Together? Apart? Where ARE we??
Welcome to 2022. And life doesn’t get less interesting, does it?
As we head into our third year of pandemic, with the climate and ecological crisis hanging over us, and with threats to our weakening democracies looking ever more worrying, it’s hard to feel this is a happy new year. But yesterday I was privileged to join a huge crowd marching in solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people through Canberra and down to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, where there was a day-long festival celebrating this remarkable protest’s 50th anniversary, and I was filled again with confidence that we humans have a truly incredible capacity to pull together and do what’s necessary in times of challenge.
Speaking with lots of people over summer, I was struck by how that feeling of uncertainty was pervading us all. So it seems appropriate to start the year with a webinar looking both back over the last two years and forwards through next, asking “Together? Apart? Where are we?“
Almost two years ago, in a snap webinar days after Australia went into our first lockdown, the Green Institute hosted the first public conversation in Australia to discuss how we stay together while keeping apart.
Two years on, what have we learned? What have we done, and what has been done to us? What has changed, and what hasn’t changed enough?
In March 2020, we asked:
“How do we keep working for justice and for community cohesion when we’re being told, for good reason, to isolate? What do we do when connection is vital for solving so many of the issues we face but is also spreading disease? From organised mutual aid to balcony singing, phone trees to online comedy shows and musical gigs, there are so many ways to stay together while keeping apart, but they all require us to take the lead and do them in our own communities.”
In the last two years, we’ve seen a huge burst of mutual aid around Australia and the world, but we’ve also seen governments using this moment to clamp down on civil liberties and to channel billions of dollars to their corporate mates and donors through JobKeeper and the “gas-fired recovery”.
We’ve seen a tremendous majority of Australians rushing to get vaccinated to protect themselves and as an act of solidarity with those more vulnerable to the virus, but we’ve also seen already divisive political debates get ever more divisive, splintering the community when we need to come together in common interest.
We’ve had a remarkable real-world experiment with unconditional basic income, saving lives and lifting people out of poverty and depression. And then we’ve seen people’s lives being recklessly endangered in the name of opening up the economy, with the most vulnerable and excluded put at the greatest risk as ever.
The Green Institute is delighted to welcome back four of our panellists from March 2020 to discuss what has happened, what we can learn, and where we go from here. Please join in as we discuss “Together? Apart? Where ARE we?” with:
- Disability rights activist, El Gibbs;
- Campaign trainer and commons librarian, Holly Hammond;
- National Coordinator of Australia reMADE, Millie Rooney;
- Nonviolent direct action trainer and advocate, Nicola Paris;
- and me
Please join us in two weeks, on February 9, for this discussion to work out where we are and where we can go from here.
PS: Having had to twice postpone the 5th Global Greens Congress due to COVID, the Global Greens are hosting a day-long online congress, Connecting For Green Action, on February 5. I and many others associated with the Green Institute and the Australian Greens will be taking part. It’s an excellent program. Do check it out and join us for all or part of the event!