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

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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

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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

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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.

Next up: round table think tank to design for success

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Looking fab from left to right, front to back | Laura Phelphs, Anna Rose, Josh Gilbert, Me, Megan Rowlatt, Lynne Strong

Last week I had the privilege of traveling to Canberra for a round table meeting to meet with other young land carers to discuss the needs of young people to act and lead on stuff that matters to them, their communities and ultimately, the environment.

Facilitated by Lynne Strong, National Director of Art 4 Ag, among many more things, and attended by Anna Rose, Josh Gilbert, Laura Phelphs, Megan Rowlatt and myself, it was great to kick-back, drink a lot of coffee and share our stories to stitch together patterns and opportunities that have shaped our environmental successes.

It is interesting to note that a key theme for all our stories was being inspired from an early age, being kids exploring nature. However, as we became more aware of the environment and its issues, we experienced environmental injustices (e.g. droughts, species extinction, vegetation clearing, climate change), which compelled us to do something – anything to turn the injustices into justices.

For instance, for Megan, it was her connecting with her local Landcare group to test cool ideas to inspire young people in her community to volunteer with Landcare. Or for Anna, it was being pulled into campaign meetings early on to learn the ropes of campaigning against coal.

Another key theme was getting some wins on the board in the beginning. We are all fuelled by successes and young people want to feel like they are winning, especially, against injustices. This got me thinking about the importance of designing for success to ensure the beginning of any young person’s leadership journey in environmental campaigning must start with a win. Yet, at the same time, recognising the value of failing because we all learn [better] from our mistakes.

So, how can we design for success and learn from our mistakes?

  • Craft stories that will inspire young people
  • Set short-term goals that are achievable within bigger picture projects
  • Make sure the bigger picture captures the dreams of young people
  • Connect mentors and change agents to young people so that they can access know-how and networks
  • Continually acknowledge and use this process to reflect that improves efficiencies

Where to from here?

Art 4 Ag has designed an epic Young Sustainability Ambassadors program to equip the next generation of environmental influencers. We expect this program to open its doors next year, so if you are young keep an eye out for the applications. And if you have money and are keen to support the next generation of environmental influencers contact Lynne J

Above all, my involvement last week wouldn’t have happened without the backing of QWaLC, my state Landcare network. Thank you for supporting my involvement and getting behind initiatives that empower young people to act and lead with Landcare. Young people need backing to turn injustices into justices.

Scared of warmer oceans

Wonders of the Great Barrier Reef (pc: www.gbrmpa.gov.au)

Wonders of the Great Barrier Reef (pc: http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au)

I just returned home after attending Australia’s national coastal management conference, 2016 Coast to coast, which was held at the MCG in Melbourne.

Travelling from the Gold Coast I had packed my thermals, gloves and beanie and neither left my suitcase while in Melbourne. It was a warmer than usual beginning of Spring and I even slept with the window open and fan on. It was as if I was in Queensland. But I was in Victoria, where the climate is changing and you can feel it. It’s warm, closer than you think.

Sadly, I am becoming accustomed to the stark reality of the future. Mass coral bleaching, mangrove forest die back and beaches squeezed between rising seas and built up coasts behind or on the dunes. So, a warmer trip to Victoria should be expected, an expectation I am scared about.

You see, it was only last week when I let loose and posted a rampage on my brother’s Facebook page about a post he had posted ‘celebrating’ the Carmichael Coal Mine… although it is awaiting finance. You see, people who can’t connect their actions to the recent mass coral bleaching and mangrove dieback think 4000 jobs to build and operate the economically and environmentally disastrous mine is a good new story for jobs in central Queensland. Yet, the coal mine, if finance is found (which I doubt), will jeoparadise the 69,000 jobs that rely on Queensland’s healthy reefs and coasts.  For me, this should be a straight forward argument, do you want short-term gain now which will continue to fuel the warming seas and put our future at risk, or do you want to secure the future for all generations, and all ecosystems and cycles that are fundamental to all life on earth. There is no ifs or buts now, because now is the time to change.

Because climate change is real and it is here. And I am scared of warmer oceans.

With this fresh in my mind I sit their listening to Tim Flannery’s keynote presentation about mobilising communities to mitigate and adapt to climate change. I completely get and understand what he is saying, and if anything, it wasn’t new to me. But what I grappled with was how to inspire my own microsystem, my own family, to change their own ideals for a cleaner, fairer future. A future without coal.

Feeling sluggish from the night before I share my concerns with a colleague as we munch on some vegetarian pastries. As Tim Flannery approaches the pastry pile and I took the opportunity to share my tangent. What advice could he give me?

The good news is that he was compassionate and got what I was saying. But the better news was hearing about how the unions, which my brother is a member of, are talking about how to transition a fossil fuel fuelled workforce to a cleaner, fairer, and renewable workforce.

I always thought welding windmills would be much more rewarding than welding pipelines that are killing our future’s pipeline. A future where my nieces and nephews can visit the Great Barrier Reef and be inspired to be eco-stewards for all humanity on earth.

Chocolate, champagne and coasts, what’s in common?

Loving Earth chocolate, is my favourite

Loving Earth chocolate, is my favourite

When you live with a climate change adaptation scientist your nights go like this. I get home with raw, vegan, organic chocolate and lucky it was on sale, because I have dark cacao and salted caramel to choose from (I did forget the dog food!). The other scientist has champagne ready in these cute round 1970-style glasses (apparently to drink less) with a garnish of freshly cut strawberries to make it feel like an occasion.

Tonight’s occasion, a toast to chocolate, champagne and coasts – the essentials of life, right?

Sooner rather than later we skip the life talk to discuss coasts and climate change. We are the perfect match. They are passionate about the theoretical philosophies of how people will adapt and make decisions regarding ecosystem services and ecological decision making with climate change. While I am packed with practical punch, always keen get out there and do stuff, plant the dunes to buffer the coast from those more frequent wild storms. They started talking about a major project that is happening across the Pacific, how will small island communities adapt to climate change using ecosystem services, e.g. restore mangroves, dunes, coastal forests, etc. to defend the coast from climate change.

As we nibble and savour every square of chocolate and sip our champagne, I test my understanding about what they are saying…

It brings me back to my philosophical ideals for life. Only we can choose who we are going to be, and sometimes in the face of no agreement. Empowered or disempowered, fearful or fearless, nervous or courageous? This get’s us thinking about how we handle stress and question: how do we adapt to change, how can we become more resilient? Once you choose who you are going to be, the actions and results will come, I know, because this is how I live, not survive. How to transform a breakdown to a breakthrough.

With chocolate, champagne and coasts diminishing we agree that life must have all three. You can’t have life without chocolate, champagne or coasts. Can you? So we adapt to our diminishing resources, pack the chocolate away and call it night. We always have tomorrow to finish the chocolate and champagne… but do coasts have tomorrow?

Just a random tangent as I was mopping the house post chocolate and champagne. I better call it a night too.