URGENT // need portion control: the dilemmas of protecting the coast

URGENT // need portion control (pc: Photograph: Randy Mayor, Illustration: Brett Ryder)

URGENT // need portion control (pc: Photograph: Randy Mayor, Illustration: Brett Ryder)

This tangent is part of a private journal I am writing as part of my Phd. I don’t intend on sharing this journal (to often), however, today is one of those Phd days where I have realised that I am going to mad, I have put too much on my plate and need to go back to the beginning for some portion control. I wrote this motivation-journal-entry a few months ago and I don’t think I have progressed… mmm.

When your passion is your work and your work is your passion, negotiating the conflicting terrain between your passion and work will send you mad. I’ve spent hours, days, weeks, months and years trying to figure out the best way to negotiate conflicts. Conflicts that limit my passion and work to make a difference for Australia’s coast.

It is like being on a mice-wheel going around and around, going nowhere until the wheel falls off or I fall off.

I fell off a few years ago and now I find myself back on but on my own wheel. I didn’t want to be like the others and stay on the system’s wheel going nowhere. Instead, I signed up to do a Phd to understand why some stay on the wheel, why others fall off the wheel or how others find another way while on the wheel to make a difference. My motivation behind my Phd is part selfish, part selfless, because I didn’t want to be like those that stay on the wheel and go nowhere. I want to one of those that find the other way to make a difference.

I know that I am passionate about the coast and that I want to make a difference. But I am yet to know how and where I want to make a difference other than the entire system! I know I can’t research or make a difference to the entire system of coastal management. I have ideas (obviously) which have led me to begin a Phd in coastal management, and I am now at the crossroads of how, where and ultimately why I want to make a difference (and why bother at all).

I intentionally say difference rather than change because for my Phd what I do know thus far is that it is about being a difference maker. It is important to recognise this early on as the difference between difference maker and change maker is that difference makers focus on systemic change. Change needed for institutional-transformational change. Changing the institutions of coastal management is where I believe we need to make a difference (or at least make a dent in it), especially, to be able to address the unprecedented impacts that climate change poses on the coast. It’s a big statement and deserves critical attention (and has), and will seek the attention of many other Phds… not just mine.

Remembering that I am one of many who seeks such systemic change I start this Phd journal with asking myself, am I naive to think that a Phd on the cultures and conflicts of the coastal professional working in coastal management will answer the question we seek to know – how to influence systemic change to protect Australia’s coast?

The short answer is yes. So what, yes I am naive.

Anyway, it has now been 4 months of trailing through Google Scholar, attending conferences and symposiums, talking with coastal professionals, colleagues, students, friends and mentors. Each paper, experience and conversation has and will continue to shape my Phd. A Phd that will offer new insights before my (and other’s) passion turn into a nightmare, and have national and international significance. I also know the writing process (beyond my tangents) will help me document, scrutinise and re-imagine what could be possible to inspire myself, and perhaps other coastal professionals, to be difference makers to influence systemic change.

2016 >> 2017

I’ve had nothing scheduled to do or follow up in my Google Calendar for the last few weeks. Or rather only my travel app synced reminders to remind me where I am going and staying as I am traveling across Europe visiting friends. This way of being is a killer way for me to end a fast, jammed packed year. Because part of me and at times all of me throughout 2016 wanted to be free, schedule-free. My Facebook cover photo reminds me of this desire, to be free and perhaps free as a bird. 

But are birds actually free? I’m no Ornithologist and barely scraped through Zoology 1 at university (chemistry was my thing back then), but I do know birds live a territorial, frightful and demanding life. You just have to take a walk through a park during mating season (if in Australia I should say Magpie season) and if you are not looking ridiculous wearing zip-ties tied to a helmet, you’d get what I mean. It’s frightfully scary to think that a bird that territorially swoops can make a grown man duck for cover or wave a stick in the air shouting something obscenely inappropriate. All because birds are not entirely free, right? 

Where is this going? That’s right, it’s the end of another year and I haven’t had a reminder about it other than my Facebook feed reminding me that in fact it is that time of year and that time of year when we reflect on the passing year and pitch new year resolutions to the world. 

