Blogging the North

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A House Destroyed by Cyclone Yasi but the Roses are Growing – by June Perkins

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I’ve had an article Blogging the North republished by the Queensland Writer’s Centre.

It covers the story of how I become a blogger for community for ABC Open’s aftermath.

This was the time my Smile Within Book  and exhibition began to be created.

You can still purchase the ebook online through the Australian Society of Authors.

You might like to visit posts like Tupperware Houses and A Guide to Documenting Disasters.

Other Relevant Links

The Smile Within Blogspot

Smile Within WordPress

 

5 years on from Yasi

It’s coming up to the 5th Anniversary of Cyclone Yasi.

This was our cyclone night.

 

But you know it’s not what I choose to remember. . . for me it will always be the community spirit afterwards.

I was compelled to photograph and video this recovery process – both in nature and community, and compiled it into a book, which is now also an ebook.

I spent time as a guest blogger for ABC Open, and learnt what it is to write and tell stories from the community, for the community – an experience I will never forget.
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More about   After Yasi EBOOK 

Five years on from Cyclone Yasi, and I am about to launch a kickstarter for a book of poetry Magic Fish Dreaming for children and family celebrating the very area the cyclone made a huge impact on, the Cassowary Coast.

Two of my children are in senior school, one is going into second year.

We all live in Brisbane now, and are really starting to feel like part of the Brisbane community. My husband is still a science teacher but at a different highschool.

We ask after our friends in Tully, but many are down here as students now, and many have moved away.

The one thing that will always unite us is the shared experience of the night and the recovery process and the unspoken realisation that you must always actively care for your family, before, during and after such events.

Sadly some of the families and couples we knew, and many businesses in the local area, did not stay together, but nevertheless those involved have found strength to move on with their lives and rebuild.

May they find peace and happiness, and for all those who were able to give others strength and keep your family, farms and businesses together, good on you.

Although it is true nobody died as a direct result of the cyclone, the untold story of anyone going through a natural disaster is the social and economic impact made on their lives afterwards by such events.  Australia is very blessed to have many charity and emergency services as well as funds from governments put towards this recovery process.

Such events challenge people to consider what the real priorities in their life are, and for some, like one dear friend I know currently doing a lot of work in the Philippines, they rise to another level of courage and strength to empower others.

I will always remember the Cassowary Coastal community, its peoples, and natural environment with the greatest affection and happiness.

 

 

You can purchase the ebook of After Yasi  HERE

or HERE

For the hard cover book   HARD COVER  and PDF

For the soft cover SOFT COVER

After Yasi 4 year Anniversary – nearly here

February 2nd in Australia.

It’s been  weekend of reviews and this morning a profound chat with Ali.

Tomorrow it will be 4 years since Cyclone Yasi made landfall.  Presently Tropical Cyclone Ola looks like it won’t be too much hassle.  One of our sources of information during Yasi, other than the BOM site and ABC, were Oz Cyclone Chasers.  I still check their site to see how things are brewing in the Far North.

There is just one more blog hop  for the After Yasi Virtual Book tour, and then a wrap up post and launch.

The final blog we’ll visit is of profound and compassionate musician, Melinda Irvine, who is herself now working in Aftermath recovery in the Phillipines.

Over the weekend Carol Campbell,  Gail Kavanagh and Owen Allen posted reviews of the ebook.

“The eBook is an interactive experience that links to blogs and sources that show how people coped with the cyclone and the aftermath. It’s a rich trail of material that celebrates the human spirit in all its facets – despair, pain, recovery, optimism and resilience.blghopchristine

Among the highlights for me are Christine Jenkins and the anchor she tied to her house; Mr Hardy and his chainsaw optimism; and the wonderful poem Cassowaries Can Fly.”
Gail Kavanagh

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“Having an interest in contemporary dance, I particularly appreciated that one of the recovery events that June documented was a dance workshop run by local dancer Danielle Wilson. Contemporary dance is still a less well-developed community art form in Australia.” Owen Allen

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This morning Ali Stegert has shared her interview focusing on yasi and its impact on children and youth,  with thought provoking questions inspired by her background as a school counsellor.

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Don’t forget that if you leave a comment on any of our blogs included in the virtual tour you will have a chance to win a free copy of the ebook or copy of the photographic print from the book.  Your chance to comment for a prize continues until the 6th of February.

How to use Silly to Cope with a Natural Disaster

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Today I flew in to Jedda Bradley’s facebook space for a chat.

It was bucket loads of fun – the full interview mentions reality tv, chocolate, guinea pigs, chainsaws, and Hamish and Andy.  

To read why visit  Jedda Bradley’s Artist Page.  Here is a short extract.

Chatting with Jedda

Ten BIG, medium and tiny Questions for June….who lived through the terrifying nail-biting cyclone Yasi that hit the Cassowary Coast of North Queensland and then she had to clean the s*** up. Really not fair! I mean, it’s bad enough going to a scary movie and having to remember to take my popcorn box and my coke container to the bin but this kind of clean up you can’t even get the hoover out and just let it suck everything up.

So June….

1) What implement is most effective in cleaning up after a cyclone?

If you have one, or can borrow one, a chainsaw!

2) What clothes are best for cleaning up after a cyclone? And if you had to create a brand of unique clothes just for cleaning up after a cyclone what would you call it?

Anything you’d paint your house in and don’t care about, because it can get messy and sweaty. Hat and protective gloves, and reasonable boots would be helpful.

I have no idea what I’d call a clothing brand that was made for cyclone clean ups. I do know I would like such a brand to be non-profit, designed by comedians, and given out by Council, Red Cross and charities.

