I’m feeling blessed this week as I immerse myself in all things ‘writers’ for the annual Bendigo Writers Festival.
Through my part-time Bachelor of Arts studies at La Trobe University, Bendigo I have landed an internship in media and digital content creation, covering the Bendigo Writers Festival (BWF) and other newsworthy La Trobe events, including its Open Day later this month.
I know…what a great gig!
In the role I have interviewed interesting La Trobe Uni folk involved at the festival, sharing their stories via the Vox Bendigo blog writing portal and today I roamed in and around View Street for the annual Text Marks the Spot Schools Day, tweeting from various events.
I must say I don’t need too many excuses to attend a writers’ festival of any description, but to be involved at this level is a real treat.
This year’s festival program certainly has something for everyone and, as you’ll read in the blogs I have written (see links below), any session you choose will provide expansion for the mind and enlargement of the soul.
For me this is what writers’ festivals do: broaden your mind, teach you something new, disrupt pre-conceived ideas and most importantly, inspire. Sadly some believe they are just for the literary elite, those with published work, or people who routinely read a book in one week.
I have always believed writers’ festivals are for anyone and everyone and you don’t have to be a writer, or even an avid reader, to enjoy all they have to offer.
Writers’ festivals are, above all else, about ‘stories’ and today’s school sessions were no exception, with discussions around why you should, and how to, share your unique story.
Storytelling through music and song writing was also on the agenda, as was the stunning art of ‘wordless’ puppet theatre, which touched on the themes of immigration, separation from family and friendship in new lands.
Publisher turned author, Rose Michael hit the nail on the head in her session this afternoon, How to Get it Right when she declared: “writers’ festivals are about the readers.”
And we all read, in some way shape or form. Graphic novelist, Bruce Mutard confirmed this when he declared this morning that comics are no longer just for children. He also made comment that only 10 years ago there would never have been a session at a writers’ festival about ‘comics’!
Just like comics, writers’ festivals have evolved and are no longer a highbrow affair for the literary elite… they are an opportunity for anyone to engage in a cultural conversation and hear stories from all corners of the world, and from all walks of life.
If you haven’t yet been to a one, do yourself a favour and get along to the Bendigo Writers Festival this weekend… I’ll see you there.
#spreadingthegoodstuff #writersfestivals #stories
This week, as we continue on our journey of Spreading the Good Stuff for community, we arrive at Echuca Neighbourhood House and find an inspirational group of people making a real difference.
Echuca Neighbourhood House (ENH), established more than 27 years ago, brings people together to connect, learn and contribute to their community through social, educational, recreational and support activities.
Importantly, ENH welcomes anyone through its door and creates opportunities for people to enrich their lives through connections they might not otherwise make.
Located in Echuca South, this diverse organisation provides a range of services, including no-interest loan programs and pre-accedited training opportunities, as well as health and wellbeing activities.
ENH’s most recent initiative, which you might have seen in the Riverine Herald, is providing access to free showers for homeless people at the Echuca Basketball Stadium, thanks to support from the Campaspe Shire.
ENH Manager Shan Keele explained how after a number of people came to the house looking for access to showers they felt the need to do something.
“We weren’t sure how it would go but we have been absolutely inundated with donations of toiletries and volunteers wanting to help,” Shan said.
“It’s been really heartwarming and a true testament to the beautiful community we live in and how much everyone wants to get involved and do their bit,” she said.
Shan acknowledged the amazing generosity of local businesses and organisations, such as the Echuca Moama Accommodation Association, who has provided a constant supply of toiletry packs to people who really need them.
Donations of soap, travel size shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, razors, shaving cream, sanitary items, toothbrushes, toothpaste, underwear and socks are still wanted to support the program, which currently runs two mornings a week.
ENH is a great example of the incredible work happening every day in Echuca Moama and by spreading the good stuff about its shower program we are hoping to shine a light on what this organisation is doing to support our community.
