A Woman of Colour

Indeed I am and after venting on this very blog about my frustration over lack of diversity in the media for a long time now, I have put my hand up to manage communications and engagement on a voluntary basis for new NFP Women of Colour Australia (WOCA) and be part of the systemic change needed to ensure our diverse society is represented in all spheres of life – political, economic, social and cultural – and at the highest levels.

There is nothing quite like a moment whose time has come and after being endorsed by La Trobe alumna and cross-cultural consultant (and Ambassador) Tasneem Chopra OAM (who I have previously worked with), I was appointed by WOCA founder Brenda Gaddi a few weeks ago after presenting to her Board and also asked to join WOCA as a non-executive Director (more on the operational side) over the next 12 months in its inaugural year. Needless to say, I am feeling the weight of responsibility as well as incredibly humbled. Most of the other women of colour involved have many titles and letters after their name like PhD or MBA or work as CEOs or at C-suite level. I have my work cut out for me now trying to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together and the way forward.

I’m a big subscriber to ‘nothing about us without us’ in terms of representation of the cohort you’re working with and it was great to see the ABC take this into account with their Diversity and Inclusion Commissioning Guidelines for screen content – things have changed and I’ve noticed advertisements on free-to-air commercial TV have used more diverse people in the last 5 years to reflect, even if not at a program level (Australian soapies and Boards -you are still very white).

All images above by Rod Ceballos Photography

Inspiring too to read about the amazing rise of Australian Chinese blogger turned Vogue China editor-in-chief Margaret Zhang at the ripe old age of 27! She has set the bar high with her other achievements as a classically trained ballet dancer and pianist who scored 99.85 for her HSC and graduated from the University of Sydney in commerce/law. WOCA founder Brenda Gaddi has a background in blogging and previously met Margaret Zhang, which she was telling me about via Google Meet on Friday. It is a small world.

Women of Colour logo (and digitised image of Brenda Gaddi’s mum Electa)

On the paid job front, I’ve been put forward by recruiters for a number of temporary communications roles in education and local government so we’ll see what happens as it would be good to contract in the interim while I continue to job hunt. I would love to find a permanent professional home after working close to 5 years on fixed term contract – it’s difficult to plan when you live year by year without certainty. Although interesting too has been the decision by some of my high flying friends in the corporate sector to resign from their permanent jobs this year (without jobs to go to) on the back of COVID-19 and other burnout – it has taken its toll. This has been a time of great reckoning and transition for many people and the journey you go on as an individual without a job is just as fascinating as where you end up landing.

On a final note, I feel a bit narcissistic but thought I’d post some of the beautiful photographs Rod Ceballos took at my photo shoot the other week. I’ve reached an age where I don’t like having my photo taken or looking at the end result but I think he’s done a great job in capturing who I am as well as making me feel incredibly comfortable during the process – it is a real skill and talent. Thank you Rod – I can see why Banyule Council use you as their go-to photographer!


A dog’s life

How are you feeling this weekend? It’s hard to believe we were in lockdown 3.0 last week and I’m relieved it’s over – it wasn’t the greatest of weekends timing-wise and the pain is still reverberating economically and mentally for some people. I spent yesterday afternoon sitting in the sunshine at Greythorn Park with my besties and their kids enjoying the taste of freedom.

There are a number of things that have kept me anchored over the past year – my family and friends, my yoga practice and running, spending time in nature, writing this blog (especially now in the absence of meaningful employment) and having a pet.

Gypsy and Coco in the backseat of our car

Yes, we feel very lucky to have bought a dog prior to the pandemic (I’ve heard people are now paying ridiculous amounts for pedigree pups and on waiting lists). Pets are a constant presence in our lives offering unconditional love and affection and out of all of us, I think they may have had their best year ever! It’s been very therapeutic just to pat my dog or have her lay at my feet when I’m at my desk. She often Zoom bombs my yoga classes when I happen to be in a pose knowing I’m unable to move – she’s a bit naughty like that.

Mr R setting up the kiddie pool at Chez Rosanna

When we moved to Rosanna, we wanted to be close to parkland as a family of runners and cyclists but now that we have a dog – it’s been a boon having a leash-free park in the Rosanna parklands with so many other green spaces within walking distance (we avoid the river in summer due to snakes).

Rosanna parklands creek

This weekend we’ve dog sat Gypsy’s cousin Coco the chocolate lab (who is even more crazy) so have had double the fun keeping them cool in the heat and taking them for long walks at the park – it really is a dog’s life!

On a more serious note, I’m glad the Pfizer vaccine has arrived and started rolling out – it is a literal shot of hope that we may all be able to return to some semblance of normality in Spring. It’s the last week of Summer next week and almost a year since we went into our first lockdown last March – so much has changed. Don’t underestimate your strength and resilience if you are still standing and looking forward with hope in your heart that better times await.

