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Eightytwenty Vision fundraising event in Canberra

Thanks to everyone who came along to the Eightytwenty Vision fundraiser at Teatro Vivaldi last night.

A fun night of food and music. I really appreciate the support from the Canberra community for the work of EightyTwenty Vision. It's fantastic to see people able to connect with the lives of a community in rural Zimbabwe struggling to overcome their circumstances through grit, determination and innovation. 

A huge thanks to Grant Roberts and everyone who helped him organise the evening. A huge effort amongst uni assessment and all Grant's other commitments! 

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Notre Dame

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Notre Dame

We spent the last two weeks at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana. Two solid weeks of training with a game against the USA in Chicago as part of our preparation for the Rugby World Cup .

The long days allowed time in the evenings wandering the campus.

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Professional Whey

Professional Whey

Early on in my rugby career, I was sponsored by a supplement company. I was young, trying to maintain my weight and wanted protein to use at home and free product was pretty exciting. 

As I became more aware and interested in where the products were sourced, the impact this had on the products quality and the people involved in manufacturing them, as well as the impact they were having on my body, I started to ask questions about whether some of these things could be improved. Whether they would take the first, and what I thought was fairly reasonable, step of using Fairtrade or ethically sourced cocoa in their chocolate flavoured products? After a good couple of years, these questions came to nothing and so I parted ways with that company. I had found Professional Whey online and was really impressed with both their ethics and the quality of their products and so I began ordering protein powders and a few other products from them. 

This continued for a couple of years until Stephen Morris, the founder of Professional Whey, contacted me to chat about how I was finding the products and if I had any feedback. After hearing more about the business side of Professional Whey from Stephen I was even more impressed. They have a real commitment to sourcing great products from ethical sources and avoiding the kinds of additives and artificial sweeteners found in so many sports supplements.

After a few more conversations I became an ambassador for Professional Whey. I've been incredibly wary of promoting or pushing products that I don't believe in - that's one of the reasons I've been blacking out my boots for years - but with Professional Whey I genuinely believe in what their doing and have found their products really work for me. 

I understand that we're all sick of people trying to sell us stuff - in posting about this my hope is that people who do use sports supplements maybe think about some of these questions, and understand that there are companies like Professional Whey committed to providing an alternative. Hopefully we will see more of this across the industry. Thanks to Stephen and his team for their leadership. 

Update on Hope

Update on Hope

“What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.” - Chief Seattle

"What is happening to the rhino is symptomatic of the environment as a whole and I have a deep sense of a crunch approaching now." - Dr Ian Player

These photos tell the story of a species on the brink of extinction.
An extinction being caused by humans.
An extinction being stalled by the desperate efforts of humans.

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To support rhino conservation: Save African Rhino Foundation

"What we do to the animals we do to ourselves." - Chief Seattle. The work of Adrian Steirn.

"What we do to the animals we do to ourselves." - Chief Seattle. The work of Adrian Steirn.

On a recent trip to Cape Town with the Brumbies (to play the Stormers in a Super Rugby qualifying final) I managed to catch up with Adrian Steirn. Adrian is well known for his 21 Icons project (the first season included the last portrait taken of Nelson Mandela), as well as using images and videos as a means to stimulate discussion and action around a number of issues. I was blown away by his passion for the work that he is doing to highlight the plight of wildlife - especially rhino in Southern Africa, currently being poached for their horns at a rate of 1000+/year. I know rhinos get a lot more press than other species under threat in Africa (African Wild Dog, Pangolin, etc), but that doesn't change that they are infinitely worth saving.

He told me about recently photographing a rhino named Hope. Hope was found alive after having her horn hacked off by poachers. Adrian describes Hope as "a rhino that represents a species on the brink." He documented the hours of surgery and care to save Hope's life and, while the below images are graphic, I believe they are extremely powerful.

"Can you imagine her confusion...as the same species who hacked her face in half are now trying to save her." - Adrian Steirn

"Can you imagine her confusion...as the same species who hacked her face in half are now trying to save her."
- Adrian Steirn

Hope after her third operation.

Hope after her third operation.

