A good life is celebrated with rituals that mark significant milestones. Along with birthdays and commitments a rite of passage that many of us know is the ending of a career.
On April 6th friends and people with whom I have journeyed gathered to celebrate my leaving Micah Projects after more than 11 years of advocacy and solidarity with Forgotten Australians, people who experience social,isolation as well as those who struggle to find a place in our culture and community.
The invitation to celebrations that went out through various networks included this amazing image that says much about my work and ethic. A few years ago I created “ Bananaman”, a promotional character for our fledgling social enterprise in South Brisbane. That enterprise now includes Hope Street Café.
The celebrations of farewell were led by people I have supported, work colleagues, and members of the local West End Community. As well as the obligatory speeches the ritual included a time of memories, cards and signing of the Banana suit. I am grateful to those who spoke, took pics and gathered for this rite of passage in my 65th year.
Nothing is quite as humbling as listening to other people speak of their memories of you. Work in the community sector can be demanding and challenging as much as rewarding. It is a diverse workforce that brings together people who can organise, strategize, plan, create, report, write grants, lobby, budget, debrief, unpack, defuse, drive, intervene, document, and make a decent coffee.
The comments in memories and written on cards and the banana suit reminded me that I bring a sense of joy and humour to my work and life. It probably isn’t one of the seven habits of highly effective people. It has been my strength and takes me back to a childhood memory. I was a at a footy match with a school friend when I over heard one of the parents say: “that Tony Robertson is a cheeky lad but you can’t help liking him”.
Bananaman has made his curtain call. The work of social change and advocacy includes wild humour, a good dose of eccentricity and a costume from eBay. The costume may be retired but the eccentricity and wild humour will continue in my work as a Community Jester.