Last week we hosted over 150 people at our sold out A Plastic Ocean film screening event. In addition to the film, we also had stalls hosted by representatives of local organisations committed to educating on the impacts of and reducing marine plastic pollution. It was so encouraging and inspiring to see so many people come together to be part of the wave of change that we so desperately need to combat the devastating global effects of plastic pollution.
This is a Polish story, told on Dharawal lands by an Italian man in the Southern Highlands, Australia.
Michael Adams, Dan Musil and I arrived at Penrose State Forest to learn how to forage for wild mushrooms. We were here to learn from Diego Bonetto, an environmental artist, educator, activist and first generation migrant. I pulled up in the carpark was immediately struck by the demographic diversity of the workshop participants: students from Bangladesh, second generation Eastern European migrants, Anglo farmers, foodies, inner city hipsters, PhD students, academics and children gathered for a different kind of Easter Hunt.
Post by Carrie Wilkinson
Each year more than 300 million tonnes of plastic is produced, half of which is designed for single use. A plastic bag, for example, has a “life” of around 15 minutes but once disposed of can take 400 years to biodegrade. 8 million tonnes of single-use plastic ends up in our oceans every year. By 2050 it is predicted that there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans.
The Plastic Oceans Foundation is working to change the way we deal with plastic waste by challenging our perception that this substance can be treated as ‘disposable’. At the core of this global awareness campaign is the release of a documentary feature film, ‘A Plastic Ocean’.
The University of Wollongong Human Geography Society invites you to their screening event of ‘A Plastic Ocean’.
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
5th – 9th April 2017
Next week from the 5th – 9th April eight AUSCCER staff and postgrads will be attending the Association of American Geographers’ (AAG) Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
From papers and discussions on parenting, sharks, natural disasters, to urban development, we sure are a diverse group! We’ve trawled through the extensive program so you don’t have too. Catch them speaking at the sessions and times listed below.
I have nervously watched the institutionalised mayhem of Indian traffic for years, ‘safely’ as a passenger: India has the highest number of annual traffic incidents in the world. This year I actively took part – in Pondicherry I rented a Royal Enfield ‘Bullet’. Old style, heavy, single-cylinder 350cc: lovely motorbike design dating from the year I was born.
Joining the traffic in the Bullet taught me many lessons – no helmet is better (improves peripheral vision); check the fuel tank (we pushed it down dusty roads for a kilometre the first day); it’s a delicate balance between assertion and deference in Indian traffic, and almost every Indian out-asserted me. Ananth Gopal was the perfect pillion passenger: balanced, navigating, laughing. Risk is broadened on a motorbike: Ananth, me, the people on the bikes next to me I might bump, pedestrians… It is all about flow: after ten days it was just exhilarating to negotiate insanely crowded intersections and nudge through crowded marketplaces. Continue reading
Their conversation challenges the ideas of ‘feral’ and ‘invasive’ species, and questions what it means to belong in Australia.
AUSCCER’s Anja Kanngieser talks about her sound art piece telling stories of climate change:
“To recall the day that the earthquake happened is to recall the immensity of devastation, beyond what one could imagine, beyond what words could explain. I can’t even tell you, I can’t find the language to convey the scenes of that day… There was a vacuum, a vacuum of air, of understanding, of words. And then of course there wasn’t. And then of course the sea came back. And it told its own story”
In 2016 I was commissioned by ABC Radio National’s sound art program Soundproof to make a radio work about climate change. Working with audio-visual artist Polly Stanton in our collective form of Burrow, we decided that we wanted to make a radio piece as beautiful as it was chilling, which would have the possibility of revisiting an event of anthropogenic, or human caused, environmental crisis through myriad historical, political and affective narratives. We called our piece And then the sea came back.
AUSCCER PhD Candidate Ananth Gopal reflects on his time volunteering with social enterprise Green Connect and the possibilities for productive relations to grow.
Warrawong sits on the south side of Port Kembla, downwind of the steelworks sloping into Lake Illawarra. For decades from the 1930s it housed successive waves of migrant communities. Before that, colonial migrant farmers knew it as a place of rich, fertile soils fed by Mt Kembla’s alluvial material. For millennia prior, the Dharawal nation nurtured this Country.
Today, a Google search yields some underwhelming, albeit unscientific, findings: A 75 year old woman mugged last week, a gas fire which blew up a building and, the immolation of 16 puppies in a house fire. Its Wikipedia entry offers tepid consolation: ‘home to the third largest shopping centre in the Illawarra.’ With industrial decline in full-swing one could easily conclude Warrawong’s best years are behind it.
