YOUth LEADing the world Nov 27th, 28th & 29th 2012

3 day Youth Leadership Congress where Youth explore local and global issues of sustainability, measure and understand their own eco-footprint and work on action plans to make change in their lives, schools and communities.

Congresses are held simultaneously, digitally linked across multiple australian and global location. YLTW is now in its 4th year set to run in 50 locations.

Wodonga is lucky enough to be a part of this fantastic opportunity for Youth to focus on global sustainability.  See the flyer  here for details on how to register for this fantastic opportunity being held at The Cube, Wodonga.

Environmental Film Festival – Yackandandah

In 2006 An Inconvenient Truth brought to broad audiences pictures of the potential threats posed by climate change.  Al Gore provided a far reaching examination of likely impacts of a less stable global climate patterns.  It was a disturbing story but also proved one of the most successful campaigns at raising awareness of the problems with not acting immediately to address the human caused carbon emissions.  Moreover it offered hope that with commitment climate change could be limited.

 Sadly,  current research is suggesting this heightened awareness has given way to a drop in concern for climate change, perhaps replaced by global financial uncertainty in finances.  Obviously the global financial crisis has had a role in this refocus.

 The makers of An Inconvenient Truth have produced another film;  Last Call for the Oasis.  This film examines the global challenges we are facing with water – itself the precursor to life.  We of course are well familiar with water and it centrality to life given recent experiences with drought through the 2000’s, floods this year in the North East and the struggle to find an equitable management strategy for the Murray Darling.

 Along with 7 other selected movies Last Call at the Oasis is being shown at the Environmental Film Festival (…Melbourne) scheduled to take place in Yackandandah on the 5th and 6th of October – very soon.  Click   2012 Flyer  for details on where to get tickets.

 The festival provides a broad range of movies ranging from satire and a docu-drama through to case studies of emerging coal seam gas operations and even a solar car adventure.  Festival organizer recognise the potential of movies to both remind us of some of the challenges being with the biosphere but also some of the innovation that is occurring to respond to threats in creative and empowering ways.

 More details are available on the attached flyer.  Well worth a trip to Yackandandah, which itself a great little town largely recovered from its own environmental devastation – gold mining during the late 1800’s!

 Details also available on October calendar page on Ecoportal at;

National Food Plan

In 1825 Jean Anthèlme Brillat-Savarin wrote in his magnum opus, The Physiology of Taste, that “the destiny of nations depends on the manner in which they are fed.”

Assuming that to be so, you may well be interested in examining two documents that have the potential to alter the direction our ‘food focus’ takes in the foreseeable future.

 The National Food Plan (NFP) describes the framework Government strategy to meet the burgeoning demand for food production.  The NFP suggests that globally, the demand for food will have increased 77% by 2050 over today’s food production levels.  This document then goes on to explore the anticipated role Australia should have in exporting food (sometimes said to be the equivalent of exporting water concentrate).

If you are interested and can put aside the time, then visit the National Food Plan at the link provided below.

In the interest of an alternate approach and debate, Gene Ethics have developed their ‘People’s Food Plan (PFP) – a democratic counterpoint to the NFP.’  This document can be read here

See you at the Wodonga Sustainable Living Fair on Sunday August 5th, 2012

Preparations are under way for the 5th Wodonga Sustainable Living Fair at La Trobe University, Wodonga this coming Sunday. 

Wodonga Institute of TAFE have a stall and will have brochures available on the courses we are currently offering and ones we hope to run in 2013.

Business, Government and the wider community now consider sustainability issues to be an integral part of their operations.  Therefore, there is an increasing demand for employers and employees to actively engage in a low carbon economy.  The courses that Wodonga TAFE are able to offer will enable you to assist your organization to adopt sustainable business practices leading to increased productivity, reduced costs and improved environmental performance.  The skills and knowledge that you will gain will enable you to embed sustainability principles into your everyday work practices and provide you with an additional high-level qualification that will be an asset in your current workplace.

