Published 07 March 2016
With our highly popular ‘The Small Changes’ series back this year, we welcome a new host, Tina Perinotto. Ms Perinotto is managing editor, publisher and founder of The Fifth Estate, an online newspaper for green buildings and sustainable cities, established in 2009. Tina’s had a long held passion for environmental issues and publishing. In 2008, after attending an architecture event in Sydney, she discovered there were many people undertaking inspiring sustainability projects but nobody was writing about these projects “in a consistent way or shining a light on these people”. And thus, The Fifth Estate was born – a collaboration with the industry that maintains the editorial policies of a regular business publication.
The major emphasis of The Fifth Estate is to provide a platform for the industry sector, which in turn gives a degree of transparency to the sector’s actions. “I think that simply being present and covering as much as possible of industry news and views we must be helping to create a sense of community, a kind of safe place where people’s work is accorded respect, simple acknowledgement, or critiquing,” Ms Perinotto said. A recent example of the success of the publication was its significant coverage of changes to the Building Code of Australia that were going to impact energy standards. The article received many hits and by early February this year, it was evident that that Building Codes Board had listened and backtracked on its proposals.
Additionally, The Fifth Estate has hosted a variety of sustainability events. These started with a political salon with then Greens Leader Christine Milne, former Premier of SA Mike Rann and political strategist Bruce Hawker about why the ‘green agenda’ was being derailed. The team has built on that platform with similar events in Sydney and Perth, attracting around 90 people for each. The audience is given an opportunity to challenge the panellists with soapboxes and microphones placed around the room. The latest innovations are their ‘symposia style’ events, which are a calmer learning environment on more technical topics. All events are recorded, written about in e-books and distributed for free.
Tina says she’s excited to be hosting ‘The Small Changes’ series this year. She’s also looking forward to listening to the audience responses of “intelligent, well-informed people focused on a particular issue”. “I think these discussion events are the fuel of solving our problems. It’s a creative process that can often come up with brilliant gems,” she said.
‘The Small Changes’ has a line-up of exciting new conversations, in association with Sydney Ideas. These events share research on how we can make those small changes to our every day in order to save our environment. All events feature researchers from the University of Sydney alongside practitioners.
“I think the build up of a grass roots movement can go quite un-noticed by many for a long time until it reaches critical mass. Then it erupts and some people wonder where the movement came from. It’s then that politicians are forced to act,” Ms Perinotto said. “I recall someone I heard speak at a conference or other saying that politicians don’t lead, they follow. It’s up to us to give them the confidence to take action.”
The first event of the series kicks off on Wednesday 23 March ‘Coastal vulnerability to sea level rise’ with Associate Professor Abbas El-Zein, School of Civil Engineering, University of Sydney, and Research Fellow Tayanah O’Donnell, University of Canberra, unpacking the complexities associated with rising sea levels and the decision-making being made at a municipal level.
Click here for more details about all the events in the series.