Whether it is hosting $2 lunches, computer and cooking courses, scrapbooking classes, meditation groups or a community garden, ENH is committed to responding to locally identified priorities and you can help them by donating products for the shower program to the Riv office at 270 Hare Street or at ENH at 261 High Street, Echuca.
Or if you would like to volunteer, or if you, or someone you know, would benefit from any of the services or programs offered touch base with Shan and her team on Monday to Thursday between 9am – 4.30pm, phone on 5482 6914 or visit www.enh.org.au for a full list of current programs.
#spreadingthegoodstuff #echucaneighbourhoodhouse #showersforhomeless #community
We’re a little excited this week to be spreading the good stuff for the announcement of the 2017 GMCU Allianz Campaspe Murray Business Awards finalists because we’ve been recognised in the Home-based Business category!
Yay for us!
To the person who nominated us, we thank you very much for taking the time to do so.
Four years ago we were nominated and named a finalist in the Best New Business category, which was a great experience for our fledgling business, and although we didn’t win it was pretty exciting to be given a special mention at the awards ceremony.
Following our special mention in 2013, for the uniqueness of our business and our ability to run a professional and specialist consultancy from home and based around our families, it was announced a new ‘home-based’ category would be established for the awards to recognise a growing number of businesses choosing to work from home.
This was pretty much like winning for us as it recognised what we were trying to achieve and also acknowledged many similar and like-minded businesses popping up in our community.
Home-based businesses make up a significant portion of the small business sector and it’s fabulous to see the corporate community recognising this fact and embracing the skill, talent and professionalism of individuals who chose to work from home.
Establishing a home-based business can be a relatively lonely journey and can take courage, confidence and determination to follow your dreams, throw in your day job and set up a small business enterprise without the guarantee of regular work, income or guidance from management – you’re pretty much on your own!
We established The Splendid Word in search of an elusive work/life balance after starting a family and still wanting to get paid for writing people’s stories – in a non-traditional fashion.
Juggling family life and a home-based business has been tough at times, but we’ve leaned on each other, sought help when we needed to, and for us the benefits still far outweigh the drawbacks.
We originally set out to achieve gradual, sustainable growth and have grown every year since we started more than six years ago – without going broke or losing our sanity in the process – thanks to hard work and a core group of a loyal clients.
We can’t wait to be involved in the awards process once again and bravo to the Campaspe Shire and Murray River Council for hosting every two years. It’s a huge undertaking and one that provides any business or organisation the opportunity to be recognised for the good work they do.
Good luck to all finalists, particularly our home-based collective, and we look forward to seeing you all at the awards ceremony on October 11.
Maybe this year we’ll be third time lucky?
Christy and Lee
#spreadingthegoodstuff #businessawards #finalists #echuca #moama #homebasedbusiness #freelancelife #wordsforgood
It’s Plastic Free July and in the aftermath of the recent ABC TV series War on Waste it is no longer possible to hide from our shocking reliance on single-use plastics and our love affair with ‘waste’.
If like me, you have spent the best part of 10 years slowly increasing your use of plastic, consuming unnecessary packaging at the rate of knots, and welcomed in most weeks by throwing out half your fridge contents, then you would have also watched the War on Waste with shock and horror and… ‘OMG, how did I not know takeaway coffee cups were not recyclable’!
However, this is not a #spreadingthegood stuff post about shame, blame or hiding under a rock because it is just TOO HARD to go ‘plastic free’ for one month, let alone long term!
It’s a story about how you can help alleviate the problem we have ALL created and about taking small steps to REDUCE your reliance on single-use plastics and all the very handy, convenience items we are now starting to realise are just a big fat waste!
The good news is there are so many small steps you can take to help mitigate this very large problem.
Here are some simple solutions to consider:
None of this stuff is rocket science but more about breaking bad habits to create space for new ones.
During July, and throughout the year, there is a strong collective of passionate individuals and organisations making a noise about our plastic usage and offering simple solutions to reduce our waste.
