2015-06-16

Our daily community...

Over the past week I have had a spontaneous stream of visitors - new friends, old friends from many different age groups and walks of life.
It's reminded me of my community - of the kind of community many of us global wanderers and campaigners share - a network of people who, although we may meet rarely, but are friends for life.
I have been grateful to have been able to offer my humble shelter and the little offerings of time and sustenance I have to share. 

Almost all of this is spent with my children these days - which feels right as I watch them grow and shine. It's so important to let your children be your teachers in the world...it has taken some time to really trust this process, but now I am learning it's value.
Pacha is a natural leader. I watch her as she nurtures the young and vulnerable, jokes and plays with friends around her and questions and challenges the brash and the powerful.
This week she will do a long paddle challenge with her surfer friend Kiani to raise awareness of protecting the coastline where we live through a designated World Surfing Reserve. It's an idea they came up with by themselves and it has inspired and enlivened local decision makers to pay attention to future generations and the values that go beyond quick profits.
Here on the Gold Coast where I grew up, there has been a constant struggle to protect nature from high rise developments, marinas, casinos, cruise ship terminals...the list goes on. You can see the difference as you land at the Gold Coast airport, with the southern end lush and green and the northern end all glitzy and gaudy high rise developments - so tall they shade the beach after midday. This has largely been due to local grassroots activism - people like my parents who joined protests with surfers 30 years ago to declare their love for the area left as it is.
Now, the southern end of the Gold Coast not only glows in green, it bustles with positive community initiatives; local markets, Lohas precincts, community groups and shared food gardens, wildlife groups, a works famous Eco-village - somehow there is more engagement and involvement - more local, participatory democracy.

Here's the local TV coverage of Pacha's paddle campaign:
/Paddle for the Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve

2015-06-09

役に立つということ


2015521日掲載分


先週から私は義弟がキッチンをリフォームするのを手伝っています。

私の妹夫婦は築40年の家にあるキッチンと15年間付き合ってきました。薄い合板のキッチンカウンターで、引き出しがガタガタと開けにくく、シンクは一つで、錆びたオーブンの上には使えるコンロは一つだけというものです。まあ、3人の子供を抱えた妹夫婦の家では、キッチンを買い替えるという大きなことを真剣に考えるには生活が忙しすぎたらしく、また、お金もかなりかかるので、なかなか実現するのは難しいと思っていたようです。

そこで私は彼らを勇気づけ、そして説得しました。私たちみんなでやってみましょうと。キッチン台は自分たちで組み立てられるし、配線や配管だけ工事を頼めばよいので、ほんの数日で全てできるのです。今はまだ工事の途中ですが、こういうプロジェクトは子供たちにとってもどうやって取り組み、そして助け合うのかを目の当たりにできるし、自分たちでやり遂げるDIYの力を体験するよい機会なのです。

私は今までの人生で取り組んだ物造りや建築のことを思い出しました。エクアドルやウームバーでの経験、そして母親の家でのことも。リサイクルの材料を見つけ出し、それをみなうまく組み合わせていく方法を考えたのです。そこには知恵や工夫に好奇心、そして実行力や決断力といった、子供たちにとって大変重要で役に立つ素養が発揮されるのです。また変化に対して柔軟であることも大切です。

しかしながら、私が今現在最も楽しんでいることは、他の人の役に立っている、ということなのです。それはたぶん「地球を救おう」という運動を推進していくようなことと比べたら取るに足らない小さいことかも知れません。でも、子供たち、母親、そして妹とその家族など私の周りの人たちのちょっとしたことを助けることができる存在であること、それは私にとってとても深く充実した満足感をもたらせてくれるのです。

