Things Change


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In October 2014 I travelled to Borneo to witness firsthand what is happening to the rainforests that support these fragile animals. My tour was short and encompassed only a portion of the story. There is much yet to be learned. The incredible respect and hospitality of the lovely people we met will remain in my heart for the rest of my life. Dayak people and the Orangutans that live amongst them fill me with hope as do the “warriors” striving to create change. Like koalas, they make me want to continue in my efforts to speak up for the voiceless in this life.

Orang-utans are hanging by a delicate thread of imbalance and are threatened in the wild forests they call home. Over 80% of the rainforests in which they live have been destroyed. Their needs to be greater accountability for the decline in Orang utans within these forests. The Dayak people are working to do something different and they are fighting back with ingenuity and permaculture principals. There is a line of disagreement between  groups as to “sustainable” Palm Oil and many arrows have been shot in these polarities. Can there really be such a thing as “sustainable” palm oil? Or not?? There seems to be a very distinct polar divide between the two ideas and yet can there not be a compromise and an ability to forgive and move forward creating solutions together? Through the efforts of a few, may these efforts become many and may we see the change that we need to see for the future of a species. There is no time to point fingers and there is no time to waste. There is time to work together.

I accompanied the “Rise of the Eco-Warriors” team and photographed and witnessed the workings of the small villages of the Dayak people in West Kalimantan, Borneo. We lived in a Long House. We shared time and meals and there were challenges to be faced. I was challenged with equipment issues. My camera lens broke. My computer stuffed up and tiny little ants crawled out of the laptop which led to hard-drive failure. Perhaps there was a message in this!  When I returned, I was not sure if I could recover my photos, but thankfully, I did and I am grateful for the smiles these images bring today. I had no idea how this experience would affect my life, or how profound it would be. It is only now, when I put together the puzzle of this past year, that I can see. For me, Borneo was an escape and yet also a reminder of what is truly important.

As you fly over hectares and hectares of rainforest destroyed, you see the wake of dead and degraded soil unable to sustain life, human or animal alike. Waters:poisoned! Trees: burnt and Co2 waste escaping into the atmosphere! Climate change is profoundly impacted by this destructive process to produce cheap oil for human consumption. Do we “need” these products that are contributing to this destruction? I think not,as I line my shelves with products that do no harm but many do not even understand the impact of their decisions as a consumer in today’s modern world. I live with less as did the people in these villages. Through their simplicity and their way of life, I listened and I learned. We swam in the cool rushing river with the children. There was a great rhythm and flow to every day. There was also spontaneity and joy in shared value without any language necessary to comprehend. We waded and played in the waters after the rain. We laughed. We cried. We connected. We lived!

When we left the village of Tembak, we were able to give.One of the women’s tribal leaders, “Imu” Florentina, was very ill with the devastating effects of cancer. We were able to give her transport and help to raise funds to ensure the surgery she required. It is though such efforts that Countries connect and a shared journey becomes one.

I see parallels in my work in Australia with koalas. In order to be a part of speaking out for our wildlife, we must be brave and bold and this can be difficult. I rebel against the protocols and procedure and bureaucratic regulations that prevent change. We can only see effective change when we look for new ways with respect to “old” values. Our fast paced world has often forgotten these as we are a world out of balance. With each new government change, we must start again and look to be better. As time is ticking, there is no better time than the present to stand up and be heard!  We are all connected and the only way forward is to collectively make a difference. Let’s take “ego” out of the equation and do better in Conservation Circles. This chance will be had as we meet this week to discuss a “Koala Protection Act”. I look forward to meeting with others that care “doing what is best for koalas”. I can only hope that these collective ideas formed and efforts made will lead to a better future. Hope, Truth and Belief are the keys.

On November 28th 2014, everything changed in our family in a way that we had not imagined.  Through tragedy and trauma and blunt awareness, we all realise that the only time is now! In an instant, everything can change forever. That is for next time….

