~ The Art Of Change ~ with Carol Omer ~

Art and Creativity as Mediums for Empowerment , Connection and Change…

Archive for the ‘Reconciliation’ Category

The Virus. An Australian Story.

Posted by carolom on March 13, 2017

The Virus is a representative story and although the names and some of the details have been changed for narrative purpose, it is a true story.

The Virus. An Australian Story

I was 5 or 6 years old a migrant child of parents who were swept away from the sooty chimney towns of Britain’s working class north by the promises of a bright new life in a young country.
A country brimming, spilling and erupting with extraordinary  opportunities for people, white people, who dreamt of owning their very own land. Australia.

We were the ten pound package , government assisted, chance of a life time Brits who flocked in their thousands to these shores and landed like sparkling white seagulls

Noisy chattering seagulls, filling the migrant hostels with stories and speculations, big plans on low bank accounts. New arrivals on  the look out for the best morsels of the promised opportunities.

Poms they called us, the latest flock of new arrivals following in the footsteps of the exiled convicts and our sea faring ancestors who came to seize new territory in a land that was not young at all.

Big skies, wide streets, pupil dazzling light. Brand new asbestos houses far removed from the tall sooty terrace flats cramped side by side back Home.

We staggered wearily, eagerly into government issue houses that nestled expectantly in the middle of tiny little paddocks. Neatly sliced quarter acre blocks that beckoned the new arrivals to seed a brand new life and sow a future far removed from the misty grey land where the sun rarely shines.

This was The Lucky Country and we thought that we were very lucky indeed! There was much to learn and many new things to see and for awhile my migrant child’s world was consumed with more space,  new friends, big school, new sounds, interesting sights and beach time delights!

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In fact we were so immersed in our new life we were utterly, completely, mind numbingly oblivious to the Land where we were living.

That is when the virus struck.

I remember the day it happened.

Unlike those silent viruses that sit invisibly on taps waiting to hitch a ride on fingertips that brush past lips, this insidious, relentless, sickening parasite travelled effortlessly upon the breath transmitted upon invisible sound waves, elusive in their source, the destination always the same.

It was very hard for young children to escape a germ such as that!

I was standing by the milk shed when the virus struck.

The current host was a plump red freckly boy called George. He was no doubt named after a king, an uncle or grandfather back Home .

The kids called George names like dot-face and carrot top.
Giggling and laughing, George entertained us by pulling faces and joining in the fun. His best friend stood with us. Peter Green, an Australian boy who was fond of saying “we go back 6 generations”, even though he didn’t really know what it meant. His father said it all the time so it must have been important.

Peter was teaching George the real Australian way!

We were standing in the cool shade, a rare find across the sweltering expanse of the asphalt playground when the virus emerged and the first cross infection occurred.

In a loud voice that announced his cockney origins wherever he went, George sang out four words in the mocking tone of a confident child: Dirty coon, rotten baboon.

Four words that speared my consciousness and left a tender wound, a vulnerable space to host a virus that I was too young to fight.

Georges words invoked contempt.  A voracious contempt that swept through the crowded school yard as quickly as it took to catch one another’s breath. I followed Georges eyes and saw the object of his loathing.
Curly haired Lindy and her little brother Jimmy the Aboriginal kids.

The Blacks. 

Lindy and Jimmy stood out from the sea of white faces. Shiny black birds surrounded by vicious seagulls. They stood holding the eyes of their attacker whilst holding tightly onto one another’s hand.

Jimmy leaned towards his big sister terrified that the big kid with the flaming red hair was about to lunge and squash him then and there.

They were the outcast kids. The Abo’s who were never ever invited to play our games.

Peter smiled at George approvingly and one or two others snickered our way as the virus twisted itself across children’s faces annihilating the anti-bodies of innocence, feasting upon the collective enjoyment of someone else being teased.

This particularly robust virus had its own language.

After coon followed different words boong-boong –that’s the noise they make when the bull bar hits them.

