Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #45

There isn’t much more I can do now in the campaign, as if ballots aren’t posted over the weekend, there is very little chance, they will arrive in time to be counted by the Electoral Commission. There is an option to drop them off to the one ballot box at the civic centre, but I doubt many people will take this option up.

The City of Onkaparinga is 518 square kilometres and when I look at how many kilometres, I have travelled it is common for me to have done over 100kms most days. Being on the road, in my car, so much these past couple of months has been such a contrast to all the time I spent home during the pandemic.  I have reconnected to parts of the council area I haven’t had a lot to do with for years, found some hidden treasures, appreciated once again the small towns on the rural fringe and more than anything, fallen in love again with the trees and their marking of ancient waterways.

One set of trees that keeps inviting me back to have a look at them are on Strout Road, McLaren Vale. They must at least three hundred years old if you look at their girth reach deep below the surface. These trees have gravitas. Close by them is an old cemetery curated by the Uniting Church. It is nestled into a corner of a junction between two roads, a perfect place to mark the collision of one world and another. I often wonder when I see these sites, who still comes, and how these people are remembered.

It was All Souls and All Saints Day this week, with Halloween as a festival seeping into our culture and I would love to see these little cemeteries being places to gather for rituals and remembrance. I love the Mexican celebration of Dia de los Muertos – the Day of the Dead. There is so much we can bring to life through remembering and connecting deep down beyond the layer of what can be seen with the gravestone. This is what these trees tell me too – to go deep to find the water under ground to be fed from an eternal spring by letting the roots find the water course invisible to the eye and made visible above ground in the green tips of new spring life in the leaves dancing on the breeze and helping hold new homes for new families of birds.

This is a season in my life. It is coming to a close. It is a season where I have put myself forward making myself more visible than I have for decades. You can find me online in every social conceivable, you can see me cris-crossing the landscape in a beat up Prius with my name on top of a large magnetic sign, you can see me popping up at events, on door steps, in letter boxes, on street corners, cafes, bars, supermarkets, playgrounds – I feel like I have touched every one of those 518 square kilometres, even though I know I haven’t.  And then there are the trees on Strout Road which majestically stand and with all their sobriety give me the instructions I need to keep going – that old mantra that has held me more than once of the years – moving on holding still.

I have pasted below the first of Eliot’s quartets – Burnt Norton – where he crafts that glorious phrase the still point of the turning world. He would never have seen the gums on Strout Road, but when I saw them again, I thought of Eliot and the greater poem in which that line is contained. During the week I will go over to Strout Road and read this poem amongst the trees and consider the opening line Time present and time past Are both perhaps present in time future.

I have no idea if I will get elected, it Is such a vacuum, and the voter turn out is very low and there are clearly complications with the postal voting and electoral roll integrity – which I will address post-election with a submission to the Electoral Commission and hopefully a meeting with the Minister. It has been very unsettling to see the fragility of our democracy and future of civic engagement.  So many feel disempowered and unable to find their voice or a way to bring their voice to the surface to be seen and heard. This only galvanises my desire to keep finding ways to do that – admittedly running for Mayor in our largest council in South Australia is a dramatic way to do that at scale – but this in the road that has been calling. At this end of the campaign ,while there hasn’t been a huge translation in voting behaviour, there have been so many people who have told me they have voted for the first time in a council election because they can see someone running that holds their values and hopes and dreams for the future of our place.

This time next week I will most likely know the result of the vote and what lies hidden in envelopes will become visible to all. If I am elected, it will be a sign we have been able to mobilise enough people to focus on the future where climate and racial justice can be embedded into the life of our municipality and where sustainability is our legacy for next generations. to have the chance to find their deepest roots.  Either way I will have tested where the road is taking me next.

Burnt Norton – T S Eliot

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory

Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.
Other echoes
Inhabit the garden. Shall we follow?
Quick, said the bird, find them, find them,
Round the corner. Through the first gate,
Into our first world, shall we follow
The deception of the thrush? Into our first world.
There they were, dignified, invisible,
Moving without pressure, over the dead leaves,
In the autumn heat, through the vibrant air,
And the bird called, in response to
The unheard music hidden in the shrubbery,
And the unseen eyebeam crossed, for the roses
Had the look of flowers that are looked at.
There they were as our guests, accepted and accepting.
So we moved, and they, in a formal pattern,
Along the empty alley, into the box circle,
To look down into the drained pool.
Dry the pool, dry concrete, brown edged,
And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight,
And the lotos rose, quietly, quietly,
The surface glittered out of heart of light,
And they were behind us, reflected in the pool.
Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty.
Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,
Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.

