Guest blogger, Southland Forest and Bird Chair Lori Johnston, reflects on the Invercargill Spring Eco Festival theme ‘Climate Change: You Make the Difference’
The future hasn’t been written yet, but I saw previews of it at the Spring Eco Fest in Invercargill.

This annual festival brings together the leading lights in our transition from the Age of Oil to the Age of….we’re not sure yet, but we do know that it needs to be in tune with the natural world in ways that the fossil fuel age isn’t.

Healthy Families Invercargill with Love Local initiative – a way to reduce food miles and support local growers.

While some of our global “leaders” drag their feet and stubbornly – wilfully – ignore the evidence of climate change, down here at ground level where it counts, plenty is happening to create a sustainable future.

Here are three examples from the festival:

  1. The people I met who have either gone off grid or are about to. They’ve slowly built up the PVs and other infrastructure and they’re taking the plunge to being in command of their own domestic energy. As costs come down it is becoming more achievable and more mainstream. On behalf of our big wild rivers, I am grateful to these pioneers.
  2. The South Alive community development initiative is doing great things towards creating a neighbourhood-level sharing economy. They are putting in mechanisms for people to share what they have excess of, and what they need. It’s one of several such schemes that bring people together outside of the competitive individualism of the profit-driven market to ensure that essential resources are distributed fairly.
  3. Electric vehicles. There were cars, a hot-rod, and an assortment of differently-wheeled bikes. I was there with my Leaf, and the interest in electric forms of transport was hectic. There was a constant stream of people wanting to know the ins and outs, because they know that, sooner or later, they will ditch their reliance on fossil fuels.
Designing and making this electric car from scratch was the work of
Duncan Cairncross, who had fun taking people for rides at
the Invercargill Eco Fest

Everyone who contributes to or attends events like the Eco Festival is helping to build the gentler, more sustainable future we need!

Eco Fest is one example of Southland’s community engaging with people who want to make a difference but are not sure what to do next, by fostering connections with like-minded people and building up networks.

For more information and ideas, check this out – or this