November gathering of Heart Choice Families

This month four families gathered and the activity we shared was cooking puddings in preparation for Christmas. A few of us usually partake in this seasonal tradition with our blood relatives, but hey, this feels like family too.

It was a beautiful day of mild, fine weather and so we did all the preparations outside on tables in the pergola, coming in sometimes to grab a needed item or to use the stove.  But mostly we were a hive of activity at the outdoor tables – with lots of chopping, and measuring and mixing, the young girls working alongside their mums and dads.

The boys however did not seem to be drawn to join in with this activity and they went inside to play. I admit I was disappointed and raised it with the group – what to do? The adults decided to leave them to play as that was clearly their preference.

On one of our trips to and fro between the kitchen indoors and the work space outdoors, a couple of us adults became aware of the littlest boy in tears as he felt the bigger boys were being mean and leaving him out.  So we called the 3 bigger boys attention to this and asked if they could help out as he was upset. They gathered where he was sitting and very soon we heard one say to another – “well I was feeling bullied until you let me join in, so how about you let (the littlest) join in more and then he’ll feel better too?”  The older boys tried to explain how the imaginary story they were creating in the game together was shaping the character’s roles and that it wasn’t personal. All four boys then attempted to resume their game but the littlest one was struggling to understand the rules that the bigger boys had made up and again an impasse was reached. At that point a couple of parents attempted to inject a bit of lateral thinking to help, but that didn’t really overcome the different age perspectives of the boys.  And so the boys naturally shifted from that imaginary game to another one that was simpler for all to understand.

My own intention for the day had been Gratitude – and at this point I felt it welling up in my heart – gratitude that whichever activity we chose to participate in – unity was growing with people having conversations that matter when creative conflict arises.  It sure feels to me that the simple choice by all of us to turn up to connect as a community, gathering regularly, and caring about each other, can support our resilience and wellbeing.

Heart Choice Families fun on 3rd Sept

 

Abundance from the garden led us to a cooking activity this month on our afternoon together.   Cherie and Dan yielded a huge bunch of chard from their garden. Then many hands made light work with slicing the chard, leeks, zucchini. Everyone joined in again with stuffing the wilted vegies into the cannelloni shells. The finished product made a delicious shared dinner, eaten up eagerly by most.  Our conversation circle canvassed what each person had enjoyed about the shared activity and comments included – some of the kids said they enjoyed eating the end result plus playing outside with the discarded chard stalks, and one of the mums said she enjoyed seeing how much the kids helped out, made her proud. Another great afternoon of community activity!

 

 

Humanity’s amazing potential!

The achievement of sending humans to the moon is often cited as an example of the magnitude of what humanity can achieve when we set ambitious intentions and pursue big dreams and visions!  So I was pleased to watch a DVD about it recently.

The DVD is called “In The Shadow of the Moon” – a 2007 documentary presented by Ron Howard which “tells the story of the men who went to the moon in their own words”.

Against a backdrop of the Cold-War and a race to be first to the moon, the American space program spanning 1968 to 1972 could have only ever have achieved what it did through enormous levels of co-creation, co-operation and collaboration between talented individuals – in teams – who were able to deliver on their president’s vision to send humans to the moon. What an amazing endeavour! Amazing aspects that jumped out at me as I listened to the now retired astronauts describing their experiences were….

it only took 3 days to travel to the moon – a 6 day return trip, plus time there of course, in orbit or landing

steeped in all the necessary “left brain” demands of a space mission – all that attention to engineering details, the precision timing, the science and logic of the equipment and operational tasks, all that dry, abrupt communication back and forth between space craft and ground control in military-speak – the Apollo missions were none-the-less emotional experiences too, fueled as they were the dreams of a nation and revealing as they did new perspectives on the beauty of our galaxy. Emotions such as awe and wonder were irrepressible – especially those on board. One of the astronauts describes in the doco his epiphany of feeling completely one with the whole universe as he journeyed through space.  And even after all this time many could not keep the look of pure joy from lighting up their face as they reminisced about their missions to or around the moon.

