Tuesday, November 24, 2009

faith on film

I recently saw a short film online called 'A Land Called Paradise'. Apparently it's had millions of hits on youtube but I saw it on the website for Campfire Film Festival. The film description reads: "Over 2,000 American Muslims were asked what they would wish to say to the world. This is what they said."

No words are spoken in the film; people hold up signs which hold their messages. Makes me wonder why we always overcomplicate our thoughts and ideas- simplicity is so powerful...

It's only 5 minutes long and I reckon it's worth those minutes...it's heaps more worthwhile than watching, for example, "Deep Impact". I'm still bitter about never getting those 2 hours of my life back and that movie was released in 1998.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

no words

I watched Rudd's apology this morning to the Forgotten Australians and former child migrants. It is interesting that amongst all of his big politician-type words, it was the absence of words that moved me. Rudd quoted Garry, a man who was seperated from his family at the age of four or five, and was asked to tell his story.

This was his reply:

 “what am I going to write down?... you can't put tears on paper.”

Thursday, November 12, 2009

time to celebrate

I felt really privileged recently to be invited to a school in Albury to speak at their student leadership day. I came away excited and invigorated by the energy and creativity of these year 11 students who created the space to discuss what leadership meant to them, their school and their community. I was struck by the wisdom and thoughtfulness present in all discussions. There were many occasions when I heard a desire to understand others in their community. At one point the group was asked how they would respond to a simple situation as a leader: what would they do if a student arrived at school and wasn’t wearing their uniform properly. The answers given were not reactive or interested in exerting power. One student said “I would ask how their morning was. There could be something really bad going on for them” These students constantly showed a deep understanding of the whole person. I look forward to spending more time with this group of young adults. I think they are going to teach me a lot about respect, creative thinking and wholeness.

These reflections of inspiring young adults are not the pictures we often see painted in our mainstream media. I always get upset at this time of year, as the media gets stuck in to school leavers, calling them everything from “unruly” to “unethical”. People everywhere seem to sigh “oh, the youth of today, they are so (insert derogatory adjective)…blah blah blah. ..” Little space is given to reflect or ask questions of the education system or the wider community. Every year, it seems, another fear campaign is launched against young people. This article in the Age tipped me over the edge and I had to respond:

I find it fascinating that the press continues to portray school leavers as one narcissistic, heaving mass. There are countless stories of young people from across the country planning creative and sustainable experiences to celebrate the end of their schooling. Last year a group of school leavers volunteered in East Timor during Schoolies and next year, in 2010, school leavers from across the state will participate in Schoolies With a Cause, an alternative schoolies program which will take young people on exposure trips to Indonesia, Cape York or Grampians National Park. Volunteers across the state also support school leavers in their local communities by driving shuttle buses, hosting free bbqs and making sure people get home safely.

Why this constant shallow reporting on end of year celebration stories? It is clear that this is an important time for young adults. We all need rituals and celebrations to mark out milestones in our lives, to grieve what has gone and welcome what is to come. Many year 12 students are celebrating this particular milestone in respectful and caring ways. And we can join them. What are we afraid of finding out if we were to get to know the school leavers in our community and ask some deeper questions? I am excited that our community has the opportunity to join with these young adults in celebrating their 13 years of schooling.

(This post is only partly to plug the Schoolies with a Cause program that we are working on for next year and mostly born out of a desire to celebrate stories of young people)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Jess and I visited a school in Launceston last week for work and met some Year 10 students who recently attended a Round Square Conference in India. One young woman wrote the prayer that the school contributed to the conference prayer book, made up of prayers from across the world. I was deeply moved by her evocative writing and wanted to share it here:

We give thanks…We give thanks for the dark, for the night time,
for standing in a room with the lights turned off,
for standing in a shadow of something beautiful,
for floating on our boards, watching ripples become waves;
and not surfing them,
for standing with our eyes closed.

We give thanks for the quiet and calm,
of sleeping and dreaming,
of the chance to feel other senses, to learn
Then, we give a hand, or take a hand
fasten a leggie, share some words, throw out a rope.

Be led or be a leader
to flick on the switch, in our minds, in the minds of others,
into the surf, to ride the waves,
from the shadow- to spy something beautiful,
to open our eyes in readiness for the day.

We give thanks.

By Aisling Hinchley

Monday, November 9, 2009

my favourite bookshelf

how i love berlin...Alicia and I found this tree on our last morning in Berlin together.
books sitting in a tree waiting for the right person to come and take them...
it's almost as magical as Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree...

I find it really hard to reconcile that this is the same Berlin in which a wall came down 20 years ago. As an almost 10 year old, I remember that night really clearly. We watched these strange images on tv from a land I had never visited, but one I had heard many stories about... Grandparent's parents who came from there on boats, awful dictators who killed millions of innocent people, Kings who lived in fairytale castles. We lived in the States at that time and I have a vivid memory of an East German friend of mum and dad's crying as he watched. I didn't understand any of the implications, but I knew that history was happening in my presence.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

eat the streets

I just got really excited to see that Canadian company Mamallian Diving Reflex have been back in Australia. They were in Launceston doing a new project called Eat the Streets:

"4 weeks, 12 restaurants. A jury of children deciding what they love, hate and which washroom is the worst."

Last year they brought the ‘Children’s Choice Awards’ to the Melbourne International Arts Festival. Primary school students from Footscray were given a chance to walk the red carpet and voice their opinions on shows they had seen during the Festival. It was pretty piss your pants funny. I was in stitches listening to rave reviews and some pretty harsh judgements. It was amazing to be in a space where children took the stage as the experts and reinvented the rules. The young people invented their own award categories which meant that the framework for the ceremony wasn't structured by adults with adult agendas. The event asked: what happens when adults and their important artistic agendas aren't the ones measuring the art? I was tickled pink by the award ceremony and left with many more questions than answers. And this is the sort of company I'd like to be asking questions with...

Darren and Natalie from the company are pretty awesome. They spoke at Artplay last year and it was really exciting to hear them talk about their work- much of which focuses on moments of connection (and much of their work in the past has been with young people- another favourite project is haircuts by children - where adults let young people cut their hair!) It's also very very cool that Lenine Bourke from YPAA is involved with their next project- it will be great to have more and more of this influence in our own youth arts sector.

On their website MDR talk about wanting to create work which:
dismantles the barriers between individuals, fostering a dialogue between audience members, between the audience and the material and between the performers and the audience.