Archive for Community

Guide to Energy Rating in Australia

Energy Effiecient House

Sustainable architecture is one of the thrusts towards an energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable future. In Australia, the concept is well-accepted and encouraged by the government. During the 1980s, a Five Star Design Rating (FSDR) came into play. It is an award given by the Glass, Mass, and Insulation Council of Australia together with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIDRO) Division of Building Research to builders who have shown exemplary performance in construction and design – sustainability included.

Energy Efficiency Standard in Australian Buildings

On the other hand, the FSDR system was not widely accepted. In order to transform the campaign into a nationwide thrust, the Australia Building Code introduced ‘energy efficiency’ into the Building Code of Australia (BCA). The Building Code of Australia is included in the National Construction series containing technical provisions for the design and construction of buildings all throughout Australian states. This paramount move has initiated the rise of the House Energy Rating, a standardized measurement of thermal performance. This also led to the upsurge of the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) in 1993. This mandates that all structures – inclusive of residential and commercial buildings – should have a standard rating of 6 stars and above.

Reinforcing the demand for more thermally comfortable homes.

The star rating determines the thermal makeup of a particular household. A household can be rated from zero to ten stars – with zero as the lowest and ten as the highest. A low star rating would mean that the structure is not thermally conducive for occupancy. An under-performing household, in order to be thermally ambient, would need to increase its demand for artificial cooling or heating – this, on the other hand, increases energy consumption. Meanwhile, a thermally compliant household requires little to no artificial cooling or heating system – thus saving more energy.

Ventilation with high heat recovery

To prevent the construction of thermally under-performing buildings, the National Construction Code (NCC) requires minimum energy efficiency performance requirements. It also provides a number of options to demonstrate compliance with energy efficiency performance requirements. In general, the thermal performance assessment will evaluate the following: 1.) construction materials used, 2.) window glazing specification and orientation, 3.) insulation details, and 4.) orientation of the building. The evaluation may also take the following into consideration: heating and cooling loads, insulation of heating and cooling ductwork, artificial lighting, and swimming pool heating.

The above may be demonstrated in various ways including an alternative verification solution known as Deemed-to-Satisfy (DTS). Moreover, a NatHERS accredited software is used to make the assessment when conducting a NatHERS-DTS way. To date, there are three software programs accredited by NatHERS and these are the following: Accurate, BERS Professional, and FirstRate. Compliance to the NCC is frugal to be granted permission to construct a particular structure. Thus, compliance is necessary.

How NatHERS stars are calculated.

NatHERS star ratings are calculated based on the data encoded into the system and this includes the following: size and function of rooms, size, and specification of openings, building materials, type of construction, dwelling orientation, and location. The software will then simulate the amount of cooling and heating needed to make occupants comfortable in a typical year. Prior determining the temperature based on the varying seasons, it first simulates how the local climate heats and cools the house every hour of every day of the year.

Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme

Once temperature falls out of comfortable range, the software calculates the need for cooling and heating provided that measures such as opening or closing the window has been done. The total estimated annual heating and cooling requirements are then converted into star ratings. In order for the software to be at par, the software packages use the same climate zones, weather files, occupancy setting for a standard family, internal heat loads, and star rating scale for the home’s location. In terms of climate zones, Australia is divided into 69 zones. This allows the software to accurately calculate based on the given climate zone. Weather files, meanwhile, are based on the compiled records from the Bureau of Meteorology for each climate zone including additional information such as air temperature, humidity, solar radiation, wind speed, and direction.

Crafting a thermally ambient household begins in the design stage.

Sustainable architecture is one of the pivotal factors in creating a thermally effective structure. One of the cheapest methods to incorporate is the concept of passive solar building design. Passive Solar Building design, like this solar roof vents, harness the sun’s energy without using any form of active solar mechanism. It also utilizes a set of strategies aimed at reducing the need for mechanical heating or cooling. Moreover, it may also be used in line with the following concepts: thermal mass, thermal insulation, and shading or glazing.

Passive Solar Building

Building materials that are high in thermal mass can retain heat in a specific place. It also works hand in hand with thermal insulation to keep heat and prevent it from escaping. It is very beneficial during the cold season as heat is retained in the household without the use of artificial heating. Shades, meanwhile, prevent the sun from entering the threshold during warm summer days. Windows are also important to maintain thermal equilibrium.

