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Monthly Discussion Topics




In the 40 years (at least) since widespread knowledge about global warming has been around, and in the 30 years since the IPCC was set up to provide the best science, global emissions are still climbing and we still face a world well above 2°C. This is our brutal reality. We are now in a new era which requires a new way of thinking and understanding this reality. 

In this session, Simon Kerr will share a few ideas that might be useful as we increasingly recognise that we no longer live in the world we (us older adults at least) are were born into. This matters, because seeing this brutal reality more clearly creates genuinely new ways to think and act into the future. The old ways have gone, even of many of us have trouble recognising it, but an apocalypse is not the only future we can have.

We still stand a chance of a liveable, and potentially better future for many, but we must act fast (speed is everything) and think differently. Let's start this year by trying to think differently about the planetary crisis.


29th Nov 2021 - GROUP DISCUSSION

Ponderings and reflections


Given this year is coming to a close, I suggest we make this an open session where we all can share a couple of things we have learnt this year and perhaps how we are feeling about, and any plans for, 2022. 


Of course, a musical contribution would be most welcome from everyone.


Or whatever is on your heart and mind. 


A chance to be listened to, be acknowledged and to share with others. 


A sort of wrap-up for the year!


And we can have a chat about the outcomes of COP26 as well, if we have time… 😃

16th Oct 2021 - GROUP DISCUSSION

I heard this podcast recently and was struck by its clarity and perception … and value for those of us trying to make headway in coping with the climate predicament and managing grief and stuff! It is not too long … and is very clear (did I already mention that :-)


Have a listen if you can and we can use this to anchor our conversation. I think there is much in there of value. I am sure we will range far and wide in our conversation.  


Craig and Nicki will provide some music to help us close off the meeting, which I am greatly looking forward to!

18th Sept 2021 - JUDY PILE

One of our beloved members, Judy Pile has suggested a great topic and will facilitate this discussion:


‘These two fascinating and short podcasts will help us look more deeply at the connections between First Nations peoples' struggles to keep control of their living situations and cultural responsibilities; encroaching mining and agricultural investment interests; and the overwhelming enormity of the environmental questions it raises.’


These are great questions to grapple with as musicians and songwriters, as well as engaged citizens.


If you can, have a listen to these two podcasts and then Judy will facilitate a discussion and what is means for us as musicians. (Don’t worry if you don’t get to listen to them; Judy will give an overview to kickstart the discussion).


1. Earshot, ABC RN:  Martawarra Fitzroy River: First they came for the land


2. Earshot, ABC RN:  Martawarra Fitzroy River: Then they came for the water


About Judy: Judy has been a committed music educator, composer and performer for more than 30 years. She has a Bachelor of Music degree; Graduate Diploma of Humanities (Music); and Certificate of Instrumental Teaching (Piano).  She also keeps in touch with developments in teaching through reading and periodic professional development seminars and workshops. Although primarily a classical music practitioner, her broad musical interests and strong commitment to social justice have taken her everywhere from the operatic stage, to street theatre.

21st Aug 2021 - GROUP DISCUSSION

For this Saturday, I know some of us are involved in the Tall Trees Festival (on-line) so the prospect of the whole day on Zoom is not particularly appealing. 


So I propose, for those who can make it on Saturday 21st, we have a shorter meeting (maybe an hour and a bit) and do two things:


1) Have a brief discussion about the key findings of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) new report (I can give a quick precise on this if you are not that familiar with that august body).


2) Share a song that is close to your heart (mini soirée type thing). I think playing, sharing and listening to some music would do my soul much good, and no doubt yours, regardless of whether you believe or not in a metaphysical soul 🤭)

17th Jul 2021 - GROUP DISCUSSION



I have been reading this writers work for some time and wanted to share this with us to discuss on Saturday. I shall say no more.


A song, poem, chant?


Any volunteers to lead us in some music/poems? Let me know or we can work it out on Saturday.

