Dispatches from the Future are generated during the Assembly for the Future series.
These new iterations of future worlds have been produced through a process of deep, collective reflection, witnessing and imagining. Created by our Artist-Moderators, after facilitating future-making rooms with Assembly participants responding to provocations from our First Speakers and Respondents, they serve as a record of the process and the fostering of new imaginaries.
The Dispatches take many forms including prose, sketch, poetry, graphic story and essay.
- File-set SPECTRAvisionAFTF Live from Planet City
- File-set SPECTRAliveAFTF Live from Blakfullas University
- File-set #1AFTF Beyond
- File-set #2AFTF Somewhere,
Everywhere, Right Here
- File-set #3AFTF The Last
- This cover letter
- Safety and evacuation protocols
- Introduction to forest care
- Firefighter training info
- Remote rescue application
- Swap meet documentary [link]
- Story archive [link]
- Mini welcome pack (gift from ET/JS)
- Materials collected included brick, cement, timber, roof tiles and gypsum plasterboard pertaining to a 134.9sqm home.
- Other materials including personal effects, textiles, waste and non-biological debris were collected for transportation to Bioenergy Syngas Station 3899 (-20.348490, 145.645856).
- Recyclables were collected for transportation to Multiple Waste Stream Facility 75467392 (-26.288490, 138.190955).
- Water and pest damaged materials were not collected for relocation as per Regulatory Information Order 89559.
- Skeletal remains of one (1) female human were discovered at the property by Demolition/Strip Out Labourer, [redacted].
- Pictures of my mother, her family, friends and loved ones
- Some memorabilia from her favourite neighbourhood cafes and restaurants
- A lock of hair from her grandchildren’s first haircuts
- A few pieces of artwork created by her grandchildren when they were young.
Dispatch by Jenna Lee. Future generated by Leah, Jenn, Andy, Cassidy, Oron and Jenna.
Dispatch by Jenna Lee. Future generated by Leah, Jenn, Andy, Cassidy, Oron and Jenna.
Dispatch by Jenna Lee. Future generated by Leah, Jenn, Andy, Cassidy, Oron and Jenna.
Dispatch by Jenna Lee. Future generated by Leah, Jenn, Andy, Cassidy, Oron and Jenna.
- a school of birds drinking at a remote waterhole in the Southern quadrant.
- the sounds of intertidal crustaceans in the North-West sector.
- a rushing stream also in the North-West sector.
- the movement of strands of melaleuca trees in the Northern quadrant
- the crashing waves and underwater backwash of the Eastern oceans.
HYPHAE 1.0 Concept Model of Mycelial Narrative Generator. By Nina Sellars. Future generated by Karen, Jacob, Melinda, Melissa and Nina.
These sketches are informed by the collective metabolising of ideas with Catherine, Amanda, Carolyne and Merete. Digested on unceded Dja Dja Wurrung Country.
These sketches are informed by the collective metabolising of ideas with Catherine, Amanda, Carolyne and Merete. Digested on unceded Dja Dja Wurrung Country.
These sketches are informed by the collective metabolising of ideas with Catherine, Amanda, Carolyne and Merete. Digested on unceded Dja Dja Wurrung Country.
Dispatch by Huong Truong. Future generated by Carollyn, Helen, Nick, Kathleen, Pix & Lisa
These futures were generated by Assembly Future-Makers at ANAT's SPECTRAvision event, cross-pollinated with Liam Young's provocation, stimulated by responses from Professor Peter Doherty and AP1957 (Professor Anne Poelina) and realised by our ensemble of Artists-Moderators.
WELCOME PACK FOR NEW CUSTODIANS
WELCOME PACK FOR NEW CUSTODIANS
25 March 2029
Djandak, Dja Dja Wurrung Country
We’re writing to enthusiastically accept your application for custody of 1/34 Thunberg Lane, Djandak. Congratulations and welcome to the community!
You will find enclosed;
You’ll be able to move into your new home at the end of the month. If you need housing between now and then, let the Emergency Resources Team know and they will set you up. Many of our newer residents have moved to this part of the hills from lower-lying areas due to flood emergencies like your own, so we have good systems in place and plenty of vacancies at present.
The process from here might seem a little formal, but don’t worry, I will guide you through it. This is my 15th relocation so I’m an experienced mentor to new residents. Please call or message me if you have any questions at all. Here is an overview of what to expect.
The offer will be considered formalised when the Djaara owners officially welcome you to their country and bestow on you the care of 1/34 Thunberg Lane. The ceremony is scheduled for 11am on April 29, 2029. Normally we would hold a welcome party for new residents that same evening, but I thought since it’s so close to May Day we could fold it into our traditional celebrations. Or you might not want a party at all, it’s up to you. Let me know how you feel.
After the formal welcome ceremony the current custodians of 1/24 Thunberg will run you through the handover, go over the special needs of the old house and make sure you know how everything works. I know you’re across most of this already, but it will have to be completed quite quickly as they are off to Euskal Herria to research the expansion of workers’ co-operatives there.
Terms and duration
As the enclosed agreement states, the default contract is for ten years, with a grace period of 12 months. If you’re happy, you can renew at any town hall meeting. As you know, custodianship can’t be inherited, but your nominated kin will get renewal rights in the event something happens to you. If the community feels that you are not fulfilling the terms of your custodianship there is a justice process by which we resolve disputes; that will have been outlined already. Adjudicators and facilitators are brought in from other communities for this, as is standard. We are proud to say we have never needed to use this process here but I have seen it done in other communities and it is very fair. Most disputes between neighbours are resolved directly through a local mediation or restorative process, but even that is rarely needed.
One of the most important ceremonies we have in our community is the annual swap meet, where goods and their stories are passed on and shared among residents. This is coming up in early June so give some thought to what you’d like to give away. We were one of the first communities to embrace the Redistribution and we pride ourselves on our strong culture of reciprocity and resource efficiency. Every year we move closer to our goal of a circular, gift-based economy.
The swap meet is a celebration of abundance and provenance. Practical things like furniture and tools are always welcome, but you’re encouraged to be creative and share something that has a story. The gift exchange takes a couple of hours, but the story exchange usually goes on late into the night. From what I hear, the menu planning has already started!
While continuing your own work and interests at a sustainable level, I know you mentioned you wanted to get out in the bush if you could. We have vacancies in firefighting, remote rescue, and forest care programs, and I have included these applications in your welcome pack. Our firefighters are having their annual cultural burning training on the 9th of July this year so if you are interested, it would be good if you could come along.
I think you would also be a great asset in our documentary and archive team, or in the library. You don’t need to commit to anything right away. Some of our residents try many different roles before they settle into what works for them.
You will have met all your neighbours by now and hopefully some of our medical and education teams. We also have international exchanges and strong trade relations with several other communities, including Central Java 4 and Beijing 3RNE. Skillshare and language exchanges are as important to us as physical resources.
Our local conservation region also has a sibling in Salbertrand, the alpine conservation park in Piemonte. Since the closure of the rail tunnel, wolves are returning to the forest, just as koalas are to ours since the highway collapsed. We are thinking of holding a shared festival to celebrate these twin successes.
Central Java are running a textile manufacturing and labour organising workshop for us in July and we have a carbon exchange project with Beijing 3RNE which is led by both our high schools as part of their final exhibition. If you want to be involved in any of those I can put you in touch.
But I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information! Have a read of the enclosed and let me know your thoughts. I will check in with you again in the next week or so.
We can’t wait to welcome you to your new place.
Solidarity, and happy packing,
PS The gifts in this pack come via the Education Team – the junior school is learning about our welcome process for new custodians, so they’ve made a mini pack of their own for you and your kin. The berry jam is from their garden, and it’s delicious. I might have to make this a regular feature in future…
[Dispatch 25-03-2029 – Jen and Matt]
THE HARD WAY: A bedtime story for grown-ups
THE HARD WAY
A bedtime story for grown-ups
Today, like most days before, for as long as they could remember, Marco and Pip huddled together under the playground slide waiting for the school bell to sound at 3:25pm on the dot. Sometimes during the long days, they played marbles with the smoothest of jagged stones, pick-up-sticks with broken gum tree branches or talked about what used to keep them awake at night…dormant volcanos suddenly erupting, the inescapability of black holes, or what happens if you fall into quicksand.
The slide was that old-fashioned kind – metal, with chipped blue handrails. On a hot day it could burn your legs, but on a day like today the thermal conduction of a winter sun on its surface kept them warm and its aspect sheltered them from a bitter wind and whirling sand. It was Monday. They knew this as the last two days blended together in seamless monotony. The bell reminded them of times when going to school, packed lunches and swimming lessons were just a part of everyday life. Marco and Pip met in kinder and now nine years later, they were as close as family. With the others now gone, they were family.
To honour their feelings and stories of the easier times, when the school bell rang Pip would fix Marco an after-school snack of food foraged and scavenged. Today, the spread included some stale crisps, a jar of gherkins, mallow cheesewheels and pig face daisies. The daisies tasted like figs reminding Marco of riding his bike with his Mum to backyard laneways picking fruit that hung over fences in the summer. Pip and Marco had a deal. They could only talk about the easier times after the school bell. Too much talking about the past and questioning only led to nightmares which neither of them were keen to seed by reflections and old memories.
In his early years, Marco remembered being picked up from school by his Mum. Each day, she would surprise him with a new snack – a jam donut from Crusts, a mango from the market or a purple jelly snake from the lolly stash she kept in the car’s glovebox. She would kiss him on top of his head and wrap her arms around his back holding him long enough to almost take his breath away, before taking his Paw Patrol lunchbox from his hands and swinging his Bluey backpack over her shoulder. She would take him to her studio to draw and paint, before heading home to prepare dinner. Oh, how he missed her honey-soy chicken wings, sticky and crisp, reading in the bathtub, and warm lavender scented wheat bags tucked with him under the doona on nights like these. What he didn’t know back then, was how his Mum spent many nights in futility attempting to reconcile with his father who became lost in the global economic fallout. Only once, did she have a slip of the tongue with him in earshot saying that his father chose the easier way by leaving…by disconnecting from all his relations. Since Marco could walk, his Mum taught him that the law is in the land, not in man. All humans are related to all other lifeforms in an unbroken chain that linked millions of years ago, and it is our role to accept the reciprocal responsibility for care for one another and all sentient beings, even if it feels like the hard way – something foreign, uncomfortable and/or unknown. “Begin with humility and curiosity, my son. Don’t let fear be your poison”, she would say.
Pip tossed mallow cheesewheels like popcorn into her mouth and began talking with her mouth full. Pip’s
big sister Meg went to the same school. Meg would meet her at the bicycle shed, cycle home and fix her a Vegemite sandwich before retreating to the study for homework. Pip would lounge on the sofa, scroll ABC Kids programs on the iPad and snuggle with Banjo the cat until her Mums came home. Pip’s Mums were ‘ists’ – all the ists she could think of – activists, artists, unionists, socialists, antiracists, altruists and anti-materialists. Some said alarmists, especially when they were organising rallies to demand action on climate change, chaining themselves to the entrance of Woodside’s Karratha LNG plants, striking for human rights and advocating for a universal basic income. Unlike Marco who was bathed in serotonin and oxytocin from sunrise to bedtime, Pip’s household was a hotbed of cortisol and adrenaline. At least her Mums tried to make a difference and taught the girls about the value of social participation, caring for Country, and to never forget that at the heart of capitalism was misogyny.
Suddenly, their ‘after school’ snack routine was disrupted by something feverishly scratching on the other side of the slide. Pip nudged Marco to take a look since curiosity was east on his moral compass and he was closest to the sound. He slid the makeshift tarp door open and before he could exit, an echidna bolted inside their shelter. Startled, both Marco and Pip moved back quickly to avoid injury from the echidna’s quills. Fortunately, and unbeknownst to them, echidnas don’t release their quills in defence like porcupines. The echidna then arched upright and rested in what seemed like the most uncomfortable slouched position. She then let out a sigh and said “hello” in clear English. The youths shook their heads in disbelief and before they could respond, the echidna continued speaking and pointing to Pip. The echidna told the youths that she had been monitoring them for some time, first for her own safety and secondly for theirs. She expressed concern about their food situation knowing that Pip did the bulk of sustenance sourcing while Marco managed shelter repairs and water collection. With winter continuing and limited food provisions threatening Marco and Pip’s survival, the echidna offered a gift. She reached out her short sturdy limbs gesturing to the youths to take hold of her front claws in theirs. A small jolt ricocheted through their bodies from head to toe before the echidna released her grip. In each of their hands she left a quill. She instructed the youths to hold the quill when searching for food. Many protein sources were still on or underground and she explained which ones would provide them tasty nourishment – termites, witchetty grubs, bogong moths, crickets and honey ants. The quill would give Pip and Marco the capacity to electromagnetically sense insects in their food foraging. After a few tests finding insects with the echidna, she said her good-byes and exited through the flap. Pip started a small fire while Marco collected sticks to skewer their game. For the first time in a long while, they fell asleep feeling cared for and satiated.
A week or more later on a non-school bell day, Pip and Marco were playing an improvised game of kubb using whatever they could find for batons, kubbs and a king. This game normally kept them busy for hours and it would have on this day if they weren’t interrupted by a red deer hind (female) who ran through knocking over all the kubbs. She jumped and pranced in a circular performance kicking and bucking in a way that looked almost intentional and rehearsed. After their encounter with the echidna, Marco and Pip prepared themselves for what came next. The hind finally stopped, approached the youths and slightly bowed her head before saying hello. She informed them like the echidna, that she too had been monitoring them, first for her safety and secondly for theirs. The hind warned them that they couldn’t stay in one place for too long. The time would come for them to leave. With departure imminent, she offered them a gift. The hind once again bowed her head and invited Marco and Pip to rest their foreheads on hers. A warm pulse surged through their temples before the hind stepped back releasing the conduction. The hind instructed the youths to raise their right hand to their right temples when feeling insecure or uncertain. “Be perceptive and alert now and when you move on” she said. “The wind carries scent through the air.” Identifying smells, sounds and shapes that don’t belong is your primary defence against predators or dangers in any environment, she advised. And, as quickly as she came, she left. Marco and Pip sat down amongst the fallen kubbs. Neither had considered what it would mean to leave this place.
Weeks passed with Marco and Pip continuing their ‘after school’ routine. They hunted for insect game with their quill and new electromagnetic sensing capabilities. They learned different techniques of drying insects and grinding them into powder, boiling, roasting, and ways to mix in nettle, borage flowers and dandelion root. Then, in early spring a swarm of bees appeared. Marco and Pip heard them coming from miles away even though it took time to decipher the sound as it initially competed with the wind. When the swarm arrived it immediately nested on the top rung of the slide’s steps. They were magnificent to watch – an undulating cluster of gentle movement of worker bees protecting their queen contrasted by the high-pitched whining sound emanating from the rapid contraction of their wings. Marco and Pip’s deer instincts were on alert. Would the bees force their displacement from the slide shelter? Before they had enough time to contemplate their next move, the bees released from the top run and moved slowly towards them. Their reflexes weren’t fast enough to run and if they did, there weren’t many places to hide. Momentarily startled, the stood still. The swarm rose above their heads and began to form a kind of directional wave in the sky above them as if to gesture ‘follow us’.
Reassured by their attunement to the swarm, Pip and Marco grabbed their shoes, what they could quickly stash in their backpacks and shadowed the swarm for what seemed like hours. The swarm led them up a rocky slope, towards a clearing and to the edge of a precipice before vanishing out of sight. The height was dizzying and the view distressing. Pip held Marco’s hand. Charred spires and a burnt landscape in 360? degrees as far as they could see. Everything unrecognisable. They inhaled the wind. The smell of rain in the distance, fresh shoots of eucalyptus trees and human sweat. With each of their right hands up against their right temples, they honed in on the human scent to locate its direction on the wind. In the far-off distance, a speck on the horizon, were two Country Fire Authority (CFA) trucks heading in their direction.
This bedtime story was written by celebrated children’s author Blair Kelly in 2029 after being rescued from the deadliest bushfire in Australian history. She met Marco and Pip (names changed to protect their identities) in a Red Cross humanitarian relief camp. The youths spoke about sheltering in place under a playground slide for 304 days after fires ripped through their village. They were the sole survivors. BK sends this dispatch from the future to all our relations in 2022 appealing to them to take the hard way in climate emergency activism – untether from patriarchal institutions that reward productivity over humanity; disconnect from endless meetings, long commutes and busy-ness; stop the swipes and refreshes of Instagram grids, news and Twitter feeds; let go of your devices and release yourself from interrupting pop-up ads and reminders; turn off the channels and unsubscribe from 24/7 entertainment; and, release yourself from goods and services entrapments sold as time savers and conveniences. These are weapons to burn you out and to keep you in a constant state of threat. Your kids and future generations need our presence and mindfulness to guide them in the years ahead. As AP1957 famously said, “mycelium is what teaches us to hold hands together”. Become the mycelium – it is our way of uniting the pasts, presents and futures.
– BK, November 2029
Future generated by Dr Jen Rae with future-makers Michele, Lisa, Deana, Aushaf and Andrew.
Mauna na po aka (I’ll go ahead now)
Dispatch by Eleanor Jackson
Future generated by Cat, Jess and Eleanor
Video – A woman with a brown bob and wearing a brown scarf, grey tshirt and blue cardigan looks directly at the camera while she speak.
Images – 3 pages of a document titled ‘Notification of Death’. Document text reads:
Notification of death
Dwelling #AUS 3834912
Lat Long -27.596930, 153.286900
GPS Coordinates 27° 35′ 48.948” S153° 17′ 12.84” E
My name is [redacted].
I qualified in civil engineering from the University of Queensland in 2002.
My further qualifications include Advanced Materials Retrieval and Defence and Security Innovation.
I am currently working as Demolition/Strip Out Supervisor for PolyCentric, a position I have held since 2031.
I lead the demolition and reclamation of a property at -27.596930, 153.286900 for relocation to Planet City.
The property was not registered as a habited dwelling under the Biosecurity Act 2026. To the best of my knowledge, the deceased was not subject to an order under the Mental Health (Isolation and Separation) Act 2029, the Substance Addiction (Compulsory Isolation and Separation) Act 2035 or the Intellectual Disability (Isolation and Separation) Act 2031 at the time of her death.
The attached information (Attachment 1) was found in a sealed copper canister at the entrance to the dwelling marked “to be opened in the event of the death of the resident, [redacted]”. It is believed [redacted] was the resident of the dwelling, however, this cannot be confirmed. The remains have been transported for processing to the Holding and Examination Site 118799.
I hope the information in this report has been of assistance to the Services Centre, but I would be happy to provide further information or clarification, should it be required.
Date: 30 March 2032
To whom it may concern:
I write this letter to confirm this is the residence of [redacted], my mother.
Today’s date is May 22, 2029 and as of right now, my mother is 83 years old. She has expressed her wish, clearly and repeatedly to her family and to several authorities in question, that she wishes to remain at her own house until the time of her death. She retains powers of attorney and, with deep regret, our family has chosen to respect her wishes.
She is aware that this area will be depopulated and scheduled for rewilding and will gradually lose access to services such as water and sewage, gas and electricity, telecommunications and internet, health and medical support, as well as government services such as police, fire and emergencies services.
It is our sincere hope that this letter is not required and that my mother will join us at Planet City; we would gratefully welcome her back.
In the event that this letter is discovered and my mother is deceased, however, we request repatriation of her remains to [redacted] , currently of:
Lat Long (41.704185, -86.877302)
GPS Coordinates 41° 42′ 15.066” N86° 52′ 38.2872” W
I am writing you this letter to let you know how much she was loved and to give you a glimpse of what she was like, in the hope this may encourage you to treat her kindly and with care. We are aware that it may not be possible to repatriate her remains or to locate us in the event of considerable time passing.
[Redacted] was born in the Philippines shortly after the Second World War, and migrated to Australia in the mid-seventies to leave the distress of the Marcos regime. In Australia, she worked in a range of jobs including the legal, government and business sectors and helped several of her siblings to migrate to Australia as well. Hard-working and vibrant, with an uncanny sharp turn of phrase, she eventually struck out on her own as small business owner. She was proprietor of a small ice cream parlour, [redacted], for over 15 years, where she became a much-beloved member of the local business community. She was always energetic and passionate about family, notwithstanding the usual disagreements and discords that come from raising children in a culture different to your own. She enjoyed shopping, eating out with friends, watching period dramas and spending time with her family, although many members were scattered across the globe. As a grandmother, Lola [redacted], was fierce and protective and full of fun for her two granddaughters. On our last day together, she was surrounded by a small group of family members. She seemed resolute and calm about the future. We ate chocolate cake and opened presents, listened to music, and reminisced about happier times. She was prepared with a good vegetable garden and an extraordinary store of dry, tinned and canned goods.
Please find enclosed here:
My wish for my mother is for her to always know how much we love her, and to live the remainder of her life with the dignity and independence she so deeply valued.
Our family desperately hopes for her return and pray you treat her kindly.
Planet City had unintended side effects on the population’s mental health.
While nature was able to grow wild, the minds of the city’s inhabitants, cut off from this wildness, lacked the essential access to nature necessary for their mental and cultural survival. For their rituals to have meaning, beyond the cold slap of concrete on the bottom of their feet, they needed to feel an expanse.
A solution was devised: an elite troop of remote field-recordists were assembled to track the wilds and embed audio technologies across the planet’s sectors and quadrants, so that the inhabitants could feel, by sound, the planet’s vastness. These were transmitted into small listening stations, called biophilic-sound-pods, in which the listener could switch across different biomes.
In this particular sample five 1-minute examples can be heard:
Switching across these different biomes, the listener imagines themselves to be beyond the walls of Planet City, exploring the wilds. This gives them some solace in the face of endless enclosure.
Dispatch by Jordan Lacey.
