Out of the blue I get a call from a woman who asks me if I would like to be booth captain at the Cobargo polling station.
It is local Council election time.
I recognize her voice immediately although I know she hasn’t clued to me yet.
A few years ago I did a cert. 4 in community services at Bega TAFE and followed up the next year with a Diploma . She happened to be one of my tutors .
I failed to gain the Diploma because although I passed all the class activities I did not do my 500 million hours with a bona fide community organisation.
at the time I decided that it was good for me to record a fail after all those school and uni years where achievement is the name of the game.
Take that I said to myself, fail at school, embrace it, celebrate it, what does it mean anyway?
the odd thing is that I was working my butt off at the time saving my friend Carole and her mother from having guardians take over their lives.
some well-meaning friends had set up a meals on wheels service for them which meant that they got their shopping done each fortnight. Remember Carole does not drive nor leave the farm and Mum only went outdoors to go to the dunny.
one day the meals on wheels team gathered forces and pronounced their situation horrific. They alleged that Carole and her mother were mentally and physically incompetent suffering from mental illness and dementia. They felt the house was in danger of falling down, that it was filthy, an O H & S nightmare.
their solution was to apply to the courts for guardians to be appointed.
I was able to put my TAFE teachings to excellent use and prevent this process happening.
dear Davina who never harmed anyone but loved a cuppa a chat and a good giggle was broken by the assault upon her privacy and the bald-faced lies.
Carole who had been running the farm singlehandedly since the early 80’s when Dad had died could not believe the story that these ‘bad’ people had made up.
We wondered how many other people get taken over because they don’t fit a recognisable social pattern, because they are eccentric and because they don’t have anyone to barrack for them.
I rallied their friends and there were many , many people that bought sheep manure from Carole over the years and admired her tremendously. There were endless reports, meetings, conversations with bureaucracy and lies to dismiss . The letters of support came rolling in and consolidated our position of their right to remain in their own home managing their lives.
I had myself appointed a legal representative so I could stand up at the guardianship tribunal hearing and advocate on their behalf.
In the 11th hour before we were due to attend the hearing the community service team behind the assault backed down and pulled their application .
The sad thing is that Davina died a year later, broken Carole says by those nasty people . Carole won’t have a bar of any services that could possibly be of a help to her now. No way she says will they get in here again .
And so I identify myself to my old tutor and ask what does acting booth captain mean?
how quaint. how yesterday.
I imagine a jaunty cap set on my head on an angle and straight back shoulders , an epaulette or three and salutes coming my way.
Setting up the boards and finding people to hand out leaflets on behalf of the Greens, she says.
Oh is that all?
Ok. I ask Rebecca ,How about it?
sure, she says, love to, just put me on for 2 hours but make it after my art class with the kids .
I ask my son in-law. I might have imagined a small gulp but he answered bravely enough,yeah sure 2 hours not a problem.
John had a lot of provocative conditions to him signing up .
And then quick as a flash Bec tells me she has to go to Canberra for a weekend of fun.
And then Greg realises the Hawks are playing Collingwood and he has to butter up Elsie so he can watch it at her place which puts him out of the picture.
The others on my list are away, not available and suddenly I am a captain without troops.
I am starting to feel like the little red hen.
the funny thing is that, actually I don’t vote. Yep not on the electoral roll, nor a signed up member of the Greens either.
I have thought about going back on the roll but nowadays it requires me to prove my citizenship and to do that I have to apply for a bit of paper which costs me money.
naaahhhh not that keen and besides I kinda like it now that I am a petty official while remaining a free agent.
Afterall the revolution is beyond party politics, beyond councils governments and systems, it is when all is said and done a movement of spirit, of heart of awakening .
and yet still we must offer our selves to the barricades, to the trenches to the front line when we are called.
I am still gathering the team and we will be there, to wave the flag of hope for all of nature, for all of our relations, for social justice ,for the forests and the water we drink.