Why we need artists, and why we need them to get dirty

I was asked to speak at LASALLE College of the Arts as part of their alumni talks, the theme of which was unconventional journeys. Here’s what I shared.

We were doing a team building event, Everyone was helping out on our farm, that’s what we do for team building at our space. Everyone, except one person, the boss was standing aside, looking on as the rest of the team did.
This was 6 years ago. Our organisation is 7 years old, so we were very young, and we had a young team members, not very experienced in the corporate world, some might say naive, and one of these team members turned to the boss and said, very innocently, ”Would you like to join in?”

Those within earshot stiffened. “You can’t say that to a boss”, “He’s wearing a suit!” they thought to themselves.

Continue reading

Posted in Environment, Social Change, Speaking, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

To Nurture Outstanding People, You need a Beautiful Space

There is a Chinese idiom: 钟灵毓秀, to nurture outstanding people, you need a beautiful space.

There is a risk when planning education programmes (or programmes of any kind), that the space is viewed as an empty vessel to be filled with educational activities.

Yet if you can look at spaces with fresh eyes, and observe the way children interact with them, you can see that it is rich with opportunities for discovery and learning.

We see this in action on a near daily basis when our JOE programme is running. By simply bringing the children out to play in the gardens around their kindergartens, the children delight in the interaction with the space and with each other in the space.

This article was originally published on the WOW Kampung blog, read the full post.

Posted in Education, Environment | Tagged | Leave a comment

4 Big Things You Can Do That Will Actually Help The Environment (Updated)

With another New Year, the slew of tips to be green in the new year have arrived in my news feed:  5 simple steps you can do to save the planet, 10 easy ways to go green. But let’s be honest: if saving the Earth were simple, we would’ve done it already.

Just like good old fossil fuels, motivation for New Years resolution is a finite resource, so if we’re going to make green pledge in 2015, let’s use that motivation on something that will last long after the New Years buzz has subsided.

Yes, pledging to recycle this year, or to eat less imported food is all well and good, and I’m not here to argue that we shouldn’t recycle or eat local. But seriously, how many plastic bottles are you going to recycle this year? And how big a difference will that make? If we’re going to pledge to go green (and we should), shouldn’t we use our limited New Years resolution energy in a way that can make the most impact for our effort?

Continue reading

Posted in Environment | Tagged | 2 Comments

Prosperity without Growth: The Age of Irresponsibility

This is a continuation of my own efforts to solidify my understanding of Prosperity without Growth.

As I mentioned in the last post, this is mainly aimed at my own reflection and understanding, and is no substitute for reading the book, which I would highly recommend.

Why publish this at all then? Because I hope it will whet your appetite for the book.

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Prosperity without Growth: Prosperity Lost

Prosperity without Growth is a great book by Tim Jackson. It lays bare many of the concerns with current economic thinking that are sometimes hard to put a finger on or articulate clearly.

Jackson takes readers through the problem with the growth paradaigm and the unrealistic expectations of an infinitely growing economy on a finite planet, in a way that is easy to understand.

The seductive nature of the reading though can trick you into thinking it’s easy to remember. As he writes he seemingly effortlessly steps from interconnection to interconnection, like a stroll on a study bridge from one bank to another. But just because you can walk across a bridge, doesn’t mean you can re-build it so easily.

To avoid falling into that trap, I’m going to pen (type) down my thoughts and reflections on each chapter so as to help remember and better understand.

Of course, if you really want to enjoy the benefits of Jackson’s writing (and you should), don’t start here, go to the source.

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nurturing Resilient Children

Every now and then, someone will raise concerns about the safety of the outdoor nature of our programmes, and ask that we restrict or remove it.

Maybe you’ve heard of the new term to describe the young generation “strawberry generation” – nice to look at, but withers under heat? If we are not careful in the way we plan children’s development in an urbanised environment and of balancing safety with appropriate risk taking, we rob them of opportunities to become resilient, and we aid in the creation of another strawberry generation.

This post originally appeared on the WOW Kampung blog. Read the full post.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

You’re already supporting Abbott’s re-election campaign

Every day you and I are inadvertently supporting the machine that put Tony Abbott in power and may well keep him there at the next election, unless we act to change it.

As Australia becomes the first country to repeal a carbon price, a place that kidnaps refugees and hands them back to their persecutors, and take from the poor and unemployed, we must remember that it wasn’t just visionless leaders and those that voted for them that got us here.

Look back to the end of the last election and you may recall full front page endorsements for Abbott and attacks on all others. But these were only the tail end of a long and well orchestrated campaign of disinformation scare mongering by the conservative media. Free full page ads for Abbott as some said.

But nothing in life is truly free. So if Abbott didn’t pay for the ads, who did?

We did.

I’m not being philosophical or metaphorical. You and I are propping up the campaign of disinformation that had made the Abbott government possible.

How have we done that? Every day at the checkout.

News Ltd earned over 1 billion dollars last year from advertising revenues. Advertising from brands that you and I use every day.

Of course, we didn’t buy those things thinking of supporting the conservative media machine, but none the less that is the effect it has. Big corporations watch their advertising and revenue very carefully. Every dollar they receive is taken as endorsement of who they give their advertising dollars to, even if that money is used to help elect the Abbott government.

