A few of my favourite talks

In the first half of this year I’ve attended a handful of sessions in my fine city that have really stood out - often taking me out of my mental comfort zone, and greatly expanding my understandings of the systems and society that bind us together.

I want to highlight three in particular, for anyone else who may be keen to watch/listen:

The first of those was a Knowledge Week event hosted at The Wheeler Centre: So What If… We Didn’t Have Prisons?.

This took place just after the 2019 Federal Election, which was heartbreaking for many of us, and that gets addressed pretty early on in the session. A lot of what’s discussed is not packaged up neatly for mainstream audience - be prepared to feel challenged. Even if it’s not easy to digest, please make the effort to understand the emotions that are shared, the rage and frustation that you’re perhaps not previously aware of. I know I wasn’t quite prepared for this session, but greatly value what I learnt within it.

(The video is from a live-stream, and so it doesn’t actually start until almost five minutes in. The embedded version below begins at the right point.)

Shortly after that - and indeed, with references to the prisons session - was another Knowledge Week event: The post-gender bubble. So much wisdom and so many perspectives were shared on what life is like for non-binary people - both generally, and within Melbourne.

(Another not-quite perfect video - there’s a noticeable buzzing audio during the initial introductions, but it clears up by the time the session properly begins after three minutes.)

In June, The Wheeler Centre hosted a PEN Lecture on Writing in Exile, featuring Samah Sabawi. One of the key focuses of this session was on the Palestine/Israel conflict, and especially what that means for Palestinians. I haven’t found much in the mainstream that gives a depth of understanding about this conflict, and I’ve not made an effort previously to deeply educate myself, so I learnt plenty from what Samah shared.

Unfortunately there’s no video of this session, but the audio podcast is available.

If any of these have whet your appetite and you’re looking for more, then perhaps check out my favourite session of last year’s Not Racist, But… events, on Racism, Identity and Labels. The next one in the series will be on the Criminal Justice System in September, and I’m attending - so do let me know if you’re coming along.

Also worth a listen is Erik Jensen’s PEN Lecture on the broken Australian media landscape, titled Fragile Minds.

If you’re keen to attend such sessions, then I highly recommend keeping an eye on the Wheeler Centre’s upcoming events. On a grander scale is their recently announced Broadside ideas festival, which looks amazing (but I’ll unfortunately miss out as I’m overseas at the time).

All of the sessions I’ve highlighted above are each an hour long - and I know that’s not a small amount of time, but I believe they’re all well worth the watch/listen.

Yes, I could summarise them for quick consumption, but you’d then be dealing with my limited framing, and really, it’s better you hear from those who have lived experiences in the matters being discussed.

I’ve been musing over whether I should write in more detail about about why I think people should be watching/listening to these talks, and how I think we need to go about conversing such matters in society… but it’s difficult. Maybe it’ll become a follow-up post, I guess we shall see…