-by Isabella Edquist

(Photo credit:Alan Weedon)

Smith’s Alternative

16 March

Inside the cosy cocoon of Smith’s Alternative this chilly Sunday night, a warm and festive celebration of change and uncertainty is taking place. Suddenly, A Knock – Stories of Change, is the latest Lip Magazine bi-monthly reading (co-opted by You Are Here), and the venue is suitably packed with those interested in hearing tonight’s three feminist speakers and band Pocket Fox explore what change means to them, and how they deal with it. It’s a hard subject to cover, but something about the flickering tea-light candles, the ebb and flow of good conversation, and of course the snug and relaxed company of like-minded souls of all ages, helps the weightier insights go down like a sweet cup of tea.

Lip Magazine describes itself as an ‘independent magazine for young women’ and boasts a vibrancy and thoughtfulness that marks it as one of the best reads around. It has embraced many changes itself, emerging triumphant as an eclectic online platform for feminist youth to share well-considered content. The bubbly editor, Zoya Patel, and event organiser, Farz Edraki, introduce us briefly to the theme and speakers, pausing occasionally to read out post-its of real-life stories contributed by audience members.

Poet Roshelle Fong has claimed that there is a sassy New Jersey woman in all of us. By the time she derails her own speech by invoking this warped persona to warn against the decision paralysis of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and urge us to embrace change, we’re in stitches with laughter. The tone, but not the high level of insight, alters when environmental scientist Dr Nicky Grigg begins to speak with poise and passion about how everyday consumer choices can lead to unexpected change, in both ecology and our psychology. When she closes with the message that each of us should notice something we want to change in our lives, then alter the stories we tell about it, the room nods in recognition. Finally, Cathy McGowan, the reluctant politician who famously ousted Sophie Mirabella last Federal Election, talks with marvellous warmth of the push for change in her own community. Her closing call for a revolution in the treatment of asylum seekers is met with thunderous applause.

To cap off this enchanting evening, the ever-delightful Pocket Fox take their many instruments to the stage for a special Bowie-themed hour-long set. Even as we tap our feet along to an unexpectedly funky cover of Changes, the productive introspection set in motion by the earlier talks lingers, at least in my consciousness. This captivating Lip-Reading has been a most welcome catalyst; I’ll be carrying this evening’s stories around with me for a long time indeed, remembering to celebrate change.


Isabella Edquist has been writing and dreaming in Canberra for a long time now, and is just waking up. In a past life she was an editor of Block Creative Journal and wrote her honours thesis on mess theory and the novels of Angela Carter. She now works with pictorial and moving image collections at AIATSIS and is completing her Master of Anthropology at ANU. After eating up so much Canberra goodness for so long, she decided it was time to give something back and share the You Are Here love around, and a little Papercuts reviewer was born.


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