The Change Review

Image by Branislav Nenin, sources via Shutterstock. Stock Image Id - 1098006998

When I first created a Podcast as part as my capstone project for the Master of Sustainability Program, I was already aware that when it came to making impactful sustainable change, society had reached a tipping point. Both my research and the course content taught throughout my Master of Sustainability had confirmed it: we could no longer take a back seat and ignore the ever-increasing (and worsening) signs of a planet and a civilisation in danger; and something drastic, powerful and brave needed to happen to pull us off this freight train hurtling towards an inevitable cliff edge. Yes, this much was clear to me, as I know it is clear for many of us.

However, what was not clear, and what was frustratingly dark, murky and evasive, was what this change looked like, how it could even happen, and whether we as individuals had any power at all to make any meaningful contribution towards a sustainable future. I decided that I needed to explore this further, as much for my own benefit as for anyone else’s, and the premise of my podcast became a platform where I could openly investigate the key questions I had: what changes are needed to ensure a sustainable future? How can these changes be effectively mobilised, supported and implemented? And what can everyday individuals do to contribute and be part of that change?

And so, the Change Review podcast was born. Drawing on my background in the fields of communications and anthropology, I recorded conversations with people who are out there, actively enacting change and making a difference in a practical, tangible way – whether as individuals or as part of a larger organisation or outfit.

The Change Review podcast

So far, the Change Review is five episodes, broken up into five separate interviews through which my guests and I explore their respective approaches to the concepts of change and sustainability, and I develop a deeper insight into my research questions.

My interviews were with the following people: Zoë Gauld-Angelucci from Greenpop (Cape Town, South Africa); Alex Iljadica from the Youth Food Movement (Australia); Lynn Hu from Spark-Y Action Labs (Minneapolis, Minnesota); Jodi Newcombe from Carbon Arts (Melbourne, Australia) and Pusanisa Kamolnoratep from Arts and Creative Education Research Network (part of Sydney University’s School of Education and Social Work).

Zoë Gauld-Angelucci from Greenpop

Based in Cape Town, South Africa, Greenpop are all about greening the planet and making the process fun, popular, and engaging. I chat with Zoë, Head of Communications with the ‘treevolutionary’ organisation, about what Greenpop are working towards, where they position themselves in terms of creating a sustainable future, and how they go about activating change.

Alex Iljadica from the Youth Food Movement

A national volunteer-led organisation in Australia, the Youth Food Movement runs empowering food education projects for young people. I spoke with Alex Iljadica, co-founder of the Youth Food Movement in Australia, about some of the ways we should be changing up our approaches when it comes to food and nutrition, and about taking responsibility for our part in the food system.

Lynn Hu from Spark-Y Action Labs

Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, not-for-profit youth empowerment organisation, Spark-Y, focus on hands-on education in sustainability alongside fostering entrepreneurship within the young people they teach. Community Outreach Coordinator Lynn Hu and I discuss the role of the Spark-Y organisation in creating change, why the youth are such an important demographic to be targeting, and how collaboration and community are key factors in ensuring a sustainable future.

Jodi Newcombe from Carbon Arts

Based in Melbourne, Australia, Carbon Arts is all about finding creative solutions for climate change. Bringing together arts, science, economics and technology, Carbon Arts fosters collaboration and communication between these disciplines themselves, and with the greater public to encourage engagement with environmental challenges. Jodi and I talk about the relationship between society and art, the vital role that art and culture play in shaping our response to climate change, and the power of collaboration and community.

Pusanisa Kamolnoratep from Arts and Creative Education Research Network (part of Sydney University’s School of Education and Social Work)

In this episode, I spoke with fellow Master of Sustainability student, Pusanisa Kamolnoratep, about her workshop Contemplative Arts for Climate Change, which she developed and delivered for the Arts and Creative Education Research Network, part of Sydney University’s School of Education and Social work. With her background in social work and communications, Pusanisa talks to me about how she delved into the world of contemplative art to create an interactive environment where people could address key sustainability challenges, hoping to empower them to create change in their individual lives.

For me, there were several powerful takeaways from each of these conversations – but there was one key understanding, one specific realisation from this project that really hit me: don’t do change alone.

Sure, it may not be a new concept to those who have been in the sustainability game longer than I have, but to me, it was like a light bulb switched on. It was a breakthrough in my own understanding of how we are to achieve a sustainable future, and it provided a level of clarity for me to be able to envisage the next steps that might be required to progress both as an individual and as a society.

‘Don’t do change alone’ means that the best thing we can do as individuals and for the future of our planet is to find our people, find our community, and get involved somehow. If we do that, and if we each begin contributing to our community in some way, then we’re already beginning to bridge that gap between helplessness and confusion, and positive, effective action. By bringing together individuals with shared values and expectations, we can use our strength in numbers to create a more powerful voice for change; we can lobby for what we want and have a greater impact.

‘Don’t do change alone’ is also about the broader concept of community: it’s about collaboration on every level. For any progression, we need to break down barriers and boundaries and allow ourselves to be open to learning new things. We need to foster safe spaces where this can happen, where we can learn from one another: the time has come for experimentation, innovation, investigation and creativity.

So, don’t do change alone. Effective sustainable change is about communication, coalition, collaboration, community. Let’s find our people, find our networks, find our support systems – and begin to contribute to something greater than ourselves.

To listen to the Change Review podcast here. 

Calla MacGregor completed her Master of Sustainability at the University of Sydney in 2018. Having completed a Bachelor of Arts (Anthropology) at Macquarie University in 2013, she began a career in communications, working in both Sydney and London, before deciding to return to postgraduate study in 2017 at the University of Sydney. Calla recently spent three months in South Africa as an intern with the City of Cape Town, during which time she conceptualised and initiated the development of CityFit, a citywide health and sustainability program. Calla hopes to now pursue a career in science communications, with a particular focus on change mechanisms and community engagement.