Category Archives: community

We Can Too!

Potential – Word of the Day

Redgate Beach, south of Margaret River. The beach was closed yesterday, in fact, I couldn’t even see it. The winds were gale force earlier in the day, and still strong in the afternoon, whipping the water in to shore, and making it difficult to keep a steady hand for filming. The western shore contains a variety of examples of rock formations that have been weathered by waves, and when you see the power of the water, it is no wonder.

Water is powerful, and in many ways. Wave power as an idea, a theory, has been around for years, though one the earliest attempts is still recent – Scotland, 1991. The long history of shipping has relied on water, and has also suffered from the volatility of storms at sea. The same can be said for the fishing industry, tourism, military purpose, exploration and more. Rivers and other sources of land based water have been critical for the survival of all species. Plants and animals vary as to percentage but all have a foundational volume of water that constitutes their being. Science has variably said that water is 80% of the human body, I say variably because others say it is even higher.

Water is fundamental for survival, dehydration is deadly for any species. And water, though abused by, is also fundamental to industry and manufacturing at every level. We know the absence of water contributes to desertification, and evidence from other planets shows that lack of water equals lack of life.

The potential of water goes back to the dawn of time, and onwards to the floating gardens of the Aztecs, Roman baths and aqueducts, the farming of rice, fish farming, reticulated agriculture, and the generation of electricity (hydro-power).

With climate change as a reality, even fiction, like the post apocalyptic story of Waterworld, seems less far fetched than when it hit the cinemas in 1994. Water is seen as part of our daily survival need, but also part of our future as once again, floating gardens, floating communities, hydroponics, aquaculture, and responses to climate problems like flooding, see Practical Action    have become exciting options for ways forward.

And yet, we are far more diverse than water. The human is complex, and, beyond the primitive brain, unique in brain capacity for problem solving, design, learning, creating, conceptualising, and comprehension, to name a few potentials. We too can be a positive power in the world, veritable tsunamis of ideas, science, engineering, chemistry, the arts, and more. We too generate energy. And we have the potential to creatively solve the issues before us.

We can contribute to life, we are powerful, we can be creative, eroding and wearing down the barriers and the negatives, shaping and sustaining life and potential worlds and communities,  we too are fundamental to nature though by good or ill, depending on how we value nature. We have the potential to turn around the whole climate change issue. Like water, we have to pool, pond, and gather together to get it done. Even the formation of water, hydrogen and oxygen is a metaphor for working together to achieve an outcome. One drop of water is just one drop of water, but many drops are potential, are power, resource, possibility, together we are an ocean of potential.

The ground was hard
many seeds to be planted
neighbours helping

©Paul Cannon


10 Comments

Filed under beach, bush walking, community, Country, creativity, environment, Haiku, life, mindfulness, nature

Less Is More

Abundant – Word of the Day

IMG_2554.jpg

Mate, there’s nothing out here, we’re stuffed now. On the way to Jindalee.

To the untrained eye that’s true, but to any of our local indigenous clans, there’s no reason to panic because to the familiar and trained eye, there’s an abundance of food out there, what we call bush tucker.

If you are a meat eater, then kangaroo, emu, wallaby, snakes and lizards, to name a few, are nearby. Quandongs, bush plums, mulga apples, wild orange, and more are nearby. There are also mulga seeds and wattle seeds. Plenty of insects abound, cicadas, witchetty grubs, and various caterpillars. Some sweet things like nectar, especially from the honey ant, and honey from native bees. There’s surface water in the wet season, some soaks and Gorges during summer, and if you dig there’s often water close to the surface near tree roots, and granite outcrops. Then there’s various flax and flat leaved plants you can use for making baskets and any number of containers, trees for shade and shelter, tinder for fire. To the untrained eye – there’s nothing out there. I’m no expert but to my eye and many others, there is definitely an abundance of food and life out there.

“Less is more” is a phrase from Robert Browning’s poem ‘Andrea del Sarto’ (1855). This phrase was popularised by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as the principle of Minimalism in architecture in the 1940s, van der Rohe was a leading figure in the Bauhaus movement. The Aussie bush is vast but sparse, which makes me think it is a living example of Browning’s phrase, less is more.

