Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Food Connect does it again (and again)!

Following on from our success in the Queensland Sustainable Industries Awards, we are proud to announce that Food Connect has been chosen as a finalist for the Banksia Environmental Awards in the “Agriculture & Food” category, and we're up against KRAFT!! We are also especially chuffed to be selected for the Banksia “People’s Choice” Awards.

The Banksia Awards are recognised as Australia’s pre-eminent environmental awards, rewarding environmental excellence and promoting best practice principles over the last 21 years. The Banksia Environmental Foundation, through their award programs, aims to raise the profile of the current environmental issues facing Australia and recognise those whose initiatives are an encouragement and an example for others to follow.

If you would like to vote for Food Connect for in the People’s Choice awards, please click here. And if you like, forward this post to everyone you know!!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Shuman Workshop Sparks Rush To Local Investment

Since the last post, an amazing thing has happened. In the course of one afternoon the following emails have landed from West End Community Association's President, Darren Godwell.

Thanks to everyone that gave up some hours on their Sunday & gave freely of their creativity & ideas. Boy, the results were FAST….
I’m immensely pleased to announce that this afternoon one of the participants from yesterday’s workshop & local businessperson Nick Holmes took the initiative and pledged $5,000 to kick-start a Kurilpa Investment Fund (working title) to support and seed local businesses & enterprises. Building resilient local economies means supporting what’s here now and seeding for the future.
Please consider the idea and a pledge. We’ll welcome all contributions (monetary, volunteers for admin & ideas for progress)….over to you, neighbours, local businesses & friends……

and later in the day....
Its been an incredible afternoon. Pledges have flowed at an incredible rate. People know that the best way to build local economies is to support local businesses & the seed the next generation of great ideas. Thanks to Mary & Phil for making a $5,000 pledge. Your contribution is warmly received & I want to acknowledge your massive contribution over many years....

Pledges are now at $36,000!!!!!

Local Community First says Michael Shuman

The work we have been doing in the community is reaching a new level in West End. The planets seem to be aligning with the conservative business sector, local community organisations and innovative individuals to explore new ways to respond to what Robert and I call 'the triple crunch' of climate change, peak oil and the GER.

The week started with dinner at Rosey & Wilf's house where visiting American, Meg Wheatley led a group discussion on what makes fearless leaders. It was a wonderful experience to hear people's views on what keeps them going, tales of perserverence in the face of adversity, and courageous moments. With Rosey's wonderful Moroccan cooking to keep us nourished, the night will be one that never leaves me.

After speaking at the Community Centred Economies Conference in Brisbane, US localisation guru, Michael Shuman says we should think local first - it's environmentally, socially and economically sensible, and the benefits far outweigh any investment in the multi-nationals / big corporates. Michael is the co-founder of BALLE, and author of The Small-Mart Revolution. He was the guest speaker at a workshop I organised yesterday for the West End community at Souths Leagues Club. It was a fantastic day. We were blessed with great workshop weather (pouring rain) and wonderful local catering / produce from Gemma (Stove Cafe), Food Connect and Ruth, Marty & Vonny (Black Star).

Michael was brilliant, the group work stimulating, and this morning I've been inundated with calls and emails from locals who want to hit the ground running. WooHoo! This is the 'community' I've been waiting for.

The day wouldn't have been possible without those that gave up their Sunday to attend, nor without the financial help and moral support of West End Traders Association, West End Community Association, Raedar Research (Darren Godwell), Judy Abernethy, Fiona O'Sullivan, Spiral Community Hub, Mary Maher and husband Phil Vanderzeil.

Thanks also to the wonderful poetry by Gilbert and music by Ashley and Jamie.

We're living the post-carbon transition as we speak!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Big Galloot Bikes is up and running

The start of new Social enterprise started last week with the establishment of Big Galloot Bikes. Our newest venture to get Cargo Bikes of all shapes and sizes out on the streets of Brisvegas.
The bikes are the coolest things on two wheels, and they carry stuff. Lots of stuff.
I estimate that probably 70% of car use for residents who live within 4 Km of the CBD is to go less than 4 km........ and it would be just to pick up something pretty small. A child, the milk, grab a coffee, pick up the bread, drop the dry cleaning off, etc. With a waterproof cover, there is no excuse not to experience the joy of riding in the rain.Here are a few of the inspiring things Cargo bikes are up too around the world

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Qld Sustainable Industries Awards

In 2008, Food Connect was a finalist at the then EPA Awards night. Our subscribers raised money for us to go along and we all jumped on a train and bus to get to the big event at the Gold Coast Convention Centre. It all went downhill from there. To our despair, the room was full of mining entities, development corporates, energy companies (not renewable, mind you) and so, wanting to avoid more greenwash, we chose not to enter again.

2009 came along and the folk at the EPA (it seems) were keen to recoup the credibility it lost last year, and vigorously encouraged us to enter again. "One more chance" we thought, and when word came through that we were finalists again we were pleased, but with the Gold Coast City Council and the Brisbane Convention Centre as our rivals, we were understandably sceptical. Once again, our subscribers helped us pay for some of our farmers, one of our city cousins and a few staff members to go along.

Our scepticism faded throughout the night as one by one, the awards were seemingly going to genuine winners. When the time came for the Minister's Award for ClimateSmart Leadership, we knew we could have a real chance. Bendigo Bank sponsored this award, and we waited while their representative espoused community banking as a sustainable industry. Minister Kate Jones finally announced the winner - Food Connect! We all jumped up and cheered and Robert took Elsie up to the podium and thanked our community of dedicated friends, family, staff, mums, and farmers (with interjections from Elsie, sending the whole room into fits of laughter), and he finished his speech with a warning (especially Coles, who were also in the room) that the small farmer revolution is here! It was a wonderful achievement and we headed off for a big night of celebrations.

Of course, these nights seem like tokenism in a lot of ways and when I asked Zac, one of our packers, to reflect on the night he sent me the following words:
Some of the more unpalatable moments from last night was when Ranger Tim read out some of the criteria by which the finalists are judged, "...first and foremost, must be a good business..." referring to the bottom line and the preservation thereof, as a guiding principal. Ranger Tim's introductory spiel justifying sustainability by saying it costs less to business and is better for the bottom line, seems to completely subvert the whole purpose of sustainability. When the focus is money, it's not on sustainability or the environment. This needs to shift.

Patting themselves on the back for sourcing some of the food we were served locally was also a bit on the nose, especially as they chose to ignore where the local businesses sourced their produce (Sirromet, for example). The percentage of locally sourced items was pretty pathetic anyway, probably no more than any other meal they prepare there. The selection of some of the businesses in the finals were crazy, the Brisbane Convention Centre for instance. Paying someone else to offset your emissions is lazy and is just plain unsustainable. And what was that spray on water/tar mix for BHP? Obviously a large function of sustainability is to sustain current mining practises! I could go on, but I have to say that I did agree with most of the Judges decisions in the end, but there needs to be some serious thought go into these awards and the criteria and the way it's presented and sponsored. Last but not least, these awards SHOULD NOT EXIST. It should be a legal requirement for all businesses and facilities (and not only these) to be sustainable. This would make sustainability the rule rather than the exception.

This is essential for us to keep living with this planet.