Essay in Griffith Review 44

Meme’s essay, You Have My Heart, is included in the recent edition 44 of Griffith Review - Cultural Solutions.

EDITION 44

Cultural Solutions

Grififth REVIEW 44: Cultural Solutions explores new ways people are working together and solving social problems that governments and other organisations have struggled with. ‘In this edition our contributors share the cultural solutions that are transforming the lives of Australian people and communities,’ says Griffith REVIEW editor Julianne Schultz.
Cultural Solutions puts flesh on the bones of the cultural richness around us and proves its success in providing new fixes for old problems. 

Excerpt from You Have My Heart:

Our patron takes us to the Wild Bird Park in Kushiro and introduces the man who speaks the language of the Japanese Crane. Twenty-five years ago, there were only six pair of Japanese Crane left in the world. The businessman and the birdman and others created a programme in schools. School children scattered corn on the snow through the long winter months to feed the birds. When we visit twenty-five years later, there are more than six hundred Japanese Crane dancing in the marshes.

Seventy people of all ages and experiences from Kushiro joined us in the final performance of Waderbirds.  Delegates with a commitment to wetland sites around the world are gathered in Kushiro this April for the international migratory birds Ramsa Convention, named after the town in Iran where the first wetland convention was held in 1971. Six hundred of these delegates form a procession through the parkland to watch the story of the Eastern Curlew. Some of the delegates were with us in Broome and so know their roles as puppeteers working two metre high bamboo poles beneath bird wings.  

When our last dinner at the sushi factory is finished and the dishes cleared and washed, the Aboriginal dancer travelling with us plays didgeridoo and clapsticks. With chef and staff, there are more than twenty of us. Soon we are all up dancing the kangaroo and emu, our patron included. He offers a precious kimono as first prize. To the dismay of most of the performers, he judges the winner of the dance to be the Australian photographer.

When we leave the sushi factory on Hokkaido, the Japanese businessman, owner of the factory, and our patron, stands beside the cars that are to take us to the airport for departure. One hand is on his suit coat covering his heart. Two tears, one on each cheek, make their way neatly down to his chin. His voice is quiet. ‘I may not see you again in this life. You have my heart.’