01 May 2016

In Flight Mode. Indigenous business supplying the nation


One quick post (literally) from the plane at Brisbane airport. I'm on my way to Sydney for Connect 2016 - the annual Supply Nation Trade Show and Awards Event. 

It's important for all of us to talk about Indigenous business and the diversity of industries that people are working in. 

It's still so normal for me to meet Australians for whom the concept of an Indigenous business is completely foreign. Never mind an entire trade every devoted to Indigenous procurement. 

Posting my upcoming trip on Twitter, deadly sistah Dr Sandra Phillips wished me well in "supplying the nation". 

How apt is that "Indigenous businesses supplying the nation"? So true, on so many levels. And definitely not a recent phenomenon. 

It's a bit rainy out there today so am hoping for a smooth ride. 

Gotta go. Flight mode engaged. 

25 April 2016

This week in Sydney and Canberra

Late yesterday afternoon I finally landed back in Brisbane after 8 days away in both Sydney and Canberra. It's so great to be home. I don't think I do 'away from the kids' very well.

Appin Massacre



I turned up early a few days early in Sydney to attend the 200th Anniversary of the Appin Massacre. It was a great turn out - I'm pretty sure there were over 1000 people present.

We also just made it over to Campbelltown Arts Centre for the exhibition With Secrecy and Dispatch. It's an amazing exhibition and should be required attendance by school children across the Sydney region.

Pics from the day are on The Critical Classroom's Facebook Page.

On the Train


On Tuesday evening after the Board meeting I jumped on a train to Canberra. Felt happy that I scored a window seat but then slack that it was actually too dark to get any good pics. Despite that I thoroughly recommend the trip down - very relaxing.

You can book the train via NSW TrainLink, with trains regularly departing from Central Station. Very convenient.

Enjoying Canberra




Canberra was a mix of personal and professional. Had a couple of excellent meetings with clients and got projects moving forwarding. I also spent a few days with my sister and her family. I babysat the kids for a few days - there was a trip to see Zootopia, movie night with The Force Awakens, a trip to Weston Park and a ride on the little train, a trip to Black Mountain and the Telstra Tower and a visit to to Mount Stromlo.

Canberra's an odd place. I enjoy visiting it, but I'm not sure I could ever live there. I've been thinking about why it's so different to what I'm used to. I think it's the lack of familiar green - it's more brown and that dull Eucalypt green rather than the tropical green I grew up with. I've also noticed that the architecture is much more standardised. I'm no architecture expert so I have no idea if it is all the same period but if feels as though Brisbane there is a greater diversity of styles across the city. In Brisbane there is also more colour from advertising and marketing. In Canberra, I wonder if there is a limitation on the amount of commercial signage that buildings are allowed to displayed.

Farewell Sweet Prince
Of course this week is devastating because the world lost Prince. I can't describe what it's like to know that he is no longer with us, but I'm incredibly grateful for the legacy he left. Since his passing I've been getting my Prince fix with videos, posts and music being shared on social media. What did we do before the Internet?

A fire lit for Tiga Bayles this weekend. 


19 April 2016

"It all goes so fast"


Do you wonder how life has gone by so quickly? How all of a sudden you're in your mid-forties, yet you remember the eighties like they were yesterday. 

I hear myself saying "It's all going so fast" more than ever these days. The kids were kids not that long ago and now they're in their late teens/early twenties. I look at old (often pre-digital) photos and sigh. I also remember when I thought 40 was SO OLD. Now, I'm thinking well 80 is pretty old isn't it? 

Tomight I'm on the train from Sydney to Canberra tonight, and I've just been yarning with a fellow passenger. She too, can't believe how fast it's all gone. A great-grandmother, with a husband with Dementia, she understands the value of every precious day. 

As we waited for our train to depart we shared the tales of our lives - the navigating family demands while still fitting in time to do "what we want". I think for most people - life is about the juggling act. 

We're all busy navigating work demands, schools awards ceremonies, family doctor appointments, extended family weddings and birthday parties. Plus there's the other stuff like volunteering - meetings, sausage sizzles and cake stalls, as well as our activism. 

Life isn't "out there", it's here and now. It's ordinary. And that's okay. 

Choosing Indigenous Education Resources - a work-in-progress.

Choosing Indigenous Education Resources for the Classroom

This week I popped in on a sistah's lecture for pre-service teachers. The end result is a quick post for the Critical Classroom on Choosing Indigenous Education Resources for the Classroom.

It's a work-in-progress post and is framed around ideas that we started thinking about around 15 years ago. I really want to continue writing this list up. Of course, it's not a cut-and-dry or black-and-white list - it's not a case of if it doesn't tick the criteria don't use it. But rather they're guidelines that one can use to assess the worth of a resource. They're more like questions to consider.

I'm looking forward to getting into this post a bit more and developing it further in coming months.

13 April 2016

Growing an ecosystem requires leadership with depth

Indigenous Business in South East Queensland with the SEQICC and Minister for Small Business Leeanne Enoch.

It's the most satisfying feeling, when talking with a leader they understand exactly where you're coming from and what your issues are. There's no having to defend yourself, to over-explain, just state the issues and you move forward and talk big picture.

