The first Milking Stool event, 'Landed', has been held at the Kangaroo Valley Hall.
What is Milking Stool you ask?
The Milking Stool is an evening of complete relaxation in the company of fascinating speakers and of people, who enjoy exploring ideas.
These aren't talks, debates or lectures.
This is a chance to listen to three wildly different opinions on the same subject from three wildly interesting people - film-makers, farmers, writers, executives, persuaders, chefs, environmentalists, musicians, activists.
The Milking Stool is a series of interview events to be held in Kangaroo Valley while also showcasing some of the Shoalhaven's best food and wine.
Three invited guests, innovative minds on a particular topic, have the chance to say what they think, without limits, on some unexpected subjects.
The first event was a sell-out COVID safe event, according to one audience member was 'a positive buzz all evening'.
Creator Mary Moran developed The Milking Stool as a way to explore different topics in a non-combative forum.
"There's lots of forums where you can have opinions, debate, be angry ... Facebook and Twitter for a start," she said.
"But it's hard to find places where you can just listen, where you can enjoy hearing what someone else thinks and why they think it ... not as a solitary podcast, but in a social space where you can have a good arm-waving discussion afterwards.
"That's what The Milking Stool is about."
The first event didn't climb down into the trenches of environmental politics and climate change.
"Instead, we listened to the different experiences and views of a commercial farmer, an indigenous elder, and a recent convert to personal environmental action," she said.
Guests at the first Valley Milking Stool were Yael Stone, John Lloyd and Noel Butler, who each talked about what 'the land' meant to them.
"These aren't talks on fake news, politics or religion.... not because those topics aren't important - they are - but because we think difference can be explored in lots of ways, including ones that are fun, enlivening and unexpected," Ms Moran said.
The Valley event was followed by a dinner prepared by Michelin-trained chef Eilish Maloney, and founder of The What If Society - a food-based cooperative that aims to change the way we source, make and use food.
The guests were treated to taste sensations of wild garlic ravioli, nasturtium leaf tacos and persimmon tart, while Tertini Wines in the Southern Highlands providing matching wines.
"It was fantastic to have Tertini's head winemaker, Jonathan Holgate - who won the award for Best Pinot Noir in Australia in 2019 - attend the dinner to tell us about Tertini, and the wines he'd selected for the evening."
Ms Moran was thrilled with the outcome saying "it's was just what they were aiming for - refreshing, constructive rather than combative, and a way to exchange ideas while enjoying ourselves."
The next Milking Stool event is "PR, Propaganda and Persuasion", in Kangaroo Valley on July 3.
It will look at the worlds of advertising-marketing, political speechwriting-spin doctoring, and advocacy.
And it asks: Are these three so different?
Mary Moran was an emergency medicine doctor in Australia, a diplomat in London, a campaigner with Médecins Sans Frontières in the Netherlands, France and the UK, and founder of a global health think-tank at the London School of Economics.
She's dined with Aung Sang Suu Kyi (pre-her downfall), been a typist at the ABC, worked with Mother Teresa.
In this increasingly polarised world, and with a lifetime of advocacy, opinions and encounters under her belt, she's ideal to host such events and is eager to explore with you the challenges and pleasures of difference.
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