Friday, November 11, 2011

Sustainable Food Fundraiser

Strictly Hypothetical: City Farm Sustainable Food Fundraiser

In the spirit of Geoffrey Robertson, Strictly Hypothetical is a truly different night out!

Help raise funds for City Farm's inaugural Food Film Festival in 2012, as we sink our teeth into some of today’s juiciest food issues!

Follow the adventures of an average Aussie family as they meet our live food panel. Help them decide what to do in the face of delicious dilemmas and percolated problems!

Eating for a Small Planet
Cows, Carbon, Culture and Climate Change

25 November

Darling, What’s for Dinner?
Sustainable, Seasonal, Secure and Shared

9 December

The panel will include:

• WA Young Chef of the Year, Matt Stone (Greenhouse Restaurant)

• Wholefoods trailblazer and author Jude Blereau

• Senator Rachel Siewert and Hon. Lynn MacLaren, MLC for South Metro

• Dr Felicity Newman: food culture lecturer and unashamed Jewish mother!

• Sustainability pioneers, horticulturalists and radio gardening experts Chris Ferreira and Steve Wood

• Vince Gareffa: celebrity butcher and organic meat specialist

Bookings Essential:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Advocacy Across Borders is Now Available

Advocacy Across Borders: NGOs, anti-sweatshop activism and the global garment industry by Shae Garwood is available from Kumarian Press.

The clothing and textile industry employs nearly 30 million people worldwide, mostly in Asia and Central America. Workers frequently face long hours, inadequate wages, harassment and abuse. While some resist such conditions by joining labor unions, many are prevented from doing so or find it difficult to adjust to transitory manufacturers. Because of these challenges, garment workers have reached out to allies across political borders in order to apply more pressure on garment manufacturers.

The transnational anti-sweatshop network is at a critical stage in its development and is due for serious analysis. Advocacy Across Borders reveals the relationships that Northern-based NGOs forge in order to exert influence on powerful actors in the industry. An exhaustive dissection of the strategies of many organizations involved in this extensive network, Garwood’s study points the way forward for civil society actors reaching across borders to advocate for a better world.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Bluestocking annual general meeting and discussion on the future of NGOs

Bluestocking Institute members and anyone interested in joining are invited to attend our annual general meeting on 9 October from 5-7 pm at The Moon CafĂ© at 323 William St, Northbridge, WA. We’ll provide an overview of our activities over the last year, vote on new Management Committee members, and discuss future plans. If you would like to nominate for a position on the Management Committee, please send an email to indicating your interest. Following the official business, we’ll have a brief discussion on the political, economic and social role of nonprofit organisations in Australian society, how those roles are changing, and comparisons with other countries.

RSVP to the annual general meeting via email or via our Facebook page.

For everyone outside of Perth, you’re always welcome to participate in our ongoing discussions via the Bluestocking blog or our Facebook page. We’ll post new information in both places about upcoming topics for discussion, events, and new publications.

Here are a few links for our discussion on the future of NGOs:

Click here for an article in The Economist that highlights the changing relationships between NGOs and businesses, and the problems arising from those changing relationships: Reaching for a longer spoon: The disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is straining ties between companies and activists.

Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project
analyses the scope, structure and financing of the nonprofit sector around the world.

The Australia Institute’s report Silencing dissent, which highlights the ways NGOs in Australia are constrained through their relationships with the state.

Numerous articles can be found on the website of The Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University.

Photo by David Neubert

Friday, August 19, 2011

Discussion Group Summary: Carbon Tax

Our recent discussion on the carbon tax began with an overview of the tax's development, how it's structured, and some of the responses to it.

Political context
The price on carbon is, in large part, an outcome of the current Australian minority government. Before Julia Gillard was elected she promised that she wouldn't implement a carbon tax, and would instead engage in a long period of community consultation before deciding on a course of action. The necessity of negotiating with the Greens and independents, however, shifted that plan. This is not to say that it's the Greens' plan - it's a step in the direction they want, but is far from what they would ideally like. Rural independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor have also played a role in shaping the tax, particularly by pushing for petrol to be exempted. The package is also the result of a months-long consultation process with affected industries and other groups.

