Thursday, March 30, 2006

Identity and social justice

Convicts in London, about to be sent to Australia
Have been thinking about how ancient Israel's identity as liberated slaves shaped their approach to social justice. A creed they recited before offering the first part of their harvest to God says,

My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous. But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, putting us to hard labor. Then we cried out to the LORD, the God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. So the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with miraculous signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, O LORD, have given me.
(Deuteronomy 26:5-10)
I seems that this had alot of influence on how the the poor and the enslaved were supposed to be treated in ancient Israel. (I wrote a bit about this in January, here and here.)
Thinking about where our country has come from. Some of us have been living in this land longer than anyone can remember. Some of us are descended from poor people who were set out here as punsihment for petty crimes. One of the best known characters in our history was a bush-ranger. Some of our ancestors were persecuted in the goldfields because of their race. We had more casualties in the First World War than any other country, because our soldiers were put on the front line, even though it wasn't our war. Some of us ended up here because our homelands have been torn appart by war and genocide.
That's definitely not the whole picture of where our country's come from, but I'm wondering about how all this should influence the way we approach social justice.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Drug use during the Commonwealth Games

We noticed during the Commonwealth Games, that drug use in our laneway actually went up. Strangeley, it seems that the concreters who were working here until the Games scared people away more than the police and security guards did.
As well as there being more heroin use in the laneway, I noticed Games volunteers hiding in the laneway so they could have a smoke, and drunk tourists ended up in the laneway at least once.
Also, the fact that there hasn't been much heroin around (particularly in the CBD) means that people have been going onto speed or ice (methamphetamine, crystal meth) instead.
I don't think I'd even heard of ice until late in 2004, when Today Tonight and A Current Affair went berserk about it , so I've just been doing a bit of research. Four Corners showed a documentary on ice recently, and you can watch it or read the transcript here.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Aeon Flux

Friday night I went to see Aeon Flux with Damo and Nomes. We all agreed that it wasn't very good. Visulaly it was great (except for some dodgy CGI at the start), but it none of us could properly understand the story. It takes place 400 years into the future, but it's not really explained how the world's changed. You can see what's going on, and it all looks very nice, but it's very difficult to understand what's going on.
So it's another crappy comic-to-film adaptation, to go alongside Fantastic Four, Spiderman and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Sport and affluence

On Friday we were invited over to Tekeste and Setel's appartment for lunch. They are from Eritrea, and are trying to get permenant residency here in Australia.
Teketse reckons that a sign of a country's affluence is the amount of time and money they invest in sport. It's pretty amazing that we've got so much money here that in a lot of areas there are swimming pools and ovals and gyms all over the place. Also interesting that despite only having about 20 million people here, we always win heaps of medals in the Olympics and stuff, and do very well in a lot of other international competitions as well. And then there's all the millions of dollars we've put into the Commonwealth Games, which isn't really even a major international sporting event.

Sierra Leone goes for gold

Found this poster in Centre Way (one of the few places where street art hasn't been cleaned up) on Thursday. More than half of Sierra Leone's Commonwealth Games team have gone missing because they don't want to go back. The Age's most recent article on them is here.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Lenten Reflections

Tom Sine has uploaded Mark Piersen's Lenten Reflections onto Flickr, here.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Concerning Forest Edge

A couple of people (including MUMZ) have asked about how Forest Edge was. I have said that there was some good stuff and some crap stuff. In some ways it was fairly disorganised, and thus we got people turning up to some of our seminar things expecting a different seminar. There was a fair trade cafe area run by More Praxis, where there were a lot of social justice type seminars on, and a lot more laid back music than the rest of the festival, so that was good.

We listened to two guys argue about something they almost completely agreed on for about three hours.

We had chilli con carne sin chilli. So basically, it was just carne.

DeeDee's friend Sasha wanted me to introduce myself to this guy who she reckoned I must have been related to. It turned out to be John D'Alton. Except she reckoned he was called Calvin.

