How #emptyesky gave hope during Victoria’s darkest hour
At the height of the Victorian bushfires, the #emptyesky campaign became more than just a social movement.
From the city to the bush and our regional towns, Victorian communities are doing it tough – perhaps tougher than ever before. After months of catastrophic fires, storms and now the coronavirus menace, usually vibrant towns and businesses are struggling. Even those hundreds of kilometres away from physical harm have been hit as fear kept visitors at home over the peak summer months.
It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of such devastation; what can any of us do to help? That’s a question many RACV members have been asking and one we will try to address in print and online in coming months in a series of articles designed to help Victoria get back on its feet.
It’s also the question two young Melbourne friends, Erin Boutros and Eleanor Baillieu, asked themselves in the immediate aftermath of the January fires. Wanting to do something more than just donating money, the two began contacting struggling regional businesses to ask what they needed. The answer was almost always the same: they simply needed people to visit.
And so the Empty Esky movement was born on Instagram. Inviting people to make a pledge to visit a country town in 2020 and fill an empty Esky with local produce, the campaign quickly gained momentum as the girls posted stories of struggling regional producers along with luscious images of their wares. Within 24 hours #emptyesky had 10,000 followers. Small businesses facing closure were suddenly able to pay their bills. And Australians had found a way to help.