Steven Marshall MP, South Australia (posted in March 2011)
I discovered FairShare International after being elected as the State Member for Norwood in 2010. To my surprise and delight I learned that three of FSI’s founding members reside in my electorate. More recently, one of my most ‘interactive’ constituents – she keeps me busy – has become a Life Member.
I entered politics in the first place because I was sick and tired of waiting for other people to make a difference and improve our society, and decided to take some personal action instead. That is what FSI is all about – personal action.
FairShare International’s 126.96.36.199 philosophy runs parallel with my own belief that people need to be more politically involved, and that a growing apathy amongst voters is damaging our democracy. By actively reengaging with our community we can strengthen the foundations of our society, and in turn create a more cohesive and fair environment for our children. So the idea of taking at least 10 actions per year to improve the world through the democratic process really appeals.
Before getting into politics I worked in my family’s furniture business. We exported furniture throughout the country and created a substantial amount of employment in South Australia. Later on, as the General Manager of Michell’s Textile Division, I worked to create a business that was at once environmentally responsible and profitable; I would not want one without the other.
I am passionate about closing the gap between the First Australians and the rest of the Australian population, and believe that more needs to be done by individuals and governments to combat this shameful gap of inequality. I am a member of the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee and remain committed to real change instead of token gestures.
FairShare International is fantastic because it encourages people like me, who have so much, to recognise their luck and their privilege and the state of the planet upon which we all depend. Crucially, FairShare International’s pledge to redistribute some personal wealth, time, knowledge and talent to those who have been dealt a rotten hand in life is something we can all accomplish.
Meredith Reardon, South Australia (posted in October 2010)
I was born in South Australia in the 50s. Ever since the 70s I have carried a sense of needing to do something and to not let things settle unresolved, and it has gone around with me like wearing a shoe with a pebble irritating my foot – so I have a constant reminder in me of my responsibility.
I believe that FairShare can heighten my involvement in imagining a better world and give me a stronger voice. We have a powerful opportunity to create a fairer world. I feel a constant pang from ethical dilemmas, for example, I live day to day having so much good fortune and a wonderful life but so many in the world are not even able to drink water of sufficient quality to sustain life.
Ironically, we in South Australia are now looking down the barrel at the most polluting and energy wasting desalination plant in our precious gulf off Adelaide. Surely it is a lack of will and awareness that destroys and squanders something unique. What we do and say will make a difference and we have to be so careful as indifference speaks louder than dissent.
I once saw Patch Adams explaining that every 8 seconds someone in the world dies from lack of drinking water – this is the same amount of time he took to drink a glass of water in front of his audience.
Personally, I look for a balance between activism – which is often reactive and on the back foot – and proactive volunteer work with Landcare and hands‑on environmental work. I support friends experiencing difficulty with emotional support and provide a strong feeling of family with several refugee and migrant families. I volunteer for Oxfam and have raised money for The Wilderness Society over my 28 years of membership. I aim to always act and not ignore issues.
David Suzuki points out that we have lost the understanding of where the goods we take for granted, like food, come from – and so have become detached and ignorant about inappropriate practices and suffering related to their production. I want to see this ignorance stop in my lifetime. I have always spoken out against injustice and as a teacher have wanted to make a difference in my work.
I was looking to belong to fewer organisations to reduce my spending!
Now I have joined the umbrella organisation of FairShare because it highlights
through 188.8.131.52 why I belong to these other groups and act on issues.
As a FairShare member, I will continue to try to be more than a spoke
in the wheel and to actually help that wheel turn.
Gail Mahon, South Australia (posted September 2010)
When I think about the sad state of the world on every front from party politics to global warming I sometimes feel both responsible and overwhelmed. Responsible, because so often I don’t act in the planet’s best interest (those overseas trips, that clothes dryer); and overwhelmed, because how on earth am I going to change everything so there’s a safe future for children?
This is where FairShare International rescues me. It doesn’t compete with other good ‘causes’ for my attention, rather it leads me to organizations and groups which are already working towards a sustainable and fair world. It shows me how I can slow down, change my thinking and then take positive action. Best of all, I do it through an entirely personal commitment which I can measure and add to as the years go on.
Not all of us are public activists: I’m not much these days. But that’s not vital for the FairShare philosophy. There are so many ways for the personal to be political. I can spread my quieter efforts in directions which include personal, financial and community-based, each direction outlined simply in the 184.108.40.206 FairShare goals.
I especially love the website. Not only does it expand on the FairShare ethos, but it’s a great treasure trove of ideas, research, links and networking opportunities. I found a quote there that just about sums up my feelings: ‘… by living 220.127.116.11 each day, you refuse to be a bystander’.
Martina Nicolls, Australian Capital Territory (posted March 2009)
I’m the daughter of German migrants who came to Australia for a better life. They wanted a ‘fair share’ for themselves, their children, and their friends. My childhood memories are of collecting eggs from our back-yard chickens, composting, sharing our fruit and vegetables with neighbours, handing down used clothes, visiting the elderly in aged homes, and even cleaning the toilets in the school for the handicapped down the road.
Now I work in post-conflict countries to assist communities and youth affected by civil war and conflict situations. Nine months in Iraq assisting over-aged youth to return to educational programs after many years of missed schooling gave them a ‘second chance’ at life, providing them with the means to gain skills and earn a living. Funds were limited so, by word-of-mouth, communities in the U.S. and Australia, particularly schoolchildren, donated pre-loved reading books, clothes and stationery for me to distribute to the youth in my program. Many of these children had never seen a reading book before and now they owned one and could read it. More importantly, it gave them the love of reading and learning.
