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Succession cycles
Posted by Tony on 16th June 2015 at 11:37:04
Since volunteering to be President of the Moonee Ponds Creek Co-ordination Committee and delaying its demise, I've enhanced my awareness of a range of environmental systems, including LandCare. But it took a couple of deaths in close succession to realise how close I might have been had there not always been competing priorities. Firstly Joan Kirner who my mother's generation had known as a school girl, the two Joans reconnecting through the Living Museum of the West and just including me at the launch of the Pioneer Women's Shelter. Secondly Phillip Toyne, the just younger brother of my closest school mate when I was 12, Peter. While my grandmother kept in touch with their mother Clare after they went on to Uni High and shifted across town, I would only meet Phillip again on 12 June 2008 after he had presented at a Canberra conference, where I was secondarily promoting Too Many Tears. He mentioned Peter had been in Canberra the day before. To me, Peter had been more visible over the years through his work taking computing into remote Tanami Desert communities and subsequent NT political career, but Andrew Campbell's obituary for Phillip makes it clear younger brother is at least as deserving of a Wikipedia page. It just needs somebody a lot closer than me, as does my uncle Jimmy.

Victorian LandCare was started by an environmentalist-farmer partnership between Joan Kirner and Heather Mitchell. It was taken national by a parallel partnership between Phillip and Rick Farley. Does it say more about skewed taxation regimes or persistent misogyny that the latter gained an order of magnitude more funding? Regardless, the model clearly works and some of the most visible damage to the countryside of my childhood is at least being addressed.

Childhood memories can be very selective. Peter along with my other first form favourites Billy Cameron and Rohan Shorland came with my grandfather and me to Rye Back Beach where we launched my home/workshop-made rocket late in 1958. Peter alone was with us on a pier at Port Melbourne when a late morning cool change blew in after a run of three 40 days and on a camping trip where we roughed it beside Snobs Creek near the trout hatchery. Years later an early Cricket Club secretary's family had taken over 31 First Avenue and I was reminded of the Toyne connection by the number of plants derived from 67 Napier Crescent that were prominent in the garden. The latter address is also where schoolgirl Joan sometimes hung out infatuated with Jimmy, by then presumably apprenticed to our backyard plumbing business.

I write elsewhere that life is and ought be about exploring possibilities, with all the consequences that flow from that for our understanding of the world and how we should act. For quite a while the persistent cycles that define the bottom of attractor basins in state space have been an area of emphasis which is most relevant at the microscale, but as things get bigger with more disturbing connections, I have lately become more focused on succession processes within the landscape. Like eroded gullies needing LandCare, our individual lives each define their own unique course as we struggle against the wish of totalising states and apprehensive individuals to reduce us all to common denominators. Such thoughts have more recently been inspired by Australian Blackwood phyllodes and juvenile leaves.

While mentioning recent deaths, I should also note the passing of Ron Middleton who was president of Strathmore Football Club 1974-1980 overseeing the period in which the club matured and took on characteristics which still stand it in good stead. Amongst all the little struggles of building strong social foundations, including our then fledgling Cricket Club, I most fondly remember Ron as a wonderful raconteur, with a story for any and everything.

All leave legacies for those who come after to build upon. While too many are distracted by fear-mongering states into trying to hide their own traces, the memories which define you too easily die with you. Better to lay out what you can while you can.

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