When a Child becomes an Environmental Activist

We bought our daughter a microphone, because she loves to sing while she plays the guitar. Little did we expect that it’s first public use would be for this little bit of environmental activism (from the relative safety of our front veranda):

She is so enthusiastic to do whatever she can to stop a fourth coal terminal from being built in our city. Here is another video of her (and her friend) passionately trying to rally the troops in our neighbourhood, pleading with them to help save the environment and the animals.

I have four living children, and the oldest three are not at all interested in environmental activism, even though I am. So it was a pleasant surprise to see my daughter’s passion for greening the earth develop to such a degree that she wants to start taking action.  We recently participated in our first ever protest march to try to prevent a coal seam gas plant being approved (update: the court approved the plant, but it may still be fought at a Supreme Court level).

Then we found out about an opportunity to participate in another rally; this time to try to stop the government approving a fourth coal terminal in our busy harbour (already the largest coal port in Australia). There are currently 30 ships a week that come here from all around the world for their fix of coal. If the new plant goes ahead, there will be 60 ships a week, and many more uncovered coal trains, as well as trucks on our roads. So…. filled we enthusiasm, we joined over a thousand other people on a “No 4th Coal Terminal” rally. It was actually quite a lot of fun! There was a great vibe, and a lot of positive energy.

Molly's favourite place in the march was right up the very front, directly behind the big banner.
Molly’s favourite place in the march was right up the very front, directly behind the big banner.

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This was SO cool! At the rally after the march there were lots of different tents and displays. This one was selling smoothies made in a blender powered by a bicycle!
This was SO cool! At the rally after the march there were lots of different tents and displays. This one was selling smoothies made in a blender powered by a bicycle!

The rally was featured in the media quite a bit. Here is a clip from The Herald. We just hope it made a difference! I certainly know that participating in the march (at my daughter’s request) was a great experience for her, and it was also wonderful for me to support her in this passion to help make our planet just that little bit greener and more sustainable. Oh, I forgot to say, the one photo I *REALLY* wish I’d gotten was of a black labrador that was wearing a doggy outfit, labelled, “I USED TO BE A GOLDEN RETRIEVER!” Brilliant!

First Ever Protest March

I have always been a passionate person, whether it be about unschooling, faith, environmental issues, social justice…. Molly (10) seems to be following in my footsteps, all of her own volition. And to be honest, she gives me a run for my money in terms of passion and commitment! It is wonderful to be able to support her in her passion to care for people, animals and the planet. She set up a little website awhile ago, although hasn’t added anything to it for some time. She is still finding her groove in terms of what to do with her desire to help make the world a better place. She once initiated a fundraiser for the RSPCA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and definitely wants to do some kind of work in this area when she is older (helping animals, not making cupcakes!).

There are not really many opportunities for kids to do volunteer work, it seems. We recently tried to do some training in whale rescue, but the minimum age was fifteen. We tried to do puppy raising for the Guide Dog Association but we live in the wrong city. I’m sure her passion will continue to grow over time (and it’s okay if it doesn’t) and that she will find more opportunities to express it in practical ways. Here’s one way we were able to make a little bit of a difference this past weekend. (I met a lady who works with the Wilderness Society, and it was easy to imagine Molly choosing to do something like that when she’s older, but I keep those ideas in check, remembering that this is her journey, not mine, and it may take surprising twists and turns. In the meantime, we live in this moment!)

Coal seam gas seems to be the latest rage in Australia recently. It has not been proven as safe for human health or for the environment and yet the government has been surging ahead in approving new coal seam gas mines left, right, and centre. There has been such a huge public outcry about it, that they have now made major policy changes to hopefully protect residential areas from direct impact, but this will not protect the ground water and other problems. It’s been amazing to see the public rally together and have such a loud voice on this issue. With friends directly affected by the issue, we have had the opportunity to get involved in direct activism and this has been a great opportunity to facilitate my daughter’s interest in caring for the environment and encouraging others to do the same. This last Sunday we attended our first ever protest march. When we arrived and she heard the leader of the march shouting a slogan through the megaphone/loud speaker, you could just about hear her heart racing. She was in her element and rearing to go!

Gumboots, jeans, farmland and a cause closer to her heart, and she's OFF! Ready for action...
Gumboots, jeans, farmland, a cause close to her heart, and she’s OFF!
The local community was represented by people as young as a few months and as old as NINETY-SIX!! At the last protest, this lady got charged $200 by the police for refusing to move from the blockade.
The local community was represented by people as young as a few months and as old as NINETY-SIX!! At the last protest, this lady got charged $200 by the police for refusing to move from the blockade.
The zeal of the people was undeniably present. I asked this lady if I could photograph her and I think she was then of the belief that I was with the media, and she started telling me all the reasons why coal seam gas was bad. I wish I'd had a notepad to make it seem more authentic. ;)
The zeal of the people was undeniably present. I asked this lady if I could photograph her and I think she was then of the belief that I was with the media, and she started telling me all the reasons why coal seam gas was bad. I wish I’d had a notepad to make it seem more authentic. 😉
It was great to see the indigenous community represented, too.
It was great to see the indigenous community represented, too.
The media were there during the entire march and all the speeches at the end. This is a politician they are interviewing.
The media were there during the entire march and all the speeches at the end. This is a politician they are interviewing.
The message was undeniably clear!
The message was undeniably clear!
The hats have been collected by all sorts of people, as a sign of support for the "Lock the Gate" protest.
The hats have been collected by all sorts of people, as a sign of support for the “Lock the Gate” protest.
A reminder of what is at risk if the mine goes ahead.
A reminder of what is at risk if the mine goes ahead.
A community survey revealed that 97.5% of local residents are opposed to the planned coal seam gas mine, so they have made two signs declaring this, and they will be erected at both ends of the road. They also got resident's signatures on an official declaration, which will be presented to parliament tomorrow.
A community survey revealed that 97.5% of local residents are opposed to the planned coal seam gas mine, so they have made two signs declaring this, and they will be erected at both ends of the road. They also got resident’s signatures on an official declaration, which will be presented to parliament tomorrow.
Molly couldn't get much closer to the action if she tried. During all the speeches she stood right at the front of the crowd, listening eagerly to every word.
Molly couldn’t get much closer to the action if she tried. During all the speeches she stood right at the front of the crowd, listening eagerly to every word.
It was exhausting work, and after a big day out, this was the result, within minutes of walking in the front door.
All in a good day’s work! This was the result, within minutes of walking in the front door.