Before long other children joined in the heckling until a bubonic plague of racist torment swamped us all in its vitriolic grip.

That was the day I learnt a new A, B C. The uniquely Australian alphabet.

A. B. C.

Abo
Boong
Coon.

This was the Australian alphabet I was infected with as a child.

In the Lucky Country, a  magnificent land older than the mountains,  with Secrets winding back through time, something terrible occurred.

A virus was unleashed but it was in circulation long before our little family travelled to the down under shores.

What became of Lindy and Jimmy? Innocent children who were called half castes, treated as out casts. Removed from their Mother, kidnapped before her very eyes.She grieved until she died only a few years later.
Thanks to the power of forgiveness and decency and common sense, strong medicines for curing the malaise of toxic tongues and the virus that leaves many deaf and mute and blind, Lindy and Jimmy and I became friends.
Precious friends and together we are all in recovery from the virus that strikes so many innocent children down.

Unity updated
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Posted in Aboriginal, Australia, Australia's abuse of human rights, Carol Omer, Racism, racism in australia, Reconciliation, Relationships, Sorry | Leave a Comment »

The “N” word and the A,B,C of racism here in Australia.

Posted by carolom on June 21, 2016

*Dedicating this updated post to Nova Peris today after the man who sent her messages with these words in them, pleaded guilty:

 

The Intergenerational Impact of Australia’s Racist History

I have often thought that those divisive, racist terms, Australia’s equivalent to the word,  the ABC of racism, have not been publicly outed here in Australia.

It’s as if those derisive names and derogatory terms have gone underground yet still live and perpetuate in the collective psyche today, erupting occasionally but generally not aired or brought to the light of public discussion and transformation.

I pre-empt the following with an apology to those who are offended.  In the context of the word discussion it is important that we acknowledge the toxic, pervasive impact of the words abo, boong & coon and the inference of the superiority of one group by the demonising of another.   Dehumanising words that  were instilled in the post European settlement consciousness  of  this country.

As a migrant child in the  60’s hearing the adults use the terms in a derisive, mocking, disdainful manner transmitted their racist origins down through the generations and their legacies are alive and breathing long after the first people who uttered them have gone.

That old adage that you can’t heal it until you claim it is as relevant when discussing collective language and divisive stereotyping as it is when discussing personal  mental, emotional and spiritual wounds.

It is the very early days of recovery from the violence of colonisation in this country and naming and accepting responsibility for the impact of the language of Australia’s history of apartheid that was linguistically coded into our schoolyards and policies in very recent times, is another step in the healing process and journey of restorative justice.

An Aboriginal Woman said to me recently: Unless you have experienced it, a person could never know what it feels like to have your culture, your tribe and community demonised to the point where just the word “Aborigine” triggers fear, distrust and loathing in people who have never even sat down with us and had a yarn.

Australia’s history of colonisation, which was an invasion into an occupied country whose inhabitants had   highly sophisticated systems of governance & environmental practices, is the story of many first nations people right across the globe. Domination, theft, rape, genocide, kidnapping of children and loss of language and identity and the slow and painful inter-generational recovery for a nation of people living in the post traumatic state.

I sometimes wonder if people outside of Australia are aware that there are uniquely Australian counterparts to that loathesome and highly political word “nigger’

They are words that imprison the innocent and are not discussed openly  in Australia or made accountable for the role that they have played in demonising one race in order to serve the agenda of another.

Deep within the psyche and at the fore front of many people’s thinking & belief systems, the ABC – abo, boong and coonof Australia’s shameful & very recent past is still very much alive and breathing  a fresh generation of racism despite progress being made in some areas of Reconciliation and healing.

This is what the women in our Aboriginal Women’s Healing groups have told me over and over and when an Aboriginal grandmother is standing at the bus stop with her three grandchildren and a car full of teenagers drives by and calls out boongs, it is evidence that the virus of racism is still beng transmitted in Austraia today.

