Campaigning is a lot of work and a lot of fun. Over the past six months many of you have asked me about what it involves and what my weekends look like, so what better way to explain than a “Day in the Life”? Here’s what happened on Saturday, 16 July 2016.
The sun’s just come up and Cooper the whippet and I are heading out of our home in the middle of the Town Centre to stretch our legs around Lake Ginninderra. It’s one of those gorgeous cold but bright Canberra mornings which bode well for a great day ahead – days we haven’t had enough of this winter!
The wooden bridge to John Knight Memorial Park is covered with ice which makes for a quick wake up call (!). Cooper and I stop a few times on our walk – me to take some shots of this gorgeous morning and Cooper to, uh, do his business. I carry bags for him but every so often I see other dog owners run out, so would love to eventually see some dog waste bag dispensers installed.
Cooper and I marvel at the beauty of glassy Lake Ginninderra from the bridge before making our way back with a brief stop at the Ginninderra Parkrun. A good friend has offered to wear a #TeamTara shirt to help spread the word and I’ve gratefully accepted the offer.
After a quick bite of breakfast, a Berocca and a shower, it’s time to head to my first stall of the morning at Hawker Village. The sun is shining bright and it’s lovely to soak up some warmth while chatting with constituents – such a change from Wednesday! One of the morning’s hot topics is the federal election result.
Before I finish at Hawker, I can’t resist ducking into the Hawker Village Bakery. One of the hazards of campaigning at our great local shops is the tempting cafes and bakeries! I can’t resist a mini Nutella doughnut – great value with plenty of injected Nutella. Yum!
Following a quick cinnamon sugar dustdown I’ve set up at the newly upgraded Cook Shops. As part of a series of local shop upgrades announced in February, Cook Shops now has expanded open space for outdoor dining, new pathways and ramps, a water fountain (with excess running into a little dish for dogs), new outdoor furniture and an extra parking space for people with a disability.
On Friday I had attended the announcement of the completion of these upgrades. I caught up with Natalie who runs the immensely popular Little Oink cafe. Among many other businesses there, Little Oink has helped drive the revitalisation of Cook Shops and I’ve long been a fan. Here’s one of my In The Taratory reviews from when it first opened.
Today it’s packed inside but it’s a bit chilly to be sitting outside in the shade, even with the cafe’s offering off blankets!
While at Cook I pop into the excellent IGA which is a great supporter of Canberra and regional artisan produce. We’re low on Pepe Saya butter so I stock up and am pleased to see a good supply of Canberra Urban Honey’s Belconnen honey (we have a rapidly dwindling jar at home and you’ll recall it was among the many generously donated raffle prizes).
It’s time to pack up at Cook. As I’m leaving two lovely things happen: 1) I run into an old friend of mine who just moments ago had stumbled across one of my signs and introduced her daughter to me! 2) As I pick up my signs, someone yells from their car, “We love you Tara!” I’ve no idea who it is and it’s not even midday yet, but it’s so unexpected and it makes me laugh. My day is made.
It’s a little busier at Jamison Plaza – there’s both a lot of shoppers and a lot of other Ginninderra candidates – fellow Labor, Liberal and independent colleagues. Rather than being competitive, there’s a genuine level of camaraderie – we’re all here to talk to the community and we all understand what each other is going through.
I’ve been actively campaigning for six months now, so many of the faces I see at my stalls are familiar ones. Within minutes I see two constituents who greet me warmly from the crossing – they don’t know it, but they happened to be in the second house I ever doorknocked in this campaign and their hugely positive reaction to me then still buoys me to this day. It’s great to see them again.
I greet others I doorknocked on Wednesday afternoon (yes, that day) and talk to a range of people on issues from when the ACT election is (15 October, if you’re wondering – less than three months!) to development in the Town Centre. A special shout-out to T who took the time to candidly share a really personal story with me and has contacted me since.
Throughout the morning I’m joined by two team members who do a great job listening to the community, sharing my message and informing me about any concerns or issues so that I can follow up.
A steady stream of our team’s volunteers are gathering. I don’t often get overwhelmed but seeing so many people give up their Saturday afternoon to join me is truly humbling. We’re letterboxing Aranda this afternoon and my team is already well-organised by the time I finish up my stall – distributing maps, bundles and #TeamTara t-shirts.
I give a quick pep-talk before we head out.
I swap my ever-present red boots for my runners and log a few flights of stairs while letterboxing some of the hillier streets of Aranda. It’s still a gorgeous day. I love how every Belconnen suburb is different and special and Aranda has certainly has a lot going for it.
Many hands have made light work – really, really light work. We’ve been lucky enough to have such a big support team today (who are all very fit!) that we’re largely done within 45 minutes – much to our collective surprise! The really pleasing thing for me is this means that my volunteers still have a great deal of their afternoon ahead. For those of us who want to, we retire for a beverage and a catch up at Bolt Bar in Aranda Shops – which has also been truly revitalised. (Here’s my review.) Have you been there recently?
I really enjoy my catch up with one of my volunteers who went out of her way to join the campaign a few months back. She’d previously seen me speak at a Belconnen Community Council meeting, and when she heard that I was a candidate got in touch to help out. She is a real legend!
Campaign aside, I run into some other friends of mine – Canberra really is a small place!
The daylight is fading fast and the warm day is suddenly not so warm so it’s time to head home. Evenings are largely for planning – looking to the week ahead so that we’re organised: bundling, sorting, printing, and getting ready for tomorrow which is another big day – and this one is no different…
… except that I got to write this post, of course!