Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

CTCV tags appear over Melbourne’s world-renowned graffiti

"CTCV" tags drawn over more skilled works

One of the things I love about Melbourne are the amazing graffiti pieces we get. Apparently, we’re known internationally for it, in certain circles. We have a thriving and skilled population of graffiti artists – even under draconian laws that, for example, make carrying a can of spraypaint illegal (giving the police a pre-packaged excuse to stop suspected vandals that merely “look the part”, and haven’t actually been seen doing anything traditionally illegal).

The ‘Authorities’ choose to interpret graffiti as an eyesore. This has led to ridiculous crackdowns in the past, and masses of public money blithely wasted by our state and local governments on “graffiti clean-ups”, such as during the Commonwealth Games.

In the not-so-distant past, a police graffiti/transit squad was rumoured to have engaged in “tagging” of graffiti pieces. Graffiti artists would report catching police “slashing” graffiti pieces (painting over the top of them); I found one tale on an internet forum from a guy who says he left a can of spraypaint behind while being chased by the police – and later found that his can had been used to “slash” a range of pieces.

Tags began appearing, slathered across much better pieces, reading “CTSA” – rumoured to stand for “Cops Trashing Shit Art” or “Cops That Slash Art”.

My view of graffiti is obviously more positive than the “legal” view. I think you need to put it in some kind of perspective. Consider this: We’re bombarded with advertising wherever we go. A billboard is a genuine eyesore. We put up with lists of sponsors and corporate logos on sporting, artistic, and museum events, because we want their money. But they look disgusting. Most of the time, advertisers are outright insulting us; if they’re not insulting our bodies, they’re insulting our intelligence.

Graffiti, on the other hand, entertains. It’s not something put up there to make money; in fact, graffiti artists lose money on it, and sometimes carry it out at great personal (and legal) risk. Sure, it’s about prestige and showing off, and the worst of it – the texta tagging – can almost sink to the level of a company logo… not quite, but almost ;). But it’s often genuinely impressive. If not for the skill involved, then for the “How the heck did they get up there??” factor. Sometimes, there’s even a political point to it – while companies use slick advertising to gloss over their use of overseas sweatshops and other crimes against humanity, graffiti will occasionally bring you comments like “Stop Logging Our Water Catchments!”, “No Jobs On A Dead Planet” (in massive letters on a giant smokestack), and the bitingly ironic slogan “Shut Up And Shop“. And at least it’s your fellow Melbournians trying to grab your attention, just because they think your attention is valuable – not because they want to hustle you.

In around March of this year, Melbourne commuters began noticing a new tag – “CTCV” – used to “slash” a range of pieces. Mostly along train lines, and always over much better pieces.

CTCV tags along Melbourne's train lines.

CTCV tags along Melbourne's train lines.

A friend of mine pointed out that “CTCV” isn’t too far from “CTSA”, and apparently he wasn’t the only one to draw this conclusion. Do an Australia-centred google search for the initials, and you’ll find lots of forum speculation along similar lines by those in graffiti culture.

Is it the work of “gronks” – less talented kids trying to annoy the older graff artists and make a mindless mark of their own? Or could the “C” at the start of “CTCV” stand for “Cops” – as it has been rumoured to in the past? “CTCV” – “Cops That Catch Vandals”? “Cops Trashing Crap Vandalism”?

We’ll probably never know, unless they’re caught in the act. And then, the only people catching them would be graffiti artists themselves – reliable enough eyewitnesses if you ask me, but I doubt the “authorities” would concur.

Melbourne Awards 2009

melbourneawards08logoThe City of Melbourne runs the Melbourne Awards every year to honour individuals, businesses, and community groups that contribute to making Melbourne awesome. Unfortunate for us, that doesn’t include blogs but it does honour people who really go above and beyond to promote our city. Judging is done by a panel but nominations are done by the public via their website.

Looking at some of the past winners, they all seem to contribute to groups that help the underprivileged or the environment.  Some  interesting mentions from last year are Flexicar (the community car share program), The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival,  and the Chill On Ice Bar, a bar that I’m amazed it is still in business.

