It's 50 years today since humans first circled the Moon and sent back this picture. Worth remembering ...
Bribie Island arts scoop Julie Thomson says there is a week of free "come and try" art, craft, and creative events at the Bribie Community Arts Centre studios in the second week of December (from December 9-15) starting with their special Christmas market on Saturday December 8.
Bribie Island is just a short 1hr drive north from Brisbane and a favourite weekend hangout for south-east Queensland residents.
We'll try to catch what Julie calls the "literary/music event" Wisdom Tree, in the Matthew Flinders Gallery on Sunday December 9 at 6pm.
Newly created PhD Dr Nick Earls and Chanel Lucas (from Women in Docs) will be on stage. Tickets for this event cost $20 and can be booked here.
Julie says the Arts Centre will have $10 nibbles platters on sale and it's a BYO drinks occasion.
One thing to remember when you're planning this trip: Bribie is a "one-road-in-and-out" location so traffic jams are possible (if not to be expected). So it's a good idea to arrive early to beat the traffic.
Here's a copy of the full program for the week.
Another friend (and this time, Sunshine Coast hinterland resident) Sarah Walker has launched her new online counselling and mental health space, registered with the Australian National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). It's called Luminous Steps and looks like this (click here or on the image below to visit her business page; this is not a paid advertisement). Through my own work (and academic research) I know how important it is for businesses and individuals to form and join online communities and now Sarah is doing it too in the mental health sector. Imagine the benefits of an online service that, as Sarah says, "offers a unique alternative to traditional face-to-face meetings by allowing participants to come together and do meaningful work from the privacy of their own home". It can cut down social isolation and allow participants to form new friendships they might otherwise avoid. And as an NDIS approved service provider of "Specialist Positive Behaviour Support, Improved Relationships", their rates are government assessed ... Luminous Steps can even invoice the NDIS directly for approved clients. I'll be watching keenly to see how this service goes and wish Sarah all the best.
Everything and nothing amazes me when it comes to what people will buy. Here's a new website which specialises in the new craze for Tiny Homes. Would love to hear your comments on whether you would buy one, live in one, or ask your granny to live in one, hmmmmm? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts ...
The Chinese love auspicious occasions and today is one of them for Queensland (and for me, it turns out). Today the supermarket giant Woolworths stopped offering single-use plastic bags in our Sunshine State, and 10 years ago (in just over a month) I was lodged in a media scrum photographing then-Environment Minister Peter Garrett (left, now Midnight Oil frontman 2.0) and writing down his words that Australia probably wouldn't be banning single use plastic bags anytime soon. He was absolutely correct ... while bans filtered in gradually around the country, it's taken supermarkets in our state (where Garrett was on the day) 10 years to make the move. You can read my story here, on the then-citizen journalism site Oh My News.
Here's some of that report:
Minister Garrett is on record as urging a total phase-out of the bags by January 2009 but based on what he said today, achieving this looks extremely unlikely.
"It is within the power of the Commonwealth to do that [impose a ban] but that's not the policy position at the moment," former Midnight Oil rock singer Garrett told a packed lunch crowd in Brisbane at noon local time on Monday.
Instead, the government has opted for what it calls collaborative federalism, where it seeks to obtain a joint decision with the six states and two self-governing territories about the issue.
But the overwhelming position of the states and territories is away from a ban on the plastic shopping bags.
"Ministers from state and federal levels met in April to discuss the issue of plastic bags," Garrett said before the lunch.
"There was a range of positions put but only South Australia proposed a ban on plastic shopping bags."
Victoria proposed a trial 10 cent per bag levy to see whether this would reduce public use of the micro-thin high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bags.
Garrett said the trial would be evaluated when the country's environment ministers meet again on the issue in November.
At the current rate of reduction in Australia (two billion bags every three years), a total "phase-out" could not happen until 2011.
It turns out that in 2018, it's still a little way off.
