Water! Workshop informs, connects and inspires ongoing action

Water!, a citizen-science in action community workshop was held during National Science Week on Sunday 19 August on the banks of the Bellinger River in Bellingen.

All participants were keen to see the Riverwatch water testing in action. We conducted hands on activities to test river water for dissolved oxygen, available phosphate, pH, turbidity, temperature, salinity and Faecal coliform. Workshop facilitator, Sue Lennox, explained the significance of each test for river health, human health and the critically endangered Bellinger River Snapping Turtle Myuchelys georgesi.

A further 8 participants brought in drinking water samples in sterile containers to test for Faecal coliform. Water supplies that came from rain water tanks had no Faecal coliform detected per 100 ml of water. The water from a tributary of the Bellinger River on Darkwood Road had 90 Faecal coliform colony forming units per 100ml of water (Australian standard is zero). This participant reported ongoing problems with gastrointestinal infections in her family and was advised to boil drinking water and research effective water filtration system.

Following the event, 2 people signed up to train as volunteers for the Bellingen Riverwatch program, and have subsequently completed training and are now actively involved.

Bellingen Riverwatch brings together community scientists and the scientific community to support the recovery of the critically endangered Bellinger River Snapping Turtle Myuchelys georgesi. It is a citizen science project that involves volunteers in testing 20 sites across the Bellinger, Never Never and Kalang River catchments on a monthly basis.

Bellingen Riverwatch is an initiative of OzGREEN and NSW Government Saving Our Species program, supported by Bellingen Shire Council and 11 partner organisations.

SCINEMA Film Festival was a great success

SCINEMA at the North Coast Marine Science Centre was a great success, with more than 80 participants enjoying a selection of amazing science films plus a panel that included indigenous linguist Uncle Michael Jarrett, scientific illustrator Meg English, ecologist Andrew Turbill, and environmental educator Lisa Siegel sharing thoughts on science and art.

Water! Get Involved in Citizen Science

Come and see citizen science in action and find out what we need to do to help look after our rivers at a community water testing event, Water!, on Sunday 19 August 10am – 1pm at the Bellinger River, during National Science Week. Participants can get hands-on with water testing in this all ages workshop run by Sue Lennox from OzGREEN.

This family-friendly event will include sharing the findings of the Bellingen Riverwatch citizen science program. Bellingen Riverwatch sees community scientists and the scientific community working together to monitor and care for the health of the Bellinger, Never Never and Kalang Rivers, and help recovery actions to support the critically endangered Bellinger River Turtle Myuchelys georgesi. This program is made possible by it’s amazing team of 25 community volunteers and 5 local schools who have been collecting monthly water quality data at 20 sites across the Bellinger and Kalang Rivers since August 2017.

Citizen science programs such as these push the envelope of what ecologists can achieve and promotes Earth stewardship with participants. “Citizen science connects the community to genuine scientific research and helps contribute to the environment, threatened species conservation, public health and so much more”, says Geetha Ortac, Senior Scientist, Citizen Science Saving our Species, Office of Environment & Heritage, one of the lead partners in the program.

“The health of the Bellinger River is key to the survival of the Bellinger River Turtle”, says OzGREEN Co-founder, Sue Lennox. “OzGREEN is delighted to be partnering with the Office of Environment and Heritage. Riverwatch provides a pathway for the people of Bellingen to get involved. We love our river and rely on the river for our water supplies. We are finding Faecal coliform in parts of the river and anecdotal evidence of water borne diseases. It’s quite concerning.”

OzGREEN is also currently recruiting some new volunteers into the Bellingen Riverwatch ongoing water monitoring program. If you are interested in getting involved, contact Amy on 0455 602 571 or riverwatch@ozgreen.org.au.

Water! is a free event brought to you by OzGREEN, the Coffs Coast Regional Science Hub and supported by Inspiring Australia, a national strategy to engage communities with science for a sustainable future. Optionally, if you are using river water for drinking, you can bring a sample of your drinking water for the OzGREEN team to test for Faecal coliform. These bacteria indicate pollution with faeces and potential for disease causing organisms like Giardia and Blastocystis to be present. Bring your sample in a clean sterile container (suggested donation $20 to help cover cost of test).

To find out more or to register for this event, visit www.ozgreen.org/www.ozgreen.org/water.

Spirit! event a high point of the LeaF Festival

“A special high point of the LeaF Learning Festival was the Spirit of the Land forum at Cedar Bar on Sunday morning where stories of land and spirit were told,” says Lisa Siegel, Spirit host and Coordinator of the Centre for Ecological Learning.
“One person told me afterwards they thought Mark Graham was “the most inspiring scientist” they had ever come across.
“Spirit stories from Uncle Michael Jarrett, Uniting Earth minister Jason John, and Insight Meditation teacher Will James had the entire audience rapt and we have been receiving feedback ever since from people wanting the event to be repeated.”