The people working to protect and save rhinos are truly amazing, putting their safety at risk to protect these magnificent animals. The issues around the trade of ivory and rhino horn are complex and it will take time to reduce demand - in the mean time the tireless effort of game rangers all over Africa is crucial. As is our support.

To support this vital work, check out Save African Rhino Foundation

Adrian Steirn: Instagram and Twitter. Both photographs are his.

Here's a short video that's well worth a watch.
'Thandi's calf: the rhino that should never have been born'

 

 

      

  
     
    
       
        
           
                
           
        

        

       
    
     
  


     

  
     
    
       
        
           
                
           
        

        

       
    
     
  


    
 A couple of the Emus we saw out at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve this morning.  

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A couple of the Emus we saw out at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve this morning.  

Cacao Balls by #HITB

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Cacao Balls by #HITB

Here's a recipe from the amazing Anna Keenan of Hang In The Balance. Her blog is definitely worth checking out.

Made them as an afternoon snack to have while watching some club rugby.

Filling:
2 x 30g scoops protein powder - I used Professional Whey Elite 3.0 in Vanilla
2 x heaped tablespoons cacao powder
3 x tablespoons dessicated coconut
½ teaspoon vanilla powder
good pinch of sea salt
2 x tablespoons coconut cream
2 x tablespoons almond butter
50 ml shot of espresso (cooled), or water

Coating:
50g cacao butter
4 x tablespoons cacao powder
pinch salt
pinch vanilla powder

Method:

Filling:

1. Combine all of the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix together

2. Add in the nut butter and coconut cream and combine

3. Add in the water or espresso in small amounts. The consistency should be so that it can easily be rolled into balls, but not so wet that the mixture sticks to your hand when trying to roll. If you accidentally add too much liquid, add in a small amount of protein powder and combine again.

4. Leave the mixture in the bowl until the coating is ready
 

Coating:

5. Melt the cacao butter in a pan over a low heat

6. Once fully melted, remove the pan from the heat and add in the cacao powder, salt and vanilla until combined

 

7. Now, take a small amount of filling and roll into a ball
8. Dip the ball into the coating mixture and place directly onto a plate

9. Repeat until all the filling mixture is used up and place the balls immediately into the freezer
10. Leave in the freezer for 5 minutes, then remove the plate and recoat the balls with the coating mixture by pouring over with a spoon. Pour any excess liquid from the plate, back into the pan.

11. Place the coated balls back in the freezer for another 10 minutes or until set.

12. After ten minutes or so, remove the balls from the plate and into a sealed container, and consume, or store in the refrigerator.

 

Note - if you have excess coating, simply pour onto folded baking paper or a silicone mat, allow to set in the fridge and you have yourself some sugar free chocolate!

You’ll notice that you’ll only want to eat one or maybe two of these at a time. That’s because they are packed with healthy fats, so a small amount is incredibly satiating - much unlike sugary treats that leave your brain searching for more!

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Coconut raspberry treat

Coconut raspberry treat

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We usually keep an ice tray filled with coconut cream in the freezer. It makes making 'healthy treats' a lot easier. I sometimes have this after a big day of training if I'm still hungry after dinner.  

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Protein Chocolate Ricotta Squares

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Protein Chocolate Ricotta Squares

Good to have in the fridge for when you need a mid-afternoon snack.. Really nice with a dollop of cream and some rasberries!

40g of 90% (or higher) chocolate
120g butter
120g ricotta
1 tablespoon of almond butter (I just used almonds processed to a butter in a high power blender)
1 teaspoon vanilla powder
240g Professional Whey Elite 3.0 Protein Powder in Vanilla or Cacao
1 tablespoon of cacao
2 tablespoons of sweetener of your choice (I used stevia)
handful of macadamias or pecans, chopped

In a small saucepan combine butter, chocolate, ricotta and almond butter. Melt while mixing to form a paste. Stir through your sweetener and vanilla. Pour into a bowl with the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. It will be pretty thick and may require a bit of elbow grease (not literally) to mix it through. Tip into a lined square tin and flatten. Refrigerate and once solid slice into 16 squares. Store in the refrigerator.

