Nans needle protest turns to Ballina
THE click of knitting needles in a Ballina street yesterday was a call to action for nannas.
The Knitting Nannas Against Gas were plying their craft outside the Moon St office of State Member for Ballina and Minister for the North Coast Don Page in an effort to expand their loop into Ballina.
The Lismore-based nannas have been meeting regularly in front of Lismore MP Thomas George's office for the past 18 months.
They recruited about seven people to their ranks at the Ballina event, which attracted at total of 22 people.
Clunes nanna Anne Thompson said knitting was a light way of raising awareness and protesting against the mining of what the group calls "unconventional gas" - coal seam gas is one - in the Northern Rivers.
And she said the knitting group gave an opportunity for people of a "more mature age" to take part in action against mining.
But the group doesn't just knit in the street - they attend rallies and blockades, too.
"It's a way of passively protesting and providing a calming influence at what could be a volatile situation," Mrs Thompson said.
"And you don't have to be a nanna, and you don't have to knit."
A documentary on the knitting nannas received the People's Choice Award at the Byron All Shorts Film Festival, held in conjunction with Flickerfest in Bangalow, earlier this month.
The Ballina loop will now meet outside the office of Mr Page every Tuesday from 9am-11am.
John Heaton, from the Gas Field Free Ballina Shire Group, said North Coast community surveys and a referendum in Lismore
local government area showed 85% of residents were against unconventional gas mining, and that the State Government "wasn't listening".