Boomerang Bags Echuca-Moama (an arm of PBFEM) has been overwhelmed by support for its community sewing bees to create a stock pile of recycled bags for use as sustainable alternatives to plastic bags.
The bags, stamped with a ‘borrow and bring back’ logo on the pocket, will be made available at selected stores and community locations for shoppers to pick up when they forget their own reusable bags – genius!
Those who take a Boomerang Bag are encouraged to continue reusing it and importantly, spread the word and start a conversation with family and friends.
The success of the sewing bees will ensure more to come so get in touch here if you’re keen to help, but don’t worry if you can’t sew… there are many ways to support this volunteer group.
The Campaspe Regional Library has a fantastic display during July, organised by Campaspe Shire Environmental Projects Officer Samantha Ferrier (founder of PBFEM), which provides a wealth of information and tools to support Plastic Free July. Pop in and check it out for yourself.
Also during July, Campaspe Shire has teamed with the newly established Echuca Food Store and Organics and Echuca Neighbourhood House to present the movie Just Eat it – a food waste story. This screening on July 20 at Moama Anglican Grammar is a timely response to both the War on Waste and Plastic Free July and is tool to improve your knowledge and inspire your own plastic free and food waste campaign.
And if you’re not yet convinced about the impact of our plastic obsession or lack of responsibility when it comes to food waste, here are a few sobering facts to motivate change in your home, school, workplace or community:
Do you need any more reasons to take your recycled shopping bags to the supermarket this week?
#spreadingthegoodstuff #plasticfreejuly #waronwaste #everyonesresponsibility
Continuing on with our Spreading the Good Stuff community series, which features local initiatives and volunteers improving the lives of many, this week we are shining a light on Murray Human Services – a not-for-profit organisation providing support to adults living with disability in our region.
Murray Human Services (MHS) was established back in 1963 and is passionate in its mission to partner with adults living with disability to live fulfilling and meaningful lives.
Operating services here in Echuca Moama, and further afield at Swan Hill, Kerang, Kyabram, Cohuna and Rochester, the MHS team supports 200 adults in a range of programs aimed at building capacity to achieve positive outcomes.
Social and community participation, health and wellbeing and lifelong learning underpin the organisation, which aims to enhance the lives of those involved, offering greater choice and independence.
MHS is well known for its robust and well-recognised social enterprise Task Force, which offers employment opportunities for participants to engage in meaningful work, where they receive a wage and ongoing support. The Task Force holistic approach includes family support, liaising with government bodies and incorporates both social and community skills and inclusion. The program employs 85 supported employees across sites at Echuca, Swan Hill and Kerang.
Community support is key at MHS and a strong band of volunteers, including the newly established and enthusiastic women at FUNRaising Committee, work hard year round to raise much-needed funds via regular events and activities.
In mid June MHS and Task Force Echuca were lucky to receive a boost from the generous team at Airbiz – an international aviation consultancy.
As part of its yearly conference Airbiz contributes to a community project and MHS was chosen as recipients for this year – quite incredible for a humble organisation based in regional Victoria.
Airbiz donated both time and the materials to transform a MHS site and within just a few hours the crew of 39 people had the job done with additional support from locals including Macca’s Painting.
MHS explained the day with Airbiz, and ongoing support from its volunteer base, are great examples of community partnerships and what can be achieved when people work together for the benefit of many.
Murray Human Services… #spreading the good stuff.
There is little doubt Echuca Moama is a giving community and in our mission to shine a light on the good news through our weekly Spreading the Good Stuff blog we come across examples of this generosity everywhere.
Over the coming weeks we’ll be featuring local initiatives and volunteers changing lives for the good in our riverside community.
Opening its doors only six weeks ago, in the former Moama Newsagency building on Meninya Street, Murray River Tea Rooms is a unique business venture aimed at supporting CLRS clients to obtain life-long skills, which can be successfully transferred to employment.