Click here to read “The Virus” – a story of how racism is ‘caught’ in the schoolyard…

Definition of boong in the Urban Dictionary reveals the derogatory intent of the term:Urban dictionary Definition of ‘boong’

Many Warriors are still in chains.

For more on this topic, I highly recommend the following book “Blood on the Wattle” which details the history of some of the massacres across Australia. It is a hard book to read but one that should be read by every Australian.
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Posted in Abo, Aboriginal, Aborigines in Chains, Apartheid in Australia, Australia, Australia's abuse of human rights, Boong, Coon, Human Rights, Indigenous, Nigger, Racism, racism in australia, Reconciliation, Slavery in Australia, What Oprah should know, What the Australian Tourism Commission won't tell you | Tagged: | 19 Comments »

Mandalas as tools for Staff Training and Development.

Posted by carolom on June 21, 2016

*Updated:

The Mandala ( the Circular form) which I have shared in other sections of my blog,  is a great tool for inspiring right brain thinking and reflection during our  creativity based staff training sessions.

As people engage with the rhythmic movement of adding colour and meaning to the individual black and white templates, the process is akin to a mind-massage that facilitates  access to parts of the brain we may have lost touch with in education settings and workplaces that don’t engage the hands equally as the eyes and ears for training purposes.

This is especially so in the western system whereas other cultures, i.e. Aboriginal culture, engage hands and creativity as part of the process of telling stories, generating ideas  and transmitting knowledge. This multi-sensory engagement is core to every day life.

In some cultures creative expression and development is not reduced  after early childhood as happens in some aspects of the western school system where the arts are often not considered as important as the sciences and therefore colour movement, dance, story telling, art and the application of the imagination are diminished over time. Creativity does not conform to a pre-existing template and systems that are outcome oriented are often not able accommodate creative expression and exploration.

 The system we are brought up in has enormous influence on how we think and create.

Sadly many people are living their life with the belief (belief )  I am not Creative, in spite of shared experience we all had as creative, imaginative, ‘magical’ children who were not bound by pre-existing templates during times of play and invention.
You can read a little story about what happens to the ‘magical child in exile’ by clicking here..

Feedback after the creativity based training  includes statements like this:

  • I was amazed at how much more information I absorbed even though I was not always looking up
  • thank you for giving us permission to go in to our own creative space and contribute without having to sit still all day in the one position, i am always the biro flicker in workshops because my hands get bored sitting still all day
  • Wow! That was fabulous! I am going to share these tools with my daughter and grandchildren

The following are samples of some of the work that was created during a series of Cultural Inclusivity Action Plan workshops.

The four themes that were central to the day were

  • Team
  • Community
  • Our Place
  • Workplace Balance

You can see the theme is written on the Mandala and the individual creative input is an unique and diverse as the participants and the Community they serve.

We honour the traditional owners of this great land when we implement processes that Aborginalise the western mindset by engaging with traditional cultural practices of art, creativity, story sharing, talking circles and FUN! (Thankyou Dana Shen for introducing me to  the term Aboriginalising ways of learning and information sharing).

This kind of training setting is a along way vastly different from sitting in a row of chairs or around tables and watching but not actively engaging with information. Slide shows, pie graphs and classroom style information sharing  lacks the creative engagement that occurs when hands are given access to creative processes and the information is presented in a way that evokes the imagination and new ideas.

Creativity based learning is a very different setting than the more common workshop environment where people sit still, watch and listen rather than create and interact with the material.

Our Place

Team

Balance in the Workplace

Each Mandala has a developmental theme and is used as both a creative and discussion tool as

  • an individual process,
  • in the small group talking /action plan group and
  • as a larger group we have poster size replicas which, by the end of the day become the centre of an action-plan installation art.

You can see how wonderful it is to create the ART of Vision / Action over the tired old butchers paper sheets that tend to be rolled away and disappeared forever once the workshop is over….