There are so many concepts that can be incorporated into a house design to make it thermally convenient and energy efficient – and this is where energy rating consulting can help. We, at Ideas for Good, believes that energy rating provides specific structural strategies as well as carry out simulations to provide a detailed analysis of the thermal makeup of a specific structure even in the design stage. A Thermal Performance Assessor Consultancy accredited with the Building Designers Association of Victoria (BDAV), Bayside Energy Consulting provides a roster of services including Thermal Performance Assessments, External Window Assessments, Energy Compliance Assessments, Basix Energy Assessments for NSW, Deemed-to-Satisfy Assessments, and Artificial Assessments. The firm provides fast, reliable, and accurate NatHERS Energy Reports using FirstRate5 software and Energy Compliance Assessments using Deemed-to-Satisfy provisions of the National Construction Code.

For more information regarding NatHERS rating, check this video out:

Could Outsourcing to Remote Offshore Staff Help Your Business?

Staff in the Philippines

Outsourcing, offshoring or remote staffing; call it what you will but up until recently is has had a shaky reputation. You don’t know who you’re working with, how reliable they are or if they’re actually capable of doing the work assigned to them. Stories of unsatisfied customers or staff that have disappeared half way through jobs are quite easy to find.

New companies outsourcing to the Philippines aim to change all of that, by putting the ‘service’ part back into remote staffing services. The service provided by outsourcing company Stafflister isn’t just the service of the offshore staff you hire, but also comes from Stafflister itself.

“Companies that hire through outsourcing firms are often just left on their own with their new staff” says Toby Gospodarczyk, founder of the offshoring company. “We don’t really agree with that method. A lot of Australian business hire these outsourced staff without any training or knowledge on how to remotely manage them. It’s a different skill to managing onshore staff. We’ve decided to help mediate the process a lot more than other companies and always have a constant daily presence to make sure things are running smoothly”.

Toby says they are able to achieve this due to the fact that Stafflister has been built from the ground up with efficiency in mind. Many processes that would normally need manual action are streamlined, and the latest in online technology has been used as an integral part of their business structure. “This leaves us with a lot more time for customer service and really taking care of client needs”, says Toby.

designapprovalsThis constant mediation process is possible because Stafflister provides easy to use online collaboration tools for client and their Filipino staff to work together on. “It looks a bit like Facebook, so people will already be familiar with how to use it. But it’s actually also very versatile and able to adapt to different types of work being done. For example if we have a graphic designer working with a client, we’re able to add a design approval application that allows staff to drag and drop a design for the client to see and the client will then approve or disapprove of the design, with comments and reasons as to why”.

Stafflister is also a little different in the fact that it also provides Project based staff, along with part time and full time staff. Traditionally, outsourcing companies will only offer full time or part time staff.

Where do these staff come from?

Stafflister head hunts its Filipino staff individually, one by one. “This takes time, and negotiation. The truly skilled workers rarely apply for jobs and are not found on the boards that many outsourcing companies use. They also expect to be compensated accordingly” says Toby. “We’re able to compensate our staff in the Philippines well, because we take less overhead and as previously mentioned, a lot of manual process have been streamlined so we can afford to do so. We feel there’s no point in saying ‘we have 10,000 staff on hand’ as in this industry we think the quality of staff is hugely important. We have staff that have worked with SEGA, EA, DISNEY and other big name companies. That is the level of quality we’re offering.”

Some of the most popular outsourced skills are reportedly graphic design, payroll, accounting, article writing, and data entry. This is a change from past years where most skills outsourced were of a more technical nature such as C++ programming, python, java development and so forth.
This change has been brought about as more companies and in particular the smaller ones realize that almost all skills can be outsourced, even your typical data entry services.

With this realization, these companies are able to outsource these skills to the Philippines at around $8 and hour as opposed to the $25 or so an hour they would be paying onshore staff. This frees up their budget for further advertising, marketing, or hiring onshore staff within a different area.

“It’s all about balance, and what you want to do with your budget. I love having the opportunity to help up and coming companies grow, and often have discussions with them about their experiences within their business. I learn a lot from it.” adds Toby.

Is Stafflister’s pricing any different to its competitors?

Despite all of the apparent benefits to working with Stafflister, its pricing remains on the lower end of the industry scale. We might see more of these types of business models in the future that rely the latest technology to deliver something special and cost effective, but for now it’s a slow shift. Invoicing and payment is also easy, along with being able to view the amount of hours your staff have worked at any time.