II

Garlic and sapphires in the mud
Clot the bedded axle-tree.
The trilling wire in the blood
Sings below inveterate scars
Appeasing long forgotten wars.
The dance along the artery
The circulation of the lymph
Are figured in the drift of stars
Ascend to summer in the tree
We move above the moving tree
In light upon the figured leaf
And hear upon the sodden floor
Below, the boarhound and the boar

Pursue their pattern as before
But reconciled among the stars.

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.
The inner freedom from the practical desire,
The release from action and suffering, release from the inner
And the outer compulsion, yet surrounded
By a grace of sense, a white light still and moving,
Erhebung without motion, concentration
Without elimination, both a new world
And the old made explicit, understood
In the completion of its partial ecstasy,
The resolution of its partial horror.
Yet the enchainment of past and future

Woven in the weakness of the changing body,
Protects mankind from heaven and damnation
Which flesh cannot endure.
Time past and time future
Allow but a little consciousness.
To be conscious is not to be in time
But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,
The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,
The moment in the draughty church at smokefall
Be remembered; involved with past and future.
Only through time time is conquered.

III

Here is a place of disaffection
Time before and time after
In a dim light: neither daylight
Investing form with lucid stillness
Turning shadow into transient beauty
With slow rotation suggesting permanence
Nor darkness to purify the soul
Emptying the sensual with deprivation
Cleansing affection from the temporal.
Neither plenitude nor vacancy. Only a flicker

Over the strained time-ridden faces
Distracted from distraction by distraction
Filled with fancies and empty of meaning
Tumid apathy with no concentration
Men and bits of paper, whirled by the cold wind
That blows before and after time,
Wind in and out of unwholesome lungs
Time before and time after.
Eructation of unhealthy souls
Into the faded air, the torpid
Driven on the wind that sweeps the gloomy hills of London,
Hampstead and Clerkenwell, Campden and Putney
,
Highgate, Primrose and Ludgate. Not here
Not here the darkness, in this twittering world.

Descend lower, descend only
Into the world of perpetual solitude,
World not world, but that which is not world,
Internal darkness, deprivation
And destitution of all property,
Desiccation of the world of sense,
Evacuation of the world of fancy,
Inoperancy of the world of spirit;
This is the one way, and the other
Is the same, not in movement
But abstention from movement; while the world moves
In appetency, on its metalled ways
Of time past and time future.

IV

Time and the bell have buried the day,
the black cloud carries the sun away.
Will the sunflower turn to us, will the clematis
Stray down, bend to us; tendril and spray
Clutch and cling?
Chill
Fingers of yew be curled
Down on us? After the kingfisher’s wing
Has answered light to light, and is silent, the light is still
At the still point of the turning world.

V

Words move, music moves
Only in time; but that which is only living
Can only die. Words, after speech, reach
Into the silence. Only by the form, the pattern,
Can words or music reach
The stillness, as a Chinese jar still
Moves perpetually in its stillness.
Not the stillness of the violin, while the note lasts,
Not that only, but the co-existence,
Or say that the end precedes the beginning,
And the end and the beginning were always there
Before the beginning and after the end.
And all is always now. Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Will not stay still. Shrieking voices
Scolding, mocking, or merely chattering,
Always assail them. The Word in the desert
Is most attacked by voices of temptation,
The crying shadow in the funeral dance,
The loud lament of the disconsolate chimera.

The detail of the pattern is movement,
As in the figure of the ten stairs.
Desire itself is movement
Not in itself desirable;

Love is itself unmoving,
Only the cause and end of movement,
Timeless, and undesiring
Except in the aspect of time
Caught in the form of limitation

Between un-being and being.
Sudden in a shaft of sunlight
Even while the dust moves
There rises the hidden laughter
Of children in the foliage
Quick now, here, now, always —
Ridiculous the waste sad time
Stretching before and after.

Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #44

I was accused of virtue signalling this week – it is a relatively new term to me. Probably my whole life is a virtue signal for the people who used this term as a ‘put down’ to me this week.  The opposite of virtue signalling as far as I understand it is bigotry, and the accusation is a dog whistle to rally their allies.

Overall, in this election campaign it has been incredibly friendly, warm and generous. People have offered me glasses of water on hot days when I have been door knocking, opened their doors to me with friendly smiles, invited me in to see their gardens, shared stories, waved and tooted to me.  There however is always a dark-side and this has shown up in this campaign as the ugly face of racism and a deep vein of climate denialism. You can detect the fascist playbook being referred to and I have been surprised a few times about how it shows up – this invisible thread making itself visible.