In the meantime, you may enjoy reading more about this amazing trip below from fellow travellers or contribute just $1 to help support one of my friends that is going back! The choice is yours!

http://www.youcaring.com/mission-trip-fundraiser/help-save-the-orangutans-for-as-little-as-1-00/292585

http://www.ecowarriorsrise.com

http://blog.cifor.org/2607/could-orangutan-conservation-be-helped-by-the-heavens#.VPz9QkK6jEY

http://www.bendessen.com.au/uncategorized/back-to-borneo/

http://alushforest.blogspot.com.au

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We Are One


 ConnectedI met T in January when she was speaking onstage at the Woodford Folk Festival inside the “Green Room”. Her topic was “Transformative Activism”. As I recently had begun this journey of alliance and bringing people together to achieve the perceived unachievable, we were heading towards something extraordinary together on parallel paths, entering into a world of known and unknown simultaneously. It was time for a change and a time to build a new story. These words spoke directly to my soul and I listened. I was captivated. Today, her words and her recommendations lie deep within me and motivate me to move forward sometimes in the face of doubt. I am grateful as I speak the truth.

Pure joy and deep emotion crossed the lines of what it meant to be an activist in T’s eyes. Her warm and welcome smile and American accent drew me in. I felt a connection and a mutual understanding. Her mannerisms and the way she tilted her head led me to feel truly heard and understood. She was like a breath of fresh air in a world closed and “all good”. We spoke briefly over a cuppa as she engaged in deep conversation with each person under that warm tent on that stormy day. The moisture and humidity hung thick in the air like a curtain waiting to fall. I knew that we would meet again. I could feel it in my heart.

 

The Festival ended and we kept missing each other as we tried to communicate and catch up. Time passed and then an email relationship began over the planning of our Workshop. Email became skype and we could “see” each other. I learned of the “stand up” workstation that she created for herself and that I will create now as I build the new editing studio. Detail was exhibited and T’s deep process led to many hours planning, molding and forming the content of the creative space we would engage in at Wild Mountains. I continued to be awed by the purity of spirit and heart that was expressed over time. She shared a copy of “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible” (Sacred Activism) by Charles Eisenstein and I continue to reference this in process of our connection and to those that attended the workshop. Words such as “Hope shows us a destination, but a vast territory, the territory of despair, lies between it and us.” Come from this writing and ring true.

 

Our workshop was an exercise of wonder. We came together from all states of Australia and the combined facilitation and venue were perfect. The rustic nature of accommodation proved difficult and challenging for some but this was all a part of the process. T, once again, showed resilience and integrity as she maneuvered and adapted to the change and direction that was led by all. Cynicism led to hope and connection. Campfire stories became truths and secrets to hold onto. We were in this together and the road was just being paved. In just one weekend we journeyed deep and far. The momentum now, is wavering but beginning to take shape.

I go back to the stage at “Woodford” and I feel that hope as I go on. We burned the heart and are creating our web inside the parameters of the now. I thank T for inspiring a change within that holds true to the “new” story being written out of the ashes of despair. As we write this new story, we let go of the ways that no longer serve and speak up bravely for what we know to be true.

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Save the Reef Contemplation and Challenge


Save the Reef Contemplation and Challenge

Contemplation Challenge

When I saw this writing challenge this morning, it inspired  me to reflect upon my weekend and how I dealt with the challenge of utter despair and disgust I felt, in response to the decisions of the Australian Goverment regarding the Great Barrier Reef. On Friday, 31st January, it was announced that despite high public response and contradiction from around the world, Environmental Minister Greg Hunt and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, will give the go ahead to dump 3 Million cubic metres of waste into our ocean! How ludicrous that a World Heritage Listed site and a site known around the World for it’s pristine waters and diverse marine life is going to be polluted through the waste and destruction of mining spoils. It seems that all around this beautiful country, the Australian government is making short-sighted decisions for the long-term future for our environment. The seas will be raped and pillaged, denying science and common sense in the name of greed and progress if we do not do something. Government and business state that science is the leader in their decision and in their application but as this goes ahead, we are likely to see the same international embarrassment that is occurring in the minds of scientists as climate change is ignored and denied.  Where will we be when the oceans die and our water will not be pottable?  Will true science then be denied and ignored or will science even matter when it is too late?? I believe that we all must stand up and say NO to this as we look at ways to turn this decision and change the course in which we are headed. This view is something we must preserve for our future and the future of our families!