More recently, I was in Botswana assessing the impact of HIV/AIDS on the education and training sector. Many children had AIDS-infected parents so were staying home from school to care for them and the family. Orphans were dropping out of school and many were homeless. I was keen to initiate a program to return orphans to school and was able to recommend this to the Minister of Education and the Minister of Finance. However, it wasn’t just about working to provide disadvantaged communities with a fair share of resources and services, but also for me to assist individuals and families. I’m still packing up clothes to send to Baaitse, a single mother, and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Faith, in Gaborone, Botswana. I also collect goods for them to sell.
Back in Australia, I give my time to universities, colleges, and schools to debate issues on development, conflict, drugs, sustainable communities, education, and a host of themes at the request of the institutions. I enjoy it immensely, particularly as participants enthusiastically add to the debate and appreciate the challenges that these issues evoke.
promotes the principles that I grew up with and have tried to sustain throughout my life. What I like more than anything about FSI is that it has challenged me to do more, to reflect on my actions (globally and locally), and to think about the unjust distribution of resources and services on an every-day basis. It also offers a cohort of like-minded people who are taking a stand for everyone wherever they may be in the world. It was therefore an easy decision to become a Lifetime Member of FairShare International.
Christopher Hale, Queensland (posted January 2009)
I am responsible for the state of the planet and action I take can make a difference. I must change and take action before I ask and expect others to change.
I am very concerned about the future children face when they are my age. I do not want to be a DAG (a person not worried about long term consequences of their current lifestyle choices as they will be Dead And Gone when the resultant catastrophic consequences strike home).
As a wealthy consumer in Australia I live and am encouraged to live a life of excessive consumption that does not bring me happiness.
My modern excessive consumption based lifestyle not only has potential catastrophic long term consequences, it is also at the expense of the lifestyles of other people in the world. They are unfairly disadvantaged.
People elsewhere in the world live in despair and poverty so I can live the lifestyle I enjoy. The modern western lifestyle is unfair and unsustainable. I must learn to live a different lifestyle.
I can remember as a young person saving up to buy something and how much more I valued it as a result. This is an attitude I am working to regain.
I believe community, not consumption, is the key to happiness. I can live differently to the way I do now and be much happier with fewer goods but a much richer life.
Born in Melbourne over 50 years ago, I was number six in a family of ten children. I have lived in Queensland since 1985. In 1992 I married a wonderful lady from Bundaberg and we have lived in Bargara ever since (on the coast 15 km from Bundaberg).
Our little rectangle shaped house is a ten minute walk from the beach. It catches the breeze and the whole house is lovely and cool in summer.
I have studied off and on for most of my life while working:
- Bachelor of Economics and Politics, Monash
- Bachelor of Community Welfare, James Cook
- Masters, Rehabilitation Counselling, Sydney
- Graduate Certificate in Legal Studies, Griffith
I mention my studies as they have helped mould my philosophy, in particular Peace Studies under Professor Ernie Fyfe at Monash University in the early seventies.
I am a non drinker and non smoker and have no particular religious affiliations (although I was bought up as a Catholic). We have no children.
My Current Life
I have been a Rehabilitation Counsellor and now a Senior Customer Advisor with WorkCover in Bundaberg for the last 15 years. Prior to this I had the honour of working with people with intellectual disability as an independent living trainer.
I enjoy gardening, golf, bush walking and beach stuff. I especially enjoy walking my two little dogs along the beach in the evenings after work.
Andrew Horsfall, New South Wales (posted September 2008)
There has to be a more fulfilling journey through life than acrophobic mortgages, slogging through 60 hours of ‘out-of-home’ work a week, grinding in ever growing traffic chaos, battling crass, muzak filled shopping malls, consuming bloated quantities of the earth’s resources resulting in an ecological bootprint to die for (literally). And meanwhile you and your children pass through the week at a frighteningly chaotic speed with only cursory salutations and momentary exchanges.
On a journey of self sustainability my family and I are consuming a lot less to achieve much more. Starting out I didn’t know the difference between an apple tree and an apricot, or cauli and kohlrabi seedlings! And my renovation and building skills amounted to opening a tin of paint resulting in more painted clothes than walls.
No matter, we gave up the suburban commuter lifestyle, two careers, the new cars, and the private schools.
We switched to home schooling, now grow the majority of our own organic food, solar generate all our own electricity, and manage our water supply, sewerage and grey water.
We actively contribute to Landcare, the local food co-operative, community initiatives, and political activism, and have committed the land we live on to non commercial land and bush regeneration whilst acknowledging the traditional owners, the Gundungurra people.
Of the food we cannot grow we try to purchase ‘as local’ as possible but some localization escapes us, for example, NSW Central West is not renowned for coffee growing! And I’m not giving up my ‘mug a day’.
And we still have plenty of time for a beverage of choice (although my homebrew can be quite dreadful at times) and mucking around.
For us 18.104.22.168 is a simple, quiet inspiration to share more, consume less and enjoy life much more.
This simple formula provided us with a momentum and basic map in the face of bombarding messages and media grabs of what is wrong with the world. These messages can be overwhelming and paralyzing particularly when you’re starting out. Our own ‘22.214.171.124’ map taking small steps, doing what we can gives us some direction and hope.
Although 126.96.36.199 isn’t improving my homebrew!
Gillian Hunter, South Australia (posted May 2007)
Having entered the second half-century of my life, I’ve accrued a little wisdom and no longer fritter talents and resources on fatuous pursuits. Much of my twenties was misspent, as they say, so I’ve been trying to compensate ever since….
The 188.8.131.52 ethical lifestyle plan of FSI is for me but a piece of cake, never having been seduced by accretion of money or assets, instinctively abhorring wastage of any kind, and armed with an in-built alarm system for injustice. Common sense tells me to cause as little harm as possible as I live, and to generate wellness when and wherever I can. I have never been career-orientated or single-minded, have many divergent interests, am relatively adventurous, spontaneous and outspoken by nature. Work thus far has been in hospitality, tourism, education, media and the arts; I’ve been vegetarian and ‘green’ since early adulthood. I never cease to be by turns appalled at the stupidity and cruelty of human nature and inspired by its genius and capacity for good. I strive for integrity, courage and active altruism; love the natural world in all its forms, the innocence and optimism of children, and the decency and serenity of most of the elderly.
