Well 2011 has kicked off somewhat dramatically with the worst floods this city has seen since 1974. However, it’s far too early to get negative, and I’m determined to view the fact that everyone in my family escaped inundation as a good omen. In fact, I haven’t heard of any friends who’ve been badly affected. Just good luck, I guess, given the severity of the situation.
Out of respect for those who haven’t been so lucky, I haven’t been out of my local area since this all started. “Rubber-necking” has been firmly discouraged by the authorities, and quite rightly so. It didn’t feel right to take photos, even locally, but a very high resolution aerial photo, taken on Thursday Jan 13th after the peak is online here.
I’ve posted a tiny section showing where I live and the closest flooding to our home. It seems quite far away, but when the worst was feared the prediction was for flooding to come as close as the footy field just across from us.
Below is a close-up of the area in the red square.
I find it quite heartbreaking peeking into those backyards. If you click on the photo you’ll see more detail, like the clothes lines and pools. Remember that’s after the peak. Nevertheless, our suburb is so much better off than many others.
It’s been incredible to see the way the city has rallied around those people who have lost so much. The money, the clothes and toys, but most impressive of all is the willingness to offer ones own time to do what is at best uncomfortable work. It’s been hot, humid and smelly and yet they came in their thousands.
Brisbane in the 21st century had become a bit of a strange, soulless place, in my opinion. Back before good old Expo ‘88 we used to be described by Southerners as “just a big country town”. It was meant derisively but it was pretty true, right down to the sense that you knew everybody (and their business) and that we looked out for one another, for their kids and so on.
By the new millennium, we may have acquired outdoor cafes and shops that stay open on Sundays, but we had lost a sense of community in all but a few small enclaves.
I can’t help hoping that the floods just might teach us the value of community, about reaching out and contributing time and effort for something beyond our own personal benefit. It might remind us of the joy to be had from connecting with neighbours and from the collective sense of belonging to a place. And most certainly it should remind us, as we seem to need to be reminded at regular intervals, that Nature is the boss and we disregard this fact at our own peril.
This might all seem pretty off-topic for me and this blog, but the strange thing is, it is exactly what I wanted to express in my first post of the year. After all the reviewing and thinking and planning I did in December, I tried to come up with one word to set the “tone” or theme for the sort of 2011 I hope to create. And I couldn’t do it of course, but I did come up with three: Connect/Community/Contribute.
These are the things that I most enjoyed about 2010 but that I felt I wanted in greater quantities. I realized that the easiest way (and therefore most likely to be successful) was to do this online. Being ill has left me feeling terribly isolated at times, but since hooking up online with both other PWCFS and with my book arts buddies, this has been much better. Still, I do want more, and I genuinely want to give back. I used to work in “a helping profession” so I always felt that I was giving and contributing, and never had to seek out more ways to do so. I don’t see it as realistic to consider that type of work any more, but I still have a lot to contribute, and I want to contribute.
I also want to share my work with more people. And when I say share, I do mean share. It isn’t about making money from it, I just want people to see it and derive pleasure from it. You might remember that for my 200th post last year, I had a give-away, and I was surprised by the pleasure and satisfaction I felt as I sent my prints off to their new homes.
At the moment, I am setting up a website that will have a shop facility, and I have decided that all proceeds from sales made before June 30 this year will be donated to the Queensland Premier’s Flood Relief Appeal. Hopefully the website will be online in the next few weeks. If you would like to be notified when it comes online, please leave a comment on this post with your email address. In the meantime, if you feel you would like to, you can of course donate directly on the Qld government site.