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Farmer Angus

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Farmer Angus

Angus McIntosh's energy is infectious. From the moment you meet him you know that this is someone who embraces life and lives with passion. Inspired by Michael Pollan's 'The Omnivore's Dilemma', he left behind life as a stockbroker with Goldman Sachs in London and headed back home, to South Africa, to farm... His philosophy is "we are custodians of the land and we need to ensure that at all times fertility is improving on the farm" and his farm is the the only pure grass-fed and finished beef operation in South Africa.

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In 2013 Emma and I visited his farm, located just outside of Stellenbosch. He uses high density grazing, running 350 cattle on 114 hectares. He also has 4,000 laying hens that lay their eggs in 'eggmobiles' (seen above) that are moved daily to new pasture.

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April Fools backfires

April Fools backfires

I thought I had a pretty good scheme to get Matt Toomua on 1/4/15 but as Jamie Pandaram writes, TOOMUA HAD THE LAST LAUGH

THERE were plenty of April Fool’s shenanigans going on in Canberra this week and not all of the pranks went down well.

We hear David Pocock thought he’d ruined his close friendship with Brumbies teammate Matt Toomua after being reverse pranked.

Toomua hates it when his fiancé, dual sports star Ellyse Perry, is asked to do marketing work by the Brumbies. Apparently Pocock used the email of the Brumbies manager to send a couple of requests to Perry for photo opportunities.

But Toomua was wise to the trick. Word soon filtered back to Pocock that Toomua had flown into a rage and smashed a glass door, sending the flanker scrambling to sort out the drama only to learn he had been done by his own prank.

Easter Chocolate

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Easter Chocolate

If you're keen to have some chocolate this Easter but not so keen on the sugar, palm oil and other ingredients corporate food put in chocolate, then here's a recipe for you. Emma made some home-made chocolate and it turned out really well.

Here's the recipe:
1 cup melted Cacao Butter
1 cup macadamia butter (or other nut butter)
3/4 cup Cacao powder
less than 1/4 teaspoon Stevia extract (or 6 dates if you want to use them)
Blend it for two minutes and then place in the fridge to set.

*Em added Cacao nibs and sea salt on top before it set
 

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        </iframe>" data-provider-name="YouTube"         I went to a screening of 'That Sugar Film' here in Canberra last week and can't recommend it enough. Funny and informative, Damon Gameau has done an amazing job documenting his 'sugar experiment' and the effect that sugar has on all of our health.

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I went to a screening of 'That Sugar Film' here in Canberra last week and can't recommend it enough. Funny and informative, Damon Gameau has done an amazing job documenting his 'sugar experiment' and the effect that sugar has on all of our health.

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Took this in the Nishi Building in New Acton today. Part of the 'Art, Not Apart' exhibition in Canberra. A lot going on...

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“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”  
― Wendell Berry

“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”
― Wendell Berry

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Sustainable farming in the Orara Valley. 

 I spent New Years at Waterfall Agriculture in Upper Orara, NSW. An amazing property run by Troy Blackman and his partner, Hannah. They’re running Charolais stud and beef cattle as well as pastured eggs.  

 If you’re in the Coffs Harbour area check them out!

Sustainable farming in the Orara Valley.

I spent New Years at Waterfall Agriculture in Upper Orara, NSW. An amazing property run by Troy Blackman and his partner, Hannah. They’re running Charolais stud and beef cattle as well as pastured eggs.

If you’re in the Coffs Harbour area check them out!

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Statement after appearing in Gunnedah Local Court

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Statement after appearing in Gunnedah Local Court

In November I was arrested while part of a nonviolent protest in the Leard State Forest - which is the site of Whitehaven’s Maules Creek coal mine. Today my case went before the Gunnedah Local Court and the offence was proved but dismissed without conviction by the Magistrate. I’d like to thank Ken Averre for representing me. I would also like to thank everyone who has supported me over the last few months, it has been incredibly humbling. And I’d also like to thank the people who haven’t agreed with my actions but have been willing to engage in conversation about some of the issues involved.

While it is a relief to have the charges against me dismissed this comes at a time when Australia is expanding coal production with the approval of a new mine in Gunnedah just this week.