There are a team of candidates who are a mixed bag. One of them is a ralien and another has connections to the neo-Nazi political group. Of course, these qualities are not included in the prepared material for public consumption, and I do believe in a democracy like ours it is perfectly reasonable for all kinds of people with all kinds of persuasions to put themselves forward. What I am wondering about is how we counteract these views as when they turn into policy once people with these views get into governing positions, we all know what the consequences are for minorities. Oh dear, there I go again, virtue signalling.

We are at a crunch point for climate justice, our Pacific neighbours Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama condemned the climate war as being fought with “apathy, denial, and a lack of courage to do what we all know what must be done.”

He appealed for the world to step up.

“Fiji is ready to make the coming years count for our people and for the planet – our question to you is this: Are you with us? Don’t tell us yes unless you plan to show it.

But we do not need to look to the Pacific to know this story, the City of Onkaparinga has 31kms of coastline and by all indications it needs our help to stay strong as sea levels rise. It is not fiction. So once again if this is virtue signally, I am more than happy to put my hand up and say ‘guilty’. What fascinates me though is the person who accused me of this online, is a professional. He works as a physiotherapist in one of the big clinics in a busy practice. It is fuel for me to keep doing more and motivate those who do want their values of justice, equity, access, affordability and inclusion to be turned into policies and practices.

But like the Fiji Prime Minister railed at the UN, I am asking the same question of voters in Onkaparinga – are you with us? And who are the us? 

The us are the people who support the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the people who believe the scientists and understand we have a climate emergency, the ones who voted for Marriage Equality, the people who notice those who go without because of a systems failure and do not play the blame the victim game.  I am happy to be in this company and if you are a voter in Onkaparinga, do not outsource your democracy by not voting, grab your ballot pack, fill in the papers and post back – vote for the virtues you want to see reflected in your community.

Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #43

There isn’t much invisibility when you are seeking to be elected. People are watching your every move. You are trying to get their attention with as much effort as the immortal Kim Craig (nee Daylook at moi can muster (see KathandKim if you have no idea what I am talking about).

Here are a few of my making myself visible activities this week and some of the lessons from the campaign.

The State government have banned the use of coreflute posters on public property, which traditionally has been the bat signal to the electorate that an election is on and in the style of the Roman Forum people could see a photo of candidates and make some kind of assessment of the type of person they are from a picture.  The information about the candidate on the ballot paper includes a photograph so there is a mini version of this in black and white the comes directly to you via the Electoral Commission.  So getting seen and known is a top priority. I decided to use the same photo for everything to increase recognition. I included the photo in the header of a letter to householders, I popped it on all the tiles of my socials and of course it is on my how-to-vote promotional material. It is on my website and business card. I know it is working because people have come up to me in the street and said Hello Moira directly to me indicating they recognise me from my materials.

Another act of getting people to look at me has been the waving around of signs alongside main roads as commuters are going to work, or students and parents going to school. I’ve done this a couple of times and will do more in the coming week. I don’t like doing this alone for a few reasons, it looks a bit lonely and sad I think if you are on your own, I like the story that an election is on and it is about the voters not about those seeking election, and it is safer should you get yelled out or abused or someone try and run you over.  So I invited some other candidates to join me and wobble their signs around too and they accepted the invitation and we had a fun morning.  The tip I take from this is wave. When someone waves at you it is hard not to wave back. This simple gesture is engagement with the campaign and I am confident builds a neuronal pathway to support voter recognition.  When a driver toots and waves back your happy hormones rise too so I think there is a benefit to the candidate too. It certainly buoyed me and when the B-Doubles release their air horns it sends a wave of pleasure through you – thank you truckies who are doing this – you are keeping spirits high!

My campaign made hundreds of badges, invested in some t-shirts and a few baseball caps.  These are helping with visibility too. A bit of merch goes a long way. It is like wearing the colours of your favourite sporting team, people begin to identify and connect. I chose a regal purple for my campaign colour as a nod to the suffragists and also to Lydia of Thyarita. The suffragists colours were purple, green, gold and white. Lydia was a very successful business woman who is documented in the Bible as a seller of purple cloth. I have been a fan of hers for a long time. The fact she is named means she must have been important as so few women are actually named in that ancient text. There is evidence of her funding outreach and she also seems to had no man to give her status as his wife or mother. This level of independence is rare and the fact it is recorded means she must have been very important to the wellbeing of the community. She is described as having an open heart in the Acts of the Apostles. The Orthodox tradition give her a title equal to the first disciples – she is known in that tradition as apostle to the apostles.  And you can see in the word apostle and little hint of the election process … can you see it ?  The word apostle and post have the same roots, meaning to separate and take forward, from one place to another. I feel the purple threads are woven into my campaign.

