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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!
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