Oh, Miss Megan

Sunset hike to Drawing Rocks, South Coast NSW

Oh, Miss Megan. My incredible best friend, co-worker, co-founder, co-legend and co- so many other things, deserves the first blog of the year. Wow, I forgot I had a blog.

Megan Rowlatt is a legend. If you know her, you know what I am talking about. Everyday I am grateful to have her in my life for all the above and much more. And I thought perhaps by sharing a tangent about our work-life relationship perhaps, it might inspire you to think about a relationship with a co-worker. We spend most of our waking hours at work, working somewhere on something with somebody and developing a meaningful, respectful relationship makes ‘work’ that bit more enjoyable.

So here I go…

I first heard about Megan and her incredible community engagement work with Landcare sometime around 2014. She was (is) this phenomenon for Landcare. I started following her inspiring Instagram feed, and became one of her many followers – borderline stalker which I have since confessed! Then I got hold of her email signature and had her number. A few months later I worked up the courage to call her and share an idea that I had, and said that I thought she was the person to come on board to help make it happen. After all she was a phenomenon! She responded, sorry, who are you? Only kidding, she was like, hell yeah, there is another young person out there that thinks similar to me.

It has been three years since  we co-founded Intrepid Landcare. So, what has been our secret to creating a real, authentic professional relationship yet we live in different states and have other lives? How do we make what we do happen? Yet have so much fun?

  • No bullshit – to be frank first up, we do not bullshit. We do not have time for games.
  • Always a contribution to each other – what has to be said is said. Raw, honest feedback is given and taken as a contribution. We comment on what worked and even better if about each other’s craft, and this is taken on board to improve next time. We can only do better and strive for our best.
  • In communication – about everything. Facebook chat is where we do most of our communication and we do phone pow-wows when and if we can. We check in when it is appropriate with each other, as we also have lives outside Intrepid Landcare. I am usually walking my dog, Megan is usually driving. We also get into communication with each other asap when something urgent comes up and we back each other every time.
  • Work with integrity at its core – honouring our own word creates trust, with each other and ourselves. We trust that we will follow through with what we said and when we said it, and we will be in communication if we think a deadline might be missed.
  • Timekeepers – time is a commodity, we are both (I am probably more) meticulous on time management. We can see each other’s calendar to know what is going on for the other person. If anything, Megan can see  how I project manage… life. Our time is valued.
  • Actually interested in each other – between sharing ideas, sending each other designs and documents to look over, I also send probably too many photos of my dog. Megan knows what is happening in my life, she is part of my life. This keeps whatever is happening in perspective and we are able to provide advice on so much more other than work.
  • Honour space – we also honour space for other stuff, especially thinking time. We are not in each other’s pockets, rather,  honour space. Space to restore, recharge, rethink… reset. Setting up an organisation isn’t exactly a stroll. It can be long nights, weekends, sunsets and sunrises… and can be  a demand on the mind and soul. We both have  our own self-care approaches, and we honour space to ensure each other are ok. This also means our minds are rested, hearts are energised and we are excited to keep the adventure alive.

There is probably so much more to unpack about our relationship. But this is what I have got to share on a Tuesday night. Much love and respect to Megan xo

 

 

Ethical Christmas Construction

Earth Bud

Rose Quartz’s unconditional love snuggled into a bed of geranium, rosemary and lavender – oils of love, remembrance and clarity, (pc: Earth Bud)

Christmas can be a conflicting time of the year for some. For too many Christmas’s I’ve negotiated conflicts whether to either speak up for the voiceless or shrug off over consumption. It is fair to say that I have influenced my family’s Christmas affairs over the years. One year they opted in to enjoy a Vegan Christmas Lunch – which was one of the most memorable lunches that I can remember. Tofu turkey is on the menu every year, which is a great conversation starter about consumption over the Christmas period. And most of us have decided to limit the purchasing of presents, and there is an option to buy a present if you want to or not.

So, how can we continue to alter Christmas traditions for less consumption?

