Are You READY for Adelaide’s newest LGBT+ safe space?

For this post, our latest work experience student Miriam (Mim), who identifies as non-binary, interviewed friend and fellow work experience student Carissa. Both are passionate about creating a safe community space for sexually diverse and gender diverse teens.

Read the interview below:


Hiya, I’m Mim (they/them*) and for my addition to the blog, I wanted to share with you a new independently run safe space called READY. As a non-binary person, I am really excited about this. I do have a small bias as a contributor to the project and as a close friend to the founder, Carissa Fischer. As I write, Carissa is still working hard to finalise the safe space, and will be setting up a dedicated READY Facebook page. where she will post announcements about the official launch.

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Carissa and me!

During my work experience week at Tea Tree Gully Library, I interviewed Carissa about the motives behind the safe space and she had this to say.


Why did you want this safe space?

I wanted to create a safe space for LGBT+ people to meet other LGBT+ people and to create a support network to strengthen our alliance as diverse people. During late last year it dawned on me that the only sexually diverse and gender diverse youth I know personally is you.

So I did research into the other safe spaces in Adelaide, and found an entire community that I wanted to meet. I learnt that there is no safe space locally (North-east Adelaide) for the broad spectrum of LGBT+ youths. This concerned me because this is a recurring theme in LGBT+ teens – often they will only know one other LGBT+ teen personally or more commonly, they won’t know anyone.

I knew I had to start this space because, to my knowledge, no one else had.


What does the name READY mean?

READY stands for Rainbow Education and Alliance of Diverse Youths. It is also a metaphor in being ready for the world ahead and growing up. This program aims to help prepare sexually diverse and gender diverse adolescents to figure out how they fit into the world with their diverse lives.

Adolescence is a really hard time for anyone, but mental health statistics show that it’s especially tough for sexually diverse and gender diverse teens. It’s hoped the READY space will help these teens develop self-love and self-worth. The program also aims to encourage (but not enforce) self-discovery.
What do you hope to see happen in READY?

My main hope is that READY become a well-known program with a thriving sexually diverse and gender diverse community, which can engage with other safe spaces in Adelaide.

Just before our official launch we are planning to screen the movie Love, Simon which will hopefully kick off monthly movie nights.

I want to be able to watch some movies with representation of the LGBT+ community and reflect on portrayals and stereotypes which will allow critical thinking and self-reflection. I honestly just hope this program works.


READY is going to be open to sexually diverse and gender diverse youths aged 15-22. Of course allies** (and people wanting to become allies) and questioning** are always welcomed.

All I ask is, are you READY?
Glossary:

*Non-binary: Not identifying within the feminine and masculine binary. I prefer that people use the pronouns they or them, when I am mentioned in written or spoken form, instead of he or she.

**Ally: is a heterosexual person who supports equal civil rights, gender equality, LGBT social movements, and challenges homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

***Questioning: A person who is questioning their sexuality or gender

Why I love volunteering at Parkrun

On any given Saturday you’ll be sure to find our recent Tea Tree Gully Library work experience student Erica volunteering at one of Adelaide’s many Parkrun events. She tells us why below.

Hi! My name is Erica and I have spent one week at the Tea Tree Gully Library completing my work experience placement.

When work experience was first mentioned at my school, the library was the first place that came to mind when thinking of where I wanted to go. I absolutely love literature and reading (even though I’m incredibly slow), and I thought working behind the scenes would help me to develop certain skills and give me an insight as to what having a job is like – and it did!

But not only do I love reading, I also enjoy volunteering. I just love being able to go out into the community and spend my time helping so many different people for so many different reasons.

I have volunteered at several places and events (and I will be looking into volunteering at the Tea Tree Gully Library – which I highly recommend), but by far one of my favourite events to volunteer at is Parkrun.

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My mum and I at the Parkrun event in Mawson Lakes

Now you might be thinking, “What on earth is Parkrun?” Well, I’m glad you asked!
Parkrun is a weekly 5km running event, in which people of all ages are allowed to participate. It begins every Saturday morning at 8am, and you are able to walk or run as slow or as fast as you would like (it’s not a race, so there’s no need to feel pressure to rush).

There are so many different people who participate in Parkrun, so you should never feel intimidated or out of place. Athletic people do attend of course, but so do large families, small children, women with prams, and some older people (and there’s never a shortage of dogs, either).

