DDIdeas

Struck by the power of words

Last week DDI attended the Sydney Writer’s Festival, held at the Carriageworks which is the festival’s temporary home for the next 2 years whilst Walsh Bay is a buried in construction dust.

The festival’s theme ‘The Year of Power’ seemed on point, and yet I was surprised (and rather thrilled) to hear so many acclaimed writers take a left of field view on a seemingly obvious topic. Some proclaimed with the souls of true anarchists that ‘power’ can be unwieldy. “I’d like to hear a point of view on this from people who actually have power” said the delightful Tayari Jones, before encouraging the audience to “reclaim citizenship of yourselves”. She added: “Power is not always something overt, it can be much subtler than that. If your characters are true, then they will make their own statement. Write with truth and live with truth.” Touche.  Tayari also referred to the ‘unfair obligation’ she sometimes felt as an African American female writer. “I want black writers to have the freedom to write whatever they want – comedy, romance…not just political prose, else it’s not interesting.”

The festival’s opening address saw staff writer for the New Yorker Alexis Okeowo share her take on the state of journalism today describing it as “inherently flawed” given it hinges on explaining the ‘so-called others to the so-called us’. She described the uneasy framing in the power dynamic between journalist and subject, where subjects were often seen as passive, marginalised communities, people to whom things happen and journalists are often branded as immediate experts or in her words “…worse, saviours”.

Okeowa’s perspective is that journalists have an obligation not just to the story but to the people behind it. “It’s not just about the killer quote.”

This is just a small snippet of the delicious smorgasbord of words and wisdom that always stay with us after a trip to the Writer’s Festival.  What a privilege and an inspiration!

*Note to self, be less ‘judgey’ and write more often.
DDIdeas

Global Sisters: The Game Changers

It’s not every day you get an invitation to spend an afternoon with twenty entrepreneurs from Global Sisters. It was an opportunity we couldn’t resist!

For those of you that aren’t familiar with Global Sisters, they enable women to be financially independent, to run the businesses they have always dreamed to run, to be proud and to always stand tall.

We took deep dive into what made these inspiring women who they are and they showcased that they were a force to reckoned with. They didn’t take “NO” for an answer,  they survived in the face of adversity and persevered to become mind-blowing entrepreneurs.

Many laughs were shared and the occasional tear when we heard of their unique stories that helped craft the businesses they ran today. From picking up gum nuts with their grandkids to cooking traditional Cambodian food to help feed children at an underprivileged school, there were some truly heart-wrenching moments.

We were incredibly humbled to help guide these sisters on their next business adventure. If we are honest, we learnt more from them than they learnt from us and we walked away with so much strength that we can now apply that to our everyday jobs by asking ourselves…  “What would our Sisters do?”

– Heather Jarvis

Patchewollock, Fintan Magee
DDIdeas

ART-stralia Day

Being your average shut-in, it takes something special to get me off the couch for a long weekend. What better way to escape the mundanity of trawling Netflix and celebrate Australia Day by taking a roadtrip to the middle of this beautiful country of ours to see some amazing art.

So I headed to Victoria’s Wild West where artists have been utilising the decommissioned grain silos that are dotted across the plains of the Wimmera region. Beginning in the small town of Brim, the idea to paint massive murals on these remarkable structures was conceived by a group of its residents and brought to fruition by street (and silo) artist Guido van Helten.

Brim, Guido van Helten
Brim, Guido van Helten

With huge success in Brim the trail has expanded into what is now Australia’s largest outdoor gallery – stretching 200km with a total of 6 installations from street artists Fintan Magee, Rone, Adnate, Kaff-eine and Julia Volchkova.

