Saturday, September 20, 2008

Housing affordabiltiy info and resources


Australian Housing and Urban Reseach Institute:

"Overseas students compete for Melbourne rentals"

"Students take action on housing crisis" (about SHAC, but has good background info):

AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN AUSTRALIA: Some Key Problems and Priorities for Action:

ACTU, Affordable housing: Issues, Principles and Policy Options:


Association to Resource Co-operative Housing:

Community Housing Federation of Victoria:

National Housing Co-operative Conference 2007:

"Speed renting":


Sydney housing org 'Common Ground'


Council response:

State government:

Federal response:
Shelter NSW, A guide to a proposed National Affordable Housing Agreement:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

winter liberation

Got a new hair cut today. I have a fringe, which apparently makes me look for youthful. Gosh, I'm only 24, and I need to look more youthful. The future is grim.

I removed my winter sheath while I was at it - legs, arm-pits and bikini-line. Georgina, my hair-dresser/beautician, asked me whether I was still doing that liberated thing, and I told her that I wasn't sure. I lay back and raised my arms so she could get to the eco-system growing in my arm-pits. Georgina said, "Oh my goodness! We'll need to trim that back before we can start with the wax!" The under-arms didn't hurt nearly as much as you'd expect - given that she was ripping out the coursest hair from my body by the roots. I guess I've done it so many times now, I don't feel it anymore. Perhaps my nerves are damaged.

So no, I don't think I'm doing that liberated thing anymore. Liberation only occurs over the winter.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Writing on peace

I have two ideas for things I could write on peace:

- A piece on the military co-opting peace days like Remembrance Day and ANZAC day

- How non-violent principles can be applied to state actors i.e. how can the Australian Defense Force abide by non-violent principles?

The latter would take much more work, but would be very interesting. I got inspired after attending the White Paper on Defense community consultation in Melbourne last night. Some really interesting perspectives, especially on non-violence. I want to nut that stuff out and figure out what I reckon the role of the defense force should be, if anything.

Community responses to housing affordability crisis

I think I'd like to write a piece about this. Found out about SHAC - the Student Housing Action Collective. Apparently they've been occupying Melbourne Uni-owned terrace houses for two weeks now. Sounds great, but I don't think I'd like to live there! Anyway, I might go visit and find out more about it. Apparently they have community dinners every Monday from 5:30 til 9. Might go and help cook or something.

Another community response is the houses run by John Williams, who came and spoke to the Street and Hospitality team at Urban Seed yesterday. He rents houses and then sub-leases them to people who would never get a place in the private rental market. He's pretty focussed on community-building activities as well. Might include that in piece as well.

I wonder what other solutions are out there. I wonder whether church-owned property has been used for affordable housing, or whether there are any other housing-co-ops in Melbourne. Will have to do some research and see.

Monday, September 15, 2008

dinner, Tarzan, being vague and being successful

Just had Steve over for dinner and a DVD. I'd spent the day staring at a computer screen at work, so I wasn't feeling terribly sociable. Gemma, Gin, Geoff and Boony and I gathered around the kitchen table and peel pistachio nuts, because pistachio pasta is the only dish that Gemma can cook. That was pretty nice - felt like a community bonding event, like shelling peas on the veranda or something.

Before dinner Geoff said, "It'll be quiet without Dave around."
I said, "What do you mean?"
And Geoff said, "Dave's gone on leave."
I sort of went, "Oh yeah", but really, I had no idea that Dave was going on leave. I felt ridiculous, because I live with Dave, and I should have realised that he was going on leave and wouldn't be around for a week. I felt incredibly vague, and also kind of out of the loop, which is quite a common sensation for me.

I realised something about myself - I can only concentrate on one thing at once. If I'm watching TV, I can't talk. If I'm talking, I can't watch TV. If I'm typing, I shut out everything else that is going on in the room. I am ridiculously incompetant at multi-tasking - to the extent that I can't even drink my drink while I eat dinner - I have to have it at the end, or else be really intentional about stopping mid-way to down half a glass. Today was extra-bad - I couldn't have the salad at the same time as the pasta. And I'm a girl. I defy the odds.

So Steve picked Tarzan to watch, which was hilarious. It had all the social norms of a family from the 1950s, only it was set in the jungle and involved bad grammar. Tarzan plays the hero man and Jane and the other women in the movie play the doting, relatively passive women. But it was quite enjoyable. I find it hard to follow old movies, because the sound is all weird and maybe because it's in black and white. The films are just so foreign to what I'm used to - I find it hard to get past the fact that they make no attempt that making anything realistic - it's all about made-up faces (in the jungle for goodness sake!), perfect hair and general Hollywood glamour. Maybe if I watched that films enough I would come to appreciate their art, and see that the acting, which seems so shit to me, is really a cultural norm as much as today's acting is. But I'm not really committed enough to watch more old movies.

