Southbank Sustainability Group
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” - Desmond Tutu Doing our little bit of good starts with doing a little bit of good towards ourselves. Engaging in nurturing and self-care first. Then extending that little bit of good and care to other people and our planet. This has been our theme lately. In our own backyard With all that is happening, plus our meetups and some major projects we’re working to deliver for the Southbank community put on hold (like Southbank’s first communal composting hub), you may have noticed a shift on our Facebook page to eco-themed nurturing and self-care, including therapeutic gardening tips (thanks to our amazing new communications champion, Isabella Donelli). Like this week’s Sustainable Spotlight on the Calendula flower. Historically used for medicinal and culinary purposes, it’s edible or can be brewed into tea. Even without harvesting anything, spending a bit of time in the community garden during your walk, surrounded by life-giving plants grown with love can have a therapeutic and uplifting effect on our mood and produce feel-good chemicals in our brains. Part of our mission is to build up the Southbank community and make climate action feel fun and manageable, after all. Head to our Facebook page this month for our guide on how to create different types of tea using organically grown ingredients you can find in the community garden, or even grow on your balcony. Our educational teams are also providing information on Green Electricity and Zero Waste Living in Southbank. In case you missed it, last month we released a video on making DIY beeswax wraps – a great solution for cutting out single-use plastic wraps, and a great activity to do at home. We’re also reorganising our community Spring Planting in a way that you can still get involved while adhering to COVID regulations. Watch our Facebook page or email us if you’re interested in participating or would like to access any of our solutions-focused videos and content. Why we’re doing this We need to receive good and do good for ourselves before extending it to others. To slightly paraphrase Doreen Virtue, “You fear that if you receive good, you’ll take away from someone else. As you give to yourself, so you also give to others. You and the entire human race share one spirit, one breath, and one truth. As you do with Mother Earth. It’s impossible to separate what you do to yourself and what you do for others. It’s like trying to nurture and feed only certain leaves on a tree. That’s impossible, of course, but it’s exactly what you’re trying to do when you attempt to put yourself last. Giving to yourself or receiving good doesn’t mean that you think, ‘I’m better than others; rather it signifies, I love that which I see within myself and others’. Your loving self-care comes as a benefit for all. Nurture yourself as a way of caring for your family, friends, community, and Mother Earth. Value yourself as a means of cherishing every creature on Earth. Honour yourself to pay tribute to all others.” IPCC report outtake You are probably already aware of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, showing that climate change is widespread, rapid, and intensifying. More than 200 authors from the scientific community worked on this report, with more than 78,000 comments on drafts, more than 14,000 scientific papers and one million words reviewed, making IPCC reports the world’s most authoritative source of climate change information. Every sentence is powerful because each one has been read and approved by scientists and government officials from 195 countries. This report has been a collaboration like no other in history, telling of a more definitive picture and direction individuals and policy makers need to take. (Source and recommended read: theconversation.com/communicating-climate-change-has-never-been-so-important-and-this-ipcc-report-pulls-no-punches-165252). The one key takeaway from the report we can run with; is that the time to start making small changes and demanding better from our shops, organisations, leaders, and ourselves, is now. It highlights that the window for effective action is closing rapidly but is still there. The longer we wait the harder it will get, yet a good climate future is still in our hands. We just need to act and build more momentum now to 2030. As per the IPCC, emissions must be halved by 2030 to stay below a two-degree shift and we need a fivefold increase of Paris agreement targets. It may feel daunting but it’s doable. One moment, one action, one choice at a time. The report also highlights that the benefits of stronger action can be experienced within our lifetimes, in the next 20 to 30 years. And as with all changes and big global shifts, the change we want needs to start from us and within us first. We now know that Australians are three times more worried about climate change than COVID. These are big anxiety-causing ticket items. Plus, all the side effects, fear, life upsets, and life changes the pandemic brought on. Many Australians are struggling to cope. It’s strongly reported that a mental health crisis is looming, with eco-anxiety, climate disaster-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and future-orientated despair emerging as major mental health related disorders (as reported by The Conversation, August 6, 2021). This is why it is especially important to practice good self-care and self-nurturing to effectively combat eco-anxiety and to tend to our mental health in a way that is healthy and healing, that keeps us present in the now and mindful. It is only then that we can expand that and show Mother Earth and fellow human beings the love, respect, and positive change we all deserve. How we combat and rebalance While the heavy psychological impact of this unequivocally human-made problem is undeniable and can feel overwhelming, we have to shift our vision to all the wins and the good changes already happening in the world, gaining momentum, to remotivate ourselves (from successful litigations, successful shifts in economic models and policies in countries like Scotland that take into account climate action, companies shifting to genuinely sustainable practices, regenerative projects, and sustainable product alternatives). This problem was created by several small actions taken by all of us. It’ll take small actions by all of us to solve it. We must shift our focus on how we contribute to solutions, one small action at a time. Whether that’s increasing self-care to stay buoyant from eco-anxiety (eventually moving us into better choices and outward action that builds momentum) or thinking through the impact of our actions and choices a bit more carefully, then choosing a bit more mindfully. Thinking through where we direct our thoughts, energy, time, dollars, votes, and actions. Every little bit of good counts. The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020, shows how Australia ranked last on climate policy and action, globally. We know by now that we can’t rely solely on waiting for decision makers to make the right decisions or policies and take mass action. We know that these changes and actions need to start from us, individually and collectively at a local level. From there, change comes, momentum builds, pressure is applied to organisations and policy decision-makers, then bigger change comes. The time is now, and it starts with nurturing ourselves and each little choice and decision we make. A solution that’s been reported to work very well for effective and sustained action, is by joining a local group, preferably solutions focused. Like ours or one million women. It’s been shown that when in a group, people feel far more empowered and motivated to take ongoing action than individually. Also, community groups sit between government and individuals and can motion a lot of change and action through their clout and the momentum they create. How you use your voice, your time, your choices really matters. You are still seen, your voice still matters, your actions still matter. Even if it’s hard to remember that right now with long periods of isolation. You matter. Your choices matter. Even the smallest ones. Like taking a moment before we buy something and think, do I really need it? Is there a local business/producer that provides a more sustainable/environmentally conscious version of it? To lastly quote distinguished researcher and Professor Lesley Hughes, the former federal Climate Commissioner and lead author in the IPCC’s fourth and fifth assessment reports, “Hope has to be a strategy as much as it is an emotion. Even more so. We don’t have the luxury of not being hopeful. Every fraction matters. Every choice matters. Every year matters.” Take good care, Southbank • About the group A solutions-focused group of Southbankers working to bring positive change in sustainability practices and education to our neighbourhood, while building a wonderful community. Free to join. 2019 Environment Melbourne Award & KVB 2020 Sustainable Cities Environment Award winner. Reach us at southbanksustainabilit[email protected] or facebook.com/SouthbankSustainabilityGroup.