So you will be seeing more purple, more sign waving and hopefully more voter recognition as ballots have now just about finishing arriving and will be finding their way back through the post to the Electoral Commission, as I ask more and more people to look at moi.

Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #42

Notifications are pinging and buzzing and tinkling all day and night as ballot papers are now starting to arrive. Each alert letting me know a message has arrived that needs some kind of response. I feel like a mother with a dozen toddlers all vying for my attention. This season will be short and intense. My inbox has received enquiries about my views on issues that have little or nothing to do with local council responsibilities. Some emails come from places of deep fear and designed for ‘gotcha’ moments and are almost anonymous giving no more than a gossamer of legitimacy to them. I respond to them by referring them to my website which has plenty of information and try not to get distracted or disturbed which is their primary intent.  I expect these people are really my opponents in sheep’s clothing. Others are from places of confusion and are seeking reassurance and clarity – my response to these is to point them to original and official sources of information. The third kind are those seeking support for their cause or concern. These correspondents are using their enquiry to weigh up where they are going to spend their vote. These notes encourage me to work for their vote and I lean into them. So here is a story about one of those emails.

I received an email from a young person via her father’s email account. She lived in a pocket of housing near a valley that is also a water course that feeds into the river the council is named after.  This suburb is one on the lower end of the socio-economic index for the region. It is full of working families and is densely populated and growing at a high rate in the past four years. The writer was an eleven-year-old girl who wants her playground upgraded, specifically to have more equipment for older children to play on, a nature play space and some more facilities for families to gather. I said I would like to meet her and perhaps she could invite some of her neighbours to join her and we could talk. She took my invitation and made fliers and with her sibling’s door knocked the streets around her home. We made a date and a time. I decided to invite the youngest person running for council in these elections to join me as the area he is running for is where her family live. I thought it would be great for them to meet. I kept thinking of Greta Thunberg who was the same age when she went as sat outside of her parliament and thereby began Fridays for the Future. And we all know the power of what one person can do and the inspiration of one young girl!

When I arrived for our meeting, she was there with her family and within a few minutes more and more people started to arrive over the hill. Mums and Dads, babies in pushers, toddlers, young teens with skateboards under their arms, a grandparent with her grandchildren – all came. This eleven-year-old had managed to mobilise her neighbourhood, with the support of her dad’s printer and her tenacity.

We met in the playground and asked everyone what they wanted to see in the space and why. The overwhelming themes were features for older children, places for families to gather and build more community, more trees, a safe pathway to the river, features to fit into the natural landscape, recognition of Aboriginal knowledge and information about the place and its relationship to the river, and access for all. Amongst the group of grown-ups were marketing specialists, a start-up founder, tertiary students, a Memphis blues enthusiast, stay at home parents, a visiting grandmother, and an edible garden expert. The age range of the children was a babe in arms to late teenage. Many of the people who were there had not met each other before – I was witnessing the beginning of a neighbourhood coming together in a new way. This eleven-year-old was playing the role of a community building midwife.

As our conversation came to an end families stayed around to chat to each other, play on the old and neglected equipment and compare notes about living in Noarlunga Downs.  I was asked what next step they could take together, and I explained with or without an election they could put in to do a deputation to Council and I truly hope I will be in the chamber to hear it. But if I do not get elected, I will certainly be there to support and cheer them on.

This is how we build literacy in our democracy, and this is at the heart of why I am running. I am using this opportunity to support people to have their voices heard, how to raise them and to invite them into the systems that exist and create the spaces for new ones. The campaign has involved over one hundred volunteers, some who have never campaigned for anything before. Several people who have offered help because they felt inspired by my household letter and wanted to help, a couple of people who have letterboxed for me and told me explicitly that it has helped their mental health and they feel better than they have felt for months.

Building community is the antidote for toxic individuality. The young resident of Noarlunga Downs made that truth visible in her efforts and I hope my response to her and what we might be able to do together in the future is now more visible to her and her neighbourhood.

Georjee and her neighbourhood, Noarlunga Downs.

Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #41

COVID interruptus to the mayoral campaign this past week provided some new opportunities for my network of family, friends, and community connections to go into over-drive. There were people of all ages folding letters, bundling up, delivering notices, checking their socials, and talking me up in places I could not get to, and then taking the time to report back what was happening in electioneering land. There were children on school holidays who found themselves in the middle of a campaign. It was so heartening. I am truly humbled.

I am going to share ten highlights from the week, where I experienced an abundance of care and radical generosity. I am only choosing ten, I could have chosen three times as many. I feel like a vein of opal was tapped this week – every contribution, a colourful reflection of relationships across time and space.

