In October 2013 a number of bushfires affected the communities and animals living in the Blue Mountains region of NSW. More than 200 homes were destroyed and thousands more were threatened. The loss of valuable forests, companion animals and wildlife was devastating to many.
Jenny B. and her partner Mary-Lou responded to the crisis.
For Jenny, Mary-Lou and their group of volunteers, the goal was to highlight the recovery and regeneration of the bush, insects, wildlife and the community, and to raise money for other community activities. They approached the then Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, who wrote the forward of the book. The book was distributed for sale amongst Blue Mountains communities, and a profit of some $20,000 was made. Many books were also gifted to schools, libraries and to neighbourhood centres to pass on to community members and a copy was even presented to HRH, the Prince of Wales, on a visit to Australia.
“My partner is a police officer and she started photography as a way of coping with PTSD. She picked up a camera and realised she was quite gifted at taking photos. During the 2013 bushfires she took pictures of what she saw. It was suggested to us that we produce a book of these photos and as a result, others got involved and the project grew.
We heard that some of the councillors used our book with people who’d been through the bushfires to help them deal with the trauma they had faced. There were images of loss and houses burnt down, so there was that side of it, but there was also the other side of it where there were photos of homes being rebuilt, animals who had survived the fires, and the recovery of the bush, which seemed very important for people.
We gave the money raised from the book to the Blue Mountains Mayoral Bushfire fund. Our thoughts then turned to how the money we had helped raise could be used to assist the community, and based on our experiences making the book we decided to apply for funding for three projects we wanted to run.“