Words by Angela Aris
On the 23rd of August, volunteering groups 350 Boorloo Perth and Fossil Free UWA teamed up to put on a screening of Damon Gameau’s film: Regenerating Australia. The ‘mockumentary’ was creative but not comedic – projecting onto Australia a shiny future. There were mixed reactions…
But before we get into that! Proportional to the immediacy of Climate Change, I think it is important to offer some actionable options. Here’s a ‘Short-List Of Things You Can Do’ right away, right now, to partake in the healing of our planet:
- https://www.ccwa.org.au/gaslit_crisis_volunteer – Volunteer. For the CCWA or any environmentally minded organisations (e.g. 350). Or simply make it an option by popping your email into the link above. It’s the only morally righteous spam you will ever receive.
- https://www.ccwa.org.au/intro_to_wa_gas_20221012 – Attend an info session, there is one on the 12th of October, but don’t worry, if you can’t make it this time there will always be another.
- https://www.activatetreeplanting.org.au – Go to a tree-planting festival with your friends.
- Join the UWA climate community at the Fossil Free UWA Facebook Page.
- Donate! – Whether this is to a charity or a political party. The Greens rely largely on public funding, and the first $1 500 is tax deductible (but you can donate as little as $5).
Anyway… continuing on.
The making of Regenerating Australia was based on the answers of Australians who were asked what they would like the country to look like in 2030. In this sense, the fake doco presents a kind of ‘data’ – that is, the desires of contemporary Australia – but serves as wishful thinking. Before the lights were switched off, it was emphasised to us (viewers) that everything in this film was possible. Australia’s vision for the future was heartening; political transparency, increased leadership from First Nations people, renewable energy, and legislation to protect the environment, were the pillars of this utopia.
Despite some really innovative and cool ideas (such as live streaming parliamentary sessions with online voting polls for citizens), I felt exasperated and fatigued. As the event organisers asked around the room, I found I was not alone, but there were also many who had benefited from the optimistic outlook.
So why the mental exhaustion? Climate change, almost Trump-like in its pervasiveness in the media, has become highly politicised. Because of its powerful emotional effect, it dominates the global conversation, manoeuvred expertly by public figures to procure agreeable responses from the public. Over the years, many people I have encountered have come to associate these grand words and gestures with not much. It is for this reason my entire bodily insides clammed up at this ‘hopeful’ vision of Australia.
Yet I had come to Regenerating Australia seeking hope – not necessarily from the film, but from the sense of community that is borne at events like these; the only remedy for such ~ existential ~ crises. The three panellists offered just this, their words the antithesis of ‘empty’. They answered audience questions cogently, honestly, and thoughtfully.
Bec Perse (current student), convenor of Fossil Free UWA, offered a solution for the lack of time that prevents many students from getting involved in activism. She said she finds it “energising” because it is also where her friends are. Two birds, one stone – although let’s protect the birds.
Jarrod Mckenna, co-host of the extremely popular InVerse Podcast, advocates for nonviolent social change. He addressed the frustration in the room by renouncing both optimism and pessimism. He described himself as a “realist”, acknowledging he doesn’t “know if we will win”. He thinks it is likely people will have to risk arrest, career opportunities, and social-standing fighting against fossil fuels in the future.
This image stood in striking contrast with the film we had just watched, yet I felt more inspired and regenerated at the prospect of a future I could really prepare for. He also made the poignant point that “we have a responsibility to enjoy it [nature]”, that we need to go for “long walks in the forest…we need to fall in love again”. He emphasised wonder, awe, and art as essential ingredients for change.
Brad Pettitt, the only Greens representative in the Upper House (WA), offered an insightful look into state government. He revealed that when he sits in parliament, those who sit next to him (although they cannot show their public support), tell him: “I wish I could say what you say.”
In a society seemingly grid-locked, responding to Climate Change at snail-pace, I’ll leave you with a quote (shared by Jarred) from Ched Myers: “Hope is where your ass is.”