Category Archives: Sustainability

Wild October

Mid-October. I am a couple of weeks into my strange sabbatical. Lots of taking stock and reflection.

It seems someone decided it was wild-for-nature October too, which I appreciate. This was my #wildoctoberart contribution. The art prompt that inspired this sketch and colour was misunderstood 😀

So this wild heart has an #inktober story to share. The meaning behind the new ink on my arm and how Dragonfly Travelling come to be…

I was probably about 14 or 15 years old. It was one of our family wanderings around South Africa. This time into the Drakensberg Mountains and a place called Injisuthi.

There are no words that really capture the grandeur of this place. It is truly wild and the magic of Mama Africa sparkles across the fast flowing streams and flits through the dells and gullys, then soars up and over the grass covered hills, along the cliffs and into the caves. Here the evidence of early human wanderers lingers.

Dad and I intended to try a 4 to 5 hour hike up into the mountains. A couple of hours in we lost the trail completely. Even retracing our steps didn’t work and we were soon well and truly lost. As the afternoon drew in so did the black storm clouds. We could see the river in the valley below that we would have to get down to and cross to find the road that would take us back to camp. Contouring along the ridges trying to find a path down to the river proved challenging as most the dells were thick with thorny brambles. We pushed through and eventually came to a shallow enough spot to cross the river. As we were crossing the heavens opened and the storm broke over us, thunder and lightning lending even more drama to our predicament. I had removed my hiking boots to cross barefoot. Once across I sat on a large flat granite rock to put my boots back on. The boots were new and had given me blisters. I was so tired by this point and pretty wobbly from feeling the concern of being lost in the mountains. We had been away from camp 6 or 7 hours by now and I knew my Mom would be worrying. So I sat on the rock trying to put those boots back on my broken feet. The rain stopped in those few minutes and the sun shone through a small break in the cloud. It shone down on my rock and in that moment two crimson dragonflies alighted onto the rock beside me. They weren’t there more than a few seconds and they were gone, the sun disappeared and the rain came back. We hiked to the road as the storm continued and a passing vehicle offered us a ride back to camp. We accepted gratefully, returning 8 hours after our departure to the relief of everyone.

That moment on the rock with those two dragonflies has left an indelible imprint on my soul. It has taken me years to find ways to express and articulate its significance. The fact I was with my Dad. The fact it was a challenging situation. The fact that it was in those magical mountains of my homeland. The fact it was dragonflies. So much symbolism…. I am an Enneagram Type 4 and we love us some symbolism 😀

It might seem strange to say but the dragonfly moment has become the expression of my sense of place in this world – my deep connection with Nature, with my family, with my roots, with my purpose. It turns out there is an African proverb that expresses this idea too. Ubuntu – I am because we are. For me we includes all of Nature. This has been grounding, particularly in the past couple of years as I have moved towards living my purpose.

And so I began to articulate the significance of this moment. It started with an email address, then a simple tattoo on my wrist. Now in the completed ink story on my wrist including all the colour possible with the African daisies! And this blog…. which still freaks me out every time I am compelled to post! Like I say in my little bio – an act of vulnerability for this wandering introvert. But as a lovely kindred spirit of mine says “growth through discomfort”.

Do you have a significant moment with Nature you can draw on? A moment that grounds you in who you are in the grand scheme of things and how you want to live on this Earth? What kind of legacy do you want to leave for your children and their children?

As the incomparable Sir David Attenborough says in his latest doco (a must watch!), we need “to move from being apart from nature to become a part of nature once again”.

I encourage you to find your Nature moment 🖤

August is for Elephants

I love elephants. These majestic beings know things about living on this earth…. the kinds of things I believe we have lost touch with in our mostly urban pursuits.

I have had the absolute privilege of sharing space with elephants. A couple of whom I have got to know quite well, I flatter myself.

They are as unique in character as we are. They have their good days and their bad just like us…. and I truly believe they have a sense of humour.

The photos above show one such ellie. A charming character who would share our Okavango Delta island a months each year while the marula fruit were around to enjoy. One day a tree came down over our office/storeroom scattering marula fruit throughout the little enclosed courtyard. As afternoon descended he approached the office, low rumbling to let us know he was there. Leaving me no time to vacate the office, he squeezed through a small gap between the buildings making his way into the little courtyard. He proceeded to find every single marula he could on the roof, on the ground, carefully maneuvering around this small enclosed space. After a half hour or so of foraging he made ready to leave through the same gap he had came through. This took him past the open office door where I was sitting quite still, overwhelmed by the moment. I hadn’t noticed the marula that had rolled on to the floor inside the office just a few feet from where I was sitting. He paused his head filling the door space. He lifted his trunk and sniffed, then turning his head slightly he gave a long look. It took probably just a moment but to me it was a MOMENT. Then quite calmly he pushed his whole head through the doorway into the office, reached out his trunk and took the marula fruit near my feet. A sideways movement to get his head back out the door, he took the gap between the buildings and melted into the twilight.