As this photo-view represents that faraway gaze many of us portray when we are looking out to see, I wonder in amazement at the vast gap between where I perceive this to be and where I am now. Just a few short months ago, I was on a similar rock amongst the tidepools in Laguna Beach Ca. I gazed out and stared towards my new homeland and wondered if there was anyone over there staring back at me through the mirror of an ocean mirage. Today, I stare back and I want to hide my head with embarrassment as to what this country is planning for the future of our land and our sea.What will our children be left with and how do I explain to my own children, the actions of others who seemingly care little beyond their next paycheck. Will this greed in their pockets give them clean water to drink and shelter from the extremity of climate change weather?

What does the future hold for me?

What does the future hold for me?

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I began my quest last weekend to stay positive in this force of negativity by attending the SaveOurSharks Rally in Burleigh Heads, Qld Australia. February 1st was my birthday. I asked my family to join me and we had a lovely day out showing our support of the apex predators that govern the balance of our seas. The protest saw 10’s of thousands across Australia speaking out for the Sharks and although this support is worthy, we need to find a way to reach those who are caught up in the fear and ignorance that goes hand in hand with the limited knowledge and understanding that many have regarding our sustainable future.

My passion is for koalas because they touched my heart and soul in those first few days that I was on Australian soil. As I looked out towards the sea on that day, behind me sat a koala in a tree that also was gazing out into the tea tree bay with contemplation. Perhaps that koala saw what I saw and if that wise soul saw the path we would take in just 5 short years, I wish he could have warned me. The koalas of Noosa National Park are disappearing and one day their presence here in the wild will be no more. Our group is focused on making as much of a difference as possible and yet we are caught up in red tape and bureacracy! We keep repeating the “old” story rather than embracing the “new”. In 5 years, we have lobbied govrnment to no avail. We continue to ghave meetings. I would like to see these meetings stop and for the action to start! We have volunteered and stepped up our education and awareness programs. A sanctuary is a solution for the future of some koalas but we need 10 sanctuaries across their natural range or 100, in order to maintain those that are hanging by a thread amidst danger and disease and the very real threat of extinction in the wild.

With this, comes the full circle that humans are creating on land and in the sea. The crash course in education and awareness is spreading. People are standing up and joining forces to create a “new” story through an evolution of change.

This is what I see, as I gaze out and as others gaze out beside me. I find hope in the Alliance that we have formed and through the relationship with “new” people with “new” ideas in “new” places. Our stories are all one: with the whales, the dolphins, the sharks, the koalas, the flying fox and all the living and breathing inhabitants of this earth! I was trained in science but I am not a scientist per-se. I am just a woman with a heart for all.

I will take this new writing challenge and embrace my thoughts and fears and dreams and share with others. I believe that if we work together, we can change the world and at this moment more now than ever, the World needs us to be the pioneers for a sustainable future. Won’t you join me? It is not too late. 🙂

Everyday Welcome from Australia


Hi,

I am beginning a blog to discuss the issues that concern me and to share a bit of my world. Feel free to comment and become a part of the conversation!

Those of you who know me, know that I am passionate about family, healthy living, sustainability and conservation. My energy is focused on the koalas of SE Queensland, Australia and beyond as I have been working with these amazing marsupials since 2009.

EVERYTIME I say or do something, I want this word or action to speak the truth and be valuable to those I come in contact with.

I wake up every DAY and I think what can I do today to help make the world a better place to be. I greet my animals and my family and we begin our day.

FOREVER, let my work become an example to those around me. Let it inspire the children and their future. Let it serve the animals and the planet we live on together.