Time to install WA 2.0

WA20JamIf you could reboot Western Australia and install an upgrade, what features would you like to see?

This is the question being asked by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, who is aiming at being reelected for a second term at this Federal election.

WA 2.0 is his vision, including fully costed plans, for a better, sustainable Western Australia. This is such a positive, wonderful vision for our state and I urge everyone to take a look. In contrast to the negative politics and pork-barrelling spend-a-thons that I hear people complaining about, this is the sort of thing we should be expecting – or demanding – from politics.

This Saturday at Replants, there will be a workshop showcasing Scott’s the plan, asking our community to share in a positive vision for Western Australia and exploring how we can take some responsibility for making this change.

After the workshop, a few local bands will be performing (including the first gig for the band I’ve been playing in!) and then everyone is invited to hang by the Replants fire to jam songs and ideas.

If you want to attend the workshop, there is food available for $10 and you;re asked to bring something sweet to share.

Crazy times this Friday!

There are two events on or near Wray Avenue on Friday – but don’t let the rain keep you away!

The first is Ecoburbia‘s film at Replants, which is a second attempt to show the documentary The Queen of Versailles. For those that weren’t there last month, Shani discovered the disk was cracked just before the screening and had to substitute the (very good) Clean Bin Project at late notice. She has tracked down another copy and will be showing it this week.

There is a pot luck dinner at 6pm and the film starts at 7pm. There is a fee – usually $10 to cover the venue hire and such things.

Also on Friday is Boom Box Bike’s latest Polyester Prom themed bike mashup party which is starting very near to Wray (head to the music).

With live DJs using a portable, bike-transported decks and stereo system, the idea is to move en masse by cycle (or foot or skates) from one secret location to another throughout the evening in a huge progressive dance party. Cars are outlawed of course and all locations are in public space.

When I go, I usually hang back and do a quick site clean up – which is normally not very much as personal responsibility for litter and respect for the public space is very much promoted by Boom Box Bike.

I’ll be doing this on Friday as it’s basically in my backyard and I don’t want the organisers to face any local opposition should they want to start it here again as I think its an incredible event.

Boom Box Bike ask for $10 to cover their equipment and time. They’ll pass a bucket around during the evening. Pay it – it’s well worth it!

Speak out against Melissa Parke

I don’t think I’m the only one on Wray Avenue who has been really disappointed in Melissa Parke over her support for the Government’s plan on asylum seekers (and yes, I’m sure there are some who think her position is fine, and other who think it doesn’t go far enough).

I have had a few people ask me if there is anything happening on Wray Avenue outside Melissa Parke’s office. It has happened before and looks like it is happening again.

This just came up on my Facebook feed:

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 8.01.15 AM

The text reads:

“Thursday, 15 August, at 4 pm join us in front of Melissa Parke’s Fremantle office to demonstrate community opposition to the PNG “solution” and Ms Parkes’ support for abandonment of the refugee convention.

We will be delivering copies of petitions we have been gathering signatures on opposing the off shore processing of asylum seekers.

The action will be held at Ms Parke’s office, 62 Wray Avenue, Fremantle.

Register YOUR disgust at: Melissa.parke@aph.gov.au”

There was a protest organised a few years back which went really well (which I wrote about here).

Quite aside from my personal beliefs about how we, as a society, should respond to asylum seekers, to me there is a bigger issue here. For me, the issue with the Government’s plan, and my problem with Melissa Parke’s support for it, is a failure to show integrity in upholding, both in practice and in spirit, a international convention our nation helped to draft and sign into law. Our signing the Convention on the Rights of the Refugee is a truly noble gesture that we should celebrate as a great act, not look to modify or ‘reimagine’ to suit political ends.

Much of the debate I’ve seen and read seems to suggests the Government’s plan may not even be legally defensible; I’m not a lawyer though, much less one experienced in international law.

Fremantle is the only real politically-left Federal seat in Western Australia and I think it’s constituents deserve better – especially since they are often promised better by candidates, incumbent or otherwise.

Despite Ms Parke’s reasonable defence of her position recently in The Fremantle Herald, I’m not convinced she is right and plan to add my voice of protest on Thursday.

Wanted, a “very fair field of cyclists”

Whoa! Is it August already?

That leaves me scant little time to big up this little event I’ve wanted to get happening for a while now.

A couple of years ago, I stumbled across a great event that first took place on Wray Avenue way back in 1896, when it was then called Hampton Street, of course!

The event was a bicycle race, coordinated by the Fremantle Bicycle Club. It was a 17.5 mile (28 kilometre) return run from Beaconsfield Hotel (now Moondyne Joe’s Hotel) to the ten mile well, now the site of the Ten Mile Well Hotel, on Rockingham Road in Wattleup.

F.B.C Road Race, from The Inquirer and Commercial News, 11 September 1896

F.B.C Road Race, from The Inquirer and Commercial News, 11 September 1896

I’ve read a lot about Fremantle’s love affair with the bicycle over a hundred years ago – something we are fortunate enough see happening again these days – and thought it’d be great to revive this race which ran up until the first world war.

My vision is for more of a social ride rather than an all out race that gives everyone in our community an opportunity to participate – although the speediest are welcome to try to beat A. Bolton’s original time of 55 minutes return to Ten Mile Well!

I’ve planned out three routes for different levels of cycling ability.