Christian City Youth, all the way from Christian City, had no tops to their heads.

A redback spider landed on Sounds Like Chicken's drum kit.

Our tent got blown down because it wasn't put up properly.

Saturday night we stayed up till about 2am helping Marcus work out what to do for his Colossians Remixed seminar the next day.

And Tomsy was:

And we got to get away from the city for a few days, just before it got absolutely insane. Now there are police and security guards and helicopters everywhere.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Black GST

I didn't end up staying inside all day after all.
This afternoon I went with Gin to visit Black GST's camp, at King's Domain. When we got there we were asked to put some gum leaves in the sacred fire (from the Tent Embassy), and then stand in the smoke, to get rid of any bad spirits from outside the camp.
It turned out that Mary, who worked on one of the murals in our laneway, was there painting a map of the camp. There was a lot of painting going on, as well as music, cooking, football and preparation for subversive action.

Coffee in the laneway

Yesterday morning we took some couches out into the laneway, and served coffee and biscuits, from 10:30 until lunch. We're doing it because a lot of the service providers in the CBD are cutting back their services during the Games, because they figure that most of the people who use them won't want to be around, because of all the police, et cetera. So we thought we should try and make it more comfortable for people to be in the city. So we'll be doing it today, as well as Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday next week.

I looked out the office window just before, and wondered why there were bins blocking off the laneway.

Then I realised it was so no-one would park where we'll be setting up.

Today Melbourne is going to be very stupid because:

  • it's the Commonwealth Games
  • it's St Patrick's Day, so there will lots of drunk people pretending to be Irish
  • Condoleeza Rice is coming to town
  • there's an anti-war protest, starting at the State Library this morning, and then moving into the CBD

So I think I'll be trying to stay inside today.

Monitoring 2006

This has already been going on for a little while now, but I forgot to mention it here. We've started the Monitoring 2006 Project to record how disadvantaged people are being effected by the Commonwealth Games, particularly the 12 500 police and 4500 security guards. Our press release is here. We got mentioned in The Age, here.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

TAZ: Temporary Autonomous Zone

A roaming graffiti wall has been created as part of the Melbourne 2006 Graffiti Games. I spotted it yesterday in Degraves Street. Pictures here, here and here.

Opening night

Apparently the Games Opening Ceremony was on last night, while we were having tea, and while CLEAN was opening, in Hosier Lane. We went down to have a look after we'd had tea, and then went down to Flinders Street Station, where the food vans come most nights. Recently there hasn't been much people there because the police appear to have been bothering them a lot. But last night quite a lot of people turned up, particularly young people. (There haven't been many young people down there at all this year, apparently because of the police. We also noticed that there were a lot of young people in Credo yesterday.) So although there were a lot of police around, I think it would've been difficult for them to move people on, because so many turned up to the food vans, and because of the crowns of people going to watch the Opening Ceremony at the MCG or on the big screens.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The concreters have finished, so we have our laneway back now.

These are our new curtains. Ray made them and put them up last week.

Coke evangelism and other train station stuff

All the bins at Flinders Street Station have been replaced with transparent ones, so it's easier to see if someone's put a bomb in them or whatever:

When I was at the same station on Saturday, I noticed that Coke had a stage set up where they were giving away free drinks. They were actually yelling out slogans through a megaphone.

Some of us around here have been talking a bit about how similar the new Coke campaign (Why can't relationships come with a gap year? Why can't we have a big money job with zero responsibilities?) is to the offers the devil makes to Jesus during his forty days in the desert.

The devil said to him, 'If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.'
Jesus answered, 'It is written: "Man does not live on bread alone."'
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, 'I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.'
Jesus answered, 'It is written: "Worship the Lord your God and serve him only."'
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 'If you are the Son of God,' he said, 'throw yourself down from here. For it is written:
'"He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone."'

Jesus answered, 'It says: "Do not put the Lord your God to the test."'
(Luke 4:3-12)

Coke and the devil both seem to be offering no limits, without any consequences.
I also wonder whether the only thing the new Coke contains that is actually good for someone's body is water, seeing as it contains no sugar.

