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Name: Miriam Lyons

Bio: zen and the art of filofax maintenance


Photos: mim's photo libraries

Into the trenches ( 22nd Mar, 2006 )
bulldozer dreaming ( 2nd Nov, 2005 )
You are not your data: repeat ( 3rd Sep, 2005 )
theres no place like somewhere else ( 18th Jul, 2005 )
Moving inwards ( 25th Apr, 2005 )
post, no haste ( 30th Mar, 2005 )
Masih Hidup ( 30th Mar, 2005 )
Down & up in Drw Intl Dptr lounge ( 20th Jan, 2005 )
Oh, the places you'll go ( 19th Jan, 2005 )
it's not you, it's reality ( 16th Jan, 2005 )

Into the trenches

The Devonshire St tunnel has its own climate, warm and humid from the daily mass of breathing bodies.

Pushing against the morning crowd of students and office workers, you get an overwhelming urge to bleat. The faces, the fashion, and the endless tramping feet blur into each other like a colour wheel spinning into white.

By afternoon the pace slows, the colours return, and buskers begin to fill the empty space with music. The song of a woman dressed in black echoes in the air, accompanied by the occasional tinkle of coins tossed into a bronze bowl.

Behind her, the walls are haunted by the ghosts of bad high-school murals, covered in graffiti and grime. It seems unlikely they will ever be replaced. The unfortunate artists, now in their thirties, probably walk the long way to the bus stop just to avoid looking at their handiwork.

People avoid looking at everything here. The walk from Broadway to Chalmers St is full of gazes to avert, offers to refuse, advertising to ignore. By the time you emerge into natural light its a miracle if you can see beyond your own fingertips.

Pete Fitsimmons, a former construction worker with the beard of a Sadhu, has a spot selling the Big Issue at the top of the tunnel.

As the sun dips low over Central Station, he rolls a cigarette between work-toughened fingers and tells adventure stories. “I took the boat to sea in a hurricane, and once I tried to climb a mountain without any equipment in the middle of the night.”

Pete wanted to sail to Athens to watch the Olympics. Instead his boat was impounded, leaving him without a home. After a month on the streets, the housing commission helped him into a place on Pitt St. “I’m really glad that I’ve stabilised, and that I’m not carrying a sleeping bag and dirty clothes around”.

“It’s like the front in Gallipoli - the enemy's out there and they're just going to keep firing at you so you never stick your head up over the top. You just try and live however you can on the stuff that comes into the trenches.”

“As long as I’ve got a packet of cigarettes I’m okay, ’cos all I’m going to do is sit down, deconstruct everything, have a smoke, and it'll be alright.”

bulldozer dreaming

July 05

Last night my flatmate showed me a leaflet she’d found in our letterbox. The front page was laid out newspaper-style, with a photo of a few terraces and the headline “These houses could be bulldozed”. We both started to laugh. Our house was in the picture.

We felt no emotion about the idea that our house could be demolished. The notice went up on the fridge with the novelty magnets and pictures of friends in the Brag - a house joke, like the ‘no stopping’ street sign in the hallway.

Only when I turned the leaflet over did I realise what it meant. Of course, our house was being sacrificed to a road-widening scheme. Edgeware Rd would be snatched up by some new tollway from a to b, and number 43 would join a long line of houses laying down their lives to satisfy the hungry traffic monsters of Sydney. The leaflet had been produced by EcoTransit - I thought I recognised the name of the contact person, and I wondered if I should go to the public meeting.

And then it hit me. I feel more connected to the cause of eco-friendly transport than I do to the house I live in. The idea of petrol-guzzling roads to nowhere eating up our city made me angry - the idea of bulldozers in my bedroom didnt.

Why? I think it's the life of a perennial share-houser. You might not stay, so why get attached? If happiness lies in not wanting what you cant have, then my flatmates and I live in a happy world. We grew up knowing we could never afford to buy a house in Sydney, so we gave up thinking of secure housing as something we wanted.

The same thing has happened to the way we organise - we have loose shifting alliances because we have to be as flexible as the multinationals that stride unencumbered around the globe.

I think we do this because, on some level, we’ve swallowed the individualism. What else is there? Families - scattered, religion - dusty, ideologies - dangerous, authority figures - proven liars, workplaces - uncertain, houses - liable to be bulldozed… why would we have a sense of community tied to place? Why would we not instead become members of a nomadic tribe?

I've just been reading the write-up of the Redfern tour of Beauty:

"Ross Smith (who addressed the group about Public Housing issues) told us that the RWA has just last week decided to put the Waterloo (public housing) towers back on the table for consideration. (Earlier in the year, responding to a surge of community protest, Frank Sartor had said that removing the towers was not a priority). This announcement is of grave concern for the thousands of public housing tenants in the area. Changes to the way tenancy is granted have been proposed: instead of long leases, new tenants may now be offered only short contracts, of 2 or 5 years. Ross quoted academic research stating that it takes over 5 years for a resident to really begin to make deep connections with the neighbourhood. Shorter leases will mean that, lacking continuity, the community will begin to break down. Relationships slowly built up over time, which knit a place together, will simply not take root. This will make it that much easier for the RWA to evict tenants and demolish the towers in years to come."

We are the lucky ones - the voluntary nomads.

What about people who want a sense of community tied to place? Who don't have an international community to take refuge in as their neighbourhood is replaced by tollways?

How do we live as molecules in an atomised world?

...terraced atom-dwellers

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