Our friends at XYZ Books in Brisbane are changing from "just selling" to "making and selling" books ... fabulous. And to help make space for the new enterprise, (Enlighten Press) they're having a sale ... a 35%-45% discount sale, which in bookselling is as close to "cost price" as you get. It's happening right now -- from today until Friday next week. Just call (07) 3878 7120 or email firstname.lastname@example.org ... (PS, they're at Kenmore in Brisbane but if you're out of town they still want to talk to you.) I've seen their collection and it would suit primary and secondary school libraries ... especially with progressive tastes but a restricted budget.
Cornish pastie makers were very particular indeed about their offerings when I attended the Great British Cheese Festival. That was in 2010 but it runs every year.
A genuine Cornish pasty like this one (above) has a distinctive ‘D’ shape and is crimped on one side, never on top. The texture of the filling for the pasty is chunky, made up of uncooked minced or roughly cut chunks of beef (not less than 12.5%), Swede or turnip, potato and onion and a light peppery seasoning.
Texture was integral to all exhibits at the festival. Of the dozens of cheeses I tasted, texture contributed at least as much to the overall flavour as did the aroma, probably because the tasting portions were small cubes or dollops which retained their texture but aroma tended to be muted, especially in the huge tasting tent. Even pictures of most of the farmhouse, artisan cheeses accentuated the rough, hand-made texture of the cheese wheels, enough to make a visitor drool.
The people there who were devoted to Protecting the Authentic Taste of Cheddar (the Avengers-like acronym "Patch") seemed to acknowledge this: "the texture is firm with rinded cheese being slightly crumbly".
Montgomery’s Cheddar boasts of its "brittle, broken texture"; Keen’s notes that the process of "cheddaring" is itself texture-laden, meaning "texturing the curd by hand, cutting it into blocks, layering and turning it".
Even in the other, non-cheese tents, texture dominated, mostly in what foodies call "mouth feel", being the feeling you get when you chew a solid food or swish a drink around inside your mouth before you swallow.
Such was the case with (pictured above) the Olive Oil & Truffles exhibit, with Pen-Lon Cottage Brewer and with the other ciders and ales I tried at 11.30am (whew, early!). Texture especially applied to the balsamic dressing made by Lorna for Gilly’s Foods of Great Coxwell, because I tasted the dressing on crusty bread.
More shopping next week ...
Management production staff at Fairfax Media have been slowly working their way through the "hold" folders this week while their colleagues strike against staff cuts and they have come up with this nice yarn (apparently written the day before the strike was announced) about the barista and coffee revolution in Australian restaurants.
At the Shop Your Way to Success test kitchen we too have been dabbling in single-source, single-origin brands from the local geniuses at Nelli Coffee, Clontarf, and this week we discovered this single plot variety (below) which offers something different ... precise growing, tender maintenance and coffee terroir previously mostly seen in grape growing and wine production. Seems it also offers "jammy apricot" notes ... who knew?
The central task of my Shopping News project has been to discover a new and better approach to consumers' needs and in my book I have called this "Agenda Finding".
Along the way ideas have surfaced which show potential for further development, not just as agenda-finders, but as new aspects of successful business models. Generally these fall into three categories: (1) packaging or wrapping, (2) quality assurance and (3) cost and pricing structures. I am also working on a fourth category, yield management, with my colleague Peter Moran ... something for future posts.
Primary producers such as these coffee growers and roasters, dairy farmers, miners and wine makers recognise the complexity of their products and processes and they put it on the label.
It's a great sales tool for every business (even journalism).
Complexity as a philosophical concept is an enormously deep and wide pool but it’s fairly easy to understand as a practical concept.
Manufacturers and retailers describe a wine by its colour, its bouquet, its mouth-feel, its age, its origin, and its flavour in a wide range of things called "notes", the sweetness, dryness, bitterness and sourness. Within these "notes", wine aficionados invent a dictionary’s worth of phrases and expression such as buttery, woody, "dead ants", yeasty and finish. Cheese makers do the same, and in fact most food manufacturers and retailers I have encountered researching Shopping News were able to describe their wares in many intricate different ways, each designed to enhance the appeal of the product.
