SUE JACKSON Therapist/Writer/Photographer/Activist

Last year, as the unofficial blogger/photographer to the anti-East-West Link campaign, our battles were my blog's entire focus. But by Christmas, with the electoral win for people power and the dumping of the dud Tunnel, I was suddenly at a loss. What to write about now? Not sure yet. But there will be ongoing musings and images from this Australian life. So please leave a message. (No need to sign into an account. Simply comment as ‘anonymous’; then leave your name within the comment itself.)

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Alexis Wright for Pen at Melbourne Writers' Festival & more on Say 'No' to the East-West Tunnel

Thomas the Tank Engine - big campaign supporter

I love these flags. They are the brain child of our local treasure, Glenda Lindsay, who with her fellow crafters makes this beautiful bunting with a message. I noticed it on Saturday decorating the playground fence in the Smith Reserve, the site of the latest rally opposing the East-West Tunnel.

Socialist Party-organised rally in sunny Smith Reserve

It was a glorious day to stand in the sun and listen to impassioned, well-informed speakers. Or that was what I was ruminating about - until I heard something shocking.
I had naively imagined that because the State government ministers have been expressing their support for our campaign that if/when they replaced the current Liberal government, all would be well. But not so. Those very same ministers have guaranteed that if the Liberals sign the contracts to go ahead with construction, the Labour Party, on winning the election, would honour them. What perfidy!
Thank goodness for local governments is all I can say. A good example of the good faith of our local council is the new Council-financed hoarding at the exit to the Eastern Freeway.

Thank you Yarra Council!

I was delighted to hear from the main speaker, Stephen Jolly, the Socialist member of Yarra Council, that just last week the Council stood up to the State Government, which had the gall to request permission to start drilling bores for the new freeway in Yarra. As one, council members, of different philosophical and party associations, stood together and said 'No'.
It makes me very grateful to live in our municipality. And the good thing is that Yarra is no longer standing alone. There are now 4 other councils - Moreland, Moonee Valley, Darebin and Glen Eire - united with them in opposition to the East-West Link. And even the influential Melbourne City Council is a qualified ally.
One thing that is becoming more and more obvious to me is that it's local government, closer to people and their real anxieties and dreams, who will support people power. The other is that to win this battle against big business will require all our ingenuity and creativity. Fortunately, there is heaps of that in evidence.
I particularly love this video, entitled 'Lies We Don't Buy', currently doing the rounds via youtube. I don't know which of our campaigners made it, but I think it's great, especially the enthusiastic young dancers:

I was busy on Saturday. After the rally I headed on down to the Melbourne Writers' Festival. I had been asked by Pen to cover their session with the remarkable Indigenous writer, Alexis Wright, in conversation with Melbourne Pen President, Arnold Zable. Alexis was most gracious and allowed me to haul her out of the small dark theatre, where she was due to speak, into the better light outside for some pre-session photo taking.

Alexis Wright

There was a certain symmetry in my reporting on Alexis' session, on Saturday, as she is a renowned land rights activist. As a member of the Wannyi people of the highlands of the southern Gulf of Carpenteria, Alexis would appreciate only too well our current struggles in Yarra.
As well as the sheer artistry of her writing, Alexis' tenacity too is a source of inspiration to her fellow writers. Her book Carpentaria was rejected by every major publisher in Australia. Finally, after being accepted by the small independent publisher Giramondo, it went on to win the prestigious Miles Franklin award (2006).
I'm very much looking forward to writing the article for Pen magazine and the opportunity to immerse myself in Alexis' wonderful writings. It couldn't be more timely. With the Federal election looming next weekend, I'd much rather be in another world.


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