Monthly Archives: March 2022

Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #13

The mood for change is in the air. It is arriving with cooler, crisper breezes just after sunset, promising the next season is calibrating before it settles in. Voters have done the first of three invitations this year to have a say on governance, we’ve done the State, next up is the national and before year end there will be the municipal elections too. Electoral exhaustion might set in. Twenty years ago, social researcher Hugh Mackay analysed thousands of interviews with Australians as they landed into the next millennium. He noted issues of control and anxiety being supported by a renovation revolution, fitness, tattoos and body-piercings. His review of 2020 as the pandemic took hold reflected on the kindness revolution unfolding and it is that mood of the nation I hope is reflected in the polls as the year unfolds, I am optimistic.

We have learnt to that turning to our neighbours in times of crisis is our best bet. We have learnt this through droughts, bushfires, floods and a pandemic. Acts of kindness add up, as we saw with the documentation of the Kindness Pandemic lead by Dr Catherine Barrett that captivated a nation. I am wondering how this invisible thread of generosity will continue to show up as the pandemic eases and what we will take with us into the next twenty years?  This decade being the decade where we have no time to lose. Kindness to future generations will require our mood to be hopeful, sincere, pragmatic and impatient for change. I know there are many people that can’t wait to get to the next ballot box.

The dreadful discovery this week of microplastics in human blood had me reeling especially in relation to babies and placentas. Invisible and ever present, setting the conditions for a new kind of science fact-ion. Just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it is not there. This season in our human condition where plastics attach to our blood may lead us to challenges in our breathing. The breath is certainly front and centre of so much right now from meditation to COVID, our lungs and the green lungs of the planet are intertwined and breathing in and out, a most visible and invisible act, is pivotal to our personal and collective well being. No kindness without breath in the body. The invitation to take a deep breath to face a next step, to calm down, to steady yourself for action is at hand.

Watching someone struggle to get their breath, literally drowning, is what we are doing at scale as we watch the waters rise in our collective lungs. I sometimes muse on the idea if we could all just breath well collectively maybe this would bring in more kindness, and through those invisible breaths bring forth a heavy sigh, so we can all face what is being called for right now in our neighbourhoods, our towns, our countries and our planet. The breath may be the super power to unleash a kindness revolution. The breath always hosts the potential to change our mood.

Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash

Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #12

I love voting day and seeing people line up before the polling station opens ready to cast their vote. The veteran citizen of many an election, refusing the disability parking spot, preferring to walk proudly, deliberately into the booth accompanied by their walking stick and their electoral dignity. The first-time voter who checks with an older sibling or a parent to be sure they are going to get their mark to the right place on the ballot paper being congratulated for no longer being a virgin voter … these things give me a real thrill. Then there is the heart break of seeing ballot papers with no marks on them at all and several with the traditional male genitalia cartooned into place and the inevitable one or two that leave a comment about feeling that no one speaks for them and therefore no one deserving of their vote.

Handing out How to Vote cards in the morning and scrutineering in the evening once again after an absence of some years was a small and joyful act of this citizen, who once stood for a major political party twenty years ago. I haven’t been to a branch meeting or a fundraiser for more than a decade, and missed contributing to several election cycles. I needed a rest. Generously, the candidate, and member, who won the same seat acknowledged and thanked me for “loosening the lid on the can” that enabled him to go on and win it after me and in subsequent elections. The faithful who gathered at the local sporting club were mainly his family, friends and rusted on party members. I really appreciated the acknowledgement after all these years and in a week, where being seen and invisible efforts of mine are being made visible by others, it was another sign of the universe conspiring to remind and hold me to account to my roots and place, or more accurately, places in the world.

As the votes get counted and the maps get coloured in, the process of the big reveal, of what happened in the privacy of the booth, is like chlorophyll, the pigment that gives the plants their green colour and helps plants create their food through that glorious process of photosynthesis. Invisible to the human eye, coming to life under a microscope, chloroplasts, like every voter, have a huge and central role in bringing forth and sustaining a healthy planet.  Voters bring life, breath oxygen into decisions and then together set the conditions for how we will all get to live in the coming years.