This 20-seat cafe offers hot drinks and cakes in an ‘Op Shop’ setting – selling wares from the CLRS Recyclability Centre – with revenue from sales and goods sold reinvested to ensure ongoing business sustainability and opportunities for people with disability.
Assisted by support staff: Glenn, Kellie and Sandra, up to seven CLRS clients serve barista style coffee, high quality teas and scrumptious cakes and scones five days a week and have been blessed with a steady stream of customers since day one.
It has become a hot spot for friends of all ages to meet for coffee and small corporate groups gathering to plan the week ahead (FREE Wi-Fi is available), and all have contributed to 100-120 customers per day visiting to show their support for Murray River Tea Rooms and the Recyclability program.
Established two years ago, Recyclability is a CLRS community-recycling program, coordinated by people of all abilities, involving regular kerbside collection of recyclable goods sold via its Percy Street site and now at the tearooms.
A team of 30 volunteers and clients deliver 800 flyers per week to local households, creating a steady stream of recycled goods and a sustainable business model with the added benefit of reusing so much of the ‘stuff’ we don’t need anymore – now there’s a win, win!
Murray River Tea Rooms was built around the same sustainable model, drawing support from the corporate community and as program manager Sandra explains, “it fosters a sense of community and is a great example that not all donations have to be monetary”.
“Local companies have supplied a lot of our initial set-up equipment, daily bread and milk requirements and other perishable products… it’s a real win, win,” said Sandra.
Sandra explained there are so many ways to support this enterprise in the form of donations and also in time as a volunteer sorting treasures in the op shop or, if you have barista skills, you could find yourself behind the coffee machine whipping up a latte or cappuccino.
Up to 10 dozen scones are donated and delivered fresh each week and local catering businesses regularly provide homemade cakes for sale, contributing to a community-driven sustainable business model with huge potential for growth.
Importantly though, the social skills and community interaction CLRS clients have experienced has been life changing and for Mikayla (pictured middle) her work experience has opened up a whole new world, where she has gained both skills and confidence.
“The outcomes for the clients have been amazing and have well and truly exceeded our expectations,” explained CLRS CEO Suzanna Barry.
Suzanna suggested with continued support from the community, particularly in the form of volunteering, the opening hours (Mon-Fri 8am-4pm and Sat 8am-1pm) could be extended on weekends and for pre-arranged functions.
So if you’re looking for a quality scone and one of the best coffees on the Moama side of Murray, pop into Murray River Tea Rooms and help support a social enterprise doing great things to improve the lives of those with disability in Echuca Moama and spread the word… it’s good stuff!
#spreadingthegoodstuff #community #echuca #moama #socialenterprise
As the curtain falls on another desperately sad week marred by terror, loss and heartbreak across the globe, we find ourselves in deep contemplation over the futility of it all.
When will this madness end? How much worse can it get? And is there anything we can do to make a difference?
If you’re at all like us, terrorism events like the ones which played out across the news this week – and in the weeks, months and years before – leave you feeling helpless and heavy-hearted.
Time and again we’ve heard our world leaders come out comdemning the evil ideology that drives these insidious attacks and as always their language is around ‘confronting and destroying’ the threat.
But how well is that working out for us?
When we talk about ‘destroying our enemies’ doesn’t that just fire them up more? Doesn’t it drive them to commit the next hideous act? And then the next?
Ofcourse it’s natural to feel rage in times like these – fury and a desire for revenge. But is that the answer?
Yes, we need to take a strong stand – but our actions, and the language we use to frame them, is so important.
Because one of the most dangerous things we can do is to raise the next generation of children with hate in their hearts.
And that’s where all this madness starts. With hatred. With fear. With marginalisation. And with that ‘eye for an eye’ and ‘us verses them’ mentality.
So what can we, in our own communities, and in our own families, do to make a difference? And is there any use trying?
It’s hard to say. But one thing we know for sure is that we don’t want our children to grow up in a world where they’re afraid to go out for dinner with their friends, to a concert with loved ones or to travel the world.