The sparse bush is deceptive, and yet to those who know, it’s like a magnet that draws you to linger a while and indulge that other abundance – peace. To continue a theme, in the bush there is an abundance of peace, a joyful solitude, a nurturing silence. There is a generous time out in the bush, there is no competition to mark time, no stress in taking time. No wonder many of us say it is a healing space, body, mind and soul. The bush is generous, extravagant, and abundant. It teaches me to live those values. And it teaches me that less is actually more.

maples abundant
black pine a mass of needles
cherry soul-gasm

Paul,

pvcann.com

11 Comments

Filed under bush walking, community, food, Haiku, Indigenous, life, mindfulness, nature

Gregarious – Word of the Day

IMG_0119.jpg

Corellas flock together, gregarious by nature, foraging, bathing, flying, playing, they love being together, even when roosting for the night. It is rare to see a lone one and there’s an apparent sadness when one dies. Many animals are gregarious by nature, humans especially, whether introverted or extroverted.

You can be introverted and gregarious too, just in smaller doses, as author Karen Armstrong puts it: “I like silence; I’m a gregarious loner and without the solitude, I lose my gregariousness.”  As author Susan Cain says: To be introverted is to be concerned about how you respond to stimulation, especially social stimulation.”  Or as poet Norman MacCaig once said: “I’m very gregarious, but I love being in the hills on my own.”  As an extrovert I can still relate to that.

The cost is different. Introverts will feel drained after much social stimulus, whereas, while extroverts my feel tired, they will thrive on social stimulus. But both will become vulnerable because there is always a risk in social interaction to the self. We as a human community thrive better when we have social interaction, when we work together, when we can make friends, work in teams, and when we can walk alongside one another. We just need to appreciate each other’s needs more accutely in the area of personality. To be introverted is not a negative pathology, I should know I live with a household of introverts, and I get reminded. We’re all gregarious, just differently wired.

The video below of Susan Cain speaking from the perspective of an introvert may seem long at 19 minutes, but it is well worth a look.

 

We're in full swing
you withdraw, I re-engage
elementary

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

17 Comments

Filed under community, Haiku, life, mindfulness, quote

John Adams

Independence – Word of the Day

IMG_0135.jpg

Eurasian Coot, Big Swamp, Bunbury. Alone again, naturally. This one had set a course for herself, away from the others.

The stories of other nations and communities are always interesting to me, how they evolved and what are some of the key historical points that have become the DNA of the nation, and who are some the characters in nation building.

It is July 4th, the celebration for Americans of their independence from Britain. One of the things that always intrigues me, is the story within the story. Eventual political independence came as a result of independent people. One such person was John Adams (1735 – 1826).

Britannica.com describes Adams and his wife Abigail as fiercely independent. Adams was an early advocate for independence. His father had hoped he’s follow in his shoes as a church minister. Adams trained with that in view, but on graduation from Harvard spent three years teaching at a grammar school. He eventually determined to do law, and set up practice in Boston. It was while in Boston that his independence came to public prominence. Eight British soldiers had fired on a crowd in Boston – the Boston Massacre -and were on trial for murder. John Adams decided to defend them. He believed that they had the right to legal representation (and for a fee no doubt), and his view was that the soldiers had been provoked. While it was an unpopular thing to do it showed that Adams was a principled person, and it also showed that Adams was one who could think and act independently.

In 1765 Adams wrote a dissertation against the Stamp Act, He went on to oppose the Townsend Act (import duty). In 1774 he was elected to the delegation to represent Massachusetts at the First Continental Congress. In 1775 he published his “Novanglus” essays arguing that Britain had no right to legislate for the colony. He attended the Second Continental Congress in 1776, and was nicknamed “The Atlas of independence” surely an irony? He dominated debate and made crucial nominations – George Washington as comander of the Continental Army; and Thomas Jefferson to draft the Declaration of Independence. His list of achievements is long, and include a term as ambassador in both France and England, two terms as Vice President, and one term as President. While his political philosophy is much debated and some of his views unpopular, Adams has been hailed as a patriot and revolutionary who spurred a colony to nationhood.

