SHACtivism at its best. The youth are motivated to join together and Strike from School Friday 30th November. They can see and feel the planet is in Crisis . They are demanding the politicians act now to reduce the harm, to stop the greedy fossil fuel industry from destroying the planet and implement more renewable energy’s. For a more sustainable future for all.
n the SHAC courtyard, Ken and I started building the fire in our fire pit at about 4.30pm on the day our smoking ceremony was at last to take place here. I had been collecting sticks and discarded branches for ages. Ancient wood cut in the local area and left on the verge, waste for some but a gift to me. Sometimes, I feel very sad for the trees that man chooses to cut down. So I honour this gift from the earth today, using each branch and cluster of twigs to build the foundations of a good fire for the smoking ceremony tonight.
I put the fire drum on a spot on the grass so we can use the wall as seating. The cane chairs and Fiona’s benches staggered in a circle to seat residents, members, friends and pets, who are all gathering for the opportunity to have a community clearing, to be engulfed in thick, plumes of smoke.
We had invited Traditional Custodian Uncle Joe Northover to conduct the smoking ceremony, with sister artist Marcel Riley and brother Howard Riley. We asked to clear the old and make way for the next stages of our SHAC community’s development. And most importantly, to honour the first peoples and this land.
It was very windy, most of us had hoodies and jumpers on. Uncle Joe spoke in Wadjuk Noongar language with spirit and in English. He talked of family, community and connection. He sensed there had been negativity and some people feeling bad in the circle.
With handfuls gathered of the long slender peppermint tree, Agonis Flexuosa, we rubbed it’s soft leaves under our arm pits, as instructed by Uncle Joe. Then we offered them to the fire, burning and smoking the leaves on the logs and coals.
Now is the time to let it go, he said, let the problems get carried away with the smoke.Allow the smoke to cleanse and revitalise you. And to clear the way ahead, working and living together as a community. The Aboriginal people believe this to be the way and it felt very important to allow ourselves to share this together.
When the sun was setting Uncle Joe sang in language, and a flock of Nularks the white tailed Black cockatoos flew across the sky. Witnessing their flight and cries, together with song, made a tear roll down my face as I shared this moment, connecting with the land and place, past, present and future.
Afterwards, Rachel thanked and acknowledged Uncle Joe and family on Shac’s behalf. Then we shared a big feed, with a SHAC community feast. Sitting round yarning, I look around at all the glowing faces open to our new beginning, respecting the Aboriginal people who lived on this land for thousands of years before now.
I am blessed and grateful for living in this co-operative. Thank you to all who shared in this part of our journey here in this space SHAC. Thank you too, Rachel Riggs for initiating and co-ordinating the smoking and gracing us with the beautiful flower wreaths from the Peppermint tree to welcome us.
SHACC acknowledges the Noongar people as the traditional custodians of the Whadjuk region, on which we work and live. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and honour all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and the first people of this nation. SHACC is committed to a positive future for our Aboriginal community.
Always was. Always will be Aboriginal land.
The Song Room Deadly Arts Teaching Artists meeting
The Song Room, a national organisation putting artists into schools, hosted an Indigenous Teaching Artists meeting last Saturday. The Song Room is intending to collaborate with SHAC regularly as a community partner.
Elisa Williams, regional arts project manager created the new Deadly Arts programme to share Aboriginal arts and culture in schools with local leading artists including doll maker/basket weaver Marcelle Riley, and visual artist/illustrator Seantelle Hughes.
The Song Room’s Western Australian team is working with SHAC as a supportive venue to host a range of our creative practices in future planning. They intend to use the venue to hold professional development workshops with local Indigenous artists to deliver our Deadly Arts programs in schools around Perth.
The Song Room find the Co Labs 1 & 2 ideal for our work and programmes, plus the support from the artist community is an extra bonus! The Song Room is proud of its developing relationship with SHAC.
The Song Room creative arts digital learning platform www.artslive.com
The Song Room Deadly Arts - Community Liason Officer/Teaching Artist
On Weds 31st October 2018 SHAC held it's second Halloween event inviting our local WGV/Fremantle community to enjoy a family celebration. There were various performances and scary installations in the adjacent ‘Smelly Sump’, Hope St, White Gum Valley
Sustainable House Day 2018
Last Sunday SHAC opened its doors to over 200 visitors during National Sustainable House Day.
