Meeting 22 July @ 7.30pm

Our special guest will be Tracey Pahor who will speak on the topic of Making locals while preserving Port: The powerful use of pictures and stories in Port Melbourne.

Tracey has this to say about her talk …

Tracey Pahor at the announcement of funding for the restoration of Princes Pier. Photo by Janet Bolitho

I think that preserving what people love about Port Melbourne is not only a battle against destructive change, but also a process that makes ‘locals’. Members of the Port Melbourne Historical and Preservation Society (PMHPS) have been part of this process through sharing fascinating images and amazing stories. Of course working together with other people is the way that Port Melbourne community has long been forged. However, there are times that sharing drawings or photographs and stories not only brings people together and keeps memories alive, but can also make a difference to what is or is not built.

Perhaps, with so much change that has already occurred in Port Melbourne, it may seem like I am trying too hard to find a silver lining or really only clutching at straws. Still, in this talk, I offer my own telling of some of the old Port stories I learnt during fieldwork about Nora the gown maker in Garden City, Allan Whittaker fatally shot on Princes Pier, the legendary shelves of Faram Brother’s hardware, and maybe even the Port Melbourne Football Club. By pointing out how I think the stories have been put to work more recently, I also argue why I think that they really are powerful.

My interest in this topic comes from what I learnt during my 2010-2012 fieldwork in the Port Melbourne community. The research was the basis for my PhD thesis, and I carried it out primarily through joining in with groups and activities, while paying attention to what was happening in the suburb (participant observation). However, through trying to follow what was happening in the present, I could not help but learn some of the stories of the past. Learning these stories changed not only how I saw not only Port Melbourne, but also my understanding of how people can shape what happens in the world (i.e. politics).

PMHPS meet on the fourth Monday of each month bar November in the Council Chamber upstairs at Port Melbourne Town Hall. Enter through the side door in Spring Street South. The upper floor can be accessed via stairs or lift.

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