Lascelles, Rone
Lascelles, Rone
Lascelles, Rone
Lascelles, Rone
Sheep Hills, Adnate
Sheep Hills, Adnate
Rosebery, Kaff-eine
Rosebery, Kaff-eine
Rupanyup, Julia Volchkova
Rupanyup, Julia Volchkova

Something even grander than these works is how they serve to revitalise the small towns they live in. Once slowly deteriorating towns are now seeing a relative beehive of activity and providing a new sense of hope for the people that live there. If there’s something to take away from this experience, it is that art does have the ability to change lives for the better in a meaningful way.

DDIdeas

In a sea of Kardashians…be a Meghan

There’s a lot going on in the world right now that seems to be pointing towards a restacking of the gender imbalance. Let’s hope that this isn’t just a temporary positive blip and that the dial moves permanently to create the kind of change our daughters will thank us for. Amidst it all, an unexpected heroine has emerged as the new face of this very old conversation.

Steering clear of the stench that surrounds Harvey Weinstein, or the farce that’s emerged around my one-time favourite actor Kevin Spacey, let’s focus instead on the delightful Meghan Markle.

Beneath her princess-like beauty and fairy tale love story with the world’s most eligible bachelor, Ms Markle has revealed herself to be far more than that old cliché of a Hollywood actress who captivates Royalty.  She is an eloquent and passionate advocate for female empowerment, a phrase that is now less dirty to utter than it was even a few months ago, thanks to the #metoo campaign

In what is emerging as her own inimitable style – natural, articulate, warm and heartfelt – Meghan shares her views on this hot topic back in 2015 at a UN Summit.  This was long before she was picking out wedding dresses headed for Windsor Castle, or charming the Queen’s corgis into wilful submission, which leads me to suspect that she had no formal agenda, other than to encourage women to speak their truth.  Watch her disarm the room as she speaks hers here:

We’re seeing a modern icon claim new ground for women and girls all over the world before our very eyes, one who hasn’t felt the need to sacrifice her femininity as she’s found her voice, and whose gentle manner belies the power of someone who has a compelling fire burning within.

It’s hardly surprising that the flame-haired prince fell hard for Meghan.  She’s the role model I want my daughter to believe in, the “Girl power” I subscribe to in 2017 and the sign of a shifting perspective from the stuffy Royal establishment unshackling themselves in the wake of her undeniable style, wit, empathy and unaffected grace.   Qualities she singularly has the power to revive in a world of flagrant self-promotion and waning elegance.  Qualities too that every brand talking to women would do well to think about embedding within their own brand story.

DDIdeas

Loosening The Reins: Creativity In Europe

Freedom of expression and the space to do it. That’s what Europe offers the creative.

Let’s start at the extreme end of the spectrum – Hamburg. The G20 protests brought with them a load of violence and civil disobedience. But they also revealed a city that was not willing to lie down and take what figures like Trump and Putin represent. Whilst I found myself in the crossfire of some hair-raising skirmishes between police and protestors, I couldn’t help but be affected by the screams of a city that has already had to rebuild itself once when power got out of hand.

To escape the mayhem, I jumped on a train to Amsterdam for a long weekend (Grabarz was closed for the G20 and what turned out to be more-than-legitimate security concerns).

Amsterdam is a creative’s paradise. A stroll through the iconic Vondel Park revealed an open-air theatre where a troupe of contemporary dancers were performing. Completely free, just grab a beer and enjoy. A ferry over to Amsterdam Noord unearthed a warehouse converted into shared art-spaces, some of the most mazing murals I’ve ever seen and an alternative community that live on what was, for all intents and purposes, a Pirate Ship.

Next weekend, I head to Berlin. A city where every corner drips in artwork.

Surrounded by so much unadulterated free speech and creativity, I wonder where my own city will make room for the same?

In Sydney, I watch helplessly as iconic hubs like Kings Cross are extinguished, laws are enacted prohibiting the purchase of a bottle of wine after 10pm and public performance that is watered down to a council-approved guitar player in Pitt St Mall.

I once heard that life begins at the edge of our comfort zone. So if culture and creativity are going to hit the heights I hope for my hometown, we must loosen the reins a little. It may be scary at first, but it will be worth it.