…. the experience of looking back at Earth from the moon is brought to life – for example one astronaut describes how when he held his thumb up in his line of sight to Earth, our whole planet was completely covered by his thumb!

…. it is apparent that the impact of seeing planet Earth from that distant vantage point was powerful in shifting perceptions and clarifying values eg some who spoke to camera described gaining a greater appreciation of this planet as an “oasis” and a “Garden of Eden” – gaining a greater sense of responsibility to treat her well, and realising how pointless are the “terrestrial squabbles” in which we engage.

the missions that took humans to the moon created much excitement, particularly the Apollo 11 mission where humans took the first steps on moon.  JFK’s announcement to the American congress in 1961 of this ambitious intention for the space program had indicated it would be about “not one man going to the moon but the whole nation, and when the first steps were taken there was in fact a sense of triumph that spread well beyond American shores. Apparently Neil Armstrong, Buz Aldron and Mike Collins – all from the Apollo 11 mission – were greeted with tickertape parades in every country they toured, with people joyfully shaking their hands and saying we did it”….

Earth fantasy
Illuminated face of the Earth in outer space celestial body in orbit. View of American continent. Elements of this image furnished by NASA

“In the Shadow of the Moon” is great viewing if you want to let history inspire your spirit with possibility, adventure, achievement and success – and with the magnitude of what can be achieved together! The human stories that are shared in the doco are very powerful in reminding us of our vast potential as a humanity, and the Unity that can be created with the endeavours we choose to pursue and the potentials we choose to explore and develop.  For me that brings my attention back from space to our earthly endeavours – and how it is still relevant for us to let that huge shift in global perception continue to inspire us in our efforts to enhance the conditions for life on this planet.

As I write this blog I find Bette Midler’s lyrics springing to mind, and so include a youtube clip below of her singing “From a Distance”.  Indeed, having seen our planet Earth from afar humanity can never un-see it, and it has undoubtedly touched our hearts and minds for the better. Let’s keep that image of planet Earth always burning bright – checking in with how we are going if we were to look at our planet from a distance.

blue earth seen from the moon surface
blue earth seen from the moon surface

OUr DiveRsity is our StrEngtH

“Our diversity is our strength” – this was the Harmony Day 2016 theme. On the day – 21st March – all of us in the Happy Hearts Hub team – Elizabeth Ellames, Sue Lohmeyer, Gail Glastonbury and myself – were pleased to be hosting our pop-up at the “One Mitcham, Many Cultures” fair.  The fair was a vibrant meeting space for people from many cultures to come together and enjoy outdoor music, eating, conversations and sporty activities together.  It was a friendly, relaxed event.  How nice it is to call it to mind again!

It was great to have people connecting with the Belonging theme at our stand, with some great conversations emerging in the process. We were also thrilled that people came along to see themselves on film – having spoken to our cameras about what Belonging means to them, prior.  The 5 minute video had its first screening at the multicultural fair. Everyone involved is listed in the credits and you can view it at the NOW Leadership Academy Inc website – so watch through to the end for the credits.  We hope you relate to at least some of what people have to say in the video, and equally as it is also quite a personal topic we sincerely hope it gets you thinking about what belonging means to you.

The Happy Hearts Hub team contemplated what Belonging means to each of us just prior to starting the video production process with our collaborators- for it seemed only fair to be prepared to go there ourselves if we were going to be asking other people to reflect and speak about it.

What I discovered when I asked myself the question “What does belonging mean to me?” was…..

“Belonging means feeling welcomed and welcoming, safe in the flow of love – for me, that is belonging. When I feel I belong, I feel all warm and relaxed inside; and I can express who I am without fear.  I have experienced the pain of rejection first hand on occasions and have also witnessed the pain of rejection for others who are dear to me, which makes the sweet feeling of belonging even more precious. Belonging is exactly that – a longing…..for acceptance and affection. The yearning to belong can become oppressive too – I lose something of myself when I let “fitting in” run the show.  A balance is best between belonging in my own skin and belonging in community.”

