Bee Cruse
Taste Tour of Lakemba
Sara Mansour - Bankstown Poetry Slam

Fusion Cafe – St Mary’s

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Social Enterprise – what is it? Basically it’s a business that does good and gives back. At it’s core the business is about more than cash money, it’s a business that has an investment in something greater: people, communities, the environment. We’ve highlighted some of our favourites on the blog before, and we are all about the idea.

Fusion Western Sydney is an organisation who work with youth and operate a Cafe in St Mary’s which is a great example of what a social enterprise is – the beautiful cafe with a minimal style that’s all about maximising connections in the community through quality coffee and giving skills to the younger ones amongst us. It’s a simple premise that contributes to the building of resilient young people, stronger families and safer communities.

We chatted with Fusion Youth Worker and Manager James and Barister Chris about the cafe that serves up community, connection and caffeine. 

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Lesley Unsworth – Taste Cultural Food Tours

 

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Lesley Unsworth left her Northern England home for a holiday in Australia in 1981 and simply never returned home. After many years working in community building in Bonnyrigg – which she claims as her spiritual home, she now runs Taste Cultural Food Tours, one of the best ways to experience Western Sydney by discovering new suburbs through the most simple of life’s pleasures: food. Taste is no ordinary tour company – the guides pride themselves on their extensive local knowledge and connections with shop owners that will get to a behind the scenes look at some of Sydney’s most vibrant communities. Taste is not only a tour company, as a social enterprise they provide training for newly arrived Australians, refugees and youth, giving them a pathway into work in Australia . By providing them with a chance to build their confidence and skills in tour guiding, they learn skills that are transferable to many parts of their lives. I sat down with Lesley over a (few) plate(s) of food to chat about how she became involved in Taste and her affinity for Western Sydney.  Continue Reading

Paul James – Nepean Men’s Shed

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To say The Nepean’s Men Shed is saving lives is not exaggerating. Retired men in their 60’s is not exactly an age group that is spoilt for choice with activities to do; and with grown families, no job, a lifetime of bottled-up emotions and bad health creeping in, things can start to go downhill pretty quickly.

The Nepean Men’s Shed started life as the Lower Mountains Men’s Shed in 2010 in a 12 meter square space in Mount Riverview. After several years of looking for a more suitable location and then a few more years making that location suitable to council regulations, they officially opened earlier this year in Orchard Hills in a giant 900 square meter shed – making it the largest Men’s Shed out of over 1000 in Australia.  

The Australian Men’s Shed Association (AMSA) started in 2007 as a way to address the issues men face such a loneliness, depression and other preventable diseases that can arise from isolation. The Men’s Shed movement has now become one of the most powerful tools in addressing health and wellbeing and helping men to once again become valued and productive members of our community.

This interview is pretty personal as the guy I chatted to is my Dad and I’ve witnessed first hand the power of The Men’s Shed and the importance of connection and belonging after having given your whole life to working and supporting your family (who are now grown but still act like spoilt brats and tell you to make your own cup of tea). 
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Kon Gouriotis – It’s Our Thing: More History on Australian Hip-Hop (Part II)

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Blacktown Arts Centre has a great exhibition running at the moment – It’s Our Thing: More History on Australian Hip-Hop (Part II). The exhibition showcases 14 artists and the explosion of hip-hop culture in Blacktown during the 1990s, along with its impact on current artistic practices, with works to be found both inside and outside of the centre. We chatted with one of the shows curators, Kon Gouriotis – a Western Sydney native, born in Fairfield and now living in Casula. Kon has an impressive resume with 13 years as director and curator at Casula Power House, before moving on to be ‘Director – Visual Arts’ at Australia Council for the Arts; and then a short stint as Director of Australia Centre for Photography. He edits and writes for Arts Profile and while I could go on, all you really need to know is that he is a great guy and absolute champion for the Arts. We chatted about the beginning of his career and how a project in Blacktown has led him to be on of the most respected names in the Australian art world.  Continue Reading

Toufick Chami – Meraki Merchants

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Meraki Merchants cafe has quickly become a favourite of The Westies, serving up Parramatta’s best coffee – yep, we called it-  and good quality simple food that never disappoints. Owner, cook and barista Toufick Chami is constantly experimenting and developing new additions to the menu, proving space is not something you need to make a delicious meal. In this small cafe a strong sense of wonder, a cup of ambition and a serving of friendly hospitality are the ingredients that make for a great cafe experience – that and the cakes (home baked by Toufick’s mum – YUM!)  Continue Reading

Locale Festival – Cumberland Council

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Western Sydney has long been a catch-all phrase for anything outside the Inner West, reaching all the way south to Sutherland and as far west as the mountains. And by encompassing such a huge area, that means that no matter where in the West you are living, there is always something happening, somewhere new to explore and new influences to make your taste buds tingle. It’s also super difficult to keep track of all that’s going on, we almost missed out on Locale Festival and we don’t want you to either so here’s your heads up!  Continue Reading

Natalie Anne

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One of Australia’s best hairstylists – Natalie Anne has strong Western Sydney roots growing up in Punchbowl before moving to Moorebank and now living in Croydon where she can walk to work at her beautiful salon, where she employs 13 staff.  We chatted about leaving school at a young age, working for free and where she see’s herself, five years from now.  Continue Reading

Danny Elacci

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After following the conventional (read safe) path of going to uni, getting a degree and then starting his own business in security, Danny Elacci decided it was time to follow is real passion. Acting – which had been something that attracted him since he was in school and after seeing a friend perform on stage – he changed direction and headed down the acting path with a bag of determination and healthy dose of life experience. With a short film that has just been screened at Cannes, a couple of feature international films in the works and most recently playing the role of Ali in Urban Theatre projects Home Country, Danny may have started later then some but is coming out leaps and bounds ahead of the rest.  Continue Reading

Amalina Aman

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Amalina Aman knows a thing or two about challenges. Having been told from a young age by the community around her that fashion design wasn’t an appropriate career choice for an Australian Muslim woman, Amalina set out to prove them wrong by releasing her line of modest fashion that has now been seen on catwalks around the world. The Westies sat down for a chat about the journey so far and how Lakemba will always have a huge influence her designs. 
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Amna Karra-Hussan – Auburn Giants

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When Amna Karra-Hussan decided she wanted to play AFL there was one issue that would stop most people in their tracks – no women’s AFL team existed in Western Sydney. Not seeing it as an issue, Aman decided to start her own and is now President of the Auburn Giants who have just entered their seventh season with all signs pointing towards a premiership for the club in the not too distant future. On a chilly autumn evening The Westies stopped by a training session to chat with one of the most warm, endearing and motivated people you are likely to meet. We chatted about how Amna started the club, the importance of women playing sport (far more than exercise) and the doors that open for you once you start knocking.  Continue Reading