A more human approach, and a different philosophy on outsourcing

Toby maintains that his staff are treated exceptionally well, and sticks with the theory that “happy staff are productive staff”.
“With the amount of initial negotiating, collaborating with them in work, and daily chat, we get to know our staff very well. We make sure that everything is great on the staff end too, not just on the client side. That’s important.” Says Toby, when asked about his take on staff management.

I then asked what stops clients from working directly with clients and cutting Stafflister out of the equation. He responded “I’m very familiar with the struggles that gaming, music, and movie companies have with piracy and have followed the industry news in regards to this for a long time. It was at the forefront of my mind when creating this business, and decided to follow the model that online gaming company Steam uses. Steam’s founder says ‘Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem.’ I love this way of thinking and I’ve applied this to outsourcing. We provide a service that’s worth paying for and once you experience it, you wouldn’t really think about doing things the old way. The amount you would save by going direct is minimal and the benefits of working with us are huge.”
This really seems to challenge the model of other freelancer sites that offer purely direct to staff services.

Stafflister has an interesting business model and may very well be the solution you’ve been looking for if you’ve been a bit cautious in trying outsourcing in the past. They look forward to further growth throughout 2015 and helping Australian business grow.

Australia is currently one of the largest users of outsourcing, with per capita spent almost double that of the USA.

If you’d like to know more about Stafflister, take a look at their Facebook page or give them a call on 02 8091 3131.

Managing Stress When Organizing Your Next Corporate Event

With winter on its way out and the weather starting to heat up again, the people of Australia turn their thoughts towards Christmas.  While this time of year can be joyful for the majority of us, it can also be stressful for some. Santa probably has it the worst, but the poor employees who get stuck with the task of organizing the end of year corporate Christmas party for the entire office suffer greatly too.

While most of us working folk take events such as work Christmas parties for granted, a lot is involved in setting them up. Often the people behind the scenes have to do a great deal of organizing to make things run smoothly and they are rarely thanked for their efforts. Here at Ideas for Good, we love to have staff Christmas parties, but we like to share the workload of preparing and organizing so everyone gets a taste of how much work is really involved.

Generally speaking, the numerous things that need to be planned before any catered corporate function include:

  • Finding a suitable venue and organizing to hire it for the event
  • Ensuring that everyone in the company or companies (depending on what sort of event you are organizing) is told about the event in advance.
  • Finding a corporate caterer that has the capacity to feed all of the guests at the event.
  • Ensuring the food served is suitable for all of the patrons attending the event. Often people have special requirements i.e. vegan, halal, etc.
  • Making sure any speakers at the event are aware of what they need to say and when.
  • Ensuring there is enough seating and table space for all attendees.
  • The list goes on..

CateringplatterApart from finding the perfect venue with capacity to hold the correct number of guests, one thing we found was integral to the successful running of our events was to organize competent caterers. We spoke with the finger food catering service from last years party in Brisbane, the corporate catering specialists Art of Catering. They have a strong reputation in Brisbane and throughout Australia for their high standards in cuisine and customer service. Philip one of their party catering managers gave us the run down on what makes a good catering service and how that can make your job of organizing a function or event that much easier.

He gave us a list of things you should do before booking a corporate caterer. Here is what he recommended you do to make sure things run smoothly:

  1. Before you look for a company, work out what sort of food you want at your event. Different companies have different specialties, for example you don’t want to hire a catering team for your corporate function if they specialize in roast pork if there will be a large number of Jewish people or vegetarians at the event. Find out what demographic of people will be attending and select your shortlist of caterers accordingly.
  2. Speak with others who have organized similar events to your own, and find out their experiences with various companies.
  3. Look online and read reviews about others experiences. Often you might find a company who seem like they really know their stuff and will be perfect for your party, but online reviews may say otherwise. Do your research before booking anything; you’ll be glad you did.
  4. Call all of the caterers on your shortlist and see how well they can work with the specific requirements for your party. Often you can get a good feel for a company and their food, by speaking with one of their representatives.
  5. Once you have chosen the company you think you would like to have cater at your event, ask to taste test some of their food before the event to ensure it meats your expectations of quality and taste.

By following these steps you can ensure that you have a much greater chance of things running smoothly at your next event. There are so many things involved in setting up any party, but getting the finger food and meals done right is one of, if not the, most important. Do yourself a favour and do your research before booking anyone. Your fellow staff members may not thank you for it later, but they’ll be sure to remind you about it if things go wrong!