Belonging is an undeniably important experience for every person on earth. Any feedback here about what belonging means to you is very welcome!

 

Well-being and Widening Horizons

Promienie soca

Here I pick up again on the story of my friend “Catherine the Sailor” having shared previously about how her dream of launching a major sailing endeavour with her husband was cultivated and achieved.  This long distance cruising they have been doing for the past 8 years seems such an adventurous lifestyle to a landlubber like me – the way being liquid and volatile, the destinations varied and exotic, the living quarters confined and yet simultaneously bobbing along between vast horizons. What particularly fascinates me is how well-being is experienced in such a small mobile home and Catherine has kindly answered my curious questions, providing the following insights.

Let’s check out the matter of survival first!  Survival whilst cruising the globe involves attention to many details including nutrition, access to medical care, and equipment reliability. Over their 8 year journey, the longest stretch of time at sea without access to land has been three weeks. Priority when getting into a port is always to seek out fresh food supplies for good nutrition on board. When the fresh food runs out on long stints at sea they draw from the supply of canned and dry ingredients on-board. Catherine and her husband like to take vitamin supplements to support their nutrition, and they make their own water on board via a reverse osmosis water desalinator, which removes salt from seawater.

Maintaining a well-stocked medical and first aid kit on board is necessary, and before leaving home Catherine and her husband learned how to carry out basic procedures such as giving injections and relocating fingers and shoulders should the need arise whilst out to sea. Advice is also always available to them via radio contact with land-based medical experts they have in their team.

Equipment maintenance tasks and safety checks need to be attended to regularly and proactively on their sailing vessel. Catherine keeps a list and a schedule of tasks to ensure they have an organised approach for this. Usually, some maintenance jobs are completed on their catamaran every time they are in a mooring, and a by-product is increased physical exercise – for example opportunity to swim under the boat to check the rudder and clean the hulls, and checking wires and rigging can involve climbing the mast.

Time at sea is divided into being “on duty” or “off duty”. These shifts alternate for each member of the pair so that between them someone is always responsible for scanning the environment and attending to their course. Being on duty involves being vigilant – often just yourself and the elements for company. Catherine describes having gained an intimate knowledge of the sky and sea and the sun’s journey across both – from dawn to dusk. That one-ness with nature and the daily trajectory of the orb that she gets to observe when on duty on her catamaran bring her an amazing perspective on life that deeply supports her sense of well-being. The vista encourages freedom from restrictive mindsets as she observes the peace and abundance in nature’s gifts. Glorious panoramic views are now etched into her mind’s eye from across many of the world’s oceans.

Overnight Catherine and her husband take a six hour shift each which they find allows the ‘off watch’ a better sleep compared with three or four hour shifts. Being “off duty” in daylight when cruising at sea brings the liberty to grab some extra sleep, or to create a mental break from life on board by watching a movie, journaling or reading.

There have been a few times on this journey when facing raging storms at sea and the mighty force of the ocean conditions seem to threaten the sufficiency of their vessel and equipment and operator skills – and survival itself is on the line. And in those times Catherine has found herself in prayerful request for extraordinary Divine assistance to meet the conditions successfully.

That Catherine is still here to tell me about her sailing endeavours shows that “survival” has been catered for effectively on physical, emotional and spiritual levels. So how about a sense of flourishing not just surviving? For example – is physical flourishing possible when one’s living space is constrained to a 44 foot vessel?

Indeed the physical space constraints on board are balanced by the long walks that Catherine and her husband enjoy when they get access to land. This entails them researching their destination before they reach it, to know what there is to see in the nearby towns and villages and terrain and planning how they will get to the highlights of interest. Time spent on land brings opportunity to connect socially with locals they talk to along the way or with fellow sailors from surrounding sailing vessels who may team up to explore the area together. Long hikes provide wonderful aerobic exercise.

