Ethical question # 8: building community

DSCN2595‘If you could choose one thing to make this community better what would it be?’

BEECHWORTH Community Support co-ordinator and Beechworth Neighbourhood Centre kitchen co-ordinator Trish Mom (pictured) has answered the eighth – and final – Kerferd Oration lead-in question before Sunday’s 2015 presentation in Beechworth.

‘If you could choose one thing to make this community better what would it be? – that’s the challenge.

“I think I would choose encouraging the community as a whole to care more and to care about our community,” Ms Mom said.

“By that I mean caring for and supporting our local businesses and ensuring their success, and caring for local services – schools, post office, doctor, the health service and banks – because without those things small communities die.

“I also include BNC in that, and caring for our neighbours and keeping an eye on them in our town and in the street.

“Perhaps it’s going next door and borrowing something; it’s considered old school but it’s a great way to keep in touch.”

Ms Mom said that contemporary communications technology – while a “tool for living” – had a flip side. It could lead to disconnection.

“All of this technology – we’re communicating with people across the world but we’re not talking with our neighbour and asking how their day was, just caring about that person,” she said.

“Caring for community members in times of need, when they need that help, is also vitally important, and I guess we do a lot of that at BNC with the community food program, so people can access a meal for whatever reason.

“We also care through the ‘community sharing feast’ that we have once a month (at BNC), when we encourage people to come along and meet new people – it’s just about sharing.”

Ms Mom said caring about newcomers would also build a better community.

“We can make sure they’re welcomed and that their transition into our community is a positive one, wherever they’re from,” she said.

“Whether refugees, or tree changers, (when we welcome) that’s the word that gets out there – that ours is a good place to move to and we have a really good sense of community and we engage and connect with people who come here.

“Caring about the community in times of crises – in bushfires and other emergencies – that’s also important.

“Probably my key one is caring about how our kids learn to become good community members.

“If we don’t teach our kids how to become active in our community and engage, we’re just going to grow generations of people who sit at home and use electronic devices and become a ‘community of individuals’.

“I think it’s important that we make sure that they’re engaged in sporting groups, in clubs, school events.

“That for me is really important.”

Ms Mom said that – in the wake of the earlier oration lead-in questions – giving people a ‘fair go’ and caring about where your food comes from were significant hallmarks of community.

“The great turn out at the (Beechworth Urban Landcare) fair food forum (last week) means that people do really care about what’s happening in that field,” she said.

“Caring about the environment as well is important – maintaining such a special place that we have here.

“A lot of people in the past have worked really hard to maintain the integrity of Beechworth and its historical content and have ensured that what we have is around for a long time.”

The oration will be delivered at 11am at George Kerferd Hotel at Mayday Hills in Beechworth.

This post was reprinted from the ‘Ovens & Murray Advertiser’, which is supporting the oration.

Ethical question # 7: tucking into food

DSCN2420‘How much do you know about where your food comes from?’

BEECHWORTH livestock production consultant Kristy Howard (pictured) has tackled the Kerferd Oration committee’s seventh lead-in question – ‘How much do you know about where your food comes from?” – for the 2015 oration in Beechworth on July 19.

“It’s an interesting question because there are two things to think about,” Dr Howard said.

“’Do we know what food we’re actually eating?’ – as in milk comes from cows and pork comes from pigs.

“I think there are a whole lot of questions about that.

“We used to understand that because we used to have relatives who were farmers and people used to have market gardens in their back yards.

“And then the other part is ‘Do we know where it comes from?” – its place of origin.

“Is it produced in Australia? How much of it is produced in Australia? There’s the whole question of food miles.

“I did some work looking at farmers’ market development in the North East.

“In the North East we produce a lot of meat, fibre and grain but not a lot of vegetables.

“So if you want a local farmers’ market with a lot of vegetables there’s not a lot to choose from (here), whereas if you go to Melbourne there are a lot of market gardens but not a lot of meat produced.

“So, different parts of the state produce different the foods that we eat.

