Hi Climate Council, advice worth more than a donation

I should share my insights more often. I got an email this afternoon from the Climate Council with a direct link to a donation page, which didn’t enrol me to donate… instead they got this reply that is probably worth more than a donation.

Hi Climate Council,

I love reading your posts and hearing about what you are doing. I used to donate money to you, but then realised my cash was better spent actually preparing the landscape for climate change and switched to donate to the Nature Conservancy. This is where the challenge lies with me with your call to action and support you into 2021.
As a Landcare champion, ambassador, innovator or whatever you want to call me I see and hear amazing landscape transformation that is happening from the ground-up. I also see people transform through social and cultural connection, and constantly hear inspiring stories from people about community action happening in their patch. When you fly across Australia you can start to imagine how action in these patches are making a difference, whether it is repairing a riparian zone alongside a creek, or piecing together critical corridors for biodiversity. I have seen first hand the efforts of community action to restore my local beach back to a coastal forest, 93ha of coastal dunes only a stones throw from the urban paradise of Surfers Paradise.
As a negotiate the contested terrain of the spaces and places I am caught in and deeply passionate about I know that the next four years will involve more trees being planted and see more solar panels of the roofs of homes, and my neighbours getting to know each other (more) and share the lemon myrtle tree that is out the front for a cuppa tea in the afternoon. I also know that the next four years will be challenging, but damn it is exciting to see industry groups, research institutions, councils (the good and bad), authorities, departments, agencies, groups and organisations starting to listen to each other and get that we get to drive the transformational change our great nation needs. And it is damn fun driving, planting this change – of which I am sure that you have had a huge contribution.
And as I walk the landscape with Landcare I get to see people changing the way they manage the land, change their species lists to plant for future climate patterns and along the way engage our decision-makers. I know we (especially Landcare) need to do more of sharing successes and outcomes of incredible projects, which could overpower and empower the doom and gloom I am frequently reminded of – especially by you.
I know there is no silver bullet, but what I have realised is that change comes from within, and we must nurture this change. I have nurtured people who would be perceived as definitely not on the green-side of change because I have shifted my preconditioned ideas on who wants to get involved. I have also sought out other ways of sharing stories and showcasing successes, and nurtured decision-makers through meaningful engagement and made sure they know that the next generation have got their shit together.
People can’t act with facts, but they can with tools. So perhaps your next four years can be about what we can do with tools for change. I think this gentle email is worth more than the $35 I was going to donate.
Best of luck, and bring on 2021 with more trees for cooler cities, repaired landscapes and shade for cows, and places to refuge for all creatures.
Have a great weekend,
Naomi Edwards

Change begins with rethinking

Change begins with rethinking

I have recently returned home, to the sunny Gold Coast on the east coast of Australia, after a 5 week tour riding the mountain motorable pass in the world in India, and engaging in thought-provoking conversations with coastal colleagues in Perth (Western Australia) then Airlie Beach (North Queensland). Back to back conferences after a lifetime adventure, hell yeah, my thoughts are flowing.

To kick start some tangents, here is a keynote speech that I was fortunate to share with colleagues at the Western Australian Natural Resource Management and Coastal Management conference, held at Curtin University (they have awesome coffee and hammocks to chill out on).

As the keynote is well over 5,000 words you can download it here –Change begins with rethinking

Here are some thought provoking quotes:

As a disruptor of institutions that is passionate about action and change, I would like to see more of us take risk whether you are an insider or outsider of the dominant institutions of our practice. Because whether we plan our practice with the best knowledge we have, in most cases that I have been engaged in it still doesn’t make a difference when it comes to getting others onboard. And in many cases it wipes the adventure, creativity and adaptability out of our practice.

I’ll quote Charlie Veron, which his new book, A Life Underwater is a must read…

… Most professionals today, whether they be in the sciences, arts, education, even sport, work within the cage of bureaucracy that controls most aspects of their working life. For most this works for them to ensure their needs are met… but for those that need time and headspace to think, something needs to change… and this change is being led by technology and the younger generation…although the scary part is that the younger generation are being bred to accept what to work on, when to work and how to work…


This failing technocracy-approach that scholars like Shelia Jasnaoff theoretically describes helps me to unpack the decay and almost U-Turn on historic environmental justices. In our world this has seen the dependency on specialists with the result of our institutional departments specialising to the degree which then can’t respond to widening issues, especially when departments are chewed to the bone.

