Monday, March 14, 2011

Blogging - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Oxford Dictionary Online defines a Blog as "a personal website or web page on which an individual records opinions, links to other sites, etc. on a regular basis."

Whilst I am a relative newcomer to blogging, these website/pages have been around for quite a while. I thought I'd share with you some of my thoughts concerning some good, bad and pretty awful blogs that I have come across.

Lets start with the crap.

Andrew Bolt - Herald Sun
There are many reasons why I dislike this blog.

  • I do not share the political views of Mr Bolt. From his attitude on Climate Change, the Federal Government, the stolen generation and nuclear power to his offensive commentary on asylum seekers, (particularly with regards to muslim immigration) there is not a lot that I agree with him on.

  • The blog topics appear to be created not to promote reasoned discussion but to encourage and promote the biases that he has. Take as example 4 of his blog topics posted in the last couple of days:
What's your next lying excuse Wayne?
Sack this disgrace now.
The real disaster, not the media one.
Exit Laughing

  • I believe the moderation of the blog is very poor. Moderation occurs when responses by the public to a blog are vetted by someone before being posted to the blog. The moderator acting for Mr Bolt seems keen to stifle critcal assessment of the arguments put forward by Bolt, but doesn't appear to be too concerned about posting blog responses that are inflammatory, defamatory, obscene or just plain incorrect.
It is unfortunate that there are a number of "shock jocks" that have been provided with blogging space by papers under the News Corporation banners, including the aforementioned Andrew Bolt, Miranda Devine, and Piers Akerman. (Though not all their bloggers are fruit cakes. Details below.)

The Good.

The blogs discussed above are all professional blogs, in that people are paid to create them.  Some of the best blogs are those created by non-professionals, as an outlet for their interests, views etc. One of the best blogs that I have read comes from a person called Greg Jericho, with his blog Grog's Gamut. You may have heard about this website, as it became quite public last year when Greg's identity (previously kept secret) was revealed by James Massola,  a "journalist" from The Australian in September (read his article here)(and read Greg's response here).

Greg has a passion for politics, sport and movies, which he blogs about on a regular basis.  His articles always appear to be well researched and often (when dealing with current political issues) seems to be able to analyse the day's events by stripping away the crap to reveal the substance. If you want to read something worthwhile, I suggets reading his blogs.

Other reasonable blogs that cover areas of politics, the media and related issues include The Failed Estate, Pollytics (on Crikey!), and George Megalogenis in The Australian (though sadly on leave at the moment).

You would have noticed that all the blogs mentioned above mainly cover topics associated with politics, and the media's handling of political events. Yes, I do spend a bit of time immersing myself in political issues. And yes, I am finding it less useful to get my weekly dose of political discourse through traditional media (I am particularly disappointed with the downhill trajectory of Insiders on ABC TV, and pretty much anything on ABC radio that tries to analyse anything remotely political).

I'll cover other, non-political, blogs in a future blog.

Another good blog about media reporting of politics can be found here at The Political Sword

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Power of Community

At various stages we are all a little guilty of going through life in a self centred way, worrying about the personal at the exclusion of everything else. Every now and then it is good to be reminded that we are all but one part of a much bigger community, all looking out for each other, being able to provide assistance and support when required. The concern and support provided during natural disasters is one major example of this (think about Black Saturday, the floods earlier this year, Cyclone Yasi and the Christchurch earthquake), but today I'd like to write about two local, recent examples.

The first concerns a pretty well known service organisation that has recently been established in the Kinglake Ranges.

Worldwide there are over 1.2 million Rotarians in almost 33,000 clubs. In Australia there are about 33,000 members in about 1,160 clubs. For those not familiar of what Rotary does, their website provides a great summary of the who, what, where, how and why of Rotary.

Focussing on the local aspect, since the Black Saturday bushfires Rotary have funded projects worth over $700,000 in the Kinglake Ranges area. This includes substantial support to the Kinglake Ranges Business Network, the donation of marquees for community use, and the funding of the construction of Ellimatta, a new local youth centre.

The last six months had seen a number of meetings held to look at the establishment of a Rotary group in Kinglake, culminating in a dinner held at the Toolangi Tavern on Saturday 26th February to celebrate the formation of Kinglake Ranges Rotary. Further information on Kinglake Ranges Rotary can be found here.

Personally, Rotary's support has funded part of  the operating costs of the Kinglake Ranges Business Centre, which has in turn allowed a place for the rebuilding of my business after the fires.

Having grown up understanding the importance of community service (my dad was a member of Lions for a number of years), I am now a Charter member of Kinglake Ranges Rotary. Our Rotary club will be involved in a number of projects that will help in the rebuilding of our community, which can only be a good thing for the Kignlake Ranges.