Wunderschner Ausblick auf Stromboli (Italien)

Catherine describes how after beginning their sailing endeavours and even today she is struck by how quiet her thoughts have become in contrast to her lifestyle on land – and this enhances her sense of wellness. Sailing life certainly involves detailed planning and plenty of responsibilities but compared to all that she had running in her head to fulfil a management job and run a family before she left – there now seems a lot less clutter filling her mind. And the times that she notices this relatively quiet mind most as a sailor is as she drifts off to sleep and upon waking.

And what of social aspects of well-being in this cruising life? The teamwork between Catherine and her husband is clearly very tight. They literally rely on each other for survival and flourishing in this sailing endeavour – and their teamwork has stood up to the test extremely well! They also get to see the good will of humanity in the boating world – for generally if anyone is in strife, fellow boaties will do anything they can to help. Shared lifestyle with common vulnerability to the elements creates a wonderful and quick loyalty to each other, even though they may be relative strangers.

In terms of social well-being, Catherine enjoys the camaraderie of sailing life – but finds the nature of social connection in the boating world is feast or famine. The sailing lifestyle brings contact with some fabulous fellow “boaties” in various places all around the world – where they will live in very close proximity with great intensity for a week or more – sharing meals, travel stories, and many tourist adventures – very much ‘living in each other’s pockets’. But then once their stay at that anchorage is over, it may be a long time, if ever, until they will be in the same place with these new found friends again.

Leaving the long-term close friendships and family relationships behind at home was what Catherine missed the most when initially setting sail on this big adventure. And now after 8 years of sailing she knows that friendships of that same quality can be rare and difficult to establish in a boating lifestyle – so she really values kindred spirits when they turn up. She relishes too, the chance to visit home periodically and reconnect with family, her grown children and the grandchildren who have been born while she has been on the high seas. Fortunately she is also travelling in an era when modern technology delivers communication between herself and her family and friends with little delay and she is thus able to keep up to date and keep a timely dialogue running.

In her life before cruising, I have always known Catherine to be a contributor to community well-being and a leader in daily life. When I ask her where she perceives her contributions to fit in this sailing phase of her life, she identifies that she brings respect to all people she has met during her journey. Also she hopes and trusts that her dedication to keeping a detailed written account of their journey – in installments – over the past 8 years, contributes some inspiration to family and friends to whom she sends them. She signs each installment off with a learning and a wish for the reader, connecting the essence of experiences in that part of her journey with themes that are relevant to life in any location.

Contributing to community well-being remains important to her, and she has found that her mobile address has brought her some distinctions around what community is, saying: – “My sense of community is much clearer now – it is wherever I am with my boat. I give myself permission to care about the people in that space and place.” Whilst she is too far away from home to provide practical assistance and companionship to her family members and friends back home, Catherine has come to an expanded perspective of unity, saying “We are all one. How I see it now is that if I give a drink to someone on the other side of the world it is as if I am giving it to one of my family back home”.

And so it is that a small crew on a man-made vessel, choosing to visit the many lands on this earth by means of the ocean in all its conditions, can not only survive the adventure, but also flourish, by proactively attending to self-care and vessel care, and extending care to the community members around them wherever their mobile home takes them.

In relating her adventure, Catherine’s sense of blessing and deep gratitude in this chapter of her life is very apparent.  I hope that her story brings encouragement for anyone wanting to widen their horizons – even figuratively speaking in the case of us landlubbers – for it shows that it’s possible to design a life of one’s heart’s choice whatever that be, and that aspects of well-being can be enhanced in the process!  Carpe Diem!

Woman with globe in hands thinking about a traveling

Setting Sail…

One sailing boat floating on the water by violet sunset - 3D render

In writing about human endeavours and enterprises of our time I am delighted that my friend Catherine has given me permission to tell of her sailing endeavours. You see Catherine has been a full-time sailor for 8 years now. She has journeyed many a nautical mile since I first worked alongside her in the allied health department of a rehabilitation centre – both of us not long out of university. The reason I asked her if she would allow her sailing tale to be told here is because it demonstrates the role of vision and persistence in getting an endeavour underway and to keep it going.