If I can bank on my experiences this year, learn from them and take my closest friends advice to slow down, 2017 will look like this… 

  • Eat less sugar 
  • More swimming
  • Less work
  • Less volunteering 
  • More writing 
  • More reading
  • More sleeping
  • More (time for) love 

Sounds idyllic, maybe I should schedule it in now before the next year is over (that was a joke, haha…actually I probably will to some extent). Although in all honesty I am stoked on what happened in 2016 so whatever happens in 2017 I know it’ll be perfect. Because I had massive wins and losses this year and the same happened in the previous year and the year before that one etc. 
So here are my top 2016 stoked moments (in no order of preference): 

  • Kick starting Intrepid Landcare with the coolest bunch of legends and getting some cool projects over the line without begging.
  • Being awarded the co-winner for the National Young Landcare Leader with the west-coast stella, Ella Maesepp and having my family and friends there supporting me.
  • Getting a PhD Scholarship from Griffith University and having an empowered team around me to take my ideas to the next level.
  • Letting go of my dreamboat…my classic 1962 VW Beetle.
  • Successfully completing the Introduction Leaders Program with Landmark Worldwide (that was massive!) and forming lifelong friends with the course’s participants. This will forever be lifechanging. Can’t wait to Coach this year!
  • Coaching people for them to see anything is possible, even plant 17,100 plants in one day.
  • Having my heart broken to remind me I’m not steel and that I have to nurture myself and be more accepting of others.

Lessons I’m taking into the new year:

  • Don’t ignore something or someone even when I’m flat out. Everyone is equally busy and important.
  • Write when I read and enter my references into the holy grail of my PhD (THE spreadsheet) straight away.
  • Park project ideas until I’ve complete current projects and have had a day off. 
  • Use the sleep app on my phone to put my want for more sleep into action.
  • Only buy what I intend on eating not what I might… that’s including sugary foods. 

I’m not going to gamble any new year resolutions rather than take lessons learnt, particularly mistakes, and make sure 2017 is swimmingly more fun, random and spontaneous. 
I want to thank all my friends and family for supporting me in 2016 and I look forward to an amazing year in 2017 (filled with more time for my friends and family). 

Love me xo

(Apologies for any bad edits on this post because I’m on my phone). 

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.

A new uplifting regional legacy

Video: three decades of natural resource management in south east Queensland in 4 seconds.

Today could have been like any other day. The sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It was a warmer than usual Spring day and people just went about their day. But today wasn’t like any other day. Because today marked a milestone for south east Queensland’s environment – a strategic planning day for the newly formed Healthy Waterways and Catchments. 

Now for some context: A few months ago there was a historic merge between SEQ Catchments and Healthy Waterways to form Healthy Waterways and Catchments. A new natural resource management organisation to drive and lead natural resource management in south east Queensland.  What that means is that in south east Queensland we now have one ‘organisation’ to lead transformational, cutting-edge research and practice for the care, protection and management of the natural environment (and not just south east Queensland, as it can go international). Bascially, we have a pretty sweet deal, imagine a two-for-one deal, as we have merged two leading organisations into one. There are a whole bunch of reasons why this happened which could make this tangent go for years as it did. But what you really need to know is that there is no doubt that the new company will be a game changer and ice-breaker for south east Queensland’s natural environment.

Lining up to pledge our support for the future direction of Healthy Waterways and Catchments.

Lining up to pledge our support for the future direction of Healthy Waterways and Catchments.

Cracking jokes. There champions are funny!

Cracking jokes. These champions are funny!

Birds eye view of the champions

Birds eye view of the champions

Tea, coffee, coloured pens, play dough... we have got this!

Tea, coffee, coloured pens, play dough… we have got this!

Some ultra cool future ideas. Did someone say Instagreen?

Some ultra cool future ideas. Did someone say Instagreen?

Time to be creative: our future where the environment is everything.

Time to be creative: our future where the environment is everything.

Now for some inside inspiration: I feel extremely privileged to have been part of the merge and now the cultural change to create the personality, vision and future of Healthy Waterways and Catchments. For a moment I sat back , closed my eyes and took in a deep breath so I could remember the experience. I needed a moment to myself to remember that this was actually happening and that I was there contributing to the future of Healthy Waterways and Catchments. I must add I was there alongside and with 80 or so other champions who bought nothing else to the table other than energy, passion and commitment to create an exciting new culture and future for the new organisation.