No matter what you think of him, you can’t deny that he was indeed and independent thinker and activist who worked for the nation’s own independence. Perhaps in that light we might say that America’s independence is an outworking of the independent-mindedness of its founders, especially John Adams. I note though, that Adams was not a one-man-band, he ably delegated, deffered, and encouraged others to do their bit, not wanting to hog the limelight, but rather to share it. Independence doesn’t mean solo, or maverick, though it doesn’t exclude those labels those labels are not the principal defining behaviours, it means appropriate dependence and independence in synergy. A bit like co-dependency is not all bad, we all have a positive level of dependence and co-dependece in our lives, if we didn’t we’d have sterile relationships and bland communities and not a lot would get done. We also need a positive level of independence in our lives too, without it we are not an identity, just a name, alone. I like to think I have a bit of John Adams in me, an independent thinker and activist, but also one who can function in and for community. I hope you do to.

many fine new branches
a multitude of blossom
the trunk is solid

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

30 Comments

Filed under community, Haiku, history, life, mindfulness, politics, self-development

There I Am

Epiphany – Word of the Day

vitaliy-pakhnyushchyy-dew-drop-on-a-blade-of-grass_a-G-12758137-14258384.jpg

(Image: imgc.allpostersimages.com)

And There I am

Despite the warmth, there’s still dew
my shoes wet
hurriedly marching
briefcase my conscience
notifications bleeping
a car alarm sounds far away
I don’t really care.
My mind a kaleidoscope of
of another day,
like a magnet drawing me ever onwards.
Caffeine,
Sweet sister caffeine,
please, just one.
The park blurs
hands full
still marching
I clip the curb
dramatic eclipse
change on the ground
stopping, retrieving.
Time ceases.
There’s still dew,
lush verdant blades,
light.
A diamond?
A diamond!
All is still, not even a wisp of breath.
The air hangs like velvet,
the grass like feathers.
A tiny drop, perfect, a mirror
of all.
And there I am,
I touch the fabric of the universe,
and there I am.

©Paul Cannon

9 Comments

Filed under community, life, nature, poetry

Fake News

Hoax – Word of the Day

166CF58A-356D-46A0-847E-F50CDB078EEE

From the dawn of time to the Lock Ness Monster, to Joseph Goebbels, Lavrentiy Beria, the Vietnam lie, the Watergate Seven, to Weapons of Mass Destruction, to the constancy of daily lies pedalled across the world by politicians, media, businesses, rogue scientists, fundamentalist religious types (remember Jim Jones, David Koresh, Pat Robertson), or the hoax about a hoax – the radio show of Orson Wells which featured his War of the Worlds alien invasion, and which was said to have created mass panic and evacuation of New York, now proven to be an invention created from a handful of hysterical phone calls and an attack on a civic facility thought to be an alien fortress. It certainly helped Wells and the radio station maintain popularity and gain sponsors.

Hoaxes, scams, fake news have all been around since Adam (a story which includes a scam). Generally they fall into two categories, harmful (weapons of mass destruction), and harmless (Loch Ness Monster). They are all fabrications, lies. It is difficult now to believe anything that is reported in mainstream news, at least until it has been checked. But then, people can be fake in their relationships, pretending to be someone or something.

Black Lives Matter, #Me Too, are also testimony to how fake news, lies, fabrications distort race, gender, and destroy individuals and relationships. In Australia the plight of indigenous children removed from families, based on cultural arrogance and self serving mythology, and the devastating findings of the Royal Commission into Child Abuse has shown how fake reputations, scams and lies enabled vulnerable children to be broken.

Yet, I remain optimistic. In my daily journey I meet many, many people who restore my belief that most people value each other at some level, that the human endeavour is still somehow linked to the golden rule (treat others as you would want to be treated), no matter how we might feel that that is tenuous, the anecdotal evidence is strong. Importantly, I remind myself that there, as the old saying goes, but for the grace of God there go I! Who am I? No one is perfect, and so we need to gentle with each other.

Lies will continue, there will be hoaxes, scams, fake news and distortions. Our response surely must be to discern the truth, but also to hold each other in the space of love, trust, healing, and above all, to listen. The power of listening can be healing in itself, and in the long term the way to truth. To listen to the vulnerable (and who is not vulnerable in some way?), the broken (and who is not broken in some way?), to listen to each other generously and deeply. That way myths come undone, lies are made plain, pain is held, anxiety understood, vanity deconstructed, fear disarmed … in the end, in a world where fake news and distrust could overpower us, we have each other, not bury our heads in activity, but to value each other, build trust, support, resilience, that will enable us to face the world together. Together we can rise above fake.

