An update from the Executive Director, Roger O’Halloran
Palms Australia is in an exciting phase of renewal. As we open up our social media and online connections, we are beginning to see a growing network of supporters. They are from diverse backgrounds, but everyone I’ve had the chance to speak with identifies strongly with the language we use to convey our relational approach to mutual, international, grass roots development.
In his discourse at over 40 orientation courses, Cyril Halley (SSC) provided our volunteers great insight into how signs, symbols and language are used in every culture as commitment fostering mechanisms. Palms Australia’s work around the globe provides a unique insight into a great diversity of cultures and sub-cultures that bear out this truth. Elites within a culture, with a vested interest in maintaining practices that reinforce their control and privilege, or outsiders with an interest in changing cultural practice (e.g. multi-national corporations, missionaries and development workers) need to use culturally understood and accepted signs, symbols and language to foster commitment to their message.
The same logic applies to sharing Palms Australia’s vision in the Australian community. It requires us to use the accepted signs, symbols and language of the culture with whom we are trying to communicate. However, with so many cultures and sub-cultures identifying with a great diversity of signs, symbols and languages, it is trickier today than in the relatively mono-cultural Australia of old. If there is not a single language that speaks to us all, how many do we use? Where and when?
In order to communicate with the greatest breadth of the Australian community, we cannot communicate in language only understood by the Catholic tribe as we have in the past. That sub-culture has diminished in size. Communicating to just one sub-culture would be contrary also to our vision of people cooperating to reach beyond every barrier of personality, culture, religion, nationality, gender and class to achieve a just, sustainable, interdependent and peaceful world free of poverty.
If we want everyone to share a vision of being human together, as diverse parts of one body, we need to carefully choose horses for courses, or discern the language of the culture we are trying to address. Alienating any culture or sub-culture by the signs, symbols and language we use immediately removes their invitation to join us in achieving a vision that in all likelihood they share. Palms Australia’s vision, seeking the cooperation of all, then fails – or to extend the horse analogy – falls at the first hurdle.
In coming weeks, Palms Australia will be considering options for a rebrand. In particular, we will consider symbols that envision the opportunity for all to bring their palms together, or join as one body, to pursue our vision and mission. We will look for a simple design, one that reinforces the language and messages already beginning to inspire growing support to reach beyond the barriers that divide us.
If you have thoughts or inspiration for such a design, I invite you to share them with us by emailing [email protected].