My New Life In Glebe


March 22, 2016

    I moved to Glebe last Tuesday, exactly a week and a day ago, and I slipped into my new lifestyle here seamlessly. Glebe is a suburb in the Inner West, which is on the other side of the CBD than the eastern suburbs, where I was living before. The eastern suburbs, like Paddington, are so great because they are in between the city and the beach. The Inner West is a bit less expensive to live in, because it’s far from the beaches, but it attracts a really cool crowd! Mostly young people or uni students live here and the main streets are lined with little coffee shops, funky burger joints, takeaway Asian food places, vegan ice cream parlors, and darkly lit pubs with wooden outdoor benches... people have beards and tattoos and walk their little dogs up and down Glebe Point Road. 

    I’m sharing the apartment with a guy from New Zealand who is my age and actually used to live in Old Greenwich but we never knew each other before! Bella came and stayed with us too for her last week in Sydney and it was a blast having all three of us living together. The apartment is so conveniently located just outside the city so now I walk to art class! The morning walk is beautiful, past the Fish Markets, through Pyrmont and over the bridge in Darling Harbour. It’s also only a 5-minute walk from my internship at YFM, through the beautiful Blackwattle Bay Park. I’ve started going for 6:30am runs through this park and it is the absolute perfect way to start the day. This morning (the first morning of no rain for days!), the air was cool and fresh and there was a mist hovering over the water. The university rowing team has their boathouse on this bay and were out training this morning, cutting through the still, reflective water and gliding soundlessly backwards. The birds were beginning to chirp and I could feel the city slowly stirring awake… it was one of those moments that you realize are just perfect. 

    I’ve been going to a lot of different events for my internship and work lately to learn about different things. For example, tonight, a few of the other interns at YFM and I organized a talk by an urban beekeeper in Newtown as part of a welcoming for the new volunteers. It was fascinating. Bees are such complex and intelligent animals that are absolutely critical for Earth’s survival. I knew they were pretty cool before, but now I am utterly amazed by all they can do and would absolutely get my own bees if I wasn’t traveling right now (idea tucked away for the future). Did you know that most bees live between 2 weeks - 6 months, depending on the season, but the queen bee lives 8 years? And that is all because the queen bee is fed a special substance called royal jelly?! I also learned that bees are pretty badass feminists. Upwards of 80% of the bees in a hive are female and it is the females that do all of the honey producing and hive building. The males - called Drones - only exist to mate with a virgin queen bee once and then die. If the drones come back, their sisters either kill them or block them out of the hive so they starve! Brutal, right? The virgin queen bee goes out once in her lifetime and mates with a variety of drones and then for the next 8 years, produces between 1,000 - 2,000 eggs. Also, locally produced honey is SO much better than commercially farmed ones for countless reasons, including the health benefits of allergy immunity, the treatment of the bees, the lowered carbon footprint, the genetic diversity of the colonies, and the quality of the honey. I could go on and on about all the interesting facts I learned but I’ll end this topic with 2 shocking statistics: 1. 2/3 of food production is reliant on foods and 2. If bees go extinct, humans will die out within the next 4 years. Tonight I’m watching the documentary Queen of the Sun: What are the Bees Telling Us?  

    I’ve also been going to training sessions at The Beresford. The most recent ones were bartending training and cocktail drink making. Cocktail drink making was quite fun, but I can’t help but feel like I’m making some chemical concoction with all these strange horrible tasting liquids hahaha. After working at The Beresford for over a month now, I feel so connected to the community there. It is unlike any other job I’ve had in that the staff is SO close. Pretty much every night there is a group hanging out, all a mix of bartenders, bar-backs, supervisors, and runners. I went out with them for St. Patrick’s day last week and it was a great night/morning. I am especially close with the chefs and the kitchen staff, who are so culturally divided for some reason. The cooks are all Australian, the pizza chefs are all Italian, and the kitchen staff is all Bangladeshi. At this point, I could get by in both Italy and Bangladesh with all the words they’ve taught me! Just to give you a sense of the community there, the other day at work I was feeling quite sick and everyone was so sweet is just made my night so much better. Antonio, my favorite pizza chef, gave me his sweater because I was cold, Kevin, the security guard made me a cup of tea, and Mirzda, my co-worker offered to take my late shift so I could go home early! The work isn’t great and neither is the pay at The Beresford but the people make it more than worth it to stay. 

    This past week has also been full of doing lots of fun day trips/eating out with Bella because it was her last week in Sydney and we still had so much to cross off our buckets lists!! The absolute highlight was going to The Grounds of Alexandria, which a lunch place that has multiple restaurants, an outdoor garden with beautiful plant-covered trellises, rose gardens, and lots of little food stands. There even were animal pens with goats and pigs! We spent the whole day there and would’ve stayed longer if we could’ve. I’ll let the photos demonstrate how beautiful it was:


Parents Came to Visit!

March 14, 2016  

       My parents just left his morning and it’s time to recount the past week’s adventures! It has been so wonderful having them here; showing them the new life I’ve built and creating new shared memories together!

      With them here, I was able to do lots of sightseeing/touristy things that have been on my bucket list since I arrived! 