Australian emissions
Another important aspect of the tax's background is Australia's carbon emissions: Australia produces more pollution per person than any other country. This is partly because Australia tends to have significantly lower levels of energy efficiency than other developed nation (in 2004, “the overall carbon efficiency of the economy, per unit of fossil fuel used, [was] about half that for Europe and Japan.” This is related, but not entirely due, to Australia's heavy dependence on coal for energy.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user yewenyi.

The structure of the plan
The details of the plan are outlined at the Clean Energy Future site. The carbon tax is currently aimed at a five percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and should cover about 60% of Australia's emissions. It focuses on the 500 largest polluters (excluding the agricultural sector), with assistance packages for some industries (such as steel manufacturing). There's also significant funding included for the development of 'clean' and renewable energy, energy efficiency, and biodiversity conservation. After three years, there will be a shift to an emissions trading scheme, with a cap on carbon and a minimum price of $15 a tonne.

A significant component of the package is assistance to Australian households. Treasury modelling indicates that living costs are expected to rise by expected to rise by 0.7% in 2012-2013 (compared to the 2.5% increase associated with the GST, and the 2.9% associated with inflation). Nine in ten households will receive some money to cover this cost, with approximately two thirds of Australian households receiving enough money to cover it completely. Much of this will be provided by raising the minimum income threshold for taxation and giving tax cuts to those earning under $80,000 a year (following the recommendations of the Henry Tax Review). There will also be increases to allowances, pensions, and family payments. 

Despite the limited reach of the carbon tax, opposition to it has been fierce. Much of the opposition has been lead by the Liberal party, industry groups which have launched a $10 million campaign against the tax, talkback radio, and reporting in newspapers such as the Daily Telegraph. This has been instrumental in the drop in support for the government: in July, Labor party's primary vote dropped to 26 percent, the lowest for a major party in the poll's 39-year history. There are a number of groups, including SayYes and GetUp, trying to build support for the tax, and more generally for effective climate action, but they have an uphill battle ahead.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Alex Schlotzer

This is a very brief overview of a complex issue. If you want to read more, one way to start is the sites I've bookmarked here - the information for this post comes from these sites.

You're also very welcome to ask questions or add comments on this post. During the discussion, we were mostly trying to understand how the tax will create change, who will be effected, and the reasons for the opposition to the tax (including opposition from those who will benefit most from the associated changes to tax and allowances). What do you think?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

"Globalisation: Another World Is Possible?"
UWA Extension Course open for enrolment now!

The Bluestocking Institute is offering the course "Globalisation: Another World Is Possible?" via UWA Extensions, on Wed nights for 4 wks starting October 5th. Enrolments are now open at All welcome!

Globalisation : Another World Is Possible?

The course, “Globalisation: Another world is possible”, seeks to give participants a deeper understanding of globalisation. From the anti-globalisation protests in Seattle to the role of Wiki leaks in the recent Egyptian uprising, we ask: How is globalisation changing the world, and how does this affect our everyday lives?

The course is composed of four weekly, two-hour sessions that will investigate globalisation’s various faces; from the rise of terrorism and the role of the internet, to the infiltration of Coke and McDonalds to the four corners of the globe. The course will include an overview of the major issues and debates, with some real life accounts and examples of globalisation in action. Each session will end with a casual group discussion around some tea and snacks, where participants are encouraged to explore and share their ideas.

Week 1: The Global Economy

Week 2: The Environment

Week 3: New Media

Week 4: The Future of a Globalised World

Presented by: Sky Croeser, Kelly Gerard and Michelle Hackett

Location: UWA Extensions, Claremont, WA

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Call for Submissions from the International Museum of Women

Your Voices: On Motherhood

Submit Your Work Now for the Next Online Exhibition of the International Museum of Women (IMOW)!

Published Submissions Eligible for a US$1,000 Community Choice Award

Artists, filmmakers, photographers, musicians, writers—IMOW is now accepting submissions of any media type for our new online exhibition, Your Voices: On Motherhood. Contributions can come in any medium that is currently supported on and work must address a topic related to motherhood. Published submissions will be eligible for a US$1,000 Community Choice Award, with $500 going to the individual contributor and $500 going to a women’s nonprofit of the winner’s choice!