The nomination process seems like a daunting process involving up to 5 pages for your submission,  a 150-word overview of the project,DVDs, supporting materials, and industry testimonials among the many things recommended but is probably worthy of a good cause. Nominations close Friday May 15.

City of Melbourne: Melbourne Awards

Bushfire thoughts

As the previous posts have extensively covered, large areas of Victoria are still burning. People have died, undoubtedly more than have been found so far. Communities (the physical parts of them, at least) are being destroyed. At the moment, the air in Melbourne is full of ash, because of an anticyclonic system sweeping weather down from the north. The sun has this eerie yellow-orange light, that most of us here remember from the last huge bushfires (not that long ago at all).

Some news sources have breathlessly listed the donations made by “Corporate Australia”, $14 million combined from the richest corporations by my latest count; fairly piddling, token amounts, considering the proportion of the countrys wealth controlled by some of these contributors (i suggested they donate their entire tax savings since Howard came to office… it seems fair). As usual for this sort of thing, “Non-Corporate” Australia has been far more impressive, reaching the $50 million mark – a level that is actually going to make some kind of a dent in the damage that has been done, though more is still needed.

You can donate at the Australian Red Cross website.

I have a friend who has been in view of the fires; in Warrandyte, on the edge of the suburbs. He’s described some pretty terrifying sights, like being able to watch individual gum trees explode (eucalyptus oils + heat) through his binoculars. They’re not very far away at all.

Have been tracking down information on Flowerdale, the town where i grew up (we moved when i was eight). It’s apparently been pretty badly hit, do a Google search for the town right now and you’ll find more of those nightmarish pictures of burnt out cars sitting in the middle of the road.

After we moved, the people who bought our old house let a whole bunch of trees grow up close to the house itself. I remember my parents commenting on that. It’s a fairly dangerous thing to do. I only spent Prep and Grade 1 there, but in school we had it drummed into us that you don’t let leaf litter get near the house, among other things.

I wonder how they are. I hope they’re okay. I might drive up in winter, when i won’t be getting in the way of emergency crews (or fires), and see if the house is still there.

Target 155- Only 8 Years of Water Left

Are you under 155?

Are you under 155?

I was curious to see what our water levels were the other day. According to Melbourne Water, our dams are at about 32%, roughly 4% lower than it was last year. Melbourne refuses to even consider recycling it’s water and the desalination plant in Wonthaggi won’t be operational for another few years. With an ever increasing population, and with my simple math, we only have 8 years of water before we run out. I can only imagine what the next few years will mean for us, shower with buckets on odd days, brushing teeth with bottled water?

So what are other countries doing? Well, in Mexico, apparently subtlety is not on the minds of the government. With their levels at 63%, they have decided to switch off their water for 3 days out of the week for the next few months. 63% and we are at 32%.

Well, we have target 155 which prominently always gets my attention due to a nude woman in a shower. I don’t particularly do anything to save water although I don’t leave water running. I have a washing machine, take 2 showers a day longer than 4 minutes, and water the pot plants outside. According to my assesment I received today, I am under 155 (148) which is quite suprising. For someone doing nothing, I’m under the target which makes me think that perhaps we should lower the target. As the ad says, are you under 155?

Bushfire Disaster, 84 and climbing

It is one thing suffering through a really hot day but another when a bushfire devastate an entire region of Victoria. At the latest report, there has been 84 accounted deaths but there could still be more as police and fire crew continue their work in the region.

The bushfire has burnt the entire township of Marysville, Kingslake and surrounding areas, destroying more than 312,000 hectares.

Many residents were trapped in the region because the bushfire surrounded the roads in and out of the area. Some residents perished while trying the escape the fire in their vehicles. Victims included Brian Naylor, a veteran news reader, and his wife Moiree.

People concerned about friends and relatives known to be in the affected region, should call 1800 727 077.

Victorian Bushfire Relief Fund is now accepting donations through either the NAB or Red Cross.

News Links
The Age “Death toll …”

The Herald Sun “Witness gallery

Herald Sun “Bushfire figures

ABC’s “Bushfire Emergency

Getting through another hot day…

I though it might be timely to post about how people can keep cool on hot days.

In particular, how to keep cool without air conditioning.