It would be great to have a funny, inspirational and educational clean up tshirt with reminders on the back like ‘take care with power lines, drink plenty of fluid, don’t do too much, help a friend, be kind to the SES, etc’ and a space for people to write on the tshirt their own personal saying or slogan with a fabric pen.

I wonder what Hamish and Andy would call a clothing brand.

3) Who was with you during the cyclone? Did you get ring crunch because you had forgotten to take off your wedding ring and were holding David’s hand too tightly?

My hubby, our three kids, four pet guinea pigs, our lovable but crazy bird Peep (who took off to bring other birds to our house for shelter), and two pet quails.

For the entire interview visit  the delightful Jedda Bradley’s Artist Page

If you want to be eligible for a free ebook or free photo print visit Jedda’s facebook space and leave a comment just like Melissa has.

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We are at the half way point of the blog tour. I look forward to the next stop at Carol Campbell’s poetry blog.

Better get busy making sure the final launch activities are ready.  Thanks so much to everyone supporting the tour.

From Exhibition to Book – The Smile Within

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On Sunday December 1st, After Yasi Finding the Smile Within, a full colour photo book with accompanying true and practical stories about how you can regain your joy through creativity after a cyclone, was launched at the Bingil Bay cafe in the Cassowary Coast.

It was partly born out of my community reporter work for the community recovery project, blogging in the aftermath project for ABC Open and an exhibition Smile Within put on a year ago at the Mission Beach Arts community centre.   All of these projects were motivated by the role of the stories and the arts in the healing process for people who have experienced a natural disaster.

Last weekend was a true smile within and without occasion when several of the community contributors, family, friends from as far away as Tasmania, local community, fellow workshoppers from Song Trails,  local Red Cross community cultural development officer, and members of Mission arts and Licuala WINQ Writers all came together to welcome the book into existence and to pick up their copies.

We listened to the powerful words of Christine Jenkins, one of the contributors, who movingly told us more than the anchor story included in the book to put that story into context; perhaps one day when she is ready she will write her own book on the recovery process.

Music was a big part of the launch, with my children playing some, and also receiving mentoring from some of the songwriters in attendance.  We shared stories about our lives and celebrated our community in an informal and creative environment.

Two other locals featured in the book, Sally Moroney and Pam Galeano gave farewell speeches, as our family is about to move to Brisbane and the launch also became an opportunity to say goodbye.

These two special human beings have made our time in the Cassowary Coast truly blessed, with their welcome and support for my wish to combine the arts with healing and peace.  A part of our family’s heart beats will always remain beating in the cane, rainforest and beaches of North Queensland.

When the book was close to completion, Red Cross happened to be putting on an exhibition at Mission Arts of community books.  Cate Richmond ran workshops encouraging and skilling locals to make memory books and use print on demand facilities to make beautiful books of these memories, especially because so many people had lost things in the cyclone.  They invited the After Yasi  Finding the Smile Within book to be included as it fitted so well with their project goals.

Cate  took The Smile within book to a work related gathering in Brisbane, and interestingly one of my fellow bloggers in the aftermath project, Heidi Den Ronden saw it and was able to flip through it.

Full colour books are not cheap to produce and so the initial challenge after all the photographs and stories were collected was how to bring it to the public.

A traditional publisher did not seem the way to go for a specialist history/recovery book which would mean a lot to the Cassowary Coast or to others going through a natural disaster recovery process but perhaps not much to others.

Colour books are very expensive to sell unless you produce large numbers and so there was a quandary I had to solve as I didn’t have a lot in reserve, we were still replacing cyclone damaged goods for a good year and half later.

After mulling over this and looking at and finding how this project didn’t fit several grants on offer, I chose to self -publish using a print on demand printer that has a choice of high quality printing papers, an accompanying layout program and is relatively user friendly and options for hard cover and soft cover books

I did the layout, research and editing work (with some help from kind proof readers at various points) and made the decision to make the book as beautiful as I could to honour the many contributors.   I felt it had to be a coffee table type book which would be compelling readers to follow the story through images with a few words to support this.

I was able to do a bulk book order that reduced the cost for locals and several showed their support by pre-ordering the book. The local Cassowary Coastal library has bought the book for both loan and for their historical and reference sections at the library.

The goal of making this book was to capture and preserve the story of how Cassowary Coasters used creativity in their recovery.  Another goal has emerged though, which is to encourage people from other communities to do this as well and so I will be promoting the book to libraries so more people can access it.

I am presently working on an ebook version for release next year to make the content of the book widely and more inexpensively available and everyone is more than welcome to purchase a copy of any version if they wish.

Smile Within is a project blog which has charted the progress of the book, you can follow the books continuing journey out into the world of readers and send in responses to the stories from contributors and to my photographs.

The journey of this book, and its content, show that arts rather than being something people should put aside as a luxury can be a rich source of recovery.

I was delighted to hear that one of my friends is about to take her guitar and go to the Philipines under the auspices of an NGO charity for a month to assist in the rebuilding and recovery process there.

A big thankyou to all the people who contributed stories to go with the photographs as without you this book would not have had the same power.

So thanks especially to Christine Jenkins, Emma Gardiner, Lillian Galipo, Jennifer Giufridda, Lydia Valeriano,  Dina Milone, Nicole McClymont, Jenny Ottone, Moala Sitapa, Kerstin Pilz, Carolyn Bofinger, Danielle Stephens, Danielle Wilson, Sal Badcock, Donna Jones, Pam Galeano, Julie Headlam, Brendan Porter, David Perkins, Jean Vallianos,  Jennifer Morton, and Renee Schluenz,  the song trail song writers, and the many people featured in the photographs for their inspiration.