If you’re someone who enjoys the simple, yet good things in life, you might be familiar with the term ‘slow cities’.
It’s a relatively new concept here in Australia, but it’s big internationally, and applies to more than 80,000 towns in 100 countries around the world.
Slow cities are towns that encourage diversity, support local culture and traditions, value a sustainable environment, healthy living and locally grown produce.
They have their origins in the Cittaslow movement (translated as ‘slow city’) which started in Italy in 1986, and is embodied by a logo of a snail carrying a modern-day city on its back.
The slow city label, and lifestyle, is not about opposing progress or technology, but about pausing to reflect on what’s special in your community, celebrating the characteristics that make it unique, preserving local traditions, and working together to plan for a sustainable future.
Put simply, slow cities are towns where traditions and conventional ways of doing things are valued, and where people choose consciously to embrace a more mindful and connected way of life.
In case you haven’t noticed, the slow-movement has been infiltrating our pretty little stretch of the Murray here at Echuca Moama for quite some time now.
The Plastic Bag Free Echuca Moama (PBFEM) movement (led by Campaspe Shire Environmental Projects Officer Samantha Ferrier) has gained real traction and enjoyed huge community support for its Boomerang Bags Project.
Our home-grown Flavours of Echuca Moama Festival featuring 100% locally grown, made and produced food and wine, embraces all things ‘slow’ and is a beautiful celebration of the ‘makers’ in our community and our unique way of life.
We have a growing number of ‘slow-focused’ businesses setting up shop in EM specialising in organic foods and products, and more and more existing businesses are changing the way they operate to place a greater emphasis on sustainability. We’ve also seen the establishment of grassroots food cooperatives in recent times, geared towards buying bulk, locally produced organic and natural products to reduce the food miles.
On top of all this, we’ve developed a flourishing reputation as a hot-spot for op shops. So much so, in fact, that Echuca Moama Tourism and Community Living Respite Services have recently developed a new tourism flyer establishing an op shop trail in EM, mapping out each of the stores and what they offer. This sensational initiative celebrates and recognises the positive environmental impacts op shops and reusing pre-loved items has for our community.
All this, we think, leads beautifully in to a broader conversation about the slow movement, and how we could be adding further value to our duo of towns by embracing all that it represents.
And it’s planted a seed that we think needs watering……
Australia has three official slow cities – Katoomba (NSW), Yea (Victoria) and Goolwa (South Australia).
Why not make Echuca Moama the fourth?
We fit the population requirement – towns must have a permanent population under 50,000.
Next we’d need to complete an official accreditation process, including a 50-point checklist relating to environment, infrastructure, quality of urban fabric, local produce and products, hospitality, awareness and education.
It would take some work no doubt, but EM already ticks so many boxes. And just imagine the positive spin-offs for tourism…..
We’re keen to do some more digging around this idea, and to speak with people who could help make it happen. Let us know if you think it has merit – and if you, or someone you know can help!
And in the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about slow living and the slow movement, there’s a stack of information out there on social media, podcasts and websites. We highly recommend you check out the Slow Home Podcast, and Granny Skills as a starting point!
Stay tuned for more slow….
Phew… we’re still catching our breath here after an epic couple of months managing the social media pages for Echuca Moama’s Southern 80 (S80) – the world’s biggest ski race!
It is the second year we’ve taken on this 10-week social media campaign and it’s been an extremely rewarding, albeit pretty intense, experience.
The S80 Facebook page alone has more than 38,000 followers and it’s been awesome to work with such huge numbers on a daily basis and manage the constant engagement that comes with it.
For anyone playing in the social media space (which is just about everyone these days) you would know that active engagement on your social pages is just as important as posting and it’s the liking, responding and inviting you do that nurtures and grows your audience.
Live video and stories (on both FB and Instagram) was a huge growth area for S80 this year and we know it’s where a large portion of the online social audience is now hanging out.
We also know it’s the human-interest stories at an event like S80 that attracts the most likes, comments and shares.
