Side Street Sydney | School for Social Entrepreneurs | the arts

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 Sydney 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 clichés. 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


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.
My friend and I trotted along to the last one they had and were treated to some truly perfect matchings as the sun set over Darling Harbour. When you get to the venue, you’re assigned to one of four tables, where you will be continually topped up with a rotating glass of wine to match the rotating plate of cheeses. All up, you get to try four cheese and wine combos, and trust me, they come from the experts in the biz. As each matching meets your gracious lips, the aforementioned experts (including cheese expert Claudia McIntosh) explain what the cheese is all about – how it’s produced, where it’s made, the taste subtleties that only a truly trained connoisseur can pick up and how much it costs. One of the matured goats cheeses we tried had a price tag upwards of $90 a kilo. Hence, if we had not attended the event, we would never have known what heaven tastes like.

Not only do you get to do a little tasting session, but the cheese & wine guys also give you tips on how to match your own perfect combos. This is handy if, like me, you know nothing at all about the subject matter. When the evening is over, they even do a raffle for cases of the wine you have tried, and if you’re lucky, you’ll win your favourite one. I am not in fact lucky, but I won anyway, which possibly means that I am guaranteed a spot in cheese heaven. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

Their next matching night actually involves beer and cheese with beer blogger Mark Chippefield and will be on June 29th. Tickets sell out quickly and are just $40, so call Helm Bar on 02 9290 1571 to book your spot.