Hear Stephen Pyne talk on fire policy

I heard Stephen speak last year. He brings an extraordinary perspective on the history of the development of fire policies in the USA, and in parallel here in Australia. His analysis points to the many failures in these policies – in the past and today.

Here are five opportunities to hear him:

Living with Fire: Tues 6 August, 9.30am-2pm,
La Trobe University City Campus Level 20, 360 Collins St, Melbourne.
Bookings essential – Eventbrite ($40/$20 concession)

Humans have been living with fire in the landscape for millennia. However, different groups within society (e.g. indigenous people, urban and rural residents, scientists, govt land management agencies and politicians) can have quite different views on the place of fire in the landscape. Many climatologists predict that the frequency, severity and extent of bushfires will increase under most future climate change scenarios.

La Trobe University’s Centre for the Study of the Inland and its Research Centre for Future Landscapes are bringing people together to discuss constructive ways of valuing different cultural perspectives on living with fire, to address this growing challenge in a sustainable and holistic manner.

With the renowned Professor Stephen Pyne (Arizona State University) delivering the keynote address, followed by presentations from Lee Miezis (Deputy Secretary, Forest, Fire and Regions DELWP, Professor Dick Williams (Charles Darwin University, formerly with CSIRO, Dr Tim Neale (Deakin Uni, ) and Trent Nelson (Parks Vic) and ending with a panel discussion with all the presenters, this will be a seminar not to be missed. Includes morning tea and lunch.

Fire’s American Century:
Wed 7 August, 6-8pm, Melbourne Museum Theatrette.
Bookings essential – Eventbrite – Free

Renowned environmental historian, Professor Stephen Pyne, is the speaker for the 2019 Bernard Bailyn Lecture in North American History. Stephen Pyne will outline how the American fire scene and national policies have evolved from the late 19th century to the early 21st. No-one has written more extensively on fire than Stephen Pyne. And it isn’t only American fires that have piqued his curiosity over the years.

Planning for the Pyrocene: Stephen Pyne and Tom Griffiths
Sunday 11 August, 3.00-4.00pm, Strategem Studio
Bendigo Writers Festival: Ticket for this event

Here we are, in 2019, and it seems we have no idea how to manage fire in our combustible landscape. Does controlled burning help or hinder? What have we learnt from the devastating deadly fires of recent years? Stephen J Pyne has written many books on fire management, including A Fire History of Australia and Fire on Earth. Following the Californian fires of 2018, he has written about the new age we are now entering, calling it the “pyrocene”. Stephen talks with Tom Griffiths about how communities can plan with confidence by understanding their environments and how they are changing.

There are also two other events at the Bendigo Writers Festival:

Fire People: Chloe Hooper, Stephen Pyne, Sian Gard
Friday 9 August, 3.15-4.15, Bendigo Bank Theatre
Bendigo Writers Festival: Day or Festival Pass holders only

There are those who light them and those who fight them. Beyond headlines about the ever-increasing danger of fire, the devastation of a firestorm, and the losses that follow, from out of the communities affected come the stories about what happened and how it makes them feel. Stephen Pyne and Chloe Hooper talk to Sian Gard about the way fire changes lives, and about finding ways to describe those experiences. Can writing get close to conveying both the fire and the people whose lives are marked indelibly by it?

Fieldwork:
Saturday 10 August, 1.15-2.15pm, Capital Theatre
Bendigo Writers Festival: Day or Festival Pass holders only
What do we know about the places we live, the bush, the towns by the side of bitumen and dirt, the people who live and work beyond the city cluster? It’s through the curiosity and patient effort of writers who make the journeys and spend time asking the questions that we come to understand the country and people’s place in it. Paul Barclay is joined by three “fieldwork” writers – Gabrielle Chan, Kim Mahood and Stephen Pyne – to ask about where they go, how they travel, what they take with them and what they bring back.

Returning cultural burning to Country – Djandak Wi

Thursday 29 November 7.30pm. Newstead Community Centre (9 Lyons Street, Newstead).
All welcome, no booking required.

Come and hear Scott Falconer (Assistant Chief Fire Officer with FFMVic) share his experience in the United States and Canada where he explored the involvement of Indigenous people in land and fire management. Scott’s research was supported through The Lord Mayor’s Bushfire Appeal Churchill Fellowship. He was accompanied by Trent Nelson, Dja Dja Wurrung man and Parks Victoria Ranger Team Leader for part of the research trip. Read more …

Talking Fire November Events

Come along to one or both of these two upcoming Talking Fire events:

Budj Bim Rangers – Josh Ferguson & Sean Bell: Cultural Burning on the Kurtonitj IPA (South-West Victoria)

Building community capacity & confidence: Thursday 29 November – 7.30-9.15pm, Newstead Community Centre

Changing how we think about and manage fire in our local landscape means reflecting on our concerns, our capacities and our confidence in current practices and in any proposed changes. What might reviving Indigenous burning practices mean for example? Join us for a presentation on the value of community dialogue to foster shared knowledge and responsibility. All welcome. Free – gold coin donation appreciated!