As well as the fast boats and record times, it’s the stories of families, friends and brave individuals conquering their fears and pushing themselves to achieve something amazing that resonates the most.
Running with the adrenaline of an event like S80 is full-on and we had a thrilling roller-coaster ride covering all the action, however meeting the people involved and sharing their stories was the highlight for us.
Stories of long-time ski racing families; grandparents towing their grandkids; and three generations involved in the one team, are commonplace at the S80, and for us as storytellers it’s what makes the event.
Stories of bravery and incredible physical challenge stand out and it’s hard to go past the story of Ben Pettingill.
On the weekend Ben made S80 history by becoming the first legally blind skier to complete the full 80km course and it was truly amazing to witness this inspirational achievement! At last year’s event Ben competed in the 20km disability class and inspired youngster Luke Johnson (who is also legally blind) to take on the same challenge in 2018. We caught up with the boys and their support teams on the weekend and it was such a thrill sharing the joy and elation with them.
Ben and Luke’s stories are just a snapshot of the many we unearthed and made working on the Southern 80 project so rewarding.
Yes, there is some negative press associated with S80 and unfortunately there has been tragedy in recent years, however when you look past the headlines there is a close-knit ski racing community, made up of hundreds of volunteers, families and friends, who just love being involved with this grassroots, community-driven event.
It’s been an absolute pleasure to share the stories of the Southern 80 – an event that injects almost $20 million into the Echuca Moama economy – and we look forward to working with the Moama Water Sports Cub again in the future.
But for now we will turn our attention to Echuca’s stunning Aquatic Reserve and welcome an absolute bevy of musical talent to our riverside community for the annual Riverboats Music Festival.
Make sure you check out the event program, in which we were lucky enough to interview and write about just a few of the stellar acts coming for this year’s event.
We’ll be seeing you there….
Christy and Leonie xo
#southern80 #riverboatsfestival #community #spreadingthegoodstuff
Outwardly I’m excited, because he’s excited. I’m happy, because he’s happy. And I’m ready, because he’s SO ready.
But, on the inside I’m a little heavy-hearted. Okay maybe more than a little.
Because for 10 years, I’ve had a shadow.
First it was just one shadow, and boy did that take some adjusting to. But then it grew to two, and then three, and it was as if they had always been there. They gave my life extraordinary meaning and purpose, and made me feel worthy, brave and strong.
During some moments in that decade though, I admit that I wished I could shake them. Just for a day, an hour, even a minute. Just to have a second on my own, where those little tailgaters weren’t wholly dependent on me for absolutely everything.
But for the most part, those shadows were the greatest blessing in my life. They were part of me, and my identity had become tightly wrapped up in them.
Those precious little shadows followed me everywhere, looked up to me for guidance and reassurance, and despite all my failings, loved me unconditionally with every inch of their souls.
They taught me deep lessons about myself that I couldn’t possibly have learned on my own. Things like patience, selflessness, vulnerability, forgiveness, progress over perfection, and the art of spinning plates (constantly spinning those plates).
One by one though, gradually my shadows began to disappear into the school yard. And while there was a small sense of loss with each one, there was an overwhelming feeling of excitement and pride as they began to spread their wings. And there was relief too, as the relentless nature of mothering young babies and toddlers began to ease.
But today, the last of my shadows is gone.
In the blink of an eye, he’s off like the others to discover the big wide world on his own.
And I know that come tomorrow, my shadow-less figure will be the new norm for me. It’ll be like the time before never existed and I’ll hit a happy new stride. Because that’s life.
And that’s precisely why I’m feeling a little lost in this moment – because it all passes by so quickly.
I know there’s nothing unique or special about my story. It’s part of the memoir of every mother before me who has walked this path, and is walking this path with me today.
And when I put it into perspective it really isn’t a big deal.
Except that it is. Today, it is.
So, if you, like me, have just hugged your baby tight and walked bravely out of the classroom without that adored little shadow in tow, I’m walking beside you. Not behind you like they were, but beside you all the way.
Fly high today little Geddy. I’m gonna miss you.