Took this while I was waiting at Burnley, for the Glen Waverly train, so I could go and get my wallet, which was handed in at The Glen:

And when I got to Glen Waverly I noticed these on the train platform:

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Control Investments

One of the few billboards I actually liked (it was for Next Wave Festival) has just been replaced with this:

And now that I've had a look at the website I don't think it's so bad. I just hope it doesn't turn out to be another Zero Movement.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Forest Edge Festival

After work tomorrow night I'm going down to Forest Edge Festival. Hurrah. It goes till Monday, I think. The education guys are running some of the seminar type stuff.

CLEAN launch

CLEAN launches 6pm Wednesday night, in Hosier Lane. More info at the CLEAN website.

Hosier Lane, featuring the garbage of Hosier Lane

Wednesday afternoon, for Pain in the Arts (the Credo art group), I went for a walk with Andre and Marie around the city, so we could take pictures of what's going on leading up to the Games. They wanted to take some photos of Melbourne's wonderful street art, but most of it's been taken down, so we took a few photos of the bare walls.
Before we went back to Credo we went up Hosier Lane, one of the few places in the CBD that's not being sterilised to impress our visitors.

I love how art can make the ugliest things beautiful. Not just concrete walls, but even garbage:

I drew this when we got back:

Got me thinking again about a conversation we had with Brian McLaren, when he and Grace were visiting a couple of weeks ago. We (mostly Brian and Marcus) were talking about the implications of calling something (or someone) waste. How can a part of God's creation be considered waste?
Been thinking over the last six months or so about what a creation myth would look like if it developed completely in an urban environment. Would the creator spirit of an urban mythology create towers and trains and powerlines? Would it create some really good rubbish for the people to find uses for?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Melbourne panopticon

As of yesterday there's been security guards everywhere as well as the extra police. It seems there's a security guard down every laneway I walk past. One good thing is that they're not going to have any security guards stationed in our laneway, although one security guard will be coming down regualrly to check that everyone's being good. Another good thing is that the police have said that they'll call us if there's a situation involving drug use or overdose.

Commonwealth Games legislation

Thanks to Vic from Empire Games, I've been able to find some of the legislation that's been passed just for the Commonwealth Games:

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Green & Gold Slurpee controversy

As you may or may not know, there is a Commonwealth Games Act (which I've found impossible to access online), which prohibits people from carrying certain items at Commonwealth Games venues, including skateboards, unauthorised recording equipment and voice amplification devices.
Something you may be more likely to know, (considering how hot it was in Melbourne today) is that 7 Eleven are giving 15c from every Green & Gold Slurpee they sell to our Commonwealth Games heroes.

However, 7 Eleven are also encouraging their customers to breach the Commonwealth Games Act by turning their Slurpee cups into megaphones, in order to 'cheer on our Aussies'!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

XVIII Stolenwealth Games

Black GST (Genocide to end, Sovreignty to beacknowledged, Treaty to be made) have set up a website for the Stolenwealth Games.

Melbourne Graffiti Games

The Graffiti Games Organising Committee (GGOC) has declared Melbourne CBD a maximum tolerance zone for graffiti.

Unlike the elitist Commonwealth Games the Graffiti Games will be open to anyone with a spray-can and a good or bad idea. The entire population of Victoria, as well as interstate and international visitors, are encouraged to compete.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Lent is the forty days before Easter Sunday (not counting the Sundays), which is traditionally a time for 'reflection, repentance and resolve to live differently.' (That's from Mark's Lenten Reflections 06)
Been thinking a lot recently about how we can look after the God's creation, which we depend on, and are part of. So I'm going to try and go without meat for Lent, largely because it takes so much land to produce meat. Not only do livestock take up the land they live on, they also take up the land needed to grow their food. I'm also going to go without alcohol, but I don't want to be obsessive about either.