Dimensional Thinking: Investment in our future

Ethec went to the 2016 National Environment meeting held at Sydney University last October to talk about an environment-based economy.

The main narrative we used to challenge concepts and engage in dialogue was with this vision statement that sparks dimensional thinking toward new technologies: “How can we multiply resources as we use them?” and could leapfrog us out of our stagnant carbon ponds while supporting conservation. So we are recording this statement here with the hope that it would propagate discussion or kickstart a national project that we have been in constructive conversation about for some time.

And while we were at the Environment Meeting, we spoke to a number of people on our stance for regional and community investment…
John Hewson, as part of a panel of guest speakers, spoke on ‘ethical investment’ by superannuation funds. However, we thought that an argument for regional super funds could also be tabled, which could work to motivate existing funds toward more accountability, particularly if funds thought that they may lose clientele.
In the past our Australian Community had not discussed the risks of floating the dollar as our national superannuation plan was being implemented, and therefor we were not able to deliberate what type of investment would be to our national interest.
Should another financial global crisis occur, which is possible within the ten-year business cycle and the basic fault within the present financial structure through investment banking, we suggest that our country would do well to have another plan with a healthier structure already put in place.

Ethec is proposing a healthier investment base through regional superannuation investment into local projects. The argument we put forward is that in regional areas, the close living proximity of investors would create conversation about community financial concerns. At the same time it would provide an environment to promote and monitor ethical concerns in investment. This type of community investment into regional superannuation funds has the benefit of growing democracy by providing political weight for the community by the community. It would provide changes that could be built upon instead of being circumvented by changes in government.

To broaden this strategy we would suggest regional educational pathways that link to employment generated through superannuation investment. The specific educational stream threaded into community could be implemented from primary through to tertiary education, having pathways tailored to suit even those ‘at risk’ in the system, giving them a focused outcome. For those who have extremely limited options, it is about presenting them with a way through, instead of frustration, anger, and mental health responses to feelings of alienation. And the pressure that has not only been on the young but on families with the casualisation of the work force has been hideous.
We believe that the template on education and employment that we put forward is about subliminal safety and regional ownership.

We would like to see the idea put forward to communities as a whole so that they could discuss what may suit their regions. And then the community would use the resulting cohesive platform to engage in and with energy and other industrial consortiums.

The bonus multiplier effect would be in creating regions of excellence in specific industries/technologies/ education.

A regional speciality focused on protecting/producing our air, water, soil or energy resources with the aim of finding ways to interlink and multiply these same resources would also maintain the building blocks to our health. This would give us a grass roots platform for an environment based economy.

Frances: I would like to see the Illawarra advocate excellence in soil technology as so much has been taken from the ground in our region through coal mining.  This could link with our region’s growing world recognition in sustainable housing design to make the most of urban design and food production.



We like to encourage people to be active participants towards shaping our collective future and would like you to view our idea, along with the collection of ideas from the community on what you would like to see purposed at this time through reading, talking about, or entering “My Big Idea” voting competition which is online at: mybigidea.org.au. This is the ethos of our blog in extending the conversation.

Our big idea is under the section: Growing a Sustainable Economy, as ‘ENGAGING THOUGHTFUL HARMONIOUS ECOLOGICAL CARE’. It covers lots of ideas, even though not specifically stated, that we have had during our weekly meets for constructive conversation, which formalised itself in this blog being started last year.  We invest ourselves in deepening democracy through conversations focused on contemporary social and economic topics through our creative process, informed by our collaborative, artistic viewpoints.

In MY BIG IDEA we would like a phone app to be produced to register individual ideas, community and business actions to enhance our water, air, soil, and clean energy, now and for our future. This helps our collective thinking towards an abundant profitable environmental-based economy through grass roots action.

The phone app will be a participatory game-style way of engaging people thoughtfully with their environments. Participants will post sound-bites, images, or text descriptions, to confirm the achievement of the specified activities required to complete a level. They will be able to move on to the next challenge.

