visit our new project!

We're coming back!

Greetings lovely people!

We have been a stranger! We know. We've been so busy. So busy starting the world's BEST new media project, that is!

If you liked Side Street, Sydney, boy oh boy are you going to love this. You may love it so much you want to make out with it, which you can totally do you know, it's your computer screen. So it's called This Place is Yours and it's a not for profit media project designed to enhance mental health, social inclusion and social change. It's features include an online diary powered by you, where you can share your stories; inspirational features on amazing people (ala Side Street) and tons of amazing local content too, so you can know what's going on in your area no matter where you are (we're going GLOBAL this time!). We're going to attempt to bridge that massive divide between the online and the offline realm as well with events and meetups, such as conversation series and book clubs, plus workshops to teach you guys how to share your stories, which we'll then publish on the site. AND! And we're going to be producing stories about issues you need to hear about and we need to talk about, such as mental health, abuse, addiction, and fluffier things, like LOVE.

There is oh so much to it, and we've been at the School for Social Entrepreneurs for the better part of the past year to work on it. Now it's all set and ready for launch, but we need your help!
For $50 you'll be part of the movement for a more open society, and you'll also get a very delectable mook (half magazine, half book) with stories about compassion, grief, joy, sadness, hope and inspiration (and more). It's going to be possibly the prettiest thing ever. And if you have deeper pockets, then you can grab some signed prints from Cybele Malinowski, photographer extraordinaire.

We're going to shut up now and point you to this link, where you can read so much more and see so much more and then contribute so much more. We're really excited to be back, and we hope you like it. 

Here's a video for you about why it's being created, which was produced after Tuesday evening's Think Act Change event on whether storytelling can change the world (yes it can).

Side Street Sydney was a writing project

Today is the last day we will be posting on Side Street, Sydney.
I cannot begin to describe how much this site has meant to be since I started it in September 2009. Oh wait – I just did. Alas, here lies the problem with clich├ęs. The people I have met, the words that have so easily come out about them and the connections I have made are forever going to be some of my most treasured valuables. I feel blessed to have shook hands with so many people who continue to inspire the world around them every day.

The thing is, I feel like I a very different person than I was more than a year and a half ago when Side Street began, and, like a lot of relationships, I have grown apart from it. Back then, I was leaving my job in fashion PR (don’t ask) and was desperate to write again (but not work for someone else again), so I decided to bring the concept for Side Street, Sydney to life – an idea I had first conceived of years before on a plane somewhere above this fine country. In addition to writing, I wanted to prove that Sydney had more to offer than met the eye, and I wanted it to have a “you can do it, too” message to everyone brave enough to follow their dreams. I can only hope it achieved some of those things.

But the whole past couple years have been anything but stable, so the attention I was able to give to this project quickly began to break. Indeed, they have been chaotic, life changing, mentally challenging and completely overwhelming, and if I could give some advice to the girl who started this thing it would be to slowwwww the hell down, and then I’d promptly hand her a chocolate bar. In between starting another business, taking on WAY too much and subsequently exploding under pressure, dealing with the death of the magnificent woman who raised me, confronting my past and feeling intense loneliness as I began to realise just how many fake friendships I had, I completely lost the plot. What with the depression, the panic attacks and the suicidal tendencies, I’m a little surprised I didn’t blow my computer up.
I’m much better now.

The process of actually getting better though has involved really getting to the bottom of who I am and what I want, and accepting whatever growth that means. Changes have included taking Final Episode in a completely different direction (as it turns out, high fashion pisses me off), wearing flat shoes (heels are not in fact comfortable. Don’t let anyone fool you.), throwing certain people out of my life and making writing much more than a side project. Also, I must get another puppy. THEY ARE AMAZING. And, of course, I have realised that it’s okay to let go of Side Street, Sydney.

Plans are underway for another, national site, and although it will have a somewhat different editorial strategy, the core of Side Street’s mission will be in there – only this time, less hipster, more real. Also, I might like it to pay me just a little for all the work I do on it, as believe me, there is a lot of work and when you do a lot of work for free, you become a little bit ANNOYED. I simply never got around to seeking cash for it before (read: I HATE SEEKING CASH) but I am going to get someone on board who will. If you or the company you work for would like to come on board as a sponsor or advertiser, simply email me and I’ll send you all the details. You’ll also be guaranteed a spot in heaven, allegedly.