【翻訳:中久保慎一】

2015-05-29

パチャ、「ソーシャルインフルエンサー(社会的な影響力を持つ人)」に

2015年5月6日掲載分

一カ月ほど前から、私たちの暮らしは急にあわただしくなりました。たぶん、誰でもどこでもあることでしょうね。私たちの場合、主な原因はパチャの身に一度にいろんなことが起こったことなのです。彼女が将来に向けた選択をしようとしている今、もう少し「まじめに」なる必要が出てきていると感じました。


ひと月ほど前、パチャの14回目の誕生日のすぐあとに、Instagramを通じてコカ・コーラのマーケティングを担当する企業の代表だという人がパチャにコンタクトしてきたのです。パチャのInstagramは今、10,000人を超えるフォロワーがついています。@pachalight で検索してみてください。マーケティング会社の代表はパチャに、キャンペーンとの「コラボレーション」を打診してきたのです。彼女は「ソーシャルインフルエンサー」だというのです。何のことかわからず、私は言葉の意味を調べました。

このことは私とパチャのどちらにとってもちょっとした事件でした。過去にもパチャにコンタクトしてきた企業はありましたが、コカ・コーラ社はずいぶんな大企業です。世界中、知らない人はいないほどの大企業であり、砂糖がたっぷり入った飲み物を販売して巨額の利益を上げています。

(嫌なイメージが頭の中で回っていました。ボルネオのジャングルの一番奥で見つけたコカ・コーラの空缶。どこから出発しても歩いて二日かかるアマゾンのジャングルの奥へ、コカ・コーラを満載したトラックがくねくねとした未舗装の道をわけ入ります。そこでは地球上の最も貴重な森林から真っ黒な原油が汲みだされているのです。私はあの企業の民営化策を知っています。地域のコミュニティに、彼らの土地で組み上げられた水をペットボトルに詰めて、それを買うよう仕向けるのです。人類の、そして労働者の権利を踏みにじる行いです。とはいえ、蒸し暑いジャングルの中、山道を二時間かけて登ったあとに、よく冷えたあの飲み物を出されたらどんなに美味しいか。大都市に輝く巨大なロゴのネオンサイン、世界中の辺境の地にまでちりばめられた小型のネオンサインやポスター。思い起こされることは山ほどありました。)

「コラボレーション」するというのはどういうことなのか、私たちは悩みました。そして、パチャがコカ・コーラの新商品をさりげなく、でも「真摯に」アピールする写真をInstagramに投稿すると、それに対価が支払われるのだろうという結論に至りました。

こんな風にパチャといろいろな考えをシェアし、これを機に彼女がソーシャルメディア上で発表する意見や画像にこめるアイデンティティやメッセージについて話し合うことができてよかったと思います。パチャを取り巻く、消費者志向のライフスタイルを推進する社会的圧力や、若い女性が「かわいさ」や「色気」でしか価値を認められない社会状況の中で、発言するのは重責を伴います。

私たちは貧しく、パチャが夢を実現する助けになるものなら必死に掴み取らなければいけないのですが、清涼飲料水の販促に手を貸すことは選択肢にありません。

彼女がマーケティング会社に宛てた返信の一部を引用します。

「私はこの件について母とたくさん話し合いをしました。そして今は、コカ・コーラ社とコラボする時期ではないという結論に達しました。
私は自分というものについて分かり始めたばかりですし、私のInstagramへの投稿がどのような影響を持つかも未知数です。自分に正直であること、自分の信念、そして私の家族が清涼飲料水を飲まないということは重要です。だから販売促進に協力するのは不自然だと思います。」

パチャが「ソーシャルインフルエンサー」であるのは嬉しいような嬉しくないような。大切なのはこれが、彼女が自分自身を導いていかなければならない旅路だということです(かなうならば私はずっと側にいて、手を貸してやりたいと強く願います)。私は一歩下がって、彼女が自分の翼で羽ばたくのを応援する時期に来ているのです。少しずつですが、その準備を始めています。

【翻訳:松尾直子】

2015-05-26

Early morning connections.


The alarm goes off in the dark these days. The days are getting shorter here in Australia but we still wake up early to go to the ocean.

