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Power of Community to empower the communities.

by Dave Riley

It's nice to get out and about in South East Queensland.

So last Sunday a car of comrades --that deserves a name surely: comradabile -- traveled to the Gold Coast from Brisbane, a journey of 95 kilometres. On board were the paraphernalia for a film showing.

Our destination was the Gecko Environment Centre in Currumbin. There we rendezvoused with local Socialist Alliance members and showed before an audience of about 20 the documentary The Power of Community: How Cuba survived Peak Oil.

This was a very cold Sunday afternoon and everyone in attendance were as rugged up as a Melbournian. The chill snap that had even bought snow to the Warrick highlands wasn't enough to keep the crowd away.

So we showed the film and got into the discussion for afters.

The irony is that most Alliance members live on the northern reaches of the Gold Coast and here we were talking up the environment within cooee of the NSW border --some 20 or so kilometres from Surfers Paradise. The irony also suggest a tyranny of distance.

The Gold Coast event wasn't without its difficulties. It is very hard to find community space to use for public political events. In a region like the Gold Coast with no significant radical history it isn't easy to organise the way it is standard within our inner city left ghettos. This underscores the achievement of the Gold Coast SAers in actually raising a red flag along the coast there. But as they have proven, maybe even the dormitory suburbs of the nation's capitals could be colonized by us good guys if we had the means and the will to do so.

This is where Power of Community kicks in. We have begun this project in Queensland of taking the film around the suburbs to see what sort of environment traction we can generate. And if you can build such an event on the Gold Coast -- which , last time I looked, was a politically sterile slice of real estate -- then maybe there's a niche worth attending to.

The film itself is fascinating and if you haven't seen it either buy yourself a copy from Resistance Books online or get in touch with your local Socialist Alliance and get them -- and help them -- to organise a local screening. There are ways and means...

On the way back into the big smoke we were talking about the film with its major permaculture theme and it was interesting how much our car load was into that sort of hands on stuff. What with our worm farms and compost heaps we'd hardly fit the standard greenie caricature of the left. Even the film itself suggests an epilogue in that it should have been an Australian documentary because it was Australian permaculturalists who took so much of the good design oil to Cuba back in 1992 .

And this year in partnership with Robyn Francis' Cuba Australia Permaculture Exchange Green Left Weekly helped to sponsor an Australian tour of one of the 'stars' of the film , Roberto Perez. Back in town -- in Brisbane -- the Alliance has been running occasional discussion groups at the Northey Street City Farm which is as permacultural as you can get locally. We even campaign for Brisbane to become a 'permaculture city'.

So when we take our politics to the edges of the Pacific Ocean on the Gold Coast we know what we are talking about and the "power of community" is a banner we keenly embrace.

The challenge is to take that idea out to the communities where it can draw traction.

More screenings are being scheduled. Book now!

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