Monday, July 7, 2008


In addition to trying to save the world (see post below), we also visited the rural town of Daylesford. Located in the medium-altitude foothills of the Great Dividing Range, the town is only 114 km (70 miles) north west of the Melbourne. As most of that distance is through largely-uninhabited land, it seems like a distant isle of civilization. I am yet again reminded of how unpopulated this continent really is.

This former booming goldmining centre now has a population of only 2000, despite having famed mineral water springs, two beautiful lakes right in town, hills with views of the surrounding farmland, lovely Victorian architecture, and excellent restaurants. There is reputedly an active queer community, though we saw little evidence of this. Daylesford reminded me a bit of Main St. in Northampton, with a distinct overtone of Colorado thrown in. There are many abandoned buildings around town, and property goes cheap (check out this tempting one!), but this emptiness doesn’t diminish the spirit of the town: a combination of new-agey and old-timey, with a handful of realistic modern farmers thrown in. It felt a lot more like home than anywhere else I've been here.

After enjoying some of the delicious food on offer, wandering around the converted abbey on top of the hill, talking with the super-friendly unpretentious people around town, and enjoying the uninterrupted views, it was hard to come back to the city. Luckily, Petra’s cousin Matt lives not far from Daylesford, so we’ll have chances to go back.

it's getting hot in here

I’m back at World Vision (fundraising) after a full and fulfilling weekend of family, food, fitness, and fracas-raising fun. I’ve been revelling in the company of my wonderful parents, who are visiting for a full four weeks! As my Mum always says, “fabulous!”

On Saturday we participated in environmental rally and human sign event that my uncle encouraged us to attend. Organised by a coalition of over 60 environmental groups from all over the state of Victoria, the demonstration was designed to highlight the immediacy of global warming’s threats.

Erika, my parents, my aunt Sue, and I joined the 3,000+ crowd of every imaginable type of Australian in the centre of the CBD (Central Business District) early in the afternoon for remarkably interesting, intelligent, rousing speeches. The attire of the attendees added a humorous element: we had all been asked to wear red, so the oddest clothing appeared throughout the crowd, from ill-fitting raincoats to crocheted shawls.

My family and I decided to march with the Yarra Valley Environmental Action Group because they were friendly, happened to be standing nearby, and because the Yarra Valley region is renowned for its wineries and we were hoping for freebies. It would be a true tragedy if these local vineyards became casualties of global warming.

The march brought us all to the Alexandra Gardens for the demonstration’s main event. Directed by volunteer eco-crowd marshals (including my uncle), we in the crowd organised ourselves into a 140 meter sign spelling out “Climate Emergency.” We are the lower right-hand point of the N.

The event was a success: it was on every major TV news channel, made The Age (Australia’s major newspaper), and ran the gamut of online news sources. Hopefully the message got across. More than anywhere else I’ve been, the difficulty in Melbourne is not in convincing people that climate change is a problem but in communicating the true speed and urgency with which we need to respond. Equally difficult is inciting change on the scale that we actually need it. We need to drastically change our behaviours faster, but none of the big decision makers seem willing to take the lead. Our leaders move only at glacial speed – a metaphor which leads to an interesting lexical paradox: the slower we respond, the swifter “glacial speed” becomes.