Monday, November 5, 2012

The #humanbrochure: a post from the (human) heart

“For the most part, we treat others in a matter of fact way; we have to, in order to get on with our lives. But every so often, in a moment of insight that can be nearly mystical in its intensity, we see others in their real humanity, in a way which makes us want to cherish them as joint pilgrims...” 

So writes Alexander McCall Smith, that wonderful wordsmith who, in many of the novels he has penned, lovingly and proudly portrays the Edinburgh he knows so well.

Those words above from the The World According to Bertie, resonated loudly with me as I read them. Two weekends ago, while standing at the coffee cart, overlooking the Northern Eucalypt Lawn at the National Botanic Gardens, I had experienced an unexpected and heady rush of pride that I am a Canberran. My next thought, hot on the heels of the first, was that I felt strongly connected with this sated and sun-soaked collective of big and small humans with whom I was participating in this adventure called the Human Brochure.

Big and small humans sunning themselves on the Eucalypt Lawn, National Botanic Gardens

Both of these thoughts, no doubt forming and germinating over the previous couple of days, snuck up on me and took me by surprise in their intensity. Truly though, it should have come as no surprise. The smiles I saw in that moment on the faces and in the hearts of my fellow humans (human hearts smile, don't you know?) had had their genesis in an idea. The Works and Australian Capital Tourism nurtured, developed and gave wings to this idea through creative curiosity, technical know-how, strong Canberra-region stakeholder partnerships and attention to each and (almost) every detail. Set for launch on the last weekend in October 2012, the idea was ready. But would it fly?

As has been mentioned in articles and blog posts about the Human Brochure**, the stream of harvested content uploaded by this bunch of social-media enthralled humans – some more tech savvy than others, but each with a unique perspective and voice – speaks for itself. Beautiful images and quirky observations; snakes, bikes, nurses in uniform, gorgeous tasting plates, wine to delight, desserts to crave, suitcasepenguin, misty rainforest, Rothko, miniature worlds, stoked kids with facial wounds, nightlife, crisp hotel linen, Flanders Red poppies, #skyporn, suitcase markets, sleep patterns of giraffes, Lauren Jackson, plush carpet, dinosaur poo, Gibralter Peak...the list goes on. Personal, intriguing, accessible, enticing, 'gonna come back' kind of stuff.

Small humans tour, National Botanic Gardens

This ode to Canberra and the experiences this group of humans have been only too happy to share with anyone and everyone who will listen (yes, more #humanbrochure my Sydney friends!) was as fun as it sounds. As genuine as it sounds. As full-on as it sounds. For big and small alike, the jam-packed itinerary provided laughter, learning and leisure in just about the right quantities. Late nights and humans of the smaller variety are not an easy mix, but in the main, the momentum and new-found friendships carried us through. My small humans, their parents and the other families on this adventure wholeheartedly engaged with each other, the fantastic venues, the wonderfully warm, thoughtful and caring hosts and, naturally, with the uniqueness of this world-first campaign. What a privilege!

This experience, against the backdrop of the diversity and generosity Canberra displayed over the approximately 48 action-packed hours has become for me, a tangible thing. Not just in the goodies with which we came home. Not just in the clever and 'take notice world' living, breathing testimony that is the Human Brochure. Not just in our bulging new collection of happy snaps. It's tangible within. It's in the memories created from interacting with passionate, professional and knowledgeable staff at each place visited, unexpectedly meeting friends of friends, service with a smile, our children's infectious excitement, smells and sounds (I know what you're thinking, lots of kids travelling on buses can't be good...promise it was) and from hearing other's stories of home, work, travel and, well, everyday human life.

So thank you fellow pilgrims, for putting the 'human' in the Human Brochure. You (and Canberra) are cherished.

Imogen Ingram and her family were stoked to be part of the Family Fun stream of this social experiment. They have a renewed delight in Canberra and the region, are very interested to see what follows for the Human Brochure project and will be staying connected with friends they made along the way.

Particular thanks go to: Australian Capital Tourism, The Works, Clifton Suites on Northbourne, Murrays Coaches, The Australian War Memorial, QuestaconThe Lobby, Cockington Green, The National Dinosaur Museum, The National Zoo and Aquarium, The National Botanic Gardens of Australia and The Australian Institute of Sport. Of course, the biggest thanks go to all the humans involved for making the weekend fly!

**Further reading is available via Delicious in a (growing) collection of articles and blog posts about the Human Brochure.


  1. Oh you put it so perfectly - we were privileged to be on the #humanbrochure trip. That's exactly the word for it. I got to see parts of Canberra I had never seen before, and I'm so glad I did!

  2. Thanks Kate! I also saw places I've never been...a saw and Canberra in a fresh light. My whole family had a blast!

  3. You, my sister, are a wordsmith... :-)

  4. I love the way your words brim over with Life :-)

  5. i like your post. It is very interesting to read.Essay writing service reviews is helps to writing the essays.