I married in 1968 at the tender age of 21, finished university the next year and began work for General Electric’s Aerospace Division as an engineer. A good deal younger than I thought I was at the time, I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life; life was easy and prosperous, but unsettled. Indeed, a couple years later, it unsettled me by about 10,000 miles (that’s about 16,000 kms for post-metrication folk), all the way to Oz.
When I arrived in Australia in 1971, I discovered that my specialist field, reliability engineering, was practically unknown. Fortunately, Australia needed teachers, and I got a job teachings physics and maths at Trinity Grammar School in Kew. Within a couple years, Australian industry decided that it needed people with my kind of experience, and I found myself in demand. I worked for Trico (automotive industry), and then to the Mars Corporation (food) as their national quality manager. In the meantime my son (1972) and daughter (1975) were born.
The unsettledness was still with me, but in 1978 I found my vocation, as described in “Bob’s Call”. Ministry has been good for me; whether or not I have been good for ministry is an open question 🙂 I still maintain an active interest in science, and so I have a particular interest in the area where science and religion meet.
Whilst there are many interests in which I dabble (I tend to be the proverbial Jack of all trades and master of none), in later years I acquired some much needed passions. While ministering in the Southern Highlands of NSW, I helped start the grass-roots movements, CANWin (Climate Action Now, Wingecarribee), Transition Shire Wingecarribee, Southern Highlands Harvest and Bundy-on-Tap.
They were all very satisfying success stories, but none so much as the last, which resulted in the very first community in the world (Bundanoon, NSW) becoming bottled-water-free. Having worked most of my life for meaningful change, and meeting the usual frustration all along the way, it was amazingly energising to have had such roaring success. We literally ignited change across the globe, and had reporters from the UK, France, Japan and several other countries. At one stage Bundy-on-Tap was the second most viewed item on theBBC World News website (the story of Michael Jackson’s death was the most viewed). Worldwide, the sales of bottled water fell by 10%. A year and half after the event, I was still getting emails from people who wanted to make their communities bottled-water-free, the biggest of which to say no to plastic bottles, so far, being San Francisco (2017).
Whilst Bundy-on-Tap was energising, none was more important than the Transition movement. In 2009, we organised a national training event, led by two of the people who started the movement in England, and I became one of 18 accredited trainers for transition in Australia. (Incidentally, there is a Transition East Geelong.)
Some say I take the ‘green’ thing too seriously, but how can one not? As Kevin Rudd said, “climate change is the great moral, environmental and economic challenge of our age.” If so, and I agree with him, how can the church avoid being in the midst of it? It is impossible to take it too seriously. Fortunately, the wider church has appreciated my green bent; I was awarded the Australian Council of Churches’ Environmental Hero award in 2010.
These days, my activist passions have been left to younger players, and I give top priority to family, especially my eight grandchildren. I still harbour interests in bridge, games in general, model railroading and music (guitar,banjo and singing), but it seems that there is too little time for such things. In contrast to the unsettled feelings of my 20s, I feel content, happy, fulfilled and settled. What more can one ask of life?