Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

Dormant Talent Harnessed by a Savvy Campaign

Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

Dormant Talent Harnessed by a Savvy Campaign

Article excerpt

Byline: Arthur Gorrie

GYMPIE people, particularly in the Mary Valley, learned a lot from the Traveston Crossing dam issue, according to recently completed university research.

And the anti-dam struggle harnessed a lot of diverse and relatively new expertise in the community, the research indicates.

Gympie student Yvonne Phillips conducted the interview-based research project as part of her studies at the Queensland University of Technology.

Her report says the anti-dam campaign was built on a combination of anger and pragmatism, harnessed considerable technical expertise in the community and made effective use of modern communication technology.

But it also taught many residents new skills, including a knowledge of political processes, lobbying and media relations.

Importantly in the long run, it did so in an emotion-charged atmosphere highly conducive to learning and remembering.

Demographic changes, with lifestyle settlers joining the farming and small business sectors of the community, also brought a new diversity of interests and talents to the district, contributing to the strength of the campaign.

In combining peaceful protest with humour and art, the protest came to symbolise the beliefs and values of the community, including a desire to win by argument rather than violence.

Many residents gained an enhanced understanding of political personalities and processes and gained new skills in the acquisition and strategic use of scientific knowledge, she said.

In her research paper, Ms Phillips said results indicated that campaigners were not radical by nature but learned fast, with their motivation fuelled by particular concerns rather than any lifetime activism on specific causes.

Many also came to a much deeper understanding of environmental issues and the way information media works in the course of fighting for their homes and lifestyles. …

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