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.
Compost – Green Connect urban farm Warrawong
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 last year has seen political and popular discussions of migration dominated by a language of ‘crisis’ and emergency response. From the ongoing securitisation of the Calais freight terminal, to the production of new border walls in Europe, policies on migration over the last year have focused on extending trends of extraterritorial exclusion, political distancing, and the deferral of moral responsibility. Yet at the same time, the mass movement of refugees witnessed in Europe has raised profound questions over the desirability, and effectiveness, of these responses.
Syrian refugees strike at the platform of Budapest Keleti railway station, Hungary, 4 September 2015. Photo by Mstyslav Chernov.
On the 2nd September the body of a 3 year old Syrian boy washed up on the beach of Bodrum, Turkey. He, along with his brother and mother were 3 of 12 people to drown as their boats capsized trying to cross the Aegean Sea from Turkey to the Greek island of Kos. I’m not going to post the picture here, it’s fairly distressing and to be honest you’ve probably already seen it splashed across newspapers and webpages. It’s the image that brought the plight of Syrian refugees into the immediate consciousness of the rest of the world.
This unfolded whilst I was attending the RGS/IBG Annual Conference at the University of Exeter, a week before my trip to Turkey. Relatives and friends asked, ‘You’re not going to Bodrum are you?’ ‘Ummm I don’t think so’, but as I googled my tour destinations I realised that whilst I wasn’t going to Bodrum, I was going very close, touring up the same coastline.
Debates raged in the media and in conversation around ‘the image of the little boy’. Should this be shown? YES, I though, we need to be shocked into action. We need to see this! But do shocking images really make us change? I thought so, but now I doubt myself. Continue reading →