On Tuesday 7th December, the New South Wales Teachers Federation had its first full day strike in ten years with the launch of the “More than Thanks” Campaign. I went to the rally in Sydney to support the cause. The rally was very well attended with an estimated 15,000 people marching from Hyde Park to NSW Parliament House. It was loud but peaceful. The only police interaction occurred when a group of people opposed to vaccination chose to interfere with the procession.
There is a chronic and worsening teacher shortage. This is especially concerning in “hard to staff” schools in rural and remote areas. Classroom teachers are opting not to step up to leadership positions because the workload is crippling and the extra pay not enough to cover the enormous increase in expectations. Principals are especially burdened by non-teaching related activities. They are expected to be business managers, accountants, HR managers, and expert teachers. They are expected to respond to parents on a nearly 24/7 basis. Further, many of the so called ‘opt-in’ processes are later deemed mandatory, leaving schools scrambling to collect the revered ‘data’.
Although the school was non-operational on that day, the comments on the school’s Facebook page were supportive. It’s obvious that if smart young people are not attracted to the profession it won’t be long before there is no-one qualified to teach our children.
I am subject to a Code of Conduct so it is not possible (even here on a private blog) to state my opinion only facts, but suffice to say I will willingly lose a day’s pay. You can read about the issues I chose to support on the NSWTF campaign website.
Covid lock downs and remote learning, has earned teachers lots of praise, but we need more than that. We need More than Thanks.
The last Sunday in October has been a standing date in my diary for the last decade or so. This is the day the Seven Bridges Walk (SWB) is normally held. The Seven Bridges Walk is a 30-ish km walk around the foreshores of Sydney. (You can see the route in the Alltrails app) It is organised each year by the Cancer Council as a fundraiser. Well, every year except the last two, when it’s been interrupted by Covid.
I have participated in this fundraising event at least 12 times (maybe more!?). Sometimes alone, but usually with 2 or 3 friends. It’s a fun day out and apart from what you may spend on donations/registration fees you could make it a very cheap day’s entertainment. There are “villages” set up along the way to buy food and drinks, but you could bring your own. The whole route is accessible by public transport, which on Sunday has an $8:15 cap!
At the end of the walk, my friends and I always reward ourselves with a beer and some potato wedges at a pub at our endpoint. After that, we haul our tired bodies out of the chairs and head home.
Stanwell Park to Wollongong
Last year, since the “real” walk, was cancelled two of my buddies and I decided to do a local walk from Stanwell Park to Wollongong. This as it happens, is also a 30 km walk.
The scenery is amazing and heading south, it is all downhill! There are shops, parks, water fountains and public toilets at convenient intervals so you don’t have to carry much if you don’t want to. In contrast to the Seven Bridges Walk, we lost count at twenty bridges of one kind or another, but here is one spectacular bridge – The Seacliff Bridge which makes the walk worthwhile in itself.
This year the SBW was cancelled again due to the uncertainties of Covid. The organisers were encouraging people to do it on their own or in small groups, without the usual support crews, villages and checkpoints. While many restrictions have been lifted since Freedom Day (11 October), large crowds are still not a great idea and LOTS of people usually join the walk. In fact, due to overcrowding, the walk has been capped at 15,000 participants.
Once again the idea of going into the city when things were still a bit sketchy in terms of safety was unpalatable, so we decided to do the Stanwell Park to Wollongong walk again. This year we changed it up by adding plogging. That is, we walked and picked up rubbish as we went. Plogging is a Swedish term that has become a worldwide movement. According to the plogging.org website the first organised plog happened in 2016 in Stockholm.
Plogga (or plogging) is the basis of a collective name where we want to change the setting and get everyone to become “Proud litter pickers”.
Although it took us longer to walk the 30 km than usual, the beer at the end was still a goal to aim for. We picked up rubbish for the first 25 km but decided we better hurry as it was getting later and we really needed to be getting home. We walked the last 5km at a cracking pace which made the beer even sweeter!
Add plogging to your eco-warrior repertoire
Plogging is an easy thing to add to your eco-warrior quiver. The ocean is downhill from everywhere and it’s sad to think all those bits of plastic wrapper will eventually end up there. Some will fly down and sea creatures will eat them thinking it’s food, or if the plastic hangs around in the sun long enough it will degrade and the microplastic will contaminate the soil.
Apart from plogging, alternative solutions to littering include taking better care of our own rubbish or even better still avoiding stuff that makes rubbish. If you want ice cream, get one in a cone without the packaging. Easy!
Even though I think plogging is a great idea and it’s fun and easy to do when you’re with your buddies, I’m working up the courage to do it solo. I haven’t seen anyone in my area do it yet. Maybe I can be a plogging trail blazer!
We’ve all heard the saying “old habits die hard”. Some habits take longer to kill off than others. For example, I have a kitchen broom which I keep in the space between the fridge and the cupboard. There must be thousands of households who put their broom in exactly the same convenient place. Nothing unusual there! However, in my kitchen, there is also a small railing which I use to hang up my oven gloves. Every time I get the broom out, I invariably knock the gloves off the rail and have to pick them up from the floor.
Maybe not every time but eighty per cent of the time and it’s been like that since I moved in eight years ago! Talk about a habit being hard to kill off!
In a bolt of problem-solving wizardry, I realised the fridge had two sides and there was a broom-sized-glove-free gap on the other side of the fridge.
Problem solving at its best!
I moved the broom.
What a groundbreaking change!
Mind you when it’s time to sweep, I still automatically look on the glove side. D’OH! Eventually I’ll become habituated to the new habit and look on the other side as a matter of course.
This may be a tongue in cheek look at my reluctance to change a simple process in my life that was not functioning well. A simple change that was glaringly obvious but not executed.
I am very certain there would be many more things like this in the world that suffer from the “that’s just the way we do it around here” syndrome. Things that could be changed with little effort but pay big dividends, like working from home.
Numbers of people WFH skyrockets!
The number of people working from home has increased dramatically during COVID lockdowns. Once COVID is under control and most of us are vaccinated the necessity for working from home will be removed. But there are plenty of good reasons for it to continue.
Less commuting is one such reason with a triple win pay off. The employee gets more time in their day, the environment wins especially if it’s car commutes that are reduced and the employer wins because they could rent smaller spaces and hence save money. Not all jobs are of course suitable for working from home, but many “office” jobs are very much suited to it and employees are expressing their preferences.
Some companies are adjusting to a hybrid model where you can combine both working from home days with office days. Another bonus being the “extra” time now available to employees can be used for family or community-based activities enriching our lives.
On the other hand, all those coffee shops and cafes in the city will have no customers unless they move out to the suburbs and then hey! Guess what? They don’t have to commute either.