The second example combined a bit of fun for the community with a fundraising activity for the specific purpose of assisting one of the families in the Kinglake Ranges community.

This blog is being written just after our return from this event. The weather could not have been better, with a cloudless sky and just a slight breeze. The walkers (for I am no runner!) utilised part of the newly created walking path between the Middle Kinglake Primary School and the Kinglake township. And it felt good to do some excerise on a Sunday morning, instead of sitting in front of the TV watching Insiders.

A few hundred people joined in, to raise $6,100 for the Dove family. A brilliant result!

Thanks must go the Pheasant Creek Fitness Centre for organising the event. These things aren't easy to put together, but this was well organised, including refreshments for participants (thank you to Kinglake West CFA for cooking up the egg and bacon sandwhich prior to the walk and the hamburger after I finished the walk), activities for the kids, plus a showbag for all participants.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Kinglake Ranges Foundation

This has been lifted from a press release (edited to remove non-interesting bits by me):-

It is with great pleasure that I can now announce that the Kinglake Ranges Foundation has been officially created. With the winding down of VBRRA, the KRCRC, the limited resources of our local shire council and the return to essentially a pre-fire establishment of many other agencies it was felt that a local philanthropic organisation focused on local issues was a befitting legacy.

The foundation has been incorporated with 8 local Directors in which there is a good balance of business experience and social endeavour. All have demonstrated an entrepreneurial mindset and experience in one field or another.

* Chair: Bill Gale
* Deputy: Philip Szepe
* Public Officer: Colin French
* Secretary: Margaret Ryan
* Treasurer: Steve Szetey
* Other Directors: Jemima Richards, Kate Riddell and Brad Quilliam

The services of 3 external experienced Directors of some profile in the areas of Philanthropy and the Arts are being sought to compliment the above.

I am pleased to announce that the Governor of Victoria, His Excellency, Professor David DeKretser has agreed to be Patron of the Foundation.

We have also sought to enlist the services of FRRR, The Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal to manage all Deductable Gift Recipient donations on behalf of the KRF because of their vast experience and wide powers as a Foundation in their own right. FRRR have been invaluable to this and other bushfire affected communities during the last two years.

It is intended that three funds will be established:
  1. A specific purpose fund for the establishment and operation of the proposed Cultural and Community Facility.
  2. A General Purpose Regional Fund to facilitate the funding of the Objectives and Purposes below.
  3. A Corpus, that is, a body of funds which of itself remains untouched however the interest accrued over time also facilitates the Objectives and Purposes below in perpetuity.
Donations are now actively being sought to facilitate the Objects and Purposes

The object of the Company is to provide support, relief, care and assistance to individuals and communities in the Kinglake Ranges who suffered directly or indirectly as a result of the Victorian Bushfires, including by:
  • developing a permanent endowment to assist the recovery and growth of communities across the Kinglake Ranges
  • assessing and responding to emerging and changing needs of Kinglake Ranges communities;
  • facilitating funding, delivery, construction and operation of local community infrastructure and facilities;
  • providing and facilitating programs and services addressing specific areas of need in Kinglake Ranges communities;
  • empowering members of Kinglake Ranges communities to participate in managing change in their communities;
  • serving as a resource catalyst for charitable activities in Kinglake Ranges communities;
  • facilitating the collection and distribution of resources and donations to be used for charitable activities in Kinglake Ranges communities;
  • creating new partnerships in the communities across the Kinglake Ranges;
  • providing local leadership in the provision of support, relief and assistance to Kinglake Ranges communities; and\
  • doing all other things which are necessary or expedient to further the objects of the company.
As stated earlier, the Foundation was formed in part to relieve the Murrindindi Shire Council of any burden associated with any ongoing costs associated with, for example, the proposed Cultural and Community Facility. In order to see that this facility becomes a reality we have asked for an operating lease where all outgoings become the responsibility of the Foundation. This remains a work in progress.

Stay tuned for further updates as they come to hand.

Bill Gale
Chair KRF

Yes, I am involved, as Treasurer. Whilst it is early days, the Foundation will, I believe, become an important part of the future of the community. I will have more to say about the Community Cultural Facility in future posts, but the building will become a focal point for the arts community in Kinglake (which is quite big). It will also provide a venue for visiting acts to perform in, extending the cultural opportunities available to everyone up here.

As the Foundation has only just been established we are busy looking for money to be contributed by wealthy individuals, philanthropic organisations and businesses. If you are one of those, feel free to leave your details with me as I am sure the Foundation will be very pleased to speak with you!