Conversations with Beatrice
This article originally appeared on the kevlee88 blog which can be viewed here.
Beatrice Kuyumgian-Rankin is a cofounder of the Hemp Gallery in Northern Sydney.
My sister, Jasmin Herro, CEO of iSustainable, had sung Beatrice’s praises and that of Hemp Gallery; as an important provider of sustainable environmentally friendly product. I was very fortunate to be able to interview Beatrice on a wet and rather cool afternoon on my last trip to Sydney. Jasmin said Beatrice was committed and passionate about Hemp. After and several enjoyable hours of conversation which covered a multitude of cultural perspectives; I agreed whole-heartedly with Jasmin. My awareness of Hemp was greatly enhanced: its anti microbial properties; its uses and value in utilitarian products: clothing, fabrics, health, home ware, house building; and as archival base fabrics for the old masters’ paintings.
“I want to protect the land and thereby the people.”Beatrice proclaimed.
We were sitting on her balcony overlooking lush bush scenery. “Hemp could play a vital part as a substitute for unsustainable crops; which require disproportionately high amounts of water and inorganic fertilizers, which damages the soil . . . It (Hemp) is a natural product which requires little water and enhances the soil it is grown in.”
The lyricism in her voice, against the background pitter patter of rain on the roof, had me spell bound (hers was from a musical education). The soft tones of Beatrice’s voice blended with the wind gently blowing through the trees; her message, passionate support of Hemp’s sustainability – sustainability through the wider use of Hemp products.
That’s Beatrice the professional business woman and activist, which is only half of my story. The other is of a humanist, skilled musician, (super woman) and perceptive teacher. Her family hailed from foreign climes – an Armenian family under Turkish rule. Beatrice’s outlook on life, stemmed from her early childhood in Istanbul; formative years which were tempered by disadvantage. Beatrice raised herself above it, far from being intimidated and crushed by these experiences, she flourished.
“I grew up in a segregated society, I played only with children from other minorities, Christian and Jewish.” The unfairness and injustice of those years shaped her views of the world. “Despite being isolated from mainstream society I saw great compassion and diversity in my playmates.” Beatrice recalled. These experiences provided valuable insights and spurred her on to seek a humanist approach to tackling day to day living; it developed a philosophy of rejection of all forms of discrimination; and protection for all living things. Her family migrated to Australia in 1973.
“I want to protect Australia, I want to protect the country and the environment,” Beatrice stated implacably. We were back in doors, the weather had changed to cold and dark and I was overstaying. Continuing the interview once we had scoffed down a delicious, traditional Armenian snack; Beatrice leaned forward and told me in a whisper, she wanted to give something back to this wonderful country which had welcomed her family. “Where minorities have equal opportunity to education and employment; where they are not treated as second class citizens.” She said all teary. (It’s hard to stay focused when statements like that tug on one’s heart strings, I wanted to hug her.)
Championing Hemp is but one way Beatrice is protecting Australia, she is attune with what indigenous elders say; ‘Respect for country’ which simply means looking after the land; the culture and the people living in that land – that means all the people. She contributes to her community by passing on her music skills – teaching children to play the piano. A graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Beatrice is an accomplished classical pianist; the Rach 3 is her favorite. “Before the movie, Shine made it popular.” She said proudly.
As always Beatrice aimed for the skies. I did not doubt that for a minute. Beatrice regaled a story about a neighbor, who opened his windows and doors, to better hear her piano playing at home (free concerts for her leafy, treed neighborhood). His wife complained, not about the music, but for the windows and doors left open during the winter months also.
On this occasion I did not have the pleasure of hearing her play the piano . . . That will be for the next conversation with Beatrice; which will feature opera and our mutually favorite soprano, Maria Callas. Beatrice, please continue the good work, keep doing what you’re doing.(And keep playing the piano.)
The facts, insights and product information on Hemp can be found on the website: http://www.hempgallery.com Please find time to view it, and of course product can be purchased from the site; phone contact on (02) 89010375.