Supporting your Local Community

For many small to medium sized businesses, getting involved in their local communities is not just a great way to drum up new business, but can also be very rewarding. There are always a large number of projects going on in any given community: fund raising for local schools, community garden projects, petitioning councils to repair dangerous or badly designed intersections or crossings. The list goes on.

In the multimedia era, when it seems like more and more social interaction is moving from the real world to online, it can also be quite refreshing to get involved in you local community and do things that benefit your neighbours and the area you live in. The team here at Ideas For Good encourage you, the people of Australia, to get out in your community and make a positive difference. Get involved and get your hands dirty! On our own we can only do so much, but when we combine our efforts there are no limits to what can be achieved!

CorsoStreetPartyOne small local business making a difference to their small community in Seven Hills, Brisbane is Unsurpassable Hair Salon. The owners of this cute hair and make-up salon tucked away on a small street in suburbia decided to do some fundraising to aid a purpose built centre in Logan for misfortunate children. The event is called The Corso Street Party and is held yearly. The salon managers and hairdressers have all been heavily involved in preparation for the event, and are excited about how it will play out.

Not only has this event attracted some big name sponsors like the South-East Advertiser and local radio station Nova 109.6FM, but many smaller businesses have been getting behind the community driven movement as well, in the hopes of giving back to the people that keep them in business.

Auscomms CB and two-way radio suppliers have generously donated several sets of walkie talkies to the fundraising street party. Dubbed “The Corso Street Party” based on the name of the street it is being held on, the fundraiser will take a lot of organization and setting up by the local businesses and volunteers, so the addition of quality, high-end CB radios will benefit them greatly. After the party is over, the walkie talkies will be given to the staff at “Empowering our next Generation” the centre for children in Logan for use by staff and security there.

If you are a Brisbane local and would like to support community initiatives like this, drop by Unsurpassable Hair Salon at 14/16 The Corso, Seven Hills sometime and find out more about their next big fundraiser. Not only are the Unsurpassable hair stylists renowned for being some of the best hairdressers Brisbane has, they are also loved throughout the local community for their kindness.

This is just one example of a community initiative taking place in Australia as we speak. A quick search online reveals there are thousands if not tens of thousands more events, fundraisers and support movements on the horizon. If you feel like you could be doing something more rewarding with your time why not get up and get involved? Not only will you be able to make a difference, but you’ll feel good about it and make new friends. We can’t all be as driven as the team at the Unsurpassable Salon, but we can get behind and support the leaders, just like Auscomms and The South-East Advertiser have, and donate or lend a hand to help make Australia, and the world, a better place.

Google Ads a Hot Commodity for Local Business

Brisbane’s tech-savvy small business owners have embraced the city’s digital revolution and jumped on the seemingly unstoppable Google advertising train. More and more local businesses are seeing the value in this form of online advertising as the people of Brisbane continue to turn to the search engine powerhouse for answers to their day to day queries.

Google Adwords are a major chunk of the advertising budget for many businesses, especially the trades. With some plumbers, electricians and carpenters using Google AdWords as their only source of lead generation.

The fall in popularity of old hat advertising like the yellow pages has led to businesses looking for alternative ways to attract more business and there is none more measurable than pay-per-click advertising. The Google Adwords system can be a bit daunting for first time users and many business owners opt to use one of Brisbane’s PPC agencies that specialise in Google AdWords management. These AdWords management experts are highly skilled and can optimise your account so that you achieve the best possible return on investment from your desired budget. The plethora of data provided by Google makes it possible to track visitors to your site from the initial click, all the way through to a purchase or enquiry. This rich data can also help pinpoint all sorts of problem areas on your site such as clunky enquiry forms, load times, and even unappealing images, colours and site layouts.

Most business owners don’t have a lot of time to work on their business as they are usually busy working in it, so using a professional company to manage your online advertising is a no brainer. We spoke with local mechanic Adam from Brisbane’s North about his success with his online campaign. “I’ve been running AdWords with a PPC agency for over two years now and haven’t looked back. It took a little bit of work to get the site up to scratch as I hadn’t updated it for a number of years but once we did I saw an immediate effect.” We quizzed him about his plans for the future of his business and if he had any recommendations for other local business owners planning to action a digital strategy to which he replied “Don’t be afraid to spend a little money to get the ball rolling, it’s important to remember that with AdWords especially you might use your whole budget pretty quickly but as long as your account is built correctly, these are all potential clients! And don’t forget about social media. Encourage your customers to follow you and get into the habit of taking a photo or writing a quick message about your latest project and sharing it with your audience, keeps you top of mind.”