Well today, as part of a delegation from the South East Queensland Indigenous Chamber of Commerce, I met with Queensland's Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business, the Honourable Leeanne Enoch, and that's exactly what we got. 

Leeanne is a Quandamooka woman, raised in Logan. Her life and work is based here, in this place. Her work was with community. I've always remembered her as a staunch community and family focused person. And today, as a Minister, you can tell where she has come from. And it's good. 

It was a breath of fresh air, knowing that the person that you're talking to has knowledge and depth. 

I'm optimistic about what can be achieved for Indigenous business in Queensland now and into the future. As I've said many times before, being in business is bloody hard work with no guaranteed pay-offs. But I'm more hopeful now than I have been in a long time. 

I'm committed to working with the SEQICC for the foreseeable future, working to develop a state-wide representation. 

There's still so much to be done building and nurturing the Indigenous Business EcoSystem. And with Minister Enoch at the helm, anything is possible. 

11 April 2016

Giving the machine part of me



So after that mini-flurry of blog posts last week - honestly I think I was procrasti-blogging - anyone would think I was turning this space into a fatshion space. Nah. I don't have the capacity or will power to take pics of the clothes I'm wearing every day. I was so happy to have written those posts though. I feel like I've moved a mini-mountain for myself. Of course they're nothing compared to others, but for me it was a big deal. 

I spent my day neck deep in teaching and project management. That's my life these days. With the client list gradually growing, my ability to keep on track of projects is vital. I'm not sure I've nailed it yet though.

Today I remembered two tasks I was to complete for a client. The worst thing? I remembered them. What should have happened was that they should have been in our management tool with an alarm beside it. 

I'm very lucky there. But it reminded me that I can't let my brain to all that memory work. Those tasks need to be documented. I need to give the machine part of me - it can have those memories. But to do that I need to be consistent and disciplined. Something that definitely doesn't come naturally. 

Tomorrow is a full day of meetings. I'm looking forward to getting out of the office, albeit for one day. 

Onward and upward. 

08 April 2016

Learning to say I'm fat and not hate myself

20 years old, size 12-14, believed I was fat
The story of the young man who risked everything to travel overseas for massive cosmetic surgery in the hope of making a new life for himself brings into the present the real dangers of the body-image cult that our culture is still part of.

The body image cult is reinforced everyday. From the idiots hanging out the side of cars yell at you when you're walking, the 'motivational' posters in the women's gym saying you too can lose weight if you sign up for this program, to the bombardment of sexist and woman-hating messages in "women's" magazines that body shame celebrities.

But more insidious than these overt body-shaming activities, are the messages we send ourselves and each other every day:

"does my butt look big in this?"
"can I get away with this dress?"
"hiding the problem areas"
"this dress isn't flattering"
"I'm so naughty but I'll have one more piece of chocolate, cake, etc."

All of these images and words build up in our minds the idea that there is a perfect healthy body that we must strive for. When really, a healthy body can look like anything. A size 10 or 12 does not equal health automatically. Indeed there are many unhealthy bodies that 'look' healthy.

The focus on body image (ie. skinny = acceptable) also fails to understand that many people experience illnesses, sometimes visible but more often than not invisible, that prevent them from exercising and moving. Their mobility is limited so looking like you've just walked out of the gym is going to be near impossible. And to someone in that situation, I dare you to judge them to be healthy or not, just by looking at them.

Screenshot of the ABC iView page to the documentary on ABC2 called Plus Sized Wars. Features a plus size model in underwear 
Since discovering body image and HAES writers over the past five years, I've managed to do a lot of positive work on the internalised shame and negativity I have always had about my body.

Despite being almost the largest (apart from when I was about to have baby number 4) I've ever been in my life, I feel better about myself in my forties than I ever did in my twenties and definitely my thirties. I'm bolder (incredibly tame compared to many fatshionistas) in the outfits I'm wearing and way more comfortable in my skin. And it's all because of what's going on in my head.

Accepting that I'm fat - yes, I'm fat - has given me a freedom I've never had before. I move more. I'm more in touch with what I eat. I'm proactive in working with my doctor and therapist, something I could never have done two decades ago while filled with shame and embarrassment. Of course, I still have my bad days (sometimes bad weeks) when I feel like I'm useless and disgusting and an embarrassment.

If you've never heard this type of talk before, you're probably a little freaked out.

Are you thinking: OMG, why are you saying your fat? Well I am fat. It's a fact. The difference is I'm acknowledging I'm fat but not making it mean that I'm a bad person, or lazy  or that I'm in some way broken, or not good enough, or that I should be fixing myself.

And no before you ask it nor does it mean that I'm off saying 'see ya, I'm fat so I'm off to eat as much KFC as I want'. But if I do decide to have KFC it's really no one else's business.

What it means is that I refuse to subscribe to the belief that making someone feel crap about their body is going to help them become a healthier person.

I mess up all the time - I judge myself, I judge others. But learning to call myself fat and not hate myself while doing it is the first step in freeing myself from the shackles.

A bit about the images in this post:

The top image is of me in 1992. I was a size 10-12, and I honestly believed I was fat and thought I was gross and disgusting. My body was an embarrassment. It didn't stop me from becoming the size 24 I am now. Now I am fat, and I love myself. Let's see where this takes me.

