A time-travelling Sacred Kingfisher flies South down the Merri Creek riding currents and eddies of memory back decades at a time.
Over Coburg Hill and the giant Kodak factory, past the market garden where 50 year old Joe Garita harvests his broad beans, the little kingfisher slips into the inner North and hears the whisper of an idea finding form.
The Kingfisher swoops and dives through the 70’s and into the 80’s watching a determined group of locals lobby state and local governments, scratching up support for their idea from businesses, schools, unions and universities.
Back on the Merri Creek, the Sacred Kingfisher glides over a dead washing machine covered in blackberry and circles over a quarry turned rubbish tip, turned dumping ground for unwanted building materials.
Amongst the ten acres of leftover gravel, old pavers, piles of rock and busted concrete it spies the group of friends planting a ceremonial tree.
It is the first tree that has grown on this land in many, many years.
Six months after the tree is planted the group, now a committee, sign a lease for the old quarry marking the beginning of CERES Brunswick East. It’s March 26th 1982.
Across the creek, atop a sawtooth roof, the kingfisher settles in and watches ten years unfold.
Countless working bees disappear old washing machines and car bodies, piles of concrete slabs and bluestones become pathways and retaining walls.
Thousands of trees are propagated and planted.
Neighbours doors are knocked on until a smiling Freddie Sultana answers. With his friends he comes and builds a community garden and a bocce court for weekends.
Residents are letterboxed and asked to put their newspapers, bottles and tin cans in a bag out on the nature strip for CERES workers to collect. Australia’s first curbside recycling scheme is born.
The Alternative Technology Association move in and teach people how to generate sustainable power.
A chook group forms, other groups follow wanting to fix bikes, start alternative currencies, dance, sing, meditate.
Schools bring groups of children to perform health checks on the Creek, they learn how to recycle, compost, make electricity and grow food without chemicals.
Word spreads – more and more schools want their children to get out of the classroom, to learn with their hands in the Earth.
A little café begins serving coffee and a nursery opens selling natives and veggie seedlings.
Looking outside of CERES the Kingfisher sees the community have turned their attention to the Merri Creek; weeds and rubbish have been removed, the bare banks revegged, people walk along new paths.
A flash of blue and the Sacred Kingfisher is surprised to see one of its own coming back to the Creek after years away.
The visitor, unfamiliar with its new surrounds, slams ungracefully into the Education office window before shaking itself off and flying away.
In the coming years thousands will gather at CERES to celebrate this moment.
The Sacred Kingfisher knows the festival is a marker, a recognition that the idea has seeded and grown and will go on to find its form in other hearts and other places.
This coming Saturday the 26th March join us at the CERES Harvest Day and celebrate CERES fortieth birthday and give thanks to the good Earth, our farmers and the cycle of the seasons.
Have a great week