USA Trip May-June 2016

My USA trip was a real zinger.

Coming on the beginnings of a new relationship with a generous, caring, successful, playful and creative woman, conferences, courses, projects, visiting with my son, and chilling out, was interspersed with lengthy viber or skype conversations that were flirty, jokey, intellectual, dissonant, honest, vulnerable, happy, and teary.

The Landmark Global Transformation conference, my entry event in San Fransisco, rode on the theme of ‘Wonder’. One of my all time favourite topics, wonder would anchor the whole trip and come back, specifically, again during the Alba Emot Course in Asheville, North Carolina, a couple of weeks later.

Although Global Transformations took the ‘Wonder’ theme, it was a wondering about leadership that took my ear. Gladly, presenters I had met a couple of year ago, facilitated a couple of beautiful engaging structural movement communication work. I attended those sessions for my work in dance and it gave me another access to my hearing on leadership. Initially that hearing on leadership was all about what I need to be a leader of my rEvolve project. As my trip comes to a conclusion, that has transformed into rEvolve being the possibility of a leadership training program, ‘Moving into Leadership’.

The idea of moving into leadership is a more clear consolidation of the work I am doing around sustainability and climate change, men’s culture, and dance, into an integrated work, a leadership training program.

From San Fransisco, I flew over to Denver, Colorado, for a few days, to catch up with my friends in Art as Action. Staying at an Air BNB nearby, I was able to ride a hire bike into the city, and even on the light rail to Jefferson County where I could ride to hiking paths. As with my previous experience in that part, life at one mile high can make the legs ache in bike riding unusually earlier than at my home altitude in Australia of half a mile. I learnt how to use Lyft.

It seemed that each time the past two years I’ve seen my friends in Art as Action they have been grieving over the loss of a loved one. Last year the grandfather of the director had passed away. This year one of their music/dance colleagues and his partner were killed in a car accident. I want to make some bigger sense of this coincidence. It only mattered that I could be some community of listening around the grief. Sarah Leversee welcomed me into her Reconnect Class based on Dance for PD and it was wonderful to see the liveliness of that ‘older’ dance class.

It was a special treat to spend a few hours over lunch with Wayne Gilbert, performance poet, retired literature teacher, and recent (having Parkinson’s Disease) dance performer with Art as Action. Wayne is a volunteer poetry teacher to the State prison to the north of Denver. His experience of the attraction of poetry to some hard men, has been profound. At one of his earliest classes, having delivered a poem on Parkinson’s Disease, he was astounded that a hand immediately shot up. The owner said, “Yeh, I get that poem. It’s like how I feel about being in this prison.” I find myself amazed by the nature of the human being around their limiting circumstances, their authentic relationship with those limitations, the access they find to some expansion of those circumstances and they contributions they choose to make, nonetheless. There is some inspiration there, for all of us, and I store that idea away for a way to provide access to that inspiration for everyone.

It was great to spend a week chillin’ at my son’s place in Riverside, California. We had a number of social outings together including a Baha’i meeting. We played an hour of table tennis every night. I got a little heat stroke doing a hike in the desert hills at the back of his place, and the effects of that took quite a few days to remedy, reminding me, among other things, that I’m not as young as I used to be. It was lovely to spend a sedate four hours with my son in the UCR library while he played with an assignment for his masters degree in social work. Sometimes I think I should be in conversation with my son, seeing that we can’t see each other much across the seas, but I profess one of my greatest joys is just to be in proximity.

The next phase of my travel was to spend a few days with Sue Blythe on the Sustainable Farm, Hampton, Gainesville, Florida, around her Future Flash Climate Change Project. Sue’s work has expanded to engage commitments from some fabulous environmental players in Florida, including the manager of the ‘Sustainable Floridians’ volunteer training program out of Florida University, Lanny the Earthman, Actor Jan Booher, and Dave Room San Fransisco based creator of Pacha’s Pyjamas. As I write this I’ve just finished a Skype conversation with Dave Room, opening the way for his work to find expression for children environmental education in Australia.

From Gainesvile to Asheville to the Alba Emot course with Laura Bond. What a fantastic 9 days, learning and training in primary emotional expression, Feldenkrais movement, and exploring related experiments in life story, text, voice and dance with an extraordinary teaching team. So much to bring back to my dance and theatre work but also into the possibility of leadership training.

And so, this week another chill out and exercise at my son’s place in California. It’s a hot summer week in the desert, 113 F early in the week. Time to meditate, play with movement training (God I need it), and have dozens of small conversations with him around his life. He became an American citizen while I’ve been here. Looks like another feather in his global citizen’s cap.

Two nights ago I woke in sadness. My time here is slipping away. Today, I’m prepared for a great weekend with my son, at the beach, in LA. It is time to go home.

Will the sun get us off the global warming hook?

I read this article from National Geographic with a sigh. If the sun enters a grand minimum, a period of unusually low solar activity, we might not get a global cooling, due to the already warming effects that are present. Unlike the last Maunder Minimum, between 1645 and 1715, which coincided with the coldest spell of the Little Ice Age, when European canals regularly froze solid and Alpine glaciers encroached on mountain villages, it is expected that the global warming will prevent a Little Ice Age. However, maybe the effects will mitigate some of the global warming expected this century. Well, that’s good eh? Yeh, if you want an excuse to continue to belch pollution all over the planet, severely interfering with the respiratory systems and food chains of every organic population, including humans. Yes, if we want an excuse to just carry on cutting the throats of our unborn grandchildren, then let’s crack out the bubbly and give ourselves a pay rise. We are such morons.

