Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I am Australia

On March 26, 2013 I started tweeting as @WeAreAustralia
It is a curated account that is rotated between Australian tweeters on a weekly basis... It's all brand new but I am excited by the opportunities and also excited I have lots of fun stuff to tweet about this week.
I was never going to represent Australia at the Olympics so here is my chance to represent Australia on twitter. Wish me luck and say Hi.
I'll do my best to interact...


A tweet from my time as 'Australia'

Monday, March 25, 2013

A shout out in favour of marriage equality

I happened to be on twitter when Kyle Pollard, a former Geelong Addy journo tweeted a question:

So, I jumped in...

I'm a pretty strong advocate for marriage equality, and as an aside, positively seethed when I read crap from Andrew Bolt in the paper yesterday (I'm not going to link it - he doesn't need more numbers to his site) where he suggested that all were equal to marry someone of the opposite sex. So, I took Kyle's original question to be a challenge to the need for marriage equality. It turns out he was querying the whole concept of marriage...I think.

Anyway - I then noticed a reply to him from the Victorian Young Libs President, Aaron Lane, who suggested marriage is about children... so I jumped in again.... I've put the tweet convo's as best I can below. I was bothered by Aaron's pen analogy and did think to mention that 50 odd years ago it would have been unheard of for a blue pen to marry a red pen but I didn't agree with the whole concept of his analogy and didn't want to go down that path.

I absolutely believe that marriage is not about children. Yes, many couples who marry have children and some may even marry 'for' the children, but in my mind, marriage is between two consenting adults who want to public declare their intention to be with each other for life. I'd like to think it is based on love and respect but am realistic to know that the world does have pre arranged marriages.

There are many celebrations in life that have evolved over time. Some of them have their origins in religion, some don't. To say we celebrate life events in 2013 the same as they were celebrated in 1913 or 1713 would be wrong.  Society has changed.

For example, I don't attend church. I don't consider myself remotely religious. I have been in a church, I've been to weddings, funerals and christenings. When my husband and I decided that we wanted to get married we chose an open outdoor space for our wedding. We invited the people who are important to us to attend. We included music and words that reflected our thoughts, our relationship and our personalities. We had a celebratory party that went well into the evening. It was memorable and meaningful. We reflect on it as a special occasion in our life together. If we were married in 1913 it would have been different. It would have had to have been in a church. There's not a chance we would have been living together in a house bought in both our names prior to the wedding date.

But we married in modern times, with a celebrant officiating and the people important in our lived in attendance. We loved each other and wanted to symbolise that love with a ceremony with our family and friends as witness. As a man and a woman we had that privilege...but modern times do not currently extend to two men or two women. I have dear friends who are in long term, committed and loving relationships who cant have that same ceremony or celebration, that same expression of love witnessed by their family and friends and I just don't get it. And don't give me that commitment ceremony line...It stands out like a sore thumb as 'different' and may as well shout 'Your relationship isn't as valid as a marriage'.

I realise my words are a small shout out in favour of marriage equality but I truly believe that all the small shout outs will soon sound quite loud and the law makers of our land will realise that love is the underlying argument at the root of marriage equality and depriving a man and a man or a woman and a woman of being able to marry is as silly as not allowing the blue pen to marry the red pen....if that's your analogy of preference.

I should  note that I started writing this post several weeks ago and only just finished it...as I post it now so the reference to Andrew Bolt's comments aren't relevant to 'yesterday'...

Friday, March 1, 2013

A good cause

I guess everyone has their favourite charities... I know I do, but I also like to support charities referred to me by others. Just this past week I've made 3 donations to causes that I perhaps wouldn't otherwise have supported.

The first is Garvan Institute. When I first went to make this donation I didn't actually realise it was the Garvan Institute. I wanted to support Love your sister and that is their chosen charity.
In case you haven't heard in the media, Sam Johnson (actor, unicyclist) is unicycling across Australia to raise funds for cancer research and to honour his sister Connie who has terminal cancer. I was so inspired I had to make a contribution to support them. So far they have raised $83,000 and Sam has unicycled 678km

The second is the Juvenile Diabetes Walk. There was a link on Facebook to support one of the students at my kids school who has diabetes and is doing the walk with her Mum. It was a no-brainer to support her, knowing they are doing this to help find a cure for something that affects them every day.

The third was a memorial donation. A lady, Tracy, who I follow and follows me on twitter passed away last week after a battle with cancer. I didn't know Tracy personally but twitter is a funny place and you find these people you follow and feel like you have a connection to them. Tracy actually met her partner on twitter...what a beautiful love story they had. I was sad to hear of her passing so when I saw a tweet suggesting the Australian Cancer Research Foundation as somewhere you could make a memorial donation I decided to do it.