Enjoy – Change begins with rethinking

Self resilience: what’s missing from the resilience conversation within institutions

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Yesterday, I was granted to share my thoughts and ideas about social values for resilient waterways at the Gold Coast Waterways 2017 & Beyond Symposium, which was brilliantly organised by the Gold Coast Waterways Authority. Please read on to take in my thoughts and ideas.

“I would like to acknowledge the Gold Coast Waterways Authority for putting on this event and their Chair, our panel moderator extraordinaire, Mara Bunn, for inviting me to set the social scene for imagining, stimulating and creating resilient waterways for the Gold Coast. I have 5 minutes to set the social scene. I’ll attempt to meet the challenge with 3 slides.

Slide 1: I begin with a finger painting. Why, you might be thinking? When it comes to imagining values that the community place on waterways it can get messy, unpredictable, and surprising and there are certainly no boundaries, or limits to the visible and invisible values. This sets the biggest challenge for managers and decision-makers within institutions who make management and investment decisions based on market-values and in principle cost-benefit analyses.

When looking at this finger painting you can assume that there is no order to the painting, no beginning or ending, no direct path of understanding when or how the yellow blends with the red or the why the purple was applied after the red, even why the artist left patches of pink paper, is the paper pink or was the paper painted pink? This is what I refer to as invisible mess, what’s missing from what we can see and for today’s panel discussion and symposium, it’s the invisible values, which in many regards are the social values.

While on the other hand what we can see is some order in the painting. We can make a logical assumption that the yellow and red created the orange and that the blue and red created the purple. This is what I refer to as the visible mess – and for some context to today’s conversation it is the organised, institutionalised community action. Action that although we can’t put a “metric” on it, we can put an assuming financial value on it, and extrapolate this value setting principle to place a value on let’s say a waterway where there is “known” community action.  However, the challenge with this way of valuing social values on a place, is that where there is no action we assume that the community doesn’t place a higher value on it.

Slide 2: In this slide, you can visually see the “known” organised, and in some regards institutionalised community action across the Gold Coast. Each drop pin represents a community group who come under the banner of Landcare, citizen science and sustainability. From this bird’s eye view of organised community action, we assume that the Gold Coast community value these areas. This action is highly valuable and we cannot exclude the value of this action when valuing social values. Given that volunteered motivation and commitment enhance other values we place on the environment, such as, clean water, accessibility, ecological health, wildlife, shade trees, etc., and such long-term effort and impact can be measured in time.

However, what I have observed over the years with my immersion experiences working for and with the community, is that where there is action it is in the presence of an issue. This sets another challenge when valuing the present value of an area. For instance, where a waterway or natural area might in principle be undervalued ecologically or rated as poor health or viewed as a wasteland, thus, economically might not have a viable value to justify investment, might perhaps hold more value in the eyes of the community, or the future community. Conflict can emerge when conflicting priorities do not align, especially when the community wants to see change, but such change does not hold up as a priority within institutions. This again presents more challenges when planning for resilient waterways, as community concerns and issues cannot be planned.

During my experiences, it’s been the community who have had the most innovative, creative and wild ideas. Ideas that ooze resilience that have transformed farm dams into functioning wetland habitat, bare sand dunes into a littoral rainforest, storm water drains into fish habitat and mangrove forests and golf course boundaries into secret gardens for endangered wildlife and urban bush food cultivation. These areas were once wastelands and ecologically insignificant. The community can now proudly justify reasons for institutions to buy-in into their ideas and plans; as such areas, can now be valued as productive places, places where tourists can visit and for the community to enjoy the lifestyle we are known for on the Gold Coast.

Slide 3: This is why I am optimistic about the future. The Gold Coast is an entrepreneurial water city that has pioneered many wild ideas for wicked problems. So, how can we get agencies and the community working together to create resilience waterways?

I think institutions could be more supportive of the community engagement process through co-designing for change.

If we get the co-design process right, which is what this afternoon is about, the next step is to support leadership development, so leaders for Gold Coast waterways can be resilient themselves. It’s a tough gig leading, volunteering and working in this space, and I think we step over this issue.

We also we need to recognise barriers as opportunities, we are a vibrant linear city with diverse cultures, polarising views and different expectations. For today’s symposium, I invite you to rethink how you view barriers and reflect on how we have achieved success thus far.

In conclusion, from a community perspective that I have been granted to share, to imagine, stimulate and create a resilient waterway network, I think we need to:

  • Value the messy side of the engagement process
  • Have fun co-designing the wildest ideas
  • And support leadership development to build resilient leaders

Because what we do will echo for eternity, so we better make sure what we do echoes resilience, and resilience starts with us here today, thank you.”