The bottom image is of a plus sized model Tess Holliday. She featured in a show called Plus Size Wars. It's about the Plus Size fashion industry. It was on ABC2 and was really interesting and I thought dealt with the topic in a really positive way. People assume that by accepting all sizes, that it's about promoting bad health. It's not. It's about saying I'm this size and I want to look good. Accepting Plus Size (and the diversity of body shapes) means that everyone gets to dress up a bit and feel good about themselves if they choose to.









07 April 2016

Being ridiculous on Snapchat

I know I'm in my mid-forties, but for some reason, God only knows why, I find the Snapchat filters hilarious. I've been logging on every 24 hours or so and checking out the new ones, and God help me, posting them to my Snapchat story.

I'm not sure my husband, to whom I send them to at all hours of the day and night fully appreciates the awesomeness that is Snapchat.

I don't care.

It's crazy, and it's fun. You only get one go at this, and we should all have time to have a good laugh if you can.

If you want to see something truly ridiculous though, the inner exhibitionist in me couldn't resist posting this  4 second video.

Oh, and find me on Snapchat. I am leesawatego. Of course!

06 April 2016

Pour myself a cup of ambition



After leaving my local business club event this morning, on the drive home, Dolly Parton's 9-5 came on the radio. Thanks 4KQ!

I pumped up the radio and Dolly sang out "tumble out of bed / stumble to the kitchen / pour myself a cup of ambition". Thank goodness I was driving along at a decent speed, what I must have sounded and looked like?!?

I've been working recently on affirmations, and this line just resonated with me. I can't quite remember the movie (three working class gals get just revenge on their super-sexist boss?) and I've always been more of a Working Girl tragic "they're not even leather", but for me "pour myself a cup of ambition" says you write your story / you generate you / you can be what you want.

I'm not sure I'm naturally ambitious enough to be super successful. I think ambition is something I have to work hard to generate. If you ask me for help, I'll give it easily. Do I knock on doors and look for opportunities? Not so much.

I've often said I was raised to be a cleaner (like my mum), and there's nothing wrong with that. But being happy to settle for what I've got can make it difficult to make ends meet.

This combined with a propensity to over deliver (and under charge) in project management, makes it all a very expensive exercise.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining at all. I'm feeling quite optimistic. In fact I'm pouring cups of ambition all over the place this year. I'm taking risks, and learning to form new habits. 

We do good work. I'm sure of that. I just need to make sure I'm focused and strong enough to make sure that I don't lower my expectations. Actually, maybe ambition isn't the only thing I need to work on? Perhaps it's also knowing your worth. 

Hmmm. Something to think about there. 

In the meantime, I'm going to keep on listening to the awesome 80s business fight songs (Eye of the Tiger anyone?)

Do you have a theme song? What gets your pumped? 

My first #fatshion post

Fair skin, fat, mid-forties woman, brown hair, black glasses, in an elevator, taking a selfie. Wearing all black (figure hugging top and pencil skirt) with a "red claret" blazer. Large cream coloured wooden disk necklace.  

Today I posted my first EVER elevator selfie and my first #ootd on Instagram.

I devour fatshion blogs and these posts are the staple (not necessarily in elevators though, just the outfit pics) with women in all shapes, sizes and colours rocking wonderfully colourful, "rule" defying outfits.

Want a fashion body? Have a body and put fashion on it.

I love them so much for sending a middle-finger to world. And after five-odd years of reading I finally managed to do it myself.

I just wish fatshion bloggers had been around when I was a teenager and in my twenties. Christ. I'm sure I would have loved myself a whole lot more. But here I am a fat, mid-forties, mother and business owner, posting selfies and fatshion posts. And it's not weird. God I love the Internet.

Will this be my first and only #ootd? Maybe. If so, I did it and who gives a fuck what it looks like. If not, woot! Here's to many more. 

Outfit details:

"Drapey" Jacket from CityChic
Basic Tee: Autograph Essentials
Ponte Panel Skirt: Autograph
Black Sandals from Williams (2015)
Wood disc necklace: Autograph

The story of the jacket: I'd done a wardrobe audit over Christmas with my sister who knows about these things. The objective - easy business attire for a range of occasions. We decided that I nail the black pencil skirt (totally) and shortish jacket (remind me to post about my Julia Gillard jacket). Anyway, last Friday, BlondeInk posted about the CityChic blazer.

So the very next morning, Sister & I were headed to Chermide and I picked up two! I'm so happy. The jacket fits perfectly to my shape, coming in at the waist. And the sleeves are sheer and they're so light that you can even wear them in Brisbane!! BONUS.

For the next few months don't be surprised to see me rocking all black with a splash of colour.

#ootd = outfit of the day

(Posting on the Blogger phone app. Will add hyperlinks when I can)

08 March 2016

Prayers

Going to sleep tonight, listening to the strong rain, thinking of that little one from WA.

In what kind of world does that happen? 

The world is not okay. 


05 February 2016

Downs and Ups

A green field to the left, and old fence, trees in the distance. To the right, a concrete path

Today was the first day in a long time (feels like nearly a month) when I've wanted to get out of bed. The deadlines and workload that have haunted me are still there, the stresses are still there, but my body and mind are lighter today. 

