A fair go

Inspire: a fair go (photo source: Tiphaine Tif`)

Inspire: a fair go (photo source: Tiphaine Tif`)

‘We just want a fair go’ – is what everyone wants. A fair go in life, love and opportunity. Yet many are not given a fair go. Are not recognised. Are not valued. Are not acknowledged.

I couldn’t have felt the rawness and intimacy of community knowledge about the southern beaches of the Gold Coast any better (or empowering) than what I experienced the other day. I am at the stage of collecting community knowledge about Rainbow Bay for my Honours thesis, which aims to discover the value and use of community knowledge – experiences and memories – of the (a) beach.

Discover is quite the understatement for the process behind pealing-back the layers of community knowledge (e.g. what does that even mean and represent?) that is yet to be interpreted in my own youthful, passionate words.

Although the other day occurred as simple and organic as I imagined it to be. Under the shade of a Pandanus tree I listened to an awe-inspiring journey of community leaders who have laid a path (wave by wave; meeting by meeting; win by win) into what appears to most people as breathtaking coastal vistas to enjoy and experience for free, every day, every year. If I had to sum it up into one sentence I’d say it’d be a coastal legacy that has given a voice for the beach and its community and users.

In the context of coastal community engagement such a legacy starts with developing relationships, trust and respect to open a leveled-playing field for everyone to contribute and share ideas and knowledge. This can’t be achieved during abstract bite-size consultation processes or even under the florescence lights of council meeting rooms, halls and libraries especially when on one side of the table you have the engineers and scientists and on the other side you have the community. And there they debate about what is best for the beach.

Instead the journey occurs [must occur] over years of determination, persistence and commitment to the cause – qualities that all community leaders show. A community leader might be one of four at a meeting under the florescence lights but their experiences and memories of the beach speak the truth of community knowledge and validate historical accounts. And for some the journey began as a child discovering what the beach means and have experienced change longer than any scientific document might capture. Change that now exists in history and frames distinctions about when and why decisions were made only to bare the consequences  of an engineered coastline with a ’25-story fence’ isn’t what the beach needs…

Yet, when decisions are made about the coast we tend to invest is enormous-expensive reports that make no sense to the community.

But if you really dig deep and question the alternatives to collecting community knowledge what would you say?

You see the journey of my thesis echoes the community desires as my journey starts with talking with the community, which they appreciate and acknowledge. Because I believe the value of community knowledge about the beach surpasses any scientific analysis on how sand moves and where it goes. And I am determined to break the cycle of the them-and-us approach.

Some might say I am passionate about beaches and coastal community engagement. I would say that I know the truth and determined to speak the truth.

Many thanks to those who are contributing to my thesis.

End of an era

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It’s almost the end of an era. The reality of wrapping up at the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management and cleaning out my not to messy desk after five and a half years feels cleansing already. I can already sense the clarity I’ll be able to indulge in and time freed up to focus on my next chapter that will take me to more beaches… I am dead shore it will.

I can remember my first day as if it was yesterday! I think the Centre slightly head hunted by passion and drive before I even knew I had passion for the coast and drive for community action. A voicemail turned into a morning tea, which evolved into a job offer and after that, since then I’ve done around 350+ community and school sessions. No wonder I can talk under sand about sand while I watch sand build beaches.

Wow, who knew my life would revolve around our living sandy museum? Not I.

So, tips for the passionate candidates who dream of working along some of Australia’s best and cleanest beaches with the finest community.

– dream big
– say yes
– be creative

See the attachments for the position descriptions! PD-BeachCare and PD-CoastEd – and contact gccm@griffith.edu.au to let them know you are keen! 

Happy Beaches

Because happy is better than sad, I am leaving my role within the Coastal Community Engagement Program at the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management on the 3rd of October. It’s time to take a leap and move forward on what I believe I can achieve – for our community, beaches and myself. That means it’s also time to introduce Happy Beaches. 

Happy Beaches is my new venture to focus on the happier aspects of beach issues. Multidisciplinary, collective and fun, Happy Beaches brings a personality to coastal management. This has led me to research on beach happiness at the School of Humanities at Griffith University.

How did Happy Beaches come about?

As happy ideas always catch attention, why not link happy and beaches together to catch attention for beach health and community wellbeing?  This is what I discovered and considering first hand experience in coastal community engagement and mobilisation, I know optimism and collectivism can moblise communities to take action and effective control of beach health.  From small things, big things grow, Happy Beaches is spirualling into a new way of overcoming the sad reality of beaches

Basically, Happy Beaches acts on the need to understand how beach happiness can contribute to the happiness, wellbeing and the wider neuroconservation conversation.

Happy Beaches is initiating the pursuit of beach happiness.

Act on what you believe matters. I do and that is Happy Beaches.