First up, my choir calling me and putting me on speaker so I could hear them sing the last song of the night. This song, we sing to close each time we are together, is a beautiful blessing about all being right in the world. It is sung in a language none of us know and it takes on angelic and cosmic qualities when you hear it and sing it. It has magical, healing properties. I was so touched and the spontaneity and kindness this simple act brought me. The choir is one of the things that I think keeps me whole and well. This gesture will remain with me and truly held me this week.

Next one, was my trusty magnetic car sign going on tour on other people’s cars. One such carrier was stopped in a supermarket car park and was advised that the owner of the sign (me) had a very clear voice making it easy for him, a self-described “old bugger” easy to hear and understand.

The third highlight I will mention is a phone call. This phone call was from a woman who was absolutely convinced she knew me from twenty years ago. She was sure it was me, but the surname did not look right, she checked a number of sources including some old photographs she had of us being involved in another campaign. She took a punt and called me. I explained I had returned to my family name on the death of my husband. We had a lovely chat, and I was the same person, and I am looking forward to reconnecting with her.

Fourth highlight was a group of friends I used to work with all arriving to go letterboxing, and waving and chatting to me at a distance, through my bedroom window. One had come from the other side of the earth, another from the other side of the hills to be together and united in their desire to see me get elected. It was such a deep joy to feel this love and support. The chief organiser has been steadfast in her efforts to organise her area for folding and distribution, strategy, and sanity. She has roped in neighbours, who have roped in others, including a morning after slumber party of teen girls.

Number five highlight, and I now realise I am not putting these in any chronological order or rank, was the frozen roasted vegetable soup that arrived at the door wrapped in foil and love. An instant hit of vitamins and compassion with the desired effect to keep me moving towards good physical and mental health. Cooked and delivered by friends who know what is means to be alive and kicking.

The sixth highlight was my daughter organising someone to come and mow my lawns as my usual person was away. I was thrilled with her organising and when the said help arrived, I thought how much he looked like my son-in-law and then as I woke up from my daze, realised it was my son-in-law! I laughed at myself for a good ten minutes and am still giggling as I think about it. The laughter an extra dose of good medicine!

Highlight number seven was a call from an octogenarian who lives in one of the oldest seaside townships. When he first arrived here there were paddocks and summer shacks along the shoreline. He has watched houses come and more houses come, shops, buses, roads, schools and more shops, buses, roads, and schools arrive. He feels like not all the changes and development are good and he wants more community and more communication. He feels alienated from the public discourse as he does not have the internet, social media and there is no local paper, and the local radio is all about city politics. He called me because he got my household letter. He felt like I was approachable and could ring me. We had a very sophisticated conversation, and I am looking forward to morning tea and cake with him and his wife in a week’s time so we can keep the conversation going and I can tap into his wisdom. He was a founding member of the resident’s association that will be 40 years old soon. I know I will learn a lot from the conversation to come.

Number eight highlight came in the form of an addressed but unsigned letter in my post office box. It was to complain about my stance on climate change. I am so happy this is my first hate mail of the campaign. I will continue to speak up for climate justice, this is the decade to turn things around, it is not a dress rehearsal and I want to be in a place where change at scale might be possible.

The ninth highlight was a short email asking if I supported the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Needless to say, my reply was longer than the email. I explained my long-time support and shared some of my policy ideas if I get the chance to be Mayor to support and apply Kaurna lessons to our economic and ecological challenges. Rooted in our deep connection to place and the council taking its name from the women’s river Onkaparinga, I truly hope I can be able to deepen my experience and our community.

The tenth and final highlight was a post on LinkedIn by a business I supported when they were dealing with some very challenging regulatory issue threatening their entire business. I took the time to understand their issue. I wrote a letter to the appropriate authority. While my letter may not have been what helped them get over the line, it was a contribution. I did not realise one of the co-founders of this business lived in the area I am running for Mayor, so to see her post with my letter, and her endorsement was a beautiful surprise.

These are only ten highlights from the week of being confined to quarters … there are more …. And all I can say if I do not get elected it will not be because I do not have support from the people who share the values I have, who care and want for a world that has leadership, integrity and transparency, who want Onkaparinga to be a place of possibilities.

I wanted to make visible these, otherwise invsible, moments in the campaign this week, to remind myself how it takes a village to do anything, and a mayoral campaign is no exception. I feel honoured to receive all this support.

A deep bow (no hugs just yet) to you all.

Unsigned correspondence

Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #40

I was very fortunate to be amongst the nearly 2000 delegates at the Social Enterprise World Forum this week in Meanijn (Brisbane, Queensland).  It was quite something to be at an international event, the largest that city has hosted since the lockdowns of COVID. The community that gathered in person and online share a common vision for a more purpose driven economy that will deliver social and environmental outcomes, jobs, and impact. There was a deep under current of the wisdom and ingenuity of First Nations people from around the world. There was an emerging clarity of what scale means and a consistent theme of collaboration. There was urgency in the air and a sense this is no longer a sector, it is a movement.

