Unfortunately I have been really rather inactive on social media lately and I can only apologise. I have nothing to blame except a very full schedule and truly terrible organisation skills!
September saw the first social event hosted by Starting the Change; a Pot Luck dinner held at the Birkdale House. The turn out was small but good, so definitely an example of quality over quantity, and the food we shared was a fine example of of our differing backgrounds. The following Sunday morning some of the guests turned out despite the cold, to join some of the regular clean-up crew on their Shepherd’s Park clean up. It’s interesting how our Beach Haven clean ups have the biggest haul at the end, but the smallest number of participants… I wonder what that means? As the main user group of Shepherd’s Park, the Birkenhead Football Club were invited to join us but they declined to respond let alone show up. I thought this was a huge shame and a poor example of social responsibility but hey, what can you do? The amount of rubbish (particularly along the Melba St edge) was just insane, and I was surprised at the number of black sacks of household rubbish (including an old cord phone and a television) that had been dumped in the bush at the Cresta Ave entrance. In fact, the amount of rubbish that we couldn’t retrieve in the four hours we spent there has left me quite distressed.
Also in September, on Friday 18th I returned to the high school I graduated from 10 years ago, as a keynote speaker at their sustainability assembly. I spoke mostly about why sustainability matters and why it should matter to them. I tried to convey the idea that the future really is in their hands and that they have the power to make it something beautiful, or something dead. What an experience. As those of you who know me already know, I tend to shy away from the meet and greet part of events, not because I’m rude but because it literally TERRIFIES me. I have no idea why, but it does. Whenever I speak to a group of more than say 3 people I can’t even hear myself talk and I feel like I’m on fire. So the idea of speaking on a stage to an entire school was sheer panic. Anyway, I did it and I survived! My gorgeous boyfriend, his flatmate, and my mother were all in attendance and assured me that the nerves weren’t visible to anyone but me. I’ve often heard of people returning to their old school to guest speak and I’ve always kind of thought of it as a sign of being a successful grown up. I also never thought it would be something I was ever asked to do. Now that I have, I can honestly say that I do not feel grown up, nor do I feel successful! However, I do feel extremely privileged to have that experience under my belt.
Speaking of public speaking (but on a much smaller scale this time), I was invited by the Kaipatiki Project to help co-ordinate, and give the introduction, at their two street clean-ups for a Mini Ecofest held in October. How exciting! The first one was held in Beach Haven, and again, proved the huge haul tiny turn-out theory. This time I was shocked by the amount of rubbish sitting on peoples front lawns like they just didn’t care. I was also quite baffled by the fact that I had to explain to the group at least 6 times what we were doing, then tell everyone individually, and even then they still didn’t seem sure. That wasn’t what took the cake though. Two blokes watching me drag an entire, full sized car seat 100m up the road also didn’t take the cake (I’m 5 foot and barely weigh 50kg by the way), but what did was when I asked a child of about 8 years what he was going to do with the bicycle wheel he wanted to keep, and his slightly older brother responded with “smash you in the face with it”. After a slightly gob-smacked pause I said “well that isn’t very nice is it?” THEN the father (without even turning around to look at the offender) repeated me. Could.Not.Believe.It. Oh, this was the clean up where I found several skulls, possibly sheep?? who knows.
The next clean up was held in Browns Bay, and was a much bigger success if I may say so myself. We had a huge turn out in comparison, including a group from Unique English School, Girl Guides, a gospel church, and the University of Auckland volunteers. The rain held off until just after pizza, and a reasonably big haul was gathered. There were no threats of violence from minors, no skulls, no car seats, and no vegetarian pizza at the end. I was surprised… that’s the first time I have been somewhere and not been able to eat because there was no veggie option. Well, actually, the first time was the week before at the Beach Haven clean up.
All in all though, wonderful events carefully organised by the Kaipatiki Project and I was honored and crazy excited that they thought of me to co-ordinate them. The ladies and one gentlemen I worked with were lovely people and I look forward to hopefully fostering a good relationship with them in the future.
To follow up the Browns Bay clean up I did a couple of hours collecting for the Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Awareness Street Appeal for the second year in a row. What was really cool about this was that the two ladies I did the shift with we both also at the clean up in the morning. It gave me warm and fuzzies to know that people do actually care about others enough to give up pretty much their whole Sunday for good causes.
On top of all of these, in between the guest speaking and the clean ups and bucket shaking, I attended a Sustainable Coastlines hui in Manukau, regarding an epic clean up of the Manukau Harbour early next year. This will be a sequence of events in conjunction with Seaweek 2016, with a strong focus on the cultural value of the harbour. If you’re unfamiliar with the Manukau Harbour please give it a quick Google. I honestly believe it could be one of New Zealand’s best kept secrets, it’s such a hidden beauty.
Anyway, stay in touch for updates on that, and some other exciting projects that I’m currently cooking up with New Zealand Institute of Education in Takapuna- their gonna be good!
See you at the Soldier’s Bay clean up, 11am Sunday 25th October, and don’t forget to check out photos on http://www.facebook.com/startingthechange