Each level requires an advanced active engagement by individuals, or community, schools, businesses, and government, to change thinking about profitable relationships with soil, water, air and clean energy production.

For a simple example:

Level 1 would require recording a 30second sound-bite of your street, or taking a photo of daily rubbish.

Level 2 would offer the options of recording a 30second sound-bite of a car or motorbike passing, or taking a photo of daily rubbish sorted for recycling.

We see the phone app as a collective think tank which sets a platform for a democratic sustainable growth economy. Therefore, the game is not competitive. It is a way of raising awareness of our interactions with the environment, our vital resources, and our capacities to make changes whether large or small.

This means that participants will be offered a graded range of activities as they advance through the levels, but will always have the option of repeating earlier levels several times as an alternative to undertaking harder tasks. For example to complete Level 2 , instead of completing a new activity, participants have the option of making two 30second recordings of sounds in their street, or two images of daily rubbish.

Participants will be given the option of  uploading their sound-bites, images, or text files to a communal content-based website such as ABC Open (https://open.abc.net.au/). This will enable participants to share their ideas and others to hear and see the environments and activities of other participants.

This app will be launched by means of a national advertising campaign.




Imagination Unites – ethec@IWD 2016

We had lofty aims for our weaving of three strands of artistic participation in the International Women’s Day 2016 exhibition at Project Art Space, Wollongong. This conversation is about the personal impact of this adventure on us as artists and the success of our IWD 2016 installation in meeting our desired objectives for ethec.


My response to the IWD 2016 exhibition was multi-faceted:

1. The exhibition itself was a great collection of strong art with some really outstanding pieces of work. Walking into the gallery was a feast for the eyes, mind and soul. The range of media and styles was exciting and the curator had made them work together to fit into a whole, much as a quilter fits many different patterns into a quilt.

2. Knowing that this combination of visual delights had been created by my local community of women artists was energising, especially as I began to realise that many, although not all of the pieces, were designed to convey a message about the status of women in a creative artistic way.
This meant there is a community of us who are trying to use our artwork to convey our social concerns, but keeping the art part alive and vibrant, to make work which is good to look at, not just good to know the intent/content.

3. I felt really proud to be part of that group, and being exhibited with other widely-recognised artists was also a boost to me personally. As a composer I am often working quietly away in my studio making music that is not always available to be heard by my local community. I felt that this exhibition helped me become a bit more of a real person as part of the local arts scene.

4. Having our local female MP open the exhibition, and she gave a really strong pro-woman speech, not in electioneering mode, which is what we usually get served up by politicians in general. I was really heartened to know that she is much stronger and more thoughtful than I get to read in our local papers. She stayed and listened to our performance smiling and cheering us on. A well-received generous encouragement for our work!

5. Being part of an event to mark International Women’s Day was an important boost to my personal morale as a feminist activist. The circumstances of my life over recent years has seen me sitting on the sidelines watching others actively contribute to commemorating the day in a variety of ways ranging from demonstrations to expensive fundraising lunches. I am not always positively inclined to the expensive lunches, so this year it was personally empowering to be authentic to my own philosophy, as I felt that I was able to make the kind of contribution that I believe in.

6. At the opening, I met an acquaintance who has achieved success in academia and visual arts, a strong woman with clear ideas of where she is going and who is going with her, which I have often known is not me. Yet she stopped to talk to me about how my music career is progressing, cheering me on, telling me to keep on going as we need more women composers, knowing how hard it is for many of us to keep on going. It was an inspiring motivational boost.

Much of these personal responses is about the energising effect of being part of a group of supportive artistic women and getting to know them better too. This group of women was a breath of fresh air.  As a composer of experimental music, I work in a strange domain of remembered echoes: the intangibles of sound and the ephemerality of ws with flags crossingperformance. I am mostly surrounded by men who seem to be wondering how they also got to be in such a strange place, so now justifying themselves by taking their work far too seriously and be seen as individually tech-savvy and up with the latest. There is lots of competition even to get music performed, let alone to get funding to pay for creative time, and in that environment not much positive feedback for anyone.  Here, the other artists gave us feedback on our installation, which meant they took our work seriously, and again, I was really heartened at how engaged the audience was with our performance at the exhibition opening. They also stopped and listened intently and responded warmly.