I’ve been spending time in Warrawong for nearly 18 months now. There’s a farm there at the back of Warrawong High School. One quite unlike any I know: Urban Grown, run by Green Connect. In the last three years Warrawong has begun to grow a different kind of notoriety, one that reimagines what industrial decline can look like. One that Human Geographers ought to take notice of. Continue reading
The pre-walkshop conversation focuses on one important question – shorts or longs? Heading into the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area we’ll head to Mount Kembla and walk a short way through rain forest. The name – Kembla – is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning ‘plenty of game’ and the local fauna includes swamp wallabies, deer, bandicoots, flying foxes, wombats, possums, water dragons, water skinks, frogs, blue-tongued lizards, as well as snakes and a raft of birds. After a night of rain, however, the main concern is with one species in particular – leeches – and their veracity in searching for a mid-morning snack. A variety of combat strategies emerge ranging from Thomas Birtchnell’s longs and masking tape security fix to Nick Gill’s shorts and open sandals – ‘it lets you see them’ – approach.
Arriving at the summit car park our path through the bush is an easy descent. The atmosphere is humid and warm – slightly cooler under the umbrella of the canopy; the ground underfoot damp from the overnight rain. Every few steps is followed by a scan of shoes looking to spot any wriggling invader before it gains purchase on bare skin and begins to feed. We stop to observe an echidna foraging in the undergrowth; spot a young blackwood tree; admire the spread of a large sandpaper fig.
Emerging from the bush the track hits a fire road and we stop. Our purpose here is less pedagogical, more conversational. And what better place to to have a conversation about our relationship with the Australian bush than in the bush. Professor Nigel Clark, visiting from Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University invites us into a conversation considering bush and fire and coal. This thinking Clark tells us builds on research he has been undertaking with Dr Lauren Rickards (RMIT) that has looked at instances where extractive activity has unintentionally sparked fires – the bushfire-triggered Hazelwood coalmine fire in Victoria (2014), the close encounter between oil sand mining and wildfire at Fort McMurray, Alberta (2016) and the ongoing interface between coal mining and open-field burning in Indonesia. This is an odd feedback loop, as he says: “‘a new species of trouble’ in which the climatic effects of extracting and burning fossil fuels circle back in the form of wildfire (or storms, flooding and other extreme events).” The Illawara region itself has a history of both coal mining and of impact by bush fire.
This line of thinking then asks what might be the implications of human-induced destratification – such as coal-mining – knocks into these increasingly ‘deterritorialised flows’ – bush fires and other human-induced environment impacts. How might we think about this relationship – make sense of it? Who is affected by these kinds of impacts, and what political and ethical questions do they prompt? And indeed can these ideas be used in shaping pathways and strategies that provide vectors through potential stresses? – that is, possibilities for shaping “alternative geosocial or pyropolitical futures” as Professor Clark puts it.
This is an interesting conversation to have – and even more so when had on a fire road in the bush within a long-serving coal mining region. It acts as a spark for thinking, and hopefully one that has the potential to catch and move in different directions.
Throughout the discussion the vigilance for crawling invaders continued. Brave explorers were picked off boots and shirts and returned to the bush. But nature can be more cunning than we give it credit. The following day a well-fed leech was found wandering the corridors of the AUSCCER offices. It was only later that Professor Clark discovered an ankle covered in blood where the attacker had quietly attached itself and fed after it must have hidden itself perhaps in his shoe. Thus unfortunately for Professor Clark, his presence provided more than just food for thought – for some it was nourishment in the simplest sense.
I have just spent ten days in Tasmania, presenting at a conference on Food Politics, with prominent food geographer Michael Goodman and RMIT’s excellent Tania Lewis as the keynotes. My presentation was on food and hunting in Australia and Sweden, based on a forthcoming chapter in a book co-edited by Lesley Head.
All the Nordic countries and Australia have traditions of hunting. For most of Australia’s human history, including colonial settlement, wild harvest from the sea and the land formed the human diet, and hunting was a normal part of activity and cuisine. These traditions continue in 2016, but are controversial and contested. In the Nordic countries, in part because of the historic traditions of friluftsliv and allemansrätten, wild food gathering including hunting is currently much more normalized, and in fact valorized in the rise of the ‘New Nordic Cuisine’. The percentages of the population that are hunters in these countries are relatively similar, between 2-5%. Indigenous hunters, Aboriginal and Sami, are marginalized and often criminalized for continuing to maintain traditions millennia old. Continue reading