This weeks local mum is Viva Hammer who tells us about here family and professional life.
I’m a fifth generation Aussie on my mother’s side, and my father is an immigrant, so I can speak local and foreign. My parents lived in Orana Court when I was born, right opposite the golf course on Old South Head Road, although at that time they wouldn’t let people like us join. After that, we moved to Clyde Street, a bit up the hill. My mother’s mother was also born in Bondi, on Flood Street, and after that her family moved to Bellevue Hill. All my father’s family who live in Sydney, live in the East. The rest are scattered round the world.
After I finished Economics Law at Sydney University, I moved to New York. I spent ten years in New York, and then I moved to Washington DC, where I advised the United States Congress on tax policy. Capitol Hill, where Congress sits, is an extraordinary place and I loved living and working there. But after we’d done the biggest tax reform in a generation, my daughter said it was time to come back to Sydney to spend time with family, and I did. In February 2020, right before the coronavirus arrived, I came to live with my parents in Dover Heights. My daughter was already here, and my son came in August 2021. We are all together in the East!
We live in a multi generation house, both parents and both children live with me, and my little Washingtonian poodle shiatsu mix, Pandora.
I’ve always liked to write. When something is on my mind, I write an article about it, and send it into a journal or a newspaper to get it published. In Washington I wrote a regular column in a newspaper, talking about whatever I felt like. It opened my mind up to write something new every week.
When I came back to Australia, just before the corona epidemic, I was a kind of immigrant all over again, betwixt and between. I met a wonderful woman, Maia Saxena, an immigrant from France, who introduced me to a group for multicultural women, called Key Into Australia. I offered to lead a programme to teach multicultural women to express their boundary-crossing experiences in writing. Writing can help people get through hard experiences and preserve joyful ones. We can write anywhere, with no tools except our minds and words. Words are always waiting for us. And all humans share the immigrant experience. We are who we are because we have moved from one place to another, at some time in our histories. So writing together about migration can be a bonding experience.
Three words that describe what it’s like to live in the eastern suburbs?
Water water water.
How many children?
Two children, both born in New York and brought up in the suburbs of Washington DC. And I’m so lucky both are living in Sydney now! My daughter is at Sydney Uni Law School, she’s a third generation at Sydney University. My father was a mathematics academic; I did Economics Law, and my daughter will graduate from the law school at the end of 2022. My son graduated from Johns Hopkins University in mathematics and economics and is derivatives trader at Acuna Capital in Barangaroo.
I’m a park lover of all kinds. In my daily 10k walks, I walk through the golf course right above Bondi Beach, the Heritage trail which is full of parkland, and the long strip of park along the cliffs on Dover Heights.
Impossible to say which of the gorgeous beaches in Sydney is my favourite! I walk on Bondi Beach most days, but I’m also pushing on to Bronte and Maroubra and passing through Tamarama and Clovelly and on the other side, Nielson Park and Parsley Bay.
Favourite kid friendly cafe:
Poke Mix – freshest food in Sydney
Fabulous fresh salad made as you watch every member of the family from the 90 somethings to the 20 somethings get their fill there.
Favourite Coffee Spot:
Great atmosphère, fun baked goods and new menu items all the time. It also has great delivery !
Favourite date night place:
See above, Poke Mix
Where in the east have you yet to explore and would like to ?
I walk 10k a day so I’m pretty familiar with the side trails but I’ve still got a lot to learn about the southern part of the neighbourhood, Bronte, Clovelly, Maroubra, etc.
What would you like to see improve in the eastern suburbs?
Let’s have more native trees! Let’s turn the grass lawns in front of our homes into oases. Especially in Dover Heights where I live people seem to have an allergy to green. South of Murriverie Road is much greener than north, let’s go into competition who can have more plantings!
Favourite Local Shop:
Food here is the best in the world!
Poke Mix – freshest food in Sydney
Favourite wet weather location:
On my back porch watching the rain soaking into my garden.
Favourite Local family Weekend Activity?
Walking through the Heritage trail all the way around the South Head lighthouse.
Work or SAHM?
Both! I take care of my parents and my children and I work too. That comes with practice – I was a single mom in Washington without any family around so I had to get into idea of doing it all pretty quickly. Having loving people around makes everything easy.
Stay near those you love when you’re raising kids! It was a great adventure living in New York and Washington DC but awfully tough raising kids as a single mom without family around. So, get the travel bug out of you when you’re a swinging single and then come back home and enjoy the love you need when you have kids.
Viva Hammer is currently leading a writing programme, supported by Multicultural NSW and called “ The Tongue set free : Women Writing their Migration Stories”. For more information, refer to Key Into Australia’s website. www.keyintoaustralia.com.au
The next writing session is on 15th March : The Tongue Set Free: Women writing migration stories, Hosted online, Running between February and March 2022 | Humanitix