Another aspect of Parkrun I love is the vast amount of locations you’re able to go to. I personally visit the Mawson Lakes Parkrun often as it’s close to my home, but Tea Tree Gully has its own Parkrun, too! It’s located at the Jubilee Community Centre, and participants have to complete one full lap around a park. It’s a great event, and I highly recommend attending.

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No matter the weather,  nothing can stop my mum and I from volunteering at Parkrun!

If you’re interested in taking part in Parkrun, you can register and find more information here Best of all, it’s free!

Once you’ve registered for Parkrun, you can also sign up to volunteer! There are so many different jobs you can volunteer for, too. My favourite job is the Tail Walker, because I am able to help out whilst completing the walk at the same time. As Tail Walker you need to stay at the very back of all of the runners, so the other volunteers know who the final person is to cross the finish line.

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Sometimes I run the Parkrun course, instead of volunteering – here’s me about to hit the finish line.

After each event all of the volunteers group together for a photo, and meet at a nearby cafe or coffee van for a free drink of their choice!

You can also volunteer to be a marshal, a barcode scanner, a timekeeper, a photographer, or finish token support. All of these roles help to support Parkrun, and without them the event wouldn’t be able to take place. So once again, I highly recommend signing up to help out.

My two best friends: Mekah and Lara

After a rough start to high school in 2016, Year 10 work experience student Jessica sought out a new puppy to bring some happiness into her life. It was love at first sight when she met German Shepherd puppy Mekah. Below, Jessica tells the story of how they met … 

It’s interesting how some people say diamonds are a girl’s best friend – in my case, my dogs are my best friends.

A couple of years ago, I was in Year 8, my first year of high school. I had a rough start trying to find my feet and didn’t know where to go.

One day I came home exhausted and complained to mum and dad I wanted a puppy. Mum and dad were considering it, but had their doubts at the same time. I already had a dog named Zara, a German shepherd, the most beautiful and athletic dog.

Still, I kept asking and my parents ended up looking at German Shepherd puppies online. They chose a breeder who looked professional and knew what she was talking about, so we called her up and arranged a time to see the puppies the next day. I was filled with joy!

The next day we drove all the way down to Penfield to look at the puppies. When we got there, there were at least 40 German Shepherds barking at us as we waited to get let into the yard.

Finally, the gates opened and we walked into the puppies’ cages. I got to choose which puppy I wanted and I chose the girl – she was so tiny, as small as my two hands put together.

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The lovely Mekah, as she looked when we first laid eyes on her at the breeder’s place

We put a deposit down but we couldn’t take her home yet because she still needed some needles and also had to be vaccinated.

I went home and started to choose names. I decided on the name Mekah – yes it’s a different way to spell it from Meeka, the standard way it is spelt, but I liked it because it was different.

A week later we went and picked Mekah up and took her home. She fell asleep straight away. A few days later we took her to the vet because her back legs were a bit wobbly and she kept falling over.

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A picture of Mekah one week after we took her home

Mekah had her X-rays done and it turned out she had severe hip dysplasia in both of her hips. We contacted the breeder, who was shocked. She said none of the dogs she had bred had ever had hip dysplasia before. The breeder refunded our money and said she was going to take Mekah and put her down. But we couldn’t let that happen to Mekah – she was only a puppy! So we kept her. We have looked after her ever since and still to this day, Mekah is a fun and adventurous dog who loves to play and EAT!!!

We still had Zara at the time we got Mekah and they both got along so well, until one night Zara had several seizures and had to be put down. Zara was only two years old when she died on the 11th of July 2017.

It was sad and my family didn’t know how to move on without Zara, because she was so close to us and was the best dog. My brother wanted another dog, so once again we searched for a puppy online, this time for a Siberian husky. One evening he came in and said ‘I’ve found a dog and I’m buying her.’

She was the cutest puppy I have ever seen: a Siberian Husky with long and fluffy white fur and big bright blue eyes.

My brother made a booking as soon as he could to go and see the puppy, because so many people were interested in her and wanted to buy her.

I went with my brother and my mum and dad to meet the dog and the breeders, who were so nice and friendly.

A few days later we collected the dog and named her Lara. We chose Lara because it rhymed with Zara, the name of our previous dog.

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My gorgeous puppy Lara, who turned one earlier in the year

Both Mekah and Lara love playing and sleeping a lot, when they are not eating…..

