Tag Archives: travel

Wasting less while travelling

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The last few months have included some travel for various reasons. I think it’s obvious that air travel raises my carbon footprint and should be avoided when possible. But perhaps I’ve already mentioned that my life is full of contradictions?  I’m trying to do what I can, when I can. When I went to Brisbane I was lucky enough to be able to buy vegetables and fruit at the local farmers’ market.  It was luck!  I had no idea it would be close to where I was staying.  I’d selected accommodation so I’d have less traveling each day I was there, and so I could travel by ferry when I needed public transport. In another spot of luck, I’d been saving my peelings and pits in the fridge for a few days trying to figure out whether my only option was to put them in the bin, when I realised I was walking distance from New Farm community garden.

I was convinced a community garden would have a composting system I could sneak my scraps into, but imagine my delight to discover a community composting hub! I went back a couple of times because it’s mango season and there I was making cold rolls for dinner and eating a mango every day.  And because the community garden was brilliant. My other travelling with less waste discovery was in Melbourne, where the lovely out-laws took us to Coburg Farmer’s market. There was live music, there was delicious food–and there was a no single use policy on cups, plates and utensils.  So there was a serious washing station with clearly explained steps, and lots of people large and small using it.

My other big carbon footprint management strategy is to protest when travelling whenever possible.  Brisbane is the heart of opposition to the Adani coal mine–which is a bad idea on so many fronts–Indigenous owners oppose it, we already know we need to keep existing reserves of coal in the ground to have a hope of keeping climate change to tragic rather than catastrophic levels, the water this mine will take is shocking, coal will be shipped out right by the Great Barrier Reef–you know what I’m saying.  I’m saying Stop Adani!

It’s also good to see what people in other places do–I caught up with an activist I met over 20 years ago and we talked up using music in protest (and did some singing, of course). And it was fun being deputised by my beloved and her parents to be the one going out to save the world while they stayed home providing loving care and being unable to get out much, respectively.  They needed to check that I would make sure I came home again.

I managed to come home both times–and there were some very funny stories of members of the family opposing Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam war, and being arrested during the Premiership of Joh Bjelke-Petersen, when the right to assemble and the right to march were themselves the things people were protesting to achieve, because they were criminalised by Joh.

And in closing… some photos of fabulous Brisbane wildlife!

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Preparing for Gion Festival

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We were in Kyoto during Gion festival time.  The Gion festival runs over weeks and embraces two parades as well as numerous smaller events, nights of street carnival, days with observances to be made, blessings to be received, shrines to be moved from place to place–and so much more. Some of the preparations were of course mundane, as in the case of this banner, placed in preparation for a neighbourhood to build its float and then fundraise for the maintenance of its neighbourhood float and celebrate in style. One night we came past this banner and there were matching koi t shirts for sale as well as food and drink.

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These are not just any old floats.  They are kept in pieces in the neighbourhoods they represent throughout the year, assembled on the street and displayed, and then paraded through the streets. They are part of a tradition centuries long, and many parts of the floats, as well as the treasures that decorate them, have long histories. Many are assembled as they always would have been, with heavy wooden structures held together with ropes made of plant fibres.

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Some are very large and some relatively small, and almost all now dwarfed by buildings standing in the streets, while in photos I saw in museums–you can see these floats towered over the city buildings even at the time photography had come into existence.  Surely when these floats originated, they would have towered over every building in the city.

Because of the heat, I walked past groups of men building these structures and intermittently lying down in the shade to rest. Every single part of the float has significance–historical, local, spiritual, literary.  The interpretive signs that were eventually erected for the ignorant (such as me) offered a small introduction to stories about what the float represented and the way this might be changing though time.

The balcony you can see in each large float is a space for the Gion Bayashi musicians to sit and perform during the parade.  As we walked in the still very warm evenings, we came upon rehearsals of Gion Bayashi musicians which we could hear from the street and sometimes see through an upstairs window.  Eventually we came across a rehearsal in the float itself.

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And, all over Kyoto, an air of expectation.

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