So, yesterday was Rare Disease Day... I heard about it late in the day but as I watched the news coverage of two boys who are the only two in the whole world to suffer the disease that they have, it made me think that I wanted to support a charity that supports or researches causes, diseases or illnesses with a lower profile... so that will be my focus for March...I'll begin with AGSA ...and also support some other, lesser known charities... feel free to suggest some...

It's my twitter birthday

4 years ago today I joined twitter. It was in the aftermath of the Black Saturday bush fires and I had heard vague references to twitter about how it was helping to spread information during the danger period and helping to re-connect people in the confusion that followed. I was intrigued but didn't really have a concept of what it was.

The Black Saturday disaster played out on 24/7 news coverage and through Facebook  Everyone was talking about it and being shocked daily by what had happened and the personal stories that were emerging. I felt very fortunate to not know anyone personally affected but 6 degrees of separation meant that I was aware of friends of friends. I was a fair way away from the fire zones and actually felt quite helpless. There was this huge feeling of wanting to help but not knowing what to do. Our family made donations to the different charity causes that were set up to help and donated clothing to collection centres, that were soon overwhelmed with donations.

My expertise and passion was in photos. I love photos, always have and suspect I always will. For more than 10 years I was a Creative Memories consultant, passionate about preserving memories in safe albums for current and future generations to enjoy. If a fire had come through my house I would save my family and my dog and the very next thing on my list would be photos. So, in those days following the fires, and numb from knowing there was a shocking loss of life and property I began to think of ways to help the people who had lost everything to have photos. Creative Memories generously donated financially to the Salvo's and also committed to donating thousands of albums to the survivors so they could begin to recreate photographic memories when the time came.

I cant remember exactly how it came about but I became aware of a couple of women in Whittlesea who were also focused on finding photos. They were advertising for people to look through their photos for images of the people and places affected by the fires. It was such a great concept and I pledged to help them. I ended up re-creating a wedding album for a couple using photos that had belonged to guests at their wedding and other family members. It wasn't the same as their original wedding album but it was something.

As a way of spreading the word about the idea I joined twitter and started promoting it endlessly. I remember one person on twitter telling me months later that she had thought I was from Marysville since my tweets mentioned that town so often. Eventually my focus on twitter changed but the women involved from Whittlesea helped reconnect people to photos for many months after the disaster.

For some reason I decided to favourite my first tweet...here it is:

I still remember my first couple of tweets with a friend in Sweden trying to work out what the news feed was and where tweets actually appeared. Following one person made it kind of hard to 'get it' and then I started to follow others and it became clear. I've always tried to keep my following count less than double my followed count. So, if I had 50 followers I could only follow 100. These days, remarkably I am followed by 976. and I follow 1619. I bet only about 100 of those who follow me are active twitter users. People come and go...some hang around. I love twitter more when there are interactions. I love twitter when real life events are unfolding.  I love that high profile people are accessible. I love that some tweeps are like friends.

Some events I particularly recall include the 24 hours around when Julia Gillard became Prime Minister... the first whispers on twitter that something was up through to her 'moving forward' speech as PM. My foray into tweeting about politics was gradual...I was pretty subtle to begin with but now I call things as I see them. I also remember the floods in Queensland in 2011, the way support was mobilized was incredible. I don't watch heaps of tv but when I do I often will be following along on twitter. QandA is a regular. I love the little buzz when a screen tweet appears, which for me is infrequently. My husband, who doesn't tweet, will read out screen tweets and always notices when The Aviator (as he calls him) appears. When I tell him I have had a twitter convo with Stephen, 'The Aviator' I think it spins him out a bit...and confirms that the screen tweets are from real people, not just someone in the back office of the ABC. I remember being chuffed to receive two tweet replies from Prime Minister Julia Gillard. I used to love interacting with Chrissie Swan on twitter. We listen to her on the radio and I'd send a tweet commenting on something said that morning. I'm sad she's no longer on twitter.  I followed along as a fellow tweep met and fell in love and then celebrated her pregnancy and eventually the birth of her daughter on twitter. It's been lovely. We still haven't met in person but I feel like we have this lovely cyber friendship.

I have an eclectic group of people who I follow...footy people, bloggers, political people, celebs, journos, locals... I sometimes cant even remember why I started following some people but something obviously piqued my interest and made me add them. I've learnt heaps too - people tweet links to things I would never have found.

I'm sure I'll blog about Twitter again...this will probably do as a celebration of my 4th birthday.