I bid on a quilt last night in a silent auction and brought it home. I was focussed on the effort, the thought, the seamstress, the designer of the pattern and the stories behind all quilts. In this silent auction there was significant homage to local bottles of wine which were spectacular, yet this item had the lowest number of bids on it and while mine was a reasonable bid, I think I got a bargain.
The whole night was full of sexual innuendo, gender specific roles and stories and a number of out-of-date and out-of-touch comments. When I mentioned we were on Kaurna land the level of noise went up in the room, it was so obvious that others spoke to me of it and several women came up to me to let me know how much they appreciated me being their Mayor, which was really touching amidst the feeling I had about being so uncomfortable with much of the evening.
I am so spoilt to be around many people who share my values and world views on justice, equity, and the value of place, especially in these post COVID times and climate action. It is a good reminder to me to be in places where these views are not shared, especially when I am representing the entire community – something that no one person of course can do. I am charged with being a unifying figure, and that does not always come easy.
What does come easy is to support the efforts of those who are building community and so it was with pleasure to name and thank volunteers and the leadership involved in making community events happen. What also comes easy is to listen to those who come up to me with their troubles and disappointments with Council inaction or decisions they don’t understand. I also find it easy to connect to the ones who find themselves on the margins, to thank the people who served on the tables, cooked the meals and are busy in the kitchen cleaning up, to the volunteers and invisible partners and family members who help their loved ones realise their dreams.
I find it easy to bid on quilts and celebrate the art and craft of women at events where there dominant paradigm has the female form as decorative and as a handmaiden. Such a paradox these times are with women in leadership in all levels of decision-making in the boardrooms, parliaments and in my case, a council chamber.
The mycelium of misogyny and colonisation rears its head and has a toxic bloom which I heard loud and clear when I mentioned the first nations people of this land. These are the same people who will be voting when the referendum for Voice comes along later in the year and I am trusting that in the privacy of the ballot box, not fuelled by alcohol or peer pressure, they will vote yes, because they are decent people who also want to right a wrong. But when I left the venue, that wasn’t what I felt, but as always, the sun has risen on a new day and I ready to get back out there to spread a little more mycelium for good.
And to reward me for thinking this way, I opened my emails this morning to find a councillor from a council in the eastern suburbs asking for some advice about a motion they are putting up to support the Voice. They heard me speak on a motion at the recent Local Government Association ordinary meeting. This is mycelium for good at work. Quilts get stitched together and were traditionally done by groups of women sharing their stories and supporting one another, and while I don’t really want to get into mixing metaphors, the quilt might just take on a permanent reminder to me of the way we can sew together our future one stitch at a time, just like the mycelium underground and then rising up for the whole world to see.