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Lara and Mekah, chilling at home

Mekah is currently two and a half years old.

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Mekah is now two and a half years old and is a big sook

Lara has only just turned one.

Both Lara and Mekah have had big impacts in our family’s lives. They bring a lot of happiness and smiles to my family and that’s why we love them the most.

Natsume’s Book of Friends – an anime/manga recommendation

Work experience student Jasmine recently spent a week with us at Tea Tree Gully Library – she loves anime and highly recommends the series ‘Natsume’s Book of Friends’ .

Here’s Jasmine in her own words:

Hello, my name is Jasmine and I have just completed one week of work experience at the library. I chose to come to the Tea Tree Gully Library because of my passion for books – being surrounded by them for a whole week is a dream come true. After school I usually come here for many reasons, mainly to read and borrow books from the vast collection. I also place holds from the many other amazing libraries in South Australia. I enjoy reading many different genre books such as fantasy, horror, action and comedy.

My absolute favourite kind of books to read are manga books: a Japanese light novel of sorts, with a unique and distinctive art style. Manga is closely connected to anime, which uses the same art style as manga in an animated show or video format (which I am also obsessed with). More often than not, manga has an anime adaptation and vice versa, in the case the anime was created prior to the manga. This is to engage viewers who prefer either media, as it can also show different story directions. For example if an anime had two seasons, in the first half of the manga almost all of the same events occur and then in the second half of the manga, the second season of the anime commences. The story takes a different direction, creating a different result for the conclusion.

It is impossible for me to pick a favourite manga series – however I would like to share with you a series I am currently reading. I would like to show and suggest to you Natsume’s Book of Friends, a fantasy series depicting the life of Takashi Natsume. Not having any parents around from a fairly young age Natsume was shuffled between many family members throughout the majority of his life, none of whom cared for Natsume and were simply looking after him because they had to. Natsume did not have any friends while being shuffled from house to house for two simple reasons:

a) He wasn’t in one place long enough to keep any

b) Because he could see creatures called yokai

Yokai are a kind of spirit that cannot be seen by most people, however there are a select few who can see them. Some yokai are malevolent – others are quite passive. Each of the yokai look unique and bizarre, apart from the humanoid-looking yokai who wear yokai masks.

Most of the people who can see the spirits either:

  1. Ignore them
  2. Research the yokai
  3. Become exorcists

Throughout his childhood Natsume repeatedly tried to explain to his classmates and family about the creatures nobody else seemed to be able to see. Everybody, including his family, thought he was imagining it or was making up things for attention, Natsume was left alone to figure out what these creatures were and why he could see them when no one else could. This was until he moved into his aunt and uncle’s house, when he decided not to mention his ability to see yokai at all to his new classmates, or to his aunt and uncle. By not telling anybody about his ability at his new school allowed him to make friends, however he still remained a bit of an oddball.

The main plot line of this manga/anime series is driven by the events following Natsume’s discovery of a special book ‘The book of friends’, which belonged to his grandmother Reiko Natsume. It is a small book containing names of many yokai. The names contained in the book symbolise contracts that were made between Reiko and the yokai, which ruled the yokai do anything at her will. After Natsume found the book it was his responsibility to return all the names to their owners, break the contracts and defeat any yokai cruel beyond reason. Soon after being burdened by the responsibility of returning yokai names, Natsume met a yokai who resides in a ceramic cat body known as Nyanko – sensei.

While residing in the ceramic cat, Nyanko-Sensei can be seen by all humans, but cleverly hides the fact he is a yokai to most people. After running into heaps of danger and odd situations, Natsume makes a few more friends who can see or at least know about yokai and they go on yokai adventures together throughout the series.

As the series progresses Natsume starts to learn about his grandmother and discovers secrets about his family. Eventually it becomes an objective of his to know as much as possible about his family.

 

 

 

I enjoy this series in every way, from the characters and character development, the art style, plot line and many other things. It is a series I definitely recommend looking into. Personally I have been unable to watch the anime at this point but am up to date on the manga. I have been told the anime is of great quality and quite popular in Japan and among western audiences. I absolutely can’t wait to watch the anime considering how amazing the manga is.

That is it for my blog post, I hope you enjoyed reading it!