Chefs take the same approach, which might explain the rise and rise of television chefs and recipe-book authors such as Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsey and Nigella Lawson. It looks as though they’re making the task of food sourcing, selection and preparation simple and easy to do, but if you look closer and listen more attentively, you’ll notice that they describe in great detail how they went looking for this precise kind of chilli (in Oliver’s self-admitted addicted case), this special olive oil from a particular region, a unique blend of rock salt and spices you can only obtain from high in the Himalayas or the Andes, or roe from a particular kind of scallop sourced from the waters 2km off the coast of Tasmania.
As researcher Martin Lindstrom says, every successful product has to have a secret ingredient.
Take milk. When I was young I learnt from my aunt the farmer that milk comes from a cow’s udder and emerges warm, tasty, simple and natural every time you milk the cow.
But those who collect, process, package and sell milk also know that while "milk is milk", it can be sold in many different ways, products, packages and prices, and this increases its value to the market overall.
Demand for milk, milk products and products with milk as an ingredient is so high in Australia that milk is the main weapon in supermarket price wars. When I searched the online shopping catalogue of one of Australia’s main supermarket chains in April 2014 using the one-word search term "milk", the database returned 458 products which included the word "milk" in their metadata description.
Milk is processed, packaged and sold on its own but also flavoured, powdered and enhanced; it’s in cheeses, dips, biscuits, cakes and sauces; other products such as soy and almond are ground and liquidised and sold as "milk drinks"; and a whole new kind of chocolate was invented, "milk chocolate". Even milk that is exactly the same is packaged, priced and marketed by different companies and they compete side-by-side on shelves around the world (play the clip above).
Or take medicine. The Australian Medical Council is responsible for advising the Commonwealth Minister for Health and Ageing on which disciplines of medical practice should be recognised as medical specialties in Australia. The council’s list of recognised medical specialities is four pages long: everyone knows that doctors specialise in what they do but what most people don’t think about is that this allows specialists to conduct, package, market and most importantly, to sell specialist procedures in competition with other doctors.
Pathology, for instance, is divided into general pathology, anatomical pathology (including cytopathology), chemical pathology, forensic pathology, haematology, immunology and microbiology; surgery into cardio-thoracic, general, neurosurgery, orthopaedic, otolaryngology – head and neck, paediatric surgery, plastic and reconstructive, urology and vascular surgery. And general specialists (not your average GP) can work in "general medicine", general paediatrics, cardiology, clinical genetics, clinical pharmacology, community child health, endocrinology, gastroenterology and hepatology, geriatric medicine, haematology, immunology and allergy, infectious diseases, intensive care medicine, medical oncology, neonatal/perinatal medicine, nephrology, neurology, nuclear medicine, paediatric emergency medicine, palliative medicine, respiratory and sleep medicine, and rheumatology.
Ask any medical specialist who has to pay the bills at the end of the day and s/he’ll agree that these are not just areas of work: they’re areas of business and trade.
Let's meet here next week ... cheers!
Festivals are a special kind of market and I saw this in action at the Great British Cheese Festival in Cardiff, Wales, in 2010.
That autumn afternoon, I sheltered in a timber-lined 18th century tavern, the Rummer, opposite Cardiff’s landmark medieval castle.
Outside, people hurried past in the blustery streets or waited for buses, heading home after a busy working day. Next door, they paused in the arcades, picking up items for the evening, or maybe gifts for special occasions.
‘I wonder what they’re buying,’ I mused, over a pint of Hereford Pale Ale from the Wye Valley Brewery. ‘Cheese, probably,’ glancing at the placards outside the castle across the road.
But the cheese exhibits were only part of the festival. When I arrived next day it was about 11am and clear, also unseasonably warm.
The queue wasn’t that long yet and the crowds not that intense, although they would develop to much more of a bustle within hours. The first thing I encountered wasn’t a cheese exhibit at all, it was a pork stall.
Next week, inside the festival.
JOHN COKLEY PhD MBA has written for and produced newspapers, magazines, books, broadcasting and online content since 1981. This blog is about changing and improving journalism, making it more profitable and better quality, about encouraging citizen journalism, and leading the world out of the old journalism and into the new. Read more about John here: