Meet my side project ‘We are the Gong’. It promises to be a collection of highlights from the creative, business and innovation streets within the Illawarra.
I saw the streets of Wollongong and the Illawarra recently through the eyes of a friend. Showing them around, I realise just how attached I have become to the city I now call home.
I haven’t felt this way about a place since the Redfern days. I loved Redfern for its vibrancy, energy and creativity. The community was amazing. From gigs using the back of semi trailers as stages for the then undiscovered Mr Percival through to the first small bars, it was a place where people felt welcome.
That’s why I started My Redfern Rocks on Twitter and Facebook. The idea was to use social media to break down some of the misconceptions, stigma and prejudices associated with the area. My Redfern Rocks was my way of demonstrating there was more to the suburb than negative headlines and preconceived ideas. It worked not only to highlight the area in a positive manner, but to also help me connect to it.
Wollongong and the Illawarra don’t suffer from the same sort of bad labelling that Redfern had back in the day. It does however share the same raw beauty and enthusiasm for ideas I saw reflected in Redfern and surrounds.
In the Illawarra, there is a plethora of ideas, quirky businesses, startups, artisans and personalities. There’s a great mix of people who are all going about their daily lives with a simple, honest creativity.
In this awesome area wedged between mountains and beaches, ocean pools and lakes, I want to explore ideas, concepts and people. It’s sort of like what would happen if say Ideas Hoist and 52 Suburbs had a night on the tequila and something magical happened. Only instead of photos, it’s more like the stories (and the podcasts) of the land.
Intrigued? I know I am excited by the prospect and hope you will be too!
My visiting friend has an amazing book that charted the artists, craftspeople, notable business owners, bicycle makers and cafe owners of Oslo in Norway. While I can’t understand a word of Norwegian, I loved the idea of the simple makers who created a rich texture of the city receiving such an honour.
We walk past amazing bars and cafes, bakers and cocktail shakers, silver artists and succulent growers, food producers and creative artisans all the time in the Illawarra. Forager’s Market, Coledale Markets and the streets of Wollongong, Kiama and surrounds have some truly talented people sharing their creativity. We have startup culture mixed with cupcake artists and everything in between. There’s festivals, celebrations and amazing people doing their thing to make the Illawarra a great place to live.
And I’d love to shine a light on that.
I will be walking up to some sexy local businesses and sassy, quirky individuals asking for their gracious hand in interview soon. In the meantime, if you have a suggestion for someone, some place or some organisation that should be interviewed, I am all ears.
This is for me, too. I am by nature actually quite shy. So setting myself a mission to meet the people of Wollongong and the Illawarra and discover their stories is a way of breaking through that native introversion.
Who am I looking for with We are the Gong?
In the first instance, I’d love to hear from the following:
- Local artisans and craft people doing super cool things
- Anyone in the Illawarra startup and/or entrepreneurship space
- Unusual businesses, especially those with a community angle
- Any community organisation giving back to the people of the area
- Local heroes and/or people with history rich stories to tell
- Artists, musicians, theatre makers and all round creative critters
- The graffiti scene and public place makers
- The groovers doing pop up work or cracking the business nut in a different way
- Festival producers, venues and pop up organisers
Would you like to be profiled or have a suggestion for someone who might?
Want to register your interest in being interviews? Please supply your contact details via this quick survey.
And if you want to follow along as the journey unfolds, join the We are the Gong Facebook page and follow the We are the Gong Twitter. And you can follow along via my personal Instagram of UnashamedlyCreative (warning: there are a lot of dog photos on that profile!).
Please note: This isn’t a bar hop, foodie delights blog. The idea is to capture the stories of artisans, innovators, movers, shakers and business owners in and around Wollongong and the Illawarra. It’s about celebrating a culture of innovation.