Ebony’s work experience: getting a peek behind the scenes

Ebony got a taste of life on the other side of the library when she spent a week with us on work experience. Here is what she had to say:


I chose to do my work experience at the Tea Tree Gully Library because I wanted to see how things functioned in a library. This gave me the chance to work behind the scenes.

After I was introduced to the guidelines and responsibilities of the work environment, I was given a library tour. I already knew the public area of the library, but I was more inclined to see the systems set in place that keeps everything organised.

I quickly learnt about the different classifications used to catalogue all library items to make shelving simple.  I was most excited to see inside the chute room, since I have always been on the outside dropping off items. This time it was fun to work on the inside!

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Behind the scenes – cataloguing books and other items

Scanning library items was also enjoyable because it was a smooth process: items would go back to other libraries, go on the holds shelf, or return to their normal shelving spot. I used the special library wand to find items on the Pick List, which is the list of customer requests.  This I found very helpful and time efficient. The CSD (Customer service desk) was informative to see the different trolleys which served different purposes.

I had the chance to experience Storytime, which was the cutest thing ever! Stories were read to young children and then they could sing along with different nursery rhymes. Toddler Time was adorable, it was filled with loads of songs and actions the children could follow.

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Enjoying Story Time, reading stories and singing nursery rhymes

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I also attended an information session with the staff members of the library. The information was noted from a conference held earlier in the month. The discussion was about the purpose of having a library and what it can offer. People were questioning the importance of a library and the ways in which they can stay alive due to developing technology. Personally I think libraries will always be necessary in a community, and people shouldn’t be finding ways to undermine what a library can offer. For me a library is a safe and welcoming place I can visit after school, read books that I can actually hold, and take in knowledge, all in a relaxing environment.

Libraries are also where people of the community can meet for different activities. I was involved in the Japanese culture group, which lets young people express their interest and learn about Japanese culture. It was great to see the wide range of people who shared a passion for Japan, just like me!

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Enjoying the Japanese culture group

Spending a week doing work experience at the Tea Tree Gully Library has enabled me to involve myself in a professional work environment. This allowed me to further develop my skills, and broaden my independence. I believe being able to communicate with a wide range of people has helped me become more confident when expressing myself.

Having a fully structured schedule has made me more accountable and increased my alertness. Overall I have really enjoyed working with the lovely staff members at the Tea Tree Gully Library.

Living with six cats

Many book lovers are also cat lovers. Work experience student Tayla was over the moon the day she discovered a litter of kittens joined her family – all of a sudden, they had six cats to look after! Here is Tayla’s story, in her own words: 

You never know the moment your life will change forever. It can happen any minute and you wouldn’t know. For my family, we were just returning home from my sister’s Year 7 Graduation. We didn’t become billionaires or win a trip overseas or anything… instead a small, scrawny kitten approached us from the darkness of night. We knew there were a few other cats that lived in our neighbourhood but we had never seen this one before. Either way, we brought it inside and poured it a small bowl of milk to quench its thirst. I can remember how my sister and I were over the moon with excitement, thinking we were going to have a new pet cat! But of course my parents thought otherwise…

It was after all of our begging and pleading that my parents agreed to take care of the kitten and see where things went from there. Little did we know this decision would change our lives forever! At the time we already ‘owned’ one cat, which would come and stay with us whenever it pleased… even though it technically belonged to our neighbours. Of course, our neighbours were fine with ‘Patch’ living with us as long as she was happy too.

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One of my cats, Squizzy

Months passed and after asking around the neighbourhood to see if anyone had lost their cat, we decided it was time to give the kitten a name. Now my family have never been good at naming animals. In fact we usually just stick with the first thing that comes to mind… so we called it ‘Squizzy’. I think it was probably because of the fact its bushy tail resembled a squirrel in some way.

One day we happened to notice something strange about Squizzy. We were petting Squizzy’s stomach and saw it looked bigger than usual. When we felt it there was a small kick that responded. It was from that day onward we concluded that ‘it’ was actually a ‘she’ and Squizzy was going to be a mother! But excitement aside – my parents immediately decided we were to give away the kittens once they were born… but my sister and I didn’t give up hope yet. We had decided that we were going to keep those kittens one way or another!