 

Reviving Indigenous burning practices: Community Search Conference: Friday 30 November 9am-5pm, Newstead Community Centre

Join expert panellists at our Community Search Conference for a chance to explore how we might connect Indigenous fire traditions with current approaches to fuel reduction and planned burns to shape new ways to protect our landscape and communities. All welcome. The Community Search Conference is free but please book by Friday 23 November.

Bookings: for the Community Search Conference, email your name, organisation (if applicable), contact phone number and the number of people to Chris at Newsteadtalkingfire@gmail.com

For more information: Talkingfire.org or Talking Fire on Facebook. Contact: Chris Johnston 5476 2457.

This project is supported by the Mount Alexander Shire Council Community Grants Program.

Creative transformations

Fire Stories – part of Newstead’s Words in Winter 2018 – celebrated transformation. In the sunshine of a winter’s afternoon, we gathered, created, reflected and then shared our creations with the fire. Mostly anyway! A few things were held back, suggesting stories that needed to be developed further, or objects that suddenly felt precious!

It was fun and very playful, with an amazing arrange of natural materials – string, leaves, branches, paper, natural ochres and more – used to create objects for the fire. As each person tossed their creation into the fire, with a story,  or a few words or just in silence, it was magical to see their creation turned into some more warm for all of us around the fire.

We’ll post some more images on Talking Fire.

 

Join us for Fire Stories – ‘Transformation’

Fire warms us in winter, but in summer fire evokes fear. Fire is part of the story of this landscape. Fire transforms and displaces. Fire creates shifts; not only of the earth, plants and animals, but transforms our own internal worldviews, experiences and memories. Transformations can create space for the new – in our lives and in the landscape.

Following on from reading and sharing fire stories as part of Words in Winter 2017, this year we will explore the idea of ‘transformation’.

Join us to express your creativity around the idea of ‘transformations’ – we’ll have materials for you to work with to express your ideas. Artists including those exhibiting in EarthBody will be there to help.  Then as darkness falls, we’ll sit around a warming fire and explore the meaning of ‘transformation’ and transform some of our creations through the fire.

This event follows the opening of EarthBody at the Newstead Railway Arts Hub at 2pm.

Date & time: Sunday 5 August, 4.00pm – 6.30pm.

For further information: call Chris Johnston on 54762457, go to talkingfire.org, or follow Talking Fire on Facebook.

Gold coin donation.

Part of Newstead Words in Winter 2018 – for more events go to http://nwiw.blogspot.com/

Come and join in! Saturday night around the fire!

We’ll be weaving together stories about fire on Saturday 12 August – 4.30-8.30 pm – leaving from the Newstead Railway Arts Hub, Tivey Street, Newstead – visiting a spot in the nearby forest just for an hour as it gets dark and the moon rises. Then back at the Newstead Railway Arts Hub where there will be delicious soups to warm us and a fire too. Tell us you are coming by a text to 0418512471 – just so there is enough soup!

 

Booked yet for our Sharing Stories event?

Fire is a powerful force and a wonderful comfort. Aboriginal people have stories about how fire was brought to people and settler peoples brought their own experience of fire with them.

 

Kee woorroong Gunditjmara clan (south-west Victoria) tell this story:

A long time ago fire belonged to the crows who lived at Gariwerd, the Grampian Mountains. They were greedy crows and knew that fire was of great value. A little bird, Yuuloinkeear, firetail wren, was watching the crows making fun and games with fire-sticks. One fire-stick fell to the ground and Yuuloinkeear picked it up and flew away. The crows chased him and Yuuloinkeear soon grew tired. So he passed the fire-stick to Tarrakuuk. Tarrakuuk, the kestrel hawk, took the fire-stick from Yuuloinkeear and lit all the Country behind him. From that time there has been fire for all the Gunditjmara.

(Source: Nyernila: Listen Continuously. Aboriginal Creation Stories of Victoria, Creative Victoria website)

We’ll be sharing stories on Saturday 12 August – 4.30-8.30 pm – in the forest and around the fire at the Newstead Railway Arts Hub. Join us! You need to book through Eventbrite so we have enough soup for everyone. Click this link for more information and to book.

 

Sharing Stories Around the Fire

A Talking Fire event at Newstead Words in Winter: Saturday 12 August, 4.20pm – 8.30pm.

What is the place of fire in our lives and the lives of the species in our forest?

Join us on a short journey into the forest at twilight. Sitting beneath a particular ancient tree, we will listen to the forest as night falls, and imagine what this tree has witnessed, engaging with the language of the forest. As it gets dark, we will also listen to some stories of fire, safe in the wintery forest landscape.