The aims of Fair Share International struck me as supremely sensible when first I encountered this initiative about four years ago. For those overwhelmed by the ever-mounting destructive fallout of consumerism the FSI formula (for living more accountably and engaging in micro-philanthropy) proffers a simple and effective antidote.
Bryan West, North Queensland (posted May 2007)
I think it was in the later years of high school that I used to go fishing with a mate and his father at Lakes Eucumbene and Adaminaby. We never really caught much but I used to marvel at how picturesque it all was. When it came time to go, I would start to collect the rubbish to take back with us in the boat. My friend’s father would always say, “Leave it, we don’t want that in our boat”. And so, it would pollute the lake. And, every time we went, it became harder to find sites to camp that had not already been left with the rubbish of others.
In the twenty or so years since then I have often thought about that, and I came to the understanding that the rubbish was not the issue; the issue was that the boat cannot be separated from the lake.
More recently, in the past decade, I have come to another understanding and it is this: the only way I can possibly change anything is slowly, and all the while participating as a part of the very thing I thought needed improving. I think this realisation came as I began secondary teaching and saw the reality in schools to be somewhat different to the education rhetoric. So, I have sought to make a contribution to whatever communities I found myself a part of. The notion of sustainability is something that I have tried to engage with in all of these communities, and is something with which I continue to grapple as I make decisions that affect not just my own future, but the future of others.
My attraction to FSI was through its 184.108.40.206 goals. These seemed to me to offer a balanced way to direct my energy toward a broad depth and breadth of issues (eg, social, environmental, political) and at an equally deep and broad range of scales (eg, local, national, global). I joined a few years ago, after toying with the goals for a while before that. But, as with many other experiences of seeking positive change, I felt my actions to be ad-hoc and somewhat at the mercy of circumstance.
In short, I lacked commitment and staying power. For that reason, I opted for life membership and started to consider ways in which I could better engage with others to ensure that my own commitment to the FSI goals was sustainable. Perhaps by drawing together people to share ideas, challenge ideas, laugh at and with each other, and to make public – and therefore publicly accountable – my own commitments, I would last the distance. Thinking about this for a while led to the birth of a blog, entitled My Fair Share, which is intended to enable such participation and the furtherance of the FSI community.
So now, as a stay-at-home father of two small children, while on leave from a Deputy Principal job and pretending to complete a doctoral thesis, I am probably busier than I ever was. I am also probably more motivated than I ever was to care, and for not just our little boat, but for the lake upon which all boats embark upon their dreams.
Katherine LUSTIG, New South Wales (posted February 2007)
So many people tell me that they’re “just one person” and that an individual can’t make a difference, but the world is made up of just-one-persons and enough of them doing the same thing WILL bring about change. Planting one tree won’t make a major difference, but ten thousand people planting one tree would. Turning my computer off when I go into a meeting won’t change the world, but if the hundreds of people in my office all did it, we’d see a difference on the energy bill. Writing a letter to a politician won’t change any policies, but a thousand letters to that politician about the same issue will grab his or her attention.
I’m just one person and my actions mean nothing on their own.
It’s the hope that there are other people joining me in my actions, even if they’re people I’ve never met, that keeps me going.
All the same, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the problems that seem to need solving: there’s just too much to do!
I joined FairShare International because I was impressed by the well-thought-out philosophy.
The 220.127.116.11 goals are attainable, they allow me to draw the line somewhere (and stop feeling like I’m never doing enough) and they have given a clear and sensible structure to my sometimes erratic attempts to change the world.
It’s good to be a part of something so positive.
Sean A. Reith, Western Australia (posted November 2006)
Despite being so fortunate as to be born in Australia with all the opportunities that follow such fortune, I must confess to being an embarrassingly passive observer of our society’s slide towards what seems like another dark age.
FairShare International’s formula has a succinct elegance, and I could not with good conscience acknowledge that it neatly outlined a simple and effective baseline of contribution for those as lucky as myself, without committing to improving my own endeavour.
Joining FSI and putting up one of their stickers next to my desk simply serves as a good reminder to strive each day to do more.
Joseph NADLER, Queensland (posted August 2006)
I’m one of the first Queensland members, and hopefully the first of many! I’ve been a student activist, a queer activist, a youth worker, a teacher, and a social worker. Sometimes these roles overlapped, sometimes all at once. It occurred to me that my life had become reactive, reacting to the trauma, injustice and hopelessness around me. I’ve tried to become proactive since then, doing little things to make life better for myself and others.
I was put onto FairShare by a work colleague of mine, who told us about the 18.104.22.168 principle. It made so much sense to turn the idea of philanthropy into something that everyone, not just the very rich, could do. I’ve started by joining some organisations, and buying some equipment for community radio. I’ve used less electricity and am in the process of replacing my old, dodgy electricity sucking rusted fridge with something a bit greener.
I’m currently a youth worker, and on the side I’m assisting in what little way I can to help human rights, worker equity, and local community radio.
Sophie GREEN, South Australia (posted May 2006)
(Sophie is a 23 year old FairShare enthusiast and Friends of the Earth campaigner. She gave the FSI AGM address on 1 May 2006 entitled A Year is All it Takes, about her green activities over the past year.)
If I had to pinpoint the core problem that our current society faces, one that relentlessly pushes us down a destructive path, often against our will, it would be our sense of haste.
Everyone knows that computers have not decreased people’s workloads, that car transport has not really given us more time, that the less time we spend on food preparation the more time we waste working overtime so we can buy more stuff, not to mention working out at the gym to counteract the added calories of processed, fast food, and so on! Most people are aware that the more you work the more you consume, and that once you are on the frenzied treadmill of work and consumption it is very difficult to escape. But learning to do things S-L-O-W-L-Y is really the only way we can regain the freedom to escape our consumption patterns and work towards the FairShare principles.