IMOW wants to showcase the experiences, ideas, joys and challenges of a new global generation on motherhood. What are your fears and hopes as you think about whether to become a mother? How is being a ‘good’ mother defined in your country or culture? How is mothering now different to your mother or grandmother’s generation? Tell us your story and submit your work today!

For more information and submissions guidelines click here

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Discussion Group: Carbon Tax

In February this year the Australian government announced a tax on carbon pollution, to come into effect in July 2011. The tax will be levied on a limited number of companies, and will be replaced by a cap and trade system in around three to five years. The tax has proved to be controversial, with demonstrations both in favour and against it.

We'll talk through some of the issues surrounding the carbon tax, including how it will work, it's potential effect on households and the economy, and how the tax has been covered in the media.

If you'd like to do some reading before you come along, here are some resources:
* The ABC has a number of infographics that show key figures, effects on food prices, how carbon pricing works, which areas emissions will be cut from, effects on income and the economyAustralia's current emission levels, and a short overview of different approaches to cutting emissions.
* The Australian government has released a site that will allow you to estimate the effects on your household. Why not try it out?
* The Drum's Ben Eltham takes a closer look at the main alternative being proposed: the Coalition's Direct Action Plan.
* In the wake of the government's announcement, different groups are trying to shape how Australians react: a new industry lobby group has been formed to oppose the tax, Crikey's Andrew Crook claims that the Daily Telegraph's coverage is biased, and GetUp! is trying to crowd source funding for their own ads.

Of course, you're also very welcome to show up without reading these resources, or to do reading of your own.

Meet us at the Moon Cafe at 5pm, Sunday 14th August. You can RSVP through the Facebook event page or just come along.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Freegan Results

Alright, so I don't have fancy pictures like Claire below me, but I also wanted to report on the success of Freegan Run #1. First, we had been warned that it would be a nasty, unpleasant job. Sorry to say, but it was SO FUN. We giggled, joked, laughed, and skulked around in complete jest. It wasn't gross, well it wasn't too gross, and it was a good time with my fellow hippies.

I live on my own and I've been struggling to get through all the food we harvested. I had breakfast off of bakery goods for the first half of my week (so unhealthy, so yum), and fruit and toast for the remainder, all dredged up from the depths of Thrown Out By Other People. Tomorrow I'll have two of the eggs we salvaged on toast, and I'm looking forward to it!

For lunch this week I made vegan peanut satay soup:

Pumpkin (freegan)
Carrot (freegan)
Potato (freegan)
Red chili (freegan)
Garlic and onion
Lemon (backyard; does that count as freegan?)
Coconut milk
Cumin and fresh tumeric
Peanut butter
Vegetable stock
Rolls for dipping (freegan)

I have to pat myself on the back. It's pretty stellar soup.

Tonight I'm making:

Capsicum (freegan) stuffed with kangaroo (NOT freegan, or vegan, or anything but yummy and already in my freezer), bread crumbs (freegan), tomato (freegan), garlic, and mushrooms
Steamed beans (freegan), snow peas (freegan), and leeks doused in dill-lemon butter
And just to make it especially un-hippy, I'll even add the dairy product of grilled Haloumi.

I've also been working my way through pineapple, pears, and apples. All in all, I am a total freegan convert. We are planning run #2 sometime next week. If you are curious, get in touch with me!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Freegan run number one

The Bluestocking-affiliated Practical Ethics group took its first official Freegan run this weekend, with five participants, one who claimed to be "just an observer", although we quickly press-ganged him into use as a bag-passer, vegetable-holder, and dumpster-lid-returner. As lovely little Freegans, we returned everything to a tidy state, lowering dumpster lids, redistributing the cardboard boxes on top, and snacking on scones straight out of the bag. Well, ok, straight out of the bin liner.

Our haul amounted to mostly fresh produce from a Sunday market, pretty much all bruised, starting to go off, or otherwise "damaged goods". We liked them perfectly fine, however, and anything that was too far gone even to be reclaimed by hungry hungry hippies went to a separate box for the chooks.

