City Hub

Saving the planet one blog at a time

BY LIZ CUSH

Sitting in a King Street cafe, I strain to hear Lilly above the bellow of cars hurtling past metres away. The Sydney air is hardly what you’d call fresh, and at night stars are screened by atmospheric pollution. While Liberal party troglodytes Tony Abbott and Bronwyn Bishop addressed the freak show of climate change deniers in Canberra last week, Lilly told me about her plans to travel the world and link up with grassroots projects who are trying to halt the destruction of the planet.

She has set up a website called groundroots.org to document her next year, travelling 17 countries solo, armed with just a laptop, a video camera and a strong dose of courage, learning about environmental projects.

From Indonesia to China and the United States to South America, Lily intends to shed light on community responses to climate change. Her aim is to engage people with sustainability from a positive point of view.

“Our generation has grown up with an awareness of environmental problems and it really gets people down,” Lily says.

“I’ve had so many conversations with people who don’t see there’s any point in even trying because as far as they can see every thing’s already stuffed, and we’ve already ruined the planet.

“What I want to do is try and show that’s not true. A lot of the reason people think like that is because the media is so skewed towards the problems and there’s so many things going on where you just never hear about them.”

Her first stop will be in Sumatra, where she intends to look at the controversial United Nations REDD project (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) that has received $60 million in funding from the Australian Government. She has a frenetic schedule, hopping to China to check out renewable energy projects and the United States to meet the people who set up the freecycle website which promotes sharing used things rather than purchasing new ones.

“I’m deliberately not doing too much research before I go because most of it I will find out on the way, because a lot of grassroots projects don’t put information on the web,” Lilly says.

“In my experience, a lot of the time, you need local knowledge.”

By the end of the year, Lilly hopes to have collected a huge trove of stories from the global underground, of resistance to corporations, and people combating climate change. She’s ready for a backpacking adventure, but figures it’s best to combine the hedonism of travel with a healthy dose of humanitarianism.

“With the environmental problems that we’re facing, it’s going to be the most disruptive change to global human society since the industrial revolution,” Lilly says.

“We’re going to continue to have environmental and financial crises because we are coming up against the edges of an unsustainable system, and unless we develop the tools to overcome this, it’s humans who are at risk, it’s not us versus nature, because nature will recover.”

“If you’re going to go travelling, you’re better off discovering what’s really happening in the world instead of just going to the tourist guides, talk to people and find out what their struggles are. Nothing’s more pressing than environmental struggles because that is what’s going to define the next century.”

Find Lilly’s blogs and videos on her epic environmental adventure at groundroots.org