There were some laughs, sighs and challenges, but most of all  future-focused tech-savvy, institutional-changing, market-based ideas that will no doubt transform the way we manage our natural resources and most of all communicate it to the world.

At my table, we spoke about how the environment needs to hold us for it to become the core value for everyone in south east Queensland. Technology and real-time information will be lifeline for the lifeblood of our region, and to also turn the tide on the ignorance is bliss. Because ignorance is not bliss.

At the end of the meeting there was a deep consensus for the change (I am saying change instead of merge),  which left me uplifted and excited about the future we now to get to live.

Congratulations to the team behind today’s meeting. I am 200% behind Healthy Waterways and Catchments to take the lead for the future of south east Queensland’s environment. Looking forward to seeing the outcomes of today’s meeting.

Raise your hand

Raise Your Hand Please

Raise Your Hand Please

There is no doubt that I read a lot into what I see. This helps me ground truth ideas or perhaps seek other opinions to challenge my thoughts. Either way, it helps me gather evidence to make decisions and overcome my scatter-of-a-brain thought processes.  To this effect and for this tangent I started reading into motivation, specifically, self-motivation and how self-motivated people make the perfect team players for projects for change.

Because there I was  literally an hour ago sitting on the couch catching up with my flatmate watching a reality TV show that we have somehow become obsessed with. At the same time I was scrolling through my inbox and saw a promising email about a future project, a big project, that I would say was initially my idea, but now it is also someone else’s and it’s happening. The timeline and networks have been thought out and we have started the roadmap for another change making project – literally, in one conversation and one email.

About 5minutes later I followed up on another change making project opportunity. An organisation I volunteer for called Responsible Runners has some funding to reward volunteers. The first thing that came to my mind was an epic clean beaches party at Burleigh Heads. I put my feelers out and to this effect, an 80% success rate bounced back in next to no time with people and organisations self-nominating themselves to be part of it. Date, done. Location, done. Wording for flyer, done. Flyer design getting organised, done…  another project done in one Facebook message.

You have got to love technology in the palm of our hands to create change. However, you have got to be in love with self-motivated team players who make the change happen. Why? Because self-motivated team players are the secret to successful projects for change. Why?

  • They are very productive
  • Results driven
  • High levels of efficiency, so waste less time
  • Outperform
  • Continuous learners
  • Problem solvers
  • Intrinsically motivated
  • Complete tasks with minimal input
  • Don’t require extra rewards

I swear this has been my secret to success over the last couple of months with the number of projects on the go. I even have one of my mentors and PhD supervisors blogging about my thesis topic. People often ask me how I seem to manage so much, and what I say is that it’s definitely not all me. It’s the teams of self-motivated people who self-nominate for these epic change making projects. Everyone who is part of the teams I am involved in are essentially self-motivated individuals. It just takes for someone to see their motivation and capitalise on what they are offering (illusionary leadership).

Illusionary leadership can wait for another tangent as I have to finished the self-motivated, self-nominated submission I am driving for the Australian Government’s review on the National Landcare Programme…

Planting futures


One last biggest tree planting for me, (from left: Jesse Kenny, the ultimate partner to make this stuff happen, and then me).

If I could sum up my hobby it would be planting futures. I used to collect spoons (not kidding), then it was rocks (still kind of do that), and soon enough it was community projects that blend design, community and sustainability. I am a Landcare junkie and for a good reason because I get to plant futures.

This coming weekend marks what I am hoping to be my last major local on the ground, hands getting dirty kind of Landcare projects that I drive. I have been engrained into the grooves of driving local Landcare projects for 10 years and goodness knows how many plants have been planted. This weekend will be another 15,000 plants!

Gold Coast Biggest Tree Planting Day is happening for the 3rd-official year and will take the project planting quota to 42,000 plants. Get this, 42,000 plants have been planted in 4-days by the community. It has been a profound, pivotal project for me to co-found, support and drive when needed. It’s almost an addictive project because of the immediate impact, like planting 15,000 plants in one day. I caught myself asking my ‘partner in lime’ (Jesse), I wonder what will happen next year… I hope someone picks up this project and drives it. Because I know my time is expiring as my attention is needed elsewhere- that being Intrepid Landcare and my PhD, and some higher-level influence for change.