Future generated by Jon, Pam, Elliot, Fiona and Jordan
How to end a community
How to end a community
Submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Managed Relocation due to Climate Impacts 2029.
Hi, my name’s Will Oldrey, and this is a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Managed Relocation due to Climate Impacts. The date is… 18 December 2029. Merry Christmas
I’m from Broulee, New South Wales. My family have lived in Eurobodalla Shire for just over a hundred years. There are some people who’ve been here for two hundred years. I was a teacher at St Peters Anglican college for thirty-one years, I retired four years ago.
Where we live, down by the bay, the big storms in 2027 just wiped the whole thing out. The wind took the roofs off half the houses, and then the water came up all the way as far as Elizabeth Drive. Those houses were gutted.
So we lost everything, more or less. And then insurance said they won’t cover the cost of rebuilding – those properties are too exposed, the storms are going to keep coming, so, you’re on your own.
So Bega council came up with a plan to build flood barriers down along the bay. To stop the waves coming up and into the town. Which was all looking good, they had the plans drawn up, there was a construction company getting ready to do the work. But then they brought in an environmental consultant from Sydney, who said, that’s going to make things worse. It won’t stop the floods, it’ll just push the storm surges to the north and south.
At this point the councillors were flailing and fighting, and we were ready to throw the whole lot of them out. 18 months since the floods and they’d done nothing. Then someone popped up and said, there’s actually a fund available from the NSW government.
They’ll buy up properties that were damaged – and the properties that are listed as ’at risk’ from future flooding. They’ll pay out the homeowners and the tenants. But the condition is, that you have to move to Sydney.
So the promise was, they’ll try to keep us all together. If we all accept the buy-out at the same time, they’ll put us in the same block of flats or whatever, to try and keep the community in one place.
We considered it, because, what choice did we have? Our place was still a mess, we couldn’t get a loan to fix the damage, we were storing half our stuff in our daughter’s garage. We didn’t want to live in a flat, but what can you do?
But then there was a news report about this whole buyout scheme. The government’s not just buying flood-impacted houses – it’s actually part of a plan to buy up all the land in town. They want to resettle everyone from Moruya up to Ulladulla into the city, and then they’re going to turn this stretch of coast into a nature reserve.
They want to rewild the land, which is code for, they want to kick out the locals and release a bunch of wild animals. Dingoes, roos, devils, but no people. I mean, tourists from Canberra, sure, but the families who lived here for 200 years? No.
And they want to move us into the city – because we’re easier to control there. The NSW government wants to kill rural communities. Force us off our land and turn it into a national park. Of course they don’t call it that, they call it a ‘managed retreat from climate impacts’.
So when we heard about this, we said, no, we’re not going to go. We said to the Bega councillors, you want to buy us out? Well we’re going to vote you out. And I’m saying to you, as the Senate Committee, you’re not going to kill our community. We’re going to fight for our right to live on this land the way we always have.
Cause people are the land. We always have been, we always will be.
That’s all, thank you.
Dispatch by David Finnigan. Future generated by Sam, Madeleine, Niki, Steven and David.
Dispatch by April Phillips. Future generated by Lydia, Zamara, Ying, Deirdre, Aden and April. Image Description: April and a pen plotter robot draw together, seen from a birds eye view. A human hand and robotic arm create a work on paper, a heavy outline of two figures with rain falling.
DISPATCH BY JENNA LEE. FUTURE GENERATED BY NAIMA, MARY, CARL AND JENN
DISPATCH BY JENNA LEE. FUTURE GENERATED BY NAIMA, MARY, CARL AND JENN
DISPATCH BY JENNA LEE. FUTURE GENERATED BY NAIMA, MARY, CARL AND JENN
DISPATCH BY NINA SELLARS. FUTURE GENERATED WITH AHELEE, CAROLYN, CHRIS, LINDA AND ORAN
DISPATCH BY NINA SELLARS. FUTURE GENERATED WITH AHELEE, CAROLYN, CHRIS, LINDA AND ORAN
DISPATCH BY DEBRIS FACILITY. FUTURE GENERATED WITH COHN, LIZZIE, GORDON, VERONICA AND NIKI
DISPATCH BY JEN MILLS. FUTURE GENERATED WITH LAUREN, JENNI, PENELOPE AND VANESSA
DISPATCH BY ZOE SCOGLIO. FUTURE GENERATED ON AND BETWEEN DJA DJA WURRUNG COUNTRY AND WURUNDJERI AND BOON WURRUNG LAND OF THE KULIN NATIONS 2022 IN DIALOGUE WITH PAMELA, AMY, ANTON AND TILLY.
DISPATCH BY ZOE SCOGLIO. FUTURE GENERATED ON AND BETWEEN DJA DJA WURRUNG COUNTRY AND WURUNDJERI AND BOON WURRUNG LAND OF THE KULIN NATIONS 2022 IN DIALOGUE WITH PAMELA, AMY, ANTON AND TILLY.
DISPATCH BY ZOE SCOGLIO. FUTURE GENERATED ON AND BETWEEN DJA DJA WURRUNG COUNTRY AND WURUNDJERI AND BOON WURRUNG LAND OF THE KULIN NATIONS 2022 IN DIALOGUE WITH PAMELA, AMY, ANTON AND TILLY.
DISPATCH BY HUONG TRUONG. FUTURE GENERATED WITH DEARNA, PHOEBE, EMMA, TERESA AND DEBORAH
DISPATCH BY HUONG TRUONG. FUTURE GENERATED WITH DEARNA, PHOEBE, EMMA, TERESA AND DEBORAH
These futures were generated by Assembly Future-Makers at ANAT's SPECTRAlive event, cross-pollinated with Zena Cumpston's provocation, stimulated by responses from Ahelee Rahman and Krystal De Napoli and realised by our ensemble of Artists-Moderators.
Choosing which history to repeat
Choosing which history to repeat
Here, in this place, against the creek,
With its long-wet laughing water, the land remembered
That first day; the place bigger than expected, and more beautiful,
Everyone gulping great air into their lungs and not quite knowing
But hoping they knew, what it would be, how it would
They’d been to schools and halls and jobs and new rooms
Before, new places where they’d tested their mettle.
Sometimes they came up right, sometimes not. But in this place,
This place filled up with faces known and unknown,
“Hey sis” on a few lips and more, and there: the thing itself.
A beautiful deep-warm thing,
Handed from hand to another. The young ones wondered if there’d be
Some kind of papers (universities liked their papers).
And they’d moved through those places before like long, gleaming strands,
Taut strings of persistence. The sound held in and waiting.
Dreamed into the now and real, this place, this new place,
Dark sky above, nebulae swirling, gums reaching up and down,
And sanctuary, for all on the cusp of the wide open now.
This place, where they passed on this thing, this beautiful thing.
Hands brushing hands just a moment, the weight of those hands
Warm against the weight of this thing, softly sounding the elemental hum.
The young ones didn’t pester for what it was or how it got there,
Just waited, listening, words holding more than one meaning at once.
by Eleanor Jackson
Future generated with Martina, Sue, Tara, Lisa
DWAWG Personal Reflection Exercise
Decolonising Whiteness Academic Working Group
Personal reflection exercise
April 28, Term 2, 2029
In 2029, given the total takeover of the University sector by corporate interests, the few white academics like myself who are still driven by altruistic interests find ourselves in this Working Group at the doors of the newly formed BLAKFULLAS University, both literally and metaphorically.
It is difficult for this group – many of whom identify as White Australians – to navigate the transition from the empty acknowledgments of country to the real acknowledgment that it is now BLAKFULLAS who hold the institutional-intellectual ascendency, through the creation of a university that actually cares about thought, change and humanity (and non-humanity), a welcome shift in which an institution has come to focus on land and connection rather than money and exploitation. Our own Universities, many of which have resisted calls for Indigenous tenure have become little more than corporate research centres – whether the two events are connected or not, we don’t yet know.
The tension of where and when to contact Elders was ongoing through the 2020s. As noted by a Working Group member in this morning’s session, depending on the density of concerned artists on any given Country, the response of the Elders varied from one of openness to one of exhaustion. But somehow this new University changed all that by becoming a hub of enquiry – led and driven by Indigenous people. At least that’s the perception, looking in from the outside. Because in the end, the onus now falls on this group to decide what is the best way to step forward and respectfully collaborate. In their own scholarly drive, BLAKFULLAS University has left that question open …
Making tacit demands, like new feel-good colonialists, is a poor approach to genuine action, given the hollow behaviours of the last ten years. Knocking on the door with an acknowledgement and a request for money to do something nice for blackfellas is not going to cut it anymore. This new mood has been forged by Indigenous leaders this past decade. For instance, sports hero Adam Goodes’ national call for more effort in connecting with Elders, while Professor Zena Cumpston’s instruction to whites to back off and figure it out themselves. This presented a challenge, which this Working Group must meet.
For instance, as proposed in yesterday’s session, is it time for the creation of a sister Whitefella University that attempts to connect with the BLAKFULLAS University in a type of constructive, symbiotic relationship? To build colleges devoted to reading the scholarly texts and insights of Indigenous academics, as part of the process of white culture reforging their own culture, which has now become destructive and redundant (exploitation is always a short-lived enterprise). After all, we were all First Nations at one point. Why not acknowledge this by trying to reconnect with those ancient resonances within? This seems a worthy, if difficult, goal.
It is clear that in 2029 BLAKFULLAS University doesn’t need white assistance as it is producing scholars and artists in abundance who can do this work themselves. So, rather than whites becoming heroes in their own mind by working with Indigenous people – a patronising sentiment now redundant – whites have come to see that their challenge is to rediscover their own internalised, deeply-repressed indigeneity, buried beneath hundreds of years of capitalist-fuelled ancestral disruption. From our discussion today, it is clear that a sister university would not be there to provide some type of self-satisfactory process, fulfilling the ‘white-saviour’ complex – itself a guilt-led response to the horrors of colonialism – instead, it could fulfil the role of unpicking colonial assumptions within ourselves, to enable a meaningful connection with the land. Only then, once this is achieved, can the whitefella meaningfully knock on the door of the BLAKFULLAS University and ask, ok, what now?
In addition to the production of new artists and designers, the BLAKFULLAS University has begun to receive multiple Australian Research Council (ARC) grants that focus on land management, thanks to the election of a government in the mid-2020s with an insightful, Indigenous Education Minister. Changes to the countryside have come astonishingly fast. The Murray-Darling basin, for instance, is healing – a feat thought impossible only ten years earlier. Rather than the land being a zone of exploitation, it once again has its voice and is set on a path to healing and repair. The animals have returned and the land is more productive than during its entire colonial history. Such are the mysteries to this Working Group of the extraordinary scholarship emerging from behind the walls of the BLAKFULLAS University.
In fact, we whitefellas now find ourselves in a very tricky situation (remembering it is our problem to solve) as we have had to re-learn by sinking into the healed landscapes to discover what relationship with Country might mean to us. The danger of neo-colonialism lurks in such actions, and we would need to take steps to subvert this unwanted possibility. For instance, a Whitefella University could propagate the practice of Deep Listening. We could properly pay practitioners such as Dr Miriam Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann and Dr Vicki Couzens, amongst others, who could act as guides for this practice. A whole course that teaches whites how to put aside their egotistical need for control, and instead listen to one another, and to the land, could emerge. This would be in stark contrast to those other universities that encourage an individual voice to shout the loudest so that they might be the heroes and win the grants. This is a system that worships narcissism, which of course, as we all agree, is not something we want to replicate.
Instead, deep listening presents a new type of practice, that could quickly produce a new type of atmosphere on campus. One of mutual respect. One where voices could be heard, and a respectful countenance could be reached. Slowly, and respectfully, through their reading of indigenous scholarship and the listening to Indigenous wisdoms, the Whitefella University could begin to experiment with small ceremonies and rituals, as a way to connect with each other and the land on which the University would stand. It could generate a natural outflowing from students who could more deeply connect with the experiences felt during deep listening exposure.
A note of caution that I know some older academics on this Working Group will raise, relates to the dangers of appropriation and renewed colonial exploitation. Even though this curriculum development might feel right, no one knows where these new practices might lead, or what engagement with them might mean. To live on a land with ancient rituals, while also trying to remove the colonial shackles of the self, by listening to the deeply repressed Indigenous being within, would be a welcome development, even if it is a provocative one. Indeed is the proposition of the ‘repressed Indigenous being’ an intensely reductive and racist position that we must work through in order to get somewhere else or one to discard entirely to avoid re-treading the same colonialist path that is a dead-end for all? Perhaps, we could think of such action as a de-colonising of the self that attempts to reach into our own historical depths, searching for our own repressed ancestral voices. Of course, I have no idea how these practices might unfold; and I acknowledge the danger of appropriation, even unwelcome mimicry, that such a recommendation might engender. But I cannot think of a better enterprise for a sister university, than charting a process of undoing the received assumptions of white colonial privilege…
But perhaps it is here, in this co-location, that a new interface between the two Universities might be born. A new multi-racial, ritualistic entanglement with land, born in the ancient knowledge and contemporary scholarship pouring out of the BLAKFULLAS University and absorbed by the students of the Whitefella University. It is difficult to know where such evolutions might lead, given the curiosity and experimentation we seek to encourage in our students. No doubt such an interface would include unexpected creative growth, but also multiple cultural tensions.
Such are my thoughts for the Working Group to consider. No doubt provocative, but I believe, necessary, if we are going to dissolve the colonialist within, in an effort to forge new white connection with the land. What better way to achieve this than stacking a sister university’s library shelves, and its students’ minds, with the outputs of BLAKFELLAS University scholarship?
DISPATCH BY JORDAN LACEY. FUTURE GENERATED WITH HELEN, AMANDA, ANIKA AND JASON.
The Listening Agent
The Listening Agent
So the story goes like this.
Or perhaps, these are some of the missing pieces.
In the mid-aughts, the international student recruitment trend was on an upward trajectory in Western developed countries. Some said that attracting international talent would help diversify and future-proof higher education. Maybe that’s where it started (and, I’m no expert), but somewhere between 2007-2009, it seems the ‘higher ups’ in the big buildings enlisted fancy PR folks to change the goal posts and up the ante on attracting, I mean, targeting more and more international students. A federal parliamentary inquiry in 2018 revealed that loopholes in the Australian migration laws allowed universities, vocational and other training schools to exploit international students. Even organised crime and illegitimate labour hire companies jumped in on the opportunity to earn high profits at the expense of these people. I once overheard a recruitment agent in the toilets say, ‘if they have a heartbeat and a credit card, we’ll take them.’ I knew who he was talking about. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the intersecting forces of neoliberalism and settler colonialism underpinned these unethical practices. They had their model and story. It was refined, scaled and replicated at the detriment of vulnerable people. I’d been around a lot of these institutions over the years and sadly they were all the same – complicit and culpable, and never accountable.
I am witness to the cycles and a listening agent to the affected. I am the story agent for the takedown.
Back then, at the beginning of each school term, tens of thousands of international students flooded corridors, libraries and support services. In many universities, almost a third of students were from overseas. You could tell them apart from the domestics in lots of ways, but mostly because they were the ones who hung around on campus after hours socialising and/or studying. After years of eavesdropping, I picked up a few of the languages and had a good sense of what brought most of them here to study, their anxieties and ambitions. For many, the prospect of gaining a permanent visa was a powerful draw card. For others, they believed there would be koalas, kangaroos and cockatoos on the lawns and white sand beaches within a stone’s throw of their UniLodge. Study here and it’s all yours for the taking. It all sounded so enticing until the week after Orientation Week (O-Week) and tuition was paid in full. The reality is that most of these students never ventured far from campus or their own cultural groups. After bank accounts were depleted for their Australian degree, many left Australia without ever having dinner at an Australian’s home or affording a beach holiday. It’s sad, ain’t it.
International education export was big business (cha-ching…like a billion-dollar kind of business). Right after iron ore and coal, international education was like a keystone species of the Australian economy. Remove the keystone and you have a sort of trophic cascade. Everyone knows about the Yellowstone wolves doco, right?
Anyway…higher education institutions incrementally increased their international student revenues for more than a decade until March 2020. International students were hit really hard during the Covid-19 pandemic. In Melbourne, most of the academic and professional staff escaped the city to Mount Martha, Ocean Grove or the hills. I might have done the same if I had the means. People were really scared in those early days of the pandemic igniting more paralysis and flight than altruism and fight. Self-preservation trumps the welfare of others in a disaster situation and only amplifies the pre-existing order of shit that’s already there under the surface. The ongoing poor treatment of international students and the lack of emergency planning for such a large group of people were such things.
The lockdowns came within weeks of many international students arriving and barely settling into the university precincts. You can imagine how everything upended for these students, many with limited means and taking risks for the first time away from support and family in a foreign country. The fault lines quickly became apparent in the lack of foresight, accountability and care for the students. Isolated and locked out of government support services, students became reliant on online social messaging platforms to resource their basic needs – many choosing their mobile phone plan payments over meals. In Melbourne’s CBD, by the time the Food Bank opened its doors, the line of international students stretched hundreds of metres. Newspapers reported the situation and posted images of the students, masked and socially distanced. All were on mobile devices which to viewers was probably ignored or interpreted as an activity to mediate the boredom of standing in line for hours. I bet it was never imagined to be an act of mobilisation that eventually led to the takedown.
Covert activism comes in many forms, intended or consequential. Like Mum used to say, ‘the mice come out to play when the cat’s away’. Threats aren’t always big once-off events. They often emerge from the things you’re not paying attention to or the accumulation of tiny little actions by the many who outnumber the few. We have a song about this in Australia, the one written by Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly about big things growing from small things.
Things stick in people’s minds in times of crisis – in the before, during and after. It might be words, people, experiences and/or feelings. WhatsApp, WeChat and TikTok became not only online lifelines to stay connected to others but also a few years later led to the formation of LATTICE – a kinda dark web portal once it became apparent that a high risk mobilisation was happening. It all began when WeChat User @haradwaith in communication to @pyrusnivalis began a thread discussing the University of Melbourne’s Welcome to Country during O-Week. A Wurrundjeri Elder shared stories of resistance in adversity and the resurgence of culture to support one another in the climate emergency. You have to remember, the Elder was speaking after the devastating bushfires and an unknown disease potentially spreading worldwide. The Elder’s emphasis was care for Country and Country cares for you in all knowing, doing and being. Others in the WeChat thread began sharing their Welcome to Country experiences and what it meant to them as new arrivals in this time of disconnection, having never been offered anything like it before.
All were seeking some form of deeper connection. Some shared the Uluru Statement of the Heart, others the music of Yothu Yindi, Electric Fields and Alex Skye, and then a whole lot of reports, images and stories about the history and impact of the Colonial Project and the Stolen Generations through to the protests for recognition, treaty and reconciliation. The WeChat pings struck at lightning speed with shares and commentary. Even my phone caught some strikes as I was looped into the group by a couple of younger students I was looking after during that time. The topic of tokenism and hypocrisy was named a few times but it wasn’t until the 2022 O-Week when everything landed like piece of fiery space junk in an old growth forest.
User @panjandrum was inflamed by the oration of a said Vice-Chancellor at one of the Universities after the Welcome to Country. “Those fucking bastards”, @panjandrum wrote. “The pandemic and how we were treated is a hiccup to them. They don’t fuckin’ care about anything other than their dividend payments and bonuses. What the hell is acknowledgement if there’s no fucking accountability!?!”. Many users endorsed the comment with emoticons. Of course, some piped in about the Federal Government’s track record of depleting the higher education sector in this country, but still…you can continue to work within a broken system or you can tear it down and start over….or something like that. And that’s just what these young folk did.
Users @pigwidgeon and @gadabouts2000 linked in their mate @jarrawillah a Barkandji student they met in 2020 at O-Week. @jarrawillah added others. Within a short time, the group grew – an online group of newly arrived and Aboriginal young adults. I’m running out of room here, so I’ll keep it brief. The group developed a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) with Aboriginal Elders assisting with content. The 10-lesson MOOC explored the different histories and contemporary perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in Australia. From an Aboriginal perspective, the course explored the complex experiences Aboriginal peoples face today highlighting national and local Aboriginal-settler relations. Topics included the myth of Cook’s arrival, weapons of cultural erasure and genocide, land claims and environmental impacts, legal systems and rights, conflicts and alliances, Aboriginal political activism, Care for Country and language, art and sovereignty in all of its expressions. The MOOC went viral. Everyday Australians and/non-Australians were hungry for the content. Its success coincided with the establishment of the BLAKFULLAS University (BU). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, activists, scholars, artists and young people were mobilising. Revenue from the MOOC funnelled into BU and Pay-the-Rent initiatives. The group questioned how they could scale up efforts to further support the work.
Then two things happened simultaneously in the chat.
User @m_oblongata posted a media release statement from 2022 where Australia’s largest medical research foundation, Snow Medical Research Foundation (SMRF), suspended its multi-million-dollar fellowship program to the University of Melbourne, because they only awarded honorary doctorates to white men over the past three years. Snow Medical highlighted the institutional hypocrisy and was cutting all ties until the university could prove a commitment to gender and cultural diversity – “culture must change from the top” an official from SMRF was quoted. @m_oblongata asked “could we persuade other funders to do the same?”.
Then User @hoipolloi told the group about their PhD project. @hoipolloi was working in collaboration with BLAKFULLAS University Elders and artists to develop an experimental artificial intelligence (AI) software called LATTICE. They were looking at the patterning in traditional and contemporary Aboriginal paintings and weavings to develop AI algorithms for their new Sky Ranger and on-Country cultural burning program activities. @hoipolloi proposed that the software could be applied to investigate higher educational institutional funding and cross-reference it with their diversity and inclusion strategies and policies to see if there were more patterns of discrepancy between what they received money for and who benefited. It came as no surprise months later, when LATTICE reported back the figures of inequity and power.
