The faces and fibre of our communities



Invisible threads are the strongest ties.  

                                         Fredrich Nietzsche

It shouldn’t but it still  surprises me when the universe delivers synchronistically interwoven gossamer threads that tie a thought or an idea to another with seamless perfection.

I recently wrote about the joys of being a tourist in your own country.  Last weekend I visited the Museum of Brisbane, the city I call home, to engage with a new and exciting exhibition called 100% Brisbane. The exhibition uniquely draws together the stories of 100 residents and examines what it is about their city that they love. It goes deeper than that, it shapes for the viewer through touch, sound, smell, film and text the heart of the city, the human community with its complexities of origin, sexuality, race, gender, age, defining life experiences and so on.  It delivers an impressive and captivating self-portrait of a city and its people; a provocative self portrait of a community. I felt both a tourist and a sense of belonging and connection.

Looking in on something I take for granted and have neglected to examine closely (in this way) gave me a sense of being a bystander or a visitor learning about this place. It was fascinating to take a helicopter view of my city and examine it differently. 100% Brisbane is provocative on so any levels.  Too many thoughts surfaced, eddied and flowed to share them all, though I’ve walked away with a sense of pride, with a deeper level of understanding and with questions too. Questions about myself and my place here. Questions that will tick over in my mind as I interact with this city and it’s people, looking for answers, insights and elaborations. These questions percolated as a result of a series of questions I answered while there.


A feature of the exhibition is an interactive survey that gathers information about visitors to the exhibition and provides statistics that inform you of your likeness and difference to those who have previously visited and to those 100 people, who each represent a 1% slice of Brisbane, on whom the exhibition is based.  As I submitted my results I got to see which of the 100 I was most like in each of three sections. I answered a range of questions from basic demographics to my attitudes and beliefs on key social issues and I discovered that I am not as unique as I’d imagined nor am I quite as conventional either.  In part one I was like only 1% of my fellow citizens and in sections 2 and 3 I was like  9% of my fellow Brisbaneites. That’s pretty interesting data to walk away with.  You can see why I might now have a few questions whirling away in my mind.

Have you ever considered the face of your city or  how similar you are to the community you live in? Can you see the elements that link you to those who live around you? Do you recognise those points of difference that make you unique?  This exhibition has made me realise that while we might think of ourselves as ‘just one face in a crowd’ we are each representatives of the place we live. We are each the face of our community; our individual voices, stories and perspectives interlace to create the fabric that swathes us and weaves the shape and spirit of where we live.




But why?


Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why.  Bernard Baruch

“But why?”

Kids ask this question sooooo often. I remember when my son was young he regularly questioned things. What things?  Well, just about everything, all of the time.  I can still hear his little voice asking “But why?” or “How come?” Once answered he’d ruminate for a while before prattling on with various explanations and theories of his own. At other times he’d go in search of the answer himself by consulting books, asking teachers and other family members. It was frustrating at times, the constant ‘but why’s’, yet fascinating too how interested he was in the world and the why of things.

I was reminded of this intrigue when I met with a health practitioner this week who, when I asked a ‘but why’ question, responded with “They never told us”. ‘They’ being the university lecturers. How odd, I thought.  Here was an adult, established in his career for many years, who has never been curious enough to investigate the reason, consider theories of his own but simply content to accept that it is so.

My very own ‘Judgemental Judy’ came out and sat on my shoulder but before I got too far in condemning someone else I wondered, do I still ask ‘but why, how come?’, do I still investigate and find answers to things that puzzle me? Do I still hypothesise, probe and query? I wondered if adults remained curious or if this was something lost in childhood. Had we really seen so many cats killed that we stopped being curious?

After some introspection, I am pleased to report I still have a healthy sense of curiosity, that I continue to seek answers, often to very mundane and trivial questions though also, to the bigger questions of life, work and the world.  What I didn’t identify were the words ‘but why?’ being asked ad nauseam and I guess that’s the adult in me not wanting to sound precocious and annoying, all of the time.

As if in response to my questioning, I was delighted to read a post by Sue from Travel Tales of Life that confirmed that adults can still be curious and have fun with the wonder of the world (she was investigating an unusual discovery on a beach on Vancouver Island).

Are you still curious? Do you still ask ‘but why’, ‘how come’? Do you still theorise, investigate, probe and delve deep into life’s mysteries?

Have fun with it!