Interestingly, a study found that women in ‘traditional’ households have most of the power when it comes to making magic happen over the Christmas period [I’ll come back to what magic means and can mean]. Freeman & Bell’s (2013) study reviewed  two-decades of editorial content of magazines, which they suggest presents contradictory messages. For instance, time and cost saving tips and tricks conflict with ‘the magic’ images magazines portray.  Images of long tables with embellished table settings, gold trimmed white plates, selection of glassware, themed bon-bons and napkins, and happy, smiling people wearing their best Christmas outfits, indulging in more food than necessary (there is another study that looked into the links of Christmas consumption with obesity). I do wonder, who gets to decide if these images are ‘the magic’ people want, or led to believe they want? Especially with the dark-side of consumption, animal cruelty, and impacts on the planet and people’s mental and health wellbeing.

Capitalism influences these choices of magic.

So what can you do about capitalism this Christmas to turn the tide on the dark side of this perceived magic? My moto is buy local.  This year my gifts are made with love by  Yogi Tree Web (her candles and bath bombs are amazing), and Earth Bud (her soaps). Amazing local woman are behind these products, which are nutrient rich, smell amazing and are bedazzled with healing crystals. For blokes, yes, they are perfect for you as well. Yogi Tree Web refills my candle pots all year round, and she also does incredible vegan catering!

My other greener side to making a different kind of magic happen is donating to charities. This is easy with a growing network of incredible grassroots causes. My top pick this year is the Save The Bilby Fund. I decided to donate $30 on behalf of each of my nieces and nephews this year. The small, yet worthy donation, will go towards their bilby breeding program. How cool is that! My nieces and nephews might not be overtly excited about the donation certificates, but one day in the future they’ll appreciate that they have been part of bringing a cute and cuddly Australian marsupial back from the brink of extinction.

Going back to understanding what does this Christmas magic mean and can mean for you? ‘Magic’ denotes the idea of paranormal, the use of rituals, symbols, actions and language with the use of supernatural forces. It has been used in many cultures, some of the earliest cultures to separate ideals from reality. Thinking beyond magic tricks like turning a hat into a fluffy white rabbit, magic can offer ideas that it can influence the reconstruction or deconstruction thinking process. Just when you think it is impossible, something becomes possible. By thinking a little deeper through reconstruction or deconstruction, your thought processes can enable you to start to see other ways. Other ways of viewing ideals from reality, allowing a new reality to emerge. If you are compelled to act, this reconstruction or deconstruction process reorganises to construct another way of acting. New actions then create new images, a new reality, which over time can reconstruct or deconstruct new identities (e.g. my own reconstruction and deconstructed process has constructed me to portray ethical acts in the world, performances for sustainability). My assumption here, which is part of some new research I have been working on, is that through reconstruction or deconstruction, the construction of new images emerge to create new realities, new identities, which is fundamentally influenced by constant conflict negotiation (so conflict negotiation can be good when the outcome portrays ethical acts).

Through the art of stimulating conflict negotiation, you can start to see that a much more ethical Christmas is possible… and recreate your ideals of Christmas magic by buying local and supporting charities.

Reference: Lynne Freeman, Susan Bell, (2013) “Women’s magazines as facilitators of Christmas rituals”, Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, Vol. 16 (3), pp.336-354.

Undercurrent conflicts to saving the coast

Dune vandal

Another dune conflict, who is the council spokesperson, and what are their conflicts?

I have been enjoying the freedom and luxury of reading, writing and thinking about my Phd. It sounds luxurious to be spending quality time on something you are deeply passionate about, however, the sitting duck mentality does do my head in. When you identify with being a hungry person for change, perhaps a change agent, it’s intellectually challenging, as much as it is frustrating to wait for the thinking process to think-up a grand theoretical way of informing the creating change process.

In real world, I use my networks, experience, knowledge and passion to convey the best message for media to run the story that will publicly probe politicians to do something that their institutions haven’t been able to do –  “we don’t have the resources”, which is a no balls approach to saying no. While in my current Phd world, I use my scholarship to engage ideas, theories and other knowledges to better inform my interpretation/s of the world – why does it occur this way, and not that way?  