I've always had a cycle - periods of massive energy bursts followed by sustained lows. I cope, but it makes it difficult to maintain a routine. Successful lives need routines that include exercise, eating well, plenty of sleep, attending to the maintenance of things. I do not do any of this well. 

I sometimes wonder what impact my ups and downs have had on my kids. I know it has. Sometimes that makes me feel sad and regretful. When they're older I imagine we'll talk it all through. On my bad days I wish and dream I was a different person. But I'm not. I'm just me. 

Today I woke up and went for a good walk. I had breakfast and folded clothes. Now I'm have a cup of tea and am at my desk ready for work. Today is a good day. 

14 January 2016

Articulate to execute

A screen shot of a business plan with the Iscariot Media Logo and the words Business Plan

Starting working on Monday and I've spent the first week chasing up urgent client work, but also on some of our foundation documents. 

On Tuesday we had a three hour strategy session with an outside advisor. And what a meeting it was. Tellingly there were MANY questions I couldn't answer or could only partly answer. How can you grow the business when you're not sure what the business even is? 

The second half of the week has been spent working on our big-picture action list - updating our business plan, update the vision statement, developing accurate  and updated position descriptions, creating a workforce plan, and creating a 2 - 5 year marketing plan. 

I have to be able to articulate what our business is, in order to execute strategies to get is where we want to be in the future. 








11 January 2016

Hello 2016


A dark image of lit candles - some in jars, others bare naked flames. 

I was going to blog about something meaningful, but I've stayed up late talking with my sister who is in town for just one more week. Now I'm tired. And tomorrow I'm back to work. So here is a pic of the little arrangement on our back verandah. 

Mum had been hassling me for jars but she didn't say what she wanted them for. Turns out she's coloured them and created the stain-glass window look and has added little fake candles. They look awesome in the dark. I'm going to get her to do more for a party we're having late June in the backyard. 

Ok. Goodnight. Happy New Year. Hope this year brings you love and peace. 

28 December 2015

Revealing the Mountain, the Australian Imaginary

A very dark green mountain in the distance, while in the foreground a field of lighter green sugar cane. 

Earlier this year I attended a Symposium at Carriageworks in Sydney. Ghassan Hage spoke at the event and presented a paper. As part of his presentation, he told a story about a man who was on a journey. The man was moving in the direction of a mountain in the distance. The mountain was so large that it provided him with a sense of direction. Even though he was far away from it, regardless of where he was going, he could always position himself in relation to the mountain. Then one day, the mountain was gone. It had disappeared. No longer could the man tell where he was - he had no place that would centre him, he had no way to navigate this new world. Where before he could always use the mountain to make his way in the world, now he was lost.

The Australian Imaginary is the mountain. Myths like mateship, egalitarianism, fair-go, virtue, all built upon terra nullius and originary violence (Watson), all go into creating this Imaginary. Some of us already know that this Imaginary exists only as fantasy and not reality. Indeed, some of us already know that the Mountain never actually existed. But most Australians do not.

How do they react when their Mountain disappears? Increasingly we see White Australians and their discomfort with Aboriginal people. Upon invasion, White Australia set about erasing Aboriginal people and culture.

Aboriginal culture had to be erased, and continues to be erased and rendered invisible except in those versions of Aboriginality it deems acceptable. The responses to Adam Goodes is a prime example of their discomfort and anger.

When we call out racism and privilege, they hurt. They hurt because their mountain has disappeared and they are lost. It turns out they were on the Holodeck* the whole time. But they're still fighting against that loss. They will not bend, nor will they concede.

Last century James Baldwin, wrote about White America,
"They are, in effect, still trapped in a history which they do not understand; and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it.
His words ring true for us here in Australia this century.

For us, the continued work remains in revealing the Mountain, the Australian Imaginary, to be the myth it always was.


Notes:
  • Watson, Irene (2009) What is saved or rescued and at what cost? Cultural Studies Review, Vol 15, No 2. 
  • *Trekkers will get there reference here.  
  • Baldwin, J (1963) The Fire Next Time. 

21 December 2015

Tools downed.


An image taken from the dashboard of a car. The image is looking down the road, nothing ahead in the distance, no cars, just trees on either side. 

More often than not, I fall off the social media landscape when we go on family trips. Partly it's a security thing - if the whole family is away, who is at home? But it's also an environmental thing. You see my family aren't big on social - and that includes the teens. They read and consume stuff, but the don't share about their everyday lives - no selfies, few comments and occasional posts that are rarely about 'I'm doing X today'. When I'm at home, I can justify the selfies and the rest, as being about work. When I'm away from my desk, it's clearly not about work is it? 

Unless I'm really in the zone like last week when we went to the midnight screening of Star Wars & took heaps of images & posted them, when I'm with just the family (and during these moments, they good heartedly put up with me), I'll make very few posts about our travels. And it's okay. I've learned to understand and respect how they do things.  

It always takes me a few days to down tools, but after a while it becomes the new normal. 


10 December 2015

Is it too late for a new language?

