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16 hours ago

Bendigo Weekly

Opening this weekend (as part of Easter Blues Bender 2019), Entrée Music Bar! - a very welcome addition to Bendigo’s music and social culture. 👍🏽 #bendigomusic #entreemusicbar ... See MoreSee Less

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4 days ago

Bendigo Weekly

When you run a writers festival each year, one of the good things that happens is, you get to thinking about people, about society, about what makes us strong, what gives us hope.
There are people who - no matter what stage of life they’re at, no matter what kinds of experiences they’ve had to date – think they know enough.
You’ll know some of these people, and, unfortunately, many of them are in public life and even hold positions of power and influence.
Not everyone wants to read books. Some people are perfectly happy doing without the soul-lift provided by a full-on reading experience. It’s not the be-all and end-all of a fortunate life, the gift of reading (although the lovely thing is the desire that readers have to share their joy makes a very interactive and therefore generous-spirited community among readers).
So, while I’d defend anyone’s decision not to read more than what’s essential to coping in the contemporary world, what I can’t defend is the acceptance of ignorance from people whose roles demand they read.
Say, for instance, you’re a politician or manager in a government department. Your job comes with generous superannuation, and well-endowed workplace benefits. It also comes with civic responsibility.
You got the job because people were impressed with your credentials, and trust you to have the skills to do the job.
Why do we not then regularly check that person’s knowledge base – check that they are expanding their intellectual capacities, challenging their thinking abilities? Being intellectually lazy myself, I’m so grateful for the job opportunities I’ve had, and for this festival role that came along to utilise so many of the things I’d learnt to do when I was full-time in the workforce. One of those things is, I think, an appreciation of open-mindedness, as well as a huge admiration for research skills.
I was thinking about this as I listened to Julie Rudner from La Trobe University respond to what British philosopher and commentator Kenan Malik had to say last week about inclusive cities.
Julie was just so good: she heard what he said, picked up on the ideas, then asked questions to deepen the discussion. It’s a terrific skill, and one that I am very grateful for, when people apply it in events such as that. I know there are lots of reasons why question time in Festival sessions can be frustrating (more on that down the track a bit), but it’s important people do have a go, and that we respect the process of interviewing.
In my own experience, I can count on one hand the times I’ve felt I’ve really done the speaker justice, and I’ve got innumerable instances when I’ve come away cross with myself for not doing an interview well.
Which is why I’m astonished that people in public office don’t count it a priority responsibility to work on their own skills and knowledge.
As Malik said, with governments so pressured and controlled by business interests, it is at the level of civil society that decency must prevail.
If you think there’s value in community discussion, in events that allow us to hear informed thinking presented in engaging ways, if you’re someone who enjoys our writers festival – whether you’re a single session focussed kind of person, or one of those all-in-for-a-full-on indulgence that fuels your thinking for months to follow – give someone who thinks they are just too busy doing a responsible job to find time to come along on festival weekend a nudge.
Tell them they owe it not just to their community, but to themselves.
And let’s see if we can help convince some of those yet to get the festival thing that they really ought to give it a go.

thanks for listening! Rosemary Sorensen
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Mother's Day Classic
Every year thousands of people around Australia walk, run, volunteer or fundraise at the Mother’s Day Classic. With 50 women diagnosed with breast cancer every day, we need your help now more than ever. You don’t have to go far to take part.
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