Connecting with mangroves through the arts

Our guest in The Sustainable Hour on 23 October 2019 is artist and radio host Zahidah Zeytoun Millie who is organising a multi-media art exhibition of works set on the theme Mangroves from the Water to be exhibited for a month at the Project Space Gallery Deakin University Waterfront Campus in Geelong from 26 July 2020.

Geelong climate activist Sharon Bush from Thrive for Future tells us about her ‘This business has declared a climate emergency’ posters, which she presents to local business and shop owners in Geelong’s CBD, asking them to put it up in their entrances and shop windows.

We play an excerpt of the half hour interview we did with Leigh Barnes from Intrepid Travel in the latest Regenerative Hour podcast – about B Corp certification and becoming a carbon positive company.

Emma Black is one of the organisers of a protest blockade of an international miners’ conference, IMARC, in Melbourne next week. She explains why – and how you can join.

Carolyn Ingvarson is co-organiser of Lighter Footprint’s event in Melbourne on 31 October, ‘Living in the Clean Economy’. She shares with us and our listeners why she is particularly excited about this event. More info below.

“One can ‘live in’ old philosophies, but the world can’t be understood in any inventive way by sticking to the old principles.”
~ Luc Ferry, 2013

Listen to The Sustainable Hour no. 290 on 94.7 The Pulse:

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Let’s re-imagine a beautiful, community centred low carbon future:
a faster transition to a clean economy will bring massive benefits!
Listen to The Sustainable Hour’s interview with Carolyn Ingvarson about the event

On the benefits of a low carbon economy, and the case for a faster transition
Thursday 31 October at 7:00pm
Location: Hawthorn Arts Centre, 360 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn       

Tom Kompas is the Professor of Environmental Economics and Biosecurity at the University of Melbourne. He is the lead author of a high level business case on a faster transition to a clean economy for Victoria and Queensland. His work details avoiding the massive costs of inaction (conservatively $584 billion by 2030), and three to one benefits for a faster transition to a clean economy.

Peter Newman AO is the Professor of Sustainability at Curtin University – he brings a strong background in future design – reimagining living in a clean economy. He is an IPCC Lead Author and a much lauded sustainability expert. He will bring global perspectives and a vision of what living the clean economy could bring to communities.

Anthea Harris leads the newly formed Energy Group at DEWLP and brings a Victorian perspective and clear understanding of the economics of the clean economy transition in Victoria. She was the inaugural CEO of the Climate Change Authority.

The high profile panel will consider the economic potential of the clean energy transition and strong climate action in depth. A faster transition would put Victoria in a much better position for investment and jobs, with lowered energy costs, better quality of life and health and improved agricultural prospects.

The forum will be moderated by Victoria McKenzie-McHarg, Chair of Climate Action Network Australia.

Event page – RSVP

Facebook Event page 


Content of this hour

Links, excerpts and more information about what we talked about in this Sustainable Hour

Sharon has printed this poster which businesses in Geelong that have declared a climate emergency
can put in their shop windows to spread the message in the community.


Sharon Bush helps Geelong businesses declare

2 minute interview with Sharon Bush

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To date, 67 per cent of mangroves have been lost or degraded worldwide.

Zahida and Tony

Zahida writes:
Landscape is an instrument of cultural power. Tree celebration dates thousands of years. The Canaanite tribe would place a tree trunk in Astarte’s temple and pray to the goddess as the source of life.[1]

Mangroves have been estimated to provide at least US$1.6 billion per year in ecosystem services worldwide. Approximately 67% of global mangroves have been lost in the past century to coastal development, aquaculture, pollution and other human activities, according to the United Nations.

According to Presland, Port Philip Bay has changed dramatically since 1835 resulting in a poor outlook for biodiversity. Despite the importance of the mangroves to Earth, poor biodiversity, global warming and stress upon indigenous communities are a result of economic development.

There is a link between trees and people as David Haskell described in Songs of Trees, so destroying trees reflects the destruction of communities. Can we give life back to trees?

Bruce Pascoe writes:

“in 2012 I met Brad Steadman, an elder from Brewarrina, who told me this traditional story; ‘Bunggula, the sooty Grunter (bream), grunts when taken out of water. The spines on its back are the spears flung by the old man, Baiame, who hunted him in the waterhole. The fish escaped, and as he flashed his tail he made a channel which filled with water to make the river. But the country dried out, the kangaroos went away, the plants dried, and there was a big drought.

The old man came back with his dogs and his sons, and said the drought was because the people didn’t know the law or the names of the rivers. He told them the songs to sing and the dances to dance so the rain would fall again and things would be as they are today.”

As an artist and a curator I believe the mangroves story can’t be complete with only using my story and art. So, gathering a team of collaborating artists from different backgrounds and varying media has the potential to surround the viewer with a festival of multimedia art depicting the story of the mangroves and wetlands.

My aim is to confront the viewer and to touch their emotions to feel deeply about the strong connection between Nature and Humanity.

In 2016 New Zealand granted a river the same legal rights as a human being.

We are very much aware that mangrove forests contain one of the highest capacities to remove carbon gas of any forest type.

Despite the forests covering around two per cent of the 2,000 kilometre Victorian coastline, there could be more.

The coastal forests are a safe-haven for a wondrous ecosystem of animal and plant life. Whilst they feature enormously in the dream stories of the Aboriginal people, their importance to Aboriginal life is being forsaken by urban development and erosion. The Artists Australia possesses people of multicultural backgrounds, ethnic and indigenous Aboriginal. We artists in the exhibition project represent this diversity, being from all over the world.

