Archive for January, 2010

This is an exerpt from an interview I did with Alex Steed for the Millennials Changing America blog. He has been collecting perspectives from  youth organizers about the successes failures and dynamics of year one of the Obama administration and was interested in my “outsiders perspective”. I’m now officially a token Aussie.

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This most recent weekend was one filled with learning and community, leaving me feeling both smarter and more connected to Washington DC than I was before. It made me realize, or remember, that learning from one-another is one of the most vital components of community; where we are connected by our common ideas, ideals and aspirations; where we realize that all of us know so much more than any of us.

On Friday night I attended the opening night of the Social Justice Camp, an unconference bringing together the grassroots social justice community in DC and emphasizing the importance of arts in bringing about social change. Friday was an Ignite-style event, with a dozen speakers giving short presentations on their work. It was great to hear more about the work of homeless advocates, food security organizers and social change muralists. It had a nice feel to the event, as unconferences always do, of everyone being on the same level, there to share and learn, without a divide between presenters and audience.

This feeling continued on Saturday night at the first Columbia Heights Arts Salon. This was an event for local artists in the Columbia Heights area of DC, hosted in four local homes. A series of house parties combined with showcases for local talents – with houses dedicated to performance, visual art, photography and digital installations. K performed to open the evening, the first time she’s performed solo in two years. The fact that she felt encouraged and inspired to create and present a work in five days is testiment to the platform this sort of event creates. The event was put on my the newly-formed Columbia Heights Arts Foundation (CHARTS), which you can find out more about here. K and I are going to try and get involved and see how we can help them as we’re really inspired by their vision of building community through the arts.

Then on Sunday it was K’s birthday which we celebrated at a tea party for about 16 at which everyone presented/taught something. The variety of things I learnt that afternoon was amazing: drama games, canvas stretching, the scale of the universe, productivity techinques, how to draw a superhero, speak Russian and wear a corset. Everyone had something to share, a passion or a skill, a professional competance or a hobby. We all have things to share, but rarely are we invited to share them. Everyone came away from the experience inspired and uplifted – having maintained our attention for almost six hours and enjoyed every moment of it. This is a really different way of learning from what we get in our institutions – peer-to-peer, relaxed, and human.

This is what community looks like. It is open, vulnerable and participatory, based on common values and able to support its members to share and grow. Experiencing community like this, inside a room, with our shared energy strong and perceptible, is like a jolt of electricity – it animates and inspires. But elements of this community are also found online, and social media has given us a platform to replicate many of these features.

The people I feel most connected to online are those I actively share with and learn from. Twitter, in particular, has given me access to a set of peers who share my values and are looking to collaboratively learn how best to use these tools to affect social change. It is only through trial and error that this learning will take place, and the more we share the faster we can learn. This is why I was part of launching the monthly #4Change twitter chats. This is what inspired the estalishment of sQuareOne (now called the Vibewire Enterprise Hub) in Sydney. The creation of spaces where peer-learning happens.

As my friend Morgan puts it, We Operate Best Together. And we learn, build and grow best together too.

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I’m kinda proud of this mix, the first I’ve properly put together, which I played on NYE. It was planned for two hours, which is the length of the mix posted here, but ended up being almost three hours on the night, with me extending it with additional tracks, mostly by Protoculture, given the lack of anyone to play after me and the presence of people still dancing. I hope you enjoy it, there’s some seriously rocking material here. It’s starts and ends a bit silly but in-between it travels from deep electro to tech house and into a solid hour of psytrance via an obligatory “New Years Day” remix. BPM goes from 125ish to 146ish. My advice: put on some good headphones and listen to it the whole way through.

NYE 09-10 Mix

Track list:

1. French Emotions – Peter Godwin

2. Really awesome track from a mix my friend Morgan put together that I don’t know the name of UPDATE:  Mr. Dry – Tim Green

3. Poor Leno (Silicon Soul remix) + There is a light that never goes out (acapella) – Royksopp + Erlend Oye

4. Good sluts factory (let it CIA mix) – Kiko and Ginos

5. Strip Joint Mathematics (Jet Project remix) – Deepchild

6. Love is going to save us – Benny Benassi

7. New Year’s Day (Paul Oakenfold remix) – U2

8. Born on Mars – Mr Peculiar

9. Ain’t Talkin Bout – G-Light

10. Inside the Sound – Ananda Shake

11. Hear the Noise (Quadra remix) – Alien vs The Cat

12. Slayer – Toast3d

13. Dismental – Raz

14. Radio Trance – BBP

15. The Frequency (feat Nomad) – Talamasca and XSi

16. Analog – Planet B.E.N. vs Didrapest

17. Illusion – Exordium

18. I Wish (SKAZI remix) – Infected Mushroom

19. Becoming Insane – Infected Mushroom

20. Take Me Home (Benza’s Philthy mix) – Phil Collins

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Year-end lists

It’s always a bit of fun to put together “best of” lists at the end of the year and despite this being a bit late I thought I’d note a few things that moved or impressed me in 2009, for my own record as much as anything else.

