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Connecting Gippsland through positive storytelling.


Why Gippslandia?

It’s funny how things come full circle.

Jan 28, 2017

Words: John Calabro

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It’s funny how things come full circle.

Atop my father’s desk in his Morwell home office sits a small wirebound desk calendar of daily quotations. The ink on each leaf slightly faded in the corners by the 25 or so years of light that have penetrated its edges. It’s the kind of gift fodder that in years gone by was spruiked ‘round this time of year with far too reckless abandon, often accompanied by cheap bottles of wine, but always given with well-meant Yuletide cheer.

Though the wine is long gone, the motivational calendar remains. I’m pretty amazed that the old man still has this thing sitting on his desk. Despite the cheesiness of its content being comparable to fine, vintage cheddar, each leaf of the book proves its timelessness, and timeliness, when uncertainty mounts. Gems such as, ‘When life gives you a lemon, make lemonade’. Around 25 years ago, its placement alongside his telephone, also coincided with another fairly significant occurrence in Latrobe Valley – privatisation.

Trite little offerings like his motivational calendar would’ve kept him and many others with their heads held high; inspired, ready to work, committed, ready to push on, to overcome what seemed like a force moving against them.

Perhaps it's my Southern Italian blood and a hereditary love for all things citrus, but I’ve never forgotten the quote, and in an era of massive disruption – the simultaneous influence of globalisation, advances in technology and climate change are effecting an unprecedented amount of change. Not just locally either. Today, thanks to the Internet, our prospective markets are state-wide, national and global. Change is being forced upon us, and, whether we all share my taste for citrus or not, we have a reality to face in Latrobe Valley and greater Gippsland. Our time has come, and our opportunity is that we must turn our region into the biggest lemonade stand of all-time.

To be frank, hard work near-always pays off. We owe it to our elders to have a crack. In his acclaimed book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell recalls stories of the post-World War I Eastern European Jews travelling to New York City to make a better life. Too poor to buy land and exiled to the Manhattan city slums, the first generation immigrants got busy and worked hard. They, in their tiny city centre abodes, began selling their crafts, applying the skills they had to support their families to make a go of it. The second generations supported their elders and helped grow the businesses. The third generations, they were the lucky ones, as they were able to reap the benefits of their elders. They became educated. They became the doctors, the lawyers or the investors. Provided with a head start in life that so many before them could’ve only dreamt of, their success honoured their parents and grandparents sacrifices.

After World War II, my Nonno and many others like him, left all they had in Italy, Greece, Malta, Germany, Holland, Poland and more, to build a better life for their families here in Gippsland. As a barber, Nonno built his own small business so that his children could have a better education and improved opportunities. I, personally owe a lifetime of gratitude to my grandparents and parents for their hard work, and I intend to make the time and effort they invested in me, worth their while. How? I’ll put it this way: In this modern world, with mind-boggling access to knowledge and technology, our chances of survival and
success are exponentially better than they were for our grandparents. We have a leg up thanks to them, and we should recognise that we have it pretty damn good. My hope for the immediate future is that any trialling times ahead, whether real or merely perceived, don’t even come to fruition because collectively, we chose not even to consider ‘giving up’ as an option.

As we compile content for this and future issues, let me present another quotation, this from Steve Jobs, that personally guides me, my business, and will continue to guide this publication: “Ultimately it comes down to taste. It comes down to trying to expose yourself to the best things that humans have done and then try to bring those things in to what you’re doing.”

Sentiments like this inspire a humility to welcome ideas from unexpected places. They challenge us to accept our reality and seek solutions, not scapegoats. They transcend both sides of politics. They speak of a commitment to improvement. We hope that this paper will reach further than just Gippsland, as we present stories of both present and past locals, with a preference for those at the leading edges of global thought and opinion. The important takeaway being that we learn from them and use their insight
to improve our patch.

Like my Father, and my Nonno before him, now, I’m building a business of my own and we’re very proud to present this new publication. This first issue is clearly themed around the context of a transitioning Latrobe Valley and our cover hammers home the metaphor with the stunning fashion-makeup work of Sale local Elle James. She and the many like her in a whole range of industries present an exciting new breed of young, forward thinking Gippsland-based entrepreneurs doing amazing work in this region. This publication believes these diverse economies and the opportunities they are creating will go a long way to creating a strong pathway forward in a reduced carbon future.

With many long hours of writing, editing, debating and designing now behind us, I’d like to thank all the contributors who’ve offered up content. Massive thanks also to our founding partners Abbey Gardens Aged Care, Clark NextRE, Federation Training, Gippsland Cosmetic Laser Clinic, Gippsland Motor Group and ROPAN Financial Services, and to all advertisers who’ve supported our efforts to bring a beautiful publication to our beautiful region at no cost to the readers. Finally, a very heartfelt thanks to the Gippslandia/ The View From Here team who’ve worked tirelessly with me to bring you this absolutely stunning document, for a stunning region. There are brilliant people 'round these parts brimming with optimism about our future, and I’m lucky enough to sit amongst some of the best of them, every day.

Unlike my Dad, I don’t have a daily calendar of inspirational quotes on my desk, but at The View From Here we do have an inspirational mission that gets us out of bed: ‘Build the region through meaningful design’. Gippslandia helps us take one genuine step closer to achieving this mission and is, if you will, our humble offering to the lemonade stand.


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Gippslandia is a community, non-profit publication. We curate an ever-optimistic take on regional, national and global issues, in a local context. Leaving you feeling like a Gippslandia local, no matter where you’re from. Read more

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