The day of arrival came at last. My mother came and picked me up from school early that day due to the fact one kitten had already been born! She was tiny, fluffy and was curled up in a small ball in the corner of Squizzy’s basket. Soon after the first kitten, later named ‘Rosie’, was born, a second small ball of fluff popped out and joined her. We called him ‘Badger’. Another hour passed and we were presented with two more beautiful kittens, which we named ‘Panther’ and ‘Navi’. I know, creative names, right? Once we saw them we knew we couldn’t let them go, and thus it was the beginning of how we came to own six beautiful cats!!

My four cats Navi, Badger, Panther and Rosie

Front row: Navi, Badger and Panther and Rosie is the one up the top

Over the years we have been through a lot with our cats. Rosie, our eldest, had to get a bone in her hip removed due to falling out of a tree! It was a tiresome few months for her as she couldn’t walk or move and had to spend her time in a large cage watching cartoons on the TV. She was very quiet throughout the days but after she recovered, she was up and running again like nothing ever happened. We call her ‘our little mechanical girl!’

Another thing that happened the same year the kittens were born had quite an impact on everything. My favourite cat, Badger, had grown quite close to me since he was born. He took an instant liking to me and his younger sister, Navi, and became the happiest cat alive. And the strangest. He would always sleep alongside me at night and before we would go to sleep, he would come up to my face and lick my nose. Badger would also purr so loudly that it was impossible to fall asleep before he did. Whenever the heater was on Badger would go and sit directly in front of it and stare into the flames. He became my best friend in such a short amount of time.

I never knew it would end so soon…

I can remember the day like it was yesterday. Badger had been missing for a few days but seeing as our cats wandered outside, we didn’t think much of it at the time. I was talking to my sister in the living room when my parents told me the bad news. They had found him on the side of the road a few hours earlier and buried him out the back. It felt like my world came crashing down in one night… Of course I was upset but we had a nice funeral for him and buried him with some flowers. His sister Navi seemed to distance herself from the rest of the family over the years, yet she grew closer to me. Badger was only a few months old when he died but I believe he had a great time while he was alive and we made lots of memories. I will forever hold him in my heart and remember all of the good times that we had!

Our cat Leo

Year 10 student Sophie was with us for a week’s work experience recently, and decided to write about her beloved Leo, her family’s moggy. Read her story below. 

We got Leo when I was four. We never thought we would get a cat as we had just moved into a house which is right next to a busy road but my mum loves cats so much. The first year Mum would always try to keep Leo in at night so he wouldn’t go wondering, but he soon worked it out and started hiding in the bushes, so Mum couldn’t find him to bring him inside. Leo didn’t seem to be going on the road because he would always be back home the next morning, so we started leaving him outside at night.

Leo was mostly in a playful mood. Even though he passed the kitten stage pretty quickly, he would never give up an opportunity to claw something. You would think he was a playful cat, but in fact, he was mostly scared. He was always hesitant walking through the front door or turning a corner – instead he always liked to be hiding under his favourite bush out in the front yard.

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My beautiful cat Leo

When I turned ten, I started getting bored with Leo and I wanted a dog. I would complain to Mum that Leo wasn’t fun and if we had a dog you could take them on walks and on holidays. When I was eleven we got a dog and named her Lizzie, I was so happy. Lizzie didn’t like Leo but Leo didn’t really care. Leo kept out of the backyard and spent his time inside and out the front, away from Lizzie. I played with Lizzie as much as I could after school. I soon realised as I got older that Lizzie wasn’t as great as I thought she would be. Lizzie would smell, but Leo didn’t. Leo loved cuddles, but Lizzie didn’t. My sister started being great pals with Lizzie and I then went back to loving Leo the most.

On the 23 of January 2015 at 9:11pm (I remember it very clearly) we were watching a movie when mum’s mobile phone rang – it was the local vet. The vet said Leo had been brought in because he had been hit by a car. My mum then asked if she could come and get him the next day (thinking he was OK) but the vet then told mum he didn’t make it. Mum told us what happened and we all started crying. I was then crying for the whole night and the next week.  I couldn’t believe he was gone forever and I would never see him again. It really hurt I didn’t get to say goodbye.

My mum spoke to our neighbours about Leo’s death and they mentioned there had been a dead fox on the road. We now think Leo had been chased by the fox onto the road. I had Leo for eight years and I am glad I have beautiful memories and photos of him. We are not considering getting another cat at the moment but when I am older, have a house of my own and live next to a quiet road I would like to have another cat like Leo.