He was surrounded by humans and human structures that entire time. He knew we meant him no harm. He just wanted those delicious marula fruit.

I will remember that incredible moment as long as I live. A treasured memory I hold close.

To me a world without elephants is unthinkable. Unfortunately, they face ongoing challenges sharing a world with humanity.

Luckily I am not the only one who loves elephants. In fact, there is an incredible conservation collective who have dedicated their lives to elephant conservation.

This weekend on Saturday 8 August a first in elephant conservation is taking place – a virtual elephant collaring! From the comfort of your couch you can get a front row seat to experience what happens when elephant are fitted with radio collars to track their movement and gather valuable data to help in their protection and conservation. So exciting! I have booked my ticket! Will you?

Find all the information you need here – Virtual Elephant Collaring – this will let you know who is behind this awe-inspiring project, why it is necessary and how you can be a part of this world first! Get involved!

I don’t think that Carla from the Blue Sky Society, the brains behind this initiative, or Dr Michelle from Elephants Alive planned it this way but World Elephant Day is 12 August! Or perhaps they did. What a fitting way to celebrate all things elephant this year!

Wanderings Day 1

Due to severe wandering withdrawals I have decided to use the month of April to wander virtually down travel memory lane.  Here we go….

We are starting at Twee Rivieren rest camp in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

I spent some time here as a SANParks People and Conservation intern. The internship was organised through an organisation called Global Vision International

My lodgings – a shipping container village within the staff village affectionately known as Blikkiesdorp (Tin Town).

I remember the sound of the barking geckos of an evening, dodging scorpions on windy nights and the amazing family of yellow mongoose who kept the cape cobras at bay.

28 March 2020 8:30pm many acknowledged Earth Hour around the world. I happened to be in Twee Rivieren for the first ever Earth Hour. It was my task to communicate about climate change and its impact on this area of the arid North West. With not too many resources to hand and bearing in mind we are talking 13 years ago, I cobbled together a display, of sorts😀 I have included a pic of the display board in the Twee Riveiren visitors’ centre. We also parcelled up candles with a little info sheet for all the chalets, campsites and staff houses so guests as well as staff could participate.

More Kgalagadi wanderings tomorrow…. this time remembering many breathtaking moments with the incredible wildlife of this unique region.

Not all those who wander are lost

JRR Tolkien

The Space Between

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Viktor Frankl

COVID-19 lockdown day four here in Aotearoa/New Zealand.  Time at home to really consider the space between stimulus and response.

I wanted to share with you some of what I’ve been reading and watching. Trying to make sense of all of this – where is our opportunity to grow.

However, I should say first that not all of us are in a position to reflect on this current situation in the way that I am able to.  Self-care and self-compassion will look different for each of us at the moment.  Some of us out there will be dealing first hand with the tragedy that is this pandemic.

So, it is to those of us who are simply doing our bit by staying home, physical distancing and encouraging being together apart, that I address these reflections to.  And reflecting is important right now as Nature has given us this space between.

I really appreciate what Niki Harré says about reflecting in her book The Infinite Game: how to live well together.

“Reflecting is not a lazy way to avoid moving forward; it is a crucial part of untangling ourselves from the dominant cultural patterns that are so easy to replicate when we ‘just do it’. Reflecting takes skill”

Niki Harré

Let’s start with what seems to be the unravelling picture of the causes of the unprecedented time we now find ourselves in.

Bill Gates’ TED talk 2015 – this is a link to Bill Gates’ eerily accurate prediction about epidemics and what we would need to prepare.  His suggestions mostly focus on building capacity for epidemiologists, innovation, health ministry preparedness and government collaboration.  Much of this seems to have fallen on deaf ears and the work hasn’t been done.

Bill Gates’ TED Connects March 2020How we must respond to the coronavirus pandemic.  In this 50 minute conversation with Bill Gates a lot of ground is covered with regard to testing, therapeutics, vaccines and other logistics around managing the pandemic.

What I love is his pragmatic optimism, his belief in humanity and his unswerving belief in our creativity in terms of science and innovation.  But I do wonder, if we are not in that particular creative sphere, on that sort of scientific front line, where do our responsibilities lie?  As just average global citizens, what difference can we make, if any?

The next piece of the puzzle for me is why would a pandemic of this nature be an inevitability as Gates suggested in 2015?  Well, from my research it seems we have brought this on ourselves – the sheer numbers that make up the human population, the amount and the way we consume, the biodiversity loss and ecosystem service disruption we have caused, the accelerated climate change we have induced.

Here are some links worth reading/watching:

John Scanlon, African Parks Network has written an eloquent article on wildlife crime and the link between wet markets and disease spread.

A short video titled How wildlife trade is linked to coronavirusPlease note this is from early March so the statistics quoted are out of date.

This from the World Health Organisation.

And this from the Wildlife Conservation Society.  Now including a policy document.

