Bright smiles and sunny days prevail in Kaniva, despite the weather, as the town plans to use its optimism as a way to attract nation-wide attention.
The Kaniva Progress Association has partnered with former Victorian parliamentarian and "chief optimism officer" at the Centre for Optimism Victor Perton to collate stories from across Kaniva.
Mr Perton is calling on people of all ages to submit videos of themselves describing why Kaniva is Australia's most optimistic town.
"I am convinced that Kaniva is the most optimistic town in Australia," he said.
"It just sparked my interest. A town I had some familiarity with, which on the face of it would think is having a tough time, but absolutely sparkles with a new entrepreneurship."
Mr Perton founded the Centre for Optimism in 2019, following a career as a barrister, Victorian parliamentarian, and Victorian government commissioner to the Americas under John Brumby.
He said the idea was born out of his experiences overseas, and the general perception of Australians as optimistic people.
"I served a bit over three years as the commissioner to the Americas, north and south, " he said.
"Everywhere I went there was this absolutely positive stereotype of Australians. The Americans just think of us as relentless optimists."
Following his role as Victorian commissioner to the Americas, Mr Perton served as a senior advisor to the Australian G20 presidency, where he found this perception of Australians persisted.
"Again, at that super elite level of presidents, prime ministers, finance ministers and central bank governors, it was exactly the same. There is complete trust in us as Aussies and a particularly positive stereotype," he said.
"The chairman of Caterpillar said to me 'You Aussies remind me of the Americans a hundred years ago - nothing is impossible'."
Armed with his philosophy of optimism, Mr Perton moved back to Australia in 2015, where he was disappointed with the seeming lack of optimism in Australian society.
That changed when Mr Perton stopped in Kaniva on his way to Adelaide, impressed by the town's optimism in the midst of a global pandemic.
Mr Perton booked a night at the town's Midway Motel and stuck up a conversation with its new owner. He was impressed by the owners general optimism, and as a board member of Yarra Valley water, taken aback when told he couldn't drink the tap water there.
Mr Perton also visited the Commercial Hotel for dinner and spoke to the publican, who had moved in a week before Mr Perton's visit to the town.
"You are thinking wow, there is a new entrepreneur in the motel, there is a new entrepreneur in the hotel. Again, here is effervescence," he said.
"You see all of these sorts of things, the bank branch closing down, no tap water - there are a few dead shops.
"But you see all these sparkles of action, the mens shed, the community hub, even though there is no one alive from World War One and only one bloke from World War Two there is still an active ANZAC day."
After attending two Kaniva Progress Association meetings, Mr Perton has planned to promote Kaniva's optimistic attitude globally through appealing for videos and selfies describing why Kaniva is Australia's most optimistic town.
He will be in Kaniva this weekend and has invited anyone who would like to meet at Heartfelt Cafe at 11am on Monday, July 19.
A Kaniva Optimism event is planned for Wednesday, August 4 at the Commercial Hotel with Mr Perton and the Kaniva Progress Association.
The event was made possible though West Wimmera Shire Council's Social Connection grant program.
For more details on the optimism project, visit https://kaniva.info/optimism.html.
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