That’s when LATTICE went dark and users became agents. There are a lot of powerful people in the higher education sector who will retain power at all costs. Over the next couple of years, LATTICE agents generated a large-scale covert divest-and-divert campaign to identify caustic and corruptive practices in higher education by exposing them to philanthropic foundations, other non-government funders and eventually the public. They created an ethical channel to receive funding to support BLAKFULLAS University and other emergent forms of free and inclusive public pedagogical learning academies that centred Care for Country and intergenerational justice in areas of medicine, engineering, science, art and humanities amongst others. The MOOC expanded providing training for academics to transition out and to decolonise their research. Professionals were offered strategic foresight training to accompany their cultural competency development. With this pathway and some LATTICE funded support for some, early and mid-career academics wilfully resigned from their precarious roles within universities. Professors retired or applied for positions in the academies. The takedown didn’t take long, and it continues.
I don’t know who will find or read this. It’s all I got to say before punching out and leaving the building for the last time. I’ve cleaned these corridors, toilets and lecture halls for a long time, invisibly witnessing and listening.
Transcribed from a toilet wall in the now derelict Redmond Barry Building at the University of Melbourne before its scheduled demolition in October 2029. Author unknown.
This future was generated by Dr Jen Rae with future-makers Devika, Aviva, Alison and Catherine.
Tracked Connect enacts the attachment we share to all things: Country, people, stories, and the systems of the natural world – across all times. The augmented forms and connective arch operated by the hands of a mother and her daughter imagine a 2029 future where we cooperate as linked change makers. We need to move in slow, deliberate ways, at the speed of trust: then we can move from anxiety, to disruption and towards optimism. There we will find the BLAKFULLAS University.
Dispatch by April Phillips. Future generated with Jacqueline, David, Melissa, Fiona and Julianne.
Video description: April and her daughter use a hand tracked AR artwork with a concrete wall as their backdrop. The multi-legged hyper-colour rainbow figures rest against each hand with a connective arch of black circle forms.
This future was generated by Debris, Arya and Lex
By Sam Wallman
By Amanda Anastasi
By Amanda Anastasi
By Amanda Anastasi
These futures were generated by our Assembly #1 Future-Builders, cross-pollinated with Claire G Coleman’s provocation, stimulated by responses from Anne Manne and Ruth De Souza and realised by our ensemble of Moderators and Artists.
Canberra People’s Forum July 2029 Entry
Canberra People’s Forum
July 2029 Entry
Reflections on a Post-Post-Truth Future:
The system relies on keeping us from the truth
It was the children who led the way. Of course. Kids have always hated being lied to.
In late 2020, the School Strikers for Climate launched a major campaign for truth to be told about the climate crisis in the school curriculum. Incensed by science classes which equivocated on the seriousness of the situation and cast doubt on proven solutions, they led a national walk-out under the banner “We don’t need mis-education”. Gathering in towns and cities across the country, they held “Real Science” classrooms, led by climate scientists, renewable energy technology experts, and ecologists, for themselves and their families. Demonstrating their deep recognition of the reality of climate injustice, they invited Indigenous elders and historians to join, leading classes on “Real History”.
Dwarfing the major 2019 rallies, this was the largest protest event in Australia’s history. So far. Not wasting the extraordinary opportunity, the students recruited tens of thousands of people for their next steps. Attendees agreed to hold “Real Classes” in their own communities over the weeks ahead, and to join the campaign targeting the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority. They also took the “Don’t BBQ Our Future” pledge, where they would confront climate denial and racism among their family and friends at BBQs over the summer with messages about how those in power use misinformation to divide us and keep us down.
Things came to a head when, on the Twenty-Fifth of January, 2021, Sydney’s then major newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, ran their now infamous “What heatwave?” headline. The accompanying stories, syndicated onto commercial radio and breakfast TV, claimed that the Bureau of Meteorology was falsifying data and that it really wasn’t that hot. Despite temperatures across Sydney climbing into the high 40s, they said it was actually only about 30C. Articles, editorials, panels and opinion pieces encouraged people to go outside, go for a run, ignore the doomsayers and enjoy the good old Aussie summer.
In the days ahead, over 8000 people died. Hospitals still struggling with coronavirus cases were flooded with people suffering heat exhaustion and dehydration. Many never made it to the hospitals, dying on the streets and in their homes.
The school strikers’ numbers swelled again, including many who had lost their beloved grandparents due to the media lies, and they refused to return to school. A full 10% of students chose instead to split their time between mutual aid projects, caring for the vulnerable in the extreme heat, the curriculum campaign and a targeted “Don’t Fund Deadly Lies” campaign on advertisers to leave the Murdoch stable. The success of that campaign, slashing the Daily Telegraph’s advertising revenue by 35%, is now seen as the beginning of the end of Murdoch dominance. In parallel, the students forced Facebook to revisit its decision not to factcheck climate denial, a decision which was to have global ramifications.
Not many people now recall how pivotal to what came next it was that, tragically, among the dead from the heatwave, were protesters from Invasion Day rallies whom heavy-handed police had locked in paddy wagons in full sun. Across several cities, 12 people, both Aboriginal people and white allies, died on the Twenty-Sixth of January. Among them was a 17-year-old Noongar member of the Perth climate strikers.
The school strikers, devastated and enraged, formally expanded their struggle for truth-telling into a demand for history curricula to focus on the Frontier Wars, the Stolen Generations and the ongoing genocide of Aboriginal Australians. Working with an expanding team of academics who’d lost their jobs thanks to the Federal Government’s ongoing defunding of universities, several leading journalists made redundant by a shrinking ABC, and Indigenous groups including Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR), the student movement’s “Truth Teach-Ins” became a focal point of the activist community. Many of them flowered into People’s Assemblies, yarning circles, and two self-declared Sovereign Spaces, in Narrm / Melbourne and Meanjin / Brisbane. In those spaces and elsewhere, artists repurposed statues of genocidal colonialists, turning them into moving memorials to the victims of genocide, and the victims of the encroaching ecocide.
The close cooperation between the climate and Indigenous justice movements sent the right-wing culture warriors into uproar. Controversy was never far away. Media attacks came daily. On several occasions, shock jocks actively encouraged white supremacist groups to invade the Sovereign Spaces, but the crowds were never large enough, even when silently approved by police, to seriously confront the supportive participants.
Things came to a head again on the Second of April 2022. Prime Minister Dutton, on the ropes after swinging from crisis to self-inflicted crisis, and holding off calling an election everyone expected him to lose, held a press conference flanked by national flags and senior Home Affairs officials, announcing the uncovering of a plot by the Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance to bomb numerous polling booths in conservative seats on election day. While he was speaking, the army was sent in to clear the Sovereign Spaces, and, across the country, more than 250 climate activists, Indigenous activists, and students as young as 14 were arrested. If he had left it at that, he may have succeeded – we will never know. But he didn’t. Relying on the claim that WAR would be targeting polling booths, Dutton indefinitely postponed the election. Opposition Leader, Joel Fitzgibbon, gave Dutton his full support, stating that national security trumped democracy, noting that he was unsurprised to hear that climate activists were involved.
It was the suspension of electoral democracy which whistleblower, Jane Lee, stated gave her the courage to come forward, after a weekend of personal turmoil matching the public turmoil across the country. Lee, an Assistant Secretary at Home Affairs, revealed that the evidence for the WAR bombing plot was fabricated. It consisted entirely of statements made in assemblies by an undercover agent sent in by Home Affairs to foment discord. Phone camera videos soon emerged showing two cases where a man raising the idea in Assemblies was immediately excluded from discussions. Lee’s evidence was followed swiftly by that of two other officials involved in the fabrication declaring that they had done so in fear of losing their jobs, but that the threat to democracy was too great to ignore.
The Student Strikers and WAR called a general strike and the ACTU backed it. Friday Sixteenth of April saw Australia come to a standstill, with almost 15% of the population joining one of the 3000 “Truth Teach Ins” held in parks and halls, living rooms and Zoom calls across the country.
The Governor General, personally shocked by the revelations, received a delegation of cross-benchers and back-benchers, and agreed to immediately dissolve Parliament and call a general election. The campaign, with a start unlike any other, proceeded in a similarly unique manner, on multiple different planes of “truth”. The Murdoch press and segments of commercial radio and TV insisted that the bomb plot was real. ABC panels, carefully “balanced” by editorial, descended into chaos, shouting, and more than one fist fight on air. News media consumption by voters, as measured by ratings and exit polls, plummeted, with some 30% of voters saying they received the most trustworthy information for the election at “Truth Teach-Ins”.
The outcome was equally unprecedented. The combined major party vote, which had already fallen from 85% in 2007 to below 75% in 2019, plunged to barely 63%, with Independents of various stripes, Greens, and far right MPs elected to a cross-bench making up a full 35 seats in the House of Representatives. Both the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader lost their seats to One Nation. After four weeks of negotiations, extraordinarily, former Labor Opposition Leader Bill Shorten declared he could command a majority of the House, between Labor, a dozen of the Independents and a block of wet Liberal MPs. In the Senate, a commanding block of 13 Greens, despite being locked out of government in the House, established a new, more powerful Committee system dedicated to truth and evidence-based governance.
Who can ever predict the moments that will trigger the greatest change?
It was in hearings of one of those new Committees, in June 2023, when it was revealed that the deal for the still-to-be-started half billion dollar expansion of the Australian War Memorial was made corruptly, including subtle but definite quid pro quo between major arms manufacturers and the Government. Reports from meetings at the time claim that attendees laughed at the idea that a memorial to the Frontier Wars might take precedence over displays of modern military hardware.
Remember the point in history when this was revealed. A point when it was impossible to ignore the fact that lies and disinformation had been blatantly used to drive us apart and keep us down. That the fabric of shared reality had been abused to build walls, to foster hate, to encourage violence. That untruth had been weaponised to drive us towards conflict and civil war.
Relevant, too, is that the Chief of the Defense Forces’ granddaughter was active in the School Strikes for Climate.
As the War Memorial controversy built, a delegation of Indigenous elders, senior military leaders including the Chief of the Defence Forces, school strikers and citizens demanded a meeting with Prime Minister Shorten. As a community activist and the proud parent of a school striker, I was privileged to be part of this delegation, alongside my child. Refusing to go to him, we insisted on meeting at Reconciliation Place on Canberra’s Lake Burley Griffin, in direct view of both the War Memorial and the lake’s enormous jet fountain, which had recently been renamed from Captain Cook Fountain to Pemulwuy Fountain, for one of the earliest leaders of the Aboriginal Resistance. In addition, Reconciliation Place was hung with banners woven with the names of Aboriginal people killed in the Frontier Wars, murdered in custody, and stolen from their parents.
In an event broadcast live on the internet, the delegation demanded that the half billion dollars for the War Memorial be reallocated, to the support of veterans and other cultural institutions, and memorialisation of the Frontier Wars. But a full half of it – $250 million – would be allocated as seed funding to the establishment of a Truth and Common Future Commission. In a five-year program, the Commission would travel the country. Children, elders and artists would lead us in, creating a safe, generative space for everyone to listen and learn, contribute and participate. It would make all welcome, but would not shy away from requiring white settler-colonial people to do the hard work of acknowledging the systems of white supremacy we benefitted from, committing to dismantling them, and beginning to build new systems of equality and interdependence. As one of the elders, Auntie Bev, said, “Nobody is asking you to give up your privilege – only to share it. And after all, privilege is only privilege until everyone has it. Then it’s just life.”
What could Mr Shorten do but say yes? And history will thank him for it.
It could be said that that was the moment when everything changed. The systems of power and oppression rely on keeping the great bulk of humanity from the truth. Once we share in the truth, oppression cannot stand. And, as the Truth and Common Future Commission began its work, all of Australia began to share in the truth.
It wasn’t all an easy path. The Queensland Government briefly tried to stop the Commission from operating in the state, but uproar from the people and threats by southern governments to use the excuse of yet another virus outbreak to close the border soon put paid to that. The Murdoch papers screamed blue murder, but another targeted campaign on advertisers damaged their business so badly that several papers collapsed. Their columnists retreated to the darker corners of the internet, while independent media organisations, funded by readers, blossomed, as did “in person media”, where groups of citizens used public meetings and online platforms to discuss current affairs.
The “Truth Teach-Ins” continued alongside the Commission’s work. In their wake, communities began to firmly take control of their own destiny, setting up renewable energy cooperatives, community food programs, and People’s Assemblies. Thanks to this community engagement work and the fact that the messages of disinformation had lost their power, Just Transitions programs flowered, and communities in fossil fuel extraction zones swiftly shut down their polluting industries and moved proudly and confidently into a future of their own creation. In the wake of several horrific events where police cooperated with white supremacist groups in acts of racial violence, police forces first in Victoria, then in the ACT, and then remarkably in Western Australia, were defunded and replaced with community support and protection models working closely with the Commission and striker-inspired mutual aid groups.
As it’s easy not to notice what doesn’t happen, and the threat of misinformation always exists, it’s worth clearly reminding ourselves that four years of Indigenous-led burning practice has tamed the bushfire emergencies of the early years of the decade. And, of course, we have survived the five-year drought thanks to a combination of suburban permaculture and Indigenous-led regenerative farming.
And here we are, in July 2029, back in Reconciliation Place.
It’s spine-tingling to be here as Prime Minister Lidia Thorpe, Australia’s first Aboriginal Prime Minister and first Greens Prime Minister, leading the multi-party government formed after last year’s Federal election, receives the report of the Truth and Common Future Commission. As foreshadowed, Thorpe is today formally asking the Commission to continue its work for a further five years, with a mandate of working towards Treaties with Indigenous nations, and the reinvention of democratic systems suited to the new nation we will become. As one of the co-facilitators of Canberra’s People’s Forum, it will be my extraordinary privilege to be one small part of this next process.
They used to think it would take a civil war to get here. Well, we proved them wrong.
They used to say that truth was the first casualty of war. Well, we proved that war could be the first casualty of truth.
The old systems of power and oppression relied on keeping us from the truth. The new system relies on us coming together in a shared truth. How wonderful it is that our children led us here.
Future generated by Niamh, Zelda, Emma, Jodie, realised by Tim
Excerpt from Vlog, Wiradjuri Land, 2029
Excerpt from Vlog, Gibbs, El Wiradjuri Land, 2029
Vlog Entry 05:35 Wednesday 15th April 2029
I’m tired and sore this morning. The kind of tired that flows from deep inside me, covering my limbs with heaviness, and swamping my thinking. My bones ache, grinding against each other as I slowly wake and breathe, dreading the meagre movement needed to get out of bed.
Just this week, I got another note from my local Care Centre, reminding me that they will be sending folk around to ‘take care’ of me. Whether I like it or not, I guess.
I know that having more help will actually help, but I’m resisting. The house is a mess, I don’t have any clean clothes, and god, a meal would be amazing. But the Care people, so eager to lend a hand, don’t listen to what I want. They make assumptions, judgements, interfere. I just wish they would allow me the space to have a say about my so-called care.
Since the Care Strike of 2025, there’s been much more discussion about this work of caring, of what that means, of how that work is valued, of why it matters. Disabled people rate a mention only so we can be the subjects of those that insist on caring, it seems. **sigh** It’s not as though we are the experts on care or anything like that.
Vlog Entry 06:39 Wednesday 15th April 2029
I pick up my battered, so well-read, copy of Care Work, from Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, that sits beside my bed just for moments like this, because they’ve already written the words running round my brain, already said what I need to hear a decade earlier, learnt a decade before that.
“I think about the needs I have that I am still too ashamed to let anyone see, let alone take care of” they write, talking of collectives of care run by disabled people of colour.
Their knowledge and expertise about different models of care have taught me so much, but I am cognisant of how whiteness also changes my experience of care and disability.
My irritation, my resistance is grounded in my own experiences of abusive care, both from informal and formal care systems. I’ve had care imposed against my will, without my consent. I’ve been locked up in hospital. I’ve had the social workers visit and tut-tut over my life. But I’ve never had the police called when I’ve asked for disability support. I’ve never ended up in prison when asking for care. I’ve never had a guardianship order put on me.
All of these things happen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disabled people, to black and brown disabled people, to queer and trans disabled people, to people with intellectual disability, to people who communicate differently.
Piepzna-Samarasinha writes about how “people’s fear of accessing care didn’t come out of nowhere. It came out of generations and centuries where needed care meant being locked up, losing your human and civil rights and being subject to abuse.”
Care isn’t a neutral good, and is about power relations. Always. Care is often about non-disabled people deciding what is ‘best’ for us. Deciding how we should live our lives, how our lives should look, how we should be disabled. Fuck that.
Care can be coercive. Care can be abusive. Care can take away the scraps of dignity and control a disabled person has. This new enthusiasm for caring refuses to understand or acknowledge this, or learn the lessons of what happened before.
Vlog Entry 07:43 Wednesday 15th April 2029
I was up late again last night, re-reading for the umpteenth time, the findings from the Disability Royal Commission from 2022. Unpicking all those recommendations again, as I’ve done over and over, that tried to remake the way disabled people move through the world.
Disabled people poured their hearts into that Commission, telling stories of their deepest pains, of the most terrible things that happened to them, taking such extraordinary risks.
At the end of that three years, the Commission handed down volumes of reports that laid bare, yet again, how dangerous care can be for many of us, in so many places. And how unequal and unfair that danger is, how different disabled people face such danger for just being disabled.
I remember the day those recommendations came down, crying with the myriad other disabled people who had worked so hard to bring them about. There were recommendations to reshape our courts, the police, our prisons. Recommendations about access to everything. Recommendations for inclusion, for an end to segregation.
And yet, when the Care Strike came, and the Care Act brought about, they were all ignored. We were ignored. It’s not like we weren’t warned. Vanamali Hermans wrote all the way back in 2019 that “Royal Commissions do not promise justice – people may speak to them, but that does not promise they will be heard.”
Vlog Entry 08:47 Wednesday 15th April 2029
I finally summon the courage to get out of bed, the pain making me shake, and move slowly, into the kitchen to make a coffee, telling the radio and heater to turn on. The annoying talking house reminds me that I have to respond to the local Care Centre’s demands that I be cared for by the end of the week, or they will send the Care Coordinator to see me. Christ.
I wonder sometimes what these kinds of new care structures would look like if they bothered to ask us what we might want. If they stopped just for a second and looked at the reams of material that disabled, sick and older folk have produced about what we know about care work.
What would they look like if disabled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, to black and brown disabled people, if queer and trans disabled people created them, built them, were at the very heart of these care systems?
If only there was some way to go back and tell them.
Future generated by Rayna, Lia and Lorna, realised by El Gibbs.
Welcome to the very first edition of the Murrnong Community Dispatch
Welcome to the very first edition of the Murrnong Community Dispatch.
The Governance Committee thought it would be a good idea to communicate news, ideas and opportunities in this rapidly changing world we share. We are also welcoming many new members to our community and hope this helps to ground new residents in our culture and practices.
We have also established this newsletter as we acknowledge a strong sentiment in our community, a feeling that we haven’t taken enough time to celebrate the big changes and achievements we have made together, as a collective of some eleven thousand people across this region.
We have faced much adversity – the new forms of fire that started in the Fire Season of 2019-2020 that continue to ravage us, COVID-19 in all the waves we have experienced, and the steady degradation of our waterways and landscape through mismanagement and ignorance. It took adversity to bring us together, but we are grateful that these catalysts have brought with them positive change.
The Healing Ceremonies that began in 2022 were a big shift for us, starting the truth-telling and recognition of our shared past that we all so needed to start the healing for people and Country. These ceremonies were a central element of our community’s growth and they are a regular and constant part of our calendar. To find local healing ceremonies please connect with the Portal.
Another big shift for us was the Green Change of 2023 – where we welcomed many new community members from the cities. As we all know, this has helped our region thrive, not just with the numbers of people now calling this place home, but also all the many cultures that have come to be part of our community. The closing of refugee detention centres in late 2023 also brought a lot of new residents and we’ve become home for many more political and climate refugees since then – bringing new life and energy to what was once considered a dying region. Please visit the Portal to hear stories of our community or to share your story.
2024 saw the first meeting of our local Governance Committee. This first Committee was formed from Mutual Aid groups established to respond to the many crises we faced and included many women, carers and people from diverse cultural backgrounds. We all found this shift to local decision-making had a big positive impact on our lives. It was also very welcome to have new voices involved in decision-making– such a variety of ages, skill-sets, cultural backgrounds coming together at a grassroots level to develop a future for our region. The First Peoples Elders Council were crucial in framing the agenda for this committee – shifting the region from thinking short-term to planning for generations in the future. Nominations for the 2030 Governance Committee are now open – please make your nomination through the Portal.
The Universal Wage brought in during the eleventh COVID wave in 2025 furthered the foundations for our new community structure – allowing us to allocate people to the jobs that needed doing such as Elder and Youth Care, Community Arts and Land Healing. Of course, none of this would have been possible without the relationships that have evolved between First Peoples Custodians and the rest of the community. One of our proudest achievements is the establishment of the First Peoples Land Handback scheme by our Governance Committee in that same year.
These changes have all been happening here on the ground and we have managed to survive and thrive but we have had some difficulty aligning our new system with the federal government’s representation of us. However, the new coalition government elected in 2026, under the stewardship of Penny Wong, has openly supported our new structure (and the structure of other regions who share this model) and we eagerly await the time when we can send our representative to Canberra to help us make the changes we want to our region and nation.
In the meantime, we continue the work of living respectfully on Country and through this, supporting our own survival. Last month was a very busy time – we’ve moved into the fifth season of our local calendar which sees the return of the kingfishers to their nests, the laying of turtle eggs and the seventh burn in our cycle, focussing in on the maintenance of kangaroo grass and murrnong along the creeks and waterways.
It was amazing – once again – to see small plumes of smoke everywhere as the controlled burns rolled out across our region. We all know that this means increased safety for us as we come into our next Fire Season and that Country is being cared for the way it should be. Congratulations to all the Fire groups for another successful month of coordinated burns and a very special thanks to the First Peoples Elders Council for sharing this knowledge with all of us. Express your personal thanks in the Portal or in person at your local community dinner this week.