If ever there was a time when Mother Nature herself was speaking up and giving credence to what scientists, researchers and conservationists have been saying for years, it is now.

But what can we do?  What hope is there?  Are there individual actions we can each take that will make a difference?

Yes, I believe so!  What follows are a few ideas that range from the deep and reflective to the more light-hearted, surviving lockdown ones.  All ways to consider the space between.

At times like these it is useful to pause and consider our values.  Values are our guiding forces.  They are quite individual to each of us, although will be influenced by our culture and upbringing.  My values are very much based on the environment and how I see my relationship with other living things and the planet in general.  Many people have values based on how they value their social relationships and still others may focus on themselves and their individual well-being.  Or a combination of these values.  None are right or wrong. But what I think is interesting is that no matter where your core values lie, we can no longer deny the need for change as the human species – behaviours and actions.  Setting a new norm that will impact on individual health and wellbeing, the good of humanity and future generations, as well as the planet we are so intimately connected to, is imperative.

If you want to read more about values and how values influence our decision-making, I highly recommend checking out the Barratt Academy for the Advancement of Human Values.  There is also a really useful values assessment tool on this website.

That was the deep stuff.  On to something more practical.  If we are mindful of how we are living on the planet and the impact we are having, we can take practical steps to mitigate and reduce negative impact.  For a super interesting read on a scale of solution focused ideas to address climate change, check out Drawdown.  I think there is something for everyone here, no matter your circumstance or where you find yourself in the world.  I found this information incredibly empowering!

Then, I really think we should be thinking about what we eat and how it is produced.  Regenerative agriculture makes the Drawdown list at number 11.  Here is a one farmer’s perspective – Angus McIntosh talks about the case for regenerative agriculture.  As I mentioned above, living mindfully is key and knowledge is power.  Food for thought 😉

I have another quote from Niki Harré’s Infinite Game that I think fits here:

But the idea kept popping into my head that life is based on radical cooperation. Cooperation fitted because the actions of each life form supported the growth of other forms; and it was radical because these actions were at the root of both individual survival and the functioning of the entire ecosystem.

Niki Harré

And what about surviving right now?

How about a coping calendar from Action for Happiness

Or travel virtually… my friend Carla from the Blue Sky Society Trust is currently taking us on an epic African Safari experience… get involved!

As for me…. Painting calms me down… here’s some new ones…

And that about wraps up a very long post.  I will be back in April hoping to post most days with photos and short stories from my travels over the years.  Join me for some virtual wanderings.

Take heart, dear ones.  All will be well.  Our collective courage, compassion and kindness in this space between will make it so.

Leaving you with a couple more quotes from the hugely inspiring Infinite Game which seem written for a time such as now….  Thank you, Niki Harré, for sharing your wisdom 💙

“This is what being an infinite player or a community that cares about our lives together means. Getting up each day, remembering what matters, and trying like hell to live that in the confusion of real life. It does not mean knowing what is right. Sometimes it might just mean rejecting that which is clearly wrong (as far as you can tell). And, I humbly suggest, this process may be aided by imagining life as an infinite game. Not because it is, exactly, but because imagining it so might help to focus us on what truly matters.”

“Love is at the heart of the infinite values. Radical cooperation is a way of translating this into the mind-set of an infinite player. It involves trying your best to let go of the belief, trained into us by our society’s emphasis on self-promotion and self-acquisition, that security lies in what you have cordoned off for you and your descendants. Insofar as security exists at all, it is better understood as lying in how well we cooperate with each other and the natural world in which we are embedded.”

Getting an Education

It’s been a while since my last post. I seem to be needing time to settle into this year and all it has held for me already.

I have been quite overwhelmed by the whole Kikki K Dream Life experience so far. There has been something so comforting in having those three big dreams on paper in the Dream Tin perched on the Vision Wall. They are there with their respective Master Action Lists attached, goals and milestones in the diary…. everything my organised mind could wish for.

And then… serendipity! Two things have popped up this month most definitely not on any Master Action List. But two things which beautifully match where I am at with working towards all three of those dreams coming true…. the Universe in perfect alignment with my Dream Life!!

So, while there is something delicious in the structure of this particular dreaming process, and having dreams written down, and to do lists in place, there is something equally intriguing about being open to boundless possibility too.

One of these serendipitous events has been enrolling in two different online courses.

Exploring Conservation – free courses through National Geographic. Nothing particularly new for me content wise but so thrilling to see how many people from all over the world are looking into this wanting to understand more!

The other course is through the Civic Ecology Lab, Cornell University. It has been wonderful to really study again. To reflect on lectures and webinars, to keep up with the readings and fill a notebook with ideas and reflections.

And here, again, unexpectedly finding a tribe – a group of humans literally all over the planet on a similar quest for knowledge and the tools to share their message and their passion for Mother Earth.

So, right now I’m taking the advice from my previous post to “Educate yourself for the coming conflicts” Mother Jones.

Learning is a life-long journey that is for sure.

Hope your 2020 has started on a positive note too.