Are you thinking of launching an online advertising campaign? Leave us a comment below with any questions, queries or ideas you may have!

Digital Brisbane Hits Top Gear as Businesses Back Up-and-Comers

It’s a good time to be a digital start-up in the sunshine state. The Brisbane City Council has been swept up in the digital wave and is pushing to establish their fair city as the digital hub of Australia, with great success! Their plan involves a wide selection of interest groups from SMEs to Start-ups and even the general public.

The Brisbane Digital strategy’s key objectives are to:

  • Double the amount of businesses selling online
  • Support 250 digital start-ups
  • Improve the public’s online experience of Brisbane

With these goals in mind, Digital Brisbane will work towards increasing Brisbane’s connectivity into the global digital economy. With the help of digital champions and the backing of governmental organisations, the program aims to enhance the online presence of the SME business sector by improving online business practices and promotion, leading to a better lifestyle for locals. To do this the city has created a digital marketing program boasting workshops, seminars and online assets like the digital marketing directory which puts business owners in touch with the city’s best digital marketing agencies. Brisbane SEO firm BrisDigital is one of those online marketing agencies keen to help the city grow into the new digital age. “We’ve been helping SME’s in Brisbane capitalise on their online potential through search engine optimisation (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and social media management for a number of years,” said Jay Martin, the company’s director. “We’ve successfully helped turn declining businesses into industry powerhouses through an increased web presence, and we’re yet to meet a business owner we cannot help,” He added emphatically. And after spending a week in their offices watching his enthusiastic staff go about their day I can see why!

The BCC’s Strategy not only wants to help SMEs but also aims to foster a freewheeling environment capable of supporting high-growth digital start-ups to boost entrepreneurship and improve the support available to digital companies. Brisbane start-up companies are currently being hindered by a network which is still quite clearly in its’ infancy compared to other states across the country.

Start-ups by state.

startups state

Young, fresh companies aiming to achieve rapid growth and tackle national and global markets, often fueled by external investment. High-growth, knowledge-based, start-up companies are having a profound economic impact on economies around the world.

Of those who have founded their own digital start-up, the largest group has been in the workforce for six to ten years, followed closely by those with five years or less work experience.

This is an important statistic as it shows that 61% of founders in Australia, are people who are from the younger generations, and in the early stages of their careers. This group makes up the bulk of Australia’s entrepreneurial community, and have strong ‘entrepreneurial intentions’ with 19% of this group planning on starting a business within three years (PwC, 2013).

Their media use is predominantly digital as it’s the core focus for both their business and personal interests. Being heavily involved in the tech industry, the target market are at the forefront of digital innovation and are quick to adopt new technology and communication platforms. They are extremely likely to be engaged in multiple screens at any one time (smartphone, tablet, laptop, television) and would be classed as e-mavens (influencers) among their social circles. The more of these digitally minded people the city can attract, the better!

As the digital scene expands and digital marketing agencies and start-ups alike jostle to grab their slice of the multi-billion dollar digital pie their is one clear victor that emerges from this digital revolution and that’s the city itself.

Making it at the Community Markets

So you think you can market stuff? Before you quit your day job, load the car boot with collateral and set them eyeballs to dollar signs: STOP! Put down better yet, shred that resignation letter return your car keys to their hook and take off those rose coloured lenses. Marketeering might be a business, but it won’t make you rich in a day. It can, however, turn into a bit of a money spinner with some talent, hard graft and the right attitude. Here’s how to ensure all three.


  • handmade or vintage stuff to sell (clothing, nicknacks, old books etc).
  • a foldable table if none are provided borrow one, (or pick up a cheapie) and a comfy chair
  • display items to show off your goodies in their best light
  • stickers/tags for pricing
  • notebook to log sales
  • a fanny pack for cash, and some small change to start the day off
  • cute paper bags or similar for packaging
  • BYO food and drink (so you don’t spend all your dosh on the day)
  • flyers to advertise your website, or an email signup sheet
  • friends for moral support and /or to cover loo breaks
  • a good night’s sleep beforehand – you’re getting up early, dude!