Well, it seems things are going well at work. John, my boss, has decided that I'm brilliant, because of the pieces published. He even mentioned a pay rise today! My paper on land tenure and disasters has just been accepted, albeit with a shit-load of changes. So my academic self-efficacy had increased of late, even in the face of the 58% I got for Professional Practice. So what if I'll make a bad lawyer? Who wants to be a lawyer, anyway? But it's funny how your self-perception is so tied to how the world perceives you! Even though I pride myself in not caring that reality, I have so much tied to that stuff. It's hard to feel self-worth in simply living and breathing - I have to DO something, BE someone, be RESPECTED by other people. The myth of success is so prevalent and pervasive, and so dang hard to extract myself from!

Mum made a quilt for me because I finished law. It was so special. I didn't know how to thank her properly, or tell her how I felt. We don't really do that in our family. Maybe I'll write her a letter.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Some published pieces

Thought I'd put some links through to a few opinion pieces I've had published:

Visit to Gran and Dar-Dar's

Mum, Rebecca and I visited Gran and Dar-Dar today. In a frenzy of not-tiring-Dar-Dar-out, Mum took us to Number 16 beach, which she likes because not many people go there. The weather was amazing - a little piece of summer tucked into the middle of the Melbourne transition from winter to spring, like an Easter egg that you find in the grass days after the Easter-egg hunt ends. Mum was in a good mood and so were we. We all talked more than usual...I think that I might have talked too much, and listened too little.

Mum said that she loved the beach. I asked her why, and she said that she goes to forget about everything else. I told her about Ram, who I had met the previous Saturday night at a Sitar concert, of all places. Ram is the student of the master who was performing for us. He told us that he spends five hours playing music each day, on top of the masters or PhD thesis that he is doing - in accounting, of all things. I told Ram that I thought that playing the sitar must be a very spiritual thing to do.
"Spiritual?!" he exclaimed (silly me, what a ridiculous thought). "My sitar playing is anything but spiritual. It's an escape from reality!"
Ram told us (me, Michael and Dave) that he had been sent to Australia by his rich father to get an education ("either law or accounting...not art"), and that he lived everyday in guilt at the comfortable life that he led, while millions of people lived a life of poverty in India. Music was his way of forgetting - it was his drug of choice.

For me, the beach is a spiritual place - I sense the presence of God at the beach more than in a church or a city laneway or even in the mountain ranges that frame the northern horizon of the home I grew up in. I have never considered that I might go to the beach to forget, in the same way that Ram plays his sitar to divert his thoughts elsewhere. But then, maybe we're all describing the same thing in different ways. Maybe forgetting the details that plague us throughout the rest of the day is a way that we centre on God - a way of imagining what might transcend beyond our everyday guilts and problems. I'm just thinking that maybe this 'forgetting' is really a sort of 'giving up' - a conscious releasing to God, while allowing us to be embraced by Her love, in the form of the music of the sitar, or the roar of the waves. Maybe it's tapping into a deeper reality.

I'm not sure. Just some thoughts.

Dar-Dar has cancer at the moment. Lymphoma. He's in his 80s, but he's so strong and fit. I really think he'll be ok. He seems so much better than last time we visited. I told him that he seemed more "normal" and he laughed. He told us about all the lovely people at the hospital who treat him like he's their only patient, and they've been waiting all day to see him. Gran says it's a special gift that people are just born with. Dar-Dar told us that they draw a dart board on his tummy and then throw needles from 10 foot away, and that's how he gets his injections. He was in good spirits.

It had been Fathers' Day last Sunday, so Bec and I got Dar-Dar a card and a book of Rumi poetry. The poetry went down a treat, which was great, because it was a bit of a risk. He said he thrived on things like that. Phew. What did NOT go down a treat was the card. It was a Spike Mulligan cartoon, and had picture of a person being carried in a coffin, about to be put into a hole in the ground. The person had lifted the lid of the coffin and was saying, "I demand a second opinion!" Now, I thought it was funny and Rebecca agreed that it was definately Dar-Dar's sense of humour. A risk, yes, given the circumstances, but risks often produce the best results. Dar-Dar pulled the card out of the envelope and we braced ourselves in the silence that followed, expecting an eruption of laughter when he had read and digested the humourous message. Dar-Dar peered at the front cover, brow furrowed in concentration. He turned the card over, reading the bio about Spike Mulligan. Still nothing.
He turned to me. "So it's a man being carried...?"
"Yes," I started. "In a, um, coffin..."
"Oh. Well. Yes, that's funny." Dar-Dar put the card down.
Gran picked it up and said, "Oh yes, ha ha, that's very funny!"
We all sat awkwardly for a while. They say timing is everything. Mum said later that giving a man a card with a person in a coffin on the front while they are battling cancer is bad timing.

I guess that risks can also produce the worst results.