Best books: Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Everest Disaster – Jon Krakauer, Outliers: The Story of Success – Malcolm Gladwell, Chasing the Flame: One Man’s Fight to Save the World – Samantha Power

Best live music: Infected Mushroom at Burning Man, Hallucinogen at Orb Festival, Haltya at Gaian Mind Festival, Deadmau5 at the 9:30 Club. Honourable mention: Mum at the Black Cat.

Best new artists discovered: Azax Syndrome, Deadmau5, Beireut, Beats Antique.

Best new album: Ineffible Mysteries From Shpongeland – Shpongle.

Best play: Rock’n’Roll by Tom Stoppard, directed by Joy Zinoman, at the Studio Theatre.

Best website discovery: GrooveShark

Best moments: January 20 – the inauguration of Barack Obama, September 3 – an amazing day at Burning Man, featuring chinese restaurants in the desert, giant prawns and prawn trawlers, the billion bunny march and carrot counter-protest, September 13 – our return to Sydney picnic/party with so many wonderful friends we  hadn’t seen in too long.

Biggest disappointments: Copenhagon, the American health care debate.

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News and Notes from the New Year

So obviously I’ve been really really slack about keeping up the blog since Christmas, my apologies for the long pause between posts. It’s been a busy time, with one of our best mates from Australia visiting and several days of relentless partying over NYE, followed by the inevitable recovery period. Good times, but poor commitment to this blog. Anyway, I’m back.

As mentioned above NYE was a ball. In the days before and after NYE I was surprised by how many people mentioned to me that they didn’t have any special plans for NYE, and that NYE was always “over-hyped” and they never had a terribly good time anyway. How could this be? As with any party you mostly have the time you choose to have, and NYE is the ultimate excuse to have a really, really, good time – it’s the one day when the whole world (seemingly) is letting loose and having fun. It’s when people usually give themselves a few days to do something nice, whether that is getting away to a cabin in the woods with close friends or rocking out at a big commercial party or something in between. I have had fantastically fun NYE’s every year of my adult life, and this one was no exception.

What did make this NYE a little different was that I attended a house party for the first time in, I think, 8 years. Last year I was at a warehouse party in Montreal, the year before that on a houseboat in a river north of Sydney (with 30 friends spread over five boats, with two sound systems – perhaps the best NYE ever) and then for five years before that I attended outdoor festivals and parties. I really feel being outdoors is the way to celebrate NYE, but that clearly doesn’t work in the northern hemisphere winter. So, a house party it was, and a lot of fun was had. The house had a lovely basement dance floor area and I DJed from 3-6am. I’ll get the set online later this week if I can work out how.

NYE is also a wonderful time to reflect on the year that was and goals and aspirations for the year ahead. I have a card in my wallet which I created to remind myself of my goals for the second half of 2009. Here’s how I did:

  • Exercise more, improve fitness – 7/10 – I bought a bike and started riding to work (although I haven’t since injuring my back in September followed by it becoming horribly cold and icy), joined a gym and usually go 2 or 3 times/week.
  • Go to bed earlier, get to work earlier – 1/10 – Abject failure. Something I want to focus on this year.
  • Write more, experiment with video – 8/10 – A decent success I think. I started to blog to help with the writing goal and despite somewhat fluctuating commitment I write much more than I was previously. I also created three little films this year, a completely new medium for me.
  • Be proactive looking for additional opportunities – 4/10 – I got involved in a few things and was part of setting up the monthly #4Change chats on Twitter. This didn’t go as far as I’d like though, and is something I’d like to focus on in 2010.

So, overall a passing grade, although with clear areas to work on. All these aspirations remain relevant to me.

My resolution this year is to be better at time. I want to sleep more and get to work earlier. I want to be more punctual in general and get things done on-time.  I’ve never been very good at time, it’s always been a bit mysterious and difficult to manage, but I know that getting better at this will help me achieve everything else I want to do.

Goals for 2010:

  • Learn more. I want to seek out some professional development and skill-building opportunities this year, I feel I let that slip last year. To kick things off I’ve signed up for a speed reading class.
  • Explore more. Last year Kate and I visited several cities on the East Coast, as well as the week we spend in Nevada for Burning Man, but beyond that we didn’t really explore the United States at all. This year I want to see much more of America, visit cities like New Orleans and Miami, and also get to nearby destinations like the Carribean and Europe. We won’t be here forever and we should use it as a base of operations to explore this part of the world, keeping a travellers mindset even as we focus on our day-to-day jobs.
  • Create more. Stay aspirational at Ashoka; look for other professional opportunities (I’d love to do more speaking, facilitation and consulting); be creative and have fun (do more video, continue to write, collaborate with others). Build an amazing camp at Burning Man, and bring some of my favourite people from Australia over to share it. Support K in her creative pursuits.

I’m excited about 2010, and not just for the futuristic quality of the date (but seriously, 2010! Who would have thought we’d come this far?). Our visa’s expire in August and we have some big decisions to make – do we stay in America? (Probably yes). If so do we stay in DC? (Probably no). If not where do we go next? (San Francisco?). And what do we do there? A year for pushing ourselves personally and professionally, looking for new opportunities to learn and grow and contribute. For new friends and the deepening of existing friendships. For adventures large and small, little steps on a big planet.

The journey itself is the thing, and we will see where it leads us, and be grateful for all that we experience along the way.

Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dream.

-Paula Coehlo

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.


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