Like any innovative project a team is involved in this endeavour.  In this case the team is a couple – Catherine and her husband, who have held this shared vision for over 20 years, following the inspiration of reading about a woman and her family’s world circumnavigation.  After reading the book, and agreeing that they would like to sail that far too, the next stage was to keep the dream alive.  They affectionately called it their 10 year plan, for there were many preparations needed before it would come to fruition. There were finances to be saved, children to raise, oh, and yes that’s right – Catherine needed to learn to sail!

Ever a woman of “lists”, Catherine tells me she listed all the skills she already had that were transferable to their endeavour of circumnavigating the world, and she also listed the skills she would need to acquire – and the latter comprised some fairly essential items like sailing skills, and repairs and maintenance of a sail boat.   So starting at the beginning, she enrolled in sail training and ‘competent crew’ training, and then with the basics under her belt participated in a twilight race series and some sailing events for women and an inshore skipper’s course.  Her husband, on the other hand, had been a sailor since childhood.

Careful financial forecasting and saving was needed if they were to achieve their dream. This involved many cohesive choices in everyday life – such as taking inexpensive holidays over the years, choosing a simple lifestyle, recycling and repairing where possible instead of purchasing new items.

As their children reached adulthood and spread their wings away from home, it was time to actually purchase a sailing vessel and get to know it.  This was to welcome the third member of their team!  Once they had their catamaran moored in a local marina they gained confidence in her by sailing every weekend, and they invited family and friends to come along in small groupings so that gradually everyone important to them was connected to the reality of their dream and the lead up to their departure.  With great commitment they both studied the mechanics of the vessel and how to repair and maintain the engine and every part of her sailing apparatus, because out at sea they would both need to be able to pitch in and support each other with mechanical problem solving. Their lives could depend upon it.

They also found themselves a sailing mentor!  “Guru Bob” was the affectionate name for this seasoned sailor who turned up at the right time, taking on a role of providing support with weather forecasts.  HIs mentoring support continued for two years and was a fabulous help as they gained confidence and experience in being full time sailors.

The boat was to be their new home for at least a year while they tried out long term cruising – and so they needed to pack up their earthly belongings and decide what to take onto the boat with them and what to put into long term storage and what to let go of.  Selling their house prior to departure had always been part of the financial plan, but when it came to the crunch it proved to be a very big step.  Actually letting go of the home where they had lived since marrying and where they had raised their kids was a heart-wrenching choice and was one of the most emotional steps that Catherine experienced in preparing for their sailing endeavour.  But their dream called for a full commitment and so they sold up.  They also sold their car and said farewell to their employment too.

And so it was that in May of 2007, with a 10 year plan that had become 15 years, the time was right to launch! The preparations were complete and they embarked from Port Adelaide to head off long term cruising.  It took 13 months to reach Darwin via the east coast of Australia.

Once there, buoyed with confidence and enjoyment of their sailing life, Catherine and her husband allowed themselves to step into their big dream!  It was time to leave Australian shores and venture bravely overseas – Asia beckoned, and the world beyond that was also their oyster!

Fast forwarding now to the present day and you will find Catherine and her husband are very experienced sailors, with many amazing stories to tell, having sailed to many, many parts of the world during the past 8 years. In fact they are sailing back into southern waters now – having reached beautiful New Zealand where they will spend some time exploring, and listening to their hearts for the next phase of their endeavour.

Catherine’s story indicates how pursuing a vision takes commitment and persistence and a team!

In my next blog I’ll focus on particular aspects of life on board for Catherine – aspects like well-being, meaning and contribution. But for now here is one of Catherine’s reflections on turning their Vision to circumnavigate the world into a reality….