‘Spirit!’ event coming to Bellingen June 15

How did our river form? How did the plateau get so high? Where did the valleys come from? Why did it all happen that way, and where do humans fit into the picture? Join Gumbaynggirr language teacher Michael Jarrett, Eco-minister Jason John, and Buddhist teacher Will James, in discussion with local ecologist Mark Graham, to explore how geology, spirituality, and language flow together to create knowledge and culture.

This unique event will be happening on Sunday 15 July at 9:30am as part of the LeaF (Learning Festival) at Bello Winter Music, and is brought to you by the Coffs Coast Regional Science Hub and the Centre for Ecological Learning. It is sure to be a highlight of the LeaF this year!

The LeaF, now in its 4th year, is an eco-learning festival that takes place as part of the wonderful Bello Winter Music festival. As festival-goers have come to expect, LeaF workshops will again cover a rich and exciting array of topics, facilitated by passionate local presenters from nine different organisations on behalf of the Bellingen Shire Learning Alliance (BSLA) and the newly established Coffs Coast Regional Science Hub (CCRSH).

‘Spirit!’ takes place on Sunday 15 July from 9:30-11:00 am at Cedar Bar & Kitchen in Bellingen.

Find more info about the event at www.cel.org.au/event/spirit or more info about the LeaF festival at www.cel.org.au/leaf.

Exploring Alternative Energy

The newly formed Coffs Coast Regional Science Hub explored the topic Fire! Alternative Energy at its first event on 10 March 2018 at Bellingen Memorial Hall. A diverse line up of speakers shared their knowledge of science-based technologies at the forefront of change in the world.

Megan Bliss opened the event and gave an Acknowledgment to Country, followed by a welcome by Councillor Jenny Fenton, who reported on what Council is doing to support and lead change.

Sustainability consultant Arne Hansen spoke on optimising and increasing the efficiency of buildings. He shared what is happening in energy technology around the world and spoke on the idea of the community ownership of the electricity grid.

Keri Phillips, an environmental psychologist, spoke about feelings and values, and the decisions we make to reverse the destructive path we are on and towards a sustainable flourishing future.

Kersten Schmidt, a renewable energy pioneer with more than 25 years’ experience around the globe, painted a big picture of world wide energy initiatives and particularly what is happening in South Australia.

Architect Tricia Helyar spoke about making sustainable design the central mission where building our homes – in the materials we use, size of buildings with solar passive design and other features.

The final speaker was Paul Bryce, a professor of electricial engineering. Now retired. Paul’s impressive career includes being a chief technical advisor at the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, designer and implementer of renewable energy in Cambodia, Indonesia, Fiji, Laos, PNG, Solomon Islands, Vietnam and Zimbabwe, and he was awarded the first Fred Hollows Engineer of the year award.

Paul spoke about this regions’ first Community Owned Renewable Energy CORE Project, a solar installation at the Old Butter Factory. This project is funded entirely by individual residents of the Shire, saves one million kilograms of CO2, facilitates 10 local businesses in saving on half their energy costs and 20 local residents getting attractive investment returns.

Audiences were encouraged to think and act differently and change their behaviour  across all aspects of life, from energy production, food production and waste management to how and what we build. All were invited to take ownership of community services as they can.

This event was the first in a series of five events to be presented by the Coffs Coast Regional Science Hub with support from Inspiring Australia. Find out more about what is on the horizon on Facebook.

Partnerships brewing at the Coffs Coast Regional Science Hub Launch

There was an audible buzz of enthusiasm happening in the back of the Cedar Bar & Restaurant in Bellingen last week, when 30 keen people came together to meet each other, share ideas, and officially launch the brand new Coffs Coast Regional Science Hub (CCRSH). Initiated by Inspiring Australia NSW, CCRSH is now one of 14 Regional Science Hubs which are working to create conscious and knowledgeable citizens who care about and take action in the world. This initiative does that by connecting scientists to the broader community and bridging the gap between science and society.

The event was opened by Amy Denshire, CCRSH Administrator, who then handed over to Lisa Siegel, co-founder of the Centre for Ecological Learning which is the lead partner for this initiative. Guest Speaker for the event was Jackie Randles, NSW Manager of Inspiring Australia, who spoke to the group about what the Inspiring Australia initiative is all about, why this national strategy linking science with the public is important, and what other Hubs have been doing.