19th June 2021 - GROUP DISCUSSION

TOPIC: Please try to read before we meet (5 minute read) Danielle Celemajer’s short magnificent article


I am also tempted to discuss this short video from the New Yorker  in our meeting. It is the story of a Queensland Beef Farmer worried about climate change and looking for love (he is a gay man in a rather 'non-gay' community). It touched me with its humanity and the need for songwriters to also dig beneath stereotypes (Queensland cattle farmers??) to write with honesty and compassion. I am not sure I can achieve this level of songwriting (like say Bruce Springsteen can). But we can but aspire to school heights.

The video by-line is interesting:

Jon Wright speculates that his outspokenness on climate change might be motivated by the same aversion to lying that helped him to come out.

15th May 2021 - JEANNE MARSH

I am delighted that Jeanne Marsh, who leads the Climate Choir Melbourne, will facilitate this virtual meet-up.

The power of music on-site at forest actions

Members of Climate Choir Melbourne have sung in recent environmental protest actions in logging coupes. This has raised all sorts of interesting thoughts/emotions/issues about the power of music and music-theatre in such situations. Jeannie will share experiences, plus some short videos and songs, and will invite responses from the group. 

17th April 2021 - GROUP DISCUSSION

What if we can't solve this?

Cambridge Geographer and climate expert Mike Hulme recently wrote that we tend to think of the climate crisis as an engineering problem to be solved, or a political problem argued over, contested and struggled about. But what if we thought of it as a permanent human predicament? It becomes a magnifying mirror reflecting the human condition. Because predicaments will not go away, they need stories, interpretive stories, which help us come to terms with it.

We need far far more music exploring this human predicament. Not just protest songs. But art and music they help us come to terms with this reality.

20th March 2021 - GROUP DISCUSSION

Let’s have a conversation.

Sir James Bevan, head of the UK Environmental Agency, said this a couple of weeks ago:

"What they teach you at Harvard Business School is that the main thing is to make sure the main thing really is the main thing. There is only one main thing: the climate emergency. It is the main thing because it affects everything else, more than anything else. Runaway climate change won’t just kill the insurance industry, though it will. It will kill our economy, our people and our planet."

But that is not what I suggest we talk about. What I think we could talk about is this:

Christine and I went to Port Fairy last weekend and caught two of the four folk concerts put on in lieu of not having a Folk Festival. The acts were great, enjoyable, … but almost every songwriter sung about every sort of human issue … except the climate crisis.

I keep wondering what cultural malaise comes over us, what ‘Great Derangement’, as Indian writer Amitav Ghosh put it, that makes it so hard to talk about this? It is not just musicians of course, but for some reason, the ‘main thing’ seems like an optional extra, and sits mostly quietly off radar. 

 Let’s have a conversation about this at our next meeting as I know you all will have thoughts as artists who are grappling with this.

20th Feb 2021 - GROUP DISCUSSION

Well, what a ride the last month has been. Now grown-ups are in the White House there has been such a wonderful flurry of climate related action. There is much to be grateful for, yet, as Roy Scranton reminds us ( we all need to say goodbye to normal. Only then might we build a new, as yet undetermined, future that is worth living. It makes the roles of musician/artists very important. 

This months meeting will be a time to share, no guest speakers, just us. Bring a song. It will be a time to catch up, check in, and also think about the year ahead. Maybe even plan a climate/environmental themed gig together.

17 November 2020 - GROUP DISCUSSION

This will be our final session for 2020 and a chance to reflect on the year and our own musical vision and aspirations. It will be an opportunity to discuss what worked well, and what we might change in 2021.


Given that we have now used up 10% of the decade in which we need to halve global emissions, I thought it might be useful for a reality check. One of the best and most troubling articles I have read recently is by Joëlle Gergis, recently published in the Guardian. It is not easy reading, but it is powerful and, I think, motivating. It is increasingly clear to me that the climate crisis is the most urgent challenge we face and needs to be society’s number one priority, the yardstick by which we measure everything we do.