The Land Healing groups are making incredible progress doing the work needed to care for Country as we have been taught and guided by our Senior Custodians. Each groups’ Elders are busy making plans for the next season’s work with their apprentices managing the workload of creating teaching materials and administering their activities. They are moving as fast as they can trying to mitigate the many challenges on the horizon as we have already faced some heavy losses with patches of Country beyond repair. We are all very grateful for their continuing hard work which is so central to our survival on this Country. If you would like to change your job allocation and move to a Land Healing group we have two new groups starting soon on land east of the river. Register your interest in the Portal.
Take care everyone and look after one another. Fire Season starts soon and more severe weather warnings on the horizon – we all need to be extra vigilant and have our local event plans ready to be activated when needed. Keep connected with your local network and stay safe.
Gen Grieves (Worimi)
This future was generated by Genevieve, Joseph, Carissa and Tara
The Moreton-Robinson Annual Address: Barak University BLAKFULLAS Campus
The Moreton-Robinson Annual Address
Barak University BLAKFULLAS Campus
Professor Zena Cumpston (National Sky Ranger Program)
July 9th, 2029
As we celebrate the first five years of the Barak University BLAKFULLAS Campus (Blak Lives And Knowledge Fundamentals University for Living knowledge Living culture And Solidarity), it is useful to reflect on our journey so far and to mark a path for our future. The events which led to the formation of this already world-renowned Aboriginal Institution were difficult and remain contentious. The huge loss of lives, violence and upheaval of the first part of this decade were traumatic for all. It is, however, important to acknowledge that these difficult times have also forged a path towards many gains, not the least of which has been the establishment and ratification of meaningful Treaty in Victoria.
After the significant loss of lives due to COVID19 across 2020, 2021 and 2022, the Aboriginal community found themselves in a rare privileged position having largely survived much of the carnage. Over time it became apparent that much of the reason we were able to navigate and survive the COVID19 crisis was a direct result of the efficacy of our grassroots community services which evolved from a sustained historical deficit in government services. Put simply, we’ve always had to fend for ourselves when it has come to empowering, protecting and advocating for our own communities. Our survival. Those who had, in the past, enjoyed almost unlimited protection and resourcing from the government were left completely vulnerable when governments repeatedly and catastrophically failed them. The wider Australian community did not have the means or networks to mobilise in the way Aboriginal community was able to.
For us, as Aboriginal people, everything revolves around and is underpinned by our communities, by systems of respect and communal decision making. These core beliefs greatly assisted our ability to mitigate the harm as we quickly and effectively mobilised ourselves and worked as a community to meet challenges on every front. Conversely, the wider non-Aboriginal community experienced horrendous outcomes which can be linked, in part, to the very problematic world view fundamental to the capitalist structure at the core of their human interactions which promote the individual over the whole and, too often, effect a climate of privilege which promotes a disregard for the greater good.
The mass deaths, the breakdown of government authority and the erosion of the capitalist system are still having widespread repercussions in Australia and across the world. But many new ways of being and doing have emerged as a direct result of this widespread chaos, and the establishment of BLAKFULLAS campus in Melbourne in 2024 can be seen to have risen from the flames of this devastating social and political landscape.
When universities either frantically closed or spasmodically contracted, hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost almost overnight. Amongst the first to go were Aboriginal academics and staff members, the victims of predominantly insincere schemes to perform parity which had barely gained traction despite decades of hard work by many both inside and outside the Aboriginal community. In the absence of government funding, those universities that reopened did so with the ‘benevolent patronage’ of mining companies which had persistently shown a wilful disrespect for Aboriginal cultural sites. As the government pushed through laws to support their ventures, which were now almost entirely underpinning all aspects of the Australian economy, mining companies began to demonstrate a psychotic malevolence in their prolific desecrations and plundering. Aboriginal academics found themselves not only not being offered any work in these now (again) openly elitist, morally bereft and racist institutions, the very few who were offered work could not accept on moral, political and cultural grounds.
As with all successful Aboriginal services, the BLAKFULLUS campus began with a small group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who identified the need to empower our communities. Working together to specifically mobilise the vast network of incredible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academics, researchers and support staff now discarded by the tertiary system, in January of 2024 the first classes began in Collingwood in a disused former hotel. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academics, not yet on the universal wage (not implemented across Australia until 2025) volunteered to teach courses in areas identified as potential boom industries. For example, Cultural Land Management/Fire has, since inception, had a 100% success rate in employment and is a booming industry largely as a result of the atomic bomb-like bushfires of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2025.
Biodiversity management also churned out highly skilled First Nations graduates who had almost unlimited work opportunities due to the surge in rooftop gardens necessitated by the urgency in efforts to mitigate catastrophic urban thermal mass and the continual failure of electricity grids across every major city. Urban Indigenous Rangers proved themselves far superior in their knowledge and capabilities in this field and were highly adept in managing this new ‘Country in the Sky’ which saw more than 400 hectares of roof space in urban areas converted to green roof spaces between 2024 and 2028. The necessity of, and prolific boom in, rooftop gardens was also bolstered greatly by the inability of introduced crops and established agricultural systems to cope with dramatic climate fluctuations. Widespread food shortages necessitated the need to look to climate-stable indigenous plants and sustainable Aboriginal cultural food practices. Rooftops across the city now grew indigenous grain crops and the courses provided at BLAKFULLAS produced far superior graduates due largely to the on-Country learning from Elders fundamental to the structure of all BLAKFULLAS courses. With more students than could now be accommodated and with the introduction of the universal wage, it became possible for BLAKFULLAS to employ many more academics and therefore offer more courses. The Campus needed to expand.
Concurrent with the introduction of the universal wage, the government had been forced by the wider Australian society’s wishes to harness the opportunities which come from having to rebuild a society to enact the National Truth Telling Commission whose scope also extended to reparations for stolen wages. Companies (including many whose massive wealth came from the pastoral industry) were called to account for their participation in slavery. Forensic accountants worked with historians and others to meticulously pore over financial records dating back more than 180 years. Land holdings were sold to meet reparation orders and it was through one such sale in Victoria that the Wurundjeri mob received a massive payout (which was in fact only 2% of the offending holding’s wealth). The Wurundjeri community, acknowledging the work of BLAKFULLAS in providing employment and training for a huge number of Aboriginal community members (which was, and is, resulting in dramatically better health and equity outcomes) gifted more than half of the reparation monies ($80 million) to BLAKFULLAS and this money was used to buy a huge tract of land along the Merri Creek at Coburg. Starting in a shed as the new campus was built, classes continued and many more faculties were added.
As the demand for indigenous grain crops grew the need to use old knowledge and develop new systems of processing for large populations became apparent and the Unaipon School of Engineering opened as part of BLAKFULLAS at the end of 2026, quickly gaining international attention due to its many successful programs aimed at empowering and illuminating Aboriginal innovation and sustainable practice. The School’s reputation was further enhanced when the now famous Pascoe Kangaroo Grass Mill was designed and patented by the inaugural class of 2026, and was adopted as the machine-of-choice for the production of the now-highly popular kangaroo grass bread, soon to be exported across the world.
Central to the new campus was an extensive Aboriginal garden which provided on-Country learning for many of the emerging faculties, perhaps the most impressive of which is the Healing Centre devoted to training a new generation of doctors, nurses and health-care professionals. This cohort bring new hope in efforts to Close the Gap especially given there are more than 1500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students currently enrolled in more than 15 specialist courses in this faculty devoted to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The garden has also proved a valuable resource for the on-Country learning across all emerging faculties including the Agriculture Faculty (opened in 2027) and the Law Faculty (also opened in 2027) with the latter particularly focussing on the Intellectual Property rights of communities in relation to the pharmaceutical and food industries.
As well as the industries which have boomed and been serendipitous to the strengths, interest and skills of Aboriginal communities, another huge aspect of the success and continual growth of the Barak University BLAKFULLAS has been the strength of the mandate on which it was founded. The mandate could be described as nuanced, extensive and reflexive. It can be best understood through its first two foundational principles; ‘When we look after Country , Country looks after us’ which reflects our essential role as custodians and ‘Do no harm’ which speaks specifically to the colonial history of knowledge production in the Australian context. Research has outlined the extensive damage this has done to Aboriginal peoples through not only exclusion but also in the establishment of many harmful ideological beliefs such as Dying Race Theory borne from the ‘work’ of academics that has dominated government policy since Invasion.
The mandate of the Barak University BLAKFULLAS also, importantly, cements structural systems which reflect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, doing and being. All decisions are made as a community, with our community Elders providing guidance and support. Our teaching and research practice is embedded in positionality and works to decolonise knowledge production through empowering and resourcing our systems of knowledge. Whilst all of our academic, research and support staff and students are currently Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, it is hoped that in the future we may offer some courses and opportunities for many of our allies from the wider Australian community, most especially as part of the recommendations made from the (National) Langton Truth Telling Report of 2026.
Ten years ago, it would have been difficult to believe the journey of this institution and the empowerment it has enabled for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. We still have many challenges, including many ongoing disagreements between community members, but more horizontal systems of governance which are more in line with our traditional systems mean these problems are often easier to manage than they have historically been when we have been forced to work in western hierarchical systems. With our financial position underpinned by the outright ownership of our extensive campus all courses are currently free and it is hoped this will remain the case, especially as the universal wage has been guaranteed until 2070. There are plans afoot to open several more faculties and provide specialist training in several more areas. The gains in health and wellbeing through the improved employment opportunities of our targeted areas of learning as well as the graduates which are soon to enter mainstream systems, especially those related to health and environmental management, are a huge source of pride and achievement for all associated with BLAKFULLAS.
We are greatly saddened by the many events which necessitated our inception but grateful that we have found a new platform to strengthen and empower our communities. In light of the incredible growth and productivity of BLAKFULLAS over the last five years, we look forward to the journey of the next five years and the continued movement towards a safer and more equitable world in which to be an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person.
This future was generated by Zena, Zac, Will and Dasha.
The Centre for Reworlding – Umbilica homepage
Please note this work contains reference to suicide and filicide. If you have any concerns, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
The Centre for Reworlding
Posted: 18 December, 2029
Entry by Jen Rae
Today marks the tenth anniversary of our first formal gathering. We came together in mourning after the suicide of Marjory Jane Nichols and the tragic death of her one-month-old daughter Sion. In an act of desperation and love, Marjory starved her infant child of oxygen before terminating her own life in a bathtub.
Whenever a child is taken at the hands of their mother, speculation and rumours often point to postpartum depression, anxiety and/or psychosis. The mother is often relentlessly vilified in the media with intimate details of lives lost becoming fodder to internet trolls and story sellers. We knew a different Marjory than the one portrayed in news and social media. None of us knew her personally or could even point her out on the street if she walked past. But we knew her and her story through her writing as MJ in our private online mother’s group. We celebrated with her when she announced her pregnancy with a suite of ultrasound photos. We offered her anecdotes and advice through her second trimester to ease the common anxieties of becoming a new mother. We even sent a million love-heart emojis when she posted a selfie of her swollen belly immersed in bubbles in the bathtub…that same bathtub.
We won’t labour the story with details, except to add that in September 2019, her tone completely changed to one of dread and deep regret…’existential terrors’, she called it. Marjory repeatedly expressed profound sadness about bringing her child into an increasingly troubling world, the magnitude and ramifications of which she was only beginning to understand. News of the global School Climate Strikes and Climate Emergency declarations compounded by the catastrophic Australian bushfires that year were taking their psychological toll on this young woman. Housebound in another heatwave, cluster feeding Sion, she was isolated and glued to the television and social media. Many of us empathised with her remorse, acknowledged her pain and offered her coping and self-care strategies. We encouraged her to call the PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) and offered calls and visits. In between our own pregnancy and parenting challenges, we all took a measure of responsibility to check in with her daily, as her words triggered at some primal level what most of us were also feeling. Marjory’s last post to the group was a photo of Sion, where she expressed self-defeat in thinking a new world could be created for our children, when historically most revolutions were born out of violence. Her second final act was altruistic filicide before extinguishing her own.
The Centre for Reworlding was born on the 18th December 2019 in honour of Marjory and Sion Nichols. Our Centre is dedicated to reworlding in the climate emergency through commons knowledge sharing, radical empathy and child-centred trauma prevention.
We are the mothers of the alpha children living in and around Naarm on the traditional lands of the Boon Wurrung and Woiwurrung peoples of the Kulin Nation. We are now 1.3 million strong representing motherhood in all its intersectional glory. Our offspring were in utero or born in 2010 onward, following the abject failure of the Copenhagen (COP15) climate negotiations, where we had a chance to divert catastrophic climate change. Our wombs carried and birthed babies through drought, bushfires, smoke haze and during the pandemic waves of Covid-19/20/21, where the lockdowns fostered the largest baby boom since the 1940s.
We endured through the rolling lockdowns, the subsequent race riots, food shortages, heatwaves, windstorms and floods in the years that followed. Husbands and partners left. Homes foreclosed. Jobs evaporated and suicides skyrocketed. While patriarchal institutions of the church, finance, judiciary, military and academia fell, starved of the oxygen that gave them centuries of caustic power, we were co-creating a reworlding curriculum for our children in the hours between naps and after bedtimes. We cohabitated and shared resources and childcaring responsibilities. Many of us wilfully left pay-for-service employment in favour of CFR roles, contributing our unique skills, knowledge and expertise to reworlding. We had nothing left to lose and everything to gain.
Our council of grandmothers, mothers and aunties representing the brains and nurturing trust built Umbilica, an alternate online and offline communication portal for reworlding pedagogical practice, maternal-child health and resource sharing. Core to our practice is critical thinking, collaboration and de-escalation training, to foster agile responsiveness and resilience in ourselves and children. Our work begins in utero through to adolescence. We have programs to help lessen cortisol and adrenaline in expectant mothers to support healthy foetal nervous system and brain development, as well as scaffolded activities to foster play, learning and emotional development for everyone.
Our 8 Learning Areas include: Ceremony and Storytelling, Food Systems and Traditional Medicine, Future-casting and Scenario-mapping, Experimentation (science and art), Landcare and Remediation, Observation and Navigation, Leadership and Communications, and Care Economics. Central to the experiential instruction are our cross-curriculum priorities of social justice, maternal and child health, and disaster preparedness.
Climate impacts continue to threaten our ways of life, but no longer our well-being. By investing in our children, we invest in our future ancestors’ capacity to build a world that should have been, before colonial disruption.
This future was generated Jen and Bron.
Dadirri and the fateful trajectory of 2020-2029
Dadirri and the fateful trajectory of 2020-2029, Conclusion (excerpt)
Natural Economics, Vol 12, #3. 2059
It came to be that the power of revolutionary possibility, once articulated by human ideology, was actualised through the planet reassembling its equilibrium; that is, the possibility of revolution transmogrified from human intent to a non-human becoming. The year 2020 saw a rapid acceleration of shifting weather patterns and declining human populations—the trajectory to 2029 becoming a path of pain… But, 2029 also marked a point of transition; when human collectives that realised a social transformation was necessary for survival, began to emerge.
This trajectory is now perceived as an inevitable journey: a rebirth, requiring pain. Colonial structures tumbled due to a massive die back in human population numbers, caused by the ongoing dangers of COVID-19 mutations and the erosion of arable land. The once ubiquitous international supply chains were broken and those institutions that kept the capitalist machine running simply dissolved. Surviving populations realised they needed to take care of themselves. In the end these new communities did not emerge through utopian desire, but desperate need. The need to survive…
The failed structures of Capitalism are now attributed to a very simple driver: exploitation. Capitalism – despite its excessively complex systemics and vernaculars – thrived on this one thing. The Earth’s resources were extracted, without care. All colonial structures were built on exploitation – of the land, its animals, and human labour. New societies – collectives – have found a new way. No more rushing to work. No more competing to be number one. The rush to supremacy, recreated at every level of the social hierarchy, has gone.
The seeding of this new way is attributed to the great slowing down. It began with the lockdowns of 2020 when bodies were forced to re-entrain with the subtle motions of nature. Aunty Miriam Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann, from Nauiyu country, shared with us a word from Ngan’gikurunggurr language to describe this—now part of the common tongue—dadirri: a deep listening to land and people. It began slowly. Watching the way birds search the ground for twigs and food; the subtle variation in the gaits of people walking past windows, people we never knew; the joys of pressing a seed into the ground and feeling the Earth’s electricity trickle up our arms; hearing our children play at home and the neighbours we always ignored. The spiritual skill of dadirri – inner quietness leading to new awareness – slowly took its place as the most important human attribute.
Through dadirri new understandings of care emerged, naturally – not as ideology. A caring for the land, for one another and for the self. The distractions of capitalism’s promises became absent: the rush of consumerism, now remembered as a dangerous drug, was suddenly unattainable. Instead, the new society of care provided opportunities to dive deep beneath the surface. A resurgence of interest in Aboriginal Australia followed: what does it mean to be Indigenous, the colonialist’s descendants asked? How do we go deeper into the land, and find connection? These questions led to journeys, both physical and spiritual, into the beating heart of Aboriginal Australia. Finally, white Australia reflects; without the colonial structures to support their economic and social privilege—their biases—they were able to hear the wisdoms of First Nations people. They finally started to listen.
Now, here in our future, the new rituals have emerged. Rituals that challenge those mental structures compelling people to exploit and hurt others. Through ritual, bodies have become entrained to the more-than-human energies of the vital Earth: providing a sustenance that capitalism could never provide. In the absence of colonial exploitation, which empowered people to see themselves as superior to others, human spirituality is thriving. Once more, we hear the land’s wisdom. The violent blip of colonialism has finally passed and the ongoing cultures of Australia’s First Nations have been propelled into new abundances—unimaginable to the perplexed inhabitants of 2020…
With thanks to Future Builders Floria, Susan (Cohn), Sam and Scotia, for inspirations…
The Universal Caregiver Society
The Universal Caregiver Society – by Anne Manne
On the 21 January 2029, the new President of the United States of America, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, gave her inauguration address. The landslide victory of Ocasio- Cortez as President, following her brilliant performance as Secretary of State for Energy under former President Elizabeth Warren, was largely attributable to a grassroots mass movement, an alliance between Justice for Carers, Black Lives Matter and the Green New Deal activists that had swept not just the U.S. but the world.
“I declare America to be what feminist Nancy Fraser has called a universal caregiver state. We are a proud nation of caregivers. Care work is essential work. All of us during our lives at different times will be either caregivers, or care recipients, in childhood, illness, old age and if we have a disability or mental illness. Care work not only helps us to flourish, care is essential to the life of every human being, every animal, and to our shared planet. Unless we care enough to take radical environmental action now, climate change will destroy our world. There is no planet B.”
Ocasio-Cortez declared that Capitalism has created a crisis of care, both for people who need it, and for caregivers providing it. Capitalism has been free-riding on female care work for too long. In announcing immediate raises in carer wages to parity with male dominated professions, Ocasio-Cortez said; “Care work is low carbon work. A care job is a green job. Those who give care have for too long been underpaid, marginalised politically, and frankly exploited. Care has all too often been done by poorly paid workers, by for-profit companies delivering poor quality care, staffed primarily by minorities along gender, racial and class lines. All those who perform unpaid care work in the recent past have paid a savage Care Penalty, facing impoverishment and even homelessness in old age. This is no way to treat those who keep our lifeworld going, nourish it, nurture and care for us when we need it.”
Ocasio- Cortex paused, then said; “At the centre of the universal caregiver state, is care for the planet, and I am proud to announce our signing – in the nick of time- the International Accord on the Green New Deal, joining other nations like the UK, the European Union and Australia, but also China and India.” She then announced to wild cheers from the crowd, “like those nations we are close to recording zero emissions in January 1st of this year, 2029, for the United States.”
How did we get here, in 2029, to this revolutionary moment? Looking back the transformative moment was the terrifying pandemic of 2020. It acted, as the writer Arundhati Roy put it, as “a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas…Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”
It started, like all revolutionary movements, small and local. In the darkness of a London evening, in March 2020 at 8pm, the sound of clapping and cheering rang out. As the sound swelled and rose in the cold air, it warmed all who heard it. It was the Clap for Carers – the nurses, doctors, home carers and carers in nursing homes, and other emergency workers who were providing essential care and saving lives while risking their own.
The value of care was also at the centre of the New York Caring Majority, an alliance which emerged as, in the U.S., the brutally unequal consequences of the pandemic became clear; disproportionately killing the poor, the homeless, the black and Hispanic populations. It also impacted much more on anyone involved in low paid but essential care work, compared to wealthy white elites, the knowledge workers who were able to isolate themselves and work from home. The N. Y. Caring Majority fought “to create a world in which all of us have the care and support we need to lead full healthy lives. In our vision, the work of providing care will be a respected and recognised contribution… a dignified and well-paid job within a fast-growing and flourishing sector of a sustainable, humane economy.”
In Australia, too, progressives responded to that heartfelt moment of recognition and solidarity in the face of a terrifying pandemic by starting the Assembly for the Future, a virtual gathering of citizens to begin the crucial work Roy had exhorted us to do – stepping through that portal and imagining and fighting for a different, more just world. At its centre was care and solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in fighting for social and economic justice for First Nations people, an end to deaths in custody, and the enactment of long overdue Treaties with First Nations people, confirming Indigenous sovereignty, land rights and custodianship.
The Green New Deal in Australia proposed by the Assembly for the Future, meant the fast tracking of 100 % renewable energy targets for every suburb, business, council area, industry, and house. While at first the Coalition tried to smuggle in a “Gas Led Recovery” via stacking the Covid Commission with their mates from fossil fuel companies, social activism quickly exposed this shoddy move. Once the shady covert use of the Commission was made visible, a majority of shareholders voted against their company’s boards if they refused to comply with the Paris agreement. The rapid swing to renewable energy for all households, councils, businesses, and the rebooting of a home-grown manufacturing industry provided brilliant job creation schemes in communities desperate for employment as so many businesses collapsed in the pandemic.
