16 Dec, 2018

Rising and resisting: harnessing the power of the positive for change


There’s a new grassroots activism emerging from deep within our communities - where knowledge is openly shared, creative strategies for change are hatched and movements unite for a common purpose.

On the Sunshine Coast, businesses are committing to operating more sustainability, individuals are sharing their knowledge to empower others and conversations are happening about how we can make the world a better place.

A group of change-makers gathered recently to share stories and hear from journalist, activist and expert on ethical fashion, Clare Press. Clare’s latest book Rise and Resist: How to Change the World is a call to arms that encouraging all of us to take impactful action.

Over a lunch of lovingly prepared food from Homegrown Café, Clare explained her book was inspired by the marches that sprung up across the world after Donald Trump’s inauguration, where people united to make their voices heard on a whole range of issues.

“[The marches were] about people getting together to say we want a better, fairer and more just future, one where we take care of one another, one that is feminist, yes but it is also about social justice and climate change justice. What they were saying was all these issues are interconnected,” Clare explained.

Clare immersed herself in change making communities around the world, writing from where the action happens to convey the authentic vigour of this new activism sweeping the world. Rise and Resist celebrates the passion of these individuals and the momentum-building strategies driving change - from the spark of an idea in a tiny town becoming a global movement to the café conversations that inspired #MeToo and the “kid warriors” behind the revolutionary March for Our Lives in the USA.

A common thread across the activists Clare connects with in her book and change makers here in our Sunshine Coast community are passion and a deep commitment to make a difference, regardless of the obstacles.

Sunshine Coast Sustainable Business Woman of the Year, Anne Gibson told the gathering that she established her business, The Micro Gardener, to support and empower people to grow their own food. A cancer diagnosis in 2004 was the catalyst for Anne and her family to completely transform their lifestyle. After her recovery, Anne founded the business to help people to create nutrient-dense food gardens in their own backyards.

“Many people are now having health issues…that allows me to connect with people on a personal level about preventative health. For me, it’s sowing seeds of knowledge, to be a ripple in a pond and start a home revolution whether it’s on a balcony or in a backyard,” Anne said.

Joanna Kristofferson, the dynamic owner of iJetski, explained that embracing sustainability in business is possible through leadership and determination. The 2018 Sunshine Coast Sustainable Woman of the Year is recognised for her work championing ocean health as well as her pioneering work developing a rapid detection test for Hendra virus, as a researcher at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

“Change is always scary and it is often easier to take the easy road. By creating a community around change and involving our others in creating that community, we bring people along with us,” Joanna said.

Clare notes that while it is common to feel overwhelmed by the current state of the environment and lack of action on issues such as climate change, real change only comes from making an effort.

“If you want to make that incredible food we were served by the Homegrown café and run a café in the most organic way, reduce waste and communicate to customers who might not get it, it’s all work isn’t it? You just have to knuckle down and do it.”

Anne concurs: “To become conscious consumers requires us to stop doing the things we have always done just because we have always done them or because it is convenient. It starts with every plate, every balcony and in every backyard…It’s our earth, it’s our life and if we want to create a better place, we’ve all got to step up.”

As a journalist who has worked in fashion for over 20 years (and currently Sustainability Editor-at-Large for Vogue Australia), Clare is committed to using her voice to change conversations around important issues. When the Rana Plaza factory disaster happened in Bangladesh in 2013, killing 1138 garment workers, Clare felt a responsibility to examine the fashion ecosystem and the roots of our “buy-and-discard” culture. The result was her 2016 book Wardrobe Crisis: How we went from Sunday best to fast fashion.

Clare believes that “changing the conversation changes the way we see the world”, encouraging each of us to talk to people who have different opinions, seek to understand their perspectives and be prepared to participate in difficult exchanges. It is these exchanges that offer opportunities to raise awareness and change minds.

Most importantly Clare urges us to get involved, and work together.

“We’ve all got these voices in our heads that tell us that we are too small and that the power is held by those people with money, or the system is how it is and we can’t fix or resist it. But together we can, together we are stronger,” Clare said.

If you know a change maker in our community who has an interesting story to tell, we would love to share their story with the Living Smart community. Please get in touch by making a comment below or email us.

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