This election was for the State, the next one in a few months will be to form a national government. I am very excited about what will unfold. A slew of independent women candidates across the country will be lining up, especially in the regions, there will be memories and disappointments being translated into voting patterns and I am predicting we will be seeing ourselves reflected in the result that is more feminist, more focussed on the future, more compassionate and more diverse than we will ever have seen – because this is who we are – a kinder, more generous nation that understands climate, gender and racial justice is what will take us to next level humanity.

The Premier incumbent for my State quoted one of my favourite political quotes in his speech last night: “In a democracy, the highest office is the office of citizen” – US Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter. I agree with that and for those of us who are privileged to have a vote. I have always encouraged others to vote with those in mind who don’t have that privilege, children, young people, those who are outside of the electoral process, incarcerated, refugees waiting for their status to come through, future generations, other species who need our help, our global neighbours, and partners. When you vote it is not just for your hip pocket, your place or family – it is something much bigger, wider, and deeper. It is stepping in to the booth with gratitude for all those who worked to enable you to have the franchise, for me I think of the suffragists, for my grandparents who marched for the eight hour day, for those who passed referendum to include Aboriginal people and I take my pencil to paper with the future in mind, one which will deliver more equity, more inclusion and has the potential to unite rather than divide.

The role of the citizen is the foundation of any democracy, and I am so grateful to be living in a place where the transfer of power by the people is done simply, civilly and in public view. Voting day is when citizenship is made visible, but it shouldn’t end there. Every day we have the opportunity to exercise our citizenship and vote with our values in the way we spend our time, money, resources and behave in the world.  You don’t need to wait for polling day to bring your energy to photosynthesis and breath the future in.

Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #11

I’ve been asked to be a referee for a few people lately and it is the trust of a trusted person that does the invisible due diligence in this process – a kind of reverse gaslighting. I really love being given these opportunities as I know my reputation means something and therefore my endorsement might be truly helpful in getting a person over the line. I get the pleasure of seeing them move to into a role they want and then they are in a place that might extend their reach as well. It feels like an expanding universe.

I was surprised on Friday at the national impact and innovation festival, SouthStart, by what I am going to call the boomerang effect! My ‘show not tell’ lessons came back to me and the one I am sharing in this year’s blog of invisibility and visibility was made tangible. In what could only be considered a supercharged quickly assembled campaign was underway right under my nose for the past ten days. Communities of communities were linked together through the leadership and due diligence of a group of friends, who don’t actually know each other that well, but they all know me, and one way or another have been connected through me. They generated a crowdfunding campaign to make visible their support for my voluntary contributions to filling in some of the infrastructure gaps in our impact enterprise ecosystem. This is work that rests on the apex of equity and inclusion. It is systems work, it is not reform or renewal. By definition this is working in sets of interactions and where people, activities, tools, technologies, places and networks intersect and influence each other. It requires an ability to morph and move with agility and intention in both visible and invisible ways.

The campaign conspirators want this work to be recognised and rewarded by the people who benefit from this and those who want to see more of it. One of the secret squirrels told me ‘well we’re only doing what you’ve taught us to do – we’re making all your invisible contributions, visible!”  This past 12 months I have taken a personal stand to do less paid work and concentrate on contributing into the spaces that I know I can leverage and shift with my time and talents.

I was lured into story telling some of my invisible acts over the years before the campaign was publicly revealed to me. On reflection I have considered the power of story, yet again as truth telling and a way of leaving a trail of crumbs to discovery and transformation.

This past 12 months I have taken a personal stand to do less paid work and concentrate on contributing into the spaces that I know I can leverage and shift with my time and talents. I am focussing on ways to distribute power and bring my creativity to make this revolution, irresistible. The gender gaps are foundational for me and patriarchy as a system just has to go, for all of us and our planet. It is toxic and is killing us all.

