Librarian as Change Agent
24 Jan 1956 to 29 October 2019 RIP
“To be a librarian is not to be neutral, or passive, or waiting for a question. It is to be a radical positive change agent within your community.”
That was Theresa, a positive change agent with a passion for libraries.
She was the second child of seven, born to Carmen and Jack Powles and grew up in Meredith in regional Victoria. Her primary schooling was at Saint Josephs Primary School Meredith, then Geelong for her secondary education attending Sacred Heart College.
She married young and had two sons Tremayne and Travis by the time she was 21.
As a single parent she looked for a career path and decided to follow her passion for people and reading. Theresa attended Ballarat College of Advanced Education where she completed a Bachelor of Arts Librarianship. It was a busy time working, studying and being a mum.
With her Library qualification Theresa and her son’s lives were to change when she headed to the Northern Territory to take up job as adult services librarian in the Darwin Library. It was here that her eyes were open to the true history of indigenous Australia, it's people, the land culture and a deep spirituality on country..
After years in the Territory she decided it was time to return home to become Librarian at Saint John of God’s Hospital, Ballarat. She remained there for several years but realised public libraries were her passion so on to Bendigo Library where she honed her skills in management and program design.
Theresa realised she missed the heat and headed to Logan libraries in Queensland. It was here that Theresa meet many refugee and immigrant families and went out of her way to be supportive. To celebrate diversity she designed many library programs, such asAround the world in flags. She was a great supporter of the underdog throughout her career and also wrote about and supported the Libraries for Timor Leste Project.
Her next challenge, back in the Territory was working with SERCO, immigration detention centre. Theresa had great empathy for all her clients and supported them in many ways. Hussein one of her favourites, remembers when he headed to Melbourne to look for work, she gave him five hundred dollars to help him get started. He was tearful when he heard of Theresa’s sudden death.
With the closure of SERCO, she was looking for her next job when her brother Peter told her about the Branch Librarians job in Condobolin. She thrived in the position and was integral in securing an extension to the library building. She made many friends, looked out for the youth of the town and instigated the Last Friday Picture Show and the Bridge club’s annual trip away. She was also involved in the Library Book Club, the Picnic Race Club and Women’s wellness expo.
Coonarbarabran Library had heard of her skills and she was head hunted for the Chief Librarian’s job and had only recently moved there.
She was a great lover of poetry, literature and films. Coincidentally her favourite movie was on TV the night before her funeral service. ‘My Brilliant Career’ reminds us of her love for libraries and her role as community change agent.
A true friend that will be missed by many.
Theresa is survived by sons Tremayne, Travis and partner Jade and granddaughter Alani.
Iran and America
Headed to the National Storytelling Summit in Fremont California in July, but had a bit of a hiccup on the way. Because I had travelled to Iran in 2013 I had to attend the American Embassy for an interview. They wanted to know why I'd been there. After waiting waiting, passport and visa finally arrived. Reposting my Iranian adventure. it had me thinking on similarities rather than differences.
Compassion, kindness and generosity of spirit.
"East Timor Independence Day is celebrated on the 20th of May every year. This important day marks the independence won by Timor Leste from Indonesian rule in 2002.
Reposting my stories from 2013 visit as I think back to my visit with the Alma Nuns and the wonderful compassion, kindness and sense of sacred they live with everyday.
The Alma Nuns
Singing, stories and love. You could feel it in the air
Storytelling in Timor Leste
The translator and I worked seamlessly and they students kept looking from one to the other. A satisfying sigh, followed the time lapse of listening to the translation of the final sentence. Much joy for me.
I love when the chiefs hold hands as they sing welcome and our journey to Balibo.
More about Aunty Marilyn
Aboriginal Water Grants program sees funding for Bendigo Creek continue
Aunty Marilyne Nicholls has been involved as a water projects officer, and as a Dja Dja Wurrung person working with Dja Dja Wurrung Enterprises and engaging members.
Water is life, and holds huge significance for the Dja Dja Wurrung people as a place to live, and part of traditional ceremonies, Aunty Marilyne said.
Now, they want to reclaim agency in the system of water ownership, for the good of the land and for future generations.
“Everybody needs to play their part for the future of better water for country as well as people, and the impact it plays on that bigger biodiversity of life,” she said.