A huge thank you to our #spreadingthegoodstuff community for joining us last night for episode 4 of our live conversation series at Junction Moama.
These live events are a deep passion of ours, not only because they indulge our love for spreading positivity through good news stories, but above all because the extraordinary people we interview on the Q&A couch change us, and our audience, from the inside out.
And last night was absolutely no exception.
Three years ago, aged 19, Jason Clymo became paralysed from the waist down after a fall during a night out with university mates.
In adjusting to the enormous changes and his new ‘life with wheels’ Jason shared how ‘mental is everything’ and his family and friends have been instrumental in supporting his recovery and emotional strength.
He is on a crusade to make diversity the new ‘normal’ and for people of all minority groups to be featured in mainstream media and in advertising campaigns.
His work with Wink Models has given him an important platform to spread his message and he won’t rest until he activates real change.
Jason’s end game is for everyone to feel loved, included and celebrated. He wants to empower people to stand up and play a role – to take notice of the poor representation of people living with a disability in the media, and across all sectors, and to demand equality and inclusion for all.
“My number one goal is not to walk again,” says Jason. “My priority is to be healthy and happy and to ensure that everyone is loved and celebrated. I’d rather have the disability and have this outlook (being aware of the need for diversity) than be ignorant.”
Take a peek at this short clip from last night to hear this extraordinary young man in full flight about the role we can all play in making diversity the new norm.
Jason, thank you for sharing your beautiful mind with us – for cracking yourself wide open, for your honesty, optimism, strength and vulnerability. We know you are destined to take your important story to a global audience, and we’re behind you all the way in spreading your message as far and wide as possible.
Lee & Christy
Hats off to the hard working crew over at EM Events on the eve of their inaugural Perricoota Pop & Pour Festival.
There is such a playful buzz in the air for this brand new homegrown event and we can’t wait to pop the cork with the crowds on the festival trail tomorrow.
The mercury is set for a balmy 31 degrees, the wine will be flowing and live tunes will be swelling out across the grapevines. It’ll be a happy chance to stoke the bonds of friendship with mates – old and new.
Our duo of towns is well-known for its thriving festivals scene – in fact it’s one of the features we love most about life here on the mighty Murray. Not only do we have boundless opportunities for amazing events, live music, bars, wineries, and eateries, but it’s all set against a backdrop of one of Australia’s prettiest, and most tranquil, natural landscapes.
Travel anywhere across this wide, brown, open land and you’ll be hard pressed to find a place quite like our EM. She radiates the most perfect vibe of urban chic and country hospitality.
If this fast-paced, technologically-wired world we live in has caused you to lose sight of Echuca Moama’s beauty, and you need reminding of all the wonder we have here on our doorstep, we suggest you get along to Pop & Pour this weekend and take a fresh-eyed look. Because seriously, the magic is everywhere.
See you there folks!
If you have ever doubted the power of community spirit then meet Liz Dillon. She’ll challenge anyone who doesn’t believe country towns are the heart and soul of our country, and it’s not hard to understand why.
In her small community of Kyabram and the surrounding districts, Liz and her army of volunteers, have raised almost a quarter of a million dollars to help families in the local area directly impacted by cancer.
Liz is the epitome of community spirit: kind, passionate and generous, and has a ‘can do’ attitude. She has built a career teaching vocals and performing arts to kids at Dillmac Entertainment and after years fundraising for Redkite, a national charity providing support to children with cancer, she realised there were people within her own community battling cancer and in need of financial and emotional support.
“One year we handed over a cheque to Redkite for $84,000 and I suddenly thought: wouldn’t it be better if the money could stay in the town?” Liz said.
Coinciding with the sudden loss of her father-in-law to cancer, she decided it was time to take action, and with the support of her husband Max McKenzie and colleague Andrew Moore, the Kyabram Gift was born.
Six years later, The Gift is a fully incorporated, tax-deductible fund with a board and subcommittee of 14 members and countless volunteers who generously donate their time to assist at key events. Through unwavering community support The Gift raises approximately $150,000 annually, and has now raised in excess of $450,000 since its inception.
