Christmas at our place

Friday, November 27, 2009

I love Christmas time and can never wait very long to put up the Christmas tree. I grew up in Adelaide where the Myer Christmas pageant was always held on the first weekend in November. I loved watching the pageant and seeing Santa arrive at his magic cave. Yet we had to wait until after mum and dad's wedding anniversary (2nd December) before we could put up our tree. Now, I don't have to wait that long. This year we're having a bush christmas tree as our other tree and our decorations are in storage in Melbourne. The tree actually went up last week - I couldn't wait!
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Roller Derby Girl

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I have a secret wish. My wish is to become a roller derby girl. I have shared with wish previously with my very supportive brother whose response was to shake his head and say 'they'll kill you'. To be fair, he has actually seen roller derby, live, in South Australia. The first time he went the ambulance came twice - first to a girl with broken ribs, second to a girl with a broken arm - so he just might be right. I'm only 5ft and not very stocky. However, last Saturday afternoon we went to see Whip It and my dream was reignited all over again. If Ellen Paige can do it, why can't I? Apart from the fact that there is no roller rink in Alice Springs. I bet we have enough eager women to make a league.

Whip It is an excellent, inspiring movie. Ellen's character, Bliss, is a great roll model for those who prefer their girls to have hobbies, interests, friends and a life apart from a fella (I'm taking to you Bella/Twilight).

Feminism 101

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lately I seem to have come across a number of snide comments about feminism. Many, of which, come from unexpected places, I’m not interested in ‘naming and shaming’, but statements like this really make me seethe:
"[Feminism] is one of those coined phrases that has a lot of innuendo and not much meaning...I believe men and women are different and they have different needs, therefore the concept of equal rights doesn't really sit with me..." (source Elle Macpherson, quote of the day on Isaac Likes)
Feminism doesn’t have much meaning? Equal rights don’t sit well with you?

Photo: John's Kitchen by Futurowoman
It was refreshing to open up blogger on Monday and see this wonderful post from Toni aka Little Suitcase. As far as I’m aware, Toni hasn’t set out to write a feminist piece, but her piece is what I would call ‘modern feminism’. Toni simply expresses her dismay in the Twilight character Bella as an example for young girls. Please read her piece, it’s great and I’m not going to re-create it here.

Modern feminism doesn’t always use the f word but it contains implicit feminist theory. Patriarchal caricatures of feminists (hairy armpit brigade etc) have lead many women to shy away from using the label ‘feminist’. I think that it is time to reclaim the label. Many advances for women were made under the feminist movements of the 50s, 60s and 70s. It’s time not to shy away from what these women achieved for us. One episode of Mad Men is enough to make you realise how far women have come. Feminism doesn’t mean that you can’t have a man open a door for you, that’s, in general, mostly about politeness and usually determined by who arrived at the door first, rather feminism is about:
- Equal pay for equal work (am sure Elle would live for the male model to be paid more because he is male)
- The ability to chose what you want to do and not be held back on the basis of gender (‘oh that’s no job for a girl!’)
- Not being judged on the basis of gender
- Control over your own body and life
How can you say you’re not a feminist?
PS Mia Freedman wrote a similar article in her Sunday Life Column – ‘Feminism is a word in need of a makeover’. Read the rest here.

You'll see the story here first folks

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So the media finally picked up the story I broke way back in May (see my story here). Yes Cadbury are selling you less for the same price - bastards. The Age story here. Odd how they don't mention me, instead crediting the Australian Financial Review?? Oh well.....

So what do you do?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

We were at a gig last night (yes, sit back and that for a second. Alice Springs, gig, are you sure? Well, the Lane now has live music on Mondays, pretty chilled, great pizza.) and got talking to the people around us. Inevitably the question of ‘what do you do?’ came up. I answered ‘I’m an Anthropologist’. Someone replied ‘Bones?’ I immediately corrected ‘people and culture, I work at the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority – sacred sites’. ‘Oh, I thought Anthropology was about bones, like Jurassic Park’. ‘Er, no’. Why couldn’t I have just ran with it?

I came into work today (my non-bone, living people and culture related work) and a colleague shared with me a course that will soon be run in town about identifying skeletal remains. I’m in! And I won’t need to correct people when they say ‘bones?’

My Place and Yours - My Collection

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Asking people to show their collections is a little invitation into the intimate crazy of people's lives. There are really only two things I collect, books and shoes. The books don't make for an impressive photo as the majority of my book collection is in storage in Melbourne (we thought we'd only be here for a year, it has now been extended to 18 months). My shoes, however, are a different story. They are all here, as you never know when you might need a pair of 5 inch high heel knee-high boots in the desert, despite the fact I never wore them in Melbourne due to them being too uncomfortable for doing anything practical like walking in them. You would be surprised at how often you do need high heels in Alice Springs. Unlike Melbourne, you generally don't have to walk too far when you go out, so high heels become quite do-able. Alice girls have taken this to a whole new level and wear the most amazing, gravity defying heels.