“Because it’s not just about us as peoples, it’s about the future, it’s about what we leave for our kids for the future.”
When the work began, the site was a disaster zone.
The project has changed her mind about how Aboriginal people can work to heal waterways.
“When I first was asked if I’d like to be involved in a Bendigo Creek project, I said, no,” Aunty Marilyne said.
“I teach traditional weaving with sedge grasses, and I thought no, I’m not going to take any of my people down to that waterway to get sick while they’re harvesting grasses, we’re not going anywhere near it.
“To see something like this, and to be engaged and work on this process of how it’s been developed has changed my mind about how we can work to start healing that water.” To read the entire article, go here
... the mosquito is coming soon
A new arts project, dubbed The Mosquito, will be dedicated to telling the story of Hepburn Shire through a series of story slams. A number of story slam nights will be held in Daylesford which will culminate in a finale, to coincide with the town’s Live.Life.Love Festival in November. The slam will be recorded on podcast and vidcast. These recordings will then be played on Hepburn Community Radio and at Visitor Information Centres around the shire as a fresh way to promote the shire and the people who live within it. Local storyteller Anne E Stewart, who will facilitate the workshops, said she came up with the idea with former Hepburn Shire Council Mayor, Rod May. “I went out with Rod. This was always our idea. We went out in Brooklyn to see The Moth and were blown away with how the true stories were being told live... so we came up with a crazy idea to do it back home. We decided on The Mosquito because we thought it would sound a bit more Aussie,” she said. The body which has auspiced the program, the Spa Country Events Group, received $11,400 of funding towards the project. “The concept behind The Moth is to tell personal stories based on a theme, for example, endurance. But I really want to target the themes that are unique to Hepburn Shire like the region’s natural landmarks, food, organics, green principles, rainbow families and wellbeing, so the workshops will contribute to telling the personal stories of the community,” she said. “The Dja Dja Wurrung are also interested in the project so I’m looking at doing a workshop with them to get their perspective too.” The project will up-skill contributing artists by allowing them to exchange skills in storytelling and digital media.
by Hayley Elg JULY 11 2018 - 7:30AM
To celebrate this year’s NAIDOC Week theme, ‘Because of Her, We Can’ three women are joining forces to tell women’s stories from different perspectives.
Local storyteller Anne E Stewart will host the storytelling event, which will be led by multi clan indigenous elder, Aunty Marilyne Nicholls. Social ecologist Laurel Freeland will share stories of women’s connection with Mother Earth.
The day is intended to celebrate Mother Earth as well as the women who have told the stories and passed on the traditional practices that keep culture and connection to the land alive.
It will open with a Dja Dja Wurrung Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony, followed by a day of stories, ceremony and healing.
Participants will be immersed in traditional aboriginal and contemporary stories of women, earth healing practices, rituals and will work with the elements.
Our Connection with Mother Earth: Stories and Workshop will be held at the Story House and Garden in Daylesford on July 12 from 10am-3.30pm. To register, visit www.storyhouseandgarden.com/events
NAIDOC Week Public Walk:
A new book by Lake House Culinary Director Alla Wolf-Tasker AM - “Three Decades On”.
Captivating stories of local producers, the region, the evolution of Lake House and wonderful recipes are illustrated with beautiful photography.
A limited number of copies signed by Alla are available to pre-order on a first come first served basis with delivery at the start of May - $69.95.
Pre Order Here
If you take a close look you’ll see it matches C J Denis’s poem “Going home”
Did you see them pass to-day, Billy, Kate and Robin,
All astride upon the back of old grey Dobbin?
Jigging, jogging off to school, down the dusty track -
What must Dobbin think of it - three upon his back?
Robin at the bridle-rein, in the middle Kate,
Billy holding on behind, his legs out straight.
Then it was onto "Skeleton Women by Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes from her collection of stories, Women who run with the wolves. Eeerie story that totally captivated all listeners. If you would like to read the story, go this link, Skeleton Women or to find out more about the fabulous Dr Estes you can connect on her face book page here. Me drum is sitting in the corner, ready to beat the calling, flesh, flesh, flesh..... It is a great story.
Fiona Hall is a leading contemporary Australian Artist and she was commissioned to make a piece. which was this stack of glass coffins, with floating skulls inside. It lent itself to the Ghost story, "The Dare". My version was set in the Ballan cemetery. Thrilling.