I was alerted once again to this very simple solution at the recent FairShare AGM. My new goal for the coming year is to do things 5-10% slower as a way of skipping more lightly on the planet, and as a reinterpretation of the magic FairShare numbers! Here’s to a simpler, slower, more uncomplicated and fulfilling existence.
Peter DORAN, anaesthetist, SA and New Zealand (posted February 2006)
When I saw the FairShare International ad two years ago, I knew exactly what it was all about. This is because for some time I had been considering some troubling questions:
Why do I want (to buy) so many things?
Why is everybody so busy? (And why aren’t we happier?)
Why are we humans stuffing up the planet so completely and relentlessly?
Why is there so much poverty and misery in the world?
It became clear that these questions were inextricably linked. Then came two other questions of a personal nature:
Should I feel guilty?
What should I do?
Finally, I had been troubled by imaginary questions from my unborn grandchild (I am a husband and parent in my thirties):
Grandad, what did you do to attempt to prevent the [humanitarian and ecological] disaster we have inherited?
So when I read the 22.214.171.124 principles, I understood immediately that here was an attempt to define a way to start 'doing something about it', an alternative to an isolated and affluent 'work, buy, try not to think about the consequences' life.
If a major political party had campaigned on a platform of greatly increasing my taxes to do more good works and preserve the natural environment, I would have voted for them. None did. So I have imposed a tax on myself and I get to decide exactly how this taxation (both money and time) is used in my FairShare Portfolio.
I am not pretending that I have reached each of the 126.96.36.199 targets to perfection every year, but I have made significant progress. Being a member of FSI is a commitment to myself that these are good principles and that I will keep trying to make them a part of my daily life.
'Only dead fish float with the current. Live fish swim against it.'
Dorothy SCOTT OAM, South Australia (posted July 2005)
Getting around to writing this has been like pulling my own teeth. It really hurts! In addition to the Sermon on the Mount telling us not to proclaim our good works, the Australian egalitarian ethos is hostile to anything that is suggestive of philanthropy or “dogoodism”. Hence I, and other members of FairShare I suspect, wish to keep quiet about all of this sort of stuff. The problem is our individual and collective silence deprives us of a wonderful opportunity to share with one another those things which go to the core of our being.
For me, FairShare offers a non-authoritarian and very flexible structure for living in a western society in the early twenty first century. FairShare connects me with kindred spirits on a similar journey. Even though I have little contact with most FairShare members, I know they are out there, just as I may never visit some wilderness areas but the very knowledge that such places exist, is deeply nurturing.
Sometimes it is a struggle to live up to the 188.8.131.52 principles, and at other times I find it a joy and just so liberating to be released from the pervasive materialism of our times. I have also found FairShare intellectually stimulating and spiritually enriching. It has led me to reflect on myself, the nature of the human condition, wealth, nature, friendship and justice.
FairShare offers me a source of hope at a time when the spirit of the age is one of fear and despair. FairShare helps me put my life into perspective, reminding me that each of our lives is like a leaf on the tree of society, a precious moment in the history of our species. As a leaf transforms light into energy for the tree, so the roots of the tree nourish each leaf. When it is time for the leaf to fall, it gives itself back to the earth and sustains the tree. FairShare is about being an ethical link in an inter-generational chain.
Hayley STEVENSON, South Australia (posted May 2005)
I joined FairShare International in 2003, at the age of 21. By this time I had become acutely aware of just how fortunate I am as a young person growing up in Australia. I had become aware that by virtue of having access to clean running water, adequate health care, and sufficient money to pay for life’s essentials (let alone many non-essentials), that I was among a minority in the world. This awareness caused me some anguish as I recognised that through my relative silence and inaction I was actually perpetuating global inequality and injustice, and supporting our society’s greed – both material and ecological.
I believe that knowledge carries an important degree of responsibility; in this case I understood that knowledge of my status as a privileged individual in such an unequal and unjust world placed a responsibility on me to do something about it, but what? I found the 184.108.40.206 principles provided a really useful framework for beginning to fulfil such personal responsibility. Building up my FairShare Portfolio and sharing the FSI principles with people around me gives me personal satisfaction and determination – determination to lighten my ecological footprint, increase the volume of my democratic voice and to continue to redistribute my wealth and time. FairShare International offers a formula for creating an equitable lifestyle, it may not be the only formula, but it is certainly a very powerful one.
I hope that many more people will discover the 220.127.116.11 principles and join us in our endeavours to make the world a more just and equal place.
Heather McLAUGHLIN, Victoria (rewritten November 2006)
I am a music teacher (in primary schools and in the community) and recently lived in Japan for 5 years. All my working life I have been very aware of how fortunate we are to live in a time and place where we have enough to eat, health care, comfortable housing, and general physical safety. Many are not so lucky. For 30 years I have sponsored children in various parts of the world. Currently I help three families, through PLAN International and Save the Children, while being very grateful for my own two children.
My sense is that there are millions of us who long for more equality and justice in the world, who are aware of the 1 in 6 human beings who live in dire poverty, and who are all too aware of the environmental destruction humanity is wreaking on the earth. FairShare International is a tangible way to keep track of our personal actions to make a positive difference, in four major areas. The ‘Make Poverty History’ and Millenium Development Goals are campaigns I strongly support through micro-philanthropy and FairShare activism.
It does seem that we are at a pivotal point in history where we can still make positive change if enough of us make efforts.
For some years I have run activities under the idea ‘Music for a Better World’, fundraising for aid projects through busking with children and other activities. I am keen to meet, perhaps regularly, with others in Melbourne who are trying the FSI philosophy. (Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with Heather in the subject line.)