Before you start anything, do some research. Take a trip to your favourite market hangout with a trusty pen and paper. Take some notes on stalls that appeal to you then ask yourself why and how. Market research is all about knowing thy target market and finding thy consumer. As you’re wandering about, try and spot someone who you think looks like your ideal customer. Build a little profile about who they are where they come from, what they like to eat, their fashion styles, the bands they listen to and why they won’t be able to live without your wares. Constructing a portfolio on your ideal customer will help you choose which market to be part of, how to price your goodies, packaging choices and the aesthetic of your items. This is called stalking, and it’s legal unless you follow them home and start going through their rubbish bin which while being quite helpful could also be fairly awkward and scary for those involved. Mandy from The Freedom State, which started from humble beginnings on the Gold Coast selling gypsy style kimonos, flare pants boho dresses and other bohemian clothing items recommends visiting all the clothing markets in your area to make sure you pick the one that best caters to your market.


Once you know exactly where your customer shops, apply for the market. Some markets may ask you to prepay for a spot. Sure it may be a financial outlay, but it could be the difference between scoring a sweet sun dappled spot under a large tree or a space beside the toilet block that nobody’s used since that gruesome incident in 1993. Would you buy sweet hand pressed badges FROM A FORMER CRIME SCENE? I don’t think so.

Some niche crafty markets will require an application. For these remember to put some thoughtfulness, earnestness and charm into your request. Most markets will have a web presence with a number to call if you have any questions. Be brave and dial! Have your questions in hand. You’ll get more information from a person on the phone than an electronic reply. We spoke to Brisbane marketeers Fly Peacock, who started off with a small selection of men’s fashion items including t shirts, v necks, singlets and shorts. Their advice for selling their range of festival t shirts and singlets was a positive attitude and a loud voice if you are not in the best spot. They also always wear the t shirts and shorts the are selling to further promote their clothing label.


Before you set about making your finery, make yourself a budget. There is no point outlaying money creating pieces that you won’t get a solid return on. Consider creating what’s known in the biz as “bread and butter” items or work that will spin you some extra revenue should your larger and more expensive items not happen to sell that day. An array of items priced at various points will move quicker. Add a small percentage on top of your profit margin in case of haggling. And if a customer does try and bargain with you, treat it as a game. Stay polite, don’t rip yourself off and don’t get PISSY. Also remember when pricing to factor in things like rent for your pitch, materials, petrol costs and damaged or stolen items. On the day, make a note of each piece you sell and what price it went for. Then when you get home you can do the sums and work out how many sweet, sweet dollars you’ve made.


Always arrive at the market early (that will mean not another one for the
road the night before). Have a positive and upbeat attitude (even in the face of having your stall position changed last minute) and make sure you’ve packed comfortable shoes, clean clothing and plenty of food (we’re here for the long haul, baby). Also be certain to confirm that the market provides tables and chairs there’s no point turning up with oars if you don’t have a boat. If you do need to BYO table try to borrow one at first (one that fits the space!) or try and find a cheap trestle table at one of those big DIY stores. Most shoppers will appreciate an authentic homemade display fashioned from vintage tins or stacked 70s Tupperware over newfangled generic plastic fittings. Make clear labels and price points. If you’re selling clothes use timber hangers that match. Be sure to keep the area around your stall clean and tidy, and if you are selling crafty stuff, why not plonk yourself behind your table and make something while you wait for customers? It’s probably more fun than just sitting on your arse, and it will give passers by one more thing to look at, and maybe even talk to you before you sell them something.


  • Stand up. No slouching in a chair with your head buried in a book
  • Be practical store excess product in clearly marked plastic tubs
  • Beneath your table. Keep everything within reach
  • Remember to pencil in a trip to the bank! You will need a float
  • Display items tags and themes that fit into your brand
  • Invest in a market umbrella or pop up tent

Live music in West End: Past, Present and Future.

There was a time in Brisbane when you could walk down Boundary Street in West End and your ears would be met with an eclectic mix of garage grunge, punk, metal and the occasional power riff. Anarchist punks, clad in high cut Doc Martens, ripped jeans and technicolour mo’ hawks; death metal rockers who slept by day and partied all night and long haired Kurt Cobain wannabe self-annihilates in tatty flannelette shirts all cohabitated. What happened to those days?

West End was once a breeding ground for homegrown Brisbane talent, mainly due to the fact that it didn’t offer much else. Now it’s become the centre point of Brisbane’s cultural diversity with multi-cuisine restaurants, cocktail jazz bars and mainstream dance clubs. The earthy, stained and smelly bars that I remember going to as a 17 year old (yes, they were also quite lax when it came to i.d. checks!) are a thing of the past. If you look hard enough, you can still find dregs from the life that was once lived in West End, but slowly, the few remaining hardcore music venues are closing down and moving out, paving way for trendy cafes and boutique liquor stores.