So 7. is about our artwork, which truly was multi-media. This was a big step forward for me creatively to work with our three strands of live performance, an installation in physical form, and also in virtual form that invited and required audience participation to be fully realised. This was big risk in terms of the end result, but the trust was met and we got good responses. These steps into the virtual world have been a great learning, bringing me, closer to the 21st century seamlessness of online and physical life of our young, and it now seems, our not-so-young people.

8. In here I want to, and need to acknowledge that without our ongoing collaborative ‘ethec project’, this presentation at IWD 2016 would have been a very different experience all round. As we worked together over the preceding months getting our various materials organised for the tripartite media extravaganza, it was great to have someone artistic, intelligent and adventurous, to share ideas and get feedback, along with soul sustenance, cups of tea, swims and some great food, and the energy and motivation to manifest the work in its current state.


Wendy, your responses were great. I wasn’t expecting such an expansive set of thoughts, yet all comments seem relevant and important.Frances hard hat

My response to the 2016 IWD Art Exhibition at Project Contemporary Art Space draws on two instances that left an impression. Both were on Opening Night. I have been drawn to revisit these memories on a number of occasions so I know they have been highlighted for a purpose.

One, I am extending the conversation from a comment I made to Jane on this blog:
“I was heartened when at our exhibition a young dad brought his daughter over to fill out a flag, taking time to explain women’s rights to her. That is change, and that same man would be willing to stand up for what is not fair in his work place.”

It doesn’t take a revolution to cause change but we need to trust that actions come as conviction hits home.

His action was to encourage his daughter to speak in community and it had an immediate influence on an even younger person who was listening and observing who then wrote her own comment on a flag.

I couldn’t help but wonder what sort of influences create healthy community mindsets; and what don’t.  I thought of the stupid saying when I was little that ‘real men don’t cry’ or ‘little boys don’t cry’ and remembering at the time, as I still do, how that sick thought may influence and usurp healthy emotional responses from males. I was grateful to see a young dad that had been brought up to have, or was choosing to have, healthy emotional responses in setting his daughter on her own pathway to safety.

My second lasting impression was that of a young, timid, teenage girl presenting me with her flag. Yet her stance became forthright as she shared with me what she had written: “Imagination Unites. It is important.”

It seemed a spiritual response as she expressed it from her whole being, her shyness loosening, as she came forward to share.  She didn’t just hand the flag to me, she spoke it while engaging me eye to eye.
I felt that at one level, through presenting an opportunity for people to share freely, we were honoured with a gift of purity of thought and intention by this young lass. ❤️
Pondering on all these things I wonder what our world would be like if we had imaginations erased of all negativity, lies and deceit, permeated only by love. Yes, dear one, imagination is important, for we could be united in creative adventures.

We both consider that our venture beyond the virtual out into the physical world for International Women’s Day 2016 was a great success and provides a template for our future work. This installment of our collaborative work delivers on our intended outcomes. We wanted to provide a productive and interactive opportunity for the community to extend the conversation about the status of Australian women in the 21st century, and we made an artwork that stood on its own merits.



What could be a follow up to this?

What could we be invited to do next?

What are your thoughts?

Join the conversation….

Flagged for Conversation

International Women’s Day 2016 – Pledge for Parity

2-20 March 2016, Project Contemporary Artspace, Wollongong

IWD 2016 invite thumbnail

What we are doing with our gallery installation ‘Flagged for Conversation’ and this online extension, is bringing women’s issues to the table and allowing them to breathe.  For IWD 2016, our goal is to stimulate conversation about 21st century issues facing women,  as part of our ongoing ‘ethec’ project.

make it fair thumbnailWe would like you to write a response: a catch phrase, a word, or to draw an icon or visual symbol and participate in our online conversation.  This in itself extends the conversation and moves us towards, and quickens, the momentum for parity.

