Mark Geyer
Lauren Larouge - Nailed by Larouge
Toufick Chami - Meraki Merchants

Steve Hodgson – The Dad’s Cooperative Project

Men. They get a bit of a bad wrap –  we expect the world from them, be tough, know it all and most importantly show as little emotion as possible. Thankfully times are changing and Dads are no longer seen as sidekicks in the parenting game, but equals.

Thankfully, most men are wonderful human beings who are trying to work out this world and want to be part of their kids lives in a meaningful way, navigating the role of being a Dad as best they can with very little resources, a lack of information and few places to turn to.

After becoming a Dad for the second time, Steve Hodgson decided to start The Dad’s Cooperative Project and create a place for Dad’s to get together with their kids and spend some time swapping experiences, trade stories and support each other to thrive as role models and fathers. The Dad’s Cooperative Project is a wonderful initiative with Parramatta Council supporting this vital group, we were super happy to see this group starting in the West and would love to see it spread across the country.

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Winnie Dunn – Sweatshop

Literacy is largely equated with simple reading and writing skills, however it goes far beyond that. Literacy is not just about reading stories, it is learning to write our own and express our experiences through words. It also develops critical thinking – a vitally important skill in helping us examine our environment and place in it.

Sweatshop is leading the way in providing opportunities to enhance and develop literacy in Western Sydney, providing skills, training and support for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, empowering them to find their own story and express it, enabling individuals and groups to have a say in their own stories – instead of being spoken about.   

Sweatshop has just announced a new project launching next month, the first ever Western Sydney Literacy Initiative for Diverse Women. Ahead of its launch we spoke with program manager Winnie Dunn about the program and the role literacy has played in her life, growing up in Western Sydney as a woman of colour.

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Top five interviews of 2017

Top 5 2017

 

 

Happy 2018! We hope your New Year has got off to a great start. The Westies had a wonderful 2017 interviewing 26 talented, diverse, wonderful Westies. In July we launched The Westies Markets – Emu Plains which grew from 53 to 66 stall holders and saw an average of 1500 people through the gates. 2018 will bring more interviews, the markets will be back in March and we will be launching a couple of new events. For now we thought it would be great to take a look back at the 5 most read interviews of 2017, taking a quick glance back before we spring into 2018!

 

 

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Julie Owens – Member for Parramatta

Julie Owens Same Sex

The right for same sex couples to marry passed in the senate last week and from January 9th it will be legal for all couples to wed. It’s taken a lot of arguments and completely avoidable hurt to get there. The Australian public were asked and returned a national decision of YES with 61.6% voting in favour of marriage equality.

However, when the results were broken down the majority of NO votes came from Western Sydney – which is simply no surprise whatsoever.  The result reflects what we already know – that many people who live in this area have strong religious beliefs, which include marriage being only between a man and a woman. While that is not the opinion of all people in Western Sydney, here it does reflect the majority.

A few days before the bill passed through parliament we spoke with Julie Owens, Member for Parramatta – who although her electorate returned a majority NO vote, chose to vote YES. Read on to find out why. 
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Lauren LaRouge – Nail Artist

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“Do what you love!” A sentence that is thrown around more than a cricket ball at a test match, however living in one of the world’s most expensive cities can mean having to take a job that you love less and despise more. Getting stuck in an office with grey walls, slogging away with zero creative inspiration led Lauren LaRouge to get creative and start bringing some colour to that drab office using her nails as tiny canvases. She has now managed to nail doing what she loves, literally. No longer confined to a boring office Lauren spends her days creating handfuls of artworks, taking nail art up a notch or ten.  

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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

that chocolate

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