Tag: food

Day for Days for Girls

About a week ago (5th December), myself and esteemed WISE president Jess Vovers, headed along to a Days for Girls fundraiser at the Fitzroy bowling club. The fundraiser was run by Isabel Zbukvic, a Tweep I was getting the opportunity to meet in the flesh, and it featured some of the best potato salad I’ve ever eaten.

Days for Girls is a non-profit organisation that creates and distributes feminine hygiene packs to people who need them. Each hygiene kit includes absorbent pads, soap, zip-lock bags, moisture shields – everything needed to learning and working while menstruating.

Most women bleed a lot, and in the first world with our scented disposable pads and our moon cups and our (relative) lack of stigma we can forget how much of a difference it would make if we could’t attend school or work for all of those days. I was annoyed and inhibited enough by my (roughly) two days off a month due to suspected endometriosis. Triple that to get the time many girls and women are losing from school and work. That’s not an insignificant dent in learning, earning, and functioning, and it helps explain why women are more likely to be in poverty worldwide.

You can volunteer to make your own but as my sewing ability begins and ends with hems and buttons, I’m more than happy to shell out a few dollars for a feed and bowling. The spread was glorious, featuring donations from  Organic Wholefoods, Mayfield Café and Babka Bakery – and a potato salad that may have changed my life. Isabel made a lot of the food herself, including some quality tzatziki and hummus, and deserves ongoing congratulations for a successful event.

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The potato salad is second from the right, third from the bottom.
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Rachel Zbukvic and Millie O’Sullivan provided the music. Photo by Jess Vovers.
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Natalia gets her bowl on. Photo by Jess Vovers.

The weather pitched in, bowls were bowled (at the Fitzroy Victoria Bowling & Sports Club), music was provided, and far too much food was eaten. I met great people I wouldn’t have otherwise, and had a relaxing afternoon outside.

It can feel a little bit like slacktivism to have a great afternoon while at the same time helping get menstruating people out of poverty. But really it just isn’t that hard to create meaningful change. It can be as simple as picking up a pair of underwear next time you go to the supermarket.

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Days for Girls are a great cause, and I thoroughly recommend liking their Facebook page and watching out for the next fundraising event they have near you. They’ve made it easy to make a difference – take advantage of that.

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Junket

Junket 2015 : 200 youth leaders in Australia (including yours truly) get whisked away to the QT Canberra to solve problems. Ideally, they’ll solve the biggest problems facing Australia today. It’s invite-only; you could only “buy” your way in with ideas.

I cried when I got the email inviting me out of the blue (sent to the WISE inbox), nearly tried to convince the current WISE president that the email was actually meant for her, and looked at the email about fifty times over the next two days to ensure it was real. I carefully didn’t mention that I’m a New Zealander.

I’ve seen enough startups that claim they will solve the world (or even just fill a niche) be impractical and overly optimistic and frankly grating with their buzzwords. I wasn’t super hopeful that hashtag junket was going to be any different – even when I signed up to the conference-specific app it seemed like everyone was more enthusiastic/less moderately jaded than me. I felt it was going to be an impractical love-fest full of people saying words like “disruptive”, “agile” and “lean”, but food was provided, and free food will get me just about anywhere.

a bowl full of donuts with a greeting card welcoming Ms Frentz to the QT Canberra
An example of the free food with which I can be bribed places

I cannot explain to you exactly how different it was.

It was a love-fest, sure – everyone was always excited to see you and keen to talk to you about who you are and what you’re doing. But it was practical. It was grounded. On the second day we had five hour-long sessions, with 11 options for each one, and every single one asked for practical action points at the end.

A lot of the sessions had people working in the field of interest, from arts to the sciences to education to indigenous issues to medicine; the list goes on. This meant that people took action points back to their work and can start putting ideas in place as early as this week. But it gets better than that.

Every person there was doing good things. It was an experience reminiscent of the International Biology Olympiad to me – I’d found my people. These were hyper-intelligent polymath overachievers with a social conscience the size of a bus. The core of Junket was the fact that people who wouldn’t have otherwise met were brought together to discuss things that mattered to us. I met other people who care about women in STEM, who think the social norm that is university is kind of bullshit, a volunteer for the Missing Persons Advocacy Network, queer activists, mental health activists, engineers, scientists, dancers, artists, all full of energy and passion.

I not only pitched about women in STEM at the opening night, but ran a session and pitched about a women in STEM students network in an actual elevator. I’ve got about three pages of my own notes as well as the write-up Junkee is going to supply to start taking action on. Everyone had really good ideas and I’m looking forward to putting them in action. Watch this space, I guess, but not too closely – I still need to recover.

