Do not avoid AGMs – you might learn something.

How many of us belong to organisations, clubs, or societies and then when the AGM comes around we can find any excuse not to attend?  That, to me, begs the question why bother, why bother being a member if you cannot attend one meeting to hear about the year’s activities and plans for the future? I have heard all the excuses, the most prolific is the one that goes like this: “oh if I go along I will be roped in to doing something.”  Wow, you might be invited to contribute your knowledge, expertise and skills to help make the organisation a little better – such a burden isn’t it?  The operative word here is ‘invited’.  You can decline.  However, attending the AGM shows your support, and appreciation to those who are able to work on various committees or have roles in the running of the organisation.

I am a member of a few organisations and today I attended the AGM of the SA branch of Oral History Australia.  I did not take on any State based responsibilities, the running of  OHA (SA) is in excellent hands and there is a strong group of volunteers to carry on the work.  Besides getting an overview of the various activities and the status of the financials there was an excellent speaker after the formal business.

Liz Harfull, is a former journalist, has also worked in public relations – specifically in the rural sector – and is now an accomplished author.  Her presentation covered a little of her working history and then a special project where she researched and wrote a history of Robe – Almost an Island: the Story of Robe.  It is a publication which brings together the stories, memories and images of this small country town, tucked away on the rugged Limestone Coast of South Australia, which has played a remarkable role in history. Liz’s approach was different in that she involved the community, through the local football club, a centenarian and a series of oral history tapes buried in the archives of the local council offices.

During her presentation to the small number of OHA members present, Liz made a number of observations between her former profession as a ‘print’ journalist and that of an oral historian.  Never in her extensive career has Liz ever asked for, been given written permission to interview a person, or to ‘report on’ what she has discovered through the interview.  This is a practice she has continued in to her publishing career.

For me, that raised the question as to why we, as oral historians, go through the bureaucracy of ethics clearances and signed consent forms?  There is no one answer to these questions and it is one that I will comment on in my Blogs from time to time. Others may wish to comment also.

Cover of Liz's 2013 book

Cover of Liz’s 2013 book

Who is Liz Hartull?  She is an award-winning journalist and Churchill Fellow.  Liz grew up on a small farm near Mount Gambier, which has been in the family since the early 1860s.  Her fist publication was the bestselling Blue Ribbon Cookbook.  [This abstract is adapted from the publication, Women of the land.]

A Vienna Conference

Today (Wednesday) was the opening of the New Zealand Studies Association Conference.  The first of four days and my presentation is on Saturday morning, thankfully before lunch.

While I have only been in Vienna just a little over 24-hours, I like the city.  It has a vibe about it, especially with daylight-saving.  I only know two other people at this conference however, with three new friends the four of us stopped off at a Viennese beer house, Hofbrau Munchen – well a German franchise – for a quick beer and five hours later we wandered back to the hotel.  What were a mixed crowd of blokes, one from Spain, an American a German and me, the Aussie.

The essence of Vienna, a carriage and pair on Universitats adjacent to the Vienna University.

The essence of Vienna, a carriage and pair on Universitats adjacent to the Vienna University.

Food, coffee and beer seem to be the common denominator so far in this city.  As for the conference, well the speakers were okay but I expect to get more out of tomorrow.  My other wanderings since arriving in Vienna can be read here.

Leaving on a Jet Plane

I expect to find that Vienna and Cebu and the surrounding country significantly different.  I leave tomorrow night (Friday July 26) to Dubai for the weekend and then onto Vienna.  there I will present at a conference – on the final day of a four day conference, thankfully it is before lunch.  Following a train trip through Austria and on to Frankfurt it will be a marathon flight to Dubai, Singapore, Manilla and then down to Cebu for a week.

This week has been a challenge, getting sixty undergraduate assignments read and graded, finishing off my presentation for the conference, packing and all those little last minute thing you have to do before travelling.  I will update my blog and this link regularly.

Kicked three goals – but I’m 30 meters out for the fourth and running hard

I have kicked three goals – three abstracts submitted and three acceptances. That is a turn up for me.

The first paper is: Nostalgia and Legacy of the family photographic collection, with the NZ Studies Association conference at the Vienna University in the first week of July. Then in September I will present a paper titled: Vida – a pastor’s wife (an oral history) at the national Oral History Conference in Perth (my former stamping ground). Paper number three, I have just been advised is at the inaugural IABA Conference in the South Pacific, here in Adelaide. That paper is titled: Three Generations – oral history through photographs on display.  

Photos on the Wall

As for goal number four, the thesis, I’m still at the 30 meter mark, but dead in front of the goal.  Keeping up with the Aussie Rules analogy, a good drop punt will sail it through the two big sticks (the two independent examiners).  So between now, plane flights to Austria, a return via the Philippines, and preparing for the Perth National Oral History conference I will have the thesis wrapped up in a nice little bow – soon.

A busy couple of weeks

The past three weeks have been some what busy.  University teaching becomes a little tense with students worrying about final assessments – was I ever that concerned in my undergraduate days?  I probably was, I just don’t remember the stress.  Coupled with teaching is keeping on top of the never ending assignments to mark.  Six tutorial groups of at least twenty-five students in each, three assessments each – you can do the sums.  It adds up to many hours of reading and commenting.

There has been a slight change to my presentation at the British Sociological Association Auto/Biography Summer Residential Conference at the Wolfson College, Oxford University in July.  I’m now presenting for forty minutes followed by twenty minutes of questions.  A little more daunting.  It is only fourteen days to departure as well.

Last weekend (May 31) I attended the State Media Awards at the National Wine Centre, here in Adelaide.  Together with one of our leading photojournalists, Bryan Charlton, and a guest judge we have been reviewing photojournalists pictorial work.  You may wish to view further information about the Awards following this link.

Besides the enjoyable ‘work’ I have managed to get up to the Barossa Valley and have an enjoyable evening listening to the Tanunda Town Band with renowned Jazz player, James Morrison.  I love my Jazz and this night was special.  Even in a big agricultural barn, Morrison made it intimate and special.