Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Faces, Places, Races - Great Exposure in Local Papers

The Hornsby Advocate and the Telegraph have given great exposure to my exhibition which has just opened as part of the HeadOn 2015 festival. 

Read More:  Daily Telegraph Article

We bumped in on Monday

The exhibition will be held at the Wallarobba Arts and Culture Centre on Edgeworth David in Hornsby.  

EMPower Parramatta: Helping to Grow Solar Usage in Parramatta

We are excited to be facilitating an event in Parramatta to help grow solar usage in Parramatta.  The event is targeted toward enabling the community, business and solar installers get involved in the solar revolution.  All information in the attached flyer.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Standing Up for Solar

Today, Solar Citizens launched the Stand Up for Solar campaign in Sydney.  In a country as sunny as Australia, it is unthinkable that we are still fighting for the right for solar power.  While our politicians believe that coal is good for humanity, the general public believes otherwise.  In fact, over 1.3 million Australian households have already invested in solar power and this number is growing daily.  

There was quite a buzz in the air as the event got going.  The room was packed but the majority of people there were already solar converts.  The idea was to galvanize the audience to spread the word, sign petitions in favour of a realistic Renewable Energy Target (RET), form alliances and keep working in their communities.  

A number of speakers from industry specialists to community activists were on hand to share their stories.  We learnt that the government might have inadvertently given solar a boost with their $20,000 tax write off for small business expenses.  

These businesses could potentially use this write off to invest in solar.  However, a number of threats to the expansion of solar power still exist.  The paltry feed-in tariffs are not a great incentive.  Even those who got in early and are on a more favourable rate will lose this soon. There is a possibility that electricity retailers could increase the fixed cost of electricity further undermining the uptake of solar.  

Also on show at the even was one of Australia’s first electric-powered luxury cars – the Tesla.  These vehicles are taking off around the globe but are still way beyond the reach of most people.  With a range of approximately 440km and a charging network that is now being rolled out in Australia, the future looks promising.  People were also excited to see the Zero electric motorcycle which is not only charged by solar panels, it can also be used as a battery to store excess solar energy. 

The solar industry is growing exponentially.  Have you joined the revolution or are you willing to take the risk of being left behind?  Are you an early adopter or are you a laggard? 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

You Are What You Waste: Raising Awareness about Food Waste

I have been engaged by a local Council to work on a documentary photography project, ‘You Are What You Waste’.  The project is right up my street, as it not only involves some creative photography, it involves aspects of sustainability. This project is a collaboration with the NSW EPA Waste Less, Recycle More initiative funded from the waste levy. 

Currently more than 800,000 tonnes of food waste is thrown out each in NSW; that’s more than 1.3 of our household rubbish. This project explores food and packaging waste and will help identify the benefits of reducing organic waste going to landfill and contamination in the recycling bin.

Participating households are required to retain all of their food waste and packaging during the course of a week.  They are also required to keep a record of their household expenses on food, and shop for the same groceries at the end of that week.  Then, together with Council officers, PolisPlan will photograph and document the food they consumed and the waste they generated.

Four households have signed up for the project. After this exercise is carried out all households participate in a workshop designed to teach them techniques to reduce waste and the process will then be repeated. They are given a handy toolkit with lots of goodies such as reusable lunch bags and recipes to help them develop good food habits. Many of those who have put up their hands for this project are already very aware of the issues related to food waste.  Some of the households are already using worm farms and compost bins, so their action plans will be more challenging.

While most Australians are good recyclers, many people don’t realise that a large part of their ecological footprint is as a result of the type of food consumed.  By choosing food that has less packaging, has not travelled vast distances and has been produced in a sustainable way, we can help reduce our footprint.   This project will give people access to a list of the closest farmers markets and one of the families pledge to shop more at such places. 

It is an interesting project to work on and we are excited about the variety of projects that we are getting involved in. We have also offered to prepare some infographics and put together a documentary video that will animate some of the still images and convey the story graphically.