So at a grass roots level, we can start by choosing kindness and compassion – towards ourselves and all those in our midst.
This doesn’t mean we bury our heads in the sand and pretend the bad stuff isn’t happening. Not at all.
It’s our responsibility to be engaged, and to understand what’s taking place in the world around us. But it does mean that when the dust settles on tragedies like these, we have to look for the good. And when we find it, we celebrate it and we share it around like confetti.
It’s the media’s job to report the news of the world – and unfortunately more often than not it happens to be negative.
But we’re not the media. And we can choose to change the conversation if we’re willing to keep an open mind – and to bring kindness, respect and compassion to the table.
Because despite the depressing news streaming into our lives on a daily basis, there are always inspiring stories of hope, joy and kindness out there. Sometimes you just have to look a little harder to find them.
In our mind, the best thing we can do as individuals during challenging times like these, is to start thinking about the way we communicate and to take responsibility for the impact our words and our actions have on the world and all those around us.
We can either use our words to lift people up, or to tear them down.
The choice is entirely ours – and ultimately it will define who we are and the kind of world we live in.
Thank you to everyone who came along to our third instalment of Spreading the Good Stuff Episode 3 – The Care Factor last night at Junction and to the incredibly brave Jaki Osborne who opened up about her family’s experience with foster and permanent care and gave us her heart.
The conversation was insightful, at times heart breaking and overwhelmingly uplifting, and epitomised what #spreadingthegoodstuff is all about – shining a positive light on even the most challenging of circumstances.
Jaki, her husband Brent, and their children are the best example of what it is to be truly selfless and that despite the frustrations and heartbreak of red tape and often confusing ‘processes’ they are a family committed to offering kids in need a loving and caring home life.
If you missed this inspiring conversation stay tuned for our Spreading the Good Stuff podcast COMING SOON and be sure to subscribe to our monthly e-news via our Facebook page or website to never miss an episode of this increasingly popular live conversation series.
Episode 4 is set for later this year and as a subscriber to The Splendid Word you will be the first to know who we are chatting with and which illuminating topic we will be shining a light on.
And be sure to spread the word to anyone who you think might benefit from an evening of insightful and inspiring conversation.
Thanks again to our event partner Junction Moama, everyone who came along, and the incredibly brave Jaki Osborne for sharing her inspiring story.
In the meantime remember to choose kindness and focus on the good.
Christy and Lee xo
#spreadingthegoodstuff #wordsforgood #thecarefactor
Here at The Splendid Word we love anything to do with reading, writing and words and it’s no secret we adore libraries.
So this week we are Spreading the Good Stuff for libraries and National Library and Information Week.
In my research for this blog I have been thinking about the following:
Firstly, how often do we visit our local library? And, how much value do we place on the importance of a library in our community?
Also, do we see libraries as having a promising future, considering the technologically driven and digital online world we now live in? And do people still read books… let alone borrow them from a library?
Many would argue that libraries are no longer relevant and will soon be a thing of the past, however the statistics tell us a different story.
In 2014-15 Australian Public Library national statistics identified an increase in the number of libraries to 1,631 from 1,530 in 2013-14 with 114 million visitors in 2014-15, up from 112 million in the previous 12 months.
This is a wonderful trend and one worth celebrating, considering the plethora of alternate online entertainment offerings these days.
There is little doubt though that the modern library has had to evolve to stay relevant by offering hub spots for free computer access and common meeting places for ideas and community campaigns.
A 2015 piece in The Conversation academic journal explained how libraries in the US are becoming ‘ideas labs’ where students meet to explore and learn new technologies.
Libraries across the world are also taking a lead in connecting people and supporting the disadvantaged.
The Brooklyn Public Library provides ‘pop-up’ libraries for homeless people and also opportunities for children to read books with parents who are incarcerated.
Closer to home, libraries in Melbourne offer regular writing workshops, even music recording studio sessions, social media and technical device training and importantly, a social meeting place for the wider community.
