04 April 2017

Changing the world for the better with cupcakes, community and courage

From Montville to the Murray, local legends like Lou, Chaturbhuj and Liz are stepping up to drive change in their communities. Read their stories and watch the film celebrating the strength and diversity of ACF's community.

This is an article from our member-only magazine, habitat. To receive habitat and enjoy more stories like this, become an ACF member today


While it's easy to get the feeling that we — the people who care about our air, water and wildlife are a minority, beyond the headlines of "jobs and growth" and "environment versus economy", we know there's a different story.

In the last edition of habitat, we shared insights from our research into the power of words and storytelling. And what we found is that right across our sunburnt country, people care deeply and are coming together to create a brighter future.

Everywhere and every day, ordinary people are transforming inertia into action, isolation into connection and destruction into beauty. The ACF community of more than 350,000 people care about our living world. We show up, speak out and act, often in different ways and different places, but we are strong in our diversity. And whether it’s signing a petition or running a fundraising event, our actions — no matter how large or small — all add up.

Lou, Chaturbhuj and Liz are testament to this. They are among a handful of dedicated ACF community members whose stories we recently captured as part of our new Story of Us film. Watch the short video and read their stories below.


LOU - LITTLE LEGEND, BAKING CUPCAKES FOR CORAL

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With help from his mum and sisters, Lou sells cupcakes every month at his local market to help stop the Carmichael coal mine.

Lou’s big sister Lydia was given a 40-year ACF membership when she was born, and since then, protecting air, water and wildlife has been a family affair. With help from his mum and sisters, Lou sells cupcakes every month at his local market in Montville, Queensland, to help ACF’s campaign to stop the Carmichael coal mine.

“I love nature because it’s so beautiful. I like it when it rains. I love the trees. I love the native trees and the creatures that live in the trees and the native Lilly pillies.

“When I heard about the Adani coal mine it made me feel sad because the creatures will be breathing in the polluted air. I sell cupcakes to raise money because I want to help ACF stop the mine.

"When I heard about the Adani coal mine it made me feel sad because the creatures will be breathing in the polluted air."

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Lou's big sister Lydia was given a 40-year ACF membership when she was born, and since then, protecting air, water and wildlife has been a family affair.

"I hope that all the coal stays in the ground because taking coal takes part of the earth that should stay there. I hope that the reef will recover and become a healthier reef once again.

“I hope all the little fish in the reef are going to have a healthy and happy life in the future."

"I hope that all the coal stays in the ground because taking coal takes part of the earth that should stay there."

CHATURBHUJ - MONTHLY DONOR, CARING FOR CULTURE AND COMMUNITY

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Chaturbhuj became passionate about protecting air and water after his mum developed health issues caused by pollution.

As a child growing up in rural Nepal, Chaturbhuj used to wake every day to the sight of “clear skies, green hills, beautifully flowing rivers and streams”. But when he and his family moved to the city, it was a different story. Now, Chaturbhuj is inspiring his local Nepalese community in Sydney to collaborate and stand up for clean air and water.

“When we settled in the city in Nepal we invited our mum to live in with us, but after two years, she became a patient of stress and asthma. As I talked with doctors and health specialists, I found out that one of the causes of the disease was air pollution.

“I also saw a beautiful, big river that was polluted by effluent from a factory nearby. For these two reasons, I decided I wanted to do something to protect our air and rivers.

"For these reasons, I decided I wanted to do something to protect our air and rivers."

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Chaturbhuj was active in ACF's 2016 election campaign, collecting voter pledges from his local Nepalese community in Sydney.

“Before the last federal election in Australia, I spoke to the local Nepalese community in Sydney about voting for a candidate who cares about environmental issues. I also collected voter pledges.

“Different communities have different cultural beliefs. In the Nepalese community, rivers are holy places. Working together gives me hope that we can protect our reefs, rivers, forests and communities. By working together, we can have a beautiful future."

"Working together gives me hope that we can protect our reefs, rivers, forests and communities."

LIZ FRANKEL - MEMBER, FINDING COURAGE TO STAND UP FOR THE MURRAY 

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Liz is one of several people living along the Murray River who took part in media training run by ACF last year.

Liz is one of several people living along the Murray River who took part in media training run by ACF last year. Now a honorary river ambassador, Liz is using her new skills to lend a voice to the Murray, and the wildlife, farms and cities it supports.

“I have always had an interest and appreciation for the natural world, and when we moved to our Murray river property in 2001, we were able to immerse ourselves in the natural environment on a daily basis. We were also able to understand its history, observe its profound beauty, but sadly, also witness its rapid decline.

“For many years we watched as the floodplain and surrounding river ecology deteriorated. In the lead-up to the end of the millennium drought, we witnessed many stately gums, some hundreds of years old, literally die of thirst.

"In the lead-up to the end of the millennium drought, we witnessed many stately gums, some hundreds of years old, literally die of thirst."

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Now a honorary river ambassador, Liz is using her new skills to lend a voice to the Murray, and the wildlife, farms and cities it supports. All photos: Ali Sanderson.

“I stumbled onto the ACF site when researching something one day. I quickly realised that it is an organisation that was extremely important. I became a member.

"ACF continues to be an amazing source of relevant information, especially in areas around environmental policy (or lack of it), and has enabled me to be part of campaigns and lobbying for a better future.

“I am only one individual, but I agree with Jane Goodall, who said: “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

“My hope for the future is that we can work together to change the world for the better. My hope is that we can share in a world where we have living reefs, rivers, forests and wildlife.”

"I agree with Jane Goodall, who said: 'You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.'"


Stand up and be counted. Become an ACF member and join a community of thousands of people like Lou, Chaturbhuj, and Liz to create a world where all living things can thrive.

BECOME A MEMBER

Alexandra Nash

Content Producer at the Australian Conservation Foundation