Australia’s News Ltd media continues to support the Abbott government through articles vilifying refugees, praising a destructive budget, and distorting the science of climate change. Continuing to bludgeon into as many people that will listen that taking from the poor to give to the rich is a good thing, that persecuting innocent children is necessary and setting the stage for re-election.

And you and I continue to support this campaign of disinformation through our daily purchases.

Last year’s campaign against Alan Jones shows that advertisers will hold the media they support to account, Facebook groups like Sack Alan Jones have made advertisers more cautious about supporting some of the nastier comments that reach the air. But if we’re to avoid a repeat of last election, it’s not enough just to avoid the most appalling of contents, but we need to reshape the conversation to a more constructive one.

Such a change needs a much more sustained effort than short lived petitioning and boycotting. We need to make it an integral part of how we shop every day, and we need a system to help us make the right  decision every day.

At Good for Us we’re raising funds to build that system. Our crowd funding is the first step in making sure we don’t inadvertantly support a system that is so far against what we know are the right things to do.

Help us build it. Become part of the community that is making sure that our every day actions are one that help build the kind of world we want to live in.

Please support our crowd funding campaign on Pozible.

Posted in Politics, Social Change | 1 Comment

Long, protracted human suffering key to economy – Japan Finance Minister

“For too long our economy has suffered under the shadow of happiness and well being” proclaimed Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso at the official launch of the new Suffering for Prosperity committee.

The committee was formed earlier this month after Mr Aso shared his insights on the importance of drinking and smoking to the economy: “If I stopped smoking, drinking and golfing, my family would be very happy. But if everybody did the same, all the bars and liquor shops would go bankrupt. Japan Tobacco would go under. The streets would be filled with unemployed people.”

The committee has been hard at work identifying industries key to increasing misery for the sake of the economy.

“We got really lucky with Fukishima,” said Mr Yamada, a chairman for the comittee, “if we want to drive our economy into the future, we must accelerate the growth and demise of nuclear power.”

When asked about tightening regulations for nuclear energy Mr Yamada responded “Are you crazy? Fukishima has been a boon for environmental inspectors, the housing industry (to shelter displaced people), and the health and pharmaceutical industries will be seeing decades of unprecedented revenue as they treat residents and their children for radiation related illnesses. I only wish we could say we a had a hand in it.”

Not wanting to miss out again, the committee is proposing a slew of measures to increase the chances of a nuclear accident. Measures include reduced staff training, accepting company executive’s assurances that everything is fine, and transporting nuclear waste by clown car.

Some critics have labelled the task force a ghoulish and soulless promotion of profiting from death. Mr Yamada dismissed detractors, saying they have a childish understanding of modern economics, “these foolish idealists can try making money off of curing cancer, but savvy investors are investing in long, protracted human suffering – debilitating illnesses that are so slow to kill that industries can profit for decades before illness finally consumes their consumers.”

Other industries identified as key drivers of pain and misery include arms manufacturing, the Japanese game show industry and food & beverage. “People tend to think of the food industry as one that contributes to our health”, said Ms Fumiko Miyagi, committee’s chair of ill-being, “but the processed food industry has been making great strides, these days they’re selling things that, a generation ago few people wouldn’t even have considered them food. Just the sales alone of those foods are to be admired, but when you think of all the side effects like diabetes, obesity and even cancer, they’ve really done a lot for the health care industry too, you have to admire them for that. And then there’s genetic engineering! Don’t even get me started on that! We’re only really beginning to understand, but I think there’s a good chance it could yield something really monstorous. The future is just so exciting!”

Many members of the committee are striving to live up to the example set by Mr Aso, Ms Miyagi has been eating more soft drink and junk foods in the hopes of contracting type II diabetes for the good of the Japanese economy. “I’m so inspired by his [Mr Aso's] example to the Japanese people, drinking and smoking and wrecking his own health for our nation” said Ms Miyagi.

Other members of the task force have turned to their families “I asked myself, ‘Who are the leaders in profiting from misery?’”, said committee member Mr Amoto, “and the answer was so obvious – lawyers. So I’ve been starting arguments with my wife and it’s been going well, I expect we’ll be filing for divorce before the end of the month.”

Mr Amoto has two children which he expects will make the divorce a “real hot mess” that will keep his lawyers gainfully employed for months to come.

Finance Minister Mr Aso has ambitious plans for his personal contribution, “A rare, highly infectious disease”, he said wistfully, “Something like bird flu, but with the drawn out, incurable suffering of mad cow disease. I hope one day to be patient zero.”

Mr Aso is traveling to China in September where he plans to visit poultry farms and frolic with geese.

Posted in Satire | Tagged , | Leave a comment

True conservatives will be voting Green today

Just like any voter, conservative supporters usually cite a few key issues that sway them to vote for Liberals. Looking at conservative Facebook pages and talking to coalition voters, their priorities when voting are usually one of : good economic management and strong economy, security and safety, sovereignty and personal responsibility.

Unfortunately, even in their short stint in Government, these are all things that Coalition has shown themselves unable to deliver on. But there is a party that does. While the rhetoric may not seem so, conservatives may be surprised to find they have more in common with the Greens on the issues they care about.

Continue reading

Posted in Politics | Tagged | Leave a comment

WA Senate: 6 numbers you should know

The numbers that make the WA Senate election in 2014 one of the most important in Australia, and the world.

Continue reading

Posted in Politics | Tagged | Leave a comment