The Assembly for the Future grew and grew. From it emerged the Care and Justice Party which held the balance of power in the Senate from 2022. That helped push through a bold new program of social change. The graffiti which went viral caught the moment; “There can be no return to normal because normal was the problem in the first place.”
The pandemic acted as a shape shifter; the new mood was a radical break with what had gone before.
One of the seismic shifts was in how we thought about work. It was about stepping through that portal and creating a new social imaginary around care. In reality, much of the transformative work changing what we considered valuable work and how we should reward it, was already done by the pandemic. The phrase ‘essential worker’ was given a whole new meaning. It did not mean one of the wolves of Wall Street and the finance industry, nor the narcissistic company CEOs who drove down worker’s wages while awarding themselves huge multimillion-dollar salaries.
The essential workers were the nurses, emergency workers, doctors, pharmacists, and specialists in infectious diseases who battled on the front line of the War against Covid. Everyone knew their lives depended on these people. It was more, however, than the medical personnel. It was the cleaners keeping the hospitals virus free, the people supplying food to patients and staff, the people keeping grocery, vegetable, and food stores open, the food banks and charities, the delivery drivers, all those continuing to provide needed goods and services were essential. It was the disability, child, and elder care workers, as well as the millions of parents and family who provided unpaid care work to children as childcare and schools closed, while working from home. People knew as never before that it was the low paid or unpaid, the low status and largely invisible workforce of the shadow care economy which kept the visible economy afloat.
As all our lives were shown in such stark ways to depend upon all these people, a new sensibility was born. It was a moment of moral quickening, a new understanding of the absolute centrality to all our lives of care. The pandemic of 2020 changed everything. It shook up long held assumptions about women and men and leadership. The brute fact was nations led by women did so much better. Under their leadership, nations dramatically lowered the infection and death rate. Until this moment, power and the capacity to lead was considered “natural” to men, a male entitlement even, while women leaders, simply by being gendered female, were seen as suspect. Yet it was nations led by women, with exemplars like Jacinta Ardern in New Zealand, Angela Merkel in Germany, Tsai Ing-wen in Taiwan, which overwhelmingly did better in beating Covid, with vastly fewer infections and lower death rates. “Want to Stay Alive? Elect a woman!” became a meme that strengthened over the decade.
Meanwhile those countries led by the macho, toxic masculinity exemplars like Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, Boris Johnston and Vladimir Putin faced catastrophic disasters. Hundreds of thousands died. Trump was dubbed The Death King, presiding over the worst death rates in the world. Few families were untouched. As the corpses mounted, he kept on admiring himself, declaring how great he was, declaring “victory” over Covid as record infections smashed previous highs every day. “How is my popularity rating today?” was the only question he would ask, his staffers later revealed. He had lost all interest in the virus, declaring in July 2020 that it would just magically “disappear.” One by one, Republicans, from Secretaries of State to former staffers, turned on him. Leon Panetta, former Defence Secretary and CIA Director expressed his outrage in mid 2020, “This president has essentially gone “AWOL” from the job of leadership that he should be providing a country in trouble.” Trump’s idle tweets that people ingest bleach as a Covid cure, finished him. In the November 2020 election, Trump lost in a devastating landslide. Even Fox News did not at first back his campaign to declare the election loss “rigged,” until Rupert Murdoch intervened. Elizabeth Warren’s success in winning the US election of 2024 was representative of the sea change in attitudes towards female leaders. The macho leader was utterly on the nose with the public by now.
The pandemic smashed neo liberalism too. When the pandemic hit, Australia and the Anglosphere were at the tail end of this morally bankrupt and unjust ideology. Neo liberalism had worked handsomely for the big end of town. Inequality had risen exponentially delivering an ever-larger slice of the pie to the richest citizens. Widespread tax evasion meant one third of corporations in Australia paid no tax at all, and billions of missing funds. Meanwhile wages stagnated for most folk, while soaring house prices in many countries made home ownership unaffordable for the young and made household debt rise to an all-time high for the rest, despite two parents working long hours in most families. Despite picking winners – like fossil fuel companies with billion-dollar taxpayer subsidies – the ideology that said the free market would fix everything, collapsed in the face of the pandemic. It was no longer possible to sneer at government as the source of all our woes, but instead people rightly looked to their elected representatives to provide the stimulus and safety net to save the economy and their lives.
The economic effects of the pandemic were, at first, highly unequal, impacting worst on vulnerable communities. However, as unemployment quickly reached and surpassed the level of the Great Depression of the 1930s, the job losses were so extensive and so many people were affected that a sense of solidarity emerged. The phrase “We are in this together” was often heard as people understood that the only way they could survive was by government stimulus and spending. Billions of dollars of much needed revenue were raised by cracking down on corporate tax evasion. The harsh and punitive neo -liberal regime of austerity, fetishizing government surpluses, inflicting budget cuts on the poor while giving tax cuts to the rich, refusing to properly fund core institutions of democracy like education, health and mental health, evaporated as the pandemic dragged on without a vaccine. The shaming and stigmatising of anyone receiving government benefits disappeared too, when so many citizens ended up depending on the solidarity of taxpayers to survive, through the extension and universal application of the job seeker and job keeper wage subsidy.
It was in the second year of the pandemic when things really shifted towards the necessity for a Universal Basic Income. By early 2021, 9 months before the vaccine roll out in October, it was recognised in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and most of the EU, that some form of Universal Basic Income was the only way their economies could survive. The world-wide depression was so devastating that the Democrat dominated Congress and Joe Biden, elected as U.S. President in November 2020, followed New Zealand, Australia and most of the EU and UK in bringing in a UBI. The world economy would have collapsed without the introduction of the UBI, and millions would have faced starvation.
The UBI brought a radical shift from self-respect and dignity being dependent on having paid work, to a more inclusive model based on citizens engaging in socially valuable labour. It might be unpaid love’s labour, caring for an elderly parent or small children without falling into abject poverty. It might be joining the increasing numbers of well-paid care workers looking after young children, elders and assisting people with a disability, in one of the many job creation and stimulus packages for one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy. It might be volunteering your time to working on land care projects or local solar neighbourhood grids or developing community vegetable gardens providing fresh produce to those locked down at home. It might be volunteers visiting and assisting those with a disability. It could be working in the creative industries which for so long had bought a literal, grisly truth to the romanticised idea of the artist starving in the garret. Many people, of course, were able to continue in professions just as before, although far more worked from home. But the whole idea of work had to radically change and did. Once everyone had access to the UBI, resentment of welfare recipients disappeared, and the exonerating adjective “paid” stuck in front of the word work slipped out of our vocabulary. Everybody worked, everybody contributed in one way or another, and no longer was one gender considered worth more than another because they were ‘the breadwinners.’ The epidemics of anxiety and depression among young people caused by fear and uncertainty during the pandemic, improved dramatically when they were guaranteed a basic income and gained respect for the contributions they made to their community.
Although the pandemic was a portal, we could not have stepped through and made it a transformative moment without a tough political struggle.
The decisive factor in ushering in the new caregiver state, was the General Caregiver and School Strike of 2027. Alongside the school students striking on climate change, for the sake of planet earth, hundreds of thousands of care workers joined in a series of rolling strikes around the world, uniting in the common cause of care. Care for each other, care for our common life world, planet earth.
The effect was pandemonium. This revealed something that came as a shock, even after the pandemic, to the privileged who always had their care work done for them. They were shocked to discover just how much the visible economy depended upon the vital shadow care economy. It was the General Strike of Caregivers in 2027 that ushered in a new regime, a change from the now discredited Universal Breadwinner state to the Universal Caregiver state.
Marilyn Waring, the founder of feminist economics, was a key player in the reorganisation of the new economy, advising governments all over the world. Her hugely influential book Counting for Nothing, What men value and what women are worth showed that excluding unpaid work and the cost of inaction on climate change from calculations of Gross Domestic Product was disastrous. “What we don’t count, we don’t value,” she said. Waring was awarded the Nobel prize for economics in 2026 – the first time a feminist economist had ever been recognised in this way. And nations began for the very first time to include the value of all unpaid care work and the cost of climate change and environmental degradation into their calculations of Gross National Product.
A symbol of the new Universal Caregiver society was the March for Care every year. The new mantra was the four R’s of the universal caregiver regime, Recognize, Respect, Redistribute and Remunerate. Recognise the care work which nurtures us all, by both paid and unpaid carers. Respect that vital, life-sustaining work. Redistribute the unjust and highly gendered nature of care work between men and women. Renumerate justly those engaged in care work.
A whole new meaning was given to “You have to have a go to get a go.” All citizens should do their fair share of care work. Job interviews now required not just achievements listed on a Curriculum Vitae, but evidence that you had in some way taken responsibility for care. This dismantled the idea that the privileged can just buy their way out of having to contribute to the well-being of those family members who needed care. (Nursing home residents got a whole lot more visits when it was designated as emotional abuse not to visit old people in homes.) Care was a shared responsibility, not just an expectation of one gender.
The introduction of the Four-Day Week helped parents and carers combine employment and care, and productivity went up. Home-based work increased permanently as the universality of the Office as a work site retreated. Flexibility in working and paid leave around peak caregiving periods like the birth of a child, family illness or elder care, was now a matter of labour market regulation. With these reforms, the numbers of women in the paid workforce and in leadership roles rose to parity with men.
Green Parties surged in the polls and in France did so well that in 2020 President Emmanuel Macron held a referendum on whether to introduce the crime of “Ecocide” into the French legal system. The yes vote won. Other nations, including the US, the UK, New Zealand and Australia, soon followed suit in enacting legislation against the Crime of Ecocide. This had a salutary effect on companies and political parties. Corporations were held to account for their emissions and suffered heavy penalties if they defied the new regulations. Australia ceased digging up coal and exporting it. Canada abandoned the tar sands. Campaigns to divest from fossil fuel companies were enormously successful, finally removing their social license to operate. The threat of being charged with Ecocide meant it was too risky for political parties to accept donations from fossil fuel companies. These companies which were now regarded in the same light as tobacco companies and asbestos miners. The Green New Deal created many jobs in huge solar and wind farms, including in former coal mining areas. Australia with its unparalleled resources of space, sun and wind, became as the economist Ross Garnaut had advocated back in 2020, a renewable energy superpower of the post-carbon world.
At the heart of the Universal Caregiver state was a new relationship between First Nations people and settlers, enacting far-reaching Treaties with meaningful reparations which recognised and respected Indigenous sovereignty. As the date and name of Australia Day changed, statues of old white male racists and slave owners were torn down. New monuments were erected paying tribute to hitherto invisible but important contributors to our common world – Indigenous leaders, women, health and community workers, nurses and carers, parents, and volunteers. Refugees were now welcomed and granted asylum, permanent residency and then citizenship.
Looking back from 2029, the transformation since 2020, has been immense. It has not been without pain, political struggle, and conflict. And the fight is not yet over. But what is clear is that enough people at the time of the pandemic and after, made a choice. They stepped through that portal, as Roy called it, and began not just imagining, but fighting for and creating a better world based on the values of care and justice.
Memories of the Resistance: a living archive
Memories of the Resistance: a living archive
by Jen Mills
Black Rose Collective (eds),
I don’t need to tell you what the war was like. You have the facts, the dates – treaties signed, sides taken. Maybe you have the wounds. I don’t really want to talk about battles fought and death and violence. There are plenty of images, films, stories like that, and I’ve gone to too many funerals already.
These days I’m more interested in the kind of changes you can’t quite see. As I get older, it’s these subtle shifts in behaviour that I notice, the way older folks notice the changed landscape more than younger people, and are a storehouse of memory as we try to manage what we have left: which plants used to grow here, how the river used to flow, where the old coal mines were and the poisons. The way systems change over time. The way that some things have to change forever, if we’re going to survive together.
It’s the little moments I remember. There was a day during the fires in Dja Dja Wurrung, a terrible summer. I had come over from SA on a strike team. Fire management was harder back then; it was a bit like the old approach to medicine, only intervening when someone was very sick, instead of doing all the prevention and care we do now. There were local leaders there, traditional fire management experts from the area, and they were speaking gently with the fire chief, and she just sat down with them and started listening. That wouldn’t have happened if the firefighters union hadn’t joined with the resistance at the start. The war had made comrades of them, and suddenly they could see each other’s point of view.
At those same fires, when I was taking a break with my brigade and getting a feed in the Jewish community centre – they’d cooked up a feast – I looked around to see who else was there. I saw hundreds of volunteers taking care of hundreds of other volunteers, and everyone with a role to play: farmers dropping off produce, kids running messages, medics checking for smoke inhalation, artists documenting the work. I saw two Black women laughing together, one in her firefighting gear and one in a hijab and a Food Not Bombs t-shirt, and I saw the country I wanted to live in coming into being even as it burned around us.
Another day I remember, I was walking along Karrawirra Parri with a friend when this scary-looking fellow, lots of tattoos, called out to her. She didn’t know him, but he gave her a massive hug and started to tear up and explain how he’d heard her poems on the radio. He said he’d never forgotten them. He’d listened in jail, before the justice shutdown. We all ended up chatting for an hour. ‘Those poems,’ he said, ‘did more for me than any program in there.’
And my friend explained how it was like a sickness, that it has to heal slowly. ‘I know,’ she said, ‘I was sick like that once too.’
I guess we’re all in that time now, where we’re healing slowly. From the war, and from the destruction we wrought on this land before we learned better (we’re still learning better). But like healing from sickness, it gives joy to all these ordinary moments. And like healing, you have to keep telling yourself there will come a day.
Because those days have come, and they keep coming.
I bumped into that young man again a year later; he was doing an apprenticeship at the Kaurna City Library. By then, the prison he’d been in had been knocked down, and they were building housing. A big new art centre too, with a new home for the community radio station he’d listened to inside. ‘Never thought I’d see the day,’ he told me.
It was very slow, but there came a day when white people stopped freaking out so much about facing up to it, when people simply stopped apologising for calling each other out. I was in the supermarket and spotted this woman with two kids in an otherwise empty trolley, frozen in front of the shelves, nothing there because of the shortages. I went over to see if she needed help, and heard her mutter a racist slur. There was a second white woman in the aisle beside her, in an AFL shirt – she was an Adelaide supporter, it was before they changed the name. And I watched her turn to the first woman, and saw that she looked just as tired. I probably did too.
The first woman had spoken under her breath; the second one could have pretended not to hear her. It might have been easier for both of them. But as I watched, the football fan simply and gently told her that what she’d said was not okay. ‘We’re on the same side in all this,’ she said, gesturing at the shelves. ‘We’ve got to play as a team.’
And the first woman looked at her, and instead of crying or getting angry, she just smiled and thanked her, like she’d dropped her keys and this other woman had picked them up for her. ‘It was careless,’ she said, ‘I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said it.’
There came a day when it suddenly seemed that simple.
There came a day when I asked a couple of Black women where they found support, and after saying they got it from each other, they could reel off a dozen other sources without having to think.
Just like white supremacy was everywhere, the water in which each of us sank or swam, dismantling it had to happen everywhere, in billions of little conversations. Of course, during the war, none of our conversations felt small. Talk always had a heaviness, with all that grief and trauma and fear, all that planning and organising. And it’s only now I notice the lightness in our interactions returning like sunlight; I can feel that a big shadow has lifted away. Like the slow and reluctant way that people recognised LGBTQI+ folks when I was younger, after so much hate and fear. These transformations were everywhere, and they felt impossible until they began to feel inevitable.
War seemed inevitable too, and I guess it was. I didn’t want to believe it; I fought for peace, like so many of us did, writing and agitating, marching and organising. But I knew all along that there could be no peace without justice, and those in power were stubborn. They kept refusing change. That’s what made it inevitable. I mean, they could have stood down in 2020, done some listening instead of sending in the riot police, and saved us all a lot of heartache. Instead they tried to save a bunch of statues.
There came a day when there were other statues. Other memorials. To the war we lived through, and all the wars, massacres and rebellions before that; but also to nurses, cleaners, teachers, volunteers of all stripes, and my personal favourite, the Grandmothers of the Resistance memorial, which involved a thousand artists, took three years to plant, and is quickly becoming recognised as one of the great public works of our time. They say it will take ten generations for all its habitats to mature, but the collaboration behind it is another kind of ecosystem, and it’s already flourishing.
I remember a time when my partner and I caught a train from our country town into the city. I looked around the carriage and saw members of the CWA, farmers, artists, refugees, tradies. Everyone was going in the same direction. Some of the kids my partner taught had dragged their parents along, and she stopped to chat with them. They had looks of wonder on their faces – the kids and parents both. It was the biggest Survival Day I’d ever been to.
Soon after that, there came a day that was Treaty Day.
There came a day in the time of mourning, when we started to laugh more than we were crying. It was sooner than anyone thought, because that too was part of surviving.
It’s just a start. Each little moment feels like it’ll never be enough, but they all add up. I know it’s hard work, fighting and healing. But there’ll come a day when joy as a form of protest, joy as an act of defiance and a means of survival, will just be joy as joy itself: the water we swim in, and the air we breathe.
Future generated by Jen, Mek, Meredith, Michael and Samira
Future generated by Liesel, Ian, Louise, Mark, Carol, Jessie and Lawrence
Future generated by Bree, Tara, Kelly-Lee, Pru, Ellis & Huong. Moderated and drawn by Huong Truong.
Future generated by Maya, Kimberly, Gavin, Leanne, Phillip and Sophie. Moderated and written by Sophie Hyde.
Future generated by Maya, Kimberly, Gavin, Leanne, Phillip and Sophie. Moderated and written by Sophie Hyde.
Future generated by Maya, Kimberly, Gavin, Leanne, Phillip and Sophie. Moderated and written by Sophie Hyde.
These futures were generated by our Assembly #2 Future-Builders, cross-pollinated with Scott Ludlam’s provocation, stimulated by responses from Santilla Chingaipe and Roj Amedi and realised by our ensemble of Moderators and Artists.
And Country Spoke Through Them – Elders Anthology of Australian Poetry, 2020-2029
And Country Spoke Through Them
By Z. Cumpston
Elders Anthology of Australian Poetry, 2020-2029
(Assembly for the Future Press, Narrm, Australia, 2029)
we were all sick
left too many floating
a nether world
only skimming over the top
perched on the edges
of this island
(as though they all knew
they might have to make a run for it)
it hurt to be hurt and hurt more
to be told you weren’t
and then the Corona Depression
dismantled almost everything
slow at first
broke the spine
and we started to listen
and all the truth we told
got in through the cracks
pulled up the foundations
seeping into our everyday
bringing so much
and then knowing
strange bedfellows led
dismantling predatory architectures
artists and farmers in their villages
broken systems cast them aside
changed how we saw culture and Country
they fed the soil
returning what was there
no longer floating
and Country spoke through them
whether they knew or not
the truth no longer on the wind
deep within our hearts
and our children
with the goodness of yam in their tummies
language in their eyes
soil under their nails
are taught by Elders
and teach Elders
the truth in the soil
the sweet smell of kangaroo grass bread
signals the new day
Future generated by Christy, Sarah, David, Kirsten, Elizabeth, Natalie, Imogen and Zena.
Selected Artefacts from the Museum of Enabling
Selected Artefacts from En-Neighbour-ling Exhibition, The Museum of Enabling, August-November 2029
Compiled by Amber Hammill
Transcript of TextTalk (live text relay) – Borough Open Door July 2029
stored at lnw://opendoor.myborough
Hello and welcome to our third Open Door for 2029. Is everyone capturing me ok? Yes? No? Yes? Yes? Ok. Great.
I’m Amber, I’m a member of the Open Door Collective this year and I’ll be hosting the session this morning on behalf of the Collective. We’re delighted to be together with you all. I know we’re all joining across a few different languages today using SimTran and TextTalk, so however you’re listening in, on behalf of the whole borough: bienvenidos; y?koso; nau mai, haere mai.
The whole borough so looks forward to welcoming residents to our reclaimed homes. I know it seems like a long time since the rent strike and the landlord eviction, but we had so much work to do to turn these dwellings from commodities into homes. Thanks to everyone in this and the other boroughs for their vision and labour in bringing these homes to life. As you will find them now, they are clean, warm and dry. They are connected to our local grid which they draw from and contribute to. They’re efficient, they’re re-greened and they are yours for as long as you need and care for them. Welcome home.
What we’re going to focus on this morning is each other. It’s great to see you’ve all connected with your en-Neighbour-ler – I think all of you managed to meet up yesterday? That doesn’t always work quite so smoothly, so that’s a great start. Of course, the course of our Open Door sessions we’ll get a chance to look at all our co-mutiny tools – the time bank, the forum, the knowledge works, production spaces and the things and stuff library, and of course the lnw – the local neighbourhood web. But arriving here, in this place, today, gives us a unique moment of connection which we can share and cherish, a network we can hold tightly in this moment, even knowing that it can or might or must, over time, become part of the shimmering periphery of our lives in the borough.
You’ve all come from different places and will, no doubt, have your own stories of the work – the replanting and energy transformation – and of the Struggle and the Healing. We’d love to hear about those – as much or as little as you want to share. Sharing and listening is central to our living democracy and evolution as a species. The borough is, and always will be, a work in progress. It is what we make it. I know some of you have family and friends here already who are planning to join us later this morning and get out with us for a bit of an orientation walk and you can see what we’ve made of it so far.
So, in this spirit of connection and place-making, I’ll ask you and your en-Neighbour-ler to say hi around the table, meet one other again or for the first time, and make yourselves at home. We’ve got until half past, so loads of time. If you have any tech trouble, just shout, but it looks like things are working ok for now?
Ok. I’m going to get a cuppa from up the back there and come say hello! en-Neighbour-lers, do you magic!