You might of heard about the Melbourne based library program offering a ‘meet and chat’ session for complete strangers, aimed at breaking down social barriers and reclaiming the importance of having a face-to-face ‘conversation’ – often referred to as dangerously rare in our modern, screen-based online world.
The Campaspe Regional Library, situated in one of Echuca Moama’s most picturesque locations at the stunning Aquatic Reserve, offers what has to be the best river view from a public library in the state, as well as an abundance of programs and workshops for all ages. Ranging from traditional Book Clubs and Storytime and Lego Club for children to Tech Time sessions for older adults, author visits and book launches, there’s something for everyone.
During this year’s Library Week from May 21-28 the Campaspe Library is celebrating in style with a full program of activities. My pick would be the Culinary Book Club for all things food related and also the Sunday Session talk on how to improve your health.
So if you haven’t yet made plans for the weekend, pencil in a visit to your local library where you’ll be surprised about what’s on offer. You might even borrow a book to read!
For more information about Campaspe Regional Library activities visit the Facebook page or website today and feel free to share your library experience across social media to share the love for our libraries.
Specifically, we are talking about the lack of awareness for the number of plastic ‘things’ that have crept into our lives, especially plastic bags.
The #spreadingthegoodstuff element of this blog comes in the form of local lady Samantha Ferrier and her dedicated team at Plastic Bag Free Echuca/Moama (PBFEM).
This crew is working hard to draw to our attention, in a positive and community-minded way, to our reliance on single-use plastics.
But this is not a story about shame and guilt or what we are ‘not’ doing in terms of our waste and the impact it is having on our local and global environment. It’s about awareness and giving credit where it’s due: to the PBFEM movement.
This movement has had a significant impact in our humble riverside town, since its inception in early 2016, by inspiring folk to become aware of their plastic habits and creating practical platforms for change.
Samantha explains their intention is to “empower our community to willingly transition away from the use of plastic shopping bags, through education, awareness and providing viable alternatives.”
Change is difficult when we need to break old habits. But it can be done.
Communities and many states across the country (except Vic, NSW and WA), and around the world, are making the switch to more biodegradable waste and are eliminating plastic bags.
Some of the poorest countries in the world have banned plastic bags and on a recent trip to Ramingining, an Aboriginal community in Arnhem Land, I noticed the supermarket only provides brown paper bags for groceries – awesome!
Across Victoria 75 towns have either gone plastic bag free or have a community group campaigning for change. Many are tourist towns, similar to Echuca Moama, and the vast majority of locals and tourists are embracing the ‘inconvenience’ of no plastic bags.
We can all do our bit at home, school, work and in our community to reduce the amount of single-use plastics we use and become more aware of our every day choices.
The PBFEM movement delivers practical ideas in spades and broadens our perspective on what it means to be plastic bag free and embraces the mantra of small change, big difference.
Australians use more than 10 million single-use plastic bags every day and once discarded these bags have a devastating impact on our environment, particularly on precious marine life.
These ‘handy’ plastic bags are also built to last, with research indicating one bag will survive for 1000 years – bloody hell!
And despite an obvious groundswell of support for ditching our reliance on plastic items it seems Australians are a little behind the rest of the pack when it comes to reducing waste and eliminating single-use plastics.
Clearly it’s time to act but where do we start?
Let’s take a quick look at the big four items when it comes to single-use plastics and one simple alternative for each:
Yes, eliminating all plastic from our lives is a huge undertaking, and a little overwhelming, however we can all play a part to reduce our reliance on plastic items.
In the meantime choose one area where you can reduce your plastic intake this week and let us know how you go over on our social pages.
Thanks to Samantha and the PBFEM crew for highlighting an important social and environmental issue which clearly needs our attention.
Yours in Spreading the Good Stuff,
#spreadingthegoodstuff #banthebag #nomoreplastic #community #echuca #moama #environment