Home Institution

Cornell University

Publication Date

Spring 2013

Program Name

Australia: Sustainability and Environmental Action


From 3 April 2013 to 28 April 2013, I interned with the Brisbane branch of Be The Change, an organization that promotes ecological, social and spiritual sustainability through their empowering symposiums, in Australia. I focused on creating a tool to help symposium participants take community action after the event. My goal was to create a resource for Be The Change to use across Australia to further its impact, attend a symposium and implement sustainable actions in my everyday life.

In the 140 total hours of work I completed, I helped plan a symposium, participated in workshops and events within the Brisbane sustainability community, conducted extensive research on community organization, compiled web and print resources for an action guide and observed the work of Be The Change. To gather data I used participant observation and conducted four interviews: three with Be The Change facilitators and one with the founders of Food Connect. I also had the opportunity to present my final action guide to participants at a symposium on April 27th.

Within the context of a disconnected world, it is difficult for people to feel empowered enough to take action; they need the support of like-minded individuals and organizations. Many organizations understand this and thus provide their members with tools to engage with one another and the local, sustainable community. Currently, Be The Change does not have the infrastructure to provide this. However, I observed that the mission of Be The Change is extremely powerful and the symposiums, moving. Their role, in educating and helping participants see potential solutions within themselves, is an important one. By uniting with other local sustainable organizations, both parties would greatly benefit.

Working alongside Fiona Leiper, a Be The Change facilitator, I experienced the importance of communication, organization, commitment and the significance of a physical space for creating community. Above all I learned about embodying one’s vision, rather than simply acting on it.


Civic and Community Engagement | Educational Leadership | Educational Sociology | Environmental Policy | Environmental Sciences | Place and Environment | Sustainability



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