few seasons...we buy surf brand clothes and boards mass produced in countries that may not have adequate environmental or working condition standards. I don't mean to paint that all in a negative light but we can be more conscious of our impact and make decisions to reduce that impact where possible. Surf culture has been very performance focused for a long time. I hope that we recognise what a special connection we have with nature and that this will infiltrate surf culture more in the future.

Q.Do any of the Pros/notables ride your boards?
A. No pros ride our boards and to be honest I can't see us approaching any pros to get them on our boards, it's not where Treehouse is at. The most notable person we could ever have on our boards is just the average surfer who loves surfing for what it is...a thrill, an escape, a connection with nature, an adventure. At the moment, our customers are exactly this and we build boards for them that suit their skill level and surfing style so that they can enjoy the ocean as much as possible.

Nice.
www.treehouseboards.com
www.thesealife.com.au

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Christian Dior toilet conservation


I don't have a lot of expensive things, but I do like good skin care.When it comes to putting things on my face, Christian Dior is my personal preference. Its well made, lasts a long time and to my knowledge is one of the better nasties. So when I accidentally dropped my Christian Dior foundation down the toilet, I was faced with a dilemma which goes to the root of what it really means to be a conservationist.

To loo dive, or not to loo dive?

Exacerbating the situation, the 'drop' occurred a day before bathroom cleaning day, and the waters were murky. Being a lady of eco-persuasion - I don't own rubber gloves - but Christian was sinking, and fast.

A lesser lady, a throw-away madam would cry, attempt to flush, or bin Christian and be back at the DJs make-up counter the next day. Tempting. But at only a week old, Christian had hardly even been used and I couldn't bare the thought of loosing him so young, and so embodied with emissions, it wasn't right by planet or pocket to send him to landfill so soon.

So, I went to the top drawer - the ender of all problems. My chopstick skills are dodgy at best so the sausage tongs would have to do.

Dilemma 2)
Is is okay to use a food preparation utensil as toilet rescue device? Was I prepared for splash back in the case of a fall?

Best not to think about.

The rescue was a huge success - I had faith in the strength of Christian's seals and that no poo water had gotten in.

Christian was rubbed down with a fluffy towel, and seemed sealed and in good condition. The next day, he again, was on my face.

This is a story about conservation.

To loo dive, is characteristic of not just an eco-leaning lady, but more importantly a quiet rejection of throw-away culture. 'Throw-away' that doubts common sense. Things like cleanliness and gingivitis are invented to make you buy more stuff and default to 'a new one' at the drop of a cosmetic product into a receptacle.

This week, I hope that toilet drops are picked up towelled of and reinstated; and that anything broken gets mended - not chucked, and that the bits of mould on bread get cut-away and become toast. It's Christian Dior Toilet Conservation.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ever been guilted into liking something because its the 'right' thing to do?


Like when a little kid draws you a picture and its crap, and the last thing you want to do is jeopardise legitimate bill-reminding space on th fridge with stick figures? Yeah well some goes with enviro stuff, and I'm sure in any 'cause space' where people are pouring their guts into stuff which is beautiful in theory but in practice is well...shall we say, a little disappointing.

I just went to an eco fashion thing. And I LOVE what this North Shore middle-class warrior is trying to achieve, but after the show I was left wondering 'is this all there is?'.

Kezza-Anne Kennerly was there, as was that financial Ross guy, and a swagger of desperate housewifesque ladies whose children undoubtedly included the little boy modeling the clothes - far from being sexy, the poor year twelver looked like he was in desperate need of a hug, a sense of humour and a half-wedgie.

The clothes were ok, apparently the shoes were amazing. Not that I would know, as the cat walk wasn't raised and one of the models decidedly distracted from the shoes by drawing attention to her knees which were drawn higher and higher each step as though she was avoiding an exploding magnum-sized bottle of bubs skittling across the ground and threatening to bite her calves.

There was one dress I loved - recycled mohair, plain black above the knee, high waisted and finished with a voluptuous collar and set by large houndstooth patterning in bold purple, yellow and electric blue. You could see how much love had gone into the detail, beautiful lines, immaculate seams - I'm desperate to try on that dress, but shudder at the thought I could not do justice to something so wonderfully made, and fear feeling shitter a person for the my inadequacies in not doing it justice.

But there was only one. Unfortunately, which seems often the case in Sydney; sustainable, vintage and recycled fashion is treated almost like a charity case. As if by wearing it you sacrifice style for the feeling of doing the right thing - guilt trip, particularly on the North Shore.

But this is only a half truth. Had the show have been better produced, taken place in Surry Hills/Darlinghurst/Paddington and not been filled by 40 somethings and modeled by kids on the brink of puberty, I reckon it would have been judged not by it's honourable intentions, but instead on merit.

After a couple of bubblies, I raved the show to a St Leonards blond, extolling the usual pro-green diatribe, but somehow feel cheated and a fake. It took Kezza's husband to set things straight. She was admiring the 'greenness' of the clothes and the designer's vision when he piped-up "Kerry-Anne, your wardrobe alone probably contributes to half of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions and supports the majority of sweatshops in Asia" - oh and how we all laughed.

