Crossing boundaries

By Chantel Carr

On August 8 I was honoured to be invited to give a keynote presentation to the Country division of the Australian Institute of Architects in Bowral. The theme of the symposium was Making Do in the Regions. The curators of the event were Illawarra design firm Takt Studio for Architecture, who described ‘making do’ as an attitude. They wanted to unpack scenarios where ‘not enough’ could be transformed into a positive guiding strategy for bringing creativity together with everyday or mundane materials, to produce richer outcomes in the built environment. The allotted hour was absolutely daunting and well outside my comfort zone. But it turned out to be a great opportunity to construct what is starting to look like a distinct path through the various research projects I’m involved with at AUSCCER. Continue reading

Unmasking gender privileges: the flipside of inequity

At first thought, many men (and some women) express a belief that gender inequality is an issue of the past that has been overcome by a generational shift within the emergency services. Upon greater reflection this notion usually turns out to be more complex than initially proclaimed. Continue reading

Eyes wide shut: bushfire, gendered norms and everyday life

“Pop-psychology”—this is the term used to define the obsession in public discourse and media with labelling of gender differences as if these differences are biologically set-in-stone. Western society’s captivation by such dichotomy-based definitions has problematic outcomes when, for example, in leadership debates men and women are portrayed as being incapable of getting along because their ways of communicating are too different.

I was witness to this very scenario at a Community Engagement and Fire Awareness Conference hosted by the NSW Rural Fire Service for 400-odd staff and volunteers in 2011. Continue reading

Why gender matters in emergency management

Gender is a matter of social relations—i.e. social structures with enduring or widespread patterns, rather than an expression of dichotomous biology. Social characteristics, such as gender, cannot be understood in isolation of other social characteristics, such as class, education, disability, age, race and sexuality. As argued by Connell (2010, 6):

‘People construct themselves as masculine or feminine. We claim a place in the gender order – or respond to the place we have been given – by the way we conduct ourselves in everyday life.’

Why is this important in the context of emergency management? It matters for three key reasons. Continue reading

Conference Report: Invisible Places, Sounding Cities, Viseu, Portugal, July 11-20

By Theresa Harada

Figure 1. Viseu, Grao Vasco Museum, July 14, 2014, 2pm.

Figure 1. Viseu, Grao Vasco Museum, July 14, 2014, 2pm.

The conference of Invisible Places was held at the Escola Superior De Educacoe de Viseu and co-incided with the Sounding Cities program of Jardins Efemeros. This meant for around two weeks this historic city 150 kilometres inland from coastal Porto, was overrun with a diverse range of scholars, musicians, artists and performers who were all in one way or anther interested in sound as a medium. The city positively buzzed with music held in many of the attractive inner city parks where residents lolled in cafes alongside fountains, eating ice-cream and drinking wine and coffee in the warm evenings. Later, the narrow cobblestoned lanes of the historic centre of town hosted electrifying rock and jazz bands until 4 am, the streets were jam packed with market stalls and people dancing, drinking and eating. Continue reading

Reflections on Flight Ways and Bird Cultures

I finish Flight Ways. Life and Loss at the Edge of Extinction in a house surrounded by birds. With windows at every turn, it sometimes feels like being in a very cosy bird hide. As I reflect on Thom Van Dooren’s haunting book, my companions are wrens hopping around nooks and crannies in their constant search for insects. A winter flock of Satin Bowerbirds lands on the lawn, eats and leaves. High above, a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles circles. Kookaburras and magpies greet the clear cold air of dawn.Flightways

Inside the house, feathers from who knows what far away bird fly as I shake out the old doona for visiting friends. A wooden duck welcomes them at the front door. There is chicken for dinner. Graham Pizzey and Neville Cayley help us name birds according to particular taxonomies and traditions, and learn more of their habits. Continue reading

Why do we care if you’re as warm as toast?

If you follow AUSCCER on social media you’ve probably seen quite a lot of chatter about being as warm as toast… Or more commonly hashtagged on Twitter as #WarmAsToastUOW. So what exactly are we talking about and why do we care whether you’re as warm as toast? Continue reading

Post-presentation shutdown and the art of question time

Professor Lesley Head.

Professor Lesley Head.

You’ve nailed the presentation. Structured it well. Timed it just right. No powerpoint stuff-ups. You’re pretty sure you had most of the audience with you. You draw breath and take a glass of water. Your brain relaxes.

But wait, there’s question time, and if you’re lucky, a chance for extended discussion. Just as your brain relaxes, you need it to function more than ever, and fast. Continue reading

First impressions – IAG/NZGS Conference Melbourne 2014

Post by Susannah Clement.

This way to the IAG/NZGS...

This way to the IAG/NZGS…

The rush of last minute packing, cancelled flights, terminal changes and jettisoning your overweight belongings at check-in could be construed as a ‘bad’ start to ones conference experience. But in hindsight, the ‘running through the airport’ story can be brought up in those awkward networking conversations on the first day. You know the ones – I had many at the IAG/NZGS Postgrad day. They go something like this… Continue reading

Warm as toast? Exploring diverse cultures of thermal comfort

This article was first published by UOW’s Global Challenges blog on 30 June and written by Natascha Klocker.

Think about a time when you’ve lived in, or visited, another country, one where the climate is very different from what you’re used to. How did you adapt? Were your strategies for keeping warm (or cool) dissimilar to those of the local population? Was your thermal comfort threshold noticeably different?

When I was a PhD student, I spent a number of years living in Tanzania.

Thankfully, I spent most of my time in the country’s temperate Southern Highlands, but I was also a regular visitor to Tanzania’s largest city: bustling, humid, hot and coastal Dar es Salaam. Continue reading