It’s chilly as I scurry around making the kids lunches for school, putting some bread in to toast to eat along the way and making sure the organic, fair trade coffee is ‘plunged’ ready to bring along! I jostle and hustle, the kids grabbing their still damp wetsuits from the day before – quick, lets get out there to make the most of this special time!

And of course, this morning was spectacular - as every morning is – it's always exhilarating to witness the sun rise above the horizon!

Today we were joined by my dear friend K, who I met in Kanazawa many years ago and who now lives with her two sons half the time in the Austrian Alps and half the time on Australia’s coast.
We sat on the big rock, basked in the warm sun and watched our children enjoy the waves. We talked about life and how lucky we were to have the freedom to live like we do. K had just experienced the ‘culture shock’ of visiting a local shopping mall for a child’s birthday party on a Sunday morning. 

The mall was full of people, and the kids were trying to win prizes by playing an assortment of games. She described it as a kind of practice for future gambling – with this sense of manufactured desire to want something that you don’t need, or don’t even particularly like!  She shared how depressing it was to wake up on a glorious Sunday morning, with beautiful blue skies and gentle waves on the ocean, and have to drag her kids away to ‘celebrate’ a ‘birth’ day in a shopping centre…What has happened to us? Where have we lost our way?

We looked down to see Pacha with K’s son – leading him along to help him catch some waves. It was so heart-warming to see the joy in Pacha’s eyes as she shared her knowledge and love for surfing with a young boy learning new things! These are the most precious moments, the priceless ones, giving and sharing – as joyfully inspiring as a brand new day!






2015-05-21

Being Useful

For the past week I have been helping my brother in law renovate their family's kitchen. 

For 15 years they have lived with the one that came with the 40 year old house - chipboard flaking, stiff drawers, single sink, rusty  oven with only one functional  hot plate. Somehow, with 3 children, life just got too busy to even contemplate doing something as major as the kitchen and they assumed it would be far too expensive and just too difficult.
 
I encouraged them and convinced them that we could do it -  we could put together the benches ourselves, call in an electrician and plumber for their parts and it could all be done in a matter of days. Now we are halfway there and the kids have been witnessing how to take on a project, as well as helping out - and experiencing that empowerment of 'doing it yourself'.

I was reminded about all the building projects in my life - in Ecuador, in Woombah and even in Mum's house, finding recycled materials and finding a way to make them all fit. There's something about resourcefulness, curiosity, practicality and determination - qualities so important and useful to our kids. And the capacity to embrace change.


But what I love the most right now is being useful to others. Perhaps it seems a little trivial compared to running campaigns to 'save the earth' - but there is a deep sense of fulfilment in being available to help the people around me  - my kids, my Mum, my sister and her family...those simple things...



2015-05-11

Mothers Day visit to Iluka



This paradise was our home. 
The wild, pristine, national park coastline was the first time and place that Pacha and Yani stood on boards catching waves – with only the wild dolphins, eagles, seagulls and pelicans (and me) looking on.
Thanks to a small club of surfers, called Iluka Boardriders, we were helped and encouraged along – borrowing boards, getting advice about staying safe in the water, connecting with others sharing a love for the ocean.
This weekend we went back, after almost 3 years, loaded with some collected boards we could now give back to the club that had helped start us off on this surfing adventure!
It was inspiring to feel the fun atmosphere, with so many kids involved (especially girls) playing games on the sand between the heats – well fed by barbeques and home-baked, healthy cookies, ‘bliss’ balls and scones.  The waves were big, clean and almost empty, the fresh autumn day stunningly beautiful, with not a cloud in the sky  – a perfect (Mothers) day!
To me, the day was also full of poignant reflection.
Reflecting about how hard I tried to do something positive in the community and how, sometimes, my intention was misunderstood.
Reflecting on the simplicity of our daily lives back then, the peace and the quiet surrounding us and the time and space that seemed to move more slowly.
Reflecting about how Pacha and Yani had improved in their surfing so dramatically over such a relatively short time while living on the Gold Coast…Despite the stress and crowded waves, their motivation to get out there and surf everyday has never waned. With some of the most skilled surfers on the planet in front of their eyes, they have been constantly inspired and challenged. Being welcomed by Snapperrocks boardriders club, making new like-minded friends, getting extra coaching and strategy to do well in competitions helps us stay ‘in the loop’ with the surfing networks.   Getting support and advice from knowledgeable people and businesses that abound in our local area, has helped Pacha and Yani surge ahead – and they still love surfing and the challenge it brings…
We are so grateful to be able to return to Iluka from time to time, to reconnect and remember. 
(Pacha has made a little video about our visit -you can see it here:  http://youtu.be/BXbKmfJY8go )