“And then there are some that we take for granted, as being available, that we don’t actually produce in Australia.

“Coconut oil’s a good example, but we don’t produce it here.”

Dr Howard said that her buying decisions were influenced by food freshness and nutritional value.

“When thinking about where your food comes from and why you eat what you eat, for me it has to be fresh, it’s got to be nutritious, and then whether or not its locally produced is a lower consideration.

“And then there’s price – and I think we underestimate how the consumer relies on price to make a buying decision.”

This post is reprinted from the ‘Ovens and Murray Advertiser’, which is supporting the oration by publishing each question of the week.

Ethical question # 6: assessing a ‘fair go’

DSCN2408‘What does a ‘fair go’ mean for you?’

THE sixth of the Kerferd Oration committee’s eight questions to encourage Indigo citizens and communities to think about ethics in the lead-in to the July 19 oration in Beechworth goes to the heart of an Australian idiom – a ‘fair go’.

Malian-born professional painter Diallo (pictured) had the challenge of answering it – “What does a fair go mean for you? – outside Beechworth Post Office this week.

“Not long ago I heard the expression ‘fair go’ for the first time, but I have understood the meaning for a long time,” Diallo said.

“I have wanted for a long time to find a way to say thank you to the people of this country – and particularly to the people of Beechworth – for giving me a ‘fair go’.”

Diallo emigrated from Mali, in West Africa, to France in his late teens and when, as an adult, he told people that he was moving to Australia they thought him “crazy” to leave his good job.

“Life is good here, particularly in Beechworth,” he said.

“I am surprised at how people accept you, even if you can’t speak the language very well, your colour might be different, or your religion might be different – it doesn’t matter. Nobody judges you.

“When you come here at first everyone tries to help you. You can’t find that everywhere.”

Diallo said that in Mali a citizen had always to carry an identity card, but he had found in Australia that you could go anywhere and no-one would ask for ID.

“In some countries I have been, police would stop you to check you have a valid ID, at least twice a week, just because you might be different, “Diallo said.

“In Australia the police won’t stop you unless you have a problem.

“I don’t even carry a wallet here.”

Diallo also said that in some countries, as an immigrant, opening a business could be difficult.

“What I have noticed in Australia and particularly in Beechworth is that people are honest,” he said.

“If you are an honest person, too, people appreciate that.

“This is the only place I ever worked where I have people knocking on the door to pay for a job I have just finished.”

Diallo said that others had encouraged him to start his professional painting business.

“I had some doubts because I couldn’t speak English very well but I’m happy we did because the business is doing well,” he said.

“I consider myself very lucky to have found a town like Beechworth.

“It’s a beautiful town and my work as a painter is welcome here. The business is doing well – and it’s thanks to the people’s support and giving me a fair go.”

This post is reprinted from the ‘Ovens and Murray Advertiser’, which is supporting the oration by publishing each question of the week.

Ethical question # 5: health test

DSCN2343‘How do you take responsibility for your health?’

THE fifth of the Kerferd Oration committee’s eight questions to encourage Indigo citizens and communities to think about ethics in the lead-in to the July 19 oration in Beechworth this week explores attitudes to health.

The 2015 oration is to be delivered by Sydney ethicist Simon Longstaff.

Beechworth Health Service (BHS) health promotion officer Anna Mackinlay (pictured) took the challenge of answering question five outside Beechworth Post Office on Monday’s chilly morning: “How do you take responsibility for your health?”

“Working and volunteering in health in the past 10 years has led me to believe that our health and well-being really is our biggest asset,” Ms Mackinlay said.

“Possessions, careers, wealth – none of it is as important if poor health prevents you from enjoying life.

“We know that with some health issues that it’s the luck of the draw and none of us knows what’s around the corner.

“But we also know that for many health issues there are steps we can take as individuals to reduce risks.

“This is where I believe we have the opportunity to take responsibility for our health.

“At BHS, where I work, the focus of health promotion is working with primary schools and in early childhood settings to put in place strategies to encourage healthy eating and increased physical activity.

