Guest meat fund

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The resis have been thinking about how we can be more connected to the rural areas and people who supply our food. This partly came about from conversations with our guest Michael last year, who was a farmer in Shepparton. He talked about how hard it is to make a living from farming, and that as a farmer he couldn’t afford to eat fresh local stuff, and had no time to grow his own, so he had to go for what was cheapest from the supermarket. That seems really unfair!

In response to this, we are looking into buying meat in bulk from a local farmer. We think this might help us to be more aware of where the meat we cook and share comes from, and support farmers who can feel under-appreciated by folks in the city. It’s more expensive than the big supermarkets, but if we can pass that money directly on to the farmers, especially if they know they have regular customers who care about how the animals and the land are being treated, then we hope we are contributing to a more integrated relationship between land, food and people.

With this in mind, in our wish list we are asking for cash donations to go towards a guest meat fund and will use this to order directly from a farmer who is set up to receive orders in this way (such as Cherry Tree Organics which supplies beef, chicken, pork and lamb, and Yarra Valley Game meats which supplies kangaroo). If you know of any other suppliers, feel free to let us know! And if you want to contribute to this fund, please indicate this when you donate.

- Samara

Introducing Bel and Teash

At the beginning of first term we had Bel Wilson and Teash Taylor join us as resident volunteers. (If you're interested in joining us as a resident volunteer, please let us know. We're still looking for one or two people to join us.) Since they've joined us at the same time, we thought Teash and Bel could introduce each other to you:

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Teash has a dope haircut. Sometimes she's okay to hang out with. I like her girlfriend. She knows 180 Greek words. Don’t ask her about glitter. She may be growing a mullet.
- Bel

 
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Bel had green hair. She dislikes moths. Unfortunately, she doesn’t like puns. She made a table. She's the baker of the house. Thanks for the peanut butter!

- Teash

Power and Vulnerability

I’ve been thinking a bit lately, about power and vulnerability. Sometimes, at the house I forget how much power we residents have. Power to choose who can stay with us, for how long and when. I forget and feel disempowered, squeezed out, pushed to the edges of my own home. My natural tendency is to give preference to our guests. To try and accommodate them as much as possible. I usually find I can do things this way in the short-term, but in the long-term it means I end up feeling resentful. If I am not able to take back some of the power I have given to guests, this resentment can build and impact negatively on my ability to host. It can then cause me to resent myself because I am not hosting well, which means I feel further disempowered in my situation.

Some of our most recent guests were grandparents of a premature baby boy. They stayed with us for just under a month while the baby was in hospital and then, while a maternal health nurse from VAHS came to see how the baby was doing. Like most grandparents, they doted on their grandson. Showing him off and tending to him so naturally. They had quite a bit going on, including housing pressures, and so DHS was also involved. While this family showed so much resilience and strength in dealing with their circumstances, it was revealing to see their whole attitude and confidence level drop when both DHS and VAHS were visiting. They seemed to become unsure of themselves and their abilities.

A friend came to visit last week. He lives just outside of Brisbane, and often hitchhikes in order to travel long distances. I was asking him about his choice to travel this way and mentioned that while I thought it was a great way to get around, I wouldn’t — as a short, young-looking woman —  feel confident hitchhiking on my own. He told me that he had not had any negative experiences, and knew of some women who traveled in pairs, and some older women who traveled independently this way.

Sometimes, at the house it can feel like we’re not doing enough. We justify our time off by maintaining that we are volunteers, and that we need our home to ourselves some of the time. This argument can fall down though when confronted with continuing unmet need. It seems selfish to be looking forward to having a break, when our guest’s hospital business continues and they have to find alternative accommodation. However without these short-term breaks, the long-term work could not continue.

My friend who hitchhikes has had trouble finding work. So, maybe what I see as an act of adventurous independence is — for him — a practical solution to the real problem of not having enough money to get around. Or maybe he sees not just the risks but also the benefits of catching a ride with others; providing company for people who are often traveling long distances alone, creating safer communities by encouraging generosity and finding new friends, all while getting where he needs to go. Maybe strangers aren’t so very dangerous after all?

Surprisingly at the end of last week the grandma who had been staying with us made a choice. She made the choice to leave our house of hospitality and put herself and her family in a more precarious living situation. She told me, 'I’m going to do it my way now.' She had understood that while she and her family were staying with us they were not perceived as vulnerable enough to need immediate attention. She understood that in order to get what she and her family needed in the long-term she had to act counter-intuitively in the short-term. She had to put her family at greater risk in order to become more secure. 

Perhaps it is our broader systems of power that need some work…

- Mehrin

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Songlines Tour

On August 1, the IHH Learning Community did a Melbourne Songlines walk with Nick Wight and Uncle Roy on a very wet and cold night!  Uncle Roy brought along a possum skin cloak, but we had to make do with umbrellas and huddling.  (Possums are still protected in Australia, so in recent times possum skins have been sourced from across the ditch.  I wonder where we will get possum skins from now that New Zealand/Aotearoa are planning to eradicate destructive introduced predators, including possums?)