Mobilising for change must include economic models, metrics, tools, and techniques. I was asked this week on the campaign trail if I would declare a climate emergency. My state has already done this and I am looking forward to a council chamber that will do the same if elected to Mayor. But a declaration is not going to take us far enough, quickly enough. There will be a need for an overhaul of all kinds of practices, procurement, behaviours, education, and opportunities. Jurisdictions the world over account for more than 1 billion people who have declared a climate emergency.

I am very fortunate to have a number of people in my life to give me advice around these matters, not the least Prof Peter Newman who is one of my co-trustees for a foundation and we have served together for more than 2 decades. Among other distinguishing credentials, Peter is the Coordinating lead author for the United Nations IPCC on transport. There are also plenty of people in my local community who have been tireless champions for the environment, and I have public servants as dear friends who in their paid and voluntary roles who have generated initiatives, mobilised farmers, community groups, planted trees, cleared land, created regenerative farming zones … and the list goes on. This is not an academic exercise for me. I am pleased I can tap into their wisdom and experience.

The increased attention and activity delivering the circular economy holds many new opportunities, including jobs. I am inspired by Prof Veena Sahajwalla, whose mantra is there is no such thing as waste is offering new models and micro-factories and I can’t wait to see how we might bring some of these to life in my part of the world. I was fortunate to connect with her work in the recent Circular Economy Incubator my co-founders at Collab4Good ran sponsored by Green Industries SA to help build more social enterprises working in the circular economy.

The truth telling that we are about to embark on as a nation as we head towards a referendum on a voice to parliament, will add to this conversation. I expect there is more enlightenment to come. So grateful I got to listen and learn from some of the voices of First Nations at SEWF whose universal message seems to be: we know what to do. (Check out the Climate Council‘s resources on this if you are new to the idea of climate justice.)

So, this takes me back to the beginning of this piece, the Social Enterprise World Forum. Circonomy is now out in the world, born from the World’s Biggest Garage Sale’s Yasmin Grigaliunas. Yas believes many people, not just things, have been put on the scrap heap, and her model “circularity is the new normal, while creating opportunities for people of all abilities.”  Yas was one of the first ventures supported by Australian activators of what is now known as Coralus (formerly SheEO).  It has been so instructive watching her grow her enterprise, receive numerous awards, generate investment, and most importantly witness the growth and development of an empowered and engaged workforce.

SEWF reminded me we can turn things around. It is not up to one of us, it is up to all of us. We have the tech, the skills, the capacity and now the will has arrived.  We can’t wait another minute, it is time to be visible.

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash It was such a treat singing with Anders Nyberg – There is no Planet B in the Blue Mountains the day of the international student strike led by Greta Thunberg during The Global Week for the Future in September 2019.

Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #39

Heading into a new week, each day brings closer the day voters have their ballots arriving in their letterboxes. I have been musing on the role of the letter box in this democratic process. The letter box is almost redundant in our lives. I have even met a young voter who has never posted a letter. The letter box is a legacy of a time when communication was slower, less immediate and mediated by many along the way in the process of sent and received.  Now a simple click of a keyboard and a broadcast can occur, no need for hundreds of hours being added to the price of a stamp.

Our stamps will be changing and EIIR letterboxes will be fading from view. Apparently letter boxes began in Russia in the middle of the 19th century. Long before, people found ways to pop their messages into all kinds of places to be collected from bottles, to secret spaces in walls and being delivered back and forth on horseback.

A postal ballot feels so much less secure to me than a vote cast in the privacy of a booth, in full public view of officials and neighbours. The post box at your home is not that secure, anyone can pull a letter out! I have full confidence of Australia Post making the trip from their boxes to the Electoral Commission safe but not the bit before. Also, I worry that the opportunity for coercion and someone saying they will do the post for someone and then not actually posting their papers feels very real. I am nervous about democracy with a postal vote.

Nevertheless, this is the type of ballots votes will be delivered in October and November for the local government elections in South Australia. It is a postal ballot. The posties of my state will have the sacred duty of aiding democracy when they deliver the ballots to your letter box. This is also a non-compulsory election, so only those motivated to vote will do so. While 85% of rates are made by decision-makers in the City of Onkaparinga, last time round only 26% of voters returned a ballot.