Don’t get me wrong, I do intend on staying involved to some degree, however, not on the ground and among the grassroots of it all – sometimes I would like to be spectator and not be up at old hours at night doing the finishing touches on some incredible projects. Right?

What I really want to drive next is more strategic investment pitches and capacity building stuff to build the backend of the local Landcare network. Work on the what is missing stuff. I would really like to spend time developing a social-environmental impact report card that I have had in development for way too long. I would like to see our local Landcare network communicate our impact more effectively to seek the political and corporate investment needed to fund the real environmental projects we could be doing.

Why? Because I’m a scientist in the mind, and a cultural researcher at heart, and we need to blend these disciplines to ignite the cultural change we need for the future of Gold Coast’s environment. And because I am not a protest kind of person, and would rather spend my time developing systems and relationships that foster the landscape transformation we have been slowly, and purposefully working on.

And perhaps, I could get some papers published in the meantime to make my supervisors happy for all what I do in my other life and that being Landcare.

Planting futures is the best hobby anyone could have.

Hope to see you at Gold Coast Biggest Tree Planting Day, Sunday 16th October at Country Paradise Parklands (231 Nerang-Beaudesert Rd, Nerang). Starts at 8am with free yoga and live music from 9am.

Turned 30


Today marks three decades of my life. I turned 30 today and celebrated this game-changing milestone with some of my closest and dearest friends and family. Overwhelmed with love I cried while reflecting on being content and in love with life when silence and darkness fell at a decent 3.30am (last night/ this morning). Factor in my almost third all-nighter in a row leaving me severely sleep deprived,  having a blood alcohol limit giving me the dizzy spells and being surrounded by gifts of flowers and wise words inscribed on recycled card leaving me proud, I couldn’t have asked for anything more or less.

It’s now Sunday evening and after a mammoth weekend of a jammed packed Landcare schedule as well (the Gold Coast Landcare Forum was yesterday), and still sleep-deprived and again overwhelmed with love, I asked myself, how could I genuinely respond to so much gratitude?

To start with something I thought I would share my 30th Birthday Speech. This isn’t exactly what I had said but it goes along the same lines. I definitely added in a lot more punch and thank you’s…  thank you for sending me much love and lovely messages.

My 30th Birthday Speech

A week ago I found a slither of time. I was resting up, perhaps taking a mid-afternoon nana-nap and I started thinking. What’s the deal with turning 30? Why do some people shy away from turning 30, while others embrace the third decade? What actually happens when you turn 30?

I jumped onto Google and looked into it… Googling “what happens when you turn 30?”. According to science we get better.

You see our brains sharpen, we actually start to own our personality (rather than many), are less insecure, stress less (maybe), and most of all you finally feel free to be yourself.

For me that is unique.

On my 12th birthday I got a birthday card from a friend and there were three monkeys on the front. Two were doing the same thing, while the other one, the third monkey, was pulling a funny face. On the inside of the card it said, “Happy Birthday to the most unique person”.

At 12 years old I had an idea what unique meant but I wanted to be sure, so I looked it up. At that time I was shocked because all I ever wanted to be was like my friends, the same as them. It’s now 18years later and it all makes sense. I am unique, one of a kind and unlike anyone else. 

And I am unlike anyone else because of the people in my life and the experiences I have experienced.

Everyone here tonight has played a part in influencing me to be – unique.

To be born into a family full of love, differences and compassion, I am extremely lucky and thankful. Mum and Dad, you are two of the most inspirational people in my life. You have been my biggest fans and supporters when frustration to change the world ‘yesterday’ gets the better of me. I remember coming home from university one day and said to you [mum] how I want to be a park ranger and save The Spit. Your response was that I could save and do much more that just The Spit. Indeed I am working on that. Above all your love, generosity and passion for others to live a life they love has grounded me to follow in your footsteps and that is to give before I receive.

