I’m PollyannaR from the coal powered town of Morwell, Gippsland, which is Brayakaulung Gunaikurnai country. I am the seventh generation of my family to live here in Gippsland, I will not be birthing the eighth. I am an artist trying to help my community to flourish normally in times of uncertainty by focusing on what gifts can I contribute.
In 20 years’ time I hope to be on a hill overlooking one of three giant lakes — now the scars where our coal holes once were. The glassy water goes for kilometres, only cracked by the shimmers of floating solar panels. The scuba diving park our arts collective designed is opening next week. Lake Yallourn is only half full. It will be another 10 years until it is brimming like Hazelwood, maybe sooner once the pipes containing the city’s recycled water are functioning. The projections were right: we are running out of water from drought caused by global warming. Fortunately, our underground water aquifer has been replenishing every day since we stopped mining.
Growing up, my family were beef and dairy farmers, and before that fisherman. Now, Gippsland is a grower’s paradise, like one big salad bowl. Soon after Covid-19 settled, animal products begun being banned as a prevention measure for the next pandemic.
I remember when dad got cancer, they said they didn’t know how he got it or how to cure it and he might die soon if they don’t at least try some treatments. To think cancer is not the scariest disease out there, now no one even gets the luxury of time to die from cancer or old age. They have vancines but they don’t always work, those who are immune keep us going and most of us are still sick and just have a slower life doing what we can virtually through the second life. Most of the youngsters are trying to get on space stations. I don’t blame them, they want a covid free future for their children. We can’t give them that here.
I’m glad to still be here on this hill, I’m not sure if the world is calmer or I am now older but we are trying to heal everything undo the harm that we were born into we all have somehow found a part to play, not so the next generation has something better but it’s just about all we can do now.