I did a video interview last week for some young people and was asked to outline the biggest challenges and biggest opportunities facing the next generation and what the world of work will look like for them. It happened right after Australia’s latest State of the Environment report was release, and as London sweltered in record heat, fires burned all over Europe, and floodwaters were still receding in NSW. So obviously, I had a lot to say.

We are living in what is possibly the most challenging time humans have ever faced. And that can be terrifying. But it’s also exciting. They say that “necessity is the mother of invention” and all around me I see communities and governments and organisations finding ways of solving climate change, plastic pollution, mass extinctions, rising inequality and more. Investors are turning away from fossil fuels and towards renewables in droves. Consumers are demanding cleaner, greener, fairer and kinder products and services. There are people everywhere stepping up to the challenge, and always room for more.

I don’t doubt that we can turn this thing around. Human genius got us in to this mess and human genius can (and will have to) get us out again. The time for change is now.

And if you need extra inspiration, grab a copy of Claire O’Rourke’s wonderful new book, Together We Can, featuring all sorts of inspiring people and organisations making change already. Look out for Green Connect in Chapter 5 ????

New General Manager – Robert Servine

 I’m delighted to announce that Robert Servine has been appointed as the new General Manager of Green Connect and will start on 4 August. Robert has a background in community development and social enterprise, including in youth employment and organic farming, and I’m excited about the skills and experience that he’ll bring to the team.

 For anyone who has a good memory for dates, you’ll know that last Friday was going to be my last day at Green Connect, but I’ve extended it to 11 August so that I can spend some time with Robert and help him to settle in to the role.

The Green Connect team is kindly organising a farewell afternoon tea for me in my last week. Please let me know if you’d like to come along.

Hiring: Zero Waste Manager and Zero Waste Coordinator

Our wonderful Zero Waste Coordinator, Zan, is heading back to uni to do her Masters and so will be leaving Green Connect. At the same time, our zero waste business unit has grown a lot in the last six months, so we are hiring two new people to replace her.

If you know anyone who would make a great Zero Waste Manager or Zero Waste Coordinator, please encourage them to apply as soon as possible. We will interview candidates as the applications come in.

Zero Waste Manager and Coordinator – Green Connect Illawarra (green-connect.com.au)

Op Shop News

 It has been a very busy time at both of our op shops.

We have been working with a group of UOW interns to further improve our recycling streams (currently 44 of them) to keep as much as we can out of landfill.

We have been working with three local community organisations that we know and trust – Wollongong Homeless Hub, Illawarra Women’s Health Centre and SCARF Refugee Support – to offer for people in need to shop for free thanks to the generosity of the community through our Pay It Forward initiative.

And we have started a sustainable sewing group on Tuesdays, alternating between Unanderra (which started on 19 July) and UOW (which will start on 9 August). Free and open to all. Please come along if you can and want to (10am-12pm). The team is starting by making tote bags out of scrap materials and the coordinator, Lara, has some big ideas for what comes next.

Gardening News

All of the wild weather lately has made it tricky for our gardening and landscaping teams at times but we’re continuing to grow that part of Green Connect.

We’ve been working with a local strata company to make it easy for strata properties to book our services, and management committees can now do that online at Strata Landscaping, Gardening, and Maintenance – Green Connect

For anyone wanting a garden blitz to whip their garden back into shape, you can also book online at Garden Blitz – Green Connect so you know exactly how much you’re paying and what for.

And we have been working on some Illawarra-Shoalhaven Local Health District sites as well as getting clearance to work on Department of Education sites which is very exciting.

Fair Food news

The farm has taken a hammering this year with all the rain and is in need of some restoration. If you can spare a few hours a week, or even as a one-off, please get in touch about Volunteering to help us to get it back into shape. Our garden beds need some attention after being washed out so many times, and our paths, bridges, fences and driveway are all looking worse for wear so we’ll be focusing on getting everything up to scratch over the next few months. Any assistance is greatly appreciated!

Our boxes are just as delicious as ever thanks to the team working hard rain, hail or shine, so if you’ve always wanted to try one, jump on and order from your preferred pick up location or for home delivery at Veg boxes

Speaking of which, we would love to establish pick-up hubs in any of the following suburbs. If you know a business that is open in the afternoon/evening on a Tuesday in one of these places and has a corner we can put a few veg boxes in for customers to pick up from, please email Lindsay at [email protected]:

  • Coledale
  • Bulli
  • Bellambi, Corrimal or Woonona
  • Dapto
  • Shellharbour
  • Kiama

The year that was

 As we look back on the last financial year, I’m delighted to share that in the 12 months to 30 June 2022, Green Connect:

  • Employed 106 young people and former refugees
  • Kept more than 160 tonnes of waste out of landfill
  • Grew and distributed more than 52,000kg of fair food

Thank you for your support for Green Connect, no matter what form that has taken and continues to take. And if you’ve read to the end and have a question, idea or concern, please reply! I love hearing back from people.

And keep an eye out for one last email from me before I finish up. There’s some exciting news on the horizon…

Best wishes,