Previous version: May 2005
Terry TEOH, South Australia (posted April 2005)
As individuals, I believe we possess essentially three choices: a political vote, a consumer vote and an investment vote. With these choices we have the capacity to shape the kind of society we live in. According to the UN Index of Human Development, Australia is in 2005 the third most advanced society in the world. Perhaps with that privilege comes a moral responsibility to exercise those precious choices consciously, because many people do not have these choices that we take for granted. Yet few of us realise the significance or how to put these choices into practice.
Through our political vote we can choose between maintaining the current paradigm of economic growth, unbridled resource consumption and foreign policies that aggressively protect Australia’s interests at the expense of developing countries, or we can choose leaders who will work within a framework of environmental sustainability and social justice. With our consumer vote, we affect both our quantity of consumption and the labour conditions under which our goods are produced. Our investment vote determines how we direct our financial resources, whether it be donating to charities or investing in the stock market. As shareholders and investors, ultimately we are responsible for how corporations create shareholder value. When we buy and sell shares in a corporation that has caused environmental harm in the process of generating our profits, in effect we engage in ‘hit and run’ environmental vandalism. To label corporations as ‘big and bad’ denies our complicity.
To me, the great thing about FairShare International is that it provides an elegant framework through which we can be individually empowered to work for a better world. It is not uncommon to feel a sense of futility because global problems appear too large to comprehend or address. Taking control of the issue through personal action is vital, and I think there is no better distillation for a personal plan of action than FairShare 18.104.22.168.
By targeting to spend 5% of my free time in civic participation and advocacy, as well as considering issues beyond self interest at the next Federal or State election, I am exercising my political vote. By reducing my consumption and biological resource footprint by 10% and considering the country of origin of the products that I buy, I am casting my consumer vote. Under 22.214.171.124, my investment vote is cast by endeavouring to donate 5% of my income to charities (currently 1% and rising) and weighing the ethical dimension of share purchases. FairShare is truly a breath of fresh air that gives each and every one of us the opportunity to walk the talk and work together for a socially and environmentally just world.
I am the Development Manager in South Australia for one of Australia’s leading renewable energy companies.
Postscript (added in October 2010)
I have been with FSI since 2004. FSI has been a wonderful guiding light for me and my partner April to live more ethically. We have committed to give away our wealth to good causes when we pass on. Taking this decision leads us to realise that we need to give it away as well while we still walk the planet. This has opened up new vistas of micro-philanthropy for us. Recently we also joined Flexicar, an easy to use car share scheme. We will shortly sell our car, meaning that we will still use a car from time to time, but we will no longer own one. FSI’s 126.96.36.199 creed is so simple and elegant. I will shortly become a Life Member. Giving never felt so good.
Pam SIMMONS, South Australia (posted April 2005)
Have you ever
- had to make a choice between the overseas holiday or the house renovations?
- spent more than twenty minutes talking with friends about investment options?
- spent more than $100 on impulse?
- worried more about a Reserve Bank decision on interest rates than a World Bank decision on big dams?
I can answer yes to all of these. That puts me in the top 10 per cent of the world's most privileged by wealth, with choices enough to be bothersome. FSI gives me more choices - but these are more rewarding.
I am the Guardian for Children and Young People in South Australia.
James ARVANITAKIS, New South Wales (posted January 2005)
I am a part-time academic at the University of Technology, Sydney, and a PhD candidate at the University of NSW. I am also a member of the AID/WATCH committee of management, an independent community based campaign organisation that monitors the development dollar, and a research adviser with Oxfam’s International Youth Parliament.
In September 2004, I launched The Commons Institute to promote the concept of ‘communal ownership’ amidst the onslaught of private property rights. I also convene ‘2024’, a group seeking to encourage compassionate and progressive change in Australia, and co-convene the Research Initiative on International Activism.
The 2024 project aims to envisage Australia in 20 years time – imagining a community that we are all proud of and which has overcome key social challenges including indigenous health; the illegal and immoral imprisonment of refugees (particularly children); and environmental sustainability.
My career began in the banking and finance industry. After graduating from university I worked forecasting the direction of interest rates and other key economic data and was also involved in contractual negotiations between key financial bodies.
While travelling in Bolivia, I had an epiphany, realising that many of the pro-neoliberal market mechanisms I believed in were the source of a great deal of poverty and social dislocation. Following my return to Australia, I became involved in the Australian indigenous reconciliation movement and environmental activism, and returned to post-graduate study. At the same time I worked as a project manager in the Solomon Islands, Bougainville and Tonga advising on micro-finance projects.
In 1999, I worked as a volunteer campaigner at AID/WATCH where I became interested in the international campaign to reform export credit agencies. From 2000 to 2002 I was the Campaign Director of AID/WATCH.
I have spoken at a number of national and international events including the People’s Conference at the University of Hawaii, which ran in parallel with the Asian Development Bank’s AGM in 2001, and the Italian Effect at the University of Sydney, September 2004. I have published a number of articles and recently edited the Oxfam International Youth Parliament report, Highly Affected, Rarely Considered: the impacts of globalisation on young people. I am also a media regular commentator on social justice issues and globalisation.
I became a member of FSI because it reflects the fact that all change must begin within - and at home. This does not mean that there are not systemic and institutional changes that are required, but there are just as important personal value changes required. I think FSI’s 188.8.131.52 is a great plan for achieving an ethical lifestyle that will help close the gap between rich and poor now, and will eventually affect the culture we live in for the better.
Jasmine PAYGET, New South Wales (posted February 2004)
'Reveal the concealed' is a little motto in my work this year; it could be dangerous in some workplaces but for me it is about revealing what work has been done in water catchment areas to help the creeks behave as naturally as possible. That is, to help creeks look as if they had not been touched. Revealing what has been done helps people to understand the values and work of conservationists in making the creeks healthy. Revealing the unspoken caring may inspire others to care more actively.
