At some point in India, I started to wonder if local people were proud of the same things about their place, culture or heritage that visitors were interested. I asked a few people directly, what they were proud of. This is quite a tough question I think, but I had some great conversations with three Swedish girls in India. On that occasion they were prepared to be quite critical about Sweden. My sheer enthusiasm for certain aspects of Swedish culture won them over though, and they agreed of some things to be proud of.
Later, but still while in Asia, I had a go at writing down the things that came to mind when I thought of being proud of Australia and its people. This list is just what came to mind, and I haven’t included all the hyperlinks of explanations, nor ranked it in any particular order.
- TISM – a funny band that anonymously produces catchy tunes with biting and intelligent social commentary in the lyrics.
- Permaculture – young David Holmgren and Bill Mollison created this design system that I think is the purest expression of the sustainability concepts put into practice.
- Kevin Rudd, speaking Mandarin – I think we are part of Asia, that we need to engage with that region, and this one guy’s linguistic abilities are a real asset in that regard.
- Landcare (and Coastcare) – a quite amazing voluntary initiative that is a practical demonstration of Australians interest in conserving their landscape. I am not up to date with the latest evolution of Landcare, but the core intent and engagement of local people is truly world-class.
- Our farmers – the ones I have met are full of wisdom, and love the land. Sometimes they are misled, incentives pull them in directions that were unsustainable, but always their hearts have been in the right place I think. We are still (globally) an agricultural society, and these few thousand men and women and their knowledge are quite, quite important.
- Our biodiversity – we have so many strange, dangerous, and niche plants, animals, insects and primitive life-forms. Even dry patches of scrub on the West Coast can contain more species per hectare than most tropical forests.
- Aboriginal culture and arts – tens of thousands of years of isolation have been the context for the evolution of a culture that is, arguably, the most sustainable on earth and deserves more attention (especially from me).
- ABC, SBS, Radio National, and RTR. I still used these public of non-profit media sources while in the UK and found much of what they did to be far superior than anything I found there. Especially ‘Big Ideas’, ‘Background Briefing’ and ‘The Night Air’
- The Natural Advantage of Nations – some young engineers thought something needed to be done about sustainability, so created a book, resource and network that was truly world-leading.
- Little Creatures, Coopers and Cascade Green – good beers, all with their own eco / local advantages. Expensive, but I don’t drink much.
- Vegemite, marmite and the other of this ilk – sure, it is a great savoury spread. But it was also a great example of the power of using competitions to come up with creative ways to re-use a resource. In this case, a competition to find a use for waste yeast from beer making. Vegemite resulted, and somehow (perhaps this was the true genius) was marketed in a way that people actually ate the stuff?!
- Somervillle eco-village and GreenEdge projects – the best thinking and analysis I have seen on how to replicate and scale eco-villages that are economically sustainable.
- Dialogue with the City and related Citizen engagement initiatives – at the time, Allanah McTiernan and co.’s efforts to pilot new levels and methods of engaging citizens in conversations about stuff that matters was world-leading. I have told so many people about this, and still value the experience I gained through participating.
- Some people – Les Hiddens (Bush Tucker Man), Peter Garrett (Midnight Oil / ALP), Fiona Stanley (child and indigenous health), Tim Flannery (climate change, and everything brilliant he did prior to that), Peter Singer (ethicist).
- Red, desert dirt – does anyone else have anything like this, or so much of it?
- Greenspeed – recumbent trikes ; )
What are you proud of about your nation?