Society's healing balm is where human spirit thrives

Dr Airdre Grant at Classic Wallabies versus Barbarians in Lismore.
Dr Airdre Grant at Classic Wallabies versus Barbarians in Lismore. Sophie Moeller

I BECAME depressed. During my trip to Melbourne I discovered the Nightingale project and sustainable city house based on all sorts of socially and environmentally responsible principles I became excited. Here I could see design about people before profit. There is a positive future, I thought to myself, despite all the horrible and gloomy local and international news. I was excited!

Then I went to another set of apartments and this was a salutary lesson in what profit before people looks like. The building was huge, swanky with a great raft of letterboxes in the foyer. The flats were tiny and instead of a kitchen they had a hallway that the two tiny bedrooms and the bathroom, complete with washing machine and dryer, fed off. Here was a bench, a sink and a place for appliances such as the coffee machine, microwave, toaster, a small cooktop, a dishwasher. The tiny living room was dominated by a HUGE screen and a balcony baked under the Western sun. There was no table for people to eat and share food. No doubt washing machines, dryers, dishwashers were in every tiny apartment in this large block. No concession at all to the energy demands and rubbish creation. These are expensive apartments.

Why are the sustainable and socially responsible guidelines of the Nightingale Project the exception, rather than the rule? They make so much sense in these environmentally perilous times. People want to live like lightly on the earth. Nightingale 1 is being built and there are 8000 people on the waiting list.

Everywhere I looked there were banks of apartments being built. I became glum as I could see greed winning out again.

I realised, in the face of such developer avarice and environmental insensitivity, there was only one thing to do, and that was to go and see Thor Ragnarok. This movie about epic heroes, villains and realms, based on the Marvel comics, was so funny and good and entertaining that I forgot my despair entirely and delighted in the grand story and the creativity and skill of my fellow humans. Kiwi director Taika Waititi has injected the huge drama with a good dose of Maori humour. It's a treat. My friend and I laughed and laughed and emerged in thoroughly good moods.

So that's the remedy, as it has always been. When the world gets to awful to contemplate and the rottenness of society begins to overwhelm, do something that brings you into the healing balm of the creative world where the human spirit thrives. Go to the movies, read a book, read poetry, listen to great music, attend the theatre, join a choir. Whatever restores your faith that it is, really a good old world and the good guys will win over greed, vanity and frightening political absurdity. Fingers crossed.

Topics:  dr airdre grant maori humour melbourne nightingale project thor ragnarok

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