I know these are all positive steps in building a cleaner world city, and I’ll be the first to admit that West End is still a favourite jaunt of mine, but I’m still struck, on occasion, to take my shirt off and jump around senselessly to some anarchist punk music. I want to butt heads with people and not worry about being hit with a glass bottle. I want to lock eyes with a complete stranger and know exactly what they are thinking. I want to walk outside of a venue at 11 in the morning and feel my ears ringing and bowels churning, because the amp was too high, just for the hell of it.

As of the last census (2011), 49.3% of those who called West End home, were single and without children. Fiona McMullan has been living on Thomas Street in West End for 15 years and is acutely aware of the changing demographic within the community. “I have noticed a shift in the people around me, particularly once the sun goes down. It’s not necessarily a bad thing…West End is just adapting,” she said. As is the nature of the beast, when an area becomes urbanised, particularly by young professionals and students with disposable incomes, larger and more commercial venues are sure to follow.

Hospitality managers and operators could smell money in the air, and a community that once thrived on its united purpose is slowly being picked apart in lieu of smaller, more boutique venues, which are interspersed by the occasional high capacity dance club. Maximillian Tynan, manager of West End’s The End said, “it just made sense for us to open a venue in West End, it’s shame it’s so hard for local bands to get a gig, especially when I grew up coming to see them in West End.” Nowadays, you are more likely to find national or international performers in West End’s many live music venues as opposed to budding local Brisbane talent.

One Saturday, on a cold winter’s night, I was buried with assignments for university and frustrated with my lack of progress. I’d seen just about all there was to see on YouTube and run out of people to stalk on Facebook. I was staying at my girlfriend’s house, on Vulture Street, and as any responsible student would do when faced with an insurmountable workload, I gave up and headed out to get drunk. Unusually for me, I decided to fly solo. I tried the Hi-Fi. A private function for a young girl’s 21st. Not my scene. I crossed the street to Archive. It started to rain and the wind was picking up. It wasn’t heavy, but enough to make you uncomfortable and cold. Wolfmother played inside and the venue was packed, the bar was 4 deep and the patrons were all hanging in their cliques, forming impenetrable clusters of bodies. “Fuck it”, I mumbled under my breath. I can’t stand weekend warriors. These people didn’t care where they were; it was more about the West End prestige than anything else. I hit my breaking point as I stood in the smoking section, a half rolled cigarette hanging from my cracked, windblown lips. A young guy, with jeans rolled just below his knees and a pair of glasses, that had no lenses, stood before me, talking obnoxiously on his phone to a friend, “Oh yeah, I’m just in THE West End.” There was an air of smugness in his voice. Who calls it THE West End??

I flicked my half smoked butt into the bin and stormed off. As I walked down Vulture Street, planning my retreat back into the comfort of my girlfriend’s bed, I heard a familiar noise coming from a house. My curiosity kicked in and I followed my ears to the source of the noise. As I drew closer to the house, people were milling in the street. They were laughing and jumping around. I recognised the noises I was hearing. It was the harsh and intense bashing of a drum kit, accompanied by the tight, screaming whine of a guitar. I asked the crowd outside what was happening, to which the response was, “Album launch man! Get your ass in there.”

It was like walking into another world, shirtless punks adorned in studded leather jackets, tattooed women flashing their skin at the band on stage, and most importantly a bar set up over the top of an old wash basin with cold beer and no line. There was a young lady sitting in the corner, with a notepad and an old Polaroid camera hanging from her neck. I know a journalist when I see one, and made a beeline for her. I introduced my self. Her name was Kel, short for Kelly I’m sure, she had short-cropped naturally blonde hair, a stud in her nose and wore a pair of knee high Docs better than anyone I’ve ever seen. She was writing a review for Rave Magazine’s online editorial.

It turns out that locally produced music isn’t dead, it’s just moved underground. Every weekend, those in the know, congregate at someone’s house, set up some amps and a mic, order a few kegs and perform original music. The drinks are cheap; enough to cover costs for the party, and the vibe is chilled. After the show everyone hangs out and kicks on until the sun comes up. There is a strict no-bullshit rule, I’m told. Kel locks eyes with me, I can tell she’s serious, “no fighting and don’t trash the house. Other than that, it’s fair game.”