Language is dynamic. We create new words for new ideas, objects, and contexts. 
In the past few years I've been thinking about language. Well, more accurately, my inability to speak nothing but English. Tonight I read an article (link appears to be lost forever in the stream) about lessons of our forties, and being 46 this year, I've realised - rather sadly that I will probably never learn Italian or French or 'another language', despite having that goal on my bucket list since the movie came out a thousand years ago.

In particular though, I've also been thinking about 'traditional' language, and how our family has only a few words in our everyday vocabulary. Oh how I wished we had more. With my children now teens, it's too late to raise them in a bilingual home, but is it possible that I could start now in time for my grand-children to have a language other than English in their lives?

I recently met an inspiring sistah from Aotearoa who was Samoan, but who spoke six different languages. Tuiloma Lina Samu, a PhD candidate at Massey University was recently in Australia for the UoW's Reterritorialising Social Media conference and she spoke about Pacifika language and the way in which we make assumptions and understandings from language.

On our last evening together we talked about language and she's inspired me more to do something. I'm not sure what it will be. Of course, I have no time, but there really is never time for these kinds of endeavours. After listening to the #SovereigntyX panel at Clancestry last week, I'm convinced that this is part of a much bigger nation-(re)building exercise, and as such is vitally important personally and for our community.

Where to next?

18 November 2015

Reterritorialising Social Media: Indigenous People Rise Up - My work-in-progress notes


I'm presenting next week at the University of Woollongong next week at the Reterritorialising Social Media: Indigenous People Rise Up.

I'm still forming my presentation. I've done a few presentations about Deadly Bloggers in the past including at the World Indigenous People's Conference on Education. This time however, I'm pushing myself to move forward. I think my presentation will be framed around one or a series of questions. I don't have the answers yet.

Here's where I'm heading so far ...

1. Conceptualisations of Social Media
When people ask what is social media it really makes my eye twitch. The term 'social media' feels redundant. It's just the internet. Or is it more than 'the internet'. It's just how we do things now. Just as we're gradually dropping the e from e-commerce (online v/& bricks&mortar is just how we commerce now) and e-learning (it's just how learning is delivered now - face-to-face supported by online tools), the 'social' in media is just how we do the internet now.

But thinking about some of the conceptualisations,


  • Social Media as Personal Communication - it's how we communicate with each other. Our online and offline relationships are intertwined, it's not either/or. 
  • Social Media as Activist Space - 'the march' moves to the screen - the petition, the hashtags. #sosBlakAustralia is a perfect example. But again, it's not either/or - the online/offline worked together in sync to amplify voices and ideas
  • Social Media as trade route - we network, build relationships, and trade commodities 
  • Social Media as critical expression - just like the canvas, is social media the canvas we draw on? or is it the gallery? Or both? I think that Siv Park's Twitter Yarns probably best transcend any canvas/gallery dichotomy. 
2. Bearing Witness
"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you"
Maya Angelou
"Bearing witness is a term that, used in psychology, refers to sharing our experiences with others, most notably in the communication to others of traumatic experiences. Bearing witnress is a valuable way to process an experience, to obtain empathy and support, to lighten out emotional load via sharing it with the witness, and to obtain catharsis. Most people bear witness daily, and not only in reaction to traumatic events. We bear witness to one another through our writing, through art, and by verbally simply sharing with others" (Pikiewicz)
I think this 'bearing witness' relates to a post I wrote in 2012 Why I blog: No Image Available.

3. Building Legacy 
In 100 years from now, the great artworks of today will still be seen on gallery walls, the great literature will still be read. 

In 100 years, Alexis Wright's Carpentaria will still exist. Gordon Bennett's Possession Island will still hang on the walls of the NGV. We will still listen to Archie Roach's Charcoal Lane. These works are archivable, reference-able, findable. 

But where are our Twitter and Facebook streams archived? Who will be able to access the archive?

If we don't build our own spaces (self-hosted/owned), do we really own anything? 

4. Is social media a midden?
What if, rather than static works of expression/communication (as in discreet texts), social media expression is like a midden. Over a life-time, interactions from different platforms (in 2015 = Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc) build up over time to form something real and tangible. Each individual shell, discarded months ago, is relatively meaningless, but over decades - a form is created - one with shape, life, and a degree of permanency. 

So these are my notes so far. A slide deck will happen next week when I've made more sense of it. I feel like I'm lacking theory and it's killing me. I have no space right now to go and seek it out. It's times like this I miss the freedom/research imperative/structure of the higher education institution. I'll let you know how I go. 






17 November 2015

Annual Awards Night round-up.

A school hall / auditorium. A young woman stands at the lectern on the stage,  a red theatre curtain behind her. A large banner to the left, with the text "Everton Park State High School". 

Tonight was the Annual Awards night. T3&4 received awards.

As I sat there listening to the Principal's speech, I remembered how many conversations I used to have with (usually) mums at the primary school about Everton Park State High.

So many were adamant that it was a bad school - that it was rough, that it didn't even deserve consideration as an option for their children. When pressed, not one parent could point to an actual incident that led to them having this opinion. It was all gossip and assumption.

In 2013 the school was on the closure list and it was because of the dedication and commitment of parents, staff and community that it remained open.

