Each week Rachel Moore is on the hunt to find out what makes Canberra special to all the wonderful folks who live here.
Have you ever felt uncomfortable, vulnerable, exposed and afraid? Maybe you’re attending a function and despite your best efforts, social anxiety suffocates you. A terrifying feeling in the pit of your stomach that send signals to your brain that you will surely die. Leaving you two options; make besties with the bartender for both convenience and a dutch courage or two, hide in the toilets. I’m confident in presuming the answer is yes to one, if not all of the above.
Now flip those feelings and emotions upside down. Completely picture the opposite. You’re at that function and instantly feel calm, welcomed and like the universe has just given you a giant energetic, sympathetic and gentle hug. Imagine that you feel sexy, strong, smart and confident, chatting to everyone in the room. That feeling of total acceptance is how anyone who meets Megan Munro feels.
Megan Munro is an accomplished artist, performer, creative mastermind, social justice advocate and educator in the Canberra community. Megan constantly challenges all our ideas of the gender binary and asks us peacefully to think outside the box of what we all seem to call “normal”.
Just quietly, if you ever attend an event and feel anything but at ease and see Megan, go and say hi. She will wrap you up with her honesty and positivity and any experience with Megan is bound to be both satisfying and amazing.
Name? Megan Munro (aka Mr Green Teal aka Sparklemuffin)
Occupation? Depends on the time of day. I am an educator, social justice advocate, and currently employed working in mental health. I am also a multi-disciplinary artist, originally trained in textiles, but I use lots of types of art to express myself, including performance.
How long have you lived in Canberra – 49 years. One of the original born and bred people. My family have lived here since 1840, which is a long time for white fellas.
North, South or Q-town – Whatever, brought up in Watson. So, I guess North.
Most memorable event attended in the ACT – I have been here a long time, so I get a couple right? The first thing I think of is the official apology to Aboriginal people by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. This was on the 13th of February, 2008. I stood outside Parliament House along with many other people. It was such powerful thing. I was so glad to have gone and been there. It was something I will never forget. The atmosphere was intense and felt like many things all at once. There were many, many tears.
Another event I went to was this massive production by Splinters. Splinters being a theatre group back in the early 90’s. It was amazing, it was in the old bus shelters next to Lake Burley Griffin. I think the Kingston Markets now live in the space where the production took place. I was about 24 at the time. The production took us from one scene to the next which moved through the bus shelters. It was made up of a cast of many, and was interactive, intense, and amazing. I’ve also seen a lot of live music which has been great as well. I also remember seeing the Doug Anthony Allstars when they started out busking in Civic.
Things you love about Da Berra – I love the way individual people have really helped shape the arts and culture of the place over the years, some of these individual people forming groups or organisations of various kinds. Many people bag Canberra out, many people say we don’t have much here. This is true compared to other places perhaps, but I have seen it grow and change a lot in my lifetime and it’s definitely got way more culture than what it used to have. I also love the way parks and natural spaces are easy to access. We are still very much a big country town and I think this is the way it should be viewed. We aren’t a metropolis. I have never left, not because I never wanted to, but because circumstances have meant I stayed, yet I know many people who left when we were in our early 20’s only to have them return a number of years later.
What you loath about the city – It is hard to say what I loathe, because I don’t really loathe anything. At the moment, I would say lack of live performance and theatre venues and what seems to be a diminished arts scene – compared to when I was a bit younger when there were more venues. This is not to say that people are not getting out there and doing creative things, they are. It’s like people got more creative and the places to do this have shrunk. I think the good thing about this is that it creates a situation where people have to really think outside the box if they want to express themselves. Funding has decreased and we just live in a place that seems more bound up by rules…or something, I am not sure… insurance, insurance has a lot to answer for. We have to cover our bottoms otherwise people get into trouble.
Most cherished memory in the capital – I don’t know. Since I have been here always, I have many, many memories based here. It probably comes down to significant moments in time involving other people. When I first met various people who later became very important to me. The moments when people moved on and the last time I saw them.
Which Canberra local do you most admire and why – I admire many people. I like the individual person that makes a difference in the lives of others. The person who helps a friend out, or stands up for the minority, or the person who helps other more disadvantaged people. A person who talks in a real way about their lives, and in being authentic makes a difference in the lives of others. I also like the quirky people who are different and not cookie cutter. The people who by being themselves become and are walking art works or pieces of culture. The people that challenge the status quo. There are of course some more public figures that do this, I am lucky enough to call some of these people my friends and peers.
Most precious item you own – I am not particularly materialistic. If I have to answer this, I would say some tea cups I inherited off my grandmother and a silver thimble I inherited off my other grandmother. I also have one of those old-fashioned hand coloured photos of my father as a child and a childhood photo of my mother, and I have my grandfather’s piano accordion. Having said this, I believe in using or wearing precious things, not hiding them away because they are so precious. You need to enjoy them, you can’t enjoy them if they are so protected they are never seen. If they get broken or damaged, so be it. At least they were being enjoyed.
First Canberra kiss and where – Given I have lived here always, you’re talking my first kiss ever… not revealing this one.
Most delicious Berra place you adore eating at –I always like Pho Quoc at Dickson shops. It’s been there forever and has always been great.
What do you want to be when you grow up – When I was very young, I remember watching Sesame Street and they had ‘G’, ‘G is for go go dancer’ I remember thinking she looked cool in her 60’s style dress dancing and I told my mother I wanted to do that when I grew up. She didn’t look terribly impressed. Thing is, in the last 5 years I have been performing burlesque, so I did become that go go dancer. For the last 6 years, I have been experiencing a range of bad health that has really gotten in the way of me doing what I like. Having said that, I would say I am grown up and I am being the person I wanted to be when I was in my early 20’s. I wasn’t sure what that was then, but I know now I am making artwork when I want to, and I do meaningful work that I like. I get to use my brain, and I am constantly learning new things. I think young me would think me now is way cool. Now I’m aiming for seriously quirky old person. If there’s something I want to be or do, I usually work out a way to do that. It’s often not in the way I first imagined but I usually get there. I never get bored and could clone myself many times and still keep myself busy every day.
What is a question you would like to ask everyone in Canberra – Are you living authentically?
Photos: Faces of Canberra – Megan Munro photographs, top, by Chris Manchester of Captavitae Photography, middle, by Brett Sargeant, bottom, by Chris Manchester of Captavitae Photography.