Why am I going on about this for FairShare? Revealing my values in a consumerist society opens me to the risk that I will be placed 'on the outer'. It becomes easier when I can talk about the 184.108.40.206 principles. I then have great conversations because it allows the other person to say what they think and what they do with respect to those principles. I get the sense that people are longing to share something more and do want to talk about it. Thanks for being here FairShare! It makes sense; it is practical wisdom.
Pete L. MALAVISI, Western Australia (posted February 2004)
I have been working as a midwife for over 13 years now. The word midwife means being with woman. I believe that the midwife is the best professional to care for women and their families across the continuum of pregnancy labour birth and postnatal periods. As a midwife I believe in woman’s ability to birth without intervention, I believe that all woman should have choice and that maternity services here in Australia require a major overhaul. I believe in evidence based practice and look to the current Lead Maternity Carer service currently available in New Zealand as the Gold Standard. I strongly support the National Maternity Action Plan here in Australia.
I have managed to attend over 500 births over the years, in various settings across Australia, metropolitan, rural and remote as well as having worked in the Marshall Islands a developing country. I believe that birth should be as positive an experience as possible for both the child as well as the family and that from this first step a positive start to life can be made. All women should have universal access to a midwife in the public health system. Midwives are the best option to improve both infant and maternal mortality rates in the developing world. When presentations are no longer normal then the system needs to accommodate a high level of referral and partnership between other health professionals as needed.
Midwives base their work on developing true partnerships not only with the woman but her family as well. Here in the South West of Western Australia, I work both in the community and at the local hospital. Because of professional indemnity no longer being available to midwives then many have discontinued their community work, dropping the homebirth rate to approximately 0.3 percent. Holland continues to have a homebirth rate of around 30 percent and New Zealand’s is fast approaching 20 percent and rising. I believe home births in this country will for various reasons be low but the most important point however is that all women should at least have the CHOICE!
Jan LARSSON, South Australia (posted November 2003)
I am in my 78th year on this earth and feel strongly committed to FairShare International because of the incentive it gives me to promote better living and better thoughts with value for ongoing generations.
Yes, I’ve joined the crowd
for better life and harmony.
So everyone call out loud
for 220.127.116.11 unity!
Stephanie LONG, Queensland (posted October 2003)
I have had the most delightful 15 minutes reading the bios of other FairSharers and want now to contribute my piece as a new FairShare person.
I am attracted to FairShare principles as it is a great framework for engaging in the personal and the political, the local and the global. I have been frustrated in the past about the separation of political and personal within activism and advocacy circles. We are responsible for ourselves as people and ourselves as citizens – most forms of activism focus on either the personal or the political or public. I really like the blending of both in FairShare’s 18.104.22.168.
I work for Friends of the Earth as a climate justice campaigner and FoE has provided for me a ‘house’, global insight and a activist network that has challenged me, inspired me, and made me deeply aware of the inequity of life in this world, where so many people live with less and a few of us live with so much we don’t even realise where the goods we consume come from.
I am looking forward to ‘trying on’ 22.214.171.124 as I think that really it will push me even further to contribute, walk a bit more lightly and, most importantly, to speak out. Especially to give away 5% of my income!
Nicole SCHILLING, Queensland (posted October 2003)
FSI ideals are admirable, and needed, if we’re going to have a better, fairer world – or even have a world at all.
Working at an individual level, we can know within ourselves that we are doing something to make a difference, however small, and that thereby we are becoming part of the solution instead of the problem. Eventually, I’m sure governments will take notice too.
FSI news items have an inspirational list of ideas, events, campaigns and organisations to get involved with.
Sonia RAUPACH, South Australia (posted September 2003)
I was born and brought up in South Africa and emigrated to Australia after the Sharpville massacre. In Australia I taught Speech and Drama at tertiary level for many years. Living with apartheid gave me a keen awareness of oppression and the disparity between the haves and the have-nots. The study of drama and poetry sharpened my ability to empathise with others. As a consequence, for most of my life, I have been obsessed with defending human rights. I have worked for Amnesty International for thirty years.
But now I am painfully aware that much more fundamental issues underlie the abuse of human rights. Our society is profligate with natural resources and in many ways is becoming much more uncaring and unjust.
But how do we bring about change? The small steps like not buying plastic bags, using less water and electricity, catching the bus rather than taking the car and walking across bridges to support reconciliation with Aboriginal people seem quite inadequate.
Supporting FairShare International seems to me the way to go. 126.96.36.199. gives us a formula that helps us focus our efforts to bring about change. It also gives us the satisfaction of knowing that we are working with others who share our concerns.
I know I may not always achieve the 188.8.131.52 ideal, but at least I can try to change the way I live so that I can be a responsible citizen of the world.
Pat-ANN, South Australia (posted September 2003)
Yes, that really is my name, cool eh? I was born in London just after the war and brought up by Irish nuns who taught me what it was to be loved and loving. They breathed the gifts of love beauty and compassion into my soul. Somehow I didn’t ever get the bit about Jesus or the church but the most important knowing stayed with me. I have been involved with justice making issues most of my life, traveled through many ‘ism’s? and learned much on the journey.
I think we need to share and nourish ourselves with thoughts, actions and dreams of the possible future blessed with peace, beauty and justice. I believe if I start to act as if these times were already here to be lived, then I may in a small way add to the creation of that reality.
I was so delighted to find FairShare it seemed once again I was standing in the right place at the right time. I am committed to walking lightly on the planet, building community right where I live with my neighbours and sharing resources with others beyond my immediate family.
I live in an ex Housing Trust timber framed house, that I love and it has a huge garden that is always gloriously out of control. I have in my life 3 beautiful children who are grown, a granddaughter, and meaningful challenging work. That is more than enough and plenty to share with others.
I believe the opportunity to contribute and share has been removed forcibly from some and been tainted politically for others. However FairShare suggests a way back to contributing and sharing within our own lives and I am so glad to have found it. Consider for yourselves if this way could bring you back to a shared life?
