Continuing the Art of Conversation

A 26-year-old has taken to sitting outside the Arc De Triomf in Barcelona, on a foldaway chair with a sign reading ‘free conversations’. Anyone is welcome to join Adrià Ballester and converse in either Spanish, English or Catalan. Whilst some people stop for a light-hearted chat, others choose to share deeper and more personal revelations. “You hear good, positive stories and really tough ones, too. A lot of people will tell you about a tricky episode in their life, maybe heartbreak or a job loss. There’s a bit of everything,”

The free conversations project was born from an impromptu conversation Ballester shared with a stranger whilst walking, back in 2017. Ballester was having a bad day but opening up to a stranger significantly helped. “I left [that chat] with a very different feeling, thinking about how important it is for us to talk to each other. Regardless of whether we know each other or not, I realised that the important thing is to talk.”

But you don’t have to be walking the streets of Barcelona to take part, for he has also started, a site that pairs users up with pen-pals from around the world. Ballester’s project has already amassed quite a following and prompted similar movements around the world.
[Source: Reader’s Digest]


Budapest Orchestra Brings Music to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

“When I sat next to the musician who played the bass today, I started crying.”  These are the words of Zsuzsanna Foldi, who was declared deaf at the age of three following a Meningitis infection. Yet in February of this year Foldi, now 67, was able to feel Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony as she sat amongst the Danubia Orchestra in Budapest, with her hands placed on the double bass.

The Danubia Orchestra is marking the 250th anniversary of Ludwig Van Beethoven with a special series of music events for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Artistic Director Máté Hámori was inspired by Beethoven himself, who also famously suffered from hearing loss.  “Few realise that by the age of 20, [Beethoven] was almost totally deaf and he had to have all kinds of strange contraptions designed for him. He wasn’t able to hear the piano, but he had a piece of wire connected to it so that he could feel each resonance”.

Techniques to bring the music to the audience include contact speakers, specially designed hearing aids and giant amplifiers. Some join the orchestra on stage and touch various instruments whilst others hold balloons to feel the vibrations.

“Of all the social groups closed off to music, the most obvious one is those who cannot hear,” said Hámori. “The Beethoven anniversary seems the perfect occasion to help break down those barriers. We have linked up with a company that has been working on advanced technology for the hearing-impaired to come up with a series of solutions.”
[Source: Reuters]


Unsold Australian Beer from COVID-19 lockdowns put to good use.


When restrictions forced thousands of hospitality venues to close earlier this year, many were left with stock that went stale. The mere thought of hundreds of gallons of beer being poured down the drain can make many of us shudder, but luckily, it has been put to good use.

Glenelg Wastewater Treatment Plant in South Australian has received over 40,000 gallons of expired beer every week from bars and restaurants. The beer is converted to biogas, a renewable energy source that powers up to 80% of the plant’s energy needs. Senior Manager of the plant Lisa Hannant has said the high-calorie beer has resulted in record-setting production. “By adding around 150,000 litres of expired beer per week, we generated a record 355,200 cubic meters of biogas in May and another 320,000 cubic metres in June.” This is enough to power over 1200 homes for one month.

Hannant describes the plant’s large sealed concrete tanks as “our thirsty digesters”, thanking them for “doing their bit for the environment by drinking themselves silly—and with such a horrific diet it’s no wonder they produce so much gas!”
[Source: Good News Network]

You can leave your hat on…

Farmers around Australia have been stripping off for a great cause, thanks to a movement started by Ben Brooksby, now known to many as the Naked Farmer.

Brooksby started taking consensual photos of farmers in the nude in a bid to raise awareness for mental health. But the seemingly simple act has taken off, having amassed 11,000 followers on Instagram Brooksby has now started a not-for-profit organisation and raised over $100,000 for mental health.

Brooksby has been touring Australia meeting with farmers from a variety of industries, sharing stories on mental health in the face of bushfires, droughts and COVID-19.

The group’s tagline is ‘it takes guts to get your gear off and it takes guts to talk about mental health.’

Tumby Bay farmer Ben McNamara took part after some encouragement from his neighbours, acknowledging that no one is immune to mental health issues. “I have learnt that a little thing can spark a big thing and it doesn’t matter how big you are or whatever business you are involved in mental illness can affect anyone.”

McNamara hopes that stripping off will help people get a laugh out of it whilst helping them open up on discussions of mental health. When asked what it was like to strip off, McNamara mentioned the cold conditions “are not great for the manhood.”
[Source: ABC]


Surprise Daffodil Delivery for Lorne Residents

2020 has been an incredibly challenging year for many regional towns of Victoria, after devastating bushfires in January, COVID-19 and harsh lock-downs keeping vital tourism away. Events that typically attract thousands of people have had to be cancelled, including the New Year’s Eve festival that takes place each year in Lorne.

However not all is lost for residents, who this week were gifted a surprise delivery of 10,000 daffodils delivered to 800 local homes and businesses. Lorne resident Naomi Daly organised the gesture, after an impromptu flower-delivery to friends’ homes went down so well. Stepping it up, she then recruited 50 volunteers to help. “That’s what you can do in a small town like this,” Naomi said. “We mapped up Lorne and carved it up into 26 little patches and sent people off with buckets of flowers and they went out and dropped them around.”

The origin of the flowers remains unknown, with Daly only revealing that they have been kindly donated from a large private property in the Otways.

It has brought a smile to many local faces, with one resident posting on social media “what a beautiful start to spring in a beautiful, beautiful community.”
[Source: ABC]