*From Umberto Eco’s Focault’s Pendulum: Morons never do the wrong thing. They get their reasoning wrong. Morons occasionally say something that’s right, but they say it for the wrong reason. Morons are tricky. Plenty of moron’s books are published, because they’re convincing at first glance.

Beneath the Waves

a different sort of weather system is swirling over sand banks, through ocean trenches and across underwater plains. Hidden from view, it’s not as easy to see the impact global warming might be having on the biodiversity of the sea.

Last year, CSIRO scientists identified over forty aquatic species off the coast of south-eastern Australia which had changed their location, increased in number or nearly disappeared. Increases in the temperature of the ocean’s currents mean some species are forced to head south to cooler waters.

Temperature change isn’t the only thing marine species have to cope with. Over the past half a century, the current flowing down Australia’s east coast has grown twenty percent stronger, causing a slight rise in water levels off the southern coast. For habitats in shallow water, such as mangroves or tidal zones, such changes to their ecosystems could see many species struggle.

Ocean currents are as important to marine life as our weather is to us. Its temperature, flow, chemistry and the mix of nutrients determine what can survive and what can’t.

Knowing which marine organisms will flourish and which will vanish requires a combination of good information and sophisticated mathematics. The South-east Australia Fisheries and Climate Change Program covers a range of projects that is attempting to understand how the climate influences fish numbers, location and diversity.

As a resource, our nation’s fisheries supply us with a significant amount of food. Even though we’re surrounded by ocean, it’s easy to focus on the climate change above us and overlook the many changes below.

Brisbane the Flood-prone City

Here is an article written by my friend and historian, Yvonne Perkins. The original is in Online Opinion – Australia’s E-Journal for Social and Political Debate

Photo Flooding Brisbane 1893

1893 floods in Brisbane – Queen St. in the CBD. Source: Wikimedia

We have all been shocked by the devastating floods in southern Queensland and our hearts reach out to those living through this destruction. This is not just a crisis in one city, three quarters of the state has been affected by floods over the last three weeks.

At last count over eighty six towns and cities in Queensland have been either flooded or isolated due to floods. There has been constant reference to the floods of 1974.

The image above indicates that these floods are not an aberration – they have been occurring ever since European settlement and there is evidence of flooding prior to this.

We live in a country that is very dry, often drought-stricken and prone to fierce bush fires and paradoxically suffers periodically with floods.

Like two years ago when Victoria had devastating bush fires at the same time as north Queensland was suffering from severe flooding, this time southern Queensland has suffered from a huge torrent of water while firefighters in Perth, Western Australia were battling a large bushfire.

Historical Records

The floods in Queensland, as well as the floods in New South Wales, Victoria , Brazil and Sri Lanka, will have consumed countless photos, diaries, letters etc. At the moment the priority is where it should be – saving lives and creating safe living conditions. There will be little time or resources to save personal memories.
Natural disasters such as these floods are terribly damaging to our historical records. All the homes that have been flooded will now have waterlogged photo albums, diaries and hard disc drives. While the State Library of Queensland has given good advice on how to save some of these precious memories, in many cases owners will not be able to restore them.

I read about Brisbane’s flooding problem while doing a geography major at university. Through an article by Rahman and Weber we learned that Brisbane is prone to flooding because of flash flooding of creeks within the city due to severe thunderstorms, overland flooding due to built structures impeding and redirecting the natural path of rainwater overland and flooding of the Brisbane river (Rahman and Weber, p. 74). Brisbane is hilly and therefore has many valleys where floodwater accumulates. Unfortunately buildings have been sited in areas where floods can occur. The Bureau of Meteorology has summarised the history of flooding in Brisbane by graph and a chronology. This shows 1841 was the year when Brisbane suffered its highest flood levels. 1893 saw flooding that almost reached the levels of 1841. The 1974 floods were severe but considerably lower than the floods of the nineteenth century. While the 1974 floods were higher 6,700 homes were affected whereas in 2011 14,700 homes were affected.

Graph of the hisotry of flooding in Brisbane sine 1840

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Bureau of Meteorology

 

The inescapable issue that the authorities will have to grapple with in the aftermath of this tragedy is how to plan for the future. These floods will occur again and again. New buildings and structures will need to be constructed to replace those that have been destroyed. Where will they be placed?

 

Print Sources

Rahman, K., and T. Weber, ‘Sustainable urban development in Brisbane City – the Holy Grail?, Water Science and Technology, 47 no. 7-8, pp. 73-9.
Maps

Towns affected by floods in southern Queensland: Sydney Morning Herald, 14 Jan 2011.
Topographical map showing places in southern Queensland affected by floods: Mail Online, 12 Jan. 2011 (scroll down the page to find the map).
Excellent map showing flood affected areas of Brisbane: Brisbane City Council Flood COP (note the ability to zoom into street level on this map).
Detailed Photomap of Brisbane created by photos taken on 13 Jan. 2011: Nearmap
More historic maps of floods in Brisbane: Short Sharp Science