Ms Sue Wallace the Principal, in her speech tonight made mention of a number of achievements including the decision today that it would be made a Queensland Independent School. Other achievements included being a partner with Queensland Academies to provide accelerated learning (some of the year 7s are doing year 9 mathematics), and finally some investment by the state on infrastructure with $500K outdoor education area approved.

It's not a perfect school by any means. There are plenty of things that need attention. Clearly no one there appears to have heard of a welcome/acknowledgment before. (On my to-do list!!)

But really, it's a decent local school that deserves community support. And it deserves to have its 'story' re-written.

It's a place I'm very happy to lend my time and energy to.

Do you go to Greek school?

Do you go to Greek school?

One of the lines from the trailer for the new movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 has a one character asking another "do you go to Greek school?"

I've seen these 'schools' referred to in other movies, and often wondered what they're about and if perhaps a similar concept would be useful here for Murris. Perhaps, it's a reflection of the lives we lead today, where a 'school' would ensure that there was a set of teachings that is explicitly being passed down.

I'm reading through Aunty Mary Graham's Custodial Navigator, and wondering ideas like this can be passed down.

Perhaps a 'school' that kids attend on a Saturday morning or a Tuesday afternoon from a very early age, operating in suburbs across the continent would help to ensure that Murri cultures are going as strong as other cultures in hundreds of years time.

Note: In Brisbane the very deadly Fred Leone is running occasional Sunday sessions in a park for local kids. I wonder if this is the start of a new movement? 


25 October 2015

Walking for Junior Diabetes Research

A family of 11 people, some old (grandparents), adults, teenagers and young children. All are wearing Deadly Choices shirts in different styles. They're standing in a park under a large banner that is the "Starting Line" of the JDRF Awareness Walk. 
Today we walked 5 kilometres in the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation annual walk. Our niece is a Type-1 Diabetic. Until she was diagnosed I had no real understanding of Type-1 beyond Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias and the occasional very intense parent over the years at the primary school. I didn't understand why there were intense, but now I do.

Every Single Day my sister keeps her daughter alive. There is no off or down time. Every day food must be weighed, blood must be tested and the correct insulin administered. There is no room for my sister to have a 'night out' as there are few, even those of us close to her, who can read our niece the way that she can. Being a single parent makes every day a struggle - rarely does my sister get a full nights sleep. 

I'm ashamed by how little I knew and how little I cared. It must be said that if ever here was a time for a Type-1 Diabetic to be alive, it's today. With research making it easier to live - the pump means fewer injections. Today we found out that a new pump soon to be released may mean fewer finger pricks. 

It's an expensive disease too. Thousands of dollars spent each year just to give our niece the tools she needs to lead a 'normal' active ten year old's life. My sister's budgeting skills are second to none. I wonder how many families are unable to afford the pump (and to keep it going - another cost). 

In Brisbane we have been lucky to be able to access Moreton Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Centre and the full range of health professionals that attend there. They have been wonderful. This year we all wore our Deadly Choices shirts as a shout-out to them and the work they do. 

If you have time or room, I'd fully recommend supporting Type-1 Diabetes research. 

12 October 2015

Ideas are nothing without execution


You don't own the Big Idea. You only own its execution or its expression. Ideas are nothing without execution.

I have ideas all the time. At the time I have them (and occasionally for years, even decades afterwards) I think they're the best thing in town. However only a small fraction of the ideas I have end up becoming something meaningful. I operate three 'brands' (Critical Classroom, Dark and Disturbing, and Deadly Bloggers) and each of them has been a created gradually. Without any meaningful capital, I have been forced to bootstrap each project incrementally, over a long period of time. The Critical Classroom evolved from my early work with Nyumba, Blacklines Publications, my teaching, and my experiences as a parent of Murri kids in school today.

For better or worse, the Critical Classroom is an expression of my ability to bring resources together to create something. You see, how you execute is an sign of your leadership (your ability to enrol others into your vision for a desired result), the environment, and the resources available to you. Last week when I was in Sydney for the launch of Indigenous Business Month, I saw what Mayrah Sonter from 33 Creative was able to pull together. Her ability to communicate her vision and make big asks of people to get things like sponsorship was a sign of her leadership. If I was launching Indigenous Business Month, I have no doubt that I would not have been able to generate the levels of sponsorship or media interest that she did. I don't have what it takes to do that kind of work. I wonder if in another person's hands what The Critical Classroom might be by now.

Don't misunderstand the intention of this post. I'm not 'having a go' at myself, nor am I looking for praise. I think my work has been meaningful and I perform my kind of leadership. This posts comes in response to those who want to complain that 'I had the idea first' but whose execution fell short. There's only so far that kind of thinking and attitude will get you.


If you consistently fail to execute the Big Idea, perhaps you need to do some self-reflection exercises. Can you see patterns of behaviour and patterns of thinking? I'm in my mid-forties and I'm still learning about myself and figuring out why I fall short of my own expectations. 

Rather than complain about the Big Idea not being taken up by The Masses - and blaming all and sundry for it - why not seek out a partner with complimentary skills? Two or three heads are often better than one. Your Big Idea may still fail - the external environment has a way of spoiling the best laid plans. Just don't keep complaining that your idea was taken, or 'I thought of that first'.