“Looking back I can tell you that the hardest pier to step off is the first one!  Leaving Port Adelaide in 2007 to embark on our sailing venture around the world was the hardest departure of all the ports we have left in all the years of sailing since.  Before we left we had ideas and impressions of what the journey would be like and what we wanted it to be – but until we made that first departure, until we committed to stepping off from what we knew – to sail into the unknown – we couldn’t discover all the ideas and possibilities out there.   And that is the same in life – if we just cling to what we know we can’t discover other possibilities.”

Foresight will always lack the certainty of hindsight – and so I wish everyone the bravery that Catherine describes here – after preparing adequately with a trusted team – to step off that first pier into the unknown and let our endeavours and enterprises begin!

sailing roped to pier

Community and Commuting

I must admit that I depend on my car for transport a lot.  Too much really – as my workplace and local shops are within easy walking distance.  This year I’ve been having fun with changing my routine around a bit and driving my car less.  My aim is to walk to get to local destinations when possible and some weeks I succeed more than others.

My favourite walk is walking my child to school. I love the time for conversation together that this creates.  In recent weeks I’ve also ventured into catching the bus one day a week for work, too far to walk all the way but a healthy walk to and from the bus stop is involved.  All the boxes are being ticked – less pollution, less petrol-guzzling, lifting the heart rate and fitness level in the process. Worthy benefits all of them.  The extra bonus though, has been the connection with community that I’m experiencing when I travel outside the bubble of my car.

For example today I walked to work then accepted a lift to a meeting with a colleague – and so we got to have a chat that we would have missed if we travelled in our separate cars.   I then caught a bus back from the meeting and I unexpectedly met at the bus stop someone I had worked with 10 years ago, and we had a great catch up before getting on different buses.

And last week two “strangers” and I stood waiting together at the bus stop near home.  Our view of approaching buses was blocked by road-works, and after a few minutes a conversation arose between us about our shared uncertainty of when the next bus was due, and we debated whether it had already been – a simple, friendly conversation. Then, fearing that I’d run late if I had to wait for the bus any longer, I told my ‘bus stop buddies’ that I’d need to drive after all.  I hadn’t walked very far when I heard them both calling me back – for the bus had suddenly appeared from behind the road-works as I had turned towards home.  How cool that relative strangers can turn out to be allies!  Such simple experiences build faith in community.

A novel I read years ago was set in the late 19th century and opened with someone from a rural area commenting that – “Towns always unease me with all them folks walking around, acting like they didn’t see you”.   And that can be the case nowadays too – but not always as my story shows!  For when we share simple activities, eye contact and conversations with relative strangers in our local area, connection can start to form to strengthen our sense of community.

I wonder it you too enjoy some car-free travel in your week, and whether you experience a bit more “community” on those days?

PS The photo here shows an early sign of spring that we noticed on our walk to school today.orange blooms - Copy

An upcoming conversation with the current Australians of the Year….

Flagging here an upcoming conversation to tune into on Aussie television on MONDAY evening 13th July. A great interviewer – Annabel Crabbe – will facilitate a conversation with all 4 Australians of the Year – who this year are all women. Am sure valuable insights into community wellbeing will emerge from their perspectives. And you can suggest questions to be put to them by following the links…..

http://wellbeingaustralia.com.au/wba/inspiring-change-in-human-rights-ahrc-event-13-july-15/

It’s time for another conversational event…

Creating time to start a new conversation about our life or life in general is more valuable than we think!  Bringing time for community connection and for some well deserved self-care to the top of the ‘to do’ list is important. Sometimes we just have to press the pause button and have a real conversation about what really matters.

Does this ring true for you? if so, you are invited to join us for a delightful cuppa and supper and a refreshing conversation. Together – Elizabeth Ellames, Sue Lohmeyer, Gail Glastonbury and myself will enjoy sharing a bonus screening of “The Connection” documentary with you, and facilitating conversation afterwards about the stories and evidence it reveals and how we can care enough to change direction.

