Sunday, January 11, 2009
I’m pictured here with my new friend and boss, Jennifer Singfield. Jen and her husband Chris, have been kind enough to host and house me since I’ve been here, and this has made my commute to Jen’s home office a very easy one! (Right across the hall!)
Jen’s environmentalism started ten years ago, when her kids were in high school. She began with water quality monitoring at the local Cabbage Tree Creek, and was not pleased with what she found. This led her to become intimately acquainted and involved with the local wetlands, estuaries and mangroves in the area around her home in Shorncliffe. Because these areas are a filter, of sorts, they play a big role in the quality of the ocean into which they drain.
There is a patchwork of wetland and estuarine reserves in and around the north Brisbane area, but they are quickly being dug up and paved over for a number of things, such as the airport, port and motorway expansions. We had a good chuckle when the local golf course president, who touted himself as an environmentalist, came around to speak with Jen to try and gain her support. (He is losing several holes from his course due to the motorway expansion, and wants to replace it with a swath of the local wetlands.) He will in turn build a “wetlands course” to closely resemble the land he uses for his links. As I’m sure you can imagine, a “manufactured wetlands” went over like a lead balloon around here, and Jen let him know this in no uncertain terms. Poor guy, we let him give us his spiel, but it did nothing to sway Jen to support his “greening” of natural habitat.
It is truly an uphill struggle here, as Brisbane is gaining 1,000 new residents per week, and the infrastructure to support them paves over everything in its way. Jen works with a small group of tireless individuals who do their best to stay on top of what is planned and fight for what they have worked so hard to save. I try to remind her what she told me when I first got here, that you have to remember your victories, however small they might be, and try not to get frustrated by the defeats.