2015-05-06

Pacha as a ‘Social Influencer’


Over the past month our lives seem to have been speeding up - maybe it’s the same for everyone, everywhere! For us, mostly it’s because Pacha has so many things going on at once and I guess we’re having to start to get a little more ‘serious’ about her choices for her future.

About a month ago, just after her 14th birthday, a representative from Coca Cola’s marketing company contacted Pacha through her instagram page (it now has over 10K 'followers' - take a look at @pachalight)  and asked her to consider ‘collaborating’ on a marketing campaign. Pacha has been identified as a ‘social influencer’. I had to look up the definition because I didn't even know what that meant!

We were both in a bit of shock. This was big. Of all the companies to approach her, this one - one of the most ubiquitous global brands who have made billions of dollars from selling sugary drinks - came knocking on her door. 

(I had a cacophony of images bouncing around my head; the empty coke can I found in the deepest part of the Borneo jungle – two days walk from anywhere, the fully loaded coca cola truck meandering through the dirt trails into the Amazon jungle just as that black liquid oil was pumped out of the Earth from the most precious forests, the knowledge I had of the company's privatization campaigns – basically forcing  local communities ‘buy’ their own water in plastic bottles, he human and workers rights abuses,  but oh the delicious taste of a cold bottle of that soft drink after walking for two hours up hill in the hot, sticky tropical forest, the gigantic flashing lights of billboards in mega cities, the small billboards and posters plastered in the last outposts of human civilization all around the world...yep, it brought up a lot for me!)

We were curious about what a 'collaboration' actually meant. We found out that basically Pacha would be given cash for posting a photo on her instagram that, in a subtle, ‘authentic’ way, endorsed a new flavour of their soft drink.

I am so grateful that Pacha and I still talk and share everything and we could use this as an opportunity to talk about identity and the message that Pacha was promoting through her choices and the images she posts on social media. It is a huge responsibility for someone so young – with the social pressures around her strongly promoting a more consumer oriented lifestyle, or one where young girls are only of value for their ‘prettiness’ or ‘sexiness’.

Even though we have very little money and scrape together whatever we have to make sure she has the opportunity to follow her dreams – promoting soft drinks is simply not part of the way we live. 

This is part of the reply she sent to the marketing company:

'Mum and have been talking a lot about this and we've decided that it is not the right time to do a collaboration with Coca Cola right now. 
I guess I'm just getting to know myself and what type of influence I might be having through Instagram. It's pretty important to be true to myself and what I really believe in and as we don't really drink soft drinks in my family - it doesn't seem right to promote them.’

It's both exciting and daunting to think of Pacha as a ‘Social Influencer’. Most importantly it is a journey that Pacha has to navigate herself (hopefully with me sitting beside her, supporting her all the way!). It’s time to step back and hold her up in the air ready to fly on her own wings…I’m slowly getting ready to let go…

Pacha's greatest joy right now - surfing.
Opening new doors...(photo by Bacon photo)
 
Tokyo 2013 - Pacha has a strong voice!