While we’ve enjoyed weekly streaming of The Mandalorian and now WandaVision with the kids as a family on Friday nights, Mr Rosanna and I are currently watching Russian Doll – a bit like Groundhog Day but more edgy with much more swearing! Set in New York, the episodes progressively get better – I’ll be interested to get to the end but for now, I’m just enjoying the moment.

And just like that…

In the words of Carrie Bradshaw however we are not in New York, but back in lockdown. It’s definitely not the Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year weekend we wanted but 2021 was always going to be the sequel to 2020 – the year of the global pandemic. It’s been all too familiar to be at home, wear a mask outside and return to working and learning from home. There has been a rise in people reaching out for support and if you are feeling anxious, it’s wise to take action.

Things will change as they always do, but until the vaccine is fully rolled out, we are living in a start stop economy and my heart goes out to the many small businesses – cafes, restaurants, event venues, caterers and florists that were lined up to do a roaring trade this weekend. On a more personal note, I am sad for those whose birthdays fell on this weekend and school camps scheduled for next week. It’s not fair but we have no choice to accept where we are and deal with the reality. Hotel quarantine continues to be a fraught exercise and given it’s clearly not watertight I can understand why the Victorian government is reticent to bring back both stranded Australians and international students, but also annoyed we are back in this position. My only hope is that this latest outbreak is contained given the collective pain we are now all in.

It hasn’t been easy for industries that are suffering including higher education, which is Victoria’s largest service export. There are 17,000 colleagues in the sector just like me who have lost their livelihood but given that things may worsen before they improve this year, I am glad to be out and contemplating my options now.

I have continued to apply for jobs, share my CV with recruiters and LinkedIn contacts and meet people in my network. This week, I had coffee with Deputy Mayor of Darebin and Greens councillor Susanne Newton at The Pioneer Cafe in Rosanna. She is also a La Trobe staff member and we have remained in touch since I presented to council for funding as a Bundoora Homestead Art Centre Board member. She is an interesting person in her own right and I’d often see her riding her e-bike around campus!

I also met local photographer Rod Ceballos during the week at his pop up studio at wework at 120 Spencer Street opposite the station, which unsurprisingly was very quiet given COVID-19 but it was great to spend time with him having my photo taken and finding out more about Rod (he’s from Chile) and his interests. He is a regular photographer for Banyule Council and also volunteers with Amnesty International as well as teaches photography. He took a number of great shots so I will share these once ready to go.

Prior to the lockdown being announced, I met my friend Alisia for an imprompu lunch at The Little Pho Tuck Shop located behind Leo’s in Kew (park in the carpark). Although it was a warm day, we opted to share some prawn spring rolls and then each had a rare beef pho, which was delicious! While there are now at least two or three Vietnamese restaurants in Preston, it was good to find something traditional in the eastern suburbs.

While my family hasn’t celebrated Lunar New Year this year, my friend Lianne’s family snuck a big dinner in on Friday night – check out those noodles! And I am very glad to farewell the Rat year and let the Ox march in – a year where we are rewarded for our hard work. Let’s hope this includes going into lockdown to avoid a third wave. And while not to take the gravity out of our situation, it’s a little twee but I hope this Carrie Bradshaw quote might make you smile:

“Eventually all the pieces fall into place. Until then, laugh at the confusion, live for the moment, and know that everything happens for a reason.”

Summer sounds

It’s not been much of a summer given it’s an El Nina year weather-wise but after the catastrophic bushfires last year, I think it’s been a relief. While it’s all about COVID-19 and vaccines at the moment, I hope that climate change will continue to be addressed during and after the global pandemic.

Locally, while Twilight Sounds won’t be on this March, live Australian music at Park Sounds will be held over two different sessions on Sunday 21 February at Sills Bend in Heidelberg. Speaking of live music, we watched Emma Donovan & the Putbacks (with a surprise guest appearance from Paul Kelly who was in the audience!) this afternoon at the Heide Summer Festival in Bulleen. If you go, I’d set up your picnic blanket to the left on the hill which lends some shade as the sun sets as it gets pretty hot when the sun is out. Mr Rosanna and I noticed too a number of families with their supplies in a Wanderer beach cart.

The Ivanhoe Library and Cultural Hub opening has also been delayed until Friday 26 February from 6 – 8pm which you can attend online. Details will be going up on the website closer to the time. While that’s been delayed, it was good to see posts about The Little Social cafe that opened at Rosanna station during the week. I hope locals will support this initiative run by Youth Projects.

Image via Earth Greetings

It’s Chinese New Year this coming week (bring on the Ox!) as well as Valentine’s Day next Sunday and these Earth Greetings cards have caught my eye if there is someone special in your life and not necessarily a romantic partner but your parents, your family or your friends.

The Elegance of Spring by Sam Michelle – image via Gallerysmith

Finally, I’ve been following Australian artist Sam Michelle for a little while now as I’ve fallen in love with her still life paintings. Her new online exhibition The elegance of Spring goes live on Tuesday 9 February from 10am at Gallerysmith. Her work reminds me of Margaret Preston’s and I may have to put one of her paintings on my wishlist.