As ranted to staff writer Ben Fenton-Smith
OK, I have an admission to make. Leading up to new year, I was toying with the idea of a vacation in Hawaii. After a busy 2019, I figured I’d earned it, and was thinking of surprising my lovely family with the tickets on Christmas Day. Unfortunately the plan fell through because (a) I had no money to pay for it and (b) the travel agent said we’d be sharing the intimate resort with another Australian family – from Cronulla apparently, called ‘the Morrisons’? WTF?
I smelt a rat and backed out, and to this day Emma-Kate knows nothing about it. (For the record, I gave her an 80s mixed tape for Chrissy, and a cassette player I picked up in a Salisbury garage sale. We’re all about re-cycling in this family, so she loved it.)
All of which segues into this month’s theme: “The Lack of Leadership We are Meant to Have”. What kind of PM twiddles his thumbs over a pina colada while the country’s on fire? Sure we all need a break, but fair dinkum mate, you had a conga line of Fire Chiefs camped in your corridor for months begging for a meeting about the upcoming catastrophe. At least pretend to know what’s going on even if you’re not going to do anything about it.
It’s unfair to say it all started with the Steve Smith ball handling crisis, but we’ve lacked real leadership in Australia for a long time now. Corporate Australia, media barons, myopic pollies. We’re fed up!
But I’m an optimist. There are actually inspirational leaders everywhere – they just don’t tend to appear in the back-slapping Invasion Day Awards list. The likes of the Fire Chiefs willing to speak truth to power. Or kids striking for the climate, telling us old farts to get stuffed and get moving! (I’m pretty sure Elsie didn’t just want the day off school.) Or the dairy farmers who took matters into their own hands around Coles not paying out the promised drought levy. (They took it to ASIC and five months later Coles were forced to stump up. Enough to make an old dairy farmer like me cry into his Ballistic beer.)
Ordinary people who normally just get on with it are starting to speak up. (Did anyone say ‘quiet Australians’? Bugger that.) Which brings me back to the awesomeness of our dear old/new Shed: aka action central. We’re seeing stuff happen in countless ways. Cop this:
- The local gym (Soul Fit). Shut down at a commercial location, the members moved into the Shed (in a week!) and opened a community-owned health centre. Cop that! Listen to the story that featured on local radio here. (skip to 1hr52mins) .
- Mikkeline from All Things Aroha. A new Shed business being supported by two other tenants (Alice from Sunshine Organic Miso and Maya from Myk’s) providing equipment, knowledge around bottling and labelling.
- Five new members of the Board: Peter Griffin (as Chair), Ryan Rathborne, Alison McDonald, Gaala Watson and Greg Hamilton. All stepping up to take on substantial tasks.
And that’s just to name a few!
I could go on but it’s hard to write with an 80s mixed tape blaring in the background and my babe and daughter dancing around the loungeroom (I think it’s that old Tracy Chapman classic … talkin’ about a … revolution was it?). Anyway, I’m sure you have your own examples. Actually, you, dear Careholder, are an example.
Yes Tracy, you’re right. There’s a quiet revolution going on. It starts small but before you know it is more popular than Trent Dalton at a feminist book club. I’ll leave it to the words of your countryperson, novelist Wendell Berry, to end this month’s rant:
“The real work of planet saving will be small, humble, and humbling … Its jobs will be too many to count, too many to report, too many to be publicly noticed or rewarded, too small to make anyone rich or famous.”
And that, friends, is what the Shed stands for – and what true leadership is.