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Ideas are amongst the potent of historical forces that continually shape and reshape big cities like Sydney. What people believe has a powerful influence on urban dynamics, and belief systems reflect the diverse cultures that drive a city’s evolution. Within the City of Sydney’s boundaries exist old, new and evolving sets of ideas: religious, secular, ideological and ethical, and they are held by an extraordinary range of organisations and individuals. This group of interviews looks closely at creeds and convictions that exist within the City of Sydney: their history, purpose and communities; along with with their meaning in contemporary life.
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Colin Watego reached the high rank of Warrant Officer First Class in the Australian Army. In his interview he talks about the Defense Forces, family life, youth community organisations and his religious beliefs; and the links between them all. This interview is part of a project called ‘Honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men and Women who served Their Country.’
Harry Allie joined the Australian Air Force in 1966. In this interview he talks about his early life, his decades in the Defense Forces and the ‘Coloured Digger’ movement in NSW. In the excerpt below Harry talks about his family members’ commitment to the Defense Forces at home and abroad. This interview is part of a project called ‘Honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men and Women Who Served Their Country’.
The Mission to Seafarers has been in Sydney since the early nineteenth century. The Reverend Ian Porter talks in this interview about his personal background and beliefs, the Mission’s long history in central Sydney and the pastoral care it has offered to seafarers around the globe. In the excerpt below Ian outlines the Mission’s beginnings in England and its arrival in Sydney.
Hare Krishna devotees first came to Sydney in 1970. In this interview Tony Kaye talks about his personal transition from lawyer to monk, the movement’s links with the counter-culture, and its difficulties in finding a stable location in Sydney. In the excerpt below he describes the special character of Darlinghurst where the movement’s temple and residences are now permanently located.
Nineteenth century American philosopher Henry George has a legacy in 21st century Sydney: the Association for Good Government. In this interview Richard Giles talks about his own political development, Henry George’s campaign for a single tax to reduce economic inequality, and George’s many famous followers. In the excerpt below he outlines George’s visit to Australia and the Association’s several precursors.
Norma and John Blackwood
Anthroposophy, associated with Rudolf Steiner, came to Sydney in the 1920s. In this interview Norma and John Blackwood talk about their own intellectual and spiritual development and their long association with the Sydney branch of the Anthroposophical Society. In the excerpt below Norma discusses the small group which established the the branch, a very long ways from its origins in Europe.
The Metropolitan Community Church arrived in Sydney in 1971, having been formed in Los Angeles in 1968. In this interview Reverend Greg Smith talks about his Methodist upbringing, his lifelong Christian faith and the history of the Metropolitan Community Church in Sydney including AIDS activism and homosexual law reform. In the excerpt below Greg recalls the Church’s involvement in caring for victims of the early AIDS epidemic.
Father Ted Kennedy was a champion of the Redfern Aboriginal community. In this interview prominent Australian sculptor, the late Tom Bass, talks about Ted Kennedy’s values and ideals. In the excerpt below Tom recalls Ted Kennedy’s influence on his own beliefs.
Jenny Madeline and Jackie Perkins
The Quaker Meeting House in inner Sydney’s Surry Hills was established in 1903. In this interview Jenny Madeline and Jackie Perkins talk about their personal histories and the history of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Sydney along with its principles and activities. In the excerpt below they retell some early stories of the Meeting House and why it is located in Surry Hills.
The Australian Communist Party was established in Sydney in the 1920s. Harry Black joined the Party in the 1950s. In this interview he describes his childhood and early working life and the reasons he joined and remained a member of the Communist Party.
‘Jesus Cares’ began in a Kings Cross coffee shop in 1987. In this interview Elwyn Chapman talks about his early life, committing himself to Christianity, and the street work of ‘Jesus Cares’ with young homeless people, amongst others. In the excerpt below, Elwyn talks about the founder of ‘Jesus Cares’, John Jones, and the organisation’s early days.
Theosophy came to Sydney in the early twentieth century. Dara Tatray is president of Theosophical Society in Sydney and in this interview she talks about the organisation’s beginnings in the late nineteenth century, its many notable members, its continuing close connection with India, and the ideas which attract its members. In the excerpt below Dara talks about the theosophy’s long term cultural influence.
The historic Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney’s CBD might almost have been lost to the wrecking ball. In this interview Uniting Church Minster Dorothy McRae-McMahon talks about her personal religious development, the Church’s long history in Pitt St, its well-known early members and its relationship with contemporary politics and human rights. In the excerpt below Dorothy discusses intense personal reactions to the building.
Ina Heitdman joined the Communist Party at a young age after she went to work for a trade union. In this interview Ina talks about her widowed mother who was a cleaner, trade union activist and Communist Party member, her own membership of the Party and her long association with the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia. In the excerpt below, Ina recalls her childhood in a Communist household in inner Sydney in the 1940s.