      One of the best trips was to the North with my parents and Bella. We took the ferry to Manly and walked along the ocean side, passing Shelly Beach and entering the Nature Reserve. We hiked on sandy paths with lush greenery creating a canopy overhead to shield us from the sweltering mid-day sun. We climbed up rocky steps, noticing the vegetation shrink into low shrubbery as we got higher and higher on the cliffs. We made it to the Fairfax Lookout that offers spectacular views of the city on one side and a sheer cliff face dramatically descending into the foamy ocean on the other. 

    So exhausted, sweaty, sore, and starving, we couldn’t believe it when we came across an amazing Italian Restaurant called Bella Vista. We enjoyed a lovely lunch of Italian prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella, and fresh pasta, then continued on with our journey along the harbour side - needing the 2 hour hike back to work off all the (delicious) food we stuffed ourselves with! 

    We went to St. Patrick’s Seminary, the mansion where The Great Gatsby was filmed and Collins Bay on the way back. 

    This week, we also got a full dose of contemporary art. We saw two galleries that were both fantastic - the Grayson Perry exhibit at the MCA and The White Rabbit in Chippendale. Although right now, I’m personally very focused on learning realistic art - my school is extremely technical and traditional - I love seeing art that is the complete opposite. I like art that has a message, is creative, and changes, or at least opens my mind to new ideas. 

    Grayson Perry is a UK artist that pushes the boundaries in every way. He focused on craft art, such as pottery and tapestries, that fine art snootily think it is too good for. His pieces are provocative, hilarious, and exquisitely well executed. If you hear of Grayson Perry exhibiting near you - Go!! 

    The White Rabbit Gallery is all contemporary Chinese art that is simply breathtaking in terms of the scale, the craftsmanship, and the radical ideas. Many of the works are very symbolic and a common theme throughout the gallery is breaking free from China’s past in this new modern age. 

Other highlights from the past week include: 

  •     Yesterday morning, I went bike riding with my Dad in Centennial Park and it was the first time I had ever ridden a road bike! AH now I completely understand why road bikes are SO much better than regular ones. We fit right in with hoards of other bikers, whizzing by at 25 miles an hour. Centennial park in the morning, with its symphony of cockatoos and fighting bats, horses trotting around the ring, and that plant smell that is so hard to describe but is a combination of lemon, mint, and licorice and brings me straight back to Vermont in the summertime, is unforgettable.
  •     Having breakfast in the Queen Victoria Building and admiring its beautiful interior balconies. It is definitely the prettiest mall I’ve ever been in (The Westchester pales in comparison now!)
  •     Having a mother-daughter date out at a Thai restaurant in Five Ways - the cute intersection in Paddington. 
  • An outdoor dinner at our family friend’s house taking an unexpected turn when a possum started pooping on the table from the overhanging tree! It was so cute though that we couldn’t get mad at it :) 

An Evening of Soda Politics

March 1, 2016

Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda and Winning 

Tonight I went to a lecture at Sydney University by Dr. Marion Nestle. She is a professor at NYU in the department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health and is globally renowned for her many books including Eat, Drink, Vote, What to Eat, and Food Politics. Her talk focused on her latest book, Soda Politics that digs deep into the health problems of obesity and heart disease in America and how the food and beverage industry is completing blocking improvements for the sake of big business and profits. Did you know that in the United States, sugary beverages account for half of sugar intake in the average diet? I tend to relate the massive food problem we have to literally food, by which I mean solids, but beverages often slip under the radar when the are in fact the worst culprits! The piles of sugar – 11 teaspoons of sugar in 1 can of coke ___ - are hidden by the artificial flavoring and coloring. 

One shocking lesson I learned is just how corrupt the advertising system is and immoral big soda companies will be to protect their profits. Coca Cola spends billions of dollars funding health organizations and researchers to spew out false or skewed evidence that soda isn’t bad for you. In 2009, there was a spike of spending - 11 million in that year alone - by soft beverage companies to fund research and advertising campaigns protecting their reputation because of the soda cap and soda tax bills being discussed in legislation. Coca Cola even paid college students to protest for their “freedom of choice,” making it seem like a grass-roots promotion! In the end, the soda cap and tax weren’t passed: example A of how big industry and lobbyists write the rules governing politics.  

I loved the energy in the room. Everyone there was clearly passionate about food and I felt so inspired and empowered by being among them. I especially love the YFM team, who are all really cool, young women determined to make a change in the world. The office where we work is in Glebe, on the waterfront looking over Blackwattle Bay, in no other than a restored waste-disposal building! It is industrial-chic with high, geometric ceilings and concrete/metal siding. This internship, more than any others I've done, gives me so much insight into where I want to direct my future career. I had previously been playing with the idea of studying International Relations or Law, focused on Global Food Politics or Sustainable Development. Meeting all these women and men through YFM and the related events has shown me, though that there are countless routes to get to the same end goal of tackling the food and sustainability problem. Some went the nutrition route, others food anthropology, medicine, even business management and marketing. In sum: The key is to find what you're good at, then you can apply that skill to any industry that interests you. (My parents have only been telling me that for as long as I can remember.)