So you are invited to join us on Sunday 3rd May, 6pm to 8.30pm at Waverly House Cafe for a delightful evening and great conversation.

Tickets to the event can be booked online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/caring-enough-to-change-direction-tickets-16410407972

We look forward to seeing you there!

A World of Music and Dance in 2015!

This year we had the joy of going to Womadelaide for one glorious day and evening.  The photo here shows some of the beautiful banners that claimed Botanic Park as a “world of music and dance” for the weekend. Once again, Mother Nature provided the perfect park setting for WOMAD. Here we gathered in a collective ambiance of joy and liberty. Huge numbers in attendance here, we roam the park at will, creating audience at strategically placed stages, spoilt for choice of music to listen to and musicians to watch, the atmosphere filled with beats and lyrics and velvety voices. This truly is a weekend of heart choices for all generations.

The Moreton Bay Fig tree which became our base was one of many in the park that became a “community tree” for the weekend. The huge canopy of branches and leaves provided a roof of shade for many family and friendship groups who set up rugs on the grass beneath, coming and going at will to other parts of the park, leaving their gear in place to come back to when ready.  In the centre of the shade, the massive tree trunk housed a constant stream of children in a dynamic “tree gang” of old and new friendships, and the prominent root structures all around the trunk become an obstacle course and circuit for little legs and a steeple chase for quicker, bigger companions. On the picnic rugs we can relax together, listening to the music, and enjoy chatting. We chat with the people we came here with and we chat with people who we have never met before. We all share life together over a 12 hour span. Parents of babies and young kids get to do the caring, meal and sleep routines in the midst of this outdoor home, with supporting comments and conversations from the “strangers” around them – a great opportunity to be all together as a community, not isolated.

The “hippie” dress code of many people who come to WOMAD, often draws comments. A male friend comments to me that we should all just come as we are and resist the need to dress a certain way to be here. Ah yes I hear myself saying – we don’t need to dress in a particular way at all, for this setting connects with the hippie in all of us regardless of how we are dressed.  We have a warm hearted chuckle looking at the myriad of bold colours on our hair and skin and clothes in which we have been doused during this year’s colour parade, an explosion of pigmented dyes being thrown around and at each other to the beats of live music and a troupe of dancers creating a focal point. And it gets me thinking about the hippie movement.

A little online reading about the Hippie movement ( see http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/266600/hippie) indicates its background was the Beats movement which emerged in Bohemian communities across America in the 1950s, with signature seedy dress, manners and communication being adopted from the “hip” Jazz music scene in protest to “square”, conservative conventions finding “the joylessness and purposelessness of modern society sufficient justification for both withdrawal and protest” (quote taken from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/57467/Beat-movement ). The Beats favoured individual liberty and release (eg through street poetry, raw expressive writing styles, jazz music, Zen Buddhism and drug enhanced heightened sensory states) over focusing on political or social problems. Emerging in quick succession in American college campuses in the 1960s and 1970s, and in backlash to the Vietnam war, the Hippie movement saw young people claiming a break with repressed conventions for the middle classes. Folk music emerged along with free love and the distinctively free flowing and less conventional dress style, a shift in family and community values and structures, a rise in vegetarian diet, and indulgence in drug induced psychedelic and relaxed states. The online Encyclopedia Brittanica entry highlights that even though by the 1980s the Hippie movement was being replaced with the Yuppie phenomenon – young urban professionals focused on matters of career, the legacy of the hippie movement has been long-lasting and widespread in Western society including ‘relaxed formality’, ‘a shift in attitude to sexuality’ and an ‘ongoing care for the environment’ to the current day.

And so it seems there is a long history of social expression being intertwined with music and dance and artistic form. We are a long time on from the original hippie era now but some of the freedoms and grass root empowerment has been retained.  How beneficial for Adelaide then that for over 20 years we have been able to regularly host world music performers to create a world of music and dance (WOMAD) for 4 glorious days and nights right here amongst us. It feels to me like it sure does nurture the joy in our community.