Be prepared for the next few days to be peppered with complaints of how damn hot we all are. A heatwave is again upon us and there will be no relief until next week. Today, in the town I live and also the town I work, there was a slightly cooler day, a breather before the next five days of close to or above 40 degrees Celsius. Thankfully I’m home tonight to air the house and allow the heat to dissipate but today I was baking in 38•C temperatures in a small country town called Girgarre.
Girgarre is a tiny town in the north of the state, a population of about 190 people, a once vibrant dairy and fruit producing area that has suffered from the changes to farming and manufacturing in this country. They haven’t laid down to die though, with the community banding together to face its adversity, developing a thriving farmers’ market and a music muster that is fast becoming renowned much further afield than just the local area. It’s a study in resilience and fortitude. It’s also bloody hot and will not cool down until goodness knows when, longer than our five day heatwave anyway.
I was up there helping the local Neighbourhood House to find its next Coordinator to help continue that tradition of resilience and being a helping hand. All over the state of Victoria, slowly spreading through other states too and being reproduced in localities across the world, are little oases of kindness, compassion, opportunity, practicality and community development. Neighbourhood Houses build community with community members, develop people and assist them to change the places they live in, change the lives they are living, make connections and advocate to government when needed, offer places to learn and places to teach, they are for the community and by the community – a real grassroots response to community need.
I work in one of these places too. It’s a fulfilling, busy, frustrating, slow, hectic, triumphant, lovely place to work. It’s more than four seasons in one day, it’s the loaves and fishes with no fish, it’s making something out of nothing with the help of friends who you’ve only just met. Working with community members (not on or at or to) is a hard gig to do every day. I used to say to my friends that did it that they were crazy, and then I must have become crazy too because here I am.
It’s either that or I’ve got heat stroke.