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Monthly Archives: October 2012

Photography by Vara

 

Instagram may have you believe photography consists only of snacks, scenery and shameless selfies, but Sydney-based photographer, Vara, unveils a unique lens through which we can see the streets around us. He works as a street photographer, shooting portraits of “people with something interesting to share. It might be the way they look or walk. It can be something in their dress, face, or hair.” His images are full of detail, charisma and are so full of life, it’s hard to draw yourself away from their profound features. I interviewed him for Warhol’s Children. I urge you to read the interview. You will learn so much about the man, the passion and the process, and to visit his blog which you can access via the page at Warhol’s Children. Click here. It’ll be worth the visit.

Last night I babysat for two young Einsteins. A girl, 12 years of age, with a sharp intellect and an abundance of confidence. Her brother, 10, is a petite, curly haired bundle of joy. Together, they are possibly the brightest siblings I’ve ever come across at such a young age.

They are also well-traveled, highly educated and privileged individuals. As I sat with them while they ate their dinner, we discussed their backyard. Well more they talked and I listened. They told me about the fruit in their garden; figs, plums and feijoas – apparently a mixture of a kiwi and a strawberry. No, they decided, more like a kiwi and a guava. Feijoas are from South America, specifically Brazil. I heard about their magnolia tree and how they plan to renovate soon but whilst gaining a lemon tree and a vegetable patch, they will lose their beloved walnut tree.

They recently moved back from the country where they lived in snow territory for a number of years. Up there they took care of eucalyptus’ and went to a school with only 8-10 students in the summer, spring and autumn. During winter, the student population could grow to a mass of 40. It was apparently a “perfect balance between city and country life”.

At the school, they went to Canberra for a week on a field trip. I heard about their visits to the War Museum and the bright red poppies that adorned the walls. I heard about Questacon, the science museum, the lodge at which they stayed and the city’s chlorinated water – “You could taste it, you could smell it!”

We talked about their family overseas and how two years ago, they’d spent Halloween in the USA. I got a detailed account of their costumes and their adventures on the classically American holiday. I learned about many museums in Washington D.C, life in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The young boy talked about the semi-precious stones he’d collected, the original-model airplanes they’d seen and the wood’s they’d visited, “where everybody seems to get lost”.

We then moved on to Greek myths I’d never heard of, animals they’d like as pets including rabbits, a lizard and another of which I cannot even remember the name – something not dissimilar to a Mexican walking fish. We talked about their habitats and their individual needs. I heard about fly-catching plants and others that only eat European wasps.

The girl then showed me her art. Detailed “profiles” of cats, dragons and aviary. Pokemons and new species she’d created in her head. Then her brother encouraged her to show me the felt models she’d made of her creatures. She plans to write a book about them, get it published, and sell her models. Her brother is helping to map out their environment with a key and legend. They also want to make a computer game related to these creatures. So young, yet so adventurous. I told her she should become an artist. She said, “I think I already am”.

If you’re ever feeling bad about your own abilities, talents or doubt your confidence, come and visit these kids. You’ll walk out feeling even more uncertain and hopeless than ever before.

But it was so lovely to see young people with incredibly advanced knowledge, assured talents and the self-belief to match it. They taught me much more tonight about science, history and entrepreneurship than I’ve ever thought to pursue. And all in a night’s work.

Have you ever stopped to think

That animals might have feelings?

That when we’re sad, or grumpy or moody

They too may have their days?

I’d never thunk this thought before this afternoon

And it struck me with quite a hit

That I’d been so neglectful of

My pets and their contentment

We can see psychologists

Counsellors or shrinks

But they’re left to their own accord

Initiative and strength

Maybe that’s why wolves live in packs

To relate, respond and comfort

And bees fly, and lives in hives

Insect to insect kind of bonding

Us humans like to be alone

But some are party people

The thing is we are all unique

And controlling our emotions proves difficult

So next time you’re misunderstood

Crazy, bleak or spent

Think of all those animals

Whose lives are spent misled

By ignorant carers, owners and friends

Unable to understand

Their quarks, meows, grunts and howls

So foreign to our land

But hugs and kisses and playing games

They’re mutual and external

Cross boundaries and communicate

And love shall be eternal

News released today states that 2.26 million Australians are living in poverty, earning less than $18,000 a year. This equates to $50 a day for singles, and only $80 a day for a sole parent with two dependant children. 575,000 children are living in poverty, in Australia.