[transmission transfers from speaker]
Future generated by Samira, Scotia, Ying, Lisa, Brendan, Caddie, Kuldeep, Sophie and Amber.
Masks on Monday image created by Samuel Rodriguez, titled Physical Distancing.
ReteLibera // @Local433
Message retrieved from the crashed servers of the Rete Libera Local 433 by archivists, as part of the Federal upgrade. Timestamp 15:29 23-07-2029 Kaurna -34.90 138.85 Attribution lost.
Re: Notes on this month’s agenda
From: Jen Mills
Just wanted to share some thoughts on the draft agenda that was sent around ahead of the next meeting of the Spring Festival Committee, aka Local433 Governance Team Dinner/Workshare/Emergency Collective, or whatever we’re calling it now (see note below)
If anyone has surplus food for this please bring it, especially produce. The water recycling project is really proving its worth this year and I know we all appreciate the extra veggies etc even more after such a severe hurricane season, but I just wanted to remind everyone that the inundation hit the coast really hard this week and so whatever is left over will be redistributed by the FoodShare Collective (we need more volunteers, pls contact FSC after the meeting esp if you have WORKING transport)
Related: I still have loads of Pink Lady apples in the shed if anyone wants some.
Look forward to hearing about the Festival organising! It’s great to see the Slow Learning format that’s been working so well at the Play Station being deployed in service of such a mammoth task. Can we have ONE of each, Elders, Youth, and Teacher-Facilitator reps this time so there’s room for all our other topics?
I noticed on the Education Group chat that the students are again agitating for a 20-hour school week to give them time to pursue their festival organising. I get the sense that this will be wholeheartedly supported by staff, who are already putting together a proposal in support of the 20 hour week at the next Labour Transformation branch meeting. I just wanted to flag it as something we might want to discuss ahead of that. Personally I am in favour of it too.
I can hardly believe that it’s only three years since the 30-hour week was declared standard. Since the Redistribution it feels like that was such a humble ask. The kids don’t really remember how it was for us in the hamster wheel days but I do and I’m still amazed by how much we have all been able to slow down since then. OTOH I’m starting to feel that the hours are blurring more and more between work and non-work tasks, and so while I’m keen to see the 20-hour week adopted I’m also mindful of burnout… painfully aware I am writing from the Recovery suite at the Health Centre! Anyway, looking forward to the deeper discussions we’ll be having here and in our branch in the lead-up to the Value of Work conference next year.
We didn’t get through the list of urgent housing priorities last meeting, a few key people left the dinner early to go and fix a leaking roof and have another go at reactivating the wind turbines we lost in February (I heard the crack team of trainees from Energy have fixed it now, thanks!) There is always a lot more to get through than we have time for in the meeting so maybe this should be a separate meeting. Basically I think Housing Group needs more autonomy from main committee now that we have more resources to go around.
Thanks for all your messages of support, they really help. I am doing great now, but while I have been in here I have noticed that our lovely staff at the Health Centre seem a bit worn out. I asked around and this was backed up by several of the nurses. IMO we need to allocate some more people, resources and time off for them. 20hr week pilot? Also thinking Build Group could prioritise finishing the pool 😉
This is ongoing. BUT we had a message from Reparation Archives International (!!) who are wanting to come and record some of our planning for the ceremony, ahead of this year’s digital delegation to Memorial Earth which will be hosted by Pasifika Diaspora. A draft of the virtual space will be available at the hall from tomorrow so please go and immerse yourself in the world they have created for this, it’s part of an ongoing arts project/study tour run by RAI so it’s really exciting that it’s being shared here! They are keen to hear more from us, especially as Turtle Islanders are researching a variety of Treaty/T&RC models for their upcoming negotiations.
Related: Don’t forget we are having a History and the Imaginary discussion at the Play Station on Wednesday, I will try to be there at least via Retelink.
The upcoming discussions have been posted on the noticeboard in the kitchen. I will try to resend the schedule when the Rete is back up at our place (B thinks it could be thirsty kangaroos digging up the cables again?)
New name of committee – a few of us talked last week about inviting the children to come up with a better name, so we should probably discuss this again if we have time???
Sorry this message is so long! The Health Centre’s new Rete connection is heaps better than mine. Looking forward to getting out of here once the leg has mended and hopefully coming to the meeting in person, if so will bring that apple cake you all liked from last time.
#livinghistory #organising #deliberativedemocracy #localnetwork #local433 #reparations #redistribution #memorial #retelibera #prefederation
Future generated by Daz, Emily, Kirsten, Martin, Melanie, Warwick
The New Sun Times, 23 July 2029, Editorial: The Great Awakening
The New Sun Times
July 23, 2029
The Great Awakening
By Tim Baker
Good Evening, and here is the news.
We lead this bulletin, as we have every day since the Great Awakening five years ago today, with the astonishing news that ten billion humans co-existed harmoniously today without harming themselves, each other and the biosphere they depend on for life. This number, at which the human population has stabilised, has also proven the healthy carrying capacity of the planet in this new era, in which all are able to be fed, housed, educated and allowed to flourish with dignity and humanity.
(News Unlimited, 7pm Good News, July 17th 2029)
It is hard to believe that just over five years ago, the news consisted of gathering the most awful things and events that had happened anywhere in the world that day and broadcasting them to as many people as possible, as if to convince ourselves of the inherent misery of the human condition. Today we celebrate the global rejection of this destructive folly and the remarkable elevation to a higher collective consciousness which occurred with apparent spontaneity around the world five years ago.
While this Great Awakening may have appeared spontaneous, it had its roots in the Pandemic of 2020. Forced into lockdown, stripped of the false identity and prestige of jobs, income, material trinkets and diversion, compelled to take an inner journey during forced isolation time and again, throughout the second and third waves of 2020 and 2021, it was as if humanity was being forced to repeat its lessons until it had finally learned them.
Today, as we approach a decade since the beginning of this transformative process, and five years since the Great Awakening, we celebrate some of the milestones along this evolutionary ascent.
One of the unlikely heroes of the movement was former model and widow of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Jerry Hall, who inherited his media empire upon his mysterious death in a hot tub on their private super yacht moored in the Caribbean. While many had puzzled at their unlikely pairing, Ms Hall appeared to adapt to widowhood as if her whole life had been leading to this point, transforming his global media empire from a toxic swamp of vested interests and the repeated hi-jacking of democracy, to an endless wellspring of uplifting inspiration and a daily catalogue of the world’s most positive developments. Some speculated at the time that Ms Hall had been playing “the long game” all the time, to use her inheritance for good rather than the evil it had become widely despised for.
Changing the title of the corporation her late husband founded to News Unlimited, Ms Hall led a revolution in what became known as the “good news media” and “positive journalism”, which itself took its inspiration from the Reasons To Be Cheerful website founded by former Talking Heads front-man, David Byrne. Through its various media channels, News Unlimited spread a daily diet of the most exciting and inspiring developments from around the world that heralded the dawning of a new era. Advances in renewable energy technology, insights into the traditional wisdom of First Nations people from around the world, environmental and social justice initiatives, every victory by human rights activists, every forest saved, every humanitarian crisis averted or alleviated by swift collective action, great art works created, constant updates on a new child-friendly educational revolution that was sweeping the planet. The combined effect of this avalanche of good news was nothing short of a radical shift in humanity’s self-perception, its astounding potential for good and the awesome power of acting with a united vision of the common good.
The global media market, both consumers and advertisers, soon developed an unquenchable thirst for this positivity and rapidly awakened to the fact that they had been poisoning themselves, and the democratic process, with the daily intake of misery and propaganda formerly peddled by Murdoch’s media empire. Without News Limited’s corrupting influence, a truly representative democracy flourished in his once-key markets of the US, UK and Australia, ushering in a wave of new politicians able to truly enact the will of the people for the greater good. First Nations leaders naturally arose to the fore in this untainted environment, espousing traditional wisdom that resonated deeply with an electorate wearied by the harrowing cycles of pandemic lockdowns and the unsustainable illusion of an economic model unfit for purpose. The veil was drawn back, revealing a rancid system serving the interests of a few, propped up by corrupt Government sleights-of-hand and the revolving door of corporate lobbyists and government advisers playing a cynical game of musical chairs at the expense of the people and the planet.
The other key development from the Pandemic Period was the broad adoption of a Universal Basic Income, even by reluctant conservative governments, to prevent economic collapse, which soon proved so popular and practical that it became impossible to repeal post-Pandemic. Rather than producing populations of bludgers as the rabid right-wing commentariat warned and blustered against with increasing desperation, the UBI inspired a great blossoming of the arts, local organic food production, a sense of community, rapid improvements in public health and housing, advances in technology. Freed of the constricting yoke of the economic imperative, people naturally applied their energies to their passions, interests and fields of excellence. People had not one vocation but many in parallel or in succession, shifting from the arts to farming to care and social work as their moods and interests and expertise and society’s needs directed them. The cancelling of foreign debt allowed so-called developing countries to make rapid advances in all quality-of- life indices.
The other key outcome of the pandemic was a widespread embrace of meditation. Trapped in their homes for extended periods, tapping into online resources for support, many discovered the nourishing effects of going within, finding stillness and cultivating inner peace even as their outer worlds morphed often beyond recognition. Even after restrictions were lifted, many found meditation a key coping strategy for the uncertainties of their new reality. Soon, it was being taught in schools and workplaces, regarded as essential for human health as diet and exercise. In fact, a new catchcry emerged in the post-Pandemic world, celebrating a new holistic paradigm of selfcare: “I just need to take my M.E.D.S. Meditation, Exercise, Diet, Sleep.” The savings and relief on the public purse and health care system freed up more resources for preventative and educational health strategies around the world.
Technological solutions to the world’s most pressing environmental problems flourished as a new cooperative spirit usurped the old competitive model of free market capitalism. Coal fired power stations toppled like dominos, along with the rapacious corporations which no longer had a place in this re-aligned world, their ruthless profit motives abruptly exposed as sociopathic and inhumane.
The central role of the Arts in promoting human flourishing across all societies was one of the defining features of this post-Pandemic era. Instead of pop culture super stars amassing vast fortunes while most arts workers struggled on the poverty line, artistic instincts were allowed to shine – flowing, meandering, spreading throughout society like water over floodplains, depositing a nourishing silt that enriched the lives of all community members. Artistic expression became as natural and universal as cheering on sporting teams had once been. House concerts, street parties, community festivals and seasonal celebrations became common place as natural markers of special occasions in our human and natural calendars.
One of the most sweeping transformations occurred in the global food system, where the onus of regulation and accreditation and compliance was shifted from organic to non-organic foods. Farmers who used chemical fertilisers and pesticides and other damaging and unsustainable practices had to meticulously document every unhealthy feature of their production and build them into their costs. All food was organic unless otherwise labelled, and this one simple shift made chemical-based monocultures unviable and the switch to organic farming ushered in a stunning improvement in human health, more productive and fulfilling vocations and a connection to the natural environment and seasonal cycles that soon permeated every aspect of society. Food and livestock were no longer transported vast distances for consumption on the other side of the world. People awaited the arrival of tomato, mango or watermelon seasons with relish and celebrated with local festivals and gatherings. Street and public plantings were largely food producing so that no one went hungry. A new embrace of native foods allowed food production in once unviable areas, providing meaningful employment and restoring eco-systems.
Along with all these sweeping changes, crime plummeted, prisons stood empty and some were converted to public housing, community colleges or artists’ studios. With the increased vigour and health that soon infected the population, walking and cycling flourished, roads grew quiet, air pollution became a thing of the past, marvelled at by a younger generation aghast at the crude and clumsy excesses of their forebears. The re-direction of unneeded military expenditure was ploughed into universal health care, education, housing and the arts.
In a society so radically transformed in so short a time, you might expect the populace to be disoriented, beset with anxieties over the radical pace of change, and their unfamiliar new reality, even if it appeared more humane. Interestingly, it was the elderly and the young who adapted most rapidly to the Great Awakening, an older generation recognising traces of their past in the unadulterated food and neighbourly connections, the young intuitively understanding that this was humanity’s destiny all along. Certainly, there was resistance and upheaval in some quarters, but it was relatively short-lived and ultimately futile as a new wave of people power and collective action swept the planet.
The Localisation Movement, first espoused by Helena Norberg-Hodge in the early 2000s, found its full voice and expression in this new era, what was once seen as old hippy idealism suddenly appeared perfectly practical. Indeed, the hippy movement of the 1960s was widely celebrated for laying the foundations for many of these sweeping changes, even while infused with a new progressive and technological sophistication. Visionary and writer Charles Eisenstein’s “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible,” was stunningly made manifest in a society that had a place for all and regarded all life as worthy of dignity and respect.
It’s difficult to fathom that the world we enjoy today would have been seen as a fanciful daydream just a decade ago and that humanity suffered for so long under the oppressive dictates of spurious, economic snake oil salespeople and a hopelessly compromised system of exploitation and environmental destruction.
Today, we give thanks for the brave pioneers of this global movement who strived valiantly for decades, sometimes against overwhelming odds. The monuments to these bold activists and innovators are not bronze statues but arts and community centres, health and educational facilities, bike tracks and parks and public housing for all to enjoy. We are still coming to grips with the complex systems of shared responsibilities and support that govern this new world, but for this we have First Nations societies to thank for their wisdom and leadership, the move away from hierarchical structures and the embrace of flat, circular systems of mutual obligation. The catchcry of government public health campaigns during the Pandemic of 2020, that we are all in this together, has finally come true.
Future generated by Jodi, Emma, Ira, Jane, Susan, Rockie and Tim.
Harken Recruitment Channel Broadcast #1, Wet Season, 2029
Harken Recruitment Channel
Broadcast #1, Wet Season, 2029
By Pippa Bailey
This dispatch is written to be read. Aloud. Of course, no one will know if you don’t…. It’s that leap of faith, of giving something voice, that propels ideas from the imagination into the world. Please, take that leap. It’s the first step. Then, you will hear the music.
Welcome to Harken Recruitment Channel (Harken RC), a song stream for cultural citizenry, time reflections and song-line adventures. Listen to the struggles. Hear the land sing here.
Harken RC is the result of a chance meeting in another era. Some of us were in state-imposed lockdown and others were warily navigating the different messages of the 2020 Pandemic: ‘stay inside, ‘business as usual’, ‘go out’, ‘go home’, ‘go away’. It was a baffling time.
We had all brought an object from the past that day, to keep us connected to the temporal world while we navigated our meeting via zoom. Remember that old tech? Back then we were still so unpractised at questioning the machinery that was controlling us.
Jane brought the basket that she was weaving, following instructions by Indigenous Elders from the Western Desert. Those skills have come in handy. We sensed then the extreme need for ancient weaving. It has enabled Arts and Science to become less polarised. The silos and cruel divisions that had torn apart the fabric of our culture are now blending back together into intricate patterns, in some places so tightly entwined that you cannot see the stakes from the strands.
Samantha came from Dja Dja Wurrung lands with an empty glass that had been full of water and would be filled again and again as the hottest summers we could never have imagined burnt suffering onto our lands and people. The heat has killed so much.
Pippa had a toy koala covered in patchy kangaroo fur, worn with love, that had never left Wangal lands in the Eora Nation. Koalas were facing extinction after the 2019 summer of fires destroyed so much habitat. They are still on the endangered list.
Little did we know there were so many hidden connections in that first meeting, shyly starting to reveal themselves.
Suse had a Tell Me Why cap from the Archie Roach Foundation that she still wears to shield her face from the sun. Archie Roach sang his life, gently reminding us of atrocities inflicted on First People since invasion.
‘This story’s right, this story’s true
I would not tell lies to you
Like the promises they did not keep
And how they fenced us in like sheep.
Said to us come take our hand
Sent us off to mission land.
Taught us to read, to write and pray
Then they took the children away,
Took the children away,
The children away.
Snatched from their mother’s breast
Said this is for the best
Took them away.’
Thank Nature that the authorities have stopped stealing children.
Suse was living on Guana country back then, now she is travelling on the Darug, Gundungurra, Wanaruah, Wiradjuri, Darkinjung and Tharawal countries, formerly known as the Blue Mountains. She is still patiently, tirelessly meditating to shift our dreams.
Gulsen was on the Kulin Nation and brought a lady Buddha. Did she know that Suse was a practising buddhist? Honestly, Harken RC was Gulsen’s plan all along. She knew that a force of people would be needed to get us out of our trouble, to honour our hope and longing.
Shannon was also on Kulin Lands and brought a guitar that day, part of a growing collection of dormant instruments in her house. It didn’t take long for her to take up the challenge and step out from behind her camera, learning to pluck those strings to unleash uncertain melodies.
Hers is a beautiful allegory for the journey our culture has taken since 2020, stepping out from behind the mobile cameras and selfies that perpetuated cultural distancing. We stopped selling ourselves and stepped in, resumed creative practice, took risks and engaged. Slowly these practices moved from the periphery into the centre of our days. Our children and young people practice creative citizenry easily and with pride, it’s just part of who we are now. Harken RC is inspired by them. But there is still a great need to engage some of the older ones, mostly Boomers, Gen Xers and some of the Millennials, coaxing them to uncurl their grip on a heinously wasteful past, to centre them for now and what is still to come.
Because despite the hardship, the heat and the violence of transition, we managed to maintain resolute determination in simple low-fi creative action.
Through that determination came the music.
Between our divisions
I’ll reach out to you, will you reach out to me
With all of our voices and all of our visions
Friends, we could make such sweet harmony
That simple ancient round found voice at the Women for Life on Earth camp, sung to those housing nuclear missiles at the Royal Airforce base at Greenham Common in Berkshire, England in the 1980s.
We were fearful in 2020. The summer of fires and then the Pandemic ripped us from lives we knew were unsustainable but couldn’t quite see a way out of. It was 2024, when the violence was completely out of control, that a new awakening started to take hold. Thank Nature that some of the enlightened ones remembered to sing. There was plenty of singing in the late 20th century and early 2000s but it was so packaged into the noise of competition and transaction that it rarely cut through. Soulless chewing gum for amplified vocal chords drowned out the cries of suffering of endangered creatures. We couldn’t hear then.
Thankfully on the streets, here and across the world, people resisted the violence, reclaiming old songs to give voice to their fury, disaffection and hope.
El derecho de vivir
Sin miedo en nuestro país
En conciencia y unidad con toda la humanidad
Ningún cañón borrará
El surco de tu arrozal
El derecho de vivir en paz
Written by Chilean composer and singer-songwriter, Víctor Jara, in the 1970s, this song was inspired by the Vietnam War and once stood as an anthem for resistance against the brutal regime of Augusto Pinochet. It was revived in 2019 during anti-government protests in Santiago sung by a million people and went on to be used throughout the decade calling for the right to live in peace.
In the early 2020s, almost everyone was talking about the importance of story, regardless of which side of politics or which sector of work. Marketing machines smudged lines between fact, fiction, spin and lies. Social media spat it everywhere. It took a few years before we could start clambering out of the dystopian mindset to find different stories for our yarns to find the weft and warp of meaning. Stories are still important now, no question. Song and dance help them find form and connection.
Ancient song knowledge had always been here in Australia, of course. Like anything deeply true, the signs were all around us and had been for centuries. When First Peoples finally wrested the toxic colonial British and American systems and thinking away from the rest of us, suddenly there was light and breath. Long slow breath, straight to and from our bellies. The birds started coming back to our balconies and yards. It was sweet relief. Truth and reconciliation gatherings helped so many Australians understand the importance of listening, even when the truth is hard to hear. Back then, the powerful thin-lipped white men of few words and the puffy, arrogant white men of so many empty words strutted their power. They couldn’t imagine it would give way to millions of voices, black voices, children’s voices, women, people of colour and uniquely able voices, rising together.
And that really was a revelation, that we could join together, in one voice. Australia had no history of doing that, not since invasion. Most people connected their ancestry to places far away and mumbled their way through the national anthem, it just didn’t sit well. A few people had a go at revising the words and a new version was adopted officially in 2023. But to really own it, first we had to bravely open our mouths, twist our tongues to new sounds and embrace the divided world within Australia. Unable to travel for years, we were forced to be local and eventually we found each other. We learnt that creative endeavour shrinks distance and loosens the burden of rules and hard borders.
Perhaps that’s why, over time, Harken RC became necessary. We built it slowly, many of us in our local places. Now as we follow the songs through pilgrimage by foot or on cycles, it’s crazy to think about how people once lived on speed and waste in that ‘globalised’ world. Since new laws were passed in 2025, travelling rhythms are more balanced, fewer people in cars pay more attention to the huge number of walkers. You can hear them in this old Estonian folk song, sung during the singing revolution of the 1980s when 2 million people joined in a line of song that traversed three countries and over 600kms in a peaceful end to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)
Rändaja, rändaja, rändaja laula Laula mulle oma, laula mulle oma üksinduse laulu Ma kuulan, ma kuulan, kuulan ja laulan Sinu üksindus on minu üksildus, su nukrus mu kurbus Kuu tõuseb, kuu tõuseb taevasse üles Päike loojund, päike loojund teistpoolde ilma Rändaja, rändaja, rändaja laulab Laulab mulle oma, laulab mulle oma üksinduse laulu
Traveller, traveller, traveller sing, sing me the song of your solitude, I’m listening, I’m listening, listening and singing. Your solitude is my loneliness, your sadness also mine, the Moon rises, the Moon rises up to the sky, The Sun has set, the Sun has set to the other side of the world, the traveller, the traveller, the traveller sings, sings me the song of his solitude.
Around 2028, we saw signs that country was starting to heal and that coincided with growing numbers of songs in traditional languages, filling our ears with ancient strength and purpose. More people notice how these songs change as we cross country now and have reshaped old ideas about states and regional centres with river and land rights and travelling wildlife.
We realised that those of us who had benefited from the time before transition had been too comfortable in the thirty years of warning.
We had stolen so much resource from the future.
We needed to pay back in order to pay forward.