“We are also working with Landcare, North East Catchment Management Authority and Indigo Shire Council about how we can access healthy and affordable local food.”

Ms Mackinlay said that people will buy and eat fresh, local food – but affordability could be an issue.

“We do have high rates of people accessing emergency food relief, so it’s one thing to make the choice to eat healthily but it has to be affordable,” she said.

“The fact that we don’t have the big fast food chains here is really vital to the health of the community.

“In Wodonga it really saddens me that in the White Box Rise area it’s all been planned to encourage kids to walk to school but I’ve heard anecdotes of parents not letting kids walk because they’re sick of them going to the Hungry Jacks that’s there.

“Indigo’s resistance to the encroachment of corporate fast food outlets is something that we should hold as a great value.”

Ms Mackinlay said that being physically active, eating well and maintaining a healthy body weight were keys to the prevention of about one third of cancers and other chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

“Eating healthily, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep are also linked to better mental health,” she said.

“For me and my family, this means taking the time to prioritise our health, so thinking more about the food we are putting on the table and also finding time in our day to go for a walk or do some exercise is part of that.

“It sounds simple but with a busy life I don’t find this easy – especially in Beechworth in winter when days are short and cold.

“As a small community, perhaps we also have some level of responsibility to foster good health and well-being in the wider community.

“Being understanding and empathetic about how health issues can affect others and their families is probably a good start.

“An example of this is the dementia friendly community project that is under way in Beechworth.”

The oration is named in recognition of the community service of George Kerferd, a nineteenth century Beechworth municipal chairman and later a solicitor and colonial government minister who became premier.

It is now in its 13th year – is a free community event and will be held at George Kerferd Hotel from 10.15am.

This post is reprinted from the ‘Ovens and Murray Advertiser’, which is supporting the oration by publishing each question of the week.

Ethical question # 4: water’s challenge

DSCN2254‘What is the right use of water in a drying climate?’

THE Kerferd Oration committee has released the fourth of eight questions being asked of Indigo citizens and communities to stimulate thinking about ethics in the lead-up to this year’s oration by ethicist Simon Longstaff in Beechworth on July 19.

Charles Sturt University’s Rik Thwaites (pictured) – a Beechworth citizen – had the challenge of answering this week’s question outside Beechworth Post Office on Monday.

“What is the right use of water in a drying climate?” – that’s the question.

“It’s a great question and there are a number of different angles to this. These questions are all framed around the ethics of the problems that we face,” Dr Thwaites said.

“And so this question of ‘right’ is a real challenge because what’s right for one person may not be right for another.

“At the heart of this is that water is really central to life on earth, to every one of us, to our community, our society, our well-being, the food that we grow, all of our industries depend on water, power generation depends on water, so all these different competing uses for water – our natural environment – life only exists because of water.

“The health of our natural environment depends on water being within that environment.

“So all of these things are so important – and the other side that’s so often forgotten is the cultural perspective on water, where water sits in our hearts.

“We build our communities around water, water links our communities, our central imagination of place, where we live and how we feel about it, is around water, and of course there’s the highly significant indigenous perspective of water.

“There are so many different aspects to this question of water and its value to us, yet we don’t value them all equally.”

Dr Thwaites said that water is a common resource – part of the ‘global commons’.

“And yet it’s not always managed in that way – and not every individual has the same access to that common.

“How do we consider these issues? It’s an important question.”

The oration is named in recognition of the community service of George Kerferd, a nineteenth century Beechworth municipal chairman and later a solicitor and colonial government minister who became premier.

It is now in its 13th year – is a free community event and will be held at George Kerferd Hotel from 10.15am.

This post is reprinted from the ‘Ovens and Murray Advertiser’, which is supporting the oration by publishing each question of the week.

Ethical question # 3: knowing your neighbours

DSCN2158‘How do you get to know your neighbours near and far?’

THE Kerferd Oration committee has released the third of eight questions being asked of Indigo citizens and communities to stimulate thinking about ethics in the lead-up to this year’s oration by ethicist Simon Longstaff in Beechworth on July 19.