The Gift board represents a wide sector of the community and is made up of business owners; parents; youths; professionals; doctors and nurses; people who have had cancer or lost loved ones to cancer; people who are new to the area; and life-long locals. And all are united in the purpose to lighten the load of others.
This inspiring organisation’s winning formula for fundraising includes set events throughout the year that encourage involvement from the entire community, not only to raise money but to increase awareness of early cancer detection and provide fun and connection for people in an otherwise dark time.
The highlight on The Gift social calendar is the annual Gala Ball. More than 350 people attended this year’s event in November, and it has become so popular there is now a ballot for tickets! Eight people also volunteered to lose their locks for the cause and ran their own fundraising campaign throughout the year. Combined with the proceeds from ticket sales and auctions on the night a staggering $60,000 was raised.
The ever popular, Monster Town Garage Sale encourages people to host a site at their house and sell unwanted good with all proceeds going to The Gift. This year’s Monster Garage Sale will be held in Kyabram on December 3, so why not go for a Sunday drive, see what goodies you can find and help support this worthy cause.
Other key events include the Purple Weekend and Purple Sporting Weekend, where local schools, workplaces, businesses, shopping precincts and sporting clubs in the district are encouraged to decorate their premises, wear purple and raise money anyway they can.
To maintain momentum, The Gift is constantly looking for new ways to fundraise and also uses movie nights, Easter raffles and other minor events throughout the year to ensure there is always money in the bank for emergencies and to help those who really need it – when they need it.
“The community has really embraced The Gift and we now service a population of approximately 22,000 including Kyabram, Tongala, Girgarre, Stanhope, Undera, Rushworth, Merrigum and Lancaster,” Liz said.
“We have developed a fantastic working relationship with Kyabram District Health, its team of amazing district nurses and the local counseling services to try and capture all those who need our support,” she said.
People can be referred to the service or an application form is available to anyone who wishes to apply directly for funds. Elected members of the board then decide who receives the gifts based on individual needs.
The gifts are always given in the form of a voucher, product or payment of a utility or other bill. Cash is never handed to any recipient and names of recipients are kept confidential.
To date, The Gift has supported more than 100 families providing items such as:
“With the support of some great local tradies and businesses who have given their support and volunteered their time for free, we have even renovated a bathroom and built and furnished a granny flat to provide safe and comfortable spaces for families with members undergoing treatment.”
Not only does The Gift provide financial and emotional support but it also provides hope.
“We all know the pain and suffering a cancer diagnosis can bring to a family so we try not to focus on what it takes from people but rather what it can give,” Liz said.
‘We wish we didn’t have to help anyone else but there are still so many positives you can take away from the experience – the kindness and generosity of people, new friendships and learnings about yourself and others,” she said.
Sometimes just knowing that someone else cares can be the greatest gift of all.
#spreadingthegoodstuff #thekyabramgift #supportingfamilieswithcancer #thepowerofcommunity
We’re excited to announce the fourth episode in our live Spreading the Good Stuff series, with the remarkable Jason Clymo in conversation at Junction Moama on Thursday December 7.
At age 19, a fall during a night out with university mates caused Jason to break his back, suffer a spinal cord injury and become paralysed from the waist down.
This was a devastating blow for Jason, in his second year of medicine at Monash University, and any plans he had for his future were instantly derailed.
However, fast-forward to 2017 and surprisingly Jason’s focus is not fixed on regaining the life he had prior to his accident or in search of a miracle cure for paraplegia.
Remarkably, this young man is focused on what he can do to support other people living with disability to live a full and ‘inclusive’ life.
Jason’s number one goal is for inclusion for all and he has a strong belief that everyone deserves to feel loved and celebrated – regardless of their ability.
This personal mission has taken Jason on a journey of discovery and down the path of a modelling career, which is quickly becoming much more than a hobby.
So far this year Jason has found himself featured in a four-page photographic spread in the Herald Sun’s Stellar Magazine, in a national advertising campaign for fashion label Target and featured on award-winning, nightly news show The Project.
