It’s what all of us want but not what all of us get. It is actually National Reconciliation Week and the 10 year anniversary of that moment in time when ex-Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised to the Indigenous people and Stolen Generations of this land. The other lecture series at La Trobe University, Ideas and Society, will contemplate The Promise of the Future with Noel Pearson and Megan Davis on Thursday 14 June – a conversation that will examine the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Australia. I also wanted to mention that Hatch Contemporary Arts Space in Ivanhoe is showing From the Belly of the Snake by local Wurundjeri artist Judy Nicholson as part of Reconciliation Week.
La Trobe University actually has the highest number of Indigenous Australian students, as well as a significant number of students from regional locations and internationally drawn to our sprawling leafy campus, which houses a Wildlife Sanctuary and is the same size as Melbourne’s CBD. It’s been a very progressive and dynamic place to work over the past two years and I feel very privileged to be a staff member.
On a random note, this beautiful Art Nouveau house (pictures above and below) currently for sale at 11 Latham Street in Ivanhoe has caught my eye – it has some exquisite features such as the beautiful painted ceilings and intricate fretwork – as much as I also love modern architectural design – contemporary houses don’t have the same character as a period home, which can never be replaced once it’s pulled down. I do wonder how much the suburbs around here are going to change once many of the planned new housing developments and sub-divisions are completed.
While it’s not quite dumpling weather yet given the lengthy warm, sunny days, I have been eating dumplings at various places including my local favourite Golden Dragon Palace in Templestowe which has consistently good yum cha – I always book the last sitting at 1.30pm so it doesn’t feel as rushed.
My current work colleagues (pictured above) also love dumplings and we regularly visit the Polaris Dumpling Kitchen whenever we feel like a bit of comfort food including last Thursday when we were celebrating a colleague’s birthday. They’re pretty basic and so is the service but if you’re wanting something quick and easy – it’s a good go to place.
If you’re ever on campus at La Trobe University in The Agora you’ll find a great dumpling cafe upstairs (take the external stair case up from the Commonwealth Bank) where they make their own dumplings right in front of you as well as do a fantastic Hainanese chicken rice – great on a colder day. Again, they’re even more basic (order at the counter and take your number with you) but the food is great.
When I left my veganism lecture last Wednesday night, panelists Mo Wyse and Matt Ruby as well as some of their young friends were trying to work out where to go and I overheard ShanDong Mama in Bourke Street being mentioned, who apparently do vegan dumplings. Most Asian restaurants do vegetarian dumplings of some kind but it was the first time I’d heard about somewhere doing vegan ones.
I’ve nearly finalised my lecture topics for the second half year of the Bold Thinking Series keeping in mind the need to appeal to young people so that’s been an interesting exercise and I’m looking forward to locking them in and nabbing some relevant external speakers to complement our academics.
It’s the appropriately titled final Avant Card postcard printed in July by my ex-client and friend Pat Mackle signifying the end of a 25 year era and over 20,000 postcards produced. What a ride it’s been for her and her family and friends – many of whom have been involved in the business over this time across three separate states and all over Australia. We caught up today for lunch at Japanese raw food cafe Shoku Iku on High Street in Northcote right next door to the Good Vibes Yoga studio (owned by artist Kirra Jamison) near the Westgarth Theatre. There’s not many people I know who’ve had the courage of their convictions to follow their dreams and go out on their own so I take my hat off to Pat. Many young people now will have a very different life journey with as many as 17 different jobs across 5 different industries so the times they are definitely a-changing.
I had my sold out La Trobe Three Bold Thinking Series lecture last night at the State Library Theatrette which was a very big night for the three former student activists involved, who finally had their turn in the spotlight to tell their story and perhaps gain a sense of closure from the events of 1972 for which they were imprisoned in Pentridge Prison without sentencing. I was taken back in time to a very different era when the stakes were a lot higher with Anti-Vietnam war protests, conscription and the women’s and gay liberation movements taking place against the backdrop of global social, cultural and political change. I can’t help but feel we now live in a very corporatised, sanitised and more vanilla era compared to those heady times where the struggle was very real. What struck me was how all three men, despite their differences and the hardship and trauma they endured, were absolutely resolute in their belief about the right to protest and at no point in time were ever going to apologise to the University. To this day, as as much as it has impacted their lives, they still stand by their principles united in solidarity – it was a pretty amazing thing to witness. It was a bit ironic leaving the building last night to see the new La Trobe branding All kinds of clever splashed over a massive billboard opposite my old University RMIT on Swanston Street.
It’s the story of the La Trobe Three – Brian Pola, Fergus Robinson and Barry York – three young student activists who were jailed indefinitely for disobeying a University order to stay off campus almost 45 years ago and my next Bold Thinking Series lecture brings all three together for the first time to talk about their story – what happened then and what has happened since. Tickets are almost sold out but if you’re interested in coming along to the State Library Theatrette on Thursday 24 August, you can still purchase these on Eventbrite.