The context for understanding how to better create change that I am referring to is how do coastal professionals negotiate personal and professional conflicts (if any) in their management of the coast? I see conflicts played out everyday, and it’s frustrating. I question, why should professionals have to deal with institutional no sayers or dictators? For some, people survive by being a good public servant (e.g. imagine being the coastal professionals who had to remove sea level rise from coastal hazard maps when the Queensland Neumann Government was in?), while others just do what they are there to do (and not ask questions, imagine approving the Adani Mine?), while others, like me, don’t survive (they quit and let fate create a new path for change?)

In a self-reflexive peer-reviewed paper titled, ‘the secret life of a land-planning professional’, Joel Russell shares his insights and frustrations of finding the balance between human settlement and ecological principles with being a land planning professional. ‘It’s finding the balance’ where Russell experiences conflicts within the institutional frameworks he is conditioned to negotiate and suggests that, I quote, ‘the planning process itself just fans the flames of social, economic and political conflict, and rarely resolves anything’, unquote (Russell, 2000: 318).

Similarly, I experience conflicts with balancing inherent professional obligations with being a coastal professional in coastal management. I was confronted with a conflict experience in mid 2013, when I visited my local beach, Surfers Paradise, to witness my local council’s efforts in response to the coastal erosion in the wake of ex TC Oswald.  At the time when I approached the beach where the coastal erosion works were being carried out, I could see heavy machinery among the narrow, fragile dunes. I stood there alongside a growing crowd of onlookers in disbelief, confusion and conflict. Here was a local council that boasts clean beach and coastal management solutions, yet, I knew that extracting sand from vegetated dunes and placing it in front of an at risk coastal development was not sustainable. At the time, I was a coastal liaison officer between the local council, community, and university where I was employed, which meant continuing my day, returning to the office, and maybe talking about my conflicting experience with colleagues was the most appropriate action despite my conflicts.

And these dune conflicts never seize to go away, even though, I am institutionally positioned outside and have the luxury of blowing off my horn, or tweeting about it when or if I want to.

My colleague, Daniel Ware from Griffith University discusses this conflict experience as an undercurrent to the issues of coastal management. In his more recent work, he suggests that such personal and professional conflicts exist when ‘coastal managers’ are committed to the principles of sustainable development, which underlines the theory of integrated coastal zone management (Ware, 2017).

Alongside these ideas I question the construction process of these conflicts, and how historical, social, environmental, economics, institutional, cultural, political and institutional ideas have constructed the coastal professional, the phenomena of the coastal professional and coastal management. It is a cultural process as this phenomena is always in a state of flux, and I am pretty sure (hopefully) that my research can offer understanding and acknowledgment to the experiences of being a coastal professional, and dealing with conflict.

For instance, it is the juxtaposition between self and coastal places, the spaces where people experience the coast that draws my attention to question how do coastal experiences construct individual and personal identity and their individual ideas of the coast. Additional to this is the extension of inquiring into why people take up a professional role in coastal management. Is it to perhaps make a difference, protect their ideas of the coast, or they’ve just fallen into it?

I am at the stage of knowing (and believing) that my theoretical framework (I think of it like a coat hanger) will better inform (hang) my ideas to question and answer, well, how the bloody hell can we live, work and play along the coast without inherent conflicts? Or, perhaps what I am super pumped about at the moment is gently knowing where, when, why and how do these conflicts emerge given inherent conflicting professional identities and the spaces we engage… watch this space.
References:

Russell, J. (2000) The secret life of a land-planning professional, Bulletin of science, technology and society, Vol 20 (4), pp: 318-320.

Ware, D. (2017) Sustainable resolution of conflicts over coastal values: a case study of the Gold Coast Surf Management Plan, Australian Journal of Maritime & Ocean Affairs, Vol 9 (2), pp: 68-80.