The following weekend, I meet Kel at an address. She gives it to me an hour before the show. This time round I’m better prepared for the night ahead, physically and mentally. The show was raw. Raw emotion. Raw location. Raw performance. It was like the feeling I get when I see a cocoon hanging from a tree. Ugly and primal, yet always in the back of my mind I’m aware that inside there is something complex and inspiring happening.

After the show I spoke to the lead singer, Declan. He’s only 19 and still lives at home with his parents. He was just a kid; never been out of Brisbane and his face was full of piercings. Funnily though he spoke with the depth of a much older, wiser man. I asked why they didn’t advertise the shows; after all, there was money to be made.

“Man, do I look like I care about money? This shit, what we do, is about these people here tonight. I know everyone here…I don’t want this turning into mainstream bullshit.”

Right then it hit me. Maybe I had been one of those faux glasses wearing, jean rolling posers. That guy who turned up to gigs when it suited me, jumped around for a bit then went back to my townhouse apartment, had a shower and told all my mates about how hardcore my night had been. Declan was legit. All of a sudden I became really self-conscious about my stupid leather jacket and romper stomper boots.

I left the gig a little perturbed; went to my girlfriend’s and ditched the jacket. My mates were all drinking at The Boundary, so I went to meet them. I’d never felt so relieved to hear a cover of Sweet Child O’ Mine upon entering a bar.

Over a pint of micro-brew beer, I reflected on my night and my chat with Declan. Whether right or wrong, I concluded that maybe the punks and rockers weren’t chased out by capitalist bar owners, waving metaphorical brooms in the air, as if chasing away a rodent. Maybe these die-hard music lovers foresaw the changes that would consume the Boundary Street façade of West End, and consciously opted to retreat to the backstreets. Either way, you can be sure that locally produced live music has a strong future, backed by a passionate and resilient fan base.

William Pitt-Thacker.

Turning City Parks into Food Forests

People all over the world spend millions of dollars on their grass and flower gardens each year. Beautiful blossoms and manicured lawns might be aesthetically pleasing, but they really serve little practical value. With the recent economic drama and high rates of inflation, many people are realizing that not growing your own food is like throwing money away. The rising cost of food prices, globally, can sway a government on how they allocate their resources, which can lead to Countries Falling into a Protracted Crisis, especially in developing nations, see more about this in our report.

Public food forest

Utilizing home gardens to produce additional food for the family is a great idea and a trend that is making a comeback, and some cities are getting in on the action as well, allowing permaculturalists to design food forests where grassy fields used to lie.

Several communities in the Pacific Northwest of the United States are taking the lead, with several new projects going ahead in the state of Washington. The Tacoma Food Forest and the Fruit Tree Steward Program in Mt Vernon, Seattle are offering participants from the community the opportunity to get their hands dirty, and learn about permaculture and gardening at the same time.

Kelda Miller, owner of Vibrant Life Permaculture, who is managing the project at Tacoma’s Swan Creek Park said: “Metro Parks has been wondering for a while how to use the location to serve the community.” She continued: ”Several members of the permaculture community, including some who designed a theoretical food forest at the site as part of a permaculture course a few years ago, suggested the idea at a recent master planning meeting. We’re so happy with the Metro Parks decision!”

Food forests are great for bringing communities together. Not only that they make use of otherwise vacant land, and build sustainable habitats for insects and wildlife, and create areas the capture and utilize rainfall rather than letting it all wash away into creeks and estuaries and out to sea.

It is our hope here at Ideas For Good that our local Australian Councils will allow our local communities the opportunity to build food forests as well.  The Melbourne city council has recently allowed one keen group of Australian Permaculturalists to turn part of a park on Farnham Street in Flemington into a food forest. After a 3-day blitz a large group of avid gardeners transformed the dull grassland into a lush area surrounded by fruit and olive trees.

“It would be great if more parks all around Australia could be made into usable spaces like this!” Said one enthused permaculturalist who had travelled all the way down from Brisbane to help out with transformation of the park. “We don’t have anything like this up in Brisbane, where I come from.” He continued.

Food forests are a good idea for a number of reasons. Not only do they help bring communities together but they teach people skills, responsibilities and they give back to the community in the form of free food for everyone! Permaculture methods mean that limited inputs are needed so expenses to maintain the parks are low, and everyone involved benefits.

The team here at Ideas for Good wants to bring the idea of the creation of food forest to the public to build momentum towards the movement. In a arid and extreme climate like the one we experience here in Australia, communities all over the country could benefit from knowledge of permaculture methods. If you’d like to find out more about permaculture in your local community take a look on Facebook to find out about local groups in your area.