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

Art meets science or is it science meets art?

Coastal awareness about beach litter through art: 'Can't Sea Through This' by Elysium Greene and Naomi Edwards - exhibited at SWELL Sculpture Festival.

Raising awareness about beach litter through art: ‘Can’t Sea Through This’ by Elysium Greene and Naomi Edwards – exhibited at the SWELL Sculpture Festival (2012).

I’m been wanting to let loose on this subject for sometime now. Especially having a father who is an artist and a mother who randomly pulls together cute, outrageous outfits. Creative flare is definitely in my genes, which brings me to splash out this tangent.

Back in 2003, I clearly remember flicking through the QTAC booklet trying to decide on what I’d like to study at university. It was actually quite overwhelming trying to decide on what I’d essentially like to be. Though, my love affair for Bilbies founded my first preference for environmental science. Which interestingly, if it wasn’t for such love, I probably would have ended up pursuing an arts bachelor. Or even social work, as both my mother and sister are social workers – when I was a kid I used to attend disability equality marches with my mum (yay for the NDIS/DCA!). Anyway, such fields that wouldn’t have been of surprise to my family. Though, not much further down the track I did find myself studying arts.

Nevertheless, today, here and now, although my science bachelor and arts masters’ certificates collect dust, the applications and skills I’ve learnt certainly haven’t. Fortunately, I have the opportunity to integrate the elements of science and arts being a science communicator. Where I can scientifically integrate my creative flare and love for colour to adapt my engagement strategies when communicating about coastal science and management. For instance, relate the layering of dune species across dunes to the golden rule of thirds – being the fore, mid and hind dune zones. Or even distinguish the diverse shades of blue to help define rip currents and sand movement.

So, as we see the world in colour, our world really is art at its best! Hence, brings me to try my best to answer whether art meets science or science meets art?

You see, when investigating science there can really only be one answer to explain what is happening in the big wide world. Statistics prove this, such as whether a relationship is significantly or insignificantly different (ah, the p vaue will forever haunt me!). Though, sometimes there can be the odd shade of grey to make things difficult; which, in my opinion paints welcoming tones to blend and mix-up the binominal regimental nature of science. However, such a concept brings me to ponder whether or not this very way of proving or disproving a hypothesis has plagued limitations for the general and science communities to be more integrated. Especially when comparing the diversity of relationships one can conceptualise in the arts world – right?

The diversifying nature and needs of science should bring wide-attention to this very subject. Being a science communicator, it is important to apply integrated and challenging ideologies to engage all folk about the what, when, where, why and how. In recent years I’ve been able to achieve this via solely integrating the arts into my science outreach, which has directly benefited my capacity as a coastal community engagement practitioner. Just how I explained this before.

Honestly, I really don’t think I can significantly prove that science is finally meeting the arts world in one tangent. Or maybe shades of grey are clouding my expected regimental take on the world to prove this tangent. Though knowing what works for me is important to continue to discover fresh, engaging approaches for science communication. Mmm, as I was one not to colour within the lines, I’ll let you make up your own mind.


When I was a child, learning the alphabet and to count seemed to be a huge academic achievement. Later on, I surprised myself by excitably excelling in figuring out those damn derivatives in senior to species population estimates at university. Come to think of it, together, my parents, siblings and patient schoolteachers, paved a wonderful foundation path for me to continue to learn and even achieve tertiary qualifications. An educative experience that has opened my world and allowed me to walk and talk with some of the best scientists and leading experts to help me understand complex equilibriums to world issues at large.

Who would have thought many years ago I’d end up undertaking multiple chemistry subjects, or even political development and human rights courses at university? Not I, especially considering my polarised dream of becoming a ballerina, professional violinist and a pilot all at the same time; geez I am far from an overachiever (joke)! Though, they are professions I continue to admire for the passion and shear determination one has to invest to be the best.

So, I have a collection of certificates that prove my ability to research, analyse and conclude complex issues. Or quiet frankly experience in touch-typing, which allows me to get my verbal diarrhea out there, from my screen to yours. Simply as ABC-123 and then DEF-456 gave me the confidence to be my best; maybe after all I don’t have comparable achievements with my childhood ambitions. Really, come to think of it, I’m still the same lanky girl with fuzzy hair and an oversized smile that loves a good yarn.

Where does this leave me in the big wide world? From having a weird obsession with coastal dunes, I’ve ended up in coastal management – surprise, surprise, I’m stuck with sand between my toes. A field that requires multidisciplinary, creative and adaptive skills, yay! As well as patience and the ability to turn frustration into a laughing matter to mitigate stress levels that could turn any shade of youth into wirily white hairs.

I really have no intention for this tangent (hence a tangent), however, what I am trying to chip away at is raise awareness about the nature of the field. It calls for all folk to be engaged and contribute, and boring or not, it is serious stuff. Especially considering that my local stretch of coast is one of Australia’s most significant tourism assets and bearing in mind the state of the beaches, it’s fringing frustrating to read and hear about the lack of interest from the State Government to manage their land. Or even read that the Queensland Premiere compares our beaches to the Brisbane River – as in the Gold Coast Bulletin today. Mmm!

So, on a local community front, it is encouraging to see prominent Gold Coasters hash tag fix our beaches to raise awareness about coastal issues. Further, me, myself and I, with other coastal youngsters personally contribute to the birthing of youth action for coastal sustainability. More so, hear about an alignment of national coastal organisations in the pipeline to promote coastal advocacy from the east to west, and north to south.

Where does this leave you? Most likely, now, sooner or later you’ll be standing on the edge of an eroded beach thinking, I thought hash tagging would bring back the beach? The truth is that we will only achieve a real outcome when we integrate all campaign approaches and part of this includes breaking barriers with every politician and decision-maker to ensure they get the message. The message being – we need a three-tier-government approach to protect, enhance and manage all of our nation’s coastal frontline.

This seems simple, right? When broken down it’s just like learning ABC-123; challenging at first though once understood, goals and dreams can be achieved.

#ismyhashtaggoingtofixthebeach? Maybe, if #kevinrudd #caresforthebeach…