Harken RC is designed with the hard-to-reach in mind. We know there are some who will never be recruited, hellbent on resurrecting a past we can never return to. Our intention is to raise voices to achieve the nearly impossible and keep singing together.
Today we remember the past, hope to recruit new listeners for the future and welcome you. It is this process and practice that keeps us in tune.
So, welcome to Harken RC, our song-stream for cultural citizenry, time reflections and song-line adventures. It is a space to think, to know and dream through learning our country’s songs. It is our commitment to Australia. Our journey lasts a lifetime and through joining others, in all places, a creative force is growing.
Our first offering of this inaugural song-stream is from our northern friends, a beautiful Mandarin melody to be sung when authoritarian forces are drowning out the sound of human suffering.
The Moon Represents My Heart (with guitar chords)
Ni (C) wen wo ai ni you duo (EM) shen,
(You asked me how deep my love is for you) —
Wo (F) ai ni you ji (C) fen.
(I love you to the utmost).
Wo de (Am) qing ye zhen,
(My feeling is also true),
Wo de (F) ai ye zhen,
(My love is also true):
Yue liang (Dm) dai biao wo de (G) xin.
(The moon represents my heart).
With thanks to Gulsen for the seed, Jane for weaving some magic, Samantha for quenching our thirst with questions, Suse for her devotion, Shannon for the lens, Pippa for scribing and the many unheard voices who kept singing through dark times.
Once a journalist…
Once a journalist, now a storyteller
On 15 Jul 2029, at 9:55 am, Narita Vernacki <N.V@AFTF2029.node43.zone.au>
Text deleted on request of author
Re: where did you go?
Thank you for your e-letter.
I’ve had a number of inquiries like yours over the years, although they are fewer and farther between as our story becomes more widely known.
I’m always grateful and surprised that my writing as an environmental journalist resonated with readers. You never really knew despite (or maybe because of) all the noise on the old social media. It’s only when you receive a personal note like yours that it seems real and genuine and the work that we did worthwhile.
As you know, I spent the early 2020s as a freelance journalist covering the environment. Not an easy role in any respect given my reports, essentially, documented the decline of our natural world.
I never felt as if I was able to do justice to the rapid changes occurring. I did feel – or was made to feel – that people just weren’t interested that more species of plant and animal life became extinct each and every day. Everyone spoke of media saturation; that audiences weren’t able to consume any more dire news, but that was all I really had to offer.
Extinction events, rising seas, extreme weather, drought – this was the material of my world and I would drown in anxiety, trying so hard to find a way to articulate such loss and devastation to a media cycle that seemed more determined to ignore the truth than communicate it. Had I listened more to voices of encouragement like yours than the doomsayers, maybe I would not have become one myself. But I felt like I did.
The Pandemic of 2020 changed everything – it was the beginning of the unravelling of that world. The Depression that followed hit global economies in an unprecedented way and the chaos of climate change intertwined with this collapse to create massive shifts. My industry – which was already in peril in the move to digital – just could not survive. My work, which had become piecemeal, dried up completely and, like many, I was unemployed and unemployable.
I was very lucky that I was living in a strong node that had been organising for some time – we had dedicated growers, cooks, builders, support people and carers who lifted us all up during this time of fear and panic. Food was dropped at the doorsteps of those who found themselves without income and our neighbourhood bonded in a way that had seemed unimaginable before. We didn’t have much, but what we had, we shared.
My contribution to the node became clearer over time with a need for communication, firstly, to get everyone informed and safe and, later, to start sharing deeper stories of our experiences and our world. As you know, we don’t have journalists anymore, we have storytellers, and there has been so much to document and share in the last decade – not just about our environment – but the huge social changes we have seen.
I am one of a small group of storytellers in our node – we are diverse in culture, age, gender and abilities – we share stories from our place but also filter and connect with other nodes across vast networks. We bring a range of deep and complex stories to our community in a way that we could not have imagined in the media framework that existed before. We don’t just share “news” we present culture and knowledge beyond the monological narratives of the past.
We continue to experience loss in extremity – kindred species, Country and people. But we are stronger than we have ever been. We have more hope. We are more connected. And we are (mostly) free of the world we lived in that divided and oppressed us. We lost many along the way. The pain of this loss will always be with us, but we are repaying their sacrifice with our commitment to building this better world and I am grateful to be one small part of this change.
I hope this satisfies your curiosity.
If your inter-nodal travels ever bring you close to mine, please feel free to give me advance warning and I’ll arrange the necessary permits.
Future generated by Yana, Claire, Jo, Dasha, Grace, Yagan and Gen.
Written by Genevieve Grieves with David Pledger.
Experimental Times – Summer Issue, November 2029
Summer Issue, November 2029
We live in experimental times.
We are publishing this Special Edition to celebrate nearly a decade of incredible feats of courage and healing. Some would argue that the Covid-19 pandemic in Australia probably saved our country from ruin and from becoming the world’s largest solar farm. Experimental Times Editorial Staff are aligned with this thinking. In this Special Edition, we have compiled a collection of stories, highlighting how far we have come as a nation since then, and to inspirationally remind us that we have more purposeful work to do to dismantle over 240 years of ecological degradation and colonial oppression.
I am often reminded of a cartoon published in The Guardian in 2020 (I wish I had saved it). The cartoon depicts a personified earth staring down at a group of politicians. The humans are crying out ‘We can’t shut down the economy! We can’t end fossil fuels…etc’. In response, earth says ‘Here’s a pandemic, try’. Throughout Covid-19 crisis, we learned that change can come quickly where there is willpower and ingenuity…and, it can come in once unimaginable forms.
The forced stillness that the Covid-19 crisis brought, to the most privileged amongst us, was the recognition that our faulty human systems could no longer be upheld. We lost livelihoods and our secure footings. Many aspects of our lives that mattered, no longer mattered. At some point, ‘normal’, in its original form, became unrecognisable especially in the second wave where loss of lives mounted and fear set in. Sourdough cultures died. Vegetable patches wilted. We retreated and in the depths of grief, we wept.
We experienced what is now recognised as ‘anticipatory grief’, a deep-felt anxiety about our uncertain futures and the collective loss of normalcy. When we could no longer distract or medicate ourselves, our captivity pushed us toward self-reflection where we questioned institutional dependency, our comforts, conveniences and complicity. What more were we prepared to give up? And, what were we willing to fight for? Especially in relation to our well-being, kinship and our future generations.
We yearned for meaning to transcend the suffering.
We have heard countless stories of hyperlocal community mobilisations around water protection and food systems, rapid technological innovations to advance inclusive communications, and strategies of refusal against dinosaurian institutions and disaster capitalists. On page 8, artists Mauri Sha and Carolyn Ames share a story of trauma and recovery by taking us on a journey around the country with their incredibly successful community-led, land steward project, Gigatonnes. To date, everyday Australian ‘Protectionists’ have successfully reforested nearly 0.9 billion hectares since starting along the Merri Creek in 2021. The Gigatonnes Ecological Charter passed in 2027 protects these lands from any form of natural resource extraction, pollution or financial gains. This project leaves a legacy that will endure beyond lifetimes.
As months passed attempting to contain Covid-19 outbreaks, we began to grasp the scope of suffering beyond our own to those in other communities. We could no longer look away at the injustices. From the sudden lockdown of the Melbourne housing estates to the long food relief lines of stranded international students, everyday people mobilised and acted. On page 16, Aaden Farah tells the story of two disparate communities coming together during Covid-19 in solidarity and mutual aid support. Through mobilised rent and debt strikes, they successfully decommissioned high rise public and insecure student housing in Australia, and helped transition the University of Melbourne into an equitable public knowledge research and learning institute with a focus on social inclusion, public health and community resilience.
The pandemic woke us from sleepwalking into extinction and at the same time made us face our mortality. A collective awareness mounted that the climate emergency was bearing down on us. In doing so, our existential crises made way for existential choice. Through the pandemic, those of us who lagged behind climate change attentiveness quickly learned to trust scientists and act with purpose. There was an unspoken acknowledgement that we are the last generation to halt extinction and in doing so, hopefully secure a legacy for future generations. On page 24, activist Alice L. Hannan’s article Secure enough to be brave talks about how platforms of public value, normally privileged for the dominant classes, were handed over to children to have a voice in advocacy and decision-making around issues directly affecting future generations. In 2026, the Children’s Right to Vote Act was won permitting young people over the age of 15 to vote. Prime Minister Lidia Thorpe’s momentous speech on the day accompanies the article, translated in English.
The centre spread Acts of Refusal/Acts of Mutuality celebrates the moments of solidarity between Aboriginal communities, leaders and allies leading to the signing of the Aboriginal Treaty Act of 2024. Authors Claire G. Coleman and Alexis Wright discuss how the Treaty helps us all to reconceptualise our ways of living and learning in relation to the land through ceremony, land-based ethics, song and language. The Treaty enables the collectivisation of skills and resources to dismantle settler ecologies and halt the colonisation of the future.
We honour the bravery and are proud to bring this edition to you.
Jen Rae and the editorial team
Future generated by Jess, Jacqueline, Gabrielle, Kata and Jen
BEYOND THE FORCE
Episode 9 Blue Dissolution: Leaving Power Behind
Release Date 20th October, 2029
Proudly and freely transferred by Neo-Web RetroActive
Beyond The Force is a 12-part documentary ZoneDrop series that first streamed from August to November 2029. The series incorporates vivid, often personal interviews and stories from people involved in the End Policing campaigns of the mid-to-late 20s.
Over 12 episodes, Beyond The Force maps the major global events that led to the abolition of the police force in most Western countries. Widely acclaimed for its honest and rigorous journalism, the series was celebrated as a sensitive portrayal of a rapidly changing society.
The year 2020 saw international mass uprisings against racialised police brutality. These uprisings were led by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in the Former United States of America. Immediately following an enormous BLM uprising on their own country, First Nations legal and community activists and campaigners in The Former Australian Colony successfully led a campaign to Raise The Age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 16. Building on this major institutional success, newly realised coalitions between activists, scholars, unionists and community campaigners gave rise to a freshly galvanized and emboldened Shut Youth Prisons movement, as well as to the early stages of the Abolish All Prisons movement, both of which were courageously supported by the Australian New Left. With parallel anti-racist, anti-fascist, anti-policing and anti-prison movements spawning in over 100 countries, 2025 saw the emergence of the global End Policing campaign – the biggest civic movement in human history, one whose roots and successes can be traced directly to the demands, principles and direct action tactics of the Black Lives Matter movements that erupted in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police officers.
‘Beyond The Force is essential listening for anybody yearning to see behind the empty rhetoric and finger-pointing that still dominated popular public and commercial media in the early 2020s. This series looks deeply and compassionately into the human faces and, sadly, the human costs, of a system in crisis. But most importantly, it showcases the solutions generated by a movement with clear visions for social transformation’ – Cornel West – Philosopher, Scholar, Elder and Movement Builder
Episode 9 Trailer
This trailer features a story from a former Australian police officer, one of thousands who conscientiously withdrew their labor in the mid 2020s as part of the Blue Dissolution.
Warning: This extract contains mild-to-moderate references to police brutality.
TEACHING NOTES : SOCIAL TECH HISTORY – 2020s
Below are selected excerpts from:
FROM “A.I.” TO TRANS-HUMAN INTELLIGENCE: A DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF INTER-RELATIONAL TECH EVOLUTION
Published by Global First Nations Universities Public Press (GFNU Press), 2029
A ZoneDrop is a publicly available media work that people can access through their Zone. Zones gradually replaced ‘smartphones’ between 2025 and 2029. A Zone is best understood as a small USB-like device worn by the user on a lanyard, keyring or armband. Zones employ technology that evolved from the Bluetooth of the late 2010s. A Zone connects users to the global cloud and securely holds their encrypted personal data, information, communication, passwords (everything that a smartphone once held). A Zone sits the user in an invisible, spherical personal data cloud. Actions such as sending a message or watching media are executed by users with mental, gestural, ocular and verbal commands. As Zones were developed, screens were replaced with private quantum-retina displays similar to contact lenses, and earbuds were replaced with neuro-quantum in-ear phones.
Neo-Web is a world-wide, collaborative A.I./Human media movement (also known playfully as The Real Web). Neo-Web has its political, technological and ethical roots in Wikimedia and other similar open-source services from the early 2000s. It was borne of A.I./Human collaborative relationships, is 100% capital-free, advertising-free and directly democratic in terms of both content creation and audience engagement. In 2029, 90% of people worldwide now access their media and communications via Neo-Web. All Neo-Web services have non-profit, anti-authoritarian firewalls coded into their Direct Network Access (DNA) scripts.
3 Neo-Web RetroActive
3 Neo-Web RetroActive is a quantum-temporal networking system that allows data to be transferred across neuro-temporal locations; ‘back through time’ for example.
This work was conceived and realised, in part, on Unceded Aboriginal Dja Dja Wurrung (Jaara) Land.
Aboriginal Political, Ecological and Spiritual Occupation and Sovereignty has always and will always negate colonial theft, violence and occupation. We are Still Here.
This future was generated by –
Writing and Concept: Declan Furber Gillick
Sound Design, Mix, Production: Aaron Cupples
Performers: Declan Furber Gillick and Cath Ryan
Contributor: Zoe Scoglio
- Infiltrate the Core Data Centre (CDC) located on Wann-gal land (Homebush, in Sydney)
- Destroy DNA profiles and surveillance data, along with the CDC itself
- Protect our community
- Valid CDC DNA defect-free identity cards
- DNA masking tech
- Facial recognition disrupters
- Information about weapon and explosive caches (to be destroyed before crossing checkpoint)
- Names and contacts for allies (to be destroyed before boarding Saturday freight train)
- Spontaneous miracles
Future generated by Mek, Sam, Tilley, Pru, Cheryl and Sophie. Images created by Sophie Hyde.
Future generated by Mek, Sam, Tilley, Pru, Cheryl and Sophie. Images created by Sophie Hyde.
Future generated by Mek, Sam, Tilley, Pru, Cheryl and Sophie. Images created by Sophie Hyde.
Future generated by Mek, Sam, Tilley, Pru, Cheryl and Sophie. Images created by Sophie Hyde.
Future generated by Mek, Sam, Tilley, Pru, Cheryl and Sophie. Images created by Sophie Hyde.
Future generated by Mek, Sam, Tilley, Pru, Cheryl and Sophie. Images created by Sophie Hyde.
Future generated by Cindy, Ian, Millie, Jane, Steve and Debris
By Joshua Santospirito
By Tal Fitzpatrick
These futures were generated by our Assembly #3 Future-Builders, cross-pollinated with Alice Wong’s provocation, stimulated by responses from AM Kanngieser and Kera Sherwood-O’Regan and realised by our ensemble of Moderators and Artists.
Briefing: Mission AF #4.2, 11 August 2029
Written by El Gibbs
Three pages of a document, each stamped diagonally in red ink with the words MISSION STATUS: RESOLVED, and a footer on each consecutive page with the text ‘Briefing: Mission AF #4.2, 1/11082029’, ‘Briefing: Mission AF 2/11082029’, ‘Briefing: Mission AF 3/11082029’. The full text of the three documents is as follows:
Briefing: Mission AF #4.2
11 August 2029
The CDC is a direct threat to our community and the principles that guide us. The Area Council believes that the CDC, and the associated DNA records, must be destroyed. The Council also requests that all associated DNA and surveillance data are also completely erased.
The destruction of the data will enable those disabled people still hiding in Sydney to escape and is being coordinated as part of a wider national resistance to the use of DNA to control communities.
The Western Regional Council resolved in 2028, after the DNA Access Bill passed, which linked DNA profiles with access to public and private services, to oppose the CDC and everything that came with it.
The DNA Access Bill created the CDC where registering DNA is now mandatory for access to any public or private services. Those found to have ‘defective’ DNA no longer have access to services, nor to public and private spaces. There have been public campaigns promoting ‘wellness’ and ‘health’ to encourage citizens to report anyone who ‘needs repair’.
The Bill means that health, education, transport and other services are now only available to those whose DNA is registered with the CDC. Access to services is also prioritised for those with ‘defect-free’ DNA. DNA repair is now mandatory. The NDIS was abolished as part of the passage of this Bill.
DNA is collected by force from all in the Sydney metropolitan area, and from all public and private spaces, and entered into the CDC. The CDC is linked to facial recognition and other identification tools, which are used by police and private security to enforce access.
So called ‘defective’ people are pushed to the fringes of major Australian cities, and now out into regional areas.
The DNA collection, and the associated enforcement measures, have led to a considerable influx of disabled people to our area, particularly disabled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and disabled people of colour. So-called ‘defects’ are screening out anyone who fails to meet a narrow, ideal of what a person is, and what value they have.
The development, and subsequent widespread usage of CRISPR and its associated technology, further deepened the inequalities that were present in 2020. Under the guise of creating a better world, genetic modification has proliferated, both for new and existing humans.
Disabled people, eliminated and shut out of this new world, have worked to create new communities where we can, in the words of that famous disabled oracle herself, Alice Wong, ‘live in defiance with joy and radical acceptance’. Using the original disability justice beliefs that all bodies are whole, unique and essential, we have crafted community that prioritises care for everyone, according to their needs and desires, since 2025. We are committed to fighting for that community.
This mission will be conducted by the key individuals selected by the Council for this task, from the overwhelming number of volunteers. These individuals will be led by disabled people, as they have led all aspects of the resistance to the CDC across Australia.
Personnel will be equipped with appropriate DNA-masking technology, as well as measures to hide their impairments from the CDC police. The Council thanks personnel for their willingness to take this step.
Mission personnel will cross Dharug and Gundangara country by hiding in freight transport on the Saturday train. The train passes through at 4am, and will slow enough for boarding at exactly 4.04am near the old Lithgow station. There are allies to the resistance among train staff.
You will enter the freight boxes, after setting up the masking tech to get through the checkpoints at Parramatta. The train will terminate there, and personnel will disembark and make their way towards the CDC.
Personnel will collect the materials needed to execute their mission goals from the checkpoints and allies who will meet them at the agreed time and place. Allies inside the CDC-controlled areas will have what is needed to gain access to the CDC, and to destroy the data.
Once personnel board the Saturday freight train, there will be no further communications with the Council.
Allies in the CDC-controlled area have been briefed in advance, and there will be no communications between yourselves and their teams. You will meet as arranged.
If there are any disruptions, the mission personnel are instructed to use their superior problem-solving skills to adapt and achieve the mission objectives.
The Council will monitor both the official, and unofficial webs to measure progress of personnel.
Mission personnel will be equipped with the following:
Mission success indicators
The mission will be considered a success if the CDC’s operations are disrupted, and if DNA and surveillance data is destroyed.
It is not expected that any personnel will return to Wiradjuri country. The Council values the willingness of the disabled personnel to make so many sacrifices for the success of this mission on behalf of our whole community.
We are the resistance. We resist those who say we should not exist. We resist those who try to regulate us away. We resist and move together, no body left behind.
Many-Festo of Polyphonic Tenderness
A single sheet of dusty, yellowed paper, with the title words stacked and in bold, Many–Festo of Polyphonic Tenderness. The title is centred in between an image on the left of a pair of humans standing up with interlocking arms and legs, one with a rooster mask over their head, and another similar image on the right but this time one person is masked with a flower arrangement and the other with something resembling gas-mask. The title and images are underlined with two lines, and below lies the following text:
Imperfectly perfect creatures of the world, recombine!
We have nothing to lose but the chains
which keep us
We hold these contradictions to be self-evident
that all human and non-human creatures evolved and continue to evolve
equally and unequally equivalent
sharing unalienable rights and wrongs, privileges and responsibilities;
that among these are
Life and Death
Liberty and Interdependence
The Pursuit of Happiness and Presence of Grief.
Propagating from a decade which none is leaving without great pain and loss;
Appreciating the deep connections that have emerged from distance;
Celebrating the uncountable ways of being;
Learning diverse knowledges;
Moving with tenderness in a fragile solid world;
Improvising together our polyphonic symphony of care:
We declare right now the urgent need for patience: hurry up and slow down!
Perfectly imperfect creatures of the world, recombine!
We have a world to wean.
This iteration of the many-festo realised on this first day of southern spring, 2029
From conversation between Kelly-Lee, Rayna, Kerrii and Andy
Dispatched by Tim Hollo
Edited notes – Disabled Oracle’s address, ‘reforming able-bodied males’ syndicate (October 2029).
An audience with the Disabled Oracle: edited notes on an address to the ‘reforming able-bodied males’ syndicate (Meeting 2, October 2029).
Like you, friends, I am feeling broken. The devastation that we now live with on a daily basis was forewarned— the heat, the disaster, the deaths. And it sits upon our shoulders, the white able-bodied male to explain why our forefathers and indeed, some of us in this very room, could have willingly perpetuated this culture of death. You will remember in our prior meeting that the conversation turned to the ancient Greek archetype of Cassandra. To summarise: she was a gifted oracle whose prophecies were never believed; such an archetype warned us for a century through the many activist voices that tried to attract our attention, of the devastation now upon us. Our dismissive Apollonian attitudes, which we now recognise as economic determinism masquerading as reason, has brought us to this terrible place. Our syndicate has dedicated its energies to the rebuilding of a new society, starting with our own transformation.
We share a charter that seeks to define a new man, not by normative definition, but one in which each person might know the possibilities of their becoming. And this begins with the undoing and recreation of ourselves. In this effort, as promised in our first meeting, I have visited the Disabled Oracle. Today, I share with you my experiences.
The Disabled Oracle, as we know, has become a society-wide transformative surge, helping us to let go of long-held attitudes. An audience with the Disabled Oracle is both tender and strong; perhaps it is the tone of her voice, or the atmosphere she produces, or simply the wisdom of her words, but I experienced what others have described – an immediate connection with pain. An introspection; a wondering. Why have I believed the things I have; why have I allowed the outward face of society to crush the creative perturbations of my being; how have I so easily been forced into a homogenized countenance?
