‘Sustainability’ is older than you think

Sustainability is older than you think

Jeremy L. Caradonna’s new book, “Sustainability: A History,” finds that the notion of sustainability arose from early inklings in Western thought of the risks of over-exploiting the natural world. Caradonna, an associate professor of History at the University of Alberta, finds some of the first antecedents of our modern notions of sustainability in late 17th- and early 18th-century Europe.

Among his surprising discoveries is that many of sustainability’s forefathers were far from radical tree-huggers. They were, rather, aristocrats and colonialists—people hoping to profit from the land—who began to fear that the heedless plundering of natural resources could jeopardize the economy. The philosophy has since evolved in various directions; some now believe that social equity is a key part of a sustainable society. What the different offshoots share is respect for the planet’s limits—though debate will no doubt continue on the best ways to implement that principle.

Cardonna says: ” If you have a sustainability movement, you know you have a problem. The highlanders of New Guinea, who lived sustainably for 46,000 years, didn’t need a sustainability movement because they were just an inherently sustainable society. They had figured things out a long time ago. So the fact that people in Germany and France and England are talking about sustainability is a clue that something was going wrong. And the thing that was going wrong was that the society had been badly deforested.

“The guy who invents the term sustainability, or ‘Nachhaltigkeit’ in German, was Hans Carl von Carlowitz. In 1713, Carlowitz ws talking about the need to have a continuous supply of wood so that forges and mines can continue to function in Saxony.”

And on the matter of the fact that the concept of sustainability leaves a lot of room for interpretation, Caradonna adds: “It facilitates greenwashing for sure, because it’s a term that can be used and abused….What I think is fascinating is that it’s a really flexible discourse and allows for a lot of people to get into the tent together. And I think from a kind of political science-y point of view, it is useful and helpful to get everyone in the tent together.”

Re~post of Sustainability is older than you think |  The Boston Globe 

Read more: “Sustainability”: A History |  Oxford University Press

Getting back on track ~ BackTrack style

Backtrack picture

Starfish is a big supporter of BackTrack. In fact some of the first work we ever did was for BackTrack. This story explains why.

In 2006 Bernie Shakeshaft, a former ­Territory jackaroo who fell into social work, started a program called BackTrack in Armidale for kids who are seriously off track.

“School wasn’t workin’ for these kids,” says Shakeshaft, who begins many of his sentences with a long, deep rumble in the throat, like a contented cow. “Uhmmmmm so I thought I’d try somethin’ different, the opposite of what wasn’t workin’. Just because you’re no good at readin’ and writin’ it doesn’t mean you can’t f.kin’ learn.”

Come forward to today, and more than 400 kids have been through the program. 85% of them have gone on to full-time or part-time work, often as apprentices, or into further study.

Researchers from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at University of NSW and the University of New England have been evaluating the program’s effectiveness and are soon to publish a number of peer-reviewed papers. What they’ve discovered is that since BackTrack began, there’s been an incredible decline in Armidale’s crime rate. The four offences most commonly committed by teenagers — break and enter, trespass, assault, malicious damage — have dropped by 52 per cent. In nearby Tamworth, over the same period, the rates for the same crimes increased by about 90 per cent.

Ducky Weribone is in no doubt about the benefits from being a backtracker — he reckons he’d be in jail without it. “It’s been like a family to me,” says Ducky. By the time he’d arrived in Armidale, at 11 years of age, he’d been to five or six schools in Moree, Queanbeyan, Goulburn and a few places in between. When he started at Armidale High he couldn’t read and by Year 8 says Ducky: “I was just muckin’ up all the time. Tryin’ to fight people for no reason. I was jus’ tryin’ to get suspended so I didn’t have to go to school.”

And what does Ducky reckon of Bernie Shakeshaft? “He’s like a father to us boys.”

Kids like Ducky can imagine a different future for themselves, thanks to Shakeshaft. In Armidale, they call him The Kid Whisperer.

Re~post ~ Kids on the straight and the narrow  | The Australian 

See more ~ Backtrack

Bush benefits back pockets too

Bush regeneration

Replanting native forests and woodlands vegetation on Indigenous lands, especially across southern and eastern Australia, could help restore the nation’s native vegetation in places where it is needed, as well as store significant amounts of carbon, according to a new study.

The study, published in PLOS|ONE, concluded that bush replanting or regeneration could also provide a source of income and other benefits for Indigenous communities.

These benefits include the opportunity to work on country, increased knowledge and training, improved health and enhancing their management of traditional lands.

The team of researchers says that some of the 92Mha of Australia cleared since European settlement have the potential to be replanted or regenerated with native forests and woodlands. At Australia’s 2011-2012 carbon trading price of $23/tonne, 9.7 Mha of Indigenous land could be profitably used for carbon-farming to store the equivalent of 83Mt of carbon dioxide.

As well as storing carbon, the selections of revegetation areas was aimed at restoring each heavily cleared native vegetation type to at least 30 per cent of its pre-European settlement extent.

Repost of: Benefits of bush regeneration stack up fir environment and communities | Ecos Magazine 
See more ~ Biodiverse Planting for Carbon and Biodiversity on Indigenous Land | PLOS|ONE

Model Manual for The Youthie and other youth centres

The Youthie LogoStarfish has been engaged to research, review and update The Youthie’s Policy & Procedures Manual.

The impetus for this project is to prepare for the opening of the new Tamworth Regional Youth Centre in Coledale (December 2014). The youth centre is to be one of the first and few purpose designed and purpose built youth centres operating in Australia.