I want people to vote, and I have been asking residents, when I am out door-knocking to vote. I have been asking them if they vote in local government elections. True to the data, three out of four, tell me they have never voted for at a council election. I ask them why and most common answers I hear are:

  • It’s a waste of time, council decide what they want to do anyhow
  • I’ve never met someone running for council, so didn’t know who to vote for
  • I am not a property owner, so I didn’t think I was eligible.

To those people who don’t vote in council elections, it is not a waste of time, make it your business to find out who is running and why check out the Electoral Commission website and start talking to others about the choice you are going to make.

If you haven’t met anyone, this is completely not true once I’ve knocked at your door you know someone, and most people acknowledge this, give a big smile and say how much they appreciate the fact I knocked on their door.

Lots of people are of the impression that if they rent, or share a house with family or friends that they aren’t eligible to vote. They are always happy to hear that they are eligible if they are already on the electoral roll.

If we let other people make decisions for us, our voices won’t be factored in. We have a responsibility to also use our vote and voices for those who don’t have one, including future generations and other species.

Postal non-compulsory voting is the thin edge of the wedge in eroding democratic opportunities. You can help turn this around by using your ballot papers to vote for the people who reflect your values and make visible your preferred community leaders.

Don’t outsource your vote to others, encourage your family, neighbours and friends to do the same. The future is in your hands, once you get the papers out of your letter box and put them back into the hands of the trusted Australia Post letter box.

Photo by Krisztina Papp on Unsplash

Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #38

I am confronted by all kinds of dogs when I am knocking on doors campaigning. I am not a dog owner; however, I can deeply appreciate the role they play in people’s lives. They come in all sizes and shapes … and ferocity. One door I knocked on this week I was genuinely shaken by the tone and tenacity of a full-throated bark which clearly belonged to a creature that could tear me from limb to limb if the door opened. Each dog is deeply embedded in the lives of the people who live behind these doors, so I treat their canine companions with deep respect.

There are the dogs whose primary purpose is protection and security. They might offer their centurion status with calm resolute stance ready to pounce should there be an unprovoked or unnecessary movement. Others are more ‘attack first ask questions later’ types. These guardians are the epitome of what front line home defence means. They stand ready to shield their owner from any threat at the door. I am rarely perceived as a threat, and almost every single owner calms the dog and pulls them away from the door so I can be seen and heard. I wish all our inner attack dogs could be controlled so easily. It has got me thinking that perhaps these physical incarnations of protection are short cut ways to set our fears aside having known the message behind the bark has already been sent and so a conversation begins with that as it’s foundation?

Then there are the dogs whose calling seems to be to offer comfort of another kind, the kind that involves cuddling and petting. These dogs are mainly smaller and form a yin yang symbol within the folds of their keepers’ arms. They coo and purr and offer a yap just to remind the caller who they belong too to avoid any confusion or potential abduction. They seem to scurry and hurry to the door and like being part of the greeting – offering a two for the price of one welcome. They are pleased to see you by the look of the wagging tails and equally pleased to see you go so they can go back to their one-on-one adoration fest.

Then there are the dogs, who know they are called to be companions, part-time carers of children, people with disabilities or those who are lonely. They are skilled in mothercraft and there are some I have met that I think should be able to get an NDIS benefit for their capacity to genuinely contribute to the health and wellbeing of their human. They can fetch, watch over, listen, calm, and connect on behalf of their human. Their sensory skills so finely tuned that they know how to help their human navigate their world. These dogs seem to come in all shapes and sizes and at a point, along the way were well trained and their discipline would give any charge nurse a run for their money.

There are many more kinds of dogs in between too – the ones who are not yet sure of their identity and role, and the ones who are nonchalant, and others who can switch roles with a wag of a tail.

With the rise in the number of dogs being brought into family homes during COVID, I expect I will continue to meet more dogs over the coming weeks of the campaign and make visible what matters to their owners and it is an easy route then for me to tune into the person who does answer the door. Thank you to all the dogs I have met so far for being an early detection system before their human opens to the door, it gives me a head start and readies me for a brief conversation.

Photo by Jay Wennington on Unsplash

Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #37

Out and about. visiting homes and doorknocking in my local government area, there is genuine and deep respect for the Queen. Many of the doors that opened to me revealed televisions firmly fixed on channels covering all the details of the preparations for her funeral and the retrospectives of a life well-lived. The ‘end of an era’ was the common theme.

Her constant presence from her image on our money, photos in the post office, in our passports will start to disappear and be replaced by her son. She has been a visible example of female leadership for generations and a women’s voice in the conversations with Prime Ministers, Ambassadors, decision-makers, community leaders. There is universal understanding that her presence was calm, considered, occasionally humorous and at all times dignified.