Anyway, unlike my book collection, I never really set out to have a shoe collection, I just have such small, wide, feet. Whenever I find shoes that fit I have to buy them, afraid that I'll never find shoes in my size (size 5) again. Over time this has morphed into a bit of a collection. All be it a messy one:I've ran out of room in my tiny shoe cupboard (where shoes are two deep due to my slight ocd need to keep the boxes) and so some shoes are also sitting pretty on a shelf:

Thanks to Kate for this week's theme (and for reminding me about my secret Barbie collection) and Pip for hosting the meme

Annie's Place

Thursday, November 19, 2009

One of my favourite places in Alice Springs is Annie's Place, a backpacker’s which has a kitchen and bar open to the public from 5pm until 9pm. The public can remain there after nine, they just cannot enter after nine. This stops the bar from becoming overrun with late night party people. Annie’s Place is great as it reminds me of a small pub/bar in the big city. It has a cute beer garden and cheap food that tastes good. It's rare to find a cheap meal out in Alice Springs. 

Alice Springs is right in the centre of Australia, hundreds of kms from other towns, so it's hard to get in stock and to retain staff so as a restaurant owner your overheads are higher than they are in the coastal cities. Annie’s Place gives locals a taste of the big city. Not the posh big city, there's Hanuman for that (Hanuman’s is a posh, yummy Thai restaurant within one of the hotels), but the big city that you would find in Fitzroy, Melbourne or King Street, Newtown.There are three components of place that produce a sense of place, ‘the physical setting, human activities and human social and psychological processes rooted in the setting’ (Stedman, 2002). Annie’s Place embodies all three. The physical setting is aesthetically pleasing, cosy and inviting. Human activities of eating, drinking and socialising take place there. From these activities, connecting with friends and/or making new friends you become socially and psychologically rooted in the setting. 

Annie’s place has that sense of place that other pubs/bars in town lack. The physical setting plays a big part of Annie’s Place’s appeal. You can connect with friends at the Town and Country, but the Town & Country lacks that certain aesthetic that would give it a sense of place. For me, Annie’s Place is important, as it provides that big city link in the bush. It gives variety to a town with four main pubs that mainly cater to tradesmen or cowboys. I would think that, generally, the tradesmen and cowboys would disagree with me about Annie’s Place. They would probably feel ‘out of place’ in Annie’s Place, just as I feel ‘out of place’ in Bojangles, the cowboy bar. If you're ever in Alice, I'd go to Annie's Place.

Steadman, R. 2002, ‘Toward a social psychology of place: predicting behaviour from placed-based cognitions, attitude and identity, Environment and Behaviour, vol. 34, no. 5, pp. 561-581

My Place and Yours - Through the front door

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

This week's Meet Me at Mike's My Place & Yours Meme was 'through the front door'. This is what I see through our front door:Our cat Sir Elton normally hears us arriving home (either by bike or car) and wakes himself up to meet us at the door. He's generally fairly bleary eyed and standoffish, but lately he has been hanging for cuddles when we get home. Possibly due to the 42 degree weather making it less desirable to him to be outdoors. You know that you're home when you've been greeted by Sir Elton.

Street Art Sunday

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Short and sweet street art sunday from Alice Springs
Found in the laneway south of Undoolya Road

Found along the Todd River footpath

Fancy seeing a flick?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Today is the first day of the rest of my life, well the first day of my post exams post post-grad life. After my way to early morning run (complete with way to early contact with day release community service Clean up Australia prisoners) I've spent the morning catching up on blogs and training myself to like soy milk.
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On the blog front I have been alerted to two movies that I absolutely have to see....An Education, directed by Lone Scherfig and Written by Nick Hornby. I love Nick Hornby's writing. If you've ever seen About a Boy and not read the book, go read the book. As usual you'll love it as much if not more than the film, especially the Nirvana references. I hate to describe this movie as such but An Education is a coming of age film set in 1961. A girl's world is expanded and set on a different path after a chance meeting with an older handsome stranger. The movie has been adapted by Hornby from journalist Lynn Barber's memoirs of life as a schoolgirl in the 60s and I'm a sucker for 60s stories, especially the clothes, if I could dress in any era this would be it.
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I didn't quite get what A Single Man is about from the trailer, however, it did make me want to see the movie. Also set in the 60s, A Single Man is beautifully shot with fabulous set and costume design, starring three of my favourite actors, Colin Firth, Julianne Moore and Ginnifer Goodwin.