And of course, I have to give a major shout out to the people who I was able to boss around on this thing, particularly Kristen and Lisa, who have stuck with it from the beginning and have been truly remarkable to work with. Kristen, you are more beautiful than you could ever know, and I cannot thank you enough for your faith in me. And Lisa… what can I say? The fact that somebody as talented as you wanted to contribute to the site made ME believe in it. You are a brilliant photographer, and I am confident that the universe has big things in store for you.
Once again, thank you to all those who have allowed us to come over and speak to you and feature your work, we love you. But the biggest thank you goes to every single one of you who has read this site. If even just one story inspired you, then I can say with satisfaction that Side Street has accomplished its purpose.

If you want to keep in touch with me while I’m on my little break, you can email me, follow me on Twitter or read my personal blog. Yes, I have an addiction to creating websites and no I am not ashamed of it. If you want to follow news on the next site, it’s a little while away but we’ll be keeping everyone posted on our Twitter and our newsletter, which you can sign up to on the top right. We’d say Facebook but we started as a friend and reached our 5,000 limit and now we’re a page but really we’re just confused.

And finally, if you or someone you know is suffering from depression and anxiety, take it from me – things to do get better. In fact, they get so much better, and when you start to feel normal again, it’ll be a bit like skinny-dipping into a cold lake after a mountainous hike in 45 degrees. A mountainous hike where YOU WANTED TO KILL YOURSELF. The things that worked for me were talking about it, accepting it, writing about it, letting myself be angry, learning to work a LOT less, following my truth, living in the moment and petting my puppy. Those may or may not work for you, but I can guarantee something will. So please, call Beyond Blue or Lifeline and help yourself. You owe it to you. I promise.

Until next time, big virtual hugs,
Seema xx

words: Seema Duggal
photo: Lisa Zhu

A Place Called Heaven: Helm Bar's Cheese Nights

If heaven had a name other than heaven, I’m pretty sure it would be “Cheese”. And not just any cheese – the kind of cheese that’s EXPENSIVE and served with an accompanying glass of white. Sounds way too good to be true, doesn’t it? Something you’d only get in… a place called heaven? Lucky for EVERYONE, you can actually also get it at a place called Helm Bar, which hosts incredible cheese and alcohol matching nights every month or so.

Creativity for Change: Make Believe

There is no doubt about it – creative talent is a gift, bestowed upon to a rare few individuals whose choice on what to do with it lies with them and them alone. It has the capacity to be a rather self-indulgent flair, but every so often, you’ll get a group of people who will band theirs together for a cause greater than each of them and all of them combined. This is exactly what it’s like at Make Believe, a creative agency that works explicitly with non-profits, social enterprises and (decent) political organisations. They impart their wisdom on communications strategy, campaigning, storytelling and branding to clients that include The Global Poverty Project, Amnesty International, the Greens Party and so many more, so long as they believe in the message they have been employed to interpret.

“You help in the way you know to help,” says co-director Lily McCombs. “We try not to be an agency but rather, an agent. We’re not driven by profit – we’re really trying to seek out work with people on things we are excited to work on. That’s what motivates us, and Make Believe is the vehicle that allows us to do that.”

Entertainment Philanthropy

We’re not exactly opposed to parting ways with our cash for a good cause on any given day, but when we’d part with that cash ANYWAY for entertainment purposes – such as oh, I don’t know, seeing a movie – AND the said cash is going to a good cause, it all seems too good to be true. But it’s not next Wednesday night, when our friends at Spark* are putting on a movie night at the Palace Verona Cinema to raise funds for their very necessary charity, which enables changemakers in the places where they are needed most. Their program is currently well underway in Papua New Guinea, where a group of young future leaders are being mentored to guide their communities out of poverty. The work that they do is truly remarkable, and you can read all about it once again right here, or check out their YouTube channel (we’ve posted their most recent clip above, which always manages to bring a tear to our inspired eyes).

Anyway, you can meet them (and US!), hear about their work firsthand, grab a complimentary glass of bubbly, snag a goodie bag and watch the new release Water for Elephants (which stars Reese Witherspoon and ROBERT PATTINSON), all the while knowing that your night of fun has a purpose greater than your night of fun. What could be better during a night of fun? The correct answer is nothing.

Tickets are just $28 and can be purchased by clicking this text we've linked
We're so smart. See you Wednesday night!