Like an archetypal mother she has presided over a very large dinner table and as matriarch to nations and her own family taken poll position at those tables. I am wondering how that place is now set?  As one era ends and new one begins, what will be the hallmarks of this era?

We know that the new King has a lifelong interest and advocacy around climate, food systems and drives an electric car, is a prolific writer of hand penned thank you letters to staff and volunteers, speaks out about architecture and design, preservation, conservation and supports and uses alternative medicine. These interests and experiences may well have prepared him for these times more than we might first imagine.

The balance of inheritance and acceptance of a legacy as we emerge into a world upon the fixed point of the person who has held the role in the past, is not an exclusive experience for the new monarch. In many ways it is a common ordinary experience, many of us find ourselves having to fit into someone else’s shoes. We pick up the pieces of what has been left behind and to quote a very British phrase, we carry one. We move to the next part of the common journey, but the path ahead is yet to be trod. That is our job to carry what we need to for the next phase, and we can also discard what doesn’t serve us as we go forward.  I expect this will be true for Charles III too. He will set aside what is no longer necessary or relevant for these times and find others might do the same to him and the role he occupies.  I am sure the republican movements in Britain and in Australia will leverage this moment.

The outpouring of love and grief that will become more visible as each day passes will also reveal the grief of certainty ending. Queen Elizabeth II was such a constant and binding figure, her death jars and disrupts that feeling of stability. While the British monarchy and all the forces around it will keep the foundations strong, individual lives have been disrupted, a family has lost a loved one. Communities and countries have caught their breath and taking stock of what it means to have lost a soverign and gained another all in one single breath out and breath in. The Queen is dead, long live the King – is a line in our vocabulary that is no longer in the history pages – having not been uttered since Queen Victoria’s death in 1901. It is such a complete expression of an unbroken thread.

When foundations are shaken, it takes a while for the dust to settle, and it doesn’t all land back in the same place it came from. I expect this will be true on this occasion too. This smooth transition of power, priviliege and influence from one generation to the next will unfold and I am curious to see how the British monarchy emerges and transforms as it arrives at a post-Elizabethan time.

Australian flag at half mast – Moana Surf Life Saving Club 10 September 2022

Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #36

Support for my campaign is eeking its way into my visibility this week. When you are on the trail, you spend a lot of time on your own, in the car travelling between appointments and community gatherings, at home signing the backs of cards to drop off saying ‘sorry I missed you’ for the empty houses when door knocking and moments in between. There is a lot of pushing forward, taking a breath to step into a conversation or space. So, when you start to see the threads come together it is very rewarding.

This week I talked with a men’s group who have been meeting together for more than a decade. They were interested in why they should vote for me of course, and I did talk about that, but then we did a round where they all talked about what was important to them. In the buzz over the tea and biscuits it was really delighted to hear the conversations deepen and continue. What gave me heart was one of the participants bragging he had already got a visit from me, but he hadn’t been home, so I’d left a note in his letter box. My appearance at his men’s group confirmed I was real and genuinely interested in listening to him. I was no longer invisible to him, but more importantly, he was no longer invisible to me.

The second revelation came at cancer research fund raiser. I have been encouraged to go by a friend and campaign supporter. I knew no one going. The entertainment was pre-schoolers singing some rhymes. One of my all-time favourites – I’m a little teapot – was the crowd pleaser. Two versions of the song were delivered to an enthusiastic audience of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. The first time through we were treated to the original version with all the actions. The second time, it was a mix of rap and Queen – everyone loved it especially the songsters. I had flash backs to my own childhood and my children’s Kindy concerts. The unity of the room was a full and energised as any rock concert. Afterwards I met with the leader of the community who knew I was coming and embraced with a deep and warm greeting. There is something universal about children. We met because someone could see the thread between us and a common desire to bring children’s voices to the fore. That hug was an act of solidarity, arriving through the endorsement of another. A beautiful gift of love made visible.

While out at a community auction last weekend, I missed by a few minutes another candidate pressing the flesh and getting to know different parts of the community. However, I had left behind at the event a few of my supporters wearing my Moira for Mayor badges. The candidate dropped me a note saying she had been wandering around the community auction and several people were wearing my badges. This warmed by heart so much. The work of a small group who I endearingly call the Pinking Shears Collective, was no longer visible. The badges were now circulating, doing their work in the world, providing provocation for conversation, making my campaign visible through the walking billboards of friendly faces and proud chests. This is very heart-warming for me.

Making visible what we believe, who we support, using prompts like badges, introductions and calling cards are the invitations we all need to open up conversations.  This is grass roots campaigning, and I am gratefully, seeing green shoots starting to appear.

Liz Sanders from The Food Embassy giving a speech at my campaign launch.