This week has been one of writing but I found time to get up to Ballarat at the invitation of the University of Ballarat Sustainability Committee.
The university held an evening forum where Professor David Karoly and I both spoke about climate change, sustainability and our work and the role of community in generating change, adaptation and mitigation.
More than 100 local people came along to the forum, asked questions, commented and talked about the work they were doing to drive sustainability initiatives in their local communities.
Photo: (above) Professor David Karoly presenting at the forum
I organised to arrive in Ballarat early on the day so I could visit the office of Conservation Volunteers (CV) which is located at the university’s business Greenhill Enterprise Centre.
For those of you who don’t know, this organisation actually started in Ballarat 30 years ago, is driven by a voluntary board, has volunteers all over Australia and into New Zealand.
CV offers projects with corporations and for general members of the community who want to involve themselves in a range of work from biodiversity conservation to tree planting. And, the beauty of their offerings is that their team does all the organising for you. All you have to do is log onto their website to find a project which interests you, sign up and show up at the pick up point! They bring you back to where you started, supervise you in the work you do, and make sure you don’t overdo it.
Their most recent report of activities can be found at www.conservationvolunteers.com.au and www.conservationvolunteers.co.nz . If you have a look at the Annual Review 2011 which is now available, you will get a really good appreciation of the extent of their work and the partnerships which have been built over time with BHP, AMP, GHD, Bendigo Bank, Fontera and Rio Tinto, Medibank, Vicsuper, Worksafe to name just a few.
The university sustainability committee didn’t just organise an evening of talking and conversation it also ran a seminar on the following day which was attended by the Ballarat Health group, educators for sustainability, academics and members of the local BREAZE group -“local solutions to climate change”. Breaze provides a forum for talk about climate change and the challenges and opportunities at the local level. You can find out about their work at www.breaze.org.au.
For this seminar I joined Rob Gell and Peter Gell and others in making presentations about our work and in a panel discussion of ways to generate change.
The Central Victorian Solar City group presented on their solar project and DSE presented on the work which they had been involved in generating a sustainability committee in the region.
Ballarat also runs a Smart Living Centre in the Mining Exchange in Lydiard Street. This shop front is staffed by volunteers and it offers all manner of information to make changing unsustainable habits easier.
The Centre is funded by the Sustainability Fund which is managed by Sustainability Victoria. It is open from Tuesday through to and inluding Saturday. If you are passing through Ballarat you can drop in and then go to the art gallery just next door.
If you would like to see the level of commitment to sustainability being made by the University of Ballarat simply check out www.ballarat.edu.au/centres/national-centre-for-sustainability