When you focus on the Big Idea and ignore execution, then you're really only telling one part of the story. 

06 October 2015

Grateful for the dirt under my fingers


This afternoon I have dirt under my fingers. It's because of my son. He's 16 and he loves pottering around the garden. I've always loved the garden but have too short an attention span to give it the kind of love it needs to thrive. But my son is different. He loves to potter around, planting and replanting. He's always been like that even when he was a toddler. All the old people we know give him plants now. He notices things in the yard that the rest of us miss.

Following his lead, I've just come back into the house from spending an hour with my head in the plants. Three of us were out there, digging up the bindies, pulling out weeds, and just getting our hands dirty.

I'm grateful to my son because I know that I would have sat here at my desk tired (it's mid-afternoon & I could easily nanna-nap) and not at all productive. Instead of sitting here forcing myself to focus, I've spent an hour breathing in the dirt and plants, moving, and putting my mind elsewhere.

And hour later I'm here, ready, focused and productive. Definitely time not wasted.

05 October 2015

The inaugural Indigenous Business Month (1st - 31st October) is launched



I travelled to Sydney last week to attend the launch of Indigenous Business Month. Indigenous Business Month is an initiative of the Murra Indigenous Business Masterclass Alumni.

Iscariot Media created the logo design as well as built the website. I'm looking forward to adding fresh content to the website as the years go on.

The goals of Indigenous Business Month are about drawing attention to the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses across Australia. There are events around the country, and hopefully we will see more and more people get on board each year.

I have to add a special mention to the amazing Mayrah Sonter from 33 Creative who really did drive Indigenous Business Month from 'idea' to 'reality'. She took the reins and made it happen.

Alumni from four different years of Murra. 



01 October 2015

That's not networking, that's space hogging

Ah, NOW I remember you.

I met you about two years ago at that networking thing. You stood really close to me, thrust your business card in my hand, and then talked at me for five minutes straight about your business and the work that you do, how yours was the only way to do business and how you were saving the community. Telling us how important your work is. You didn't ask me my name, or about my business. You weren't there to listen, you were there to be listened to. It wasn't about forming relationships, it was about excavating opportunities. And I clearly wasn't an opportunity for you. Just like that, you moved to the next target. It was all about you.

I didn't remember your name then because I threw your card away as soon as you walked away. I knew that I would never work with you. The positive is you were a lesson in how not to network.

Now, two years later you're here and you're hogging the space. Again. With things that are irrelevant to the purpose of the event. We're here to learn to make our businesses, our communities and our families stronger. We know all that stuff you're going on about, we live it too. Every day. But please, tell us more about The Struggles. Make sure we all know you're the big man in the room. Hog the space and the energy. You don't seek our permission to speak, you just speak, and you take our time. No you steal our time. Never mind about what we've got going on. Never mind what it took for us to turn up. We're there to learn. You there to be heard. 

And again, it's all about you. 


29 September 2015

Busy, distracted, writing elsewhere...



So it's been over a month since my last post - busy, distracted and writing elsewhere are my excuses.

Busy ...
Indigenous Business Month - we (Iscariot Media) have created the logo and website. It launches on Thursday (1st October) in Sydney. It's been a little crazy! 

Distracted ...
I've been distracted by trying to get my ass to the gym (and mostly failing), and by family being overseas (but home now).  I can't really concentrate when they're overseas. 

Writing elsewhere ... 
I've been busy writing assignments - doing my Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. I've started it twice before (and got distracted), and will DEFINITELY not get distracted again. I've also just finished writing my University Unit and have finally had it completed and approved. 

I think I need a new writing focus. I like how Anita Heiss regularly writes "Gratefuls". Maybe that's an exercise that could get me going. 

Alright. I'll yarn soon. 

PROMISE. 

Image source: Flowers at Lidcombe, Sydney. 29th September 2015. iPhone 6. 

27 August 2015

Promoting your work using social media - focus on relationship building


Two years ago I presented Blogging for Beginners at the First Nations Australia Writers National Workshop at the State Library of Queensland in Brisbane. This year I've been invited back to talk about how writers can use social media to promote their work.

I've been thinking a lot about how to approach the talk as I've done a couple of 'how to use social media' presentations this year - most of them have focused on the what and how. In this presentation though I would like to bring the conversation to building relationships.

I wrote recently about how the networking is about forming relationships. Just as we create, build and foster real-life/face-to-face relationships, as authors, writers and storytellers we can create and build relationships with our audiences. Using social media tools can facilitate this relationship building.

What a good relationship looks like will vary from person to person. But there are some common elements - good listening, sharing, regular communication, interesting interactions. These four elements can be easily replicated online. Making posts that are interesting, replying when your audience comments, posting regularly and sharing stories about yourself are all aspects of that regardless of which platform you might be on.

You can see my workshop notes on Slideshare.


24 August 2015

Getting ready to make the leap ... to Wordpress

Okay folks. My few loyal readers. I think it's time that I made the leap from Blogger to Wordpress. I have a fondness for Blogger. It's reliable, loyal, and always will be my choice for the beginner.

But like many hopeful bloggers before me, I have visions of grander things. And self-hosted Wordpress is the option of the future.