Dr Joëlle Gergis is an award-winning climate scientist and writer based at the Australian National University. She is a lead author of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment report, and an expert advisor to the Climate Council. She also wrote a fascinating and ground breaking book, Sunburnt Country: the history and future of climate change in Australia, a terrific read.

17 October 2020 - DEAN LOMBARD

Dean Lombard is a musician and renewable energy expert and will talk about the big issues in transitioning to a 100% renewable energy grid (including a bit of myth busting) and also about what we can do in our own homes and communities to play a part!


He will hopefully play a tune or two with us!


Dean is a songwriter and earned a living from music for a few years in the 1980s, busking and playing covers in pubs, before heading into the less lucrative but more satisfying world of playing original music in bands – including Wild Honey in the 1990s and The Phosphenes since 2000 – while working as a social worker and social policy advocate to pay the bills. Dean started working in energy policy in 2005 as a consumer advocate and policy analyst for the Victorian Council of Social Service. Since 2016 he’s been doing the same at environmental not-for-profit Renew, with a focus on supporting household and community owned renewable energy resources and transforming the energy market to better integrate large scale renewables. After hours, he is co-convenor of the Darebin Songwriters Guild, facilitates the Guild’s songwriting workshop program, runs open mics in Footscray (currently held online), plays with the Phosphenes, plays and records as a solo artist, and does freelance recording, production, and session work.

19th September 2020 - DR CHRISTINA GREEN

Bearing Witness: Bringing benefit to others through our music;

Dr Christina Green is a part of the Musicians Climate Crisis Network and has studied, written and performed music since the early 1980s. She has a wealth of experience and recently completely a PhD in Composition and Musicology. 

She will led us in this session, outlining her journey through creating and performing music that matters:


  • Writing music in an appropriate way about difficult issues (such as how white folk can sensitively support Black Lives Matters)

  • Writing music that bears witness and brings awareness (drawing from her long term Buddhist practice) 

  • Writing music that draws on feminist, queer theory and environmental consciousness (inclusivity in music).

  • Finally, some practical reflections on the challenging art of getting ones music 'out there' and being OK with what comes.


This session will provide a fantastic opportunity to think about and explore things we don’t useful get an opportunity to discuss, in a respectful, inclusive and supportive environment.

22 August 2020 - CHARLIE MGEE (Formidable Vegetable)

We have a special guest, CHARLIE MGEE from Formidable Vegetable


Charlie is a leading exponent of Ecological Electro Funk Swing music that, as internationally renowned activist Dr Vandana Shiva describes, 'connects the creativity of nature with the creativity of music’.  


Charlie has been writing, practising and singing about permaculture, and more widely about humans and the planet for a number of years, filling venues (and dance floors) around the world at across music festivals and gigs. Charlie, along with Kylie Morrigan and Mal Webb, core members of FV, were programmed to play at Glastonbury this year, but Charlie decided to not travel due to the ecological issue with flying. They ended up playing anyway … on line! 


I’ve asked Charlie to talk about his musical journey in using music to tell stories of the earth, what he’s learnt and his thoughts of the roles music can play in creating the new cultural narratives we need.


Let’s have a conversation about making great music that connects to people and tells stories we need!

18th July 2020 - DR BETH HILL (Psychology for a Safe Climate)

I met Beth at a Storying Climate workshop at the University of Melbourne and she has a lot of experience in helping groups navigate the troubling emotions raised by the climate crisis. Add to this the profound social challenges of Covid-19 and the rawness of Black Live Matter, it is a good time to have a chance to sit and process some of this.


Beth will talk a little about what Psychology for a Safe Climate does, which is to help foster emotional engagement with climate change. That is what musicians do as well.  But then take us on a short process she uses with some of the groups she works with. There will be plenty of time to talk, and I hope to think about how our music and art can be a force for good in troubling times.


We will read and discuss some articles around the challenging issue of  food, agriculture, the corona virus. Please try to read them and come ready to discuss. 