Since, I have further reflected on this encounter. It seems to me that the pain of normalcy is the mental fatigue created by our perpetual psychic offerings, towards the preservation of cultural norms. An exertion concomitant with pain. A pain of which the Disabled Oracle is somehow able to put us in touch. The pain of my own exhaustion was revealed to me through tears, echoed by others around me. I experienced a cascade of memories: being accused of not being normal, of not being a man, of not fitting in; the possibilities of my own sensitivities and potential disabled by a society intent on producing a certain type of human figure…
Let’s turn for a moment to the historical archetype who best symbolises this human figure: Vitruvian man. He who so willingly bound himself to two geometrical figures—the circle of progress and the square of certainty. Suspended within these abstractions the Vitruvian man gazes at us through his long flowing hair and powerful physique; strong and steady – so, perfect. And yet, he is bound and immobile. Unable to move, he could never descend from his podium to meet the oracle. Rather he would glare at her from afar, asking why she isn’t he. The demand for normalcy would disable her potential, and it is this force which our syndicate, like the others, must become active in disassembling.
It is interesting to consider that the prefix dis-, can mean reversal. The Disabled Oracle can reverse the exterior gaze of Vitruvian man to one of inner reflection; it is this disabling of certainty and the enabling of empathy and understanding that is so crucial to our time. Experiencing this pain taught me that each of us pays a significant mental cost for the prize of being considered normal and/or perfect. How can we men undo ourselves, our certainty and commitment? How can we allow our energies to become unbound and float outwards, towards new possibilities? That we might come to enrich our understanding of the world and be a part of a diversity of becomings – where there is no male any longer, but only expressions of respectful strength – stable, open and gentle…
The Disabled Oracle gave me a chance to see what lay behind my pain: the power to transform. This has somehow given my own creative energies permission to expand beyond the bindings of normative codes. I believe it is the dispelling of perfection, and its concomitant pressures to act normally, that is crucial for the becoming of the new world to which our syndicate has committed.
Friends, thank you for listening. Together, let us continue our syndicate’s journey towards dis-perfection…
Future generated by Elizabeth D, Ana, Elizabeth R, David and Jordan.
Written by Jordan Lacey.
Anonymous X Disabled Oracle Society digital thunder clap, 6 August 2029
Anonymous X Disabled Oracle Society digital thunder clap
6 August 2029
Like a chorus of seasonal blooms, underground hackers linked to collectivist hacktivist group, Anonymous, and to the Disabled Oracle Society orchestrated a digital thunderclap across all digital platforms, screens and monitors on earth.
Enough screenshots of the message – a poem, a plea – occurred before authorities could force a blackout.
Their message was clear.
A4 sized colour illustration with lines of a poem scattered in white font on black blockout strips.
An adult person in a white, full hazmat suit is walking alone in a smoggy brown-red landscape under deep blue-green starry night sky.
The hazmat suit has a glass face shield revealing a black gas mask covering the person’s whole face.
A black square label on the chest of the hazmat suit reads the corporate logo of ‘McEdit’. The suited person wears a blue back pack filled with blue gene-editing herbicide.
A small white orchid in the ground at the human’s feet sits protected under a glass cloche. Its red roots and rhizomes travel horizontally underground across the bottom of entire image.
The hazmat suited person has dirty blue safety gloves and boots, and carries a spray hose, spraying blue poison on bright red ‘weeds’. These weeds rise up through the ground from underground rhizomes originating from the orchid under the cloche.
Nearby, to the right of the image, is a cyclone wire mesh fence topped with barbed wire. Some of the underground rhizome run under the fence, beyond the reach of the person’s herbicide.
The poem overlaying the image reads:
Nature does not make mistakes.
She seeks only balance in diversity.
Will we take our time to learn her wisdom,
honour her truth?
Or will we keep failing each other,
And deny humanity the chance to attune
to the resistance that always was
and forever in our DNA?
End Image Description
The New Sun Times, August 2029, Editorial, The Donut Swallows The Hole
The New Sun Times
August 12, 2029
THE DONUT SWALLOWS THE HOLE
By Tim Baker
We tell our stories and truths in our own words. We define who we are and our place in the world. We fight to be seen and heard. We live in defiance with joy and radical acceptance. I too am tired of defending my worth every day to people obsessed with having everything faster, shinier, newer. What can we do? How do we love and hold each other up so we keep on going as a community? How can we harness our imagination to create a world that we want to live in right and in the future? – Alice Wong, Assembly For the Future, July 6th, 2020.
In 2020, then Disability Justice advocate Alice Wong engaged in a little creative time travel and delivered a stirring warning to humanity from the year 2029. Proclaiming herself The Last Disabled Oracle, she spoke at the inaugural Assembly for the Future, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and painted a chilling picture of the path gene editing and a misguided quest to “perfect” humankind would take us on. That landmark speech set in train a series of events that ultimately led to the transition of the Rebel Alliance into the formation of The People’s Tribunal, which, as we know, has made a truly representative form of democracy possible.
As the virus illuminated society’s inequities and fault lines, Alice imagined a new world based upon social justice for all, a vision that proved so captivating, a global organic movement formed around it including Alice’s own Disabled Oracles Society. While she sounded the alarm of what was at stake in the developing frontier of genetic engineering, humanity awoke to the shocking realisation that we risked having our very humanity stripped away.
In the midst of the upheaval of the pandemic, economists baying for the sacrifice of human lives in the name of this intangible entity, the economy, gradually awoke the populace to the rigged system they’d been victims of. One mid-pandemic newspaper headline laid bare this illusionary dissonance. “Economy to bounce back, jobs and wages won’t.” What was this cruel master that needed to be fed the bodies of the marginalised and immuno-compromised and how many of us had to realise we were being relegated to the margins to bring an end to this de-humanising system?
This process became known as “the donut effect”, first espoused by urban planners in the 20th C and popularised in the cultural sphere by Sydney Festival director Wesley Enoch, where society’s centre began to appear increasingly empty or hollow, a moral vacuum, and its real substance, its heft, its essence and tastiness dwelt in the outer circle, the margins. As various marginalised communities formed connections and shared resources, the hollowed-out centre felt its moral authority evaporate, while marginalised communities discovered their combined energies represented a formidable force for change.
A loose alliance of disability advocates, environmental and social justice activists, Indigenous leaders, refugee groups, migrant communities, artists, the under-employed and the homeless, those who have battled addiction and mental health issues, came together in the wake of the Pandemic, harnessing the momentum of community building and grass roots activism the virus inspired. This potent intersection formed the basis of the Rebel Alliance.
As we wrestled with a rolling series of crises through the 2020s, environmental, economic, social and health-related, those on the margins seemed to have the firmest grip on the solutions. Those who had suffered, endured, known deep pain, and felt society’s disdain and neglect, it was these communities who arose and were best equipped to live with the uncertainties of the age. Instead of being seen as “vulnerable,” those on the margins seemed to channel ancient traditional wisdom in converting poison into power, proving that those who had suffered most at the hands of a cruel capitalist system were best qualified to heals its wounds and guide us to a better future.
Alice Wong’s Disabled Oracle Society seized its moment in the public debate around gene editing to inspire new definitions of health, a new appreciation of difference, new concepts of time and human value and highlighting the interdependence of these marginalised communities. As the economic establishment put forward chilling assessments of who was considered dispensable to the machinations of the capitalist system and who was not, it was glaringly obvious that this system no longer served the people, in fact, we were required to serve it or be rendered obsolete. The rise of gene editing was soon seen as nothing short of cultural genocide.
What arose out of the pandemic and the societal soul-searching it inspired, was a heightened sense of community and a regard for the special skill sets acquired by and required of those formerly shunted to the margins. As entire populations were pushed into states of vulnerability and uncertainty, the resilience, patience, strength and perspective of marginalised communities were recognised as guiding principles for a new paradigm.
While capitalism and colonialism had required a speeding up of time, with their ruthless notions of productivity and growth, the post-pandemic world view re-claimed an alignment with the natural rhythms of time evident all around us in seasonal cycles, organic and circular processes of growth and decay. The enforced isolation and slowing down of pandemic lockdown allowed humanity to fall back into synchronisation with these natural rhythms, stirring deep ancestral memory when society’s cues were taken from the appearance of a particular flower, the migration of animals, the availability of seasonal foods. Once felt, this generational wisdom could not be un-known and the false gods and artifices of capitalism, perpetual growth and market forces soon fell.
The Rebel Alliance emerged as a guerrilla movement with no less an ambition than the overthrow of capitalism. But rather than fighting an entrenched economic system, it soon evolved a strategy of by-passing it altogether, of forging a society where inter-connected communities met each other’s needs in healthy symbiotic relationships rather than throwing money at having them inadequately papered over by consumerism, uncaring corporations and shiny trinkets. The result was a quantum leap in human consciousness and empathy that recognised our shared fate as single cells in the greater organism of humanity.
The shared values of the Rebel Alliance spread so widely and were embraced so universally that the hollowness at the centre of the old system’s donut became un-ignorable and un-sustainable. Like the emperor with no clothes, once it was pointed out it could not be un-seen. And so, the Rebel Alliance’s principles of collective action and community empowerment became enshrined in the formation of The People’s Tribunal, which soon became an essential layer of veto in our governance systems. Randomly selected community members convened to discuss and debate critical societal issues and make recommendations to government that truly reflected community standards freed of the corrupting influence of lobbyists and vested interests. The donut had swallowed the hole. In its place nothing less than a new definition of wealth evolved. As anthropologist Wade Davis wrote in a blistering analysis of the decline of the US at the height of the 2020 pandemic: “The measure of wealth in a civilized nation is not the currency accumulated by the lucky few, but rather the strength and resonance of social relations and the bonds of reciprocity that connect all people in common purpose.”
Today, we celebrate this evolution in our collective decision making and the empowerment of communities to truly determine their own destinies – in which every voice is heard, all lives are valued and no one is left behind. The results have been profound – a restoration of faith in our governance systems, adequate protections for the environment, the safeguarding of human rights, a heightened regard for the humanising role of the arts in society, the wisdom of formerly marginalised groups brought to the fore, the rise of a new spiritualism that relies not on the dogma of any one religion but the unifying humanitarian principles they all share. The catchcry of the Disabled Oracles Society grew into a mainstream chorus, “Nothing about us without us.”
The struggles and hardship of this inspiring movement, the ancestors and elders of marginalised communities, have brought us to a brighter future but there remains much work to be done. From each of us is required a searching self-awareness, a transcendence of self-interest, a heartfelt embrace of the common good. Today, just as we celebrate the progress made together we here, at The New Sun Times, re-commit to the arduous journey ahead to complete this societal transformation.
Future generated by Jude, Kelly, Hanna, Susan, Ellis, Kata and Tim.
Three pages of text as follows, but each time the word ‘fungus’ appears it is written in bold, with the letters UN capitalised, and in a font different to the rest of the text, that is blurred at the edges and suggestive of something growing out from each letter.
UNUN Day of Celebration
October 24, 2029
Deadly Dirt Rave
To all UN communities across the world:
Register your local Altar Festivities for this important day of global celebration.
The UNUN Treaties Collection is available for all communities to access.
Please note that 2029 is the 7th anniversary of the First Nations Treaties within Continent 7, formerly known as Australia.
Citizens are encouraged to register needs yet to be captured.
We remain committed to equity at the highest level.
Please crypto-message the Dispersed Headquarters of UNUN
to upload invitations and orders of procedure.
Alert others to let them know whether your community will welcome visitors
or be a closed event
due to illness or sorry business.
The theme for this year’s celebration is
A mere 10 years ago fUNgus was starting to be generatively used to address the Climate Crisis but few could have predicted the vital role it would play.
Now the fungal kingdom is celebrated in all its eukaryotic glory.
Yeasts, moulds and microorganisms are key to our interconnected future.
As many will already know, fUNgus has been around for more than 400 million years. With strong evidence that it was the dominant life form on Earth 250 million years ago, there is increasingly detailed evidence of close human relationship to this kingdom and recognition that ancient Aboriginal fungal lore and knowledge has been passed orally from generation to generation. It was traditionally used for medicines, food and recreation.
We rely on fUNgus for lifesaving drugs, biobased fuels, fragrances, adhesives, durable lightweight packaging that can be made into shoes and a growing suite of small biological molecules. Most significantly the Aspergillus tubingensis species of fUNgus has been developed to destroy plastic and is helping to resolve the waste crisis created from the 1950s to the 2020s. Most exciting was the applied use of this fungal process in saltwater to reduce the plastic soup in our oceans. Alongside the scientific development came a popularity of liquid fungal fermentation that has rapidly spread. When psilocybin was legalised in 2024, micro-dosing became a popular pastime, opening hearts and spirits for the great UNdoing. Creative energy and purpose was UNleashed.
Transition from chemical factories to biological fermenters saw the culture embrace fUNgus ceremonies.
This year honours thriving rituals, popular in many parts of the world.
Bend your brain and UNwind!
Thanks to the local quorum of the Kulin Nation Chapter of
the UNUN Youth Peace and Environmental Protection Corps,
who determined the theme and look of this year’s Deadly Dirt Rave.
Get your shrooms on!
The Busy Workers
Participate in the comic rituals of bureaucrats
(so that we never go back to those bad old days!)
Communities of care
Former prisoners share stories of prison life,
former billionaires randomly distribute more sequestered funds.
Choir of the UNvoiced
Long table feasting
Advance Fermentation Parties
(why wait to celebrate!)
MEMORY BACKLOG Formerly ‘United Nations Day’, communities across earth have transitioned this international event through the Dispersed UNUN. This will be the 82nd day of celebration since ‘United Nations Day’ was first conceived as an international day of recognition in 1947. Since the United Nations decentralised in 2024, the UNUN has refocused locally into a myriad of mobile departments across the 7 continents, responding to local challenges and conditions while still being able to seek knowledge and advice from the whole system. This action was a cornerstone of the era of the great UNdoing of bureaucracy and authoritarian structures to reimagine the UNjust. The institutions formerly known as police, defence forces and correctional facilities were UNmade with justice redirected to care and foster programs within communities. Removing UNnecessary fences, walls and borders was an important start to the process. The Peace and Environmental Protection Corps now move between communities and countries caring for the many pop-up refugee camps that emerge as rolling disasters.
ORACLE ALERT During Altar Festivities, the fungus ceremonies will stir our Oracles, those who were once marginalised, to keep watch for signs of war. Chapters around the world will be tuning in and preparing for end-of-season announcements. We must be vigilant and listen deeply. Our Oracles keep us alert to shadow forces that threaten our new, UNreal way of life.
Dispatch prepared by Comms Team, Dispersed Headquarters of UNUN: Beverly, Bron, Deborah, Joshua, Robert, Pippa
Object Design Request: Time-Peace
A violet purple background, with a circle in the middle made up of small rectangular cells and faint orange concentric circles. The text overlaid is in two columns on each side of the circle, whereby each line of text is formatted in an arc, following the curve of the circle. The text is as follows:
OBJECT DESIGN REQUEST:
The TimePeace is a tool conceived by The Future Builders Alliance to reflect and support the management of the time resources of all Future Builders, individually and as collectives.
The tool should enable Members Collectives within the Alliance to reflect the goals, principles and achievements of the Slow Down following the Pandemic and Workers’ Uprisings in the early 20s.
The TimePeace needs to leave room for and encourage the planning of all aspects of this collective enterprise and take account of the environmental, geographic and social contexts worldwide in which Alliance members work.
The TimePeace needs to allow users to record periods in which they are, or intend to be, using their time resources on:
Celestial, Terrestrial and Spiritual Others must hold the centre of the TimePeace and invite users to manage their time resources in the full knowledge of those cycles.
The TimePeace needs to recalibrate regularly using information from the user’s Attuning Fork.
The TimePeace should support Future Builders in their goal of UNbusyness and help them maintain their commitments to honor the rhythms of their own lives, value their own time resources and the time resources of all others in honour of the achievements of the Slow Down.
Scope of the project
The TimePeace needs to operate at all time-scales, and allow and encourage reference to the past, present and future. The TimePeace should encourage connection between these tenses.
Each TimePeace User should be able to see how their time-use is complemented or challenged by other Users, but also Celestial, Terrestrial and Spiritual Others.
Viewed together, the individual contributions to the TimePeace will illuminate the polyphonic symphonies of care and collaboration, rest and play.
Data from historical records relating to climate, genealogy, and all others needs to be stored within the TimePeace – it will be impossible to build a future without a living, deep and evolving understanding of our past.
Available materials/required materials
The TimePeace needs to operate on local neighbourhood webs globally, so should be low-powered and resource-neutral.
The TimePeace is intended for Future Builders worldwide, of all ages. Please refer to the Disabled Oracles’ Handbook which details best practice on designing across platforms for multi-user functionality.
The TimePeace should reflect the non-linear experience of time at all scales.
The TimePeace is a crypto-current tool calibrated to a person’s real-time biometrics to resist third-party data breaches.
This brief was compiled by Amber on behalf of Sam, David, Sophie, Deb and Holly
2029 Right Livelihood Award
2029 Right Livelihood Award
Address by international jury member, Eleanor Jackson
Today we recognise the Last Disabled Oracle, Alice P Wong, powerhouse, disability activist, media producer, and founder of the Disability Visibility Project.
The Right Livelihood Award, which is widely referred to as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’ is delighted to acknowledge Alice’s extraordinary work promoting the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities. Few other activists were as vocal or as prominent in their opposition to the strident efforts made by governments, medical scientists, corporations and other advocates to promote gene editing technology, which threatened to herald a new era of highly-troubling, corporate-led spill-over into preferential reproductive technologies for “better” humans, or – more pointedly – eugenics.
Propelled into the mainstream public awareness by the COVID 19 pandemic, with its unique stressors and risks for people with disabilities, Alice cemented her place as a champion for those subjected to the interconnected oppressions of medical racism, ageism, and ableism. So many here today can attest to her tireless work for disability rights and our panel were deeply inspired by the vitality and resilience that defines Alice’s life, work and legacy.
Alice’s advocacy offered one of the most dramatic recent opportunities presented to humanity to confront the assumptions that underpin our understandings of what “quality of life” means. For a world now grappling with our shared disability, pain and suffering, a world living with greater interconnection and greater uncertainty, Alice offered us difficult but necessary provocations and challenges as our Last Disabled Oracle.
In making this award, we want to share some of the most meaningful pillars of discomfort gifted by the work and legacy of Alice Wong acknowledging there was a time before she announced herself as the Last Disabled Oracle and there was a time after.
After, time itself was never the same. No one could presume that the timeline fit, that days, weeks, months had the same cadence and meaning for everyone, that everyone could be made to fit the timetable. Alice’s advocacy prompted a fundamental reconsideration of societal assumptions around time.
After, empathy was never the same. Who could, in the interleaving moments of evaluation, where we tried and failed to decide who mattered and who did not, that there was an easy, neat elegance to deciding who should live and who should die. Without Alice, that debate could have been dominated by corporate interests in closed conversations that specifically excluded those with the greatest expertise to sound the alarm to what was at risk.
After, care was never the same. Where was the easy line between those who gave and those who received? Where were the simple equations of power and value? The global moratorium on gene editing was driven by Alice’s recalibrations of those reductive equations. The ultimate non-zero sum game.
We stand in her debt. Please join us in recognising the Last Disabled Oracle, Alice P Wong, awardee of the 50th Right Livelihood Award.
The 50th Right Livelihood Award Presentation was an extraordinary event, marking a half century of celebration of individuals who offer exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing humanity. The international jury of Eleanor, Katie, Ian, Sarah and Tamara, in recognising Alice P. Wong, commended her unique, thought-provoking work promoting the rights of people with disabilities, enabling their full recognition and changing mindsets across society.
Two images comprising of a poem and footnotes to the poem, with the text as follows:
By Jinghua Qian
Remember that year we sat in the stench of death,
peering at lighted squares, searching for the numbers of fallen.
I was conscious of my breath, conscious of the too-close bodies
passing in the aisles, conscious of the skin of the oranges,
already touched, in the pile. I tried to grieve,
I tried not to cough. I couldn’t sleep or I slept too much.
I tried to believe that words were enough, but I wore
them through. There was nothing to do, or everything to do
and no one to touch. It was a communal crisis of the flesh
yet I lost mine in the wash, lost sense of the seasons
and the earth and the feeling of the turn as the world shrunk down
to different sized squares of sound and sight.
We joked that none of us would age that year. A desperate lie
while op-eds sneered that it wasn’t worth a minute or a dollar
to save people from dying only a few months earlier.
Only. It was clear which bodies were tagged thus.
All life was cheap, but some was cheaper.
All bodies are material, only some matter.
The killings were watered down, the victims rewritten
so they were already dead or dying.
Suffering was naturalised, for some their only birthright.
But even back then, we knew our bodies
were sacred, our inheritance lush,
our ancestors attentive. I carried
the strength of my lineage,
I learned to shed its burden.
The gift was wheat but not bread.
Fruit but not wine. 
In those days, the bosses and their machines
stole our time. They crept into our houses,
they owned our faces and stories
and footsteps and grammar and sold them on.
All that our ancestors gave us,
the market clambered to purchase, trade,
perfect and erase. We fought back,
marching in the streets, singing in the towers,
bleeding on film and paper. It wasn’t enough.
The water came up, the fires burned hotter, the prisons
swelled and swallowed more of our number.
The second summer of that year indoors,
the old world came knocking and flirting again.
Wheat but not bread. Fruit but not wine.
We had to take our time back, hold close
to the skin of the earth, feel the turn inside and out.
There was no script, only the noise at the door
and an ache in my neck and a dim memory
that once we were worth more and could be again.
There was no blank page. There was no empty land.
There was never a moment that felt like the stage was set
for the world to come. There was only the unmarked seed,
the garden already overgrown, and between the weeds and the flowers
there was work — there was living to be done.