Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The day the farmers came to town!

Last year I wrote about a place due west of the city of Brisbane where I live.

This place is now virtually a ghost town... dismantled by New Hope Coal, the company that came to town unannounced and "helped" people pack up and get out quick smart so they could move in!

Up the road from where I live was quite a story... take a quick look... another page opens so you'll remain here on this site!

Friend Nicki Laws had an exhibition which I wrote all about here...

Recently Nicki shared with me recent developments in the Coal and Gas industries taking place in her region and how people are coming together to raise public awareness. Today I made time to get along to the event she explained was bringing people to Brisbane from this part of the state.


Today's midday event 'Brisbane Forum on Food Security', followed by a march, saw hundreds of farmers and concerned citizens turn up to listen to several key people in this movement ... interestingly, all speakers were women, living with families, mostly on farms in this area, close by mines or gas drilling, and in one case in particular, the drilling is going on all over the property.

The forum  convenor was the well-known Sydney Radio jock Alan Jones, a character who polarises people for a living it would seem. Loath or like him, he was born and grew up in the town of Acland, pictured at top, and has become a very loud voice on the local issue of Food security and mining takeover of land that frequently has for generations been home to these families. It was Nicki Law's exhibition last year that first brought him interstate as the guest speaker to open the June Exhibition which, after all, celebrated the rich memories of this town that was no more!

Nicki spoke today as did four other women's who made an articulate case for the need for immediate community consultation and transparency and much more. I included below something written earlier tonight for a community online network I'm involved with in Brisbane.

Forum image: 

@TehBoogeyman  Boogeyman
My earlier text:

I attended the Brisbane Food Security Forum, with my 82 yr old mother along for the experience. Raised on a dairy farm in rural NSW, she was gob-smacked to hear the stories ... the women who spoke were outstanding... all of them. 3 were scientists, and also mothers and farmers... all spoke brilliantly.
Sobering to learn how their lives have completely changed since the Gas and Coal came to stay! If not sick children and houses now unsellable its the 40 plus hours a week of advocacy work they've taken on in the hope they can salvage something before its too late.
Alan Jones convened... and yes... he has surprised many of his fiercest opponents with the strength of his feeling on this subject. Whilst we doubt his motives its his voice however has proved to be so effective in the dispirited communities of the Darling Downs, and elsewhere it must be noted, that he's galvanised many who would historically shrink away from being heard themselves and perhaps even run away from Mr Jones himself.
A lot has taken place since one quiet woman, Nicki Laws (who spoke today), invited him to return to his childhood home to open her Art Exhibition in June last year ... a show about the town of Acland which was "disappeared" to allow New Hope Coal in.
It's an extraordinary tale of people finding their voices ...linking to others on shared concerns... to the point now where people of starkly different persuasions and backgrounds are now working together to create critical momentum... we in the city might cynically write off the part Jones has played...whatever you do don't write off this powerfully important coming together of voices. I hope you get to hear the stories of those who are fighting back... especially those living daily with drilling, gas pipes, noise pollution and coal trucks, and not to forget the children who are now in some cases chronically unwell, nosebleeds daily and headaches... living near Gas works.
And the sober reminder of the day... this could well be coming to our neighbourhoods next. 
Today was not about "no-mining-anywhere-in-the-state-ever-again"! Much as we might hope for that ... we cant just wish the Mining Industry away. What stands out clearly though is that we need real and serious community consultation, and ultimately a major push to protect people, communities, habitats, water systems, food systems and more... thinking for the future not just the fast bucks now!

I've had so many things of late I'd hoped to post at this blog .. but somehow I've been way laid.

I'll leave you with a lovely image from the Darling Downs, a view from Nicki Law's farm.

I'll be back soon,

Afterthought: It was a far more emotional experience than expected being at today's forum. Often at these things one gets a long list of facts, objectives etc. Perhaps the difference is when men present they take a more detached voice even though important material is shared... but does it put you in their shoes and is it as memorable?
Today we heard from passionate, strong, articulate women, many with young children, women with extemely busy lives... juggling farm business, children and family needs with full time (+ overtime) spent of advocacy work. Three women with science backgrounds were working overtime for their communities as much as personal, closer to home agendas!
Conversations with Nicki tell of 60 hours a week or more spent on research and communications ... phone calls, emailing, writing, speaking, and more researching. There's a large web of people in the region connected in this never-ending unpaid advocacy work. I fully appreciate how such work pulls one in... there's been times when this 'homage to the seed' project lands me in dialogues and events that are far reaching and complex, involvement being driven beyond personal agenda and more a need to keep communications building and information getting through.

Its an interesting thought to realise how many people exist in highly paid jobs to keep misinforming the public on behalf of organisations wanting to be duplicitous so as not to caught out in the act of highly contentious steps to get what they want. This then pushes citizens to become their own advocates, often at great personal cost. And there is so much work yet to be done!

ON another tangent: image here from the Bioluxuriance page on a new Pinterest site I started.

Sky Blue Drops by Jack Hood on Flickr.
Sky Blue Drops by Jack Hood on Flickr. Found here


pRiyA said...

I'm just gasping at your Pinterest page. I'll have to restrain myself from staying up all night...

ronnie said...

I have been appalled by the continued undermining of our farming lands (I use the word 'our' both unashamedly parochially and universally). My heart aches for all the lost and ruined rural communities - it is shocking to see the land and people treated with such utter disdain. We all need to stand loudly behind and with those who oppose mining/fracking/gov led exploitation of our prime agricultural lands.

Velma said...

learn from us here in the u.s. it's a bad thing when the strip and mine the earth. they've taken away mountains and left disaster. over and over.

Sophie Munns said...

Hi Priya,
lots to see over there! get some sleep too! Good to hear form you... must see whats happening in your part of this crazy old world!


Yes and yes!

I was aware that most of the crowds yesterday were from out of town. Where were the city dwellers? Mmm...
I emailed many in the hope they could drop in for an hour. If not able to come due to commitments I'd hoped they'd at least spread the word. There was so little twitter activity on it. Yes it made National ABC news I take it .... but what else ???

I dont see much dialogue going on between city and country here... cross-pollination would be so valuable and culturally it is critical. Don't get me started.

What I do know is that the fact I stick my neck out at this blog at times lands me in question as an artist... makes me subject to much criticism and mockery that plays out on the ground... not here online!

When the criticism comes from those glued to an idea of the future being exactly the same as the past I do have to wonder! Responding to ideas and frameworks set up some time ago, still thinking its without doubt relevant at the speed of the change we are seeing now... I could speak to that too!

Yes... standing loudly behind those in the forefront.

Velma... you know this story too well. In fact quite a number of people yesterday were questioning why we followUS standards and models.

Just not sure who is listening to what here .... or what groundswell we can get going as Ronnie suggests... us standing up for this issue!

thanks guys,

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