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Keep the Fire Burning! Contribution Through Collaboration- Some Post Food Democracy Event Thoughts

Last week we finished the official part of the second Memefest/QCA extradisciplinary seminar/workshop/direct action here at the Queensland College of Art in Brisbane. The theme was Food Democracy, and we wanted to explore it in relation to local Brisbane. We worked together with the wonderful and inspirational people of the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy in order to strengthen the food program of the Embassy. The food program is centered around food distribution to families in need. We were looking at possibilities to widen the operation and to address the problems of Food Democracy in relation to the operations of the Embassy. This was highly ambitious. The complexity of the issues and the scope of the problems are immense.

Have a look at the event program here: http://tinyurl.com/kxch8pz

There is a lot to say and a more serious analysis will follow later and will than also be published in our Food Democracy book next year as part of our Intervention book series.

What happened was extraordinary. In short- more than 45 participants were involved during the process and worked very hard for 8 days- unpaid, outside of the official curriculum, within the formal environment of the University, for activist purposes. All here in Brisbane. Socially responsive communication, extradisciplinary investigation, direct action. Local, interstate an International participants- students, academics, activists and professionals. Two and a half days of intensive conference, than workshop model, than public intervention. And what matters, a high level of genuine collaboration among participants was established. And we sat around the sacred fire.

Now, with things like this- talking about outcomes is a tricky thing. The most obvious outcome that people are usually are interested in are material outcomes, results if you like. So here in short about them:

We developed several poster campaigns, with seven posters all together. Some to critique the existing food system, some to build awareness about the Embassy and it's activities, the sacred fire and some to connect the Embassy, based in Musgrave park, with its immediate neighborhoods.

We created three online platforms, including a platform free of direct corporate and government control that uses a special mobile phone knowledge sharing tool. This platform is now ready to go and training sessions will be started in the coming days. But it is easy to use, so actually in most of the cases the manual that is on the web site should be enough. Have a look at it here, download ojoVoz and get involved:


Various communication strategies, a sticker and zine campaign. Also an online viral video was produced- have a look at it here and share it:


And we did a direct action in a supermarket. Kangaroo meat was bought at Coles supermarket, cooked in Musgrave park, neatly arranged and given as a free gift to consumers coming straight out of Coles- with bags full of food in their hands. Creating a temporary autonomous zone, creating a situation where food was not a commodity. A free gift from the Aboriginal Embassy to non Aboriginal people? Food is a fundamental human right and everyone should be entitled to free and healthy food? And the conversations started...with an invitation to the Sovereign BBQ in Musgrave Park.

You can listen to a part of the conversation we had when we were planning the project here:


A photo journalistic project was created, showing another side of the Embassy, one that is not visible due to the biased media representations.

Another zine project is being developed and is planed to be ready in January and distributed via the Embassy's food distribution network. Two online platforms will be ready end of the month.

Now, this is mostly just descriptions without giving you much context, background and strategies. Also, this are only partly the outcomes as the whole event is a social medium and it can't be reduced to it's material outcomes.

While many of the projects were finished in the course of the event, some of us are still working on the projects that are bigger and will take time to unfold in their full potential. Not only that, participants have organized to help fundraising as well as also volunteering for the food distribution and we will continue to work further with the Embassy on several levels. Keep the fire burning!

What is also good is that we were able to document formal and informal situations of the event process with photo and sound media and have also created a special internal online archive platform that will serve for research purposes on how to develop such events - as social media for pedagogy, research and socially responsive public communication further. Evaluation of this will of course take time.

Here two things we would like to share with you now.

Among other things at the event a manifesto for Aboriginal Sovereignty, for all Australian first nation people was presented on the conference. The document is now being discussed nationwide. Here you an hear the impressive young Phil Winzer reading the manifesto:


Also, listen to Aunty Karen here as she talks about the Food Program and the Aboriginal community: http://sautiyawakulima.net/base/permalink.php?id=3

It was fascinating, inspiring and incredibly enriching to learn about the Aboriginal struggle lead by the Embassy and it is fantastic that we could create this collaboration. The more I think about the event the more I become aware that in the moments of genuine, true collaboration magic happened.