Ann BRITTON, New South Wales (posted September 2003)
My life has been one of constant change and consequent exposure to different people and cultures, leading me to some interesting opinions about life and how we live it. I spent some of my childhood in Papua & New Guinea, before independence.
My spiritual interests developed from a Catholic upbringing and are currently nurtured within the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). I work in a community service organisation, dealing with people suffering extreme financial circumstances and all their related stresses. When I finish my part-time studies toward a degree in science (geology and fluvial geomorphology), I hope to complete a diploma of education so I can volunteer as an overseas aid worker for a few years.
And I have a social conscience which I often (usually?) fail to act on...So all up FairShare International is a great way for me to meld all my interests and concerns (apart from the artistic ones - yet!), providing me with an opportunity and framework to follow through on more of my good intentions.
Fij MILLER, South Australia (posted August 2003)
Sometimes it’s easier just to be overwhelmed and feel that it’s just too hard to try and make a difference, or alternatively, to think that governments should be doing it all for us. When I first heard about FairShare International I couldn’t believe it was so simple. For a while I kept looking for the hidden tricks, and wondered what ‘they’ were not telling me.
The fabulous thing about FairShare International is just that – it’s simple and there are no tricks. FairShare International is a brilliant concept and a great lifestyle choice that has flow-on benefits for everyone on the planet. The most wonderful thing is that there is no external auditor to monitor your behaviour. It is solely a matter between you and your conscience.
I can choose how much or how little, as well as to whom and for how long. I’m not locked in to a tithe with any specific organisation – I just set my goals and work towards them. I meet people who have new and innovative ideas about personal wealth distribution and great practical ideas for reducing household energy consumption.
I respect the ideals of FairShare International. I try really hard to abide by my commitment to the principles and I gain enormous personal satisfaction from what I contribute to building a better place for us all to live. And each tiny contribution does help. Read more about us, and I encourage you to seriously consider joining us.
Anne HAMILTON, South Australia (posted August 2003)
I have had a passion for the environment and for social justice issues for a long time. As an English Second Language teacher, I had the opportunity to work in Cambodia for 18 months as well as in a refugee camp in Thailand. The people with whom I worked inspired me with their strength of spirit and sense of community.
Back in Adelaide, I have continued to work in various ways to support environmental and social issues and I believe that being involved in practical projects is much more satisfying than 'going shopping'. The concept of FSI and 184.108.40.206 appeals to me because it reminds me to keep a balance between the practical, the political and the connection with community. Hopefully, as the concept spreads, the rich world will gain more and more socially responsible citizens who choose to live in ways that can promote a sustainable and harmonious lifestyle for all of us on this planet.
Steven GATTI, South Australia (posted August 2003)
Sixteen years ago I entered the working world as a geologist, looking for gold where ever it occurred and digging it up, only to have it buried gain in vaults beneath cities. Sixteen years later, and having worked in the areas of engineering and hydrogeology, I now work in the business of water and catchment management. These days my work mostly involves repairing and protecting watercourses, clawing back water for environmental flows and promoting sustainable water use.
In spite of the apparent 180 degree career change I can still be as much connected to the activities of mining companies through resource consumption as if I still worked directly for one. To try and put real distance between myself and those activities I've tried to minimise energy and resource consumption where ever possible. I'm sure that I only make a very small difference, but I'm just as sure that this is a vital component of making a big difference.
In 1998 I purchased 25 acres of cleared land in Birdwood and began investing in biomass through revegetation of the land with indigenous native plants. The going is slow, often frustrating and demoralising, but in the end incredibly rewarding and likely to be the best investment I'll ever make.
I don't know if I've yet achieved the 220.127.116.11 benchmark, but I do know that it's a target worth striving for and one that can influence profound local and global change.
Sue STEVENS, South Australia
Building community - this is the aim that attracts and excites me. So much of what we do these days is directed at personal gain and satisfaction, but in a way that does not impinge on our precious "personal space". Even the very worthwhile actions of redistributing wealth, reducing use of water, energy and minerals, and writing letters etc to politicians or influential people, can be done at home or without coming face to face with those we are trying to assist. We still get the "warm and fuzzy" feeling from doing something for others, but I can assure you, it is nothing compared to having a person to person experience with those in our community who are in need - the aged, the disabled, the unemployed, the refugees......
So if only for selfish reasons, to increase your feeling of self-worth and to find the true meaning of life (in my opinion), break through that protective "personal space" and volunteer your whole self to someone, some family or some project in your community!
Vilia BONE, South Australia
Since discovering FairShare International, one of the most important things that I have done is that I have become far more conscious of what I am doing and how I do things. I have always sponsored a child via an overseas aid scheme, recycled, and given money to charities (albeit it spasmodically and often without much thought), but now I have done the following:
I have sent 3 ‘socially conscious’ letters where as before I would have ignored social consciousness issues that I believed in. Two letters that I sent were to thank a particular council for introducing a practice that I am enthusiastic about.
I have ‘adopted’ a charitable organisation that provides ‘life-skills’ programs for women, especially those that have experienced abuse or homelessness, as well as ‘emergency’ assistance to many. I donate a set amount of money to the organisation each fortnight. The organisation informed me that they need clothing for men, so I decided that every time I go shopping I would buy a piece of underwear at a cost of $5 to $10, which is a small percentage of my shopping bill. I do plan on donating my time there in the future..
As a member of ‘FlyBuys’ I have enough points to receive a $100 gift voucher. I will donate $40 to my favourite helping organisation and $60 to an individual I know.
I have introduced FairShare International to my workplace. Details of how this was done will be in the July 2002 e-Bulletin.