I also want to see Date Night starring Tina Fey - Tina Fey is my hero. I'll see anything she creates or is a part of. She's awesome.

There are times when I miss living in Melbourne and having Mondays off. The Nova Cinema in Carlton has movies for $5.50 all day. If you time it right you can see 3 movies before 5pm. Makes for a lovely day. Plus you get to see all sorts of movies you probably wouldn't see if you were shelling out $15 a pop.

Thanks to So Much to Tell You for telling me about An Education and to Ringo, have a Banana! for telling me about A Single Man

Desert Girl's ode to the Beach

Monday, November 9, 2009

There is a saying that in Alice Springs we are close to every beach in Australia. 'But I thought Alice Springs was in the middle of Australia' I hear you say. Well that's why we're close to EVERY beach (this really is my fiancé's favourite joke). Reality is we are at least 20hrs drive from all of these beaches and lately, everywhere I turn (on the net), there are photos of the beach, so while I study for my exams (the last for my Graduate Diploma in Urban & Regional Planning) I have been dreaming of the beach. I love the beach. No matter what the temperature I can almost always swim. I love the sand. I love the waves, especially the large ones that carry and dump you. I love the umbrellas and the beach cricket. These are a few of my favourite beaches.....

Hyams Beach, New South Wales

Marengo Beach, Apollo Bay, Victoria

Acapulco, Mexico

All photos by me

Sky Scrapers in Alice Springs - The Controversial Melenkas Development

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Image: Karl Steller
Much debate has recently surrounded a development proposal for the old Melenkas site. Melenkas was a backpackers which doubled as the town’s ‘premier’ nightspot for many years. If you lived in Alice Springs during the time it was open you will most likely have cringe worthy stories of nights at Melenkas (See Facebook Group 'I'm Smarter than Melenkas' for further details). You’ll also probably have stories of great nights at Melenkas. Melenkas did add a certain feel to the town, that it was bigger than it really was, meaning that on any given night you were bound to meet someone from interstate or overseas. You were also bound to run into people that you knew, good and bad. That guy you snogged and left hanging on the dance floor? Yep, he’s bound to be back there next week, testing your powers of skilful avoidance. Melenka’s was sold in 2006 to a Queensland company, who after a series of unsuccessful half-assed renovations, demolished it. The lot remains vacant, save for a few old river red gums.
In the latest development permit application submission for the site, the developers (I am unsure if they are the same company who originally purchased the site or a new company) have proposed to build mixed use development of five buildings, one of which will be five stories in height. The development will consist of town and three bedroom residential and short stay apartments and a commercial floor area, including a licensed venue. If the proposal goes ahead it will give the Alice Springs CBD a much needed injection of people. Once businesses close up for the night the CBD is almost deserted, save for a few pockets of open restaurants. Drastically increasing the number of people living in the CBD, as this proposal will do, will increase the number of ‘eyes on the street’, as Jane Jacobs says.
There are a number of controversial aspects to this proposal, including the clearing of all trees, save for the really old ones (ie the Registered Sacred Sites), and the ground floor units not being above the Q100 flood rate (see Alice News for more). However, the most controversial aspect of the proposal is the proposed five story building, two stories above that which is allowed in our Development Control Plan. The three story limit has been in place since the 1980s, ensuring that locals and tourists have unobstructed views from Anzac Hill to the Heavitree Gap. We are also a town of only 28,000 people, 5 stories is completely unnecessary.
Local Greens Alderman, Jane Clark, has started a facebook group opposed to the 5 story building. She requests that anyone opposed submit a written objection to the Development Consent Authority*. The majority of the Alice Springs Town Council have thrown their support behind the development proposal, pending the outcome of a traffic study and arborist report. Alice Springs has a shortage of long-term accommodation and it would be ridiculous for the Council to knock back a proposal that will increase accommodation. NT Planning Minister, Delia Lawrie has welcomed the debate surrounding the 5 story proposal saying that any decision on the project will take into account what the community wishes (see more from the Planning Minister here).
Debate is a great thing. It’s good when proposals come along that test why particular laws and regulations are there. Submissions from the community are great as it gives Planning an idea of where the community stands on an issue. It should be noted, however, that written submissions may not always reflect the views of the community as a whole, just the views of the vocal minority. One is also more likely to submit when against a proposal rather than for it. In yesterdays Advocate there was a response to a letter to the editor about the proposal. The previous letter was encouraging people who support the proposal to write a submission in support, this weeks response letter was saying the opposite and calling for more submissions against the proposal. Looks like we have a great debate on our hands.

*In Alice Springs town planning is under the Territory Government not the Town Council.
My Thoughts - Five stories is a little excessive for Alice Springs, it will probably dominate the landscape. Best to keep to the three stories as per the Planning Scheme
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