Kerry-Anne, you were the star of the green fashion show, and I still feel guilty that I didn't quite like it.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Aggie D & why bike fetishes get you in trouble


When you look at this picture, what do you see? Aggie D, eyes a'blazing, thin arms gripping to the handles...Or maybe the bloke in khaki shorts and a preppy blazer, rejected from something that is undoubtedly fabulous but requires hair covered below the knee?

If you fetishise bikes, the US$13,000 Electra pushie is the undoubtedly the focal point. So shiny, such wide handle bars, handle bars grips....hmmmnnn...E-Lectr-aaaaH

The Electra Amsterdam is a beautiful, beautiful bike, which i doubt I'll ever afford. And as a lady that velocommutes every day: smacking taxis on the boot for pulling-out too quick; abusing taxis for cutting me off to pick someone up from the bus lane; putting a helmet on my head that has just been dropped into a Sydney storm water drain; fighting gravity with heavy bike bags; rocking-up to meetings 'glowing' and asserting for the upteenth time that 'drink-driving laws only apply to car drivers - I can't help myself, I have a pushie fetish. 

And it sometimes gets me into trouble. 

Like two days ago:

I was in Surry Hills, where noticeably of late,  a bunch of spunky young men have  taken to wearing tight pedal pushers, shoes without socks and billlowing shirts while riding fixed-wheel bikes very quickly down Foveaux street. Anyway, anyway...Along comes one with lime green rims set off by white road tyres, a taught frame and incredible curves - I could not take my eyes of it. I even followed this bike (while I could, Mary Jane the commuter gets sluggish at times) for a spell. Until I realised that its rider thought I was checking him out. 

Sure he was cute, but I was checking out the bike! Because I fetishise bikes. 

And then on Castlereagh St on the corner of Bathurst; casually leaning against a pole - sunlight hitting the chrome, hints of colour shimmering from under the seat and red rims, an Angel of a bike. I imagined what it would be like to ride it: shock absorbed, light and intuitive over the bumps, a bell like the sound of 3.30pm...All the while the light had turned green and the council truck behind toots and  pre-coffee barbarians scream "C'mon Love...Ya need a push up the hill do ya?"

Because I fetishise bikes, I stop still in the street when I see a pretty bike only for its owner to come along either super suss that I'm trying to pinch it - or thinking that because I think his bike is hot - we should probably sleep together. 

And I fetishise ugly bikes too...as long as they have cool sticker art. 

When I go City Bike Depot, the bikes must feel like European backpackers working behind the bar in Mt Isa on a Friday night. I feel terrible too, specially since it was pointed out that Mary Jane (my bike) is probably getting very jealous. 

I fetishise bikes, maybe that's why ol' MJ keeps giving me flat tyres?



Sunday, March 29, 2009


The ultimate green utopian Where's Wally pic - he's in there with a green hat. No...really.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour


Boxing Day, post-election slump, birthday clean-up - the sun is shining brightly the day after Earth Hour as council workers attack JC Decaux-laden bus stops, switch billboard ads back to images of a wet Vincent Gallow sheltered under a table in anticipation for a return to climate complacency and tonight's great "Turn-On". Though Earth may have possibly won a few votes in the election, its taken only hours for it to be impeached "in more than 80 countries around the world" by "an estimated 1 billion people".

In the park this morning, the air felt heavy with a collective sigh of relief: we can turn the lights back on; we've done our bit; the before and after picture in the Sunday Herald emphasised the glorious 'before' and humbled 'after' of Sydney's icons. The images, side-by-side invited 'spot-the difference' scrutiny on would ordinarily commit to page 14 of New Weekly, as D-grade celebrities who remain weirdly quiet on issues of Earth for 364 pose gloriously, lips glossed, chest out and branded in WWF.

And as a person sufficiently enraged by the fundamental injustice of the climate-related policy at the moment, the last 4 day have been marred by ad-induced bi-polarity on how to feel about the whole thing. I've spent stupid time critiquing the event, had angry and embarrassingly inflamed conversations with media people rewarded with employment by the event; felt uncomfortable at protests. Time and again the lament has been "but its raising awareness of the issue", and true I guess, for some people being aware for one day of the year is better than being ignorant for all of it.

I get what Christians felt like when Xmas became a commerical event. I'm sure concerns were raised early on that putting tinsel in shopping centres in November did little to further the learning of the value of birth and the coming of Jesus, but were muffled by chimes of 'but people will think of God and its better that they think of ours than someone else's".

So Earth Hour is to environmentalist, what Christmas Day is to Christians: It's okay to switch off the lights but earth-forbid that you start talking to people about the reduction of emissions, burning of coal and duplicity of corporations, because that would be tantamount to bible-bashing on people's front doors on Christmas eve, when stressed-out Mums and Dads are trying to figure out where the bloody hell the sticky tape has gotten to.

So we wish you a Happy Earth Hour, and return to regular programming for the rest of the year.

The Sunchasers

Remember that film the Endless Summer? The idea was that a bunch of spunky surfer dudes traveled the world looking for perfect breaks resulting in an endless summer - doesn't get all that much better really. Unless, of course your a muso and have a beautiful idea of chasing the sun all over Australia, reclaiming disused rotundas and filling public parks with music, art and dance. A guys I met at GreenUps is doing exactly this with his project Sunchasers. He has created a solar rig that powers a small band or PA systems during the sunlight while creating enough reserve battery power to keep things noisy up until 6 hours after the sun has disappeared.

Love it

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