The perfect organisational relationship

 

Either a tiny room or oversized flag?!

Either a tiny room or  an oversized, gigantic flag?!  

Since I first saw this photo on Sunday I haven’t been able to stop laughing. The room is either really small or we underestimated what 4 meters looks like in reality. Talk about an impact statement, hello, we are here, you’ll easily find us, we are the organisation with the gigantic flag!

Never heard of Intrepid Landcare? Well, you are bound to see us.

Oversized postcards / Megan has really small hands?

Oversized postcards / Megan has really small hands?

Pedal backwards to September, Megan Rowlatt (the other co-founder of Intrepid Landcare) sent me the other photo (to the left) when she picked up our postcard inspired flyers. Yet, again, what are postcards. Pfft. We don’t do mail, we are Gen-Y. But seriously though I definitely designed A6 cards and somehow they came out as A4.

What I am gathering to understand everyday with Intrepid Landcare is that we are definitely learning the ropes of un-schooling for social impact and design for change.  I pretty much race home (well, we are all flat out with work, study and other life commitments so I can speak for myself and say I  intentionally and presently race from place to place, task to task), to  get onto Google Hangout to discuss how we can test the waters and challenge our own institutionalised conditioning to come up with other ways of doing community engagement, youth leadership and Landcare. After all this is how and why we were founded as this is our trademark, to be innovative, bespoke and adventurous to inspire young people to act and lead with Landcare.

In all honesty we do have this change making stuff sorted. Our board, volunteers, advisors, mentors and supporters are a big deal (big deal almost / has made it into our membership structure, this will democratically go to a vote of course). We have an empowered, high performance team, with different skills, ideas and culture, though, grounded and connected with similar morals, ethics, values and beliefs. Setting up a national organisation for social impact in the Landcare space could have been hard work, challenging and emotionally draining. However, it’s been like a perfect marriage, maybe it is (I have nothing to compare at this stage).  I’ll go with the perfect organisational relationship.

Why? It’s been nothing short of incredible! We past our one-year anniversary and I actually can’t remember if we did anything, which goes to show the type of relationship I have with Intrepid Landcare (in a good way, time flies when you are having fun). It’s been a labour of love that so far hasn’t tied knots in our stomach, stabs us in the back or broken are hearts. As I said, the perfect relationship, maybe my perfect relationship or maybe a good excuse to be single as I am too pre-occupied to be bothered to have knots in my stomach, a stabbed back or a broken heart.

So, how have we achieved this?

Because we are serious about making an impact we started our organisation with discovering ourselves. This started with us and then internally as an organisation. What impact did we want to create for ourselves, each other and Intrepid Landcare, and who was going to be responsible for what, and what could we expect from each other?  How did we want to work and what is the best way to communicate with each other. For instance, there are a few of us that love tables, for others it’s about spreadsheets, some it’s all about verbal communication and then we have purposely made sure we have two Board members  living in the same city / close by to catch up face to face and share those random ideas when passing. This approach helps us to learn how to be effective communicators with all people and overcomes isolation when setting up a national organisation.

To start Intrepid Landcare from this conservation and lens has  given us the space to form deep connections despite being spread across the country. It has also even us the permission to be honest, straight and frank with each other. Criticism is seen as a contribution in our circle for change and if you can reach this in your organisation from the beginning impact will happen. Trust me… a 4 meter flag for impact, easy done! It will also make you more attractive to potential partnerships as people will want to work with you. They will want what you have, buzz, energy, ideas…

This is how and why I can sit back and laugh until I cry over the gigantic flag and postcards. Was it a stuff up, a lesson to be learnt or an intentional accident that still happens to align with what we stand for? A big impact.

I’ll accept all contributions.

Collaboration for conservation

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We know that we need to change the old way of doing conservation to transform our approaches to meet the demands and uncertainty of the environment. This is why collaboration for conservation gives me hope for the future. And this is why I am increasingly becoming more optimistic (can that be possible!) about the future because of the collaborative efforts behind the scenes that make wonder possible for conservation.

Being a networker with passion for innovative coastal management, natural resource management and Landcare (pretty much anything to do with improving the health and resilience of our land and water), gives me access to, can I use Intrepid Landcare’s tag, ‘a backstage pass to nature’. But to be politically correct here  I would have to say a backstage pass to the conversations for conservation.

Today, I have had conversations with volunteers, coordinators, a CEO and a politician about various projects and the theme in all those conversations has been about how we can we approach conservation differently through collaboration (broadly stated). And yesterday I had the privilege of visiting the Lockyer Valley in south east Queensland to see the collaborative efforts of approaching catchment management through an entire new lens.

The Lockyer Valley is prime agricultural land and produces approximately 40% of the fresh vegetables consumed in south east Queensland. The rich black soils boost the productivity. It’s the black gold of our regions agricultural heartland. However, the land and water have been under significant pressures for many years. Unsustainable farming practices and development have impacted this heartland, with overgrazing, vegetation clearing, weeds and soil erosion impacting the entire region’s catchment.  The loss of vegetation and overgrazing has rapidly increased the mobility of sediment in the upper catchment with it ending up in Moreton Bay. The models show that this increased mobility has been occurring for many years with some sediment slugs moving at a rate of 30 years. What this means is that we have productive rich soils that are 60,000 years old moving through the creeks and rivers of our central catchments, reducing the health of the waterways. This isn’t news as we have watched the health of south east Queensland’s waterways decrease despite investment efforts in catchment management. However, what is news is the new way of approaching this issue.

What is unique, actually, transformational in this new approach is the collaborative effort to do something about the dying needs of south east Queensland catchments. It did take for a flood to shift cultural ideologies, however, we are getting there through collaboration. Here we have the Port of Brisbane spending big dollars on dredging and offsets every year. They are paying for the end result of sedimentation building up in Moreton Bay. Then we have the farmers upstream that are losing productive land. So, a handful of  collaborative conservation leaders got together to do something about this mis-matched approach and thought, how can we shift investment spent on mopping up the downstream issues to clean up the symptoms of the upper catchment issue. How about we invest in the actual issue, rather than pay to clean up the problem. This has seen a shift in investment from downstream to upstream to revegetate creeks and in time with monitoring we will see if this approach works.

To the outside world this seems like a no brainer. But inside the tent it took a natural disaster, and a flood of convincing and influencing from collaborative leaders to make this happen. And of course, a central networker to make this possible, that being Healthy Waterways and Catchments.

Unfortunately how this project was influenced and by who, their characteristics, value systems and ways of doing business isn’t captured in project or monitoring reports. Something we forget to capture, and I certainly didn’t see it showcased on the project sign hanging up in the local hall. But I think in time the value of collaboration will be communicated, celebrated and embraced more and more, and to be honest I think it’s the younger generation’s enthusiasm and fresh ideas that have a lot more value waiting to be untapped and added to the ever increasing pie of collaboration.