In keeping with Starfish’s charitable purpose, the youth centre policies and procedures manual will be made available under creative commons licence for other youth centres right across Australia to utilise ~ as well as to enable them to further build and refine the model over time.

Starfish acknolwedges The Youthie, Youth Action (formerly YAPA) and Auburn Youth Centre for their extensive work on the manual already, and for sharing their model policies and procedures for this initiative.

Read more about the new youth centre, which forms part of the NOW ~ neighbourhood, opportunities, working together ~ Initiative and The Youthie.

Read more about Starfish’s work on the Tamworth Youth Strategy.

Myall Creek Soundtrails App launched

Soundtrails Launch | McCrossins Mill Uralla

Soundtrails Launch | McCrossins Mill Uralla

Last Saturday in Uralla, Starfish was delighted to see the official launch of the Myall Creek Soundtrails App. It was the culmination of of a two year project we have been working on with a number of community groups. It is the first app of the Soundtrails program and is believed to be the first of its kind in the world.

The GPS-based program will give people access ~ through their smart phones ~ to an informative and entertaining “soundtrail” as they walk around the town. The Soundtrails Smart Phone App enables people to hear professionally produced soundscapes (including music, poetry, readings from historical documents and recordings of local people telling their own stories) relevant to the sites they are visiting.

It can be downloaded by going to the Soundtrails website on your mobile device and clicking on the “iPhone App Store” or “Android Google Play” icon. As you walk through the landscape, the GPS automatically activates the recordings as you enter the appropriate geographical area.

The app, which includes soundtrails for Uralla and Warialda as well as for Myall Creek was officially launched at McCrossin’s Mill, Uralla, last Saturday 30 August, by Dr Christina Spurgeon of QUT.

Starfish Director Dr Navjot Bhullar, spoke at the launch and talked about how Myall Creek’s story ~ from the horror of the massacre through to the healing possibility of reconciliation ~ is of national and international significance. She said: “There is as yet no Centre for Reconciliation operating on a year-round basis, anywhere on Earth. This is despite the sad truth that that Myall Creek’s horrific history is representative of what has occurred not only right across Australia, but in almost every other corner of the world: a violent war waged on indigenous peoples.”

“Today however, Myall Creek today represents something extraordinary ~ a shining beacon for the possibility of reconciliation. The seed of this has grown from the annual reconciliation and memorial attended by descendants of every side of that massacre ~ descendants of the victims, the murders, the landholders, the justice system and more.”

This app, Soundtrails provide a perfect way to share this powerful Myall Creek story. Soundtrails bring it to life through voices, songs, sounds and words. The use of this professionally produced technology makes Myall Creek available to visitors to the site any time of day and any time of the year ~ a digital record for ever more and a fitting way to share the story of the world’s oldest continuously living culture.” The GPS-based program will give people access through their mobile phones to an informative and entertaining “soundtrail” as they walk around the town.

Hamish Sewell, from The Story Project who created the Soundtrails App, said of the project: “Soundtrails is destined to become a whole new delivery system for experiencing stories on location,” he said. “It is simple, powerful, and highly evocative. If there’s a way to get local stories and local history into the heads of the younger generations, let alone people from across the world, then this is it.”

Starfish Initiatives was delighted to be part of a large community effort to launch the soundtrails app, along with partners including Uralla Arts, The Story Project, Queensland University of Technology, Australian Government, Uralla and Gywdir Shire Councils, Phoenix Foundry and New England Mutual.

Read more about the Myall Creek Centre for Reconciliation.

2014 Myall Creek Commemoration

[quote align=”right” color=”#999999″]”It is essential as contemporary Australians that we acknowledge that we are not responsible for what happened on our colonial frontier, but we are responsible for not acknowledging what happened. If we do not, our integrity as a nation is flawed and we are shamed as a people for perpetuating a lie – ‘Lest We Forget’.”

~ Dr Timothy Bottoms[/quote]
Baiame, Creator of all, from the beginning of time you have watched over the lives of all your children.

Give to us a shared vision of the kind of community that we could build together; unite us in our journey towards reconciliation; heal our wounds; and give to us courage and detemrination for the work that lies ahead of us.

We remember the past so that we may understand the present. We commit ourselves to the tasks of the present, so that our children and grandchildren may have a better tomorrow.

This year’s guest speaker was historian, Dr Timothy Bottoms, author of Conspiracy of Silence.

Dr Bottoms’ research highlights that Myall Creek Massacre marked the beginning of “… a major change in the attitude of the frontiersmen: the killings continued, but the whites kept quiet about it. Thus began Australia’s ‘conspiracy of silence’.”

Read Dr Bottoms’ memorial talk here and see a photographic essay of the ceremony below.

Can Australia’s conflicted Aboriginal history be taught with honesty?

Australia’s national curriculum is back in the public spotlight right now, with Aboriginal-Colonial conflict being a sore point of contention.

Starfish is a proud partner working on the Myall Creek Centre for Reconciliation. The Myall Creek Massacre is of profound significance to Australia’s education for for two reasons: first its historical significance as fact; and second, for the possibility of authentic reconcilitation that it represents.

The Myall Creek Massacre gives an horrific insight into Australia’s contemporary history. On 10 June 1838, armed stockmen rode onto Myall Creek Station outside Bingara in north-west NSW and massacred 28 Wirrayaraay men, women and children of the Gamilaroi people.

Unfortunately, this horrific act was not an exception.

What is exceptional though, is what followed: the Myall Creek Massacre was found in law to be fact. After two highly publicised criminal trials, most of the men responsible were found guilty and hanged.

Read more