”No one can lie, no one can hide anything, when s/he looks directly into someone’s eyes.” Paul Coelho

”A lie cannot live.” Martin Luther King Jnr.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

 

13 Comments

Filed under community, history, life, mindfulness, politics, quote

It’s A Moiety World

Moiety – Word of the Day

Australian First Nations

There are over 500 Australian Indigenous Nations, as you can see from the map, they have particular areas with distinct boundaries. The nations are formed from clan groups which have their own language and kinship system which is either patrilineal (descent is related to and traced through the father/male line) or matrilineal (descent is related to and traced through the mother/female line). Clan groups are formed from family groups.

There are three levels of kinship in indigenous society: moiety, totem, and skin names.

The term moiety comes from the Latin, meaning half. In moiety systems everything in the universe is in two halves, each a mirror of the other, and the universe only makes sense if these two halves come together. Moieties are patrilineal or matrilineal, so determined by either your father or mother, these are the two halves. People of the same moiety are siblings and cannot marry, they must marry people from the other moiety, and thus the two halves are brought together.

Kinship

That, of course, is a simplistic outline of what the word means, but it belies a complexity of culture that is rich in every way in real life. Whereas white culture has negatively impacted indigenous culture, it is not true in reverse. In fact, we have only just begun to learn from our First Nation people’s how we might better treat each other and the land, given that ecological relationships are so fragile here.

In indigenous culture they have retained something very precious, something we have almost completely lost, the ability of moiety systems to be support systems. If you have a row with mum or dad, you can go to another significant relative within the clan group and debrief, chill out, stay awhile till the heat dissipates and the possibility of return arises. My experience of working with young white people in family conflict is they either go it alone, maybe with a few friends, or sadly, on the streets. Indigenous youth generally look for family. What is important in this is that  while we revere the independence of white youth, we miss the wisdom of healing and wholeness as the moiety or halves work together for unity. No system is perfect, but some have stronger, lasting principles that have lasted thousands of years, like our indigenous peoples. It has now become critical in youth work to build resilience for our youth in trouble, but I think the foundation of resilience is clearly the clan, though, for me, that doesn’t equate to family per se, but rather to those relationships important to our vitality and flourishing. We should never be in survival, but two halves always meeting and making the universe right.

Paul,

pvcann.com

8 Comments

Filed under community, Country, environment, history, life, mindfulness, nature, Spirituality

My Personal Ecology

Flourish – Word of the Day

IMG_0585 2.jpg

Moon’s Crossing, Pemberton, a place where nature flourishes. Here the winter creek flows and sings over the rocks. I flourish here too, the smells, sounds, sights, sensations and feelings that arise here are all part of my living.

One of the earliest thoughts about flourishing came from the great philosopher Aristotle, he thought that flourishing was the highest good of human endeavours, and that flourishing was the aim of all our actions. Somewhere that got derailed. Just as the Greek culture showed potential to pursue its own thinking, the Romans happened with their civic culture focussed on empire. And, as they do, empires come and go, not unlike plagues.

Happiness became the human endeavour, a purely hedonic pursuit according to Martin Seligman. Seligman prefers to talk about Authentic Happiness and he has pinned his career on Positive Psychology, and its ideal of human flourishing. Seligman based flourishing on “Perma” which is:- positive emotion (happiness, pleasure, gratitude, joy), engagement (a state of flow), relationships (feelings of support, familiarity and security), meaning (belonging to and serving something other than self) and accomplishment (having goals no matter the size).

In the mid 70s David Holmgren and Bill Mollinson developed permaculture, a relations or ecology system of farming and gardening. Permaculture’s three main principles are:- care for the earth, care for the people, setting limits to populations and consumption. Permaculture is more wholisitc whereas Aristotle was focussed on the benefit to the community, and Seligman’s Perma is focussed on psychology, but the three work together, they are not mutually exclusive.

For me flourishing is having a personal ecology that consists of  mutually suportive relationships, a positive relationship with nature, a spirituality, creative expression, learning, and reflection. These are the things that sustain me, give me pleasure and enable me to flourish and be creative. This is my manifesto, my mantra if you like, it has taken some time to learn the health of it, but it is a gift of life for me now.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

 

 

 

17 Comments

Filed under community, farming, food, Gardening, history, life, mindfulness, nature, permaculture

A Friend

Introduce – Word of the Day

IMG_0126.jpg

I hardly need to introduce Augusta, and this particular part, the Blackwood River, as it is a constant reference in my writing. It is my favourite place and our true home. I first came here with a close mate, Nigel, in 1981 on a sudden whim, the same road trip which ended in meeting lyn, who would later become my wife. Lyn and I ended back here on our honey moon road trip in 83. And for nearly every year after we brought the kids for the summer holidays. Finally, we knew we wanted to live here so we eventually bought our home here, a place where we feel at peace, and where we feel that affinity with nature and community. This shot is the jetty where the river walk begins to pass the shire caravan park, and looks across the Blackwood to East Augusta. We were on a walk, as we regularly do, and I just loved the winter clouds and how the light played with them and the water, and the colour tones were unusual to the eye, hence the photo.