One site we stopped at was the statue commemorating John Batman at the Queen Victoria markets.  We heard all sorts of stories about Batman and his role in ‘founding’ the village of Melbourne, but what struck me at the statue was that he was younger than my earliest ancestor to arrive in Australia, William Maum.  Batman was born in Parramatta in NSW in 1800, and died in Melbourne in 1839.  My convict forebear was born in Ireland in 1780 and arrived on Eora country in Sydney in 1800.  By 1835 when Batman made his treaty with the ngurangaeta on the banks of the Merri Creek, William was living in Clarence Plains in Tasmania (Moomairemener country) and his fifth child Mary was 1 year old.

Increasingly I realise that my history in this country is very, very recent.  Our paths back to the time when land was first stolen is not a long journey. 

- Samara

Psalm 51 and Living on Indigenous Land

I spent this weekend at Budj Bim, a land where Indigenous people were one of the first practitioners of aquaculture in the world. I had a chance to learn from conversations with others, as well as from time spent in reflection; here’s just a bit of it.

On Sunday morning, I decide to go for a walk along one of the hiking paths to find a peaceful place to read my Bible. After a quick stroll, I park myself on a bench dedicated to Reginald Saunders, the first Aboriginal general, who led a team of 150 soldiers during the Korean War. I feel like reading a psalm because I associate psalms with nature, but then I remember that in my reading plan I’m on Psalm 51, which is a psalm of repentance. At first, I don’t want to read it, thinking that land and nature don’t have much to do with repentance. But staring at Saunders’ memorial makes me reflect on the fact that I am on Indigenous land, and I change my mind.

 Reg Saunders' memorial.

Reg Saunders' memorial.

The psalm opens with the lines, “Have mercy on me, O God… for I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.” My mind ponders the question, “In relation to my presence on Indigenous land, is there anything I need to repent of?” The first thing I think of is the history of colonization. In 1788, Britain sent convicts on ships to Australia, who largely mistreated Indigenous people and decimated their populations with disease and violence. In over 200 years since then, a formal treaty has never been established between Indigenous people and Australians, and the former have essentially had their land stolen.

A wrestling war in my head begins.

Yeah, but that was bad people, the convicts; good people in the church wouldn’t do that.

Actually, the church has contributed to this injustice by introducing missions that discouraged Aboriginal people from practicing their culture, destroying parts of their heritage that may never be recovered.

 A cross at the Lake Condah mission we visited.

A cross at the Lake Condah mission we visited.

Yeah, but at least you’re not part of it; you’re just in Australia for ten months, you never contributed to any of this.

Actually, you’re directly benefiting from the effects of colonization, not only in Australia but also in the U.S.

If Americans never decimated the Native American population, and if Australians never took over Indigenous land, I might have never had the chance to travel from the U.S. to Australia on an exchange scholarship. As a research exchange scholar, I am a direct beneficiary from colonization in two countries, and my previous ignorance of this is something of which I need to repent. Even as just a resident in the US, I have benefitted from the mere fact that I live on stolen land, something I never seriously considered up until now. I need to repent of thinking that I am innocent, of turning a blind eye to all the Native Americans and Indigenous Australians that have been oppressed so that I could be in this position of privilege. My wrongdoing is analogous to watching Person A beating up Person B, then going out with Person A for dinner using Person B’s money, all the while without acknowledging Person B at all.

So what am I, are we supposed to do in light of this dark history?

David pleads to God, “Create in me a clean heart... Restore to me the joy of Your salvation.” The situation indeed is bleak, and with our darkened hearts there’s little that we can offer. Our only hope is for God to transform our hearts and to be reminded of God’s perfect plan of salvation. It’s a salvation that isn’t limited just to the souls of Christians, but a salvation that brings peace for all, including Indigenous Australians, Native Americans, and their stolen land.

It’s easy to want to do a lot, at least for myself, when I realize that I’m also culpable. It’s a way to ease my conscience, to quell my guilt. But David says, “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” My heart can be calloused, insensitive to injustices that seem removed from me; instead of springing into action immediately, I need to sit in the sadness and allow room for my heart to be changed.

I’ll admit that I don’t know the way going forward. If anything, this weekend I’ve learned that issues surrounding land sovereignty, self-determination, and reconciliation are so complex. Learning from his experience of sin and repentance, David promises, “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.” In a sense, we are all collectively transgressors: as Americans, as Australians, as Christians who have wronged Indigenous peoples. At the very least, I hope to open the eyes of other “transgressors,” and I invite you to join me in this journey of confession and repentance. 

- Ben

Introducing the Chapmans

Hi IHH community! We are the Chapman’s - Ian, Sarah, and Winston. We are thankful and excited to become 'ressies' of IHH in mid-December and look forward to living, serving, and learning there. Ian is pursuing his passion for preaching, teaching, spreading, and living the love of Jesus in various ways including Newmarket Baptist Church. Sarah is soon entering the final year of her nursing degree at Melbourne Uni, enjoys music and writing, and loves being a mum. Winston (16 months) is on the go all the time, exploring everything, and bringing much joy to those around him. We hope to meet and chat with the wider IHH community soon!