As this is SHAC’s first year in existence we have not been part of SHD before and we found the day to be a rewarding and lively experience. Visitors were enthusiastic to see and hear about the development’s sustainable features and to hear how we, the artists and creatives who dreamed this all into being, enjoy living here.
A brain wave of Rachel’s was for Lynda to dress up in her Clown Clothes and be the crowd controller! This she did with her usual good-natured exuberance, making people laugh and entertaining small children. On the more serious side Lynda held vehicle buffs enthralled by her explanations of EVs and our home based Nissan Leaf in particular.
We were fortunate to have Glenn Howe, Design Manager, from Access Housing here for part of the day to impart his knowledge to the visitors as they toured through the building. He pointed out the special design features that make SHAC a low carbon built and maintained development. It was a pleasure to see so many members of the public gaining knowledge and information about sustainable building and living, and aff from our apartments and the two community studios.
Balance Utility Solutions who installed the solar power battery at SHAC sent along two of their staff, Matt Rule and Moiz Syedto speak to people about the construction and working of the battery in this state of the art solar power system.
Rachel, Coral, Steve and Ken took the tours through our homes and Adam did a great job in helping Lynda keep the crowds amused whilst waiting for their tour to begin.
Tim was a stalwart throughout the whole project – helping with docs, signage, volunteers and general organisation as well as with the tour of Co-Lab 2 where SHAC members’ artwork is being displayed.
Thanks so much to all helpers! Thanks too to Jesse and Adrian who gave up part of their sunny Sunday and volunteered to do the visitor registration.
In early March a young magpie walked up to me in the SHAC carpark. She waggled her wings and begged for food. A street urchin here in White Gum Valley. I told her to wait while I went upstairs to get some food. I came down with a bit of raw mince and she took it from my hand. She had been fed by humans before obviously.
I noticed that she could fly and presuming she would join her family, I turned around and returned to our apartment. Half an hour later there was a magpie call from our front door and there she was, waggling her wings. I gave her some more mince and a bowl of water. She drank easily from the bowl.
Half the co-op were now interested in Maggie – the cats too. But she knew how to deal with cats and flying over their heads, she dive-bombed them and hurled verbal abuse.
At this stage Maggie’s family realised where she was and we were devastated when four big magpies fronted up and attacked her. She screeched and flew, they followed. This was to continue for a week. Maggie found which balcony belonged to me and waited there for a feed several times a day. Jo, a young girl in our community, helped me to feed her and to remove a long piece of sewing thread that became tangled in both her legs when she tried to play with it.
At least twice a day the big maggies would attack and she would fly for her life. Sometimes hiding in the building site opposite us.
At last I realised we were not winning the battle; one of the big males caught her on our balcony and was viciously pecking her. Ken chased him away, but we knew that our little urchin obviously had some disease that made her unsuitable to live with her family. We took her to Native Ark and they diagnosed Throat Worm parasite and kept her for two weeks until she was well.
The rescue centre said they would return her to her home ground when she had recovered and that the adults would then accept her. We are still hoping she will visit us again. If you live in Hope St and a young female magpie comes to your door asking for food – it might well be our Maggie!
One of the joys of living in WGV is Booyeembarra Park with its wattle and Eucalypt thickets and bush clumps, stream and ponds. It has varied habitats for a number of native birds and Ken and I are avid bird watchers.
Just before sunset when the late light plays on the paperbark trees around the pond and reedbeds we have listened with delight to the evensong of our local nightingale – the Australian Reed-Warbler.This shy little bird has a territorial song almost as musical and as varied (although perhaps a bit more jazzy!) as that of the famous European Nightingale, and like the Nightingale it sings well into the night.
Acrocephalusaustralis isa small and somewhat nondescript bird(some twitchers may call it an LBB, or Little Brown Bastard) until it opens its mouth and pours for this unforgettable melody. New Zealand Birds Online describes its song as ‘a varied outpouring of guttural and liquid notes with some phrases repeated – a little like an improvising Jazz musician.’Another species of Reed-Warbler in the Mariana Islands in the Pacific has actually been named Nightingale Reed-warbler.
Our reed-warbler migrates to the south west of WA from northern regions during September and breeds in reed beds before returning north again in February or March. Only the male sings during the breeding season, often both day and night.