Well.. ahhh, no we weren't entirely, well I wasn't. There is a pretty big transition that needs to go on in one's mind which makes it somehow appropriate to present poetry in front of a group of adults. But somehow it happened, and somehow it kinda worked. In honesty I almost died (what with having a passionate fear for public speaking) however, apparently it went well. Actually it was really fun, and an awesome forum to share some ideas.
In fact it went well enough for an audience member to come up afterwards and ask if I could present to her school.. thats about as good as it gets. Well, nah, if someone was going to pay me to talk about floating houses THAT would be as good as it gets.
What I said is approximately below, ish, I add-libbed a bit, I'm genetically unable to stick to a script. This is really different to my usual spiel, usually I focus on a really upbeat story (empowering and all that) however I wanted to get people thinking a bit. Plus it was a pretty rare opportunity to use an entirely different medium (ie. poetry rather than self deprecating kid focused humour) to share ideas.
The 2011 floods left Brisbane, Melbourne, Central and North Queensland decimated. There was millions of dollars of damage and there was an immeasurable human cost.
I didn't, and still don't, think that is the way things should be, it's the new millennium, sure we don't have jetpacks, but we do have the technology not to flood. Hell, people who don't have refrigerators know how to live with the flood.
So, I started research into floating house communities Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia.
I wanted to see how global changes would impact these people and what we in the western developed world could learn from people who live with the flood.
I believe the knowledge should flow both ways.
By trade I am a geographical scientist, and by night the edge is doing their best to turn me into a geographer who can communicate.
So, whilst the scientific process can be dry, with a bit of artistic liscence is can be seen like this, as questions.
What if things didn't have to be this way?
How could we change things?
And imagine, imagine that process of change, imagine living in a different world where we implemented science for the better.
If, how and imagine.
If Brisbane floated, if your house floated, we could have slept in hammocks over the floods.
If you lived with floating neighbours you could kayak over for tea
If our houses floated we would fish from balconies, rise above the tide of sharks and just go with the flow.
How could that be us? Escape and embrace the flood?
How can we have floating houses with our sober adult minds?
How can we learn to change?
Imagine if all that rubbish didn't flow to the bay.
Imagine the damage that never was, the tears that never fell.
Imagine what it would do for your children's imagination, to live with the winds and the tides.
Imagine if we thought different enough to change the world, our world
Even better yet, imagine if the insurance agencies didn't win
And for them, who are just us that live elsewhere
Cambodians, decimated in a greedy powerful search for prosperity.
If you were them
If you moved to the lake because you had no money for land, there is always fish there
If you lived in a house that floated, rising and falling with the monsoon and flood
If your children studied at a floating school and if you knew your neighbours watched out for you
For them that is us
If we live on the water we have a job, we fish we live
But there are many hows
How will the changes hit them?
How will other people, who will never visit this lake, how will their decisions change floating lives forever?
How can they know change is coming?
How can we even know what to ask when these people these people don't have their own Wikipedia page?
Imagine not knowing they were going to take your livelihood away.
Imagine not knowing they were going to dam the waters that bring the new fish.
Imagine if they took this away and then told you that it was better for you. Because you won't flood anymore.. while you think to yourself.. but I float anyway.
Imagine not having a voice, not having a vote. Because the decisions made that affect you aren't made in your home town, in your province, or in your country.
They are made in a different country, in a different language, on different land, but on the same water.
Imagine if we could learn to live with the flood like they do.
Imagine if they could speak up for their rights like we do.
Imagine if we used the ideas we had as a child
Every bit of science has a story, and at least a touch of imagination