June 05, 2008 | Ronda Jambe

A Nice Way to Spend the Morning

Spiral is a group set up 38 years ago in Canberra. A newcomer to town saw that many older people were isolated, and what started out simply as a casual gathering has become a weekly event. Volunteers, some of them in their 80s, pick up other elderly people and take them to a Uniting Church hall. There they have morning tea and listen to a guest speaker, or singer, or other visitor. The founder, now in her early 80s, is still a key organiser. She was a delight to meet and talk to. Many of my role models are younger women, but some of them are older treasures.
Today the guest was me, doing my little song and dance about climate change. It was a variation on my usual spiel, because the data projector was wouldn’t take a thumb drive, a CD or the available DVD. So it was just a show and tell, without the benefit of fancy stats and scary photos of people drowning in floods.
Before we got down to the issue of climate change, I led them in their seated exercises, off a list provided by a guest physiotherapist. There were smiles all around, and I thought of my own mother, of a similar age and half a world away, and of the Senior Citizens club she attends. She called this morning to talk about Obama’s pretty near complete candidacy for President in the US, but I didn’t have time to chat.
As always, I tried to link the presentation to their own lives. I told them Spiral is an example of social capital, of a caring society, of volunteers’ generosity over many years. We can all hope to go back to this future, where a warm and sunny place awaits every Thursday. Without visuals, I passed around some of the green magazines that accumulate in my study.
The science of global warming is simple enough, and the consequences are becoming fairly well known too. No one who has lived in Canberra for a few decades, as most of us in the room have, doubts that our very local climate has changed considerably. And not for the better, as the bare straw coloured hills remind us daily.
We talked about food and how people grew lots more once upon a time, and may do so again. We talked about solar panels, about population, about public transport and why Canberra’s newest town centre has hardly any jobs. While a few dozed off, quite a few were pretty knowledgble, at least as well informed as many other groups in Canberra.
Trevor Kaine, who was once Chief Minister in the ACT, died last week. He was not much younger than some of this group, and I wondered if he had been troubled in his later years with the unsustainable direction this little city state has been taking.
I told them about my doll house, and how I am trying to make it green. They didn’t think it silly that I held an eco party for 5 year olds in my garden. They understood how something as serious as our environmental problems can also have a fun side. We had some laughs, and then the morning was gone and it was time for us all to leave. For just a little while, we had shared some tea and cakes, a few thoughts, and glimpsed at each other’s lives. It was a pleasant experience, and for that little while, I felt like I really was a green fairy.
green fairy.jpg

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 3:43 pm | Comments Off on A Nice Way to Spend the Morning |
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