How sad that so many times activists and more critically minded academics and professionals can't really collaborate with each other, and in the end remain in the straightjacket of their own interests - many times with a radical/critical/intellectual image that shows a different appearance though. I can see that everyday.

Some of the participants said that this was a life changing experience. Many of us felt that this event showed what academia should be and that this is why we went to work at the university and became academics in the first place. I personally wish more of such open spaces would exist. But what we did goes beyond academia, of course, and this is the key strategy. Connecting academia with different cultures of knowledge production and with marginal, counter cultural positions as a research method, as pedagogy, institutional critique and direct action.

Here one more thing, actually two:

The BASE meetings are every Wednesday at 18h in Musgrave Park. All are welcome. Volunteers for the food program needed, so get involved. Next, the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy needs our donations. The money will go directly to their food program. 10 AUD bi- weekly donation helps already a lot and you probably wont really notice it.

Each week the BASE Community Food program is providing food parcels to between 50 to 70 families across Brisbane - in Acacia Ridge, Inala, Stafford, Ipswich and more. The program is working on creating a stable income to continue and expand this work. We are looking for 60 of our supporters who can contribute $10/fortnight - this will enable us to expand the program significantly. The primary cost of running the program is the food we collect from the Foodbank - but it is here that your contribution can go a very long way. A $10 contribution can cover the cost of 20 boxes of cereal or 50 bags of rice or 50 canned meals or 10 boxes of sausages....the list goes on, but basically we can make $10 go a very long way!

BASE Community Food Program
Bank: NAB
BSB: 084-447
Account: 156724064
Please include name as reference

Here is the email address, if you want to get involved: basefoodprogram@gmail.com

Thanks to all the participants, the Embassy, and members of the Memefest Kolektiv, for making this happen. We did it! Thanks also to QCA for hosting the event. See you at the fire in Musgrave part, every Wednesday at 18h!

Participants and collaborators of the event:

Recipients of the Memefest/QCA Award for Imaginative Critical Intervention:

Eugenio Tiselli, Miha Mazzini, Marko Plahuta, Mariano Mussi and Mohammad Naser

Other Participants:

Nancy Stilianos
Tania Olszewski
Oscar Waugh
Kelsey Hutchinson
Sophie van der Drift
Thomas Roohan
Cherie Davis
Adrian Doidge
Shaun Cruickshank
Melanie Gupta
Ani Dorante
Pen Donovan
Dru Handebo
Brett Weekes
Belinda Li
Cory Wright
Alban Vinevel
Denise Schilk
Tyler Zebra
Dylan Leak
Bill Platz
Ilewellyn Millhoue
Michell Gunther
Susan Ostling
Khamhou Phanludeth
Hui-Wen Cheng
Carley Jane Steel
Hamish Chitts
KC Newnam
Sam Burch
Tristan Stonhill
Russell Fuller
George Petelin
Oliver Vodeb
Ben Mangan
Manfred Huber
Jason Grant
Alan Hill
Zala Volcic
Mark Andrejevic
Robert Perkin
Bianca Beetson
Phil Winzer


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9 years, 6 months ago

It was a really great experience!! I hope to see you soon guys!

9 years, 6 months ago

It was great to have the chance to listen, share and work together with everyone. It was a short time to get to know each other, but we know one another now. So let's hope for more collaboration in the future. Keep the Fire Burning!

9 years, 6 months ago

Hey, welcome to the official Memefest blog!

Since 2003 we have been using a blog platform as tactical media to reflect, critique, comment and inform around the broad field of communication. Now in 2010 with our newly conceived on-line platform we hope that through time this space will evolve in a collaborative blog media with a wider group of contributors to the global discourse around social responsibility of media and communication. Stuff that you can find here is either original or carefully and originally edited from other sources.  There is a good chance that you will find things that will be of good use for you too if you follow us more regularly.

Of course we look at Memeblog as a dialogic platform. Your comments are encouraged and mostly welcome.

If you feel like collaborating in this: drop us a line: memefest at memefest dot org.