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

CPAC YOUTH – THE PLOT

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Art quickly becomes all about space. Space to create ideas, spaces to make work in, safe spaces to share and contribute and grow. Sometimes though, it’s hard to know where to start and that can be a real block to creativity. Enter CPAC Youth, a youth-run organisation dedicated to giving their local community a chance to come and create work, exhibit work and be part of the process. We sat down with Phu, Youth Facilitator at CPAC (Casula Powerhouse Arts Center) ahead of the groups workshops being held at The Plot this weekend, to talk art and accessibility in Western Sydney…

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ALL GIRL ELECTRONIC – THE PLOT

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All Girl Electronic is a program run by Information Cultural Exchange (ICE) in Parramatta, launched in 2016 to combat the lack of women in electronic music. The program has quickly ballooned from eight participants on their pilot program last year to twenty-eight girls who are benefitting from being mentored by an all-female team in an environment that is not only improving their skills but allowing self-esteem and confidence to soar. We chatted with program manager Julia and a couple of the participants Alex and Sara to find out why this program is so important and the opportunities it has opened up.

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DJ SOL – THE PLOT 2017

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At the age of 14, you will find most boys on the soccer field or in front of a computer screen but you’ll have to look behind the DJ booth to find DJ Sol, who has been mixing tracks since he was only nine years old. Surrounded by music from an early age, artists such as Michael Jackson and Timbaland have influenced DJ Sol who is now DJing house music with a level of maturity well beyond his age. The support of his parents and mentors, such as L-Fresh the Lion, have led to DJ Sol landing some impressive bookings, such as Splendour in the Grass and THE PLOT, back for the third year running later this month. You can catch DJ Sol playing on the local 2150 stage at THE PLOT on November 18th,  we caught up with him for a quick chat ahead of his gig.

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Emma Bailie – That Chocolate

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Poverty and chocolate not two things you would normally associate with each other, with one being a chronic global disease and the other being a luxury item. But in the case of That Chocolate, they come together for the greater good, thanks to great vision from founder Emma Bailie.

After spending time volunteering in the Philippines and seeing first hand the devastation caused by natural disasters which not only destroys homes but leads to a cycle of poverty, hunger and addiction. Emma decided she wanted to do something to help and not just in a time of crisis, which is why she has developed a business model that uses chocolate to fund food relief in the Philippines and removes the guilt from eating the world’s favourite food.

We chatted with Emma about how her business came to fruition and how YOU can be part of stopping world hunger just by eating a bar of chocolate.  Continue Reading

Mark Geyer

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One of the most overused and damaging  narratives about Western Sydney is the “You’ve come a long way, you’ve do well to get yourself out of there”. Success often means leaving the West and dropping any association with it as quickly as your ex-boyfriend. The most effective way to prove our worth is to get out, move away and join in the finger-pointing at those people who live “out there.” None of us chose where we were born, some of us just make the best of it and it’s actually pretty bloody good. Footy legend, breakfast radio host and all round great guy Mark Geyer is one man who proves that success can come because of growing up in Western Sydney, not in spite of it.   Continue Reading

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