I’ve spoken to all three men and the gravity of what they went through has stayed with me and I have no doubt that their time in prison as young men has left an indelible impact on their lives – I’m very much looking forward to hearing them speak. The lecture will be facilitated as usual by MC Francis Leach but La Trobe historian Professor Katie Holmes will also be on the panel to provide some wider context about that period of time in the early 1970s.
I’ve been interested reading Michael Kirby’s remarks in the news this week about the same sex postal vote and it was an honour to meet the great man in May – it’s been a humbling experience to work on the whole Bold Thinking lecture series and witness some real change taking place in the community as a result of a staging an open discussion with both sides having a chance to voice their opinion and further action being taken post-event, as was the case in Bendigo (multiculturalism) earlier this year.
My lecture next month in Shepparton will be along similar lines to Bendigo while the October lecture will see me working with another former Australian Prime Minister…I will reveal details soon but may also need to catch my breath at some stage. Winter’s almost over and I’ve started seeing blossom on the trees and a blaze of bright yellow wattle at work, which means the Wattle Festival in Hurstbridge isn’t far away. Bring on Spring!
It’s the name of the Bendigo cafe where I was meant to have breakfast with a work colleague while in town earlier this year, but unfortunately the stars didn’t align. It’s the phonetic spelling of the Danish word Hygge meaning ‘comfort’, ‘warmth’ or ‘cosiness’ which has had quite a bit of airplay over the past year (and been the subject of a number of different books). It’s a concept that encapsulates a bit more than that – think catching up with friends at home, drinking mulled wine in front of the fireplace, dinners by candlelight. Despite living in a cold climate, the Danish are amongst the happiest people in the world so I think hygge is something we can all learn from.
It was interesting to read too about warmth in a different context, apparently people of influence are both warm and strong – qualities that some of the world’s great leaders like Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama exemplify.
As for me, we found ourself car-less this weekend so decided to put some hygge in action by riding our bikes to Funkie Brewster cafe in Davies Street Rosanna to meet local friends who live in the surrounding area. Funkie Brewster had a write up in Time Out the other week and while I opted for the sweet potato waffle with kale instead of the almond and blueberry pancake stack, it was a fun thing to do on a fairly cold and grey winter’s afternoon. The undercover area at the back has some bigger tables and a cubby for the kids to play in and there was a passing parade of young families with babies and toddlers, which reflects the new generation of people moving into the area.
Speaking of the great indoors, the Finders Keepers market is on this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton – I keep missing them but will have to go along to one at some stage.
Yoga in Times Square, New York to celebrate the summer solstice and International Yoga Day is something I’ve not yet made it to, but it’s on my bucket list. Every year at this time, I start dreaming of holidays in sunnier places and this one fits the bill. If you’re a yogi, you may be interested in some of the winter workshops being held at Clifton Hill Yoga School.
I’ve been busy organising my next Bold Thinking Series lecture on Thursday 27 July at the State Library and wanted to give you advance notice if you’d like to book tickets to Food, Mood & Diet – Myth versus Science where my two La Trobe health sciences academics Catherine Itsiopoulos and Antigone Kouris will be joined by Maha Restaurant Owner and Chef Shane Delia and Dr Norman Swan, host of ABC Radio National’s The Health Report. Tickets can be purchased here and we’ll start officially promoting via Facebook next week.
I’m a big fan of Shane Delia’s Spice Journey program on SBS so looking forward to working with him on this lecture and his middle Eastern Maha Restaurant in the city, where a couple of my best friends have dined, has been on my radar for a while as much as some of my male work colleagues are fans of his kebabs at the more lo-fi Biggie Smalls in Collingwood. I also think his related cookbook below would have some great recipes if you’re wanting to experiment over the winter.
I was reflecting the other day with Mr Rosanna that it’s been an interesting professional journey for me working mainly with men at La Trobe. Public Relations tends to be female-dominated as well as many of the industries I’ve worked in such as fashion, beauty, retail and the visual arts. It’s been refreshing to work with guys this time around from my two bosses, to my colleagues who help coordinate the advertising, event management and livestream filming. Have a great weekend and enjoy the sunshine today.
I’m focusing on the things I can control at the moment and try to encourage my children to face the world with love, not fear as much as it’s sometimes difficult to do. I often think about the lyrics too, in The Smith’s song Ask about shyness stopping you from doing all the things you’d like to in life – shyness, like fear, can be paralysing sometimes but I think it’s important to keep going after the big things in life that are important to you, ask questions and stay curious as we never know what’s around the corner.
It’s National Sorry Day today and there are a couple of Indigenous events I wanted to mention. The Nahlinggu Bagung (Come Gather) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Exhibition opened yesterday at Hatch Contemporary Arts Space in Ivanhoe and is on until 10 June. The Little Book of Things to Do in Banyule also features some great things to do over the winter period.
La Trobe University is also holding Closing the Gap in Higher Education Symposium on Indigenous higher education next Friday at the State Library Theatrette, which includes a very impressive speaker line-up of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academics and other high profile people.
The Darebin Homemade Food & Wine Festival starts next Monday celebrating food traditions and sustainable food practices. A number of my friends do annual tomato passata bottling with their families, while Mr Rosanna actually made jam for the first time a few weeks ago. Stay safe and enjoy your weekend.