November 28, 2018

Politics in the Pub – the speech that was written

I moved here 4 years ago because there is something special about Mullumbimby.   Most people actually give a shit about their personal impact on the planet and our collective future.

In 2015 I founded Mullum Cares and we Support and Promote the Growing Consumer Demand for Conservation.  That’s where you come in.  The planet and our future is depending on you to use your consumer power to demand conservation. What you buy really matters.  We know this in terms of electricity.  Hopefully most of us are Enova customers now.  Switching your dollars from fossil fuel generated power to renewables is one of the easiest consumer choices you can make if you give a shit.

But I’m not here to tell you to stop shopping.  Quite the contrary.  Our neo liberal, capitalist existence is completely powered by profit and I don’t believe it’s going to crumble anytime soon so let’s hijack their game and make sustainable businesses more profitable and withdraw our funding (that’s what you’re actually doing when you buy stuff that hurts the planet and exploits workers in far off lands, you’re funding it) because nothing makes change happen faster in the corporate world than declining sales.

If you can buy it you can probably buy a more sustainable version of it.  That means you can buy better.

Shop local. Buy Second hand. Buy Australian.  Most of our stores sell a mixture of good and evil products.  Ask them (this is how you demand conservation) if they have an Australian made version.  I bought a wheelbarrow at Mitre 10 a while ago and asked this question.   The shop attendant had to go and ask another staff member but they came up with the goods.  It can be that simple. Sometimes of course it’s not but if you ask the question every time you are adding to a ground swell of voices that support local economies and local jobs.

The second question is can I buy a version that’s made from recycled materials.  If it’s not made from recycled materials then its materials were mined or grown – again, even if it’s made in Australia the materials likely came from far off countries.

The worst thing you can do is buy imported stuff made from virgin materials.  Unless your only concern is Australian emissions, as pointed out by Mr Shorten, if Adani’s coal is burnt overseas to run factories that make goods you buy then none of these emissions count towards our GHGE’s so this should be a last resort if you give a shit about our collective future.  But if you agree with Bill then all you need to do is avoid buying Australian completely and you’ll be sweet.

A transcript of what I was planning to say tonight and some recommendations of apps that help you find ethically made products is on the Mullum Cares website.  I want you to go away tonight feeling empowered now that you know how powerful your dollars are and understand that there are still many products that it’s almost impossible to buy ethically made so start where it’s easy and tell your friends about this newfound power they too can enjoy! You have the power to create jobs in Australia that are good for the planet!

But what about all the local activist organisations that exist to stop mining or to help our community need less. There is no money where there are no products to sell and community organisations that charge for membership are barely covering their costs, let alone making enough money to pay any of their dedicated volunteers.

So us activists aren’t in it for the money. We do it because we love it and it feeds our yearning for change and nourishes our hopeful souls.

Dancing in the Mullum Music Fest parade with COREM and the Repower Byron Shire team is a highlight of my year!  Getting the Local Woman of the Year Award in 2017 was fun, until I received my goodie bag full of Revlon make up and wondered if I should rescind on the basis of not being thankful for their gifts.  But when we’re not dancing or paying our own way to receive awards most of us are working a paid job to pay the bills and then exhausting ourselves to achieve our community organisation goals. We need more people to help us and more money to accelerate achieving our goals.   We want you to join us!

A couple of examples of local organisations that need more help:

Our beautiful award winning Mullumbimby Community Garden attracts membership fees from people who take an allotment to grow food.  There are no high fences or locked gates to encourage you to pay a membership just to visit it like nearly every other community garden in the country.  The membership and allotment fees barely cover the water bill.  And yet so many people love and use the garden but loving it, valuing it and ensuring it thrives are different things.   The first is a feeling.  The second requires action to ensure the third.

Many of you might not be aware but the garden supports our community by providing a place for people to do work for the dole and pay off fines.  The administrative burden of providing these services means we need responsible vollies on site 5 days a week and we are given $200 per work for the dole person – for the 6 months they are with us and we get nothing for managing people’s working off their fines.  We need more people who love and enjoy the garden to pay for a membership or volunteer to help out.

My own organisation’s main project at the moment is the Library of Stuff – we are creating a community library full of whatever the community would like to borrow except books!  We have a shed, enough money to buy tools and three dedicated people on the committee  but we need at least 3 more people to join our Creation Committee.  To organise donations of good quality items from the community and then run a crowd funding campaign to purchase what we can’t get from that avenue. And that’s just getting the project to launch stage.

If you are keen to hear about local NFP’s and their successes and challenges this year and what they have planned for next please join us on Thursday 20th Dec for an End of Year Sustainability Drinks.  If you have time or money to offer this will give you a great opportunity to find the best fit for your interests.


Links to find ethically made stuff:

Shop Ethical

Ethical Clothing Australia

Good On You (more ethical clothing)

Biome (Lots of ethical stuff that you can’t buy locally)