Posted in Aboriginal, ART of Change, Community, Creativity, Imagination, Patterns, Power of Focus, Reconciliation, Social Artistry, Staff Training, Stories, The Art of Change, Transformation, Uncategorized, Wisdom | Leave a Comment »

Unity in Community…

Posted by carolom on August 17, 2010

I created this poster a few years ago when we were asked in a training session to ‘write down your Vision”.

In many cultures art, symbols & images are the language that transmits the Story.

In other cultures letters, alphabets, words and sentences are written in dozens of shapes that make up the code of that particular language. If you don’t know that code , you don’t get the story…

I prefer the language of images for my ‘Vision statement’.

Celebrating our Unity and honouring our Diversity….

We are all the same within regardless of which of the skins we are in. We are breathing the same air, exhaling and inhaling one another’s breath, sharing the same waters, warmed by the same sun….and many of us, more as time moves on …are Dreaming the same Dreams for a more united world

Posted in Community, Creativity, Imagination, Journeys, Reconciliation, Social Artistry | Leave a Comment »

EarthSong Aboriginal Healing Pathways Foundation is Incorporated…

Posted by carolom on September 27, 2008

We are very pleased to announce that EarthSong is now officially incorporated as of September 8th 2008.

Here are two of our founding members Misters John Hartley and John Williams holding our certificate of Incorporation.


If you are interested in learning more about EarthSong, who we are and what we are doing, please checkout the Facebook EarthSong Aboriginal Healing PathwaysFoundation group here:
EarthSong….Putting Action to the shared Vision for Change…

Photo update on our first working bee….

Posted in Aboriginal, Adelaide, Community, Domestic Violence, Elders, Forgiveness, Friendships, Healing, Journeys, Justice, Kaurna, Men and Women, Poverty, Power of Focus, Prosperity, Reconciliation, Staff Training, Wisdom | Leave a Comment »

The heART of the Apology …

Posted by carolom on July 5, 2008

We are having the launch of the heART of the Apology exhibition on Wednesday.

There were 11 posters created during the Apology at Elder Park here in Adelaide in the ‘heART’ Space that we established as a way to give ordinary Australians, of all colour, culture and creed a place to express their thoughts and feelings in a way that was divorced from the political footballing and rhetoric that was flooding the media in the months….and years … leading up to the Apology.

 

There was sadness and there were years and there was joy…

My buddy Katrina has worked for justice for many years and like so many other Aboriginal Women. her courage and resilience in the face of systemic racism have been out standing.

Posted in Aboriginal, Adelaide, Australia, Dreaming, Forgiveness, Friendships, Healing, Justice, Kaurna, Lifes Stories, Reconciliation, Relationships, Sorry Day Feb 2008, Stolen Generation, Stories, Transformation, Trauma, Unity | Leave a Comment »

An image that emerged during the Apology Week…

Posted by carolom on February 18, 2008

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Posted in Aboriginal, Australia, Community, Forgiveness, Justice, Oneness, Peace, Reconciliation, Relationships, Spirituality | Leave a Comment »

Sorry Day- This is what Katrina and Carol felt on the day…

Posted by carolom on February 14, 2008

A picture paints a thousand words and we all shared many tears and smiles and hugs on this historical, momentus day.  katrina-and-carol.jpg 

Posted in Aboriginal, Australia, Change, Community, Dreaming, Family, Forgiveness, Healing, Humor, Kaurna, Ngarrindjeri, Oneness, Reconciliation, Sisterhood, Social Artistry, Sorry, Sorry Day Feb 2008, Spirituality, Stories, Transformation, Unity, Wisdom | Leave a Comment »

Aboriginal Elders in Australia are calling to the world for help…

Posted by carolom on December 9, 2007

Thankyou to filmmaker Sinem Saban – for empowering the voices of Aboriginal Australia that are not being heard…

Posted in Aboriginal, Australia, Community, Dreaming, Justice, Reconciliation, Stories | 1 Comment »