We look forward to seeing you there on Sunday 10am to 2pm.  See flyer for more details

Dates set for Sustainability Short Courses

The Centre for Sustainable Skills have set dates and fees for Semester 2 for their popular short courses. Click here to see what amazing value short courses we are now offering.

Contact us on 02 6055 6669 or to secure your place in one of these course.

Sustainability Guru to visit Centre for Sustainable Skills

Sustainability Victoria and Wodonga TAFE – Centre for Sustainable Skills 

Would like to invite you to an evening with Guru, Jimmy Brannigan ESD Consulting Ltd  UK

Introducing NetPositive “a tool to increase your bottom line”.

Opening Opportunities

Guru, Jimmy Brannigan, is based in the UK and is the founding director of ESD Consulting Ltd.  Jimmy has worked on sustainability issues and in the environmental sector for over 20 years. 

He has helped a wide range of private and public sector organisations to integrate environmental and social considerations into business models and activities to increase their bottom line.

NetPositive – an approach to sustainability which gives an equal weighting to positive and negative impacts. When all negative and positive impacts of an organisation are taken together the overall, or net, result is positive.

Most sustainability actions have up to now been focused on the negatives reducing waste, transport, carbon. But we believe there’s enormous value in also focusing on the positives. Leading businesses are taking on the challenge of demonstrating their NetPositive impact and we are keen to work with others who would like to take this forward.  The NetPositive approach will help you not only reduce your negative impacts, but capitalise on your positive ones.

 Date:        Thursday 1St March –  6pm to 9pm

Venue:      TAFEspace – 158 Lawrence Street Wodonga    Refreshments provided

RSVP:        Tuesday 28th February to 

Contact:    Jennifer Klippel Ph: 02 6055 6334 or  Email


Complimentary currencies – Dowangos?

This is an image of money notes pinned to a wall.  Source: thing that is rarely critically analysed in courses on Sustainability is economics.  Of course, we all know that most decisions are driven by economics, but what do we really know about economics per se?

My holiday reading was a book by David Boyle titled “Money matters: putting the eco into economics – global crisis and local solutions” (2009, Alastair Sawday Publishing).  I would highly recommend this book.  It is in sections of one to three pages that readily explain the particular topic be it where money comes from, what it means, what it is doing to the planet or how we can change the status quo.

One of Boyle’s most stunning commentaries of what we know as our economic system was concerned with how it knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing.  As a consequence, things of real value are excluded from our economics.  For example, community services such as home-caring, volunteering or natural resources are not included in GDP calculations.

A topic that particularly interested me was communities developing their own complimentary currencies.  There are many systems currently active worldwide and you can browse some of them here.   There is also a LETS system in Melbourne and you can have a look at that here.   Please share your knowledge of others.

Years ago money used to stay in local economies, but today it tends to leave quite quickly via big-chain stores (and possibly leaves the social tax system via offshore secret banking!).  This threatens local communities, but one solution is a complimentary currency that is entirely local.  An example of this is “BerkShares” used in the Berkshires region of Massachusetts.  There, you can buy the equivalent value of $10 for $9 and you can change the Berkshares back into national currency at any time in certain banks in the area.  Big chains in the area don’t accept Berkshares, but local businesses do.  These factors encourage the local community to buy local goods and use local services, which keeps the local economy afloat and even booming.  You may be surprised by the data in the book (I was) that it takes 50,000 pound spent in a local shop to employ a local person whereas it takes 5 times that amount (250,000 pound) spent in a big chain store to achieve the same result.  That’s amazing!

So, if a complimentary currency is such a great thing for communities why aren’t all local communities using them and especially those that aren’t valued by our traditional economic system?  Why aren’t local governments initiating and encouraging them?  I don’t know, but it may be that they are not aware of them or there may be a perception that rates from big business may be threatened or ….  I really don’t know.  But I am inspired to initiate and encourage a local currency.  How about you?  And how would we go about it?  How would you manage the risks?  And what would we call it?  Maybe “Dowangos” (anagram of ?).  🙂

Ali Mitchell

 “There is no wealth but life. Life, including all its powers of love, of joy, and of admiration.” John Ruskin, in “Unto this Last”, 1860.