  • Route 1: Moondyne Joe’s to the Ten Mile Well Hotel (about 30km, 1-1.5 hours return)
  • Route 2: Moodyne Joe’s to Spearwood Hotel (about 15km, 0.5-1 hour return)
  • Route 3: Moondyne Joe’s to the old Harvest Hotel (about 4km, 20 mins return)

With a race schedule to wrap up about midday, I’d love to have a street barbecue afterwards, some fun awards and possibly even some live music to celebrate the start to Spring. I’d hoped to get it together for the first Saturday in Spring  but that clashes with the election, so I’m pitching for Saturday the weekend the following week – September 14.

Feel free to post here if you think this is a good idea, want to come on the ride or help out on the day. And stay in touch as I finalise details.

Kwobidaarn Noongar Cultural Workshops

Freeing up my Wednesday evenings has meant that I’ve been able to attend Noel Nannup’s Noongar Cultural Workshops for the past four weeks – they’re really good, that’s what Kwobidaarn means (I hope!!)

Noel interweaves his own personal story of growing up in Western Australia with the narrative of a Noongar following a traditional upbringing in the Fremantle area prior to European colonisation. Both stories begin with birth into family and Country, with strong links to land, values and culture. You can see a great video about Noel and his take on land, culture and spirituality here.

Through the four weeks, Noel shares stories about culture, how the land was used, the way seasons were perceived and how families functioned – all presented in an enlightening way by the campfire. Sat amongst the grass trees, you could almost forget that you were on Wray Avenue were it not for the occasional juxtaposition of buses and loud pedestrians passing by.

My personal highlight was Noel’s recollection of his uncle, whom I saw taking on the mythical mentor figure found in so many stories. Thomas Nannup returned from a kind of exile to teach a young Noel in depth about his Noongar culture and inspire him with stories such as the beautiful ‘Carers of Everything’. It was a such a powerful story.

Emma and I were lucky enough to spend a weekend out on Country a couple of months back, travelling between Fremantle and Wave Rock, following songlines like that of the koodjal dwert – two dogs dreaming – and the Carers of Everything story itself to several sacred sites.

The four week Noongar Cultural Workshops are another incredible thing happening on Wray Avenue courtesy of Bruce Abbott at Replants which I totally recommend. Thanks to Noel, Bruce and Joanie for making it happen.

The next 4-week storytelling series starts on . Check out the Replants website here for more details.

Once you ecoPOP, you just can’t stop!

The City of Fremantle has invested in two ecoPOPs!

This was a concept that I wrote about here and here, with hopes that Wray Avenue could have one incorporated as part of the Manning Street realignment. After several discussions with people, I felt there was opposition to the idea there because of the impact on sight lines and dropped the idea.

Since then, I have spoken to people about the idea of replacing one of the median strips at the intersection of Attfield Street and Wray Avenue.

This is an excellent location as it is a wider section of street, so it will impact less on sight-lines. There is very little shade around this point of Wray, so it will add that amenity and its associated cooling effect. The east/west alignment will maximise this effect. Finally, there is also no feature in this environment to slow down traffic (as the custom brought by Galati’s does further to the west) and the ecoPOP, with its strange appearance, is likely to do this.

Despite City Councillor hopeful Roel Loopers “poop-pooping” the idea on his blog, I do think these can provide excellent benefits to our community. Unlike trees planted directly into the ground, the ecoPOP infrastructure should support its own water and fertilisation, as it functions more like a closed-loop system. It is also meant to be a temporary structure that can be replaced with a permanent one later once a community embraces the concept, the ecoPOP then moved to a new area to inspire.

It’s great to see them in Kings Square – where we’d all like to see more people – and I hope passers-by stop to have a look and imagine where they could be in their community. While it doesn’t seem to be connected to gutters for the rainwater tanks and it doesn’t demonstrate the shading benefits (and it doesn’t have worms in the worm farm yet)  it is still a visible concept for the public to consider. Some interpretive signage for people would be a good feature to add too.

Hopefully you can swing by King’s Square or Pakenham Street near CUSP to have a look at the latest models.

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More and more a true avenue

It’s less than a fortnight now until we start planting out more native trees on our verges.

Thanks to the amazing work of Diane and Mollie, a few of us are going to dress up our verges with the support of the City of Fremantle, in particular Michael Leer.

Diane and Mollie also coordinated the clean up a month back where we weeded and pruned and picked up litter to ready ourselves for this event and make the avenue more presentable in general.

The plant out follows on from last year’s balga tree planting, not to mention the incredible work done many years ago by other residents. I’ve seen photos from 20 years ago and the avenue is a barren, bitumenised wasteland. I can’t imagine what it would be like in our hot summers.

The present day Wray looks like a true, tree-lined avenue thanks to the hard work a decade or so ago. With more natives, hopefully we can encourage more birdlife to flock into the area and shade it out some for the hot summers.

In other happenings, the realignment of Manning and Wray has finally gone ahead. It has created a great space by Galati’s that is ripe for some creative imagination.

At a recent Living Smart course that Emma and I facilitated, a session run by the inspirational Katie Stubley (nee Dobb) shared the wonderful story of Italian verges and median strips being kitted out with bocci playing fields. The result was a culture of recreation on the street: a tradition rather than a work of place-making enthusiasts.

For what it’s worth, that’s my suggestion for that space anyway – one that I don’t imagine will clash with sight lines and provides the opportunity for interaction, fun and play on the street.

It connects with the recent heritage of the area and I’m sure we could even string some potted herbs around the outside at the same time!

I’d love to see us inviting teams from the Italian Club to play, or having some friendly inter-street competitions.

Anyway, that’s just one idea. Let me know what you think!