Not to mention landing a contract with highly respected, national modelling agency WINK Models, where he has been hailed as the next ‘big thing’ for diversity in the modelling industry.
We featured Jason on our Spreading the Good Stuff blog in February when WINK described him as ‘a guy who has turned a negative into a positive by becoming an advocate for diversity’ and it’s no surprise others are taking notice, both here and overseas.
Jason’s star is well and truly on the rise and as the bookings and marketing officer for the Port of Echuca Discovery Centre, he is currently juggling his day job with life and modelling work, including his runway debut in October at FashionAble, an event by Queensland disability support provider Multicap.
He is also an inclusion ambassador with both internationally recognised Models of Diversity and Starting with Julius – both striving for diversity in the modelling industry. And this serendipitous chain of events has not only allowed Jason to carve out a modelling career of his own but created a greater awareness of the lack of representation of disabled people in the media and in advertising campaigns.
Altering society’s perception about modelling for marketing and advertising is what motivates Jason to get out of bed in the morning, despite the daily physical challenges of life in a wheel chair.
From the early days following his accident he has chosen to focus on the positive and surround himself with people who help support him and his passionate cause.
We first met Jason at our first Spreading the Good Stuff live conversation episode with Katrina Myers in June 2016 where he explained he was drawn to the event because of our positive approach and purpose to spread the good news.
Jason believes we all make a choice every day about how we approach life and its many challenges and we can’t wait to share more about how he manages to stay so focused and driven by his goals when he joins us on December 7.
Join us at Junction for a remarkable evening of illuminating conversation with Jason Clymo My Life With Wheels and book your tickets today for our final event of 2017.
Tickets are $30, strictly limited and must be purchased prior to the event day. Included in your ticket price is a complimentary glass of sparkling wine, and nibbles.
Tickets and further details available here.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Christy and Lee
*Image courtesy of H Stewart for Stella Magazine
When the clock strikes 11 on this warm, sunny Saturday morning in November, what thoughts will be running through your head?
Will you be making plans for a lunchtime picnic by the river with family and friends in this glorious spring sunshine; contemplating an afternoon in the garden; or perhaps planning a night out on the town with friends?
Whatever it is, be sure to pop those thoughts aside for just a minute, to imagine a world where such simple pleasures and freedoms did not exist.
Because that could very well have been our reality if not for the many members of our armed forces who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty over the years, to protect the very freedoms we so often take for granted.
No matter your feelings on war, on this day we must cast them aside to acknowledge and commemorate our past.
Through the rose-coloured lense through which we choose to view the world, war is never, ever the answer. But we know that’s a privileged position many of our ancestors were not able to take.
So in this moment – the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month – let’s remember that first modern world conflict that brought about the mobilisation of over 70 million people and left between 9 and 13 million dead.
Let’s observe the moment when hostilities ceased on the Western Front, ending the Great War (World War I) and dedicate our thoughts to those brave soldiers who died fighting to protect our precious way of life.
Lest We Forget
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and as someone who has personally battled this cruel and ugly disease, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to urge other women to be breast aware and shine a light on a handy new initiative developed by an inspiring local lady.
Breast cancer remains the most common cancer among Australian women with a staggering 17,586 expected to be diagnosed this year alone.
As you look around at your mother, sisters, daughters and group of girlfriends the frightening statistic is 1 in 8 of you will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the time you are 85.
A woman’s risk of breast cancer increases with age, with the majority of women diagnosed between 50-69.
However, breast cancer also occurs in younger women and it is estimated that in 2017, 841 women between the ages of 20 and 39 will be diagnosed.
The good news – early detection and improved screening have resulted in very high survival rates.
Finding breast cancer early provides the best chance of surviving the disease so ALL women should be breast aware, know what is normal for them and be regularly checking and feeling their breasts for any changes.
Changes to look for include:
● a new lump or lumpiness in your breast or underarm
● a change in the size or shape of your breast
● a change to the nipple, such as crusting, ulcer, redness or inversion
● a nipple discharge that occurs without squeezing
● a change in the skin of your breast such as redness or dimpling
● an unusual pain that doesn’t go away.