Food is personal and cultural, very close to people’s hearts (well, the stomach is!). Yet, how we produce and consume food is a significant contribution. Yet, food and agriculture is rarely addressed in music. We will have a conversation about these issues and what they might mean for us as musicians and songwriters. 

The two links: 


Eat less meat: UN climate-change report calls for change to human diet


This, published in the world's most prestigious science journal NATURE, summarises the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2019 special report on Land and Food. It is easy to read I found it really useful as a guide to the latest analysis. 


The End of Meat Is Here, by Jonathan Saffron Foer. It is fairly short and deals with COVID-19, racial and social justice, climate change and animals. Foer is the author of Eating Animals which I read recently; a deeply thoughtful, humane, nuanced and in many ways, difficult book to read. And deeply honest. He is a vegetarian, on and off … which is why his writing feels so authentic!   


The overall challenge is that we are eating tomorrow, to borrow from Prof Tim Wise, and industrial agricultural is, literally, poisoning our ecosystems. Widespread animal consumption has risen for about 7 billion animals when I was born, to a staggering 70 billion today and projected to keep growing. (Add another 100 billion farmed fish … and over a trillion wild caught fish per year and we start to see the scale of our planetary plundering). Much of this drives emissions (direct from livestock) and the vast amount of oil used for fertilisers and production systems. 


What can we do differently? And how can artists reflect this and telling stories that help this transition too a greener low emissions food system? Changing long seated habits is tough for the most willing of us. At least as artists, we are used to reflecting what we think and feel in our music and art. 


I am sure we will have lots of thoughts and ideas and inevitably differing views and priorities. There are no simplistic answers to these challenges, but this is society-wide conversation we can’t put off. 

16 May 2020 - STEPHAN CRAWFORD (The Climate Music Project)

I am delighted that Stephan Crawford, the founder of the influential The ClimateMusic Project based in San Francisco will join us for our next Musicians Climate Crisis Network meeting on Saturday 16th May at 10.00am 


I met with Stephan and his colleagues last year In San Fransisco and was luckily enough with my timing to be able to attend a ClimateMusic Project concert that night featuring students and faculty from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music who had written a number of amazing pieces addressing climate change. I was really inspired by this collaboration of science and music and would love to see something like this in Australia. 


Read about them here and also a great New York Times article about the project.


Stephan will talk about the project and the future. It will be fascinating so I encourage you to Zoom in. This is a rare opportunity to hear about a truly innovation music-climate project. 


Read and discuss interview with Dahr Jamail about his book The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption

If you prefer to watch a video try this:

28 March 2020 - PROF SUSIE CRATE

Special guest Susie Crate  Professor of Anthropology at George Mason University, story teller and musician) will join us via Zoom. It not to be missed and will be a fascinating discussion about climate change and community in Siberia, a part of the world most of us will never see, and the role of story telling. Susie has a long history of anthropological research engagement with the social and environmental issues of the region and around permafrost. Most of all, she will tell us some stories about what she has witnessed in the dramatically changing environment of Siberia.

And what is song writing if not the telling of stories.


Small Hall Brunswick Uniting Church

212 Sydney Road, Brunswick VIC 3056, Australia


This time we have a structure that goes something like this:


Arrive, intros 

Discussion of this months article!!

Sharing about being a musician/artists in a climate crisis

Wrap up with a group activity 


The discussion article (attached) is short and timely and provided by Christina Green. Christina will lead this off and talk about what this means to her and facilitate a discussion around it, so please try to read it before you come to the meeting. (and attached in PDF) 


To finish, Shawn Whelan will teach us one of his songs (also attached)  that I think will be a great way to finish. Music, sweet music for the soul. That is what the world needs so much of now. 

16th November 2019 - FIRST MEETING

Small Hall Brunswick Uniting Church

212 Sydney Road, Brunswick VIC 3056, Australia


Arrive, intros, discussion of group purpose by Simon

Sharing about being a musician/artists in a climate crisis

Wrap up with a group activity
Vegan Muffins and coffee/Tea available 

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