Pink Sari Project - Raising Awareness for Breast Screening

It has been a privilege to be selected to work on the Pink Sari Project. I was surprised to hear that Indian and Sri Lankan women (aged 50-74) in NSW have one of the lowest rates of participation in the BreastScreen NSW program. The NSW Multicultural Health
Communication Service together with BreastScreen NSW and the Refugee Health Service are working hard to increase this statistic and the photographic exhibition that will be held later this year is one means of communicating this message.  The project is funded by the Cancer Institute of NSW.

The project has engaged ten photographers of Indian and Sri Lankan backgrounds to work with and take portraits of a breast cancer survivor from the subcontinent.  The objective of this project is to increase awareness of the low mammogram rates in the community and to share success stories that will empower Indian and Sri Lankan women to take charge of their health.

I’ve been paired with Maina Gordon, a breast cancer survivor who lives close to me. She has lived with MS for the past 20 years, been diagnosed with and survived breast cancer and undergone a bi-lateral mastectomy. Despite these set backs, I found a cheerful woman, who continues to contribute to society through her professional work as a solicitor and as a volunteer. Her story inspires me.

One of the images I shot was of Maina holding an item that helped her through the tough times. She has picked a book from the author Ekkhart Tolle. His book, The Power of Now is one that inspired me during a low time in my own life where I was searching for answers. This is only one of many similarities I found in Maina. We are only a few years apart, we come from the subcontinent, and we both have a passion to live life to the fullest!

An photographic exhibition of the images from this project will be launched in August. For now, all I can say is, if you are over fifty and have not had a mammogram, then it is time to do so!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Ecoburbia Festival - Promoting Sustainable Communities

Steven and I are always putting up our hands to try new things, so it’s not a wonder that we are here at the Narara Ecoburbia Festival, running a stall.  The day started out with a bit of rain but by the time we arrived at the school grounds in Narara it was promising to be a great day.  In addition to the books and a few images, we brought with us the banners we had recently designed and made at Office Works.  They were a great way to quickly transform a space and make it our own.

The festival was soon buzzing. There were an amazing variety of stalls from palm readers and massage therapists, the eco chic stand, loads of great food, entertainment for the kids and information stalls that ranged from environmentally friendly pest control to ecovillages in Tasmania.  Scilla and her partner Trevor were running the Tassie stall and we connected with them both instantly.  Scilla gave us lots of great information about the collaborative arrangements in Tassie and invited us to come visit once we got on the road.  

The keynote speaker at the event was Elizabeth Farrelly and she spoke on the theme of why we need to become village people again –her an alternative to suburbia.  She describes a place that is small, local, walkable, pretty and sustainable. She mentions Ed Glaeser’s definition of the city as “the absence of space between people”, and takes us down a path where I begin to imagine the cute villages in England.  Cafes where everyone knows your name, public art, fountains, places to sit and chat with friends!  While your private space may be a lot smaller, life spills out to the streets, where there is plenty of variety to be found. We had found many such places in our travels in Europe and had loved them. Elizabeth concludes her talk, with a desire to see some of this happening in the ecovillage being built in Narara, and everyone applauds.    

We had an enjoyable day.  We took turns at looking after the stall and when it was my turn to wander, I had loads of fun with my camera. 

Our stall drew quite a few visitors, including Karl Fischer, a visiting professor from Berlin who has come here to do research at UNSW.  Our conversation lengthened and we ended up giving him a lift to Hornsby, and promising to catch up once again before he left for Berlin.  As always, one of the best outcomes of being part of events such as this are the connections you make and the Ecoburbia Festival was no exception!

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Teddy Bear’s Picnic

This weekend was a big day for the kids in Hornby Shire. It was the annual Teddy Bear’s Picnic and despite some sporadic rain, they came in droves.  There were over a thousand people and the kids had a ball.  From the face painting to the hula hoops being swirled around there was lots to do.  Many people brought along a picnic and enjoyed a day out with the family.

I volunteered as one of the official photographers on the day and enjoyed taking photos of a wonderful community event.  Well done, to the Friends of Lisgar Gardens who in collaboration with Council put together a wonderful event.