After spending ten hours chained to local farmer Rick Laird in November, I was struck by the harsh reality farmers like Rick face. Not only does the coal mine affect his community now (producing 18,000 tonnes of coal dust just 4km’s from his children’s school and dropping the water table) but in years to come Australian farmers will bear the brunt of a changing climate - worsened by the burning of coal from mines like the one at Maules Creek.

While everyone may not agree with the actions I took, I hope they will see this as an opportunity to further the conversation about climate change and engage more people in helping to shape what is all of our futures. Our reliance on coal and its effects on the climate affect us all. Action on climate change may seem daunting but I believe we all have a role to play and I am proud to have stood with Rick. My hope is that our small action will have gone some way to progressing conversation and action on climate change to ensure that we leave a liveable planet for future generations.

More info:
Front Line Action on Coal

Lock the Gate

350.org

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            I took this photo of a recently cut down Mopane (Colophospermum mopane) tree in Nkayi, Zimbabwe, last year. Mopane is one of Southern Africas heaviest woods, it is used for building houses and fences and sometimes as firewood as it burns longer and hotter than most other woods.

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I took this photo of a recently cut down Mopane (Colophospermum mopane) tree in Nkayi, Zimbabwe, last year. Mopane is one of Southern Africas heaviest woods, it is used for building houses and fences and sometimes as firewood as it burns longer and hotter than most other woods.

I took this photo of a recently cut down Mopane (Colophospermum mopane) tree in Nkayi, Zimbabwe, last year. Mopane is one of Southern Africas heaviest woods, it is used for building houses and fences and sometimes as firewood as it burns longer and hotter than most other woods.

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Statement after my arrest for involvement in nonviolent direct action

Statement after my arrest for involvement in nonviolent direct action

I will not be answering any questions or doing interviews about my involvement in yesterdays nonviolent protest in Whitehaven’s Maules Creek coal mine, but I am able to share the below. I hope it provides some context for those interested.

Regards,

Dave

“My parents were always clear with my brothers and I when we were growing up that you have to have the courage of your convictions and that when you commit to something you must fully commit. That’s why, this weekend I travelled to the Leard Blockade to meet with farmers, activists and fellow Canberrans who are deeply concerned about the expansion of the Maules Creek Mine in the Leard State Forest. A group of us decided to take part in an action that would disable a super digger while we occupied it and raise awareness about the plight of the Maules Creek community, the Leard State Forest, the local Gamilaroi whose country and sacred sites are being destroyed, and all of us who are beginning to suffer the impacts of climate change.”

I was sitting under the shade of an acacia tree on a few rickety old chairs that a grade five student had dutifully carried from a classroom. The tree provided welcome relief from the stifling midday heat. It was early December, 2010, in rural Zimbabwe, hot and incredibly dry, as it often is before the summer rains arrive.

A group of us from a local community organisation and its Australian partners had spent the morning with local subsistence farmers, talking and learning about the challenges they face and what they see as solutions. It had been a busy morning and we were enjoying waiting in the shade at the primary school while another group met with local teachers.

I was chatting to Paul, an incredibly charismatic and intelligent man. He’d been a teacher before the Zimbabwean economy crashed and now worked as a community worker, connecting local farmers to collective learning and teaching experiences in order to improve their livelihoods and autonomy. Paul speaks five languages fluently and has lived all over Southern Africa. Add his wicked sense of humour and there’s never a dull moment.

He spoke with great passion about some of the bigger issues facing the community and finally came to his point, leaning across and looking me straight in the eye as he said, “What we are really worried about is this climate change. We here can do nothing about it. It is rich countries, like yours, that have caused this problem. We are paying the price and we have no resources to deal with these challenges.”

It’s four years since Paul and I sat under that acacia tree and this weekend I found myself similarly trying to find shade while having a chat with a farmer. This time I was chained to the farmer – Rick Laird – on an enormous super digger in Whitehaven’s Maules Creek mine.

Rick is a fifth generation farmer.. The Leard State Forest was named after his forebears. Despite the obvious geographic differences between Paul and Rick there was some overlap in their stories.

Like Paul, Rick is faced with the daunting challenge of what our extractive fossil fuel industry means for his future, the future of his land, and of his children. Whitehaven Coal is mining just a few kilometres away from his property and his children’s’ school. The new coal mine has been controversial to say the least.

