NiTRO Creative Matters

Perspectives on creative arts in higher education

Between – Cabbage Tree Creek, April-July 2023

BY MICHAEL DONEMAN – Between is a reflection on loss and renewal. It interweaves personal, cultural, and environmental stories near the country where I live, by a waterway at the edge of the Boondall Wetlands called Cabbage Tree Creek.

This estuarine world is a place where fresh and saltwater ecologies meet. These are, environments understood in evolutionary biology as adaptive landscapes, and unsurprisingly, are places of significance to First Nations people. ‘We had the best of two worlds, one freshwater and the other salt’.1

I’d become disillusioned after some decades of practice in social enterprise and the water took me upstream to an earlier aspiration, to creative writing. What surfaced was not fiction so much as an observational weaving, peppered with poetry, of sketches and vignettes. The Creek and Bay make visible both continuities and disruptions, embodying beginnings and ends and the blending of a thousand realms.

As I describe in the text, this writing led me to a onetime student friend now working at RMIT, then to a scholarship attached to an Australian Research Council funded project, and thus to a PhD project which itself entwines several and diverse threads from my past, riverrunning, as the poet said, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay. Each day in my action research, developing a community of practice with Digital Mentors from the University of the Third Age (U3A), I weave in the Black Thread to which I’d committed a long time ago, the thread of the old people and the world as story. I encounter loss and renewal and, in cahoots with my co-researchers, I try to understand it, backwards and forwards. There is no such thing as a fragment.

Read the essay

  1. Morgan, Sally., Mia, Tjalaminu., Kwaymullina, Blaze. Speaking from the Heart: Stories of Life, Family and Country. Australia: ReadHowYouWant.com, Limited, 2011, P. 163 ↩︎

Michael Doneman is an animateur and educator who helps people make a living doing what they love. Michael has danced around in universities for years, as a course convenor, lecturer, designer and facilitator. In July 2023 he began a PhD research project at the School of Media and Communications, College of Design and Social Context, RMIT. His research focuses on Ageing in Place, Data, Social-Cultural Animation, Education, Wisdom and AI.

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