It seems I was about the only person in Lismore who didn't attend last Saturday's anti-CSG rally. (I had made a commitment six months earlier to be a part of a team in the Byron Bay triathlon. After all of the training we had done, there was no way I could let my teammates down.)
Estimating numbers at these things is always a spurious task, but the rally organisers had somebody counting heads on the day and the figure of 7000 seems to be widely accepted. That's 7000 people who gave up a sunny Saturday to take part in a political protest; 7000 people who want the message that they don't want coal seam gas mining destroying the region to be heard by the politicians in Macquarie Street.
Depending on who was doing the counting, that's almost as many (or more) than the anti-CSG rally held in Sydney recently. For a town with a population of 50,000, it's a significant turnout and the biggest protest anyone I've spoken to can remember ever happening in Lismore.
Maybe it was the sun, the music and the comedy on stage, but the other thing people talked about was the sense of community they felt. It seems that the act of coming together to express what they didn't want united the crowd of 7000 otherwise disparate people.
The annual Lantern Parade and festival is another occasion when all the divergent groups of Lismore can come together and celebrate being part of this community.
There is a real joy in a community getting together, whether it's to dance in the streets carrying lanterns or to protest against a common threat.
Let's hope the sun shines on this year's Lantern Parade "harvest" and the message gets down to those making decisions in Sydney.