I am a drought baby, my childhood memories are largely connected to one of the worst droughts Australia has ever endured. I felt and observed the impacts of a changing climate on rural communities.
It was a time of financial, social and emotional challenges due to a lack of water, but I am thankful.
Living through this experience has largely contributed to the passionate and persistent young lady I am today.
I am GREEN. I’m a tree hugger (despite never draping my arms around a tree, ok maybe once), a greenie and a modern day hippie.
I can’t help it. I appreciate the ants, the purpose of fallen branches, the bees, the soil and all the tiny microorganisms that I will never see.
I am not ashamed to admit to being green, despite that in my rural community there is sometimes an enormous negative stigma attached to this perceived group of crazy, idealist people who care for the environment. The very thing that supports and enables my community to thrive.
Despite a sense of negativity towards environmentalists or these so called Greenie types, one cannot be fooled, for my community is blessed with a magnitude of people who care for the land. These individuals who make up the majority of our community do not need a name or category, for it should just be the norm, unspoken values that all rural people share.
I am filled with inspiration as I begin to connect with my community. There is Kristie, who is off the grid and uses only renewable energy sources. Next is Jim, who keeps bees and free range chooks in his back yard, there is Linda who asks, ‘Is she a Greenie’ (like it’s a bad thing) and I respond with ‘Aren’t we all, didn’t you just plant some trees in your garden?’ She contemplates her connection. Dairy farmer Stuart is using pig manure for fertiliser to spread on his farm, replacing artificial fertilisers. I met Chrystal who is planting 7000 indigenous trees and shrubs on her dairy farm and Tom who has just installed solar on his house. Michael lives just down the road where he is growing organic garlic and our next door neighbour has a 20 hectare wattle plantation.
My community illustrates that small contributions when connected make large scale, exciting change.
People are taking action, it’s inspiring and I am celebrating.
I don’t mind if people call me a Greenie, because in my community we are all a little bit green, in varying scales and in different streams. Things are changing, we are beginning to embrace our role as environmental stewards, and recognise earth is our life support both economically and socially.
Luckily for me I can be blue, yellow or purple, I am resilient, flexible and full of hope for a sustainable future in regional Australia.
ABC HeyWire submission, 2014.