Lets put it into layman’s terms, shall we?

I bought petrol the other day for $1.41 a litre. I bought $20 worth of petrol. I purchased two items online last week coming to just over $90. Eating out can cost from anywhere between $1 (for fast food) to $40+ for a standard size meal at an upmarket restaurant. On Wednesday, lunch at uni cost me around $8. I went $60 over my phone bill this month, when my plan already costs around the same amount on a standard rate. I don’t do grocery shopping, but a parent walking out of Coles or Woolworths having spent under $100 would be unusual, even for a small family. We have a cat and a dog. They need food. Dogs need grooming. Petrol runs out as you go about your simple day-to-day tasks, driving from one place to another. I put $10 on my myki card this week and I’m already down to a negative balance. I write this post on my Macbook Pro, next to my iPhone, and in a room full of possessions that are mine through money being spent, whether mine or someone else’s.

In a country “now measured as the wealthiest country in the world when it comes to median wealth”, The Australian Council of Social Service is demanding the federal government index the dole payments to inflation, and rightly so.

The economy is seen by many in a neo-liberal society as an actor of its own accord, one that cannot be tamed, dominating the political and social sphere at an unprecedented rate. But while money does not grow on trees, it is something that can be managed and considered carefully, which becomes critical in a situation such as the one we have on our hands here, today.

We learn about poverty in school. We hear the cliche of starving children in Africa, both terrible and true in itself. But we are rarely taught about the poverty that exists and lives in our own backyards. For a social democratic society, it is my judgment that we are doing pretty poorly to act as one, taking care of one another, acting in the best interests of the nation as a whole and not just those of the economic elites. Millionaires and billionaires are hoarding their money adjacent to crippled sole carers struggling to make ends meet even with (minimal) financial assistance from the government. It only seems fair that those with excess funds contribute to our society through paying higher taxes.

Property sales are on the increase again, across Victoria, which is a good sign. But for those living below the poverty line – defined as 50% of the median average national household income – they are battling to pay rent on a plot with sub-standard appliances, inadequate security and unhealthy living environments with leaky roofs, mould on walls and failing electricity supplies. And when they do meet their rent payments, they are left short of money to pay for essentials such as healthcare, food and memberships to social or physical activity groups that help keep us healthy and engaged with our society.

Fast food restaurants with low prices are clustered in low socio-economic areas, leading to poor nutritional intake amongst these populations. Subsequently, they are at greater risk of developing obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus and various other related ‘lifestyle’ diseases. Children are less likely to be educated about healthy living and are less likely to complete school. Education is a key factor in the wellbeing of an individual and across the globe women and girls are fighting for their right to learn and live as equals with their fathers, husbands and brothers.

In Australia, while we do not have gender inequality in this specific area, it is evident in many others. And inequality exists between religious, ideological and cultural groups. Poverty is a result of these inequalities, and should not burden the lives of so many Australians each and every day.

More work needs to be done to lift Australians out of the deep end and into a life that is basically, more liveable and most importantly, sustainable. Action needs to be taken at a federal level, but we can act as individuals, too. Be considerate of others, think about your neighbours and help someone out in times of need. And poverty could be closer to home than you think. So keep and eye our and an ear alert. Giving may bring you benefits, too. It’s about creating a level playing field for all Australians to have opportunities and successes that currently, are only available to some. Give with your hands, your head and your heart. And if you’ve got some cash to spare, maybe give a bit of that, too. It could take someone else a long way.

A short post to pay tribute to those 202 people that lost their lives 10 years ago today, on the anniversary of the Bali Bombings. My heart goes out to those who lost family members, friends, colleagues and teammates. I cannot image the pain and suffering that those who survived have gone through this past decade, both physically and emotionally, nor the heartache felt by those who lost of a loved one.

I would love to visit Bali one day. It seems like one of the happiest places on earth. It seems to be a haven of wisdom, love and positive energy, that has been plagued by one of the most horrible diseases known to human kind, on multiple occasions.

But the Bali spirit lives on, as do the lives of those lost through kindness, memories and of course, tourism.

Here’s a piece of a Soul Survivor. She’d lost her husband, she lost her two best friends. But today, she travels the world, a public speaker and a published author. She owes her life to Bali and to those who helped her recover. And yet she’s “constantly humbled by the beauty and joy [she] gets to experience”.

Today has been a day to reflect on what happened and what has changed in the years since the attacks. And to join together and pay our respects in whatever way we can. Rest in Peace.