Dark room with project screen featuring the word "Junket"
Scene from the opening night at Junket

While I’d love to focus on the content of the sessions or discuss the disconnect between corporate sponsors and social justice that is apparently a Big Deal but 100% doesn’t seem incongruous to me, that would bust this blog post out to thousands of words. Junkee.com will be writing articles on it over the next few weeks.

What surprised me the most about Junket, what mattered the most about Junket, was that I felt comfortable to be fully honest about myself and my experiences. In my daily life there’s a lot of things I don’t share, neglect to mention, avoid discussing – even with you, public forum of the Internet. I try to fit in and in doing so become a version of myself. I did not do this at Junket; there was no need.

At Junket I was open and honest. I was challenged and inspired. I was reinvigorated and changed and it was fantastic.

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Final family photo at  #junket 2015 – photo shamelessly stolen from Jess Scully (curator of Junket 2015 and probably now my personal hero)

Perth-ectionism

My journey to Perth started with a healthy dose of panic-induced earliness; having not travelled with luggage since emigrating to Australia, I stressed out that I would arrive late and so had two hours in the Qantas departure gates to kill with some of the worst wi-fi I have ever had the bad fortune to connect to.

 

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At least I had some company for the two hours in Melbourne Quantas Domestic Terminal

 

I was travelling to Perth with most of my research group to present a poster at AussieMit 2014, the Australian Mitochondrial research conference and my first conference. I was nervously confident that I probably knew what I was about.

Perth itself was incredibly dead when I arrived, on a Sunday afternoon. Most shops had closed at 5 and while all I really wanted to do was sleep, it was still enough of an inconvenience to be an inconvenience.

The city is relaxed. The roads are wider, the houses seem further apart, and the city itself is much greener than I anticipated. The Harry Perkins Institute, where the conference was hosted, is less than a year old and had some incredibly wonderful installations (and a good cafe).

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This moved across the body and showed different things relevant to the position!

Perth is really into it’s street art – according to a girl who lives there, Perth is trying to become more like Melbourne and went down the “murals and enforced culture” path rather than the “get a load of hipsters together and see what happens” path. Sites such as the one below were pretty common while wandering around Subiaco and Leederville.

mural showing men with bags, possibly gold miners.
Mural in Subiaco

The city center, on the other hand, is fresh and open and at this time of year, incredibly Christmassy. Perth put on an incredible show for Christmas, with huge trees, stars, and various constructions of metal and fairy lights residing in almost every window we walked past in town.

Perth city centre. Look at that summer. Look at those fountains. Look at that weird sculpture in the background. Truly a great city.
Perth city centre.

I had most of a free day to see Perth, and explored SciTech, the Supreme Court gardens and law museum, and Koko Black.

It is with great dismay I admit that I have reached the age where I feel self conscious pushing small children off equipment that looks fun, and SciTech was smaller than I had hoped (or perhaps I am just larger than when I was last at a science museum). The inner suburbs of Perth have a fairly great free bus service connecting all of them that goes about every 8 minutes, so I got in from SciTech with no hassles at all.

Koko Black had been recommended to me by the “Urban walkabout” tourist brochures, using language that lead me to believe this was only available in Perth. AS IT TURNS OUT there are TWO Koko Blacks in Melbourne. I had kind of hoped I was eating at some Cool Perth Eatery, but I’m not one to sniff at chains of gourmet chocolate stores. Instead, my Perth Eating Experience was at Wild Duck on Hampden Road during the conference – five courses, one of which included a foam. I wish I could ever remember to take photographs of my food, because it truly was an experience worthy of documenting.

The Law Museum was mostly an accident – I was trying not to be awkwardly early to Perth airport, especially seeing how much I really dislike bad wi-fi. I went for a wander past a lot of construction (I’m sure it will all look great in like three months but it was dusty and uninteresting) and came upon the Supreme Court, which was surrounded by some quite wonderful gardens and the oldest building in Perth and the Law Museum.

Much of the Law Museum focussed on the interplay between Aboriginal and English law, and how West Australia has dealt with that. The Museum definitely made it seem like a genuine attempt to peacefully bring the two cultures together, but history is written by the victor and the violent history of Australia (and large-scale ignorance of it) makes me incredibly uncomfortable. But on the other hand, I sat in the head judge’s chair, so that was fun.

Supreme Court gardens, Perth
Supreme Court gardens

We had walked through Kings Park the night before (everything in Perth is so green, everyone is so fit) and I got to experience more Australian flora and fauna as well as some stunning views of Perth.

View of Perth skyline showing skyscrapers and blue sky
The view from King’s Park

Finally, Perth had the cheapest airport transfer I’ve ever had: the train into town from accomodation was $2, and the bus out to the airport $4.40. The bus takes just under an hour, and takes you to terminals 3 and 4.