Blog to Book: Kerri Sackville

This is Kerri Sackville.
You are late to the party if you’ve not heard of her, and I pity you. But that’s okay – you can make up for it by reading her new part-memoir, part-guide to family life; When My Husband Does the Dishes, which will be released on Monday, May 2. And I pinkie promise – you will laugh out loud and possibly wee yourself if you use TENA Lady.

Kerri is witty, charming, honest, and best of all, fluent in sarcasm: the fairest and cleverest language of them all. Her writing has appeared in SMH, The Age, The Telegraph, and pretty much everything else, and she is a regular contributor to Mamamia.
Kerri started freelancing after becoming a mum in 2001. She popped on to Twitter and her blog, Life and Other Crises, in 2009, following writer’s block after the death of her sister. She has written her heart out ever since, encouraged by her followers every step of the way (and she rightly has a ton of them). It’s also pretty clear that she’s a MILF.

Because I’m a fan of hard-hitting journalism, I asked Kerri the following questions after storming her home and shining a bright light in her face. Not really, but that was great for dramatic effect.

Sneaker Freak: I Dig Your Sole Man

There are a plethora of street style fashion blogs out there, but after you click on one after the other you kind of tend to get the picture that all they really look for are socialites in expensive outfits. They can tend to get rather monotonous, and oh so occasionally, obnoxious. Which is why we get a little excited when one comes around with a point of difference, particularly if it's home grown and awesome. This is precisely the case with I Dig Your Sole Man, a photo project devoted to telling the stories of people who wear cool sneakers. That doesn't make it sound like much, but then when you visit the site and realise that the photos are amazing and the style is completely unique, you can't help but come back for more, as you would do with all awesome things. We chatted to the man behind the concept about, er, the concept, and why he decided to be different. Then we thanked him and gave him a cookie.

For Every Family: Relay for Life

I’ve never been much of a joiner or activist or raiser of funds. I have always found it hard to connect with the needs of the ‘greater community’, but when it comes to the small & personal, I have always been the gal you can count on. When my friends are sick, I’m the one who makes sure they’ve got enough home-cooked dinners in the freezer to last a couple of weeks. When someone I care about is in dire financial need, I’ll happily give them a guilt-free gift to see them through the rough spot. These are situations I have been able to see and therefore, empathise with. Your ‘big breakfasts’ and your ‘red noses’ et al, are all very noble and worthy, but I have found it hard to muster up enough… whatever it is… that is needed to participate.
Until I got a wee smack in the face. Followed up by a good wallop to the head.

Emerging Exposure: 100 Squared

Every so often a retail experience comes around that endeavours to transcend mere moneymaking for something with a little more purpose behind it. This is exactly the case with the new city Westfield’s 100 Squared, a fixed marketplace for today’s emerging designers. Providing them with a flagship-type retail space in an area that boasts huge traffic, 100 Squared gives said designers a means to transgress the flurry of stockists and agents and sell direct to the public. The designers rotate every six months, giving plenty of fresh ideas a chance to take part in the concept.

100 Squared was founded by Sydney entrepreneur Justin Levy, who explains that the concept's measure of success is “to have an emerging designer come to us and leave us as an established designer.” By scouring the city’s markets, studios, fashion runways, and schools, Justin eventually sources fresh talent and asks them to submit their range or plans for the space. “The final selection is based on uniqueness, quality, commerciality and their future business goals,” he says. Benefiting from Westfield’s huge consumer market and exposure is an obvious bonus, but Justin stresses that it is the knowledge that the designers gain through the experience that benefits them the most, such as how to communicate on a daily basis with a large customer base, how to retail in a fast paced environment and develop staff.” As for where 100 Squared fits in with the world of retail, Justin puts it simply: “we offer customers a more intimate experience with direct access to the makers of the garments they are buying, as compared to the young sales assistants that are just trying to meet there sales targets in traditional retail stores. Most importantly, we maintain the discovery essence of a market where a piece of fashion you buy now could be from a designer that may just be the next big thing…”

We profile three of these “next biggest things”, who you can purchase over at 100 Squared today.

The Voice

The voice has a proposal
I would like to propose, he says, tenaciously
That there is,
No past, no future,
Only the present moment.

It’s difficult to argue with The Voice,
Because you’re the one who got
Him talking in the first place
When you realised that the anchor
Near your lungs, sinking, expanding,
Gathering tremendous weight and speed,
Wasn’t your body malfunctioning,
But your head.

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