At the time I was
doing re-vegetation work along the river at Warrandyte and Eltham, when
I saw a forest meeting promoted in the Friends of the Earth newsletter.
I went along and that was it.
I have been involved
Although I began
my learning curve about forest issues at Friends of the Earth, a major
part of my efforts on forest protection has been carried out through community
collectives such as the Melbourne Tarkine* Action Group, which I helped
form in 2003 and that worked on Tasmanian forests.
That was an amazing
group to be part of. It was about 20 people who were really into grass-roots
action. It was a beautiful, non-hierarchical, consensus based group. Everyone
was really empowered to do what they were good at, what they loved and
every one had a significant role in our function and success.
Some were good at
organizing, some were great at culture jamming and things like that, some
were good at the creative and visual aspects and others had the ideas.
But we all had great enthusiasm to raise awareness and make a stand on
Old Growth forest destruction. It just fell together really well as a
group. We were non-aligned.
We met in Ross House
where the Wilderness Society was and we had a desk at Friends of the Earth.
We were doing actions almost every week for about 6 months. It was inspiring.
We organized an art
exhibition with 'Artists for Tarkine' (a sub-group of Artists for Charity).
They really came in behind us - they raised tens of thousands of dollars
for our campaign.
After the Federal
election in 2004, I decided I had been working on forests for a while,
and wanted to shift gears. Although I had been predominantly focused on
the 'natural' environment in my activist life, particularly during my
uni years I have deepened my understanding and engagement in social justice
issues as well.
I believe society
and nature are inseparable. If we want a truly just and sustainable future
you can't separate them. Friends of the Earth isthe only formal organization I know that
integrates social justice and environmental issues, as well as having
a grass-roots, non-hierarchical structure with a strong emphasis on change,
not just reform, that suites me very well.
These days I am now
working there as joint International Liaison Officer with Damian Sullivan.
It is a great position. I am really interested in working internationally.
Since travelling solo in South America in the year proceeding high school,
I have been studying Spanish, (as well as Geography) at University.
I realized early
on that having a second or even third language would be invaluable given
my passions and the investment of that time is already paying off. As
Friends of the Earth International operates in French and Spanish as well
as English, I have already been able to use my Spanish skills in my position
to the benefit of FoE Australia and the global network.
I am also looking
forward to studying in South America where I might further develop my
language skills as well as have the opportunity of learning about ideas
surrounding poverty, power and environmental sustainability from a non-Western
perspective, education which I consider invaluable.
At the start of this
year I helped form another group called Friends of the Earth Action Collective
(FOEAC) because I thought that although Friends of the Earth has a good
reputation locally, it could gain from more public exposure at the state
level. I thought an action group could tag on to certain international
days of celebration or mourning, and impart a Friends of the Earth message
or work with schools and the broader community.While
undertaking projects in these areas, the collective has also become very
interested on working on the Friends of the Earth Climate Justice campaign.
FoE seems to me to
be the only organisation that is looking at climate change as a social
justice issue as much as an environment issue. Hence FoE Action collective
has been really inspired to disseminate information about the social aspects
of climate change, particularly highlighting what will be the inevitable
development of millions of climate refugees if swift actions are not taken
to curb our greenhouse gas emissions.
* Tarkine is a large
wilderness area in the northwest of Tasmania.
It has about a hundred kilometres of old-growth temperate rainforest and
is one of the more significant tracts of rainforest in the world. It is
also surrounded by mixed forest and plains.
It has a mountain range in it and goes all the way down to the coast.
The whole area is a wilderness area.
There is only one road through, basically, the whole area and it is an
amazing place. Four hundred thousand hectares and a whole ecosystem.
It was one of the last places in Tasmania inhabited by the indigenous
people before they were moved off the main islands.
The Tarkinia people lived there - hence the name.
There are still Aboriginal middens and tent impressions all along the
It is a place of great natural and cultural significance and for the large
part it is not protected, although there are parts of the region in low-level
reserves and there is a small National Park.
It meets the criteria for World Heritage listing on both natural and cultural
It is on the WWF 200 significant world sites list.
Note: On 12th May 2005, John Howard, in line with his commitment in the
lead up to the 2004 Federal Election, which was brought on by strong pressure
from environmental groups such as
The Wilderness Society,
Australian Conservation Foundation,
the Tarkine National Coalition,
our humble little MTAG,
and of course the wider community, promised to protect over 80% of the
Rainforest Corridor in the Tarkine, one of the most significant tracts
of temperate rainforest on Earth.
We await action in line with his public commitment.
(Note that ALP's, the Democrat's and the Greens' policy at that time,
would have protected not just the rainforest, but the vast majority of
Old Growth forests in Tasmania).