MEETING AUSTRALIA'S MODERN DARWIN
The Newcastle Writer's Festival never fails in igniting my passion for words and ideas. Last year proved to be no exception, when I was lucky enough to listen to a talk by Australia's modern Darwin, Tim Flannery.
Flannery is a man of many talents - his diverse career spanning across exploration, research, science, english and campaigning. I was most struck by two things he discussed on stage. The first was hope. Hope for the planet and for addressing climate change. However, he stressed that we must act now.
The second was his belief that we need a new political system. Our system of governance is failing Australia and the environment. Tim proposed the concept of a political system that selects people at random and removes the reliance on career politicians that come from the same moulds, vested interests and a four-year cycle. His travels for the Climate Commission confirming to him that we have more good people in Australia on average than those that sit in Parliament. That maybe a system of governance that is not dissimilar to tribal councils would be a potential solution. While his thoughts were confronting, and I initially dismissed it, they have got me thinking...
I was initially interested in his work because it embodies the life I wish to lead - an explorer, traversing science and the arts. When I met him after the talk, with a copy of his The Explorer’s Notebook - a collection of stories from his early days in Australia and Papua New Guinea - in my hand, I told him I was going to live in remote British Columbia, Canada, and that I too, wanted to work on the borders of the arts and the sciences. After a quick chat, I asked him if he had any advice for me.
Answering with his pen, he scribbled ‘To Kate, Write the World’. His writing was a little messy - like a doctor - and so at first, I read it as, ‘Go Kate, Write the World’.
He then said ‘Write the World. Everything you are seeing in front of you. Explore it. Write Your World.’ Nodding my head like I understood, we smiled at each other. I took it to mean this.
Writing the World is writing about the world - as we see it, as I see it. It’s documenting what is happening around me and what is happening in front of me, on shores far away. As well as the shores closer to home. Writing the world is about placing a human experience on something so much bigger than that - our beautiful, simple and complex planet. It's also writing for the world. Words have the power to create the world, to entice and create change, entrance and enhance.
In those observations of the now, of writing what is happening before our eyes, we also write the future.