Curiosity

Venus at Wolfe Creek

Dear C and M,
We have just completed another election. A moment in time that allows us to choose who we would like to manage our government. Aren’t we lucky to live in a place we can make our own choices and share in the care of our Country?

I am repeatedly surprised by our fellow residents inability to think for themselves. The Australian voting system is pretty amazing – not only does it give us a chance to nominate who we’d like to govern, but we can say who we’d like to have a go, if our first preference is unsuccessful. How cool is that? The problem is, many people who voted recently don’t seem to care a whole lot. You saw on election day, the folks outside the polling booth handing out how-to-vote cards. Those cards list how each of the political parties would like you to vote. Most voters in Australia simply grab a how-to-vote card from their preferred party and follow along. The political parties know most folks do this, and use it to their advantage. They spend a lot of time and money making deals with other political parties to have their preferred voting order listed on each other’s how-to-vote card.

This deal making might be ok, but if we take this year’s federal election as an example, the system can get hijacked. Why do we find it so hard to think for ourselves and make our own decisions? I guess you could spend a lot of time considering an answer to that question. 

My hope is that you do learn to think for yourself and make your own decisions. It is easy for me to say, but it’s an incredibly hard thing to do every time. There are so many competing things that seem to get in the way. How will my family be affected by my decision? Maybe I can’t afford to do what I’d prefer to do, or what I think is right. Maybe my friends all want to do something different, and I feel like I should follow them – even though I don’t think it’s right. Maybe the shop doesn’t sell the milk I want, but I can’t be bothered going all the way to the next shop. So many things getting in the way.

Sometimes, I might ask someone I respect, or I feel knows more than me, what they think I should do. In the past, I would simply do what they said. These days, I still ask, but I make my decision based on lots of different information, from different sources. There are times I really feel like I just want to make a snap decision, a random choice, rather than researching everything for days and days. And that’s ok too. But some things are really worth asking the questions for.

You both have such a wonderful curiosity. You are really good at asking why, at lifting up the rock and looking at what is underneath. It takes persistence and energy to do that. It can be exhausting.

Keep looking and asking.

Lots of love,
g.

The future

Image of Cradle Mountain

Dear C,
I am sorry we have not yet had the chance to meet in person. I am currently on seven months leave without pay, but usually lecture in Outdoor and Environmental Education as part of what is the new School of Education. You began your new position, just as I began my leave. As required under the conditions of my leave, I am writing to inform you of my intentions once my leave is complete.

During my leave I have been travelling around this wide, brown island of ours. As you may imagine, journeying long distances provides one with plenty of thinking time. Being away from the daily business of the university, has afforded me many hours with which to contemplate the second half of my life – metaphorically and physically. My leave was prompted by my partner, who was observing the effect my work was having on me. I am so grateful for her intervention. The time on the road has been cathartic at the very least.

I write to you from one of Australia’s great World Heritage Areas, Cradle Mountain National Park. I am sitting in the type of country I have spent many hundreds of hours, shared with hundreds of wonderful outdoor education students from Fed Uni. I have helped them to connect with the natural world, hoping they might pass that connection on to their students once they are out working. It is this time with students, in and out of the classroom I feel I have the most impact. I found my way to academia by following my desire to have a ‘ripple effect’, hoping to encourage behaviour change in bulk by teaching our future teachers. If I can support one student to engage with the natural world, and they in turn support a handful of keen young people, then the impact can be swift and strong. Continue reading “The future”

Born in the wrong decade…

It appears I was simply born at the wrong time, sandwiched between the Baby Boomers and Generation Y.

I’ll have to find another way to take over the world. Time for Gen X’s to go underground and topple the younger mob.

Gen Y @ 30: charmed, tech savvy and ready to take over
GENERATION Y finally means business. They are far better educated and more globally aware and technologically savvy than any generation before them, and they are about to turn 30 this year. The oldest members of this privileged generation are poised to grab the management reins and revolutionise the workplace to suit themselves…

…The baby boomers love them – after all, they were the doting parents that raised them. And as the boomers’ extended reign in the workplace draws to an end, social and economic forecasters predict they are more likely to anoint gen Yers as their chosen successors over the unfortunate generation Xers who have been politely waiting their turn.

Time to get out into ‘the wild’ once more…

Anson Cameron considers the fall out of Victorian Minister for Water, Tim Holding, getting lost in the Victorian Alps:

To couch potatoes all over: get lost

It’s sad to live in a time when a man is slated for walking alone on a mountain. A cowardly age where the supine pontificate through a spray of Cheezels crumbs.

http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/to-couch-potatoes-all-over-get-lost-200…

How to bake bread and whip cream without beaters

Cross posted on the Camp Cooinda Facebook page

I was reminiscing recently about time spent away from what many would call, “life’s modern conveniences”, in a land far far away – at least a tiny low lying island in East Gippsland. The special place that is Cooinda Island.

I remembered all the things I learnt on that place both as a camper and leader, some of which I still use today – also, some that strangely do not come up during day to day activities.

How to make bread and skin an eel

My first memory of the Isle, is what I think was my first summer as a camper. Dave and Al were the charismatic island directors and provided so much of what I feel Cooinda ‘is’. Dave is the author of the ‘Dave’s piece of piss bread’ recipe, the handwritten recording of which still in the Island cookbook today (I think?) – also attached at the bottom of this post.

Also on that impressionable summer, I learnt how to skin and smoke an eel, who ‘CondoMan‘ is and most importantly, learnt the ‘Noddy Joke’

I have never eaten eel again, mainly because I doubt I could ever manage to achieve the same amazing flavours again. I did however, twenty years later, make a CondoMan t-shirt which I still wear today.

The bread has been cooked by island directors every year since and, is something I continue to whip up – using a black garbage bag (to help with the proving) and imprecise measurements – at home from time to time.

Bake a cake in the sun and whip cream with two butter knives

My first cake produced in the solar oven was a piece of mastery, the discovery that so little can produce a little something wonderful, was amazing.

Scones, jam and cream was called for next. But the cream needs whipping.

No problem, we’ll grab the beaters…rusted solid… No drama, apparently the desired result can be achieved using a couple of butter knives. I have no idea how I discovered this, I imagine from whoever was on the island of knowledge at the time. So, two butter knives and about half an hour of frantic beating later, whipped cream!

All life long knowledge and skills that I suspect I would struggle to acquire anywhere else.

What has Cooinda Island taught you?

spotted – public thoughts #1

On the wall of Country Road at the corner of Faraday and Lygon Streets, Carlton. Some food for thought:

The best things in life
are not the things…

It’s okay if you don’t know everything

The more you know you know you don’t know shit…
So why you gotta act like you know when you don’t know?
It’s okay if you don’t know everything.
(ben folds 2005)