Let the conversation begin!


Making it fair! The World Economic Forum tells us that in only one year, between 2014 and 2015, globally our equal status with men slipped backwards by another 4O years, and we won’t be there until well into the 22nd century.


Body image.. Photos of fashion models are not only made thinner through computer alterations, but are digitally elongated by up to 30% to convey a leggy youthfulness. Common procedures such as breast reshaping and nose jobs increased by more than 700% from 1992 to 2004. Is there a link?


Equal legal protection..The UN Human Rights Committee, in 2009 said that they “remain concerned that women’s rights to equality are not comprehensively protected in Australia in federal law”. Yet in 2016, the federal government has still done nothing.


Stop groping, stop perving: Sexual assault of ANY kind is never acceptable. The sad truth is consent is rarely asked for and how often is it freely given? Ask any female university student!


Equal pay: when? In 2015, Australian women earned 82 cents in the male dollar (the biggest gap since 1994), and the gap is as big as 35% in some industries. Over a working lifetime, typically a woman earns $1 million dollars less than a man.


Domestic violence shames and kills: High rates of violence against women remains a major problem, with almost one-in-three Australian women experiencing physical violence. In Australia, domestic violence is the leading cause of death and injury in women under 45, with more than one woman murdered by her current or former partner every week.


Rape occurs everyday! Recent research shows that nearly 1 in 5 adult Australian women report being sexually assaulted at some time during their lives (which makes rape more common than smoking). The overwhelming number of rapists are male.


Promotion on merit? Women remain significantly underrepresented at senior management level. In 2010, only 8% of directors of the largest publicly listed companies in Australia and 33% of members of government boards are women.


Hands off our minds and our bodies. Sexism is still a problem many women face on a daily basis. The media continues to glamorise female subordination and manufacture public consent to this degradation.

twin flags edited

Why is International Women’s Day still relevant? In 1901 in Australia, women could not even be ‘trusted’ to vote; men made the laws and women had to ‘obey’ those laws. Yet 100 years later, many people, both male and female, still do not like the idea of feminism, because the world at large is still dominated by and for men. Australia is still a masculine society. We still live in a culture that supports inequality; therefore, we are still only on the ‘cusp’ of change.

Please join us by talking to your neighbours and friends, or posting a comment, image, or icon here on our ‘ethec’ site.

I Can Do It!


“What is really on my mind at the moment is the I Can Do It 2016
Calendar I gave you for xmas, and I also gave myself one.

I was given the I Can Do It 2015 Calendar and I found it to be really quite inspirational, but somehow this one is leaving me a bit cooler and less motivating.

I am exploring about what it is that I don’t like about the 2016
version… and what there is to be found in it that is valuable… in
itself a conversation about how to be positive… again layers of
meaning and implication.

I have been really curious to find out what you think about it,
particularly in light of your own personal philosophy, faith, and life
values, because I wonder if this gives you a different perspective, or
maybe not.”


“Hmmm, I guess that having had motivational calendars before and having read inspirational books, philosophy, and having been interested in other people’s creative thinking and processes, I utilise what people gift to me through the eyes of the One who knows all. I continue by asking Him what He wants me to see. What is more, He interprets things in such an enriching way that any gift is so much more than when first received.

It often blows my mind to hear what the
Creator of the Universe wants to say to me.

Sometimes I get utterly confused because my mind cannot get a handle on what He is saying. But because He is really good at housekeeping, He vacuums out the debri while He stretches my mind to absorb the light.This can sometimes be painful because of a concept that I have held onto for so long!

As if He couldn’t always top anything that I could imagine or think.
Does that answer your question?”


“Even though I don’t share your christian faith, there are some ideas in
your response which resonate with my own thinking about myself,
humanity, the cosmos, and its patterns, and on a smaller scale, the
calendars. In fact I think you have hit the nail on the head, so to speak.