Miss Anna, my little sister. You are far from little; you have been my sunshine, definitely not my shadow. Your outlook on life, positivity and free spirit is what I admire the most. There are so many memories. From walking to the corner store across the park to buy lollies and then divide them equally on the cushions when we got home and then eat them at the same time so neither of us would miss out on what the other had shows the love and respect we have for each other. Then there are the moments when we just laughed at nothing, we laughed and laughed for no reason. You inspire me to be free – or at least live a non-scheduled day every once and while. Thank you for being the best little sister anyone could have and for making tonight incredibly special [because she organised the party].

There are a few more people I want to say something special to. So hang on!

Olaf, I am so glad you are here tonight to share this special occasion with me. You were the rock in my life when I most needed someone to be honest. When David was dying you were patient and most of all courageously honest. At the time I hated you for being honest. I frequently think of the conversation we had. To have that conversation you would have had so much courage. No one had that amount of courage to tell me the truth and that the stories I was telling myself weren’t true. This is what I admire about you and am [this much] more courageous having you in my life.

The Montoya’s – my second family. You are like a warm hug that keeps giving. You adopted me like your own daughter and sister and trusted me despite the circumstances we were in. Circumstances we never wished to be in but they were special times that have inspired us to live a life packed with meaning and purpose. It was a crazy rollercoaster with good times in the end like the crazy road trip we did to Yeepoon, and running out of petrol on the Bruce Highway at 3am, and me laughing at nothing because I still can’t understand Spanish! One day, I will get there with my Spanish and visit Colombia. It’s on the 30-something to do list.

Compassion, free spirit and courage have gotten me this far in life and I am stoked. When I was 20 I had ideas on what might have happened leading into my 30’s – things like meet a guy, get married, have kids, buy a house, and you know how the rest goes… ideas that haven’t happened. But I really couldn’t be more stoked.  

So what’s installed for the next 10 years, even 30 years?

I imagine myself waking up and it’s my birthday, so that means I am 40 today. It has been raining. The air is fresh and smells new. I can hear music in the background and children playing games. The dogs are sleeping outside. And I am in love with my best friend.

Sounds idyllic but not entirely a dream. I am working on it. I might have to ask out more random men at petrol stations or find a best friend willing to marry me.

What I do know is that I would have completed my PhD thanks to my awesome supervisors, travelled to Colombia and built up an epic organisation with epic people that is a game-changer for Landcare, that is Intrepid Landcare. I get to do stuff that matters everyday.

Now that brings me to the end of this speech, it’s not a tangent. Being unique has opened a life full of random opportunities and experiences. I’ll finish up with echoing what someone wise once said to me now a decade ago; “It is up to you what you want to do with your life, why not create a masterpiece”.

I am creating a masterpiece with each of you here tonight. You are all part of the masterpiece that I call my life.

A special shout out to Katherine, Maxine and Johanna for being the best girlfriends and Jesse for seriously inspiring me to go to the next level over the last year and to all my dearest Landcare junkies, especially Megan!

Raise your glasses and let’s toast to being unique and creating a masterpiece.

_ The End. Bring on the 30s.

Until next time thank you – again.

Magic meets mentorship


This is what happens when magic meets mentorship. Accepting the Manpower National Young Landcare Leader award.

Despite spring’s less intense oceanic processes with seasonal lake-like calmer waves, energy remains high as earlier sunrises and the seeding of dune plants remind me that summer is approaching and should I scarily share the sense of squeezing every dream and idea that I had envisioned for 2016 out of me. What a year it has been, pumped and it is still pumping.

Last week my impression, expression and expectation for life aligned with taking out the Manpower National Young Landcare Leader award with Ella Maesepp. I am pretty stoked, believe me.

Now I am back home and back to reality of balancing work, Phd, volunteering and finding true love, reflection is a high priority. Reflection gives me access to recalibrate myself to envision where to from here. When you are living a life you love it is important to seek feedback to stay gracious and grounded.

All this didn’t happen overnight. It has been a journey, in fact 10 years. This season marks my 10th year of volunteering in the environmental sector and in particular, with Landcare. It feels like it was only yesterday when I met Dave Hopman, one of the most inspiring leaders in my community who inspired me up to plant trees for life. His words echo my beating heart everyday to strive to live in a world where environmental justice happens without the struggles of advocacy, activism and action.