First, questions were raised over the approval of a mine in the Leard State Forest - one of the last remaining areas of nationally-listed and critically endangered Box-Gum Woodland.

Second, Rick is faced with a coal mine just four kilometres from his children’s school. Over 18,000 tonnes of coal dust will blow across the region over the life of the mine, raising the risk of asthma in his kids. Apparently, only a few days earlier, Professor of Community Health and IPCC contributor, Colin Butler, took action at Maules Creek to highlight the health risks associated with coal dust.

Unfortunately both Rick and Paul (and all of us) are faced with the reality that we have governments and big business who often leave the fate of family farmers or the world’s poor out of the debate. Here in Australia we are faced with retreat from action on climate change and a clear commitment from our government to expand the fossil fuel industry – with plans to double our coal production. How can we possibly try to prevent catastrophic climate change while opening new coal mines? What does this mean for people like Rick and Paul, who are already carrying the burden of our reliance on extractive fossil fuels? And, what can we possibly do about it?

These questions tend to leave many people feeling overwhelmed and like there are simply no solutions. But all over the world we can look to examples of problems that have been solved by groups of dedicated citizens. In India, the salt marches. In the United States, lunch counter sit-ins. In Argentina, workplace occupations. And in Australia, the Gurindji strike and the Moree freedom rides.

These peaceful direct actions raised serious questions about a huge variety of inequalities – pointing to the now obvious fact that those situations were deeply unfair and needed to be changed. In many cases activists did things which were illegal – but this civil disobedience was often what shifted public debate on issues and allowed the depth of inequality to be made visible.

All around the world people are resorting to non-violent direct action and civil disobedience to highlight the deep inequalities represented by the climate crisis. The nonviolent direct action I was part of on the weekend was very well planned, with the safety of Whitehaven’s security, staff and participants our primary concern. We were a group of eight Canberrans including public servants and a philosophy lecturer, and a local Maules Creek farmer who have grave concerns about the future of Australia and the legacy we will leave for generations to come.

We believe that we have far more in common with mine workers than the big companies that own most mines in Australia. The issue is with government policy and mining companies, not employees. Stopping new coal mines could result in huge investment in the renewables sector which would employ more people, as the mining industry seeks to automate more and more employed positions within its operations, limiting the cost of human resources.

Farmers like Paul and Rick have very little power to create change on their own. But when they are part of a broader movement of concerned citizens – change becomes possible. Since 2012, over 280 people have shown a commitment to join Frontline Action on Coal and stand alongside farmers like Rick and the local community, taking part in arrestable actions in and around the Leard State Forest.

My deep concern about climate change and the fate of people like Rick, Paul and the mine workers that I have been involved in many campaigns over the years – taking part in petitions, rallies, and discussion forums. But, until this weekend I have never participated in non-violent direct action. I have always hesitated – concerned about the impact this might have on my career.

My parents were always clear with my brothers and I when we were growing up that you have to have the courage of your convictions and that when you commit to something you must fully commit. That’s why, this weekend I travelled to the Leard Blockade to meet with farmers, activists and fellow Canberrans who are deeply concerned about the expansion of the Maules Creek Mine in the Leard State Forest. A group of us decided to take part in an action that would disable a super digger while we occupied it and raise awareness about the plight of the Maules Creek community, the Leard State Forest, the local Gamilaroi whose country and sacred sites are being destroyed, and all of us who are beginning to suffer the impacts of climate change.

After a very long day, after being arrested and processed, the constable looked at me sternly and said, “You don’t want to continue down this road. The ramifications are simply not worth it.”

I understood his warning but couldn’t help but think that his words were a perfect summary of the situation we collectively find ourselves in; scientists the world over are urging us to act on climate change – to leave coal in the ground and focus on renewables. Farmers like Rick Laird are fighting for the future of their farmlands. If I ask myself the question – what would I want people to do to help me if I was in Rick Laird’s position? Then I know I made the right decision.While people may not agree with me being arrested, I hope they will see this as an opportunity to further the conversation about climate change and engage more people in helping to shape what is all of our futures.

We all have a role to play.