I am so deeply humbled and moved by the 86 early adopters who made a contribution to the crowdfunding campaign before Friday when the cat was let out of the bag! They have since been joined by more over the last couple of days. I love the genius of the whole approach, to have the community who see me doing what I do at systems level and are now asking that I do more of it in their name with their financial support, this is the best kind of reference I could ever have.

Those that know me deeply will know, I would never have agreed to this approach if asked, as I see so many women in particular, who constantly give to their communities with little or no recognition or reward. I think of the Aunties and Grandmothers in many Aboriginal communities, of the mothers and sisters holding on tight to cultural knowledge in the face of violence and displacement. I feel so privileged. As a tertiary educated white woman of settler stock, living on stolen land, I am not part of an oppressed minority. I do try to understand my privilege and use my power responsibly.  I think of myself as a creative and a pilgrim.  My privilege is a responsibility and I promise to accept your gifts with the love you have given them and I see you for your contribution to my life, however humble or grand, I cherish it as sincere and generous.  The dollars turning up on the page are no measure of the love and trust you put in me. I am excited about the model this has created and support it 100%. I am inspired to more of this for others and with others.

My inability to notice an army of schemers, is testimony to the trust the organisers imbued in each other and my focus being elsewhere.  I have missed a few things over the years, a couple of giant ones, causing surprises that delivered trauma because I had my attention averted away from myself. This time I am glad my predisposition, was at work, allowing me to have a wonderful surprise and to feel all that it meant to me and to others. I can claim that part of myself back, that innocent, empathic self, and this is an unexpected and very welcome by-product of such an extraordinary event.  Healing created by friends, delivered by community, received with love.

Here you can see me being surprised!


PS Now that the secret is out there are a few more days left in the campaign if you want to make a contribution

Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #10

One thing all the speakers I heard at the first day of the Adelaide Festival’s Writers Week on Saturday, had in common (apart from being spectacular with words on a page). was a reference the Prime Minister and his government. The relationship between creativity and politics is firmly fused. None of the references were endorsements. Speaking into the space, made by like-minded people, truths we all know, I still felt a touch of boldness is their remarks. There were no gasps, no armed response, all comments met with civic applause.

This act of bringing your two hand together, the left and the right, to mark the moment. An affirmation, acclamation, authorisation. No longer the thought, the voice or performance prepared invisibility, now out in the wild, noticed, witnessed, visible. A polite gentle tinkle, or rip roaring thunder, the measure of the impact translated into the sound hands make when they come together, at scale.

I’ve often used an applause-o-meter in community settings, to gauge or test the efficacy of an idea. Inviting people to clap also serves very well as an engagement tool as well at various intersections in event to welcome, thank and recognise. It never ceases to amaze me how important it is to have some physicality, a bodily response in the mix of participation. The individuals, become a group, even a community in that moment. The collective emerges with a single response.

I have missed these moments so much during the pandemic.

The joy of a gathering arriving at the same conclusion, rising to its feets, scooping up with voices to add to the applause, help me feel part of something bigger. It is visceral, in a way digital experiences will never be. Making something visible that was invisible, through the shared experience, gives me hope. I felt hopeful when I heard the applause from the audiences at Writers Week, the spontaneous and shared response to the call from the writers about our PM. These same people are invisible, individual voters who before too long, will go into ballot boxes and deliver a collective, visible, democratic reply to the invitation of candidates to select them as their representative in our parliament.

When I was working as the CEO of Volunteering SA & NT, i used to say, we get to vote every few years for the government we want, but every day when we gift our time, talents and energy as volunteers, we are making choices for the kind of community we want to live in – one with more trees, safe from bushfires, less violence towards women, where children learn to read, when those infirmed get home delivered meals. and so it goes on.

The applause-o-meter on these contributions to our democracy are often invisible, until they aren’t. They are essential threads in the weave in the tapestry of democracy. These creatives often miss out on hearing the applause of the collective. I am giving thanks for their political acts of bringing more justice, compassion and fashioning visible and durable paths for peace and equity.

Photo by Guillermo Latorre on Unsplash