One year of sharing stories at the EcoCentre

Reflections by Ryan Abramowitz, EcoCentre Communications and Marketing coordinator 

Story-telling and story-sharing connect us to ourselves, each other, our past and our dreams for the future.  Stories cross time as whales cross oceans. As today marks my one year anniversary of being a weaver of stories at the Port Phillip EcoCentre, it felt fitting to share my reflections from this time.

 

 

Every morning the colours of the wind waltz around me as I cycle down St Kilda streets  from home to the EcoCentre. A place where community and nature live in beautiful symbiosis.

 

These elements, community and nature, are two central pillars of wellbeing.

Nature bestows a sense of divinity and awe for something broader and beyond ourselves. The rustle of the wind through the leaves, or the ripples cascading across the surface of a pond, offer a hypnotic calming effect that settles the mind and soothes the soul.


Communities, and our coming together with common values and visions are another way for us to feel connected to something bigger, and less alone in this grand experience of life. The EcoCentre is a safe harbour for these assemblies.

 

At the EcoCentre, community and nature grow harmoniously together and manifest across a textured landscape of programs and events – from the Friday Gardening Group to the Beachkeepers of the Tea Tree. Like the noon flower we put into the ground at Elwood Tea Tree Reserve, and in turn watching it grow, part of the storytelling harvest comes from my own participation and observations.  The shared experience of planting together and the earthy feeling of the soil between one’s fingers is grounding. The knowledge that these actions will yield benefits for tomorrow – protecting coastal habitats that provide crucial habitat and shelter through the revegetation of native plants – is affirming. 

 

In my role as the Communications and Marketing coordinator, I get to hear all the stories from program participants, volunteers, staff and other community members. I see the purpose that glitters in their eyes, the smiles spreading across their faces, emanating from their involvement in making these meaningful differences.

 

This past year has also been incredibly eye-opening. Pressing issues such as the overwhelming volume of poisonous and pervasive microplastic pollution (which has been detected everywhere from the Himalayas to the placenta), or the invasive species of marine pests endangering the delicate ecosystem of our Bay, are now in the forefront of my mind.  We are in a climate emergency, with this past July having the four hottest days of global temperatures on record.

 

Working at the EcoCentre brings interconnected environment issues into a sharper and alarming focus, impressing the need for action to be taken to defend our blue planet. Action occupies many shapes, from advocacy and policy at the Government levels to the individual actions of picking up rubbish, conducting pollution audits or alerting trained marine pest rapid response teams.

 

The EcoCentre is a site of unique and exciting collaborations and cross pollinators.  A place where ocean photographers, picture book illustrators and veterinarians all work together. I am humbled by the talents, skillsets and many hats worn by the members of our incredibly dynamic team of staff. 

 

As vast as the amount of work that needs to be done, it is inspiring to behold the difference that we can all make individually at a grassroots level, and collectively.  From students being energised by our educational programs to implement their ideas for sustainable solutions, to corporate groups building pollinator hotels, at the EcoCentre there are entry points for anyone to find a way to play their part. We all create ripples in this grand web of life, and are empowered as we learn how to direct these ripples for good.

 

When we have team activities in the Botanic Gardens (which we are so fortunate to neighbour) I delight in the birdsong as my feet feel the grass between my toes. Its emanating life force connects me even more so to our beautiful earth. And I am freshly revitalised in the work we do to raise awareness of this climate emergency we find ourselves in, and inspire action to mitigate the impacts of it. 

I leave work with a heart full as I cycle home along the bay before an evening swim.  I recently read an article about the triangle of happiness- bordered by the corners of where we work, where we live and where we play. For me this overlays a precious part of the world adjacent to Port Phillip Bay. 

 

Our fundraising activities and campaigns highlight the urgent and critical work the EcoCentre does to ensure the wellbeing of our waterways. When I walk into the water and become one with the bay – I feel buoyed by the fulfillment of knowing that my work is helping to safeguard its survival. Our planet is sacred – there is so much we need to protect.

 

 

In my time outside the EcoCentre, I am an artist, author and illustrator. The entity I have created through which to self-publish my first picture book is called ‘Narratives of Nature’.  Narratives of Nature is a place for stories of our human nature, expressed through the natural world . In essence, I am always telling stories with a reverie for nature. It is wonderful I have so many different opportunities and modes to articulate these.

 

Our backyard
17 June Feature Photo Square

I am an oceanic soul – whales are my spirit animals. 13/14 days a week I swim in the Bay (even through winter). It is incredibly rewarding to know that my work at the EcoCentre aligns with caring for that which I love most in the world – our oceans and the life it supports.

 

Since the days of Pangea, unlike the land, the ocean has remained connected – it is possible to travel around the whole planet without touching land once. The moment we step into water, we therefore make contact with every life force, plant and animal that lives within it. This is akin to life at the EcoCentre – one story-rich ocean of unfurling tales and dynamic interconnections, waiting to be found both above and below the surface of those who seek to dive in. 

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The EcoCentre acknowledges the Kulin Nations, including the Yalukut Weelam clan of the Boon Wurrung language group, traditional owners of the land on which we are located.

We pay respects to their Elders past and present, and extend that respect to other Aboriginal and Elder members of our multicultural community.