Christopher O'CONNOR, South Australia
I remember a moment in my life when it was all simple and perfect. It was 5:30 AM in the hot tropical Philippine climate. I was squatting over a hole in the ground, with a bucket of water that I had collected at the well - I was washing myself, my clothes and going to the toilet all at once. This was living, and I wanted for nothing more. Since then I have severely complicated my life with various bits and pieces.
FairShare is great for me because it is reasonable, achievable and still incredibly challenging. It gives me an opportunity to think back to that early morning revelation and also to work with my life as it is now.
I am also involved in a group of people that have purchased a block of degraded land in the Pyrennes (Western Victoria) with the aim of sharing it with the indigenous custodians and local community, revegetating it, and bringing it back to life.
Fiona CLYNE and Roger WOOCK, Victoria (December 2002)
We, Fiona and Roger, are two people who are trying to make changes in our day-to-day life which demonstrate our commitment to making the world a better place. We believe that redistribution of wealth and the health of the environment require agency and people working together. We saw the FairShare ad in the October 02 issue of the New Internationalist and after receiving further information decided to join. It seems to us that FairShare International offers grassroots direction and the 18.104.22.168 mantra is easy to understand, to work towards (and beyond) and to use to enthuse others to debate the issues and join the movement.
The hardest target for us is the 10 per cent reduction in energy use but we’re working on it. We’ve made a start in getting someone to come and give us an estimate for installing solar panels. We will still have the problem of two properties (beach and town). Peter Singer has influenced our thinking greatly. We are not young (Roger is nearly 70 and Fiona nearly 60) but we’re very determined.
Maree NUTT, New South Wales
I remember quite clearly, the night over ten years ago when I watched an educational video on the issue of hunger and poverty in the world. I was appalled by the horrific statistic that 40,000 children were dying each day around the world from hunger and hunger related diseases. This fact was illustrated with an image of 100 jumbo jets, each carrying 400 children, crashing to the ground each day, killing all 40,000. Would we tolerate such an event on a daily basis? Of course not! And yet we tolerate or accept the fact that each and every day 40,000 (thankfully it's a bit less than that now) children die from easily preventable causes like measles and diarrhoeal disease.
When I saw that video, I knew I had to do something. I had a responsibility to do something. I have chosen, mainly, to act through the 'democratic action' part of the fairshare principles, and write numerous letters to and meet with politicians on issues to do with poverty through volunteering in an organization called RESULTS. (Being a 'retired' physio and stay at home mother of 2 small boys allows me snatches of time throughout the day to do this).
What FSI has done is prompted me to not forget about the other areas of my 'responsibility'. Joining FSI has meant that our family's donations to charity have been planned much better and more appropriately this year (instead of the mad rush to get 'something' in before the end of the financial year to claim the tax deduction). Joining FSI has reminded me of the little things that can make a difference, like lights and computers off and of course the issue of toilet flushing. My next step is to finally do that composting course and get that much thought of worm farm going.
FSI improves on the motto 'think globally, act locally' with the principles of acting globally AND locally. I firmly believe that we can all make a difference in this world, if we choose to.
And a final word on responsibility: Apollo astronaut, Russell Schweiker once said: 'We're not passengers on Spaceship Earth, we're the crew. We're not just residents on this planet, we're its citizens. The difference in both cases is responsibility'.
Barbara TRUE, MD(USA), FRACP - South Australia
This is why I have joined Fair Share International.
After having spent most of two decades willingly consumed by professional training, I now find myself reading books like ‘Peaceful Parenting’. I recycle more all the time. I’ve tried to simplify my clothing to one load a week, although it’s usually two, one white, one dark. I am a Quaker, one of the peace churches.
Although I practice what is now called conventional medicine, I am privately concerned with the healing of body, mind, spirit and citizen - the whole person. I would do all of these things anyway, without joining an organization like Fair Share International. Indeed, I am loath to join anything at all – life is complicated enough!
But I have never written a political letter of protest, despite having the impulse countless times.
Although I act locally, by, for instance, walking a beach and picking up cigarette butts, I have never acted globally. I’ve attended one peace rally in my life, and it took the events of September 11th to do that. I have, in short, felt a sense of inadequacy about my efforts to do good. This is why I have joined FSI. Since doing so, I have finally thrown away my contact lenses and gone back to sensible glasses. I have reduced showering to every other day (don’t tell my mother). I have yet to write a political letter.
But I have joined FSI in the faith that I will, that I will be strengthened as a responsible world citizen.
Lyn LEANE, South Australia
I grew up in Victor Harbor, and moved to Adelaide to study at the University of Adelaide (Eng Lit) in 1974. After teaching English in state secondary schools, and then living for three years in the new town of Leigh Creek South, I spent nine years living in Nepal with my husband Mike, a mechanical engineer, and family, from 1988 - 1996. I mainly taught English and ESL in a variety of contexts, and went travelling with Mike into some of the more remote regions of Nepal as part of his work in hydro - electric power and sustainable energy. It was during this time that I became intensely aware of the demanding conditions under which most people in the Asian region live, and determined to build into my Australian lifestyle new choices that reflected this growing awareness. I chose to join FSI because it plays a part in enabling that.
Currently I work in the Uniting Church assisting in the development of good relationships between the Synod of South Australia and our "partner churches" in Thailand, the Philippines, Papua / Indonesia, and PNG. I also participate in the Blackwood Reconciliation Group, which operates from the former Colebrook site near our home, and in advocacy and practical support for asylum seekers and refugees.
For a long time the idea of over-consumption and endless growth as a way of life has severely discomfited me.
I started doing my little bit for the environment through Bush for Life. More recently I got behind the Australian Greens, as progressive politics seems a sensible approach to making changes to rectify the abuse of the planet as well as to change our present inequitable social set up.
I like these words of Martin Luther King: ‘In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.’ FSI is saying don’t be silent any more, and is motivating people to ‘do something’ (ie 22.214.171.124) about the unhappy situation we are in (and to thereby make a difference!).