Editorial: Real Stories

17 March 2017 Katherine Smyrk

Editorial: Real Stories

The first time I had pancakes at a friend’s house I was shocked. The thing on my plate was not like any pancake I’d ever seen. It was thick and...fluffy.

My French grandmother had fastidiously taught me to make pancakes wafer thin, dusted with sugar and splashings of fresh lemon juice. She called them crêpes. A love of fine cuisine was one of the few things she had brought with her – along with two infant daughters and a trunk that still sits in my parents’ house – when she came to Australia with my English grandfather to rebuild her life after the war. She embraced her new home in Perth, then Melbourne, but she did not change the way that pancakes, or crêpes, were made. To me, they will always be the true pancakes.

Modern Australian society has been sculpted by migration. Like so many Australians, my grandparents were born overseas. Twenty per cent of us have at least one overseas-born parent. On top of that, more than 26 per cent of Australians were born overseas. That’s a quarter of the population.

With all the blustering and politics, it’s easy to forget that migration is, really, just about people.

That’s why we have devoted 10 pages of this edition to a photo and interview series, ‘Australian Stories’ (p20). Herself the child of migrants from Greece, contributing editor Anastasia Safioleas worked with photographer Christina Simons (who is half-Icelandic and half-American) to bring us the stories of five people who have come here to make a new life. Their stories map decades of an oft-tumultuous world, and a changing Australia. And while the circumstances differ wildly, their stories have startlingly similar themes: safety, opportunity, a place to call home.

As always, this magazine is about people and their stories. For the Disney tragics among us, myself included, we have the story of why writer Anna Spargo-Ryan is excited to take her daughters to see the remake of Beauty and the Beast (p14). We have stories of violins handed down through generations (p11), a director working to get Indigenous stories on the big screen (p32) and a young poet living in a tent (p31).

Instead of numbers and statistics, we bring you perspectives from real people directly affected by the world. We hope you enjoy them. 

Katherine Smyrk, Deputy Editor

This editorial first appeared in Ed#532 of The Big Issue.