Then, we’ll return to the Newstead Railway Arts Hub for hearty soup and to sit around a warming fire where we will weave together our own stories, drawing on our experiences in the past and from the evening. Our guides will be Sam Strong, who writes on fire and myths, Chris Johnston plus some special guests.

This journey through place, story, memory, myth and experience is a special event offered by the Talking Fire group as part of Newstead’s Words in Winter.

This event will start and finish at the Newstead Railway Arts Hub, Dundas Street, Newstead. We will be going out into the forest, so please bring a torch, dress warmly and wear sensible shoes.  Please arrive at 4.20 sharp so we can leave for the forest by 4.30pm. Our plan is to car pool for the trip.

Maximum number of participants:  18.

Register via Eventbrite – Sharing Stories Around the Fire

For further information call Chris Johnston on 54762457 or go to Talkingfire.org

Cost $10 per person (plus Eventbrite booking fee).

Newstead Words in Winter events.

 

Where to … rethinking fire

In the last session of Talking Fire, there was a chance to reflect on what we had heard and experienced over two intense days. The big question was:  How can we rethink ‘fire’ at a landscape-scale, not just as a threat to a house or a town? And then – So what might we do differently? What have we learnt? What are we puzzled by?

The notes from this session – created through small group discussions where people moved around the topic tables in a ‘world café’ format – have just been loaded onto the Talking Fire website. Many great ideas!

The Muckleford Forest Friends Group (MFFG) are pursuing the topic of “Rethinking … Values” taking on the idea of documenting the biodiversity of the Muckleford Forest, and then reporting each Easter as part of an annual health check for the large Bendigo Box-Ironbark Forest international Key Biodiversity Area. MFFG is one of a number KBA Guardians across our region that are being formed with the support of Connecting Country.

While the Muckleford Forest earns the Dja Dja Wurrung description of  ‘upside down country’ – a reflection of the gold mining history – it is still a much loved and beautiful forest. There is no forest restoration plan for the Muckleford Forest yet, but maybe one day there will be!

Broadly speaking, MFFG plans to select around 10 sites across the Muckleford Forest, and monitor them regularly throughout 2017/2018, so that when the Easter Health Check comes around in 2018, we are in a better position to make an informed assessment. We’ve got ideas for systematic recording, as well as sharing those serendipitous and often wondrous encounters, using the Muckleford Forest blog.

Ultimately it’s all about what we value and how we manage our local landscapes to protect what we love. Want to get involved? If you like planning and organisation, our next meeting is Tues 2 May – or if you’d like to put your hand up to take on a monitoring site (with training on “how to”) or to propose a location you’ve already been monitoring – or with any other great ideas – drop us a line to  to mucklefordffg@bigpond.com

 

 

Talking Fire – Igniting a Spark?

'Talking Fire' A Community Conversation: Understanding fire in our landscape - at the Newstead Community Centre

There’s a triangle involved in fire, which involves conditions, substrate and spark.

The “Talking Fire” weekend on 12/13 November lit a spark, but it certainly wasn’t damaging. The triangle of local, Indigenous and technical expertise, field and forest visits, and space to talk about what we’d heard and seen, all created another sort of ignition.

People are concerned about the places they love, including home, hearth and the local landscape more generally. Talking Fire was a great start to a new kind of conversation: about learning, reducing fear, building understanding, caring for our towns, settlements and the whole landscape together.

Thanks to everyone who participated and contributed. Especially Maldon Urban Landcare Group (MULGA). For funding – thanks to Mount Alexander Shire Community Grants, Maldon and District Community Bank (Bendigo Bank), Norman Wettenhall Foundation; catering – Newstead Primary School, Newstead Mens’ Shed; gifts – Goughs Range Olives and Newstead Natives; in-kind support – Newstead Landcare, Connecting Country, Newstead Fire Brigade, Newstead Auxiliary, Friends of Box Ironbark Forests, Bendigo TAFE, DELWP; photographers – Julie Hough, Julie Millowick, Christine Sayer, Marion Williams, Simon Beckett; sound recordists – Andrew Skeoch, Sarah Koschak; oral histories – Gordon Dowell. And three cheers for the planning group too.talking-fire_marionw-_low-res-4623

And mostly, to everyone who came to any of it, or all, and joined the chat. We think there were around 40 – 50 on each day, and not the same attendees, or speakers. It made for more conversations.

Because many people couldn’t attend the event, or only came to parts of it, we are curating the audio, visual and audio-visual of the weekend at our website http://www.talkingfire.org. You will be able to get a gist of the conversations there. But please be a bit patient for it all to arrive.

We are also interested in collecting ‘fire histories’ around the CFA auxiliary, and other fire experiences – to share and learn from. Contact Gordon 0467 586 881 or Janet 0439 003 469.

More info: http://www.talkingfire.org or Chris 54762457.