That we always interpret whatever we are presented with through some habitual thought processes, unless there is a jolt of consciousness.  So that what I liked very much about the 2015 calendar was that the daily idea for rethinking how to do some aspect of life was presented in a very open ended way. This meant that I could take out of it any variety of meanings, and would often spend moments throughout the day thinking about the alternatives that the daily idea presented…it would break me out of my habitual thought patterns.

By contrast the 2016 calendar, presents the ideas as fixed, that there
is only one interpretation, that the emphasis of the calendar writer is
the idea that I must have…that we all must have. So no longer the
excitement of a new thought pattern, some way of moving along my own imagination or thoughts.”


“Yes I agree about this year’s calendar. But I must say if I bother to look at it, again I seek God as to what He is saying to me. However I am having so much fun listening to Patricia King’s ‘Glory School’ I must admit I am skipping the calendar altogether.”


“The fact you are skipping the calendar altogether tells me the calendar is not a useful motivational tool for you, nor inspiring hope or positive thinking. What is also interesting is that both of us enjoy being inspired and uplifted. This I think is part of being human.

I wonder what other people do to remain positive and buoyant in our neo-liberal world focussed on increasing wealth for the few with little regard for the rest of us, even in rich Western countries like Australia.
I guess we are getting a taste of what life has always been like for Aboriginal and other colonised peoples.  I wonder how they have maintained their hope and grace so profoundly over the centuries.”

Wendy and I…

…are sitting across from one another at a local café, having our usual Saturday morning business breakfast.

Wendy started the conversation:

“Last week I was walking to the train station, through the car park and I came across a council worker repairing the parking signs. So I took the opportunity to ask this council worker for inside information about how to get the blocked drain in the car park fixed, so that I and the other pedestrians on the way to the station didn’t need to wade through an ankle deep mud bath.

I opened the conversation by informing him that there was a drain under all the mud left after a heavy storm.  He said that he wasn’t the person to attend to it because he was a parking-sign worker but that I could report it to the local council depot, and gave me the phone number.  Then he commented that he was just repairing the existing parking signs as the signage was incomplete. He went on to say that another new sign needed to be made and posted on the side of a nearby building, in order to mark the boundary of the restricted parking zone. He didn’t think that possible as it was private property.

What I then thought, but didn’t say – because it seemed so obvious, was that maybe he could b.y.o. a council post for a new sign and dig it in, right next to the building  himself.”

And I, Frances, continued:

“What may have been obvious to you was maybe what you were meant to share as some people don’t see the obvious.

Your insight was a solution to his problem and after all isn’t that what we are about – extending the conversation?

You may have made his day by engaging him about his work. It must be pretty lonely not having someone to work with. (I know this sentence ends in a preposition but let’s get over the grammar. After all it is a conversation!)

Life is about inter-connectedness. We are complex people and we are all ‘these’ different aspects: from dimensions of connectedness to loneliness, to the need to hug trees: or being aware of the etherial plane and the inter-connectedness of all things.

Life isn’t about ethics it is about engaging in the conversation and learning from one another.”

Wendy and Frances then realised that there are a lot of layers of potential and meaning buried in this conversation, as in life.

In fact, it gave us quite a lot of food for further conversation as we explored the extra thoughts that came to mind.  For example: stating the obvious may actually be a point of connection and lead to better solutions. And who knows what the outworking, flow on, ripple effects of the conversation might be!

Wendy left heartened that she had taken a step toward fixing the drain, had learnt about the parking-sign man’s work, and having had a pleasant exchange herself, making a break from the isolation of her work as a researcher.

And what about the parking-sign man’s life? How had Wendy’s interruption influenced his thinking or life that day. Maybe the pause evoked the thought about using a pole and he went back to the depot and ordered one?

And for even further ripple effects, now that you have read this far, how has our sharing this one ‘obvious’ conversation influenced your day, week, month, year, lives?