Beechworth Neighbourhood Centre manager Jude Doughty had thought deeply about her answer when the Ovens & Murray Advertiser met with her over the oration’s sandwich board outside Beechworth Post Office on Monday.

“How do you get to know your neighbours near and far?” – that’s the question.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about this,” Ms Doughty said.

“It’s raised a lot of questions for me because I thought: ‘Now, what is a neighbour?’ – and that prompted me to go and have a look at the definitions. There were three.

“There was one around the people who live next door to you, there was a more universal one about being kindly and helpful to your neighbours and then there was one in the Biblical sense of ‘Love thy neighbour’ – which is probably the ‘far’.

“I was thinking about my own experience of neighbours and we have very different relationships with neighbours.

“There’s the ‘neighbour from hell’, and then there are those that you keep a bit of an eye out for but don’t really know them.

“Then there are the neighbours for whom you collect the mail or feed the cat or put out the rubbish, and then there are some neighbours that you become really good friends with, and I think that depends on the stage of life.

“If you were in a street with a whole lot of young children the families all get together for barbecues and the kids playing.

“I live next door to some older people (in Beechworth). So that was the other thing that I thought about because I also lived in a high rise apartment in the heart of Melbourne for many years.

“The idea of ‘neighbour’ in that environment is different to here.

“The value of knowing your neighbours does ensure safety and comfort – if something goes wrong you’ll look out, and having a string sense of neighbourliness does result in a more cohesive community, a more respectful community.

“(Social commentator and author) Hugh McKay says a good life is not where you live but how you live. He talks about the need to engage, volunteer, and he talks about ‘joining in and joining up’, which, as manager of the BNC, has prompted me really to think about the role of a neighbourhood centre in a changing world and changing community.

“We can’t keep doing the same things.

“But it is about being connected to community and making sure that if something does go wrong that we are there, that we are able to make our contribution as the BNC, bringing people together with a shared and common interest.

“Neighbours sit somewhere between family and close friends and social media, but neighbours are real.”

Ms Doughty said the Kerferd question had prompted her to plan for a Beechworth ‘Neighbours’ Day’ – an event to which people across the community bring their neighbours.

The oration is named in recognition of the community service of George Kerferd, a nineteenth century Beechworth municipal chairman and later a solicitor and colonial government minister who became Victorian premier.

The oration – now in its 13th year – is a free community event and will be held at George Kerferd Hotel from 10.15am.

This post is reprinted from the ‘Ovens and Murray Advertiser’, which is supporting the oration by publishing each question of the week.

Ethical question # 2: comprehending difference

DSCN1985‘How do you open your mind to other points of view?’

THE Kerferd Oration committee this week released the second of eight questions being asked of Indigo citizens and communities to stimulate thinking about ethics in the lead-up to this year’s oration in Beechworth on July 19.

Beechworth Secondary College school captain Jamie O’Callaghan (pictured) rose to the challenge when the oration’s sandwich board was placed outside Beechworth Post Office on Monday.

“How do you open your mind to other points of view?” – that’s the question.

The VCE student – who hopes to study at the Australian Defence Force Academy and join the Royal Australian Air Force – answered, saying “you’d have to put aside any prejudices that you may have about that other person and their point of view”.

“You’d then have to make sure you listen and understand what it is that they’re trying to get across, or what they’re going through, and do your research – know what you’re talking about before you talk about it and make any comments,” Jamie said.

Oration committee chair Michael Evans said that the eight questions have been designed to encourage people to question how they think.

The first question was: ‘How do you decide when to help people in need?’

The oration is named in recognition of the community service of George Kerferd, a nineteenth century Beechworth municipal chairman and later a solicitor and colonial government minister who became Victorian premier.

The oration – now in its 12th year – is a free community event and will be held at George Kerferd Hotel from 10.15am.

This post is reprinted from the ‘Ovens and Murray Advertiser’, which is supporting the oration by publishing each question of the week.