Last week I visited one of the local bush care groups around here. They were an amazing group of people; ordinary people who have taught themselves specialist knowledge so that they can rehabilitate green space. They know what to remove, what to leave, and can tell the difference between native versions of things and very similar looking varieties that are weeds. Once a month they get out of bed in the cold in the early morning and put in a couple of hours of unpaid labour for the benefit of the environment and local wildlife. Some of them work with several groups. And they are cheery and friendly at that hour of the morning, which is well beyond me.
The thing is, when I think about it, there are lots of amazing people around here. Take Pat, for instance. Pat and her husband Kerry are the backbone of the Progress Association that lobbied council for years to get the land that the bush care group looks after earmarked as reserve. Since then, the group has lobbied for facilities for the park at the top of the reserve and it is now a beautiful and peaceful community resource. Pat knows everyone in the neighbourhood, looks out for everyone, and welcomes new people. She volunteers at Meals on Wheels and looks after her grandkids on days when she is not at work. Our suburb would not be what it is without Pat.
Another member of the progress group is Ngaire. I’ve not actually met her, but I’ve seen her a couple of times and can’t help but know about her work. For the last few years Ngaire and her sustainability group have been educating people and community groups in this area about ways of reducing their carbon footprint, living sustainably, and how to take advantage of council and government rebates.
Ray and Wendy no longer live in this area, but they also are passionate about the environment. So much so, that both have changed career relatively late in life so that their paid work furthers their passion. Many of us say that they care about the environment and global warming, but Ray and Wendy live it, every day in every way. I would like to think that I could live my beliefs they way they do, but really I doubt that I could give up my comforts to that extent. But they do, and stand as an inspiration to others.
Harry is another amazing person. Harry loves his God and his Church and has, with unfailing dedication, put innumerable voluntary hours into making sure the Church keeps functioning. He is always quite and patient, even with self-absorbed, demanding and domineering people who undermine all of his efforts on a regular basis. He has stuck at it through the hard times that have proven too much for many. People like Harry show us that even though it often seems as though the hierarchy has completely lost the plot, God is still moving within His Church.
Peter astounds me. I’ve never met a person with more energy, enthusiasm, and optimism than Peter. He now runs our P&C, although for the past couple of years he has been chairing our School Council. Peter runs his own business, and yet still manages to spend hours and hours each week either at meetings at the school or following up leads that might prove beneficial for the school. Nothing is too much effort for Peter; he just gets in and does it. He also has vision and leadership skills and takes people along with him. He does not work alone, of course, and a few weeks ago a dozen or more people gave up half their weekend to do really boring, repetitive work for the school simply because it needed to be done to make things better for the kids at the school and the local community.
These are just a few of the amazing people I come across. They don’t get publicity or media coverage. They are not unique. They are representative of countless people who regularly give freely and generously of their time and energy to make their community a better place. When I read the papers and look at the actions of our politicians and business leaders, I feel great despair. It pays to look around occasionally and realise that there are many, many people who just quietly go about preserving what is good about our culture and helping to make our society a better place.