6. The story of Linkmore

Once upon a time there was a place called Linkmore whose people fought a gasfield. It was a huge gasfield. A worrying gasfield. The people said they didn’t want it, but the government said “Shut up. You’re getting it”.

But, in groups large and small, people came together, in country halls, at the club, in kitchens. ‘We won’t cop that’, they said.  ‘Bugger you’, they said.

In groups they met, they planned, they plotted ways to stop a gasfield and a government. For months they did this. For years, doing the ordinary work of hitting the phones, painting banners, standing by the road, and meeting, and coming together, and coming together, and coming together over and over again, in so many different combinations. Going door to door, meeting neighbours, doing things they’d never done before, together.

It wasn’t all roses. There was difficulty.

But all the long while, amongst the hard stuff and the good, a tissue grew between them, a warp of purpose, a weft of connection. It grew between them, invisible, threaded through the districts, woven everywhere, looped between their houses and their families.

After many years, the people of Linkmore won their long campaign. They celebrated, heaved a sigh of great relief, fixed their weedy gardens and took their kids on holidays. But when they ran into each other at the market, buying avocados, you could see spark of recognition, you could feel a warmth of certainty.

They say the tissue of connectedness is invisible, but it’s not true. On full moon nights, up on the hill behind the hospital, if you looked with a sidewise kind of look, you could see the silvery threads, the warp and weft, the tissue of connectedness still there threaded through Linkmore, shimmering.

For 12 full moons you could do that, up on the hill. But then the big rain came.

It fell with more intensity than anyone had seen.

Creeks swallowed landscapes, roadways, farms. Waters rose, and rose again to top the levee bank. Shopkeepers lost everything. Houses, workshops, hopes, dreams flooded, ruined…a stinking mess of mud.

But up on the big hill behind the hospital, a girl looked at the flooded town, and made a post on Facebook. ‘We need helping hands. Who can help?’

And then the flood of help began. 80 people put their hands up to help. Then hundreds joined them, and hundreds more. So many people! But Linkmore people knew how to organise. In groups of 5, equipped, assigned roles and tools, they went into the homes and shops and helped clean mud and muck so that the sodden heart of Linkmore could start to beat again, and hope could start to surface, and the town could shine once more in starlight.

And even now, on full moon nights, up on the hill behind the hospital, if you looked with a sidewise kind of look, you could see the silvery threads, the warp and weft, the tissue of connectedness still there threaded through Linkmore, shimmering.

Because the tissue we grow to prevent the gasfield will also heal us from catastrophe.

The warp of purpose, and weft of connectivity.

Because the tissue that prevents harm will heal us from catastrophe.


This story really happened in Lismore, Northern Rivers NSW. Yes, details have been massaged into story form, but in essence it’s what happened.

The campaign against invasive gasfields started in 2010 and achieved victory in late 2015 when the government bought back the gas licences that had covered the entire region. It was an extraordinary campaign involving mass movement dynamics documented in the film The Bentley Effect.

In March 2017, Cyclone Debbie travelled south from Central Queensland and dumped a huge amount of rain on the Northern Rivers of NSW.

The community-led recovery effort was called Helping Hands.  It was an inspiring, empowering, self-organised community response – now being researched. This short video gives a sense of how these wonderful people organised.

Our is the choice whether we do Linkmore, or whether we retreat into an alternative story, described in my next blog: Everydayville.

Because the tissue that prevents harm will heal us from catastrophe.