Topic: local news
Picture: The historic FoE Australia newsletter archive rescued from the badly unravelling FoE Sydney local chapter in 2003, which folded about 2005, to be rebooted by Ms Verco et al new broom in current form today.
The SAM editor spent 7 struggling years trying to reboot the under powered Friends of the Earth Sydney group 1995-2002. We became a student of it's structure and history during this time. This was well before now famous Natasha Verco's involvement we understand to be from about the mid noughties.
References to Copenhagen climate protester Verco as "founder of Friends of the Earth here" in the big media (eg ABC) recently need some clarification: No doubt referring to the Sydney rather than national chapter, and Sydney version 2, not version 1 established from the 1970ies or 80ies. Indeed if it was otherwise she would be a grey haired retiree.
This local FoE group itself has a significant history: Originally sharing office space with nascent Greenpeace (Australia), and Movement Against Uranium Mining (the evocative acronym MAUM) here in Sydney early 80ies. The story as told to us by Steve Broadbent, aka Stevie Bee today, was that GP got acquisitive and pushy as it grew, causing an office dispute and lock out. The resolution came as GP decided to moved into new space. Jumped or pushed is lost in the mists of time. GP was just another aspirational small greenie group.
The massive operation of GP now is a matter of history after the Rainbow Warrior and lots more, but it was all in the balance back then.
That history of the Sydney green movement is prescient in some ways regarding FoE Sydney pathway, which as we understand it has always been a separate incorporation entity within the FoE Australia network.
In our time we failed (heroically?) to get FoE Sydney on a healthy basis in the face of closed shop tactics by 3 aged males in the group: From our perspective they seemed to have perfected the method of co-opting the place for exclusive territory. Mmm. Details of functioning alcoholic, porn addict using public resources, bipolar character with tunnel vision, are not necessary here but every community group will know the experience. It's great working with the public - except for the public (!) We've since learned a green vocation as policy analyst and media rep should be distinct from social work.
The last we heard most of FoE Sydney office was being loaded into a giant industrial dumpster in 2005 at Turella old ice cream factory 3 years after we made out escape to concentrate on saving a large chunk of the Andes (another story). But not before we saved the newsletter archive held by FoE Sydney pictured here 1975 to 2002.
We reached the conclusion more in sadness than anger version 1 of FoE Sydney needed to be killed off so it could be rebooted fresh. This indeed happened by about 2003-4 including a swing through the NSW Supreme Court over a lease dispute where this author won comprehensively.
We predicted FoE Sydney version 2 would inevitably re-seed via the dominating FoE Melbourne head office. This is where Natasha Verco in the news today has been reported "as a founder of Friends of Earth" ( actually Sydney version 2 around 2005, 30 years after version 1 was commenced).
Version 1 of FoE Sydney included respected and successful campaigners like Stuart White (now UTS), John Denlay, Joe Wacher, Mim Bucchorn and others too. Many had moved on by our time of there. We would like to think we also had some success like:
- closure of $40M dioxin spewing Waterloo Incinerator,
- expose of Enron style power industry privatisation agenda in 1997, and
- gruelling expose' of Carr Govt policy failures on woodchipping, and indeed other planning corruption.
With some consequent reputational blowback by the ALP slime machine in NSW including inside and outside the green movement to this day.
By the looks the energetic sisterhood via Ms Verco et al are running FoE Sydney from the mid noughties - and it's a good thing too. Good luck Ms Verco, onwards ....