To return to the theme of affinity with nature, I find that my contemplative stance is richer in nature. I also experience nature as a soul friend, one who awakens my eyes, my heart to the deeper things, a spititual awareness, and one where I begin to feel more whole. Here my senses are engaged and I feel stimulated. Here I am content. so in that sense, I’m introducing you to my friend.

“Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there.” Gary Snyder.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

21 Comments

Filed under beach, bush walking, community, life, mindfulness, nature

A Quiet Integrity

Integrity – Word of the Day

pt_wilson_ent-lead__200x317.jpg

Sir Ronald Darling Wilson (1922 – 2005)

Wilson had a battler’s start. He was born in Geraldton (a then small West Australian coastal country town). Although his father was a lawyer, his mother died when he was four, and his father was incapacitated with a stroke when he was seven, and his older brother (14) cared for him. Wilson left school at fourteen and became a court messenger at the Geraldton Local Court. He signed up for military service in 1941 with the army, transferred to the airforce and sent to England in 1942. After the war he studied law at the University of Western Australia, and then went on to be a Fullbright Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania in 1957 completing an MA. In 1969 he became Solicitor General of Western Australia. In 1979 he was appointed to the High Court of Australia. He was a moderate in politics, he was conservative in law, and yet a passionate champion of human rights, something that was at the core of him.

In the now famous High Court ruling on Mabo. Eddie Mabo, an indigenous man from Queensland had pushed for Native Title rights and presented his case to the High Court. Wilson dissented, but on grounds that the findings were not strongly based in equality. The High Court ruled in favour of Mabo (Mabo 1) on June 3, 1992. In 1993 the High Court inserted the legal doctrine of Native Title into law, thus changing the foundation of Australian law. The new law was The Native Title Act 1993. Wilson agreed on this, and became a vocal advocate for Aboriginal people.

He retired from the High Court in 1989, but in 1990 was appointed by the Hawke Government to the post of President of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission until 1997. He served as Deputy Chairperson of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. He was made Chancellor of Murdoch University 1980 – 1995. From 1988 – 1991 he was elected and served as Moderator of the Uniting Church of Australia, which he did consecutively with his other appointments. He brought a stong social justice stance to the Church.

But I think his crowning achievement was conducting, along with Mick Dodson (The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner), the 1995 – 1997 National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families. The report was pivotal in approaching the national tragedy of the Stolen Generations – forced removal of indigenous children from their families. The 600 page report was tabled in parliament in 1997. The then Prime minister John Howard refused to issue an apology, but his successor Kevin Rudd did on February 13 2008. State governements also issued apologies, some immediately others later on. It is a significant report in our history and though shameful, it is also a matter of integrity. The subject of the report was not unknow but invariably denied, ignored or resisted through our history. In spite of the community awareness, the report shocked the nation.

Sir Ronald Wilson never promoted himself, never sought public attention, believed he was hard working, but not exceptional. Yet his integrity in working tirelessly, in amongst all his other responsibilities, for the rights of the indigenous people of Australia is outstanding. His commitment to the values of human rights, equality, fairness, playing his part in the Native Title cases, bringing the plight of the Stolen Generation to national attention, and many other commitments is inspiring.

Mick Dodson said of him: “Once you convince Ron Wilson you can have no one more passionate as an advocate … As an advocate he gives it 120 per cent.”

Justice Michael Kirby of the High Court said of him: I think his great contribution is that he showed how a highly orthodox, conservative lawyer can grow up. How he can grow out of the cocoon. Can expand his mind in harmony with his heart and with the sense of spirituality in which he was raised.”

A man of integrity! And one who inspires me.

Paul,

pvcann.com

22 Comments

Filed under community, history, life, Native Title, quote, religion, Stolen Generation