Although we weren't as green as we would have liked (in that we had a car and drove from site to site), it turned out to be essential for the sheer amount of stuff we had, most of which we sorted into cardboard flats also taken from the dumpster. We had all thoughtfully brought lots of those little fruit and veg bags for putting loose rolls and things in, which turned out nicely when we hit the jackpot of scones, chocolate croissants, and walnut scrolls. Also as individual bread bags for the wholemeal loves we found, baked fresh that day.

So after sorting out the bounty, I took my share home and washed it thoroughly in cold water and soap (I actually used dish detergent, with a thorough rinsing to ensure it was all off every veggie), then patted it dry and put it in the fridge for later use -- it was about 11:15 when I got home, and about ten to midnight when I finished washing vegetables.

Today, this is what I made from it (and ingredients I had around the house):

Vegetarian baked risotto, based on this recipe -- I already had the garlic, onions, oil, rice, broccoli and the extra sprinkling of parmesan I added -- the zucchini and tomatos came from freeganism.

Just a light salad: cherry tomatoes and cucumber from the dumpsters, lemon juice from our backyard tree, a splash of balsamic vinegar and salt to taste.

And a lot of other stuff -- a yellow capsicum, a carrot, and a lot of other odds and ends, including the rest of the stewed tomatoes from the risotto -- went into a pot with some water to simmer away into vegetable stock.

I have also been cultivating my own sourdough starter from wholegrain flour and water, and set that out to rise while I cooked all of this -- it's slowly poufing itself into a little round ball right now.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Discussion Group Event: The Ban on Live Animal Export

At the last Bluestocking Discussion Group we explored the recent events surrounding live cow export to Indonesia. Video footage by Animals Australia depicting cruelty against cows in Indonesian abattoirs has raised concerns about Australia’s live animal export practices, and led to a temporary ban on the trade. As we discussed last Sunday, this raises interesting and tricky questions about the ethics of live animal export, about the responsibility we should or shouldn’t have over the end use of “goods” we sell (eg uranium, animals), and about the future sustainability of the way we live and eat.

The Australian cattle industry and farmers, the Indonesian meat industry and consumers, the Australian government, and Australian public, all appear to have a stake in the future of live cow export. The media reports in Australia over the last month seem to have been dominated by the concerns of the Australian farmers; primarily, the frustration of farmers with the uncertainty surrounding their industry. Whilst the ban on live exports has since been lifted, there are now strict conditions over the exportation of cows to Indonesia. It is the Australian exporter who is now required to account for each cow that is transported to Indonesia- from the moment they buy the cow in Australia, to the moment it is killed in the abattoir in Indonesia. This can be a process which takes several months, as the Indonesian government is trying to enhance its own livestock-feed industry by “fattening-up” the cows in their own fields, before slaughter.

We discussed the question of whether it is simply easiest, and more humane, to stop live export of the cows altogether. There are a few reasons why this would be tricky: one reason is the livestock-feed industry that Indonesia wants to continue to build; another reason is the halal standards that Indonesia wants to ensure are met; another reason is the lack of refrigeration in much of Indonesia, making fresh meat the safest choice. In terms of the Islamic halal standards, we do have halal butchers in Australia, but there is some difference of opinions over whether stunning is acceptable under halal guidelines. In order for meat to be halal the cow must be killed in a specific way. In Australia, nonlethal stunning before proper slaughter is accepted as halal. This practice is not universally accepted, however, and hence international standards do not include stunning. The Australian government requires exporters to ensure that Indonesian abattoirs are up to international standards for cow slaughter. Unsurprising, this has not been deemed sufficient by animal welfare groups.

Finally, our discussion led us to question the animal welfare standards in domestic industries here in Australia. While the plight of cows and sheep abroad is most certainly an area of concern, it can be seen as hypocritical to chastise Indonesia for its bad animal welfare record when caged chicken (among other issues) are still a legal industry in Australia. Hopefully the live cow export media blitz will help to raise community awareness of the animal welfare problems we have here at home.

For further information on any of the above, post up a blog with your questions and I’ll do my best to research an answer. Some interesting sources are pasted below.

The Photo above is courtesy of tha abc news.