I'm going to try to keep  the name - notquitecooked.com. There will be technical difficulties with this as I signed up with Google and have to work out how to unravel this arrangement.

Other changes may include an incorporation of some of my Critical Classroom work here. I spent many years dividing up my interests (iscariot = business, critical classroom = indigenous stuff, deadly bloggers = social media + indigenous voice. not quite cooked/leesawatego = the rest), but perhaps this discombobulated me isn't right.

Anyhoo. I'll keep you posted. Let's see what the future holds ... the joy of exporting & importing is that you can can go backwards & forwards relatively simple.

Blogger - you're forever in my heart. ;-)

ps. i'm not sure how long this will take. could be month! keep you posted.

23 August 2015

Reflections on business building


So much of what we do at Iscariot Media has been ad hoc, and/or incremental so over time we have taken on opportunities that have been outside our original goals. We started in 1994, delivering and creating Indigenous educational resources, and now in 2015, we’re working with clients in graphic design, building websites, business and communication strategy consultation, and art project management, as well as continuing to create Indigenous education resources. My 1994 business and my 2015 business are very different. 

Not being anywhere as ‘cooked’ as I’d like the business to be, I wanted to reflect two decades on some of the challenges of growing and expanding. 

1. While we’re never bored, and constantly challenged as we stretch outside our existing skills set, we’re also distracted from our core business. 

It’s not easy, when you’re a very small business that is reliant on sub-contractors (ie. no full-time staff), to run increasing numbers of projects and increasing numbers of clients. Maintaining focus on our core business (developing Indigenous educational resources) has been difficult at times. The reality is that the Critical Classroom is our own brand, and the development of this brand is an internal pressure. Our client work on the other hand, is an external pressure. It’s much easier to push back deadlines for your internal projects in favour of external deadlines. 

2. Because we’re adding new services all the time, we don’t necessarily have time to build systems around those services. 

All successful businesses owners make the transition from working "in the business" to working "on the business" by creating systems. It takes time to develop systems. Because in many cases I’ve reacted to opportunities (a good example of this is social media services), I’ve found that there is lag time between when you start doing something new and the realisation that you’ve just add a new service that you can now offer. It takes time to incorporate new tasks and the wins/losses that accompany them, in order to adapt them into systems that make product delivery efficient.

3. Letting yourself grow. 

I had no idea when I started way back in 1994, that I would be working with clients from all around Australia on their own businesses. It’s frustrating that I’ve moved myself away from developing Indigenous education resources (and every now and then, you’ll find me happily back there), but it’s also exciting. Over twenty years of being in business I guess I’ve learned a few things that I can give to others who are just starting out. But for me personally, it’s been a slow-cooker realisation that I know a thing or two and that I’m valuable to others. 

4. Understanding that as we expand our networks, new opportunities arise. 

From an objective angle, my career has not been super stellar career. I’m not one of the super-stars of my generation and that's really fine with me. My CV is full of pot-holes, hard left turns and the odd u-turn. This is due partly because I inherited my father's shot attention span, my own inherent curiosity, but also because since the age of 24 have been the primary carer for my four children. I've always worked. I was back at Nyumba weeks after Eddie was born, and I started working at Griffith Uni exactly 3 weeks after Gavin was born. I've done tutoring and sessional lecturing while babies have napped, and have breastfed babies while running tutes. Despite consistently working, by my own choice, I've more or less let my career take fifth place with my work life revolving around children and within Brisbane only. However, now that my youngest child is in her mid-teens, this year I’ve experienced the freedom to work, travel and network more than ever before. This has meant I've seen my network gradually expand. And  I'm beginning to realise that ‘networking’ in this sense is really just being able to meet new people and form stronger and deeper relationships. One sistah recently said to me "ah.. social capital.. network, network, network". These relationships are beginning to mean further expansion of our business opportunities. 

Whether you’re at the beginning of your business journey or in the middle of it, I say welcome to the club. It’s scary and exciting. It's also tiring. You may not realise it yet, but you’ve swapped the 9 - 5, for 52/24/7 (yes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year). There is ALWAYS something to be done.

But hopefully, it’s a world of your own making. You’re responsible for it. There’s power in being owner. 

21 August 2015

Everton Park Business Breakfast 2015


Many in my inner circle say that I'm stretched too thin. Some days I'm inclined to believe them. But I'm drawn to new things and new opportunities. As a result of this crazy crazy approach to life, I found myself Chair of the Everton Park State High School P&C - Family and Community Engagement sub-committee. I seriously have no time to do this, but I'm doing it anyway. 

What the FACE is and what it does is still unclear. There are four of us parents who each month meet to create innovative ways to promote Everton Park State High School with a view to altering the perception many in the local community have of it. 

One of the activities I've driven is a business breakfast. It's my belief that by increasing the standing of EPSHS within  the local business community we're better placed to influence the way that families see it. 

So last month the first connections breakfast was held. I've created a Facebook page (because clearly being admin for 18 other pages isn't enough!). 

It was an excellent morning. Cameron Reilly from Motherlode Marketing was a fantastic keynote speaker.

I'm looking forward to many more breakfast events. You can keep track of the Everton Park Business group here: www.facebook.com/evertonparkbusiness.