We made a short but sweet trip to Kingaroy, a regional town about 3 hours north west of Brisbane. My trusty helper on all things One Million Stars and big daughter, Tavina, joined me for the early Friday morning drive to meet with some of the star weavers and to hear some of their stories of how the stars are making an impact in their communities. From nearby towns including Murgon and Cherbourg to local schools and centres like CentreCare and the Probation and Parole office in downtown Kingaroy, stars are helping to bring people across the South Burnett region together.
Photo: Kingaroy Probation and Parole
We met with Madonna Laverty, Probation and Parole officer and Aunty Elizabeth Kennell who counsels women who experience domestic violence, at the Probation and Parole office first, for a cuppa and morning tea. We were hoping to meet some of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who have been weaving stars from Cherbourg, but they couldn’t make it because of Sorry Business. Instead, we got to hear firsthand, stories from staff of how these women are taking on these stars and enjoying the making of them. They are impressed by the focus and the atmosphere of the space. Women are kind to each other, there’s no fighting and the women are really enjoying it and helping each other. Aunty Liz, who knows how difficult it can be for women to open up and talk, has found that many of these women are starting to soften and feel safe in this space. The star weaving workshops are helping the Parole and Probation officers and support network to create space for the women to feel safe and welcome. It gets them talking and chatting, and women end up “counselling each other” and giving advice, says Aunt Elizabeth. It’s so fantastic. I wanted to cry because it was so beautiful hearing these stories. I just knew that we had to come back again, this time to Cherbourg to meet some of these women and to weave stars with them. My husband’s mother’s family is from Cherbourg, so that will be a very special visit indeed!
Selfie: With aunty Elizabeth Kennell who works with those affected by Domestic Violence.
After seeing their cupboard of stars, a few thousand, and taking a photo with staff, we then headed to Centrecare Kingaroy to meet with Erin Jeffs, Regional Coordinator Centrecare Community Connections South Burnett and staff, who have also been weaving stars. They put on a beautiful lunch for us, which I was not expecting and I got to do a small presentation of my weaving work and how a few events led me to start the One Million Stars project. They are a community service that offers counselling, support and activities for people affected by domestic violence and they took on star weaving to help them reach out to people and show that they are there to help. Some told me of how their families and friends are weaving stars in Scotland and other parts of the South Burnett region and how this has been such a powerful process for them and their clients. The simplicity of the project, the symbolism of the stars and the fact that you don’t even have to speak is so appealing and “powerful” for some of the Centacare staff. They are even a drop off point for locals to drop off their stars. Their goal was to make the number of stars that is their postcode, 4610. They are only a few hundred away and people are loving getting involved.
Friday Facts, star weaving and a hearty home made lunch at Centrecare South Burnett.
Visiting communities is such a special part of this project, which even though it’s my current full time job, it feels more like visiting friends and communities who want to share stories and a meal with me. Some of the stories are full of sadness, people really struggling and traumatised by some kind of violence and often people will tell me how this helps to lift people and their spirits, to help them find a little bit of joy and fun and new friendships. I also know that this one on one time is so special, which they experience and are grateful for through their star weaving workshops, but also the time that I can give them to visit, to say thank you and to take a moment to celebrate this gentle but transformational process of craft and community building.
I’m already looking forward to visiting Kingaroy and Cherbourg again. They, like so many regional towns across Qld and Australia are doing phenomenal things, using the simple and accessible power of kindness, mindfulness and working in partnership with others.
GOLDOC Head Quarters.
Here is an awesome pic of some staff at GOLDOC head quarters on the Gold Coast, last Thursday 20 April. It was fantastic to go to the heart of where Gold Coast Commonwealth Games is working to make the GC2018 a reality - everything from sustainability and legacy to cleaning and security, to Borobi, the Games mascot and looking after athletes at the Athlete Village. So much work is going into making these games a success for local community and Queensland. It is a privilege to be part of making Festival 2018 and GC2018 the best that it can be!
Next stop, Townsville!