Victoria’s power supplies are often stretched on scorcher days, resulting in power outages as resources find their limits or equipment is working harder than it was designed for. We need to be good citizens towards those who live in areas where air conditioning is their last resort for health – whether it be the sick, the elderly, or those living and working in hot buildings or environments. There is potential for the power you use to cause a power outage for someone who needs an electricity supply to survive.

So, how can it be done? (more…)

Keep cars out of Swanston Street rally Tuesday 5pm @ Townhall

Walk Against Warming and Prahran Skate Comp this Saturday

Saturday, 15 November
1 pm
Federation Square
More information

One of the biggest skate competitions, as part of the Viva 2008 with world music, international food stalls and other entertainment.

Saturday 15 November 2008
11am – 6pm
Prahran Skate Park
Princes Gardens, Prahran
More information

Another tool for minimising water waste

The majority of houses waste a great deal of water each day when people run taps waiting for them to run hot – for example in the kitchen, bathroom sink and shower. Some claim up to 10 percent or more of household water is wasted while you wait for the shower or taps to run hot.

If we look at the average water use in a Melbourne household, with an average of 200 litres per day per person during water restrictions, and an average Melbourne household having two to three people…. the water wasted waiting for taps to run hot could be 40 or 60 litres a day.

A three person Melbourne household wasting 60 litres per day this way is 22,000 litres per year.
Water usage + sewage disposal = $1.0248 / kl + $1.3392 / kl = $2.364 / kl * 22 kL = $52 per year down the drain. Also, the price of water is set to double over the next few years.

If 60 m² of your yard was gardens for growing fruit and vegetables, it would only require about 33,000 litres per year. This isn’t even taking into account grey water capture (bathroom and washing machine water) which could be 89,000 litres p.a. and/or rainwater harvesting off your roof.

Another important fact point is the greenhouse gas emissions associated with water use in Melbourne. The delivery of potable water in Melbourne means the equivalent of 0.173 tonnes of CO2 is emitted per mega litre (1 million litres). Wastewater in Melbourne is associated with the equivalent of 0.875 tonnes of CO2 emitted per megalitre.

Water wasted by running taps until they run hot is both potable and now wastewater, so the combined CO2 emissions associated with it is about 1 kg CO2 emitted per 1000 litres – all for water that was not used – the emissions were for nothing. If we look at a Melbourne household with three people, wasting 22,000 litres per year, we find that 22 kg of carbon dioxide (or if you prefer, 440 black balloons) is emitted per household each year just running taps to hot.
(more…)

Get into Art, and Vegan food, this Sunday

This Sunday (26 October) there are two big events happening: the Get into Art! public art galleries open day, and the World Vegan Day Festival

Get into Art! is an annual open day of public art galleries across Victoria. This year, 41 galleries will be
participating with free activities and events on Sunday from 11am-4pm.

Some examples I’ve picked out of the Get into Art! program are:

Get Into Architecture at City Museum at Old Treasury – tours, talks and exhibits focusing on the architecture of Melbourne. Melbourne’s Old Treasury Building was designed by nineteen-year-old architect JJ Clark, and is widely regarded as the finest nineteenth century building in Australia.

  • 11am Tour of Old Treasury Building
  • 12noon Talk about the architect JJ Clark
  • 1pm Tour of Old Treasury Building
  • 2pm Curator talk – The Impermanent City
  • 3pm Tour of Old Treasury Building

State Library of Victoria free tour

  • 1-2pm and 3-4pm Free Library tour, including exhibition galleries and the famous dome.

Comic book jam at The Town Hall Gallery, Hawthorn and the annual Yeah Write! Zine fair at Hawthorn Town Hall including zine making workshops for both adults and children.

For the full list of program highlights, see this pdf.

Another event on Sunday is the World Vegan Day Festival, described as…

a positive celebration of being vegan: a lifestyle which includes a plant-based diet and endorses compassionate choices and sustainable consumption. It is a day for vegans, those interested in the vegan way of life and all their friends to come together and learn how to live longer, kinder and with a smaller carbon footprint.

If you’re keen to learn more about veganism, this is a great place to do just that. Running from 10am to 5pm, this is a free event. It will be held at Rosina Function Space, The Abbotsford Convent (1 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford). There are some great talks being held on the day.

For more information on these events:

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