I’D have to sum up the past year as ‘transformative’.
I’ve always loved to travel, to open doors into new worlds and communities, immersing myself in others’ passions and achievements no matter how briefly, enriching my own worlds.
This year, with my usual activities curtailed by COVID-19, I’ve had the privilege of travelling into the world of our local community instead, as a reporter for News Of The Area.
At heart I’m a storyteller through my writing and photography, and the idea of being able to give others a voice through journalism has been a new and exciting opportunity for me.
Over the past six months I believe I’ve found the strong, unconquerable heart of Coffs, which often beats unseen below the sometimes strident layers of self-interest.
In this heart exists another dimension of folk, often volunteers or their coordinators, who go quietly about the business of helping the souls who through no fault of their own are judged by others as being of lesser importance; of listening to and hearing those whose voices are rusty or broken.
Of those who speak up for the animals, or our spectacular natural environment.
The inspirational people I’ve met, aged from 16 to 100, often don’t seek acclaim or even recognition except where publicity may benefit those they’re helping.
Sometimes it was I who approached them for a story, and I hope I did justice to them.
I’ve enjoyed the laughs and camaraderie I seem to have found everywhere, the openness and honesty.
Among my most rewarding moments have been hearing back that a story has brought some readers to the help they need, brought more volunteers in through the doors, or in some other way brightened someone’s day.
Thank you for the feedback.
I’ve vicariously traversed unimaginable distances from the ever-increasing magnifications of Steve Young’s groundbreaking supermacro photography, to the vastness of outer space and secrets of the Universe uncovered by Win Howard.
Who knows which end of this spectrum will ultimately prove the vaster.
And the fulcrum of this spectrum, anchoring our own community, is the dedication and expertise of the likes of Alex Floyd, 96-years old botanist, and the work of Dunecare and the RSPCA.
I like to think that in my six months with NOTA I’ve made some humble contribution towards shining a light on the endeavours of the people who have so much to teach us should we stop to listen, those who so generously express the humanity I’m certain resides somewhere within us all, without whom this beautiful place we call home would become an ugly one indeed.
My wishes for 2021 are that we all find a way to recognise the value of kindness: both our own to give, and that shown to us; that increased respect for animals and the environment may rise from the chaos of 2020; and that we all connect with the life-giving forces we are heir to.
That our city’s remaining natural spaces are preserved from the growing tide of concrete that’s making our city increasingly fort-like; that a place remains for those who seek refuge from all the concrete and busyness.
Leunig would know what I’m talking about.
By Monika KOZLOVSKIS