The CCRSH launch event saw scientists, artists, and staff and representatives from Bellingen Shire Council, Coffs City Harbour Council, Southern Cross University/National Marine Science Centre, North Coast Regional Botanic Gardens, Birdlife NSW, Coffs Regional Art Gallery, arts organisations, community organisations and schools come together to launch the initiative and start the conversation of how we can work together to bring science to where the people are in this region. CCRSH will serve the Bellingen Shire, Coffs City Council, and the Nambucca Shire and is specifically focused on connecting our communities with science to bring about a sustainable future. “There was a great energy in the room. It was wonderful hearing all the connections between people from the different sectors. We look forward to more groups joining!”, said Amy Denshire, CCRSH Administrator.

The next meet-up for the Coffs Coast Regional Science Hub is on Tuesday May 8th from 3-5pm at the National Marine Science Centre, 2 Bay Drive, Coffs Harbour. For more information, visit www.cel.org.au/ccrsh or contact Amy on 0490 068 685.

CCRSH May Meet-Up   |   Tuesday 8th May, 3-5pm   |    National Marine Science Centre

Join the Coffs Coast Regional Science Hub

Initiated by Inspiring Australia, NSW Regional Science Hubs are creating conscious citizens who care about and take action in this world.

Are you an arts organisation, a community organiser, a venue or a festival organiser? This event is for you!

We are calling for all kind of organisations to join the Hub. The fact is, science shapes so many of our daily activities that we’re not even aware of, that just about anyone can benefit. All kinds of organisations are able to get involved – from businesses and startups to chambers of commerce, sustainability education groups, theatre societies and community gardens. NSW Regional Science Hubs are often led by local, not-for-profit community groups, the arts and cultural sector or by the local council, a library or a museum. The lead organisation of the Coffs Coast Regional Science Hub is the Centre for Ecological Learning.

Inspiring Australia is about connecting scientists to the broader community and bridging the gap between science and society. The strategy is based on a ‘national framework-local action” approach. Science Hubs provide the grassroots, ground up means of achieving impact by facilitating the delivery of science outreach programs at a local level.

The newly formed Coffs Coast Regional Science Hub is having its’ first Partner Launch event in Bellingen on Wed April 18th with special guest, Jackie Randals, NSW Manager of Inspiring Australia. This will be a networking event, which will bring together current and potential partners for the Hub. At this event, you can find out more about what the hub is, why this national strategy is important, and what other Hubs are doing.

Providing community access to science and technology has many benefits, from sparking curiosity and helping people to understand how to take an evidence-based approach to making decisions about issues that affect them, to inspiring young people about the interesting careers that flow from science, technology, engineering and maths studies. The CCRSH is focused on connecting our communities with science for a sustainable future. “Together, we are much stronger, and are more able to positively influence the future”, says Amy Denshire from the Centre for Ecological Learning.

Coffs Coast becomes a Hub for Science

A group of change makers from 6 local community organisations have recently secured funding from Inspiring Australia to become a Regional Science Hub.

Inspiring Australia is a national strategy that provides, for the first time, an Australia-wide framework for engaging people and communities in the sciences. It was developed by the science community for the science community.

The inaugural event of the Hub is a series called ‘Elemental Nature’. Events include: Fire! – energy from the sun; Water! – our local waterways; Air! – avian biodiversity; Earth! – useful minerals; and Spirit! – and its connection to science.

The first event, Fire!, will be held on March 10th at the Bellingen Memorial Hall from 1.30pm. This event sees an incredible speaker lineup presenting on the latest developments in renewable energy technology.

The Hub aims to connect our communities with science for a sustainable future. “One of the most effective steps humanity can take to transition to sustainability is through the overall engagement of society in the appreciation of nature”, states the 2017 – World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice. This paper sets a world record for the most scientists to co-sign and formally support a published journal article in history. Commenting on the paper, environmental educator and a wildlife naturalist with the Centre for Ecological Learning, Andrew Turbill, says “If ever we had a mandate for doing what we do, it is when every scientific mind in the field of environmental and biophysical sciences puts nature connection forward as one of the key ways in which humanity must act to save itself.”

CCRSH is comprised of a supportive and thriving network of experts and community organisations who can work together on future educational endeavours. They plan to offer exciting, relevant, and accessible science and nature programs, led by scientists and other experts in their field, to members of the community who don’t normally have access to these types of programs. If your organisation operates in the government, business, science, education or the arts and would like to become a partner in the Hub, please visit www.cel.org.au/ccrsh. If you would like more info on the Fire! Forum, visit www.cel.org.au/fire