Most changes aren’t due to breast cancer but it’s important to see your doctor without delay if you notice any of these changes.
Local mother to five girls Sharnee McCoy, knows all too well the importance of being breast aware.
After feeling a suspicious lump in her right breast as she simply rolled over in bed one night, she thankfully took immediate action and in April this year was given the heart breaking news that she did in fact have an aggressive stage 3 breast cancer.
But her story, to selflessly turn her own personal battle into something to ease the burden on others, is truly inspiring.
Like many women who undergo breast surgery to remove cancer, Sharnee also had all the lymph nodes removed from under her right arm, putting her at risk of developing lymphedema. Unable to use her right arm for any treatment, blood tests or blood pressure monitoring she began to look for a product to easily advise healthcare professionals but to no avail. This ignited a fire in the courageous young mothers belly….
“After I spoke to Bianca Fleming, Echuca Regional Health McGrath Breast Care Nurse, I realised there was a broader need for this, so I set off to design and produce a pink arm band that could be accessible to other women in the same situation to help reduce the risk of lymphedema,” says Sharnee.
With the generous support of the Little Blue Towels Project in Echuca, Sharnee’s Bands were born and are now available for free to anyone across Victoria and parts of NSW who has had lymph nodes removed as a result of breast cancer.
“I didn’t do this for the recognition but I am incredibly proud to show my girls that we created something really positive out of a negative situation,” Sharnee says.
To get your free pink arm band contact your local Breast Care Nurse or Oncology department today.
Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t respect age, gender, race, ethnicity, wealth, status or a healthy lifestyle. So don’t think because you are young or don’t have a family history that you are safe. The harsh reality is that you or someone you know or love will experience breast cancer during their lifetime.
So when was the last time you checked your boobies?
Women between the ages of 50-74 are entitled to two free mammograms a year with BreastScreen Victoria so book yours in today on 132 050.
Younger women can download the free Curve Lurve App from the McGrath Foundation to learn how to be more proactive in their breast health.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from Breast Cancer, support from the McGrath Breast Care Nurse is free and anyone can access the service on 03 5485 5234.
Learn to love those boobies ladies because they could save your life.
#spreadingthegoodstuff #breastcareawarenessmonth #bebreastaware #sharneesbands #mcgrathbreastcarenurse
Firstly – thank you! We hope you loved it.
And secondly, we’re sending you a virtual high five, because we’ve received word this week that ITP charity partner, Echuca Moama Girls Night Out will receive a huge wod of cash from the day – 5000 smackeroos to be exact!
100% of these funds will go directly to the GNO Oncology Department Supportive Care Fund at Echuca Regional Health to support those in our community fighting cancer. The GNO fund helps cover the hidden costs of treatment including counselling sessions, oncology massage, wigs, alternative therapies, lymphodeama garments, rent payments, fuel cards, acommodation, home care and child care.
ITP was founded by Moama Bowling Club in 2015, and since then has contributed a massive $20,000 to the GNO charity.
It’s an extraordinary event – not only for its support of GNO – but also for the opportunities it provides women in small rural communities like ours.
We don’t often get the chance to take time out from our hectic lives to do that all important work on ourselves. But it’s vitally necessary for each and every one of us if we are to live fulfilled lives both at work and at home.
To be able to put everything else in our world aside and to have a full day dedicated to exploring what’s working for us, what’s not, and where we can grow, would usually require a trip to the city. And given the often logistical nightmare that goes along with that, it’s a luxury many of us rarely take. So having this opportunity right here on our doorstep is a game changer for women in this part of the world.
And while having access to top speakers on home soil is a vital ingredient to ITP, the real magic happens out on the floor. It’s in connecting face-to-face with other like-minded women to share and nurture ideas, and to support and cheer one another through the obstacles and opportunities that life in the country throws our way.
So as event partners and co-hosts of ITP, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for embracing this homegrown event for regional women.
We look forward to welcoming you back again in 2018.