#100meters is back after a three-month break. #100meters is a photography project documenting a one hundred meter stretch of road and the life that unfolds within that space.
My new one hundred meter location is on Brunswick Street between Gertrude and Moor in Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia.
Arriving in Australia to live ( abet temporarily) in one of the country’s most affluent suburbs after four months in Nepal is like moving to the moon.
In Toorak, one of the most wealthy suburbs of Melbourne ,Australian Tax Office figures (2010) indicate the average annual income hovers around $132252. In Nepal the average income, according to World Vision, sits around $200. Rather astounding that on average one Toorak resident earns the same as 661 Nepali’s. This coincides with a huge disparity in population density. In Kathmandu 13,225 people live per square kilometer, urban Melbourne is light weight in comparison with 2010 Australian Bureau of Statistics figures placing population density at 530.
But this is nothing if you look at quality of life, various pollution indicators, working conditions, access to medical care and education. The comparisons are actually pointless. Toorak is alien to the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu and the political miasma that engulfs Nepal’s capital, that said Ted and his resignation shenanigans last night is a step in the right direction.
It can be challenging coming back into the developed world and seeing all the blatant abundance and people having far more than they actually need. Do you really need a car in Melbourne that can take on all terrains in siege conditions? If your children are at Geelong Grammar’s Toorak campus apparently you do. School pick up time is projectile money flung on asphalt.Is that much car necessary beyond the point you are shouting your wealth at everyone else on the road? Not only is that excessive in comparison to Nepal but also to the majority of Australian’s. Particularly in Victoria as the state officially entered recession this week.
But I am being judgmental.
There is something very nice staying in a safe leafy suburb cushioned in comfort. I understand why people aspire to live like this. And I am very appreciative to the friend who has facilitated this time of luxury. It is a time out from the raw honesty of daily life in Nepal though vaguely surreal. A time to charge the batteries, no load shedding here.
But I say this knowing I will be back working and living in the Global South in two months. For me Toorak is the moon or Disneyland.This is not real life, is it?
There is something magical about walking into a publicly held space, a space being reclaimed for change. City Square in central Melbourne occupied peacefully despite the four mounted police of the occupation, despite police cameras filming the crowd from above and a crowd representing a diverse range of political opinions.It is inspirational.
Poets, punks, anarchist dogs (“no leads, no leaders!”), children, environmentalists,performance artists,film makers, hipsters, unionists, curious teenagers joggled alongside one another, took to the mic, workshopped, assisted organisers, played drums and marched in support of others (BDS protestors) who had previously arranged a march. It became more and more obvious as the day continued that peacefully and together we have real power. Even though in Melbourne they are only just picking up the reins started with the Madrid Occupation that started in May, it feels like this movement has the potential to facilitate change. No other reason for all the police, surveillance and undercover cops in the crowd unless the occupation movement was a real challenge to the inequitable status of now.
One of the criticisms of the #occupy movement is that it doesn’t have concrete aims. But from what I see internationally not having concrete aims at this early stage of the movement is the point. Huge sections of the population globally are dissatisfied with the status quo. With the insane inequality of wealth distribution , a correlating power resting in the hands of the very few and governments globally facilitating this concentration of power (As one occupier said to me yesterday. “Governments no longer govern, they are corporate administrators”) to have a cohesive plan already laid out would be unrealistic and non representational of the diversity of the movement. The movement needs to be representational, grassroots based so it cannot be co-opted to represent current government/corporate interests. This is something I found evident yesterday, the general assembly model while slow-moving means that strategies developed are truly representational of the majority.
It became clear after speaking to more people than I can count that not only do occupiers want the world to be equitable,they want real community , they want purpose and meaning, they are claiming back our connectedness. Occupation is about putting humanity first.