The nine artists – possibly 10 – intend to present a multi-media art exhibition of works set on the theme Mangroves from the Water. We all have something to tell. We want to protect our mother Earth and to generate peace and love on land. When we give love, we receive love; just as the philosopher Ferry points out in his ‘Revolution of Love’. I think that form, be it musical, visual or verbal, moves us deeply because of the unconscious meaning embodied in symbolism.

The Mangroves from the Water project members believe that through their art they can build awareness of the importance of protecting this important natural ecosystem. Art has a power to inform any culture about ideas that matter. The project members approach the theme with a fascinating range of media: impressionist water colours from a kayak, a short film, weaving, sculpture, performance dance, performance music and an art installation. The mangrove artists present a fascinating approach to celebrating the wonders of this unique habitat through art. The exhibition will provide viewers with a range of media to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. The artists also hope to see discussions occurring throughout the exhibition in a series of colloquia.

The artists are:
Nicola Cerini, Enrico Santucci, Deb Taylor, Vicki Hallet, Richard Collopy, Jacqui Dreessens, Stephanie Neville and Zahidah Zeytoun Millie.

A weaver artist, Bronwyn Razer, may join the group (

Media 2D
Short film

Indigenous weaving 3D
Performance dance
Performance music

[1] Al Sewah, F 1987, Study of the Epic of Gilgamesh, Arabic, Sumar, Nicosia


Mangrove devastation in Australia

“Traditional owners are devastated by the lack of recovery at the site of Australia’s worst recorded mangrove dieback and are calling for action to limit climate change threats.”

→ ABC News – 14 October 2019:
Climate breakdown: mangrove dieback along 1,000 kilometres of coastline
“NT traditional owners urge climate change policy makers to witness mangrove devastation.”


Richard Leck from WWF-Australia wrote:
“We’ve already lost half our coral reefs and mangroves − some of the most productive habitats on Earth.

The loss of reefs, mangroves and seagrass beds leaves coastal communities vulnerable to erosion, storm damage and food shortages.

We’ve pushed many crucial fish stocks to the point of collapse, threatening people’s livelihoods and food security – and harming other species including seabirds, turtles and dolphins.

Oceans supply half the oxygen we breathe and provide food and livelihoods for more than a billion people. They are also home to a wondrous array of wildlife.

Pollution – from plastics to oil spills to agrochemicals – also harms nature and contaminates food chains. And climate change is making the ocean hotter and more acidic, which could spell disaster for coral reefs, polar regions and the rich variety of life they support.

Right now, governments, businesses, and NGOs are meeting in Oslo for the 2019 Our Ocean Conference to discuss how we can secure the future of oceans. Rest assured that we will be calling for urgent action – but you too can play your part.

With world leaders scheduled to make critical decisions on nature, climate and development in the coming year, 2020 offers a momentous opportunity to secure a sustainable future for oceans and other natural places, together with the people and wildlife who depend on them. Join the many people from around the world who are calling on leaders to take action in 2020.

You can also add your voice to almost 1.5 million people calling on world leaders to take action against the ocean plastic pollution crisis that’s harming both people and wildlife.”

~ Richard Leck, Head of Oceans, WWF-Australia

→ WWF: Voice for the Planet
“Add your voice to call for urgent action”

→ WWF: Australia, it’s time to end single-use plastic!
“Send a message to state, territory and federal environmental ministers.”


Regenerative interview with Leigh Barnes from Inteprid Travel


Protests against international mining conference in Melbourne

“Some of the world’s worst climate criminals are gathering in Melbourne from 28 to 31 October for the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC). These are companies that profit from fuelling climate change, stealing Indigenous land and exploiting workers, whose actions drive animal extinction as well as mass displacement of people.

With the climate entering meltdown, it’s urgent to disrupt the “business as usual” of major climate criminals, using mass civil disobedience. Thousands of people will be gathering to blockade this conference. Further info here:

Hop on the Blockade IMARC channel on Mattermost to get involved. There are some awesome creative ideas brewing for visually striking, non-violent actions to support the wider Blockade IMARC actions.”

It’s Time to Make a Change


In other news

From our notes of this week: news stories and events we didn’t have time to mention but which we think you should know about

Australian engineers declare a climate emergency

About 1,000 Australian engineers and 90 organisations – including large firms and respected industry figures who have worked with fossil fuel companies – have signed a declaration to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency and “evaluate all new projects against the environmental necessity to mitigate climate change”.

“This is HUGE. This is how the climate revolution happens. No matter what you do or how old you are, there’s some unique way for you to break through the social norms that are collectively boiling us like the proverbial frog.”
~ Peter Kalmus

→ The Guardian – 21 October 2019:
Leading Australian engineers turn their backs on new fossil fuel projects
“The Engineers Declare movement pledges to put climate considerations first in evaluating plans.”

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Podcasts and posts on this website about climate emergency
Latest news on BBC about climate change



We at The Sustainable Hour would like to pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the land on which we are broadcasting, the Wathaurong People, and pay our respect to their elders, past, present and future.

The traditional owners lived in harmony with the environment and with the climate for hundreds of generations. It is not clear – yet – that as European settlers we have demonstrated that we can live in harmony for hundreds of generations, but it is clear that we can learn from the indigenous, traditional owners of this land.

When we talk about the future, it means extending our respect to those children not yet born, the generations of the future – remembering the old saying that…

The decisions currently being made around Australia to ignore climate change are being made by those who won’t be around by the time the worst effects hit home. How utterly disgusting, disrespectful and unfair is that?

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