He said…

“It is up to you what you want to do with you life, why not create a masterpiece. That is what we are doing out here, planting a masterpiece as nature is a true artist” – Dave Hopman

How’s that for my first impression of Landcare? And you wouldn’t believe that I bumped into him last night while walking my dog. Life is aligned. He was stoked as I shared my award-winning news.

Now for expression. What was going through my head when I was awarded the award was, wow, can this actually be happening. Of course. All those early mornings setting up events, late nights writing grants and sharing my sunshine for Landcare during daylight with anyone who crossed my path … #landcareforlyfe, ey? Of course this was bound to happen. But the secret in the success is that I have had my tribe supporting and backing me. The screams of excitement and proudness screeching from tables 38 and 42 made it so much easier to soak in the opportunity and live it up. The award was for them just as much as it was for me.  Now was not the time to diminish myself and cut my poppy seeds. Now was the time to soak it in.

As I accepted the award I said, “This is what happens when magic meets mentorship” – I think.

This is so true, because winning such an award is like magic and we all know what goes into pulling off magic. Lots of dedication and passion. And seeking advice and knowledge from people before you, your mentors. I am blessed to have so many mentors. My family, friends, colleagues and tribe.

Lastly, I want to reflect on my expectation for life. I try not to put pressure on myself and others with high expectations, but at the same time I expect the best because people and the planet deserve the best. So this one is a bit tricky for be to grapple. My friends and family would say I am an overachiever, always onto the next thing before the now is over but this time round I am staying grounded… well until everyone is back to reality in their own self and ready to start creating more expectations.

But in all honesty it is the expectation of others that puts pressure on me to perform. I hate letting people down, especially, my mentors who have supported and backed me. They deserve only the best from me. Part of me sometimes wants to live another life but hey, when you get to wake up everyday being happy and healthy, and work with incredible teams and communities to create a better world for all I wouldn’t change a thing.

Impression, expression and expectation is where I am at with reflecting. Congrats to all the finalists and award winners at the 2016 National Landcare Awards. It’s pretty special to be part of a movement like Landcare. Enjoy your day xo

A hungry, starving disruptor

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-10-41-31-pmI’m beyond hungry, I’m starving. I’m starving for disruptors to make their mark and influence systematic change because the climate crisis is getting real and the normal coastal stuff we deal with everyday just keeps piling up. We need urgent, large scale action and we need to rethink and act bold to disrupt the system.

But when you are a disruptor of the system it’s a hard slog. Because you only make up about 10% of the system, so you are left convincing the other 90% to buy into your octagon looking ideas, rather than the normal OOB tried and tested troubleshoots. It’s even more of a challenge when those eight-legged wriggly, perhaps untested ideas don’t fit the system, perhaps a strategy or even more frustrating an Act. There is too much unknown and those who have the powers to say yes or no, are not convinced. Yet you know, because you are a disruptor of the system, an innovative change agent, know that they’ll work. You are a firm believer of the dream and know beauty will be the output of an unknown metamorphosis.

Following me? Hang in there.

Disruptive leadership is the buzz word for new leadership models. It sounds exciting, perhaps scary. But most of all, explosive when alongside the more traditional approaches to leadership, especially for change. For those who are swept up in the whole disruptive way of doing things, or scared of change (the other side of the spectrum!!), we must not forget about what goes before and after disruption, who else needs to be part of the systematic change process.

This leads me to my key point of the tangent, how can we influence the yay or nay sayers to say, YES, to disruption? Or simply put, a new way of dealing with the climate crisis and other pile of coastal stuff. How can we be of influence?

First up we need to recognise the value of teams, team management and team leadership. Because we have:
+ Dreamers: people who envision what could be
+ Designers: people who design the dream
+ Disruptors: people you find a way to make dreams happen
+ Disempowered: people who don’t believe
+ Disengaged: people with no dreams, or couldn’t be bothered to dream

You need to understand their assumptions and impact lenses to then string together theories (string theory… o no!!), to identify what makes them tick, perhaps, moved, touched or inspired. What get’s them moving and shaking.

Next up is how to string together the vehicles for change to influence for urgent, large scale action? Until then, don’t forget the dreamers, designers, disempowered and disengaged.