Karina wants to share Eco Voices with the world
The Eco Voices project is an idea Karina Donkers (Stockdale) developed using her deep ecology training to reconnect people to each other and to the Earth. The project aims to bring awareness to some of the impacts of climate change and start conversations about how we can be a part of the solution. Nature has its own stories and voices; and this project will aim at bring these to the forefront of the discussion.
We had the opportunity to chat with Karina recently, and she answered some of the questions we had for her.
Visiting one of my favourite local cave areas before I leave 💚🌏🙏 this cave is stunning and leaves me speechless everytime, to keep warm at night there is a beautiful fire pit made by the traditional custodians of the land. I am so lucky to live near such beautiful places and I am grateful after my Eco Voices trip that I get to return home to ancient beautiful places like these 🌿 I would like to acknowledge that this project is starting on the land of the Wadawurrung people and pay my respects to elders past present and future. I would like to also acknowledge that these are a people who have been living sustainably on this land for thousands of years and who hold a deep ancient wisdom of the land.
What was the main driver behind the creation of Eco Voices?
As the soundtrack of the world is changing, Eco Voices hopes to amplify the song of the natural world and bring a voice to the voiceless. Narrative and story are a large part of how we have learnt to understand ourselves and the world around us. Therefore Eco Voices is gathering stories from species that are being affected by climate change and habitat destruction, as well as sharing powerful stories of innovative sustainability projects and from people living the change to share with the wider community.
These stories aim to reconnect and shift peoples sense of self to see themselves as part of nature and not separate to it, developing people’s ecological self and encouraging people to fall back in love with the natural world. Using Deep Ecology practices, and inspired by Joanna Macy’s The Work That Reconnects this project aims to deepen people’s connection to each other and the world. Eco Voices invites people to be a part of shifting our story – to one that honours all voices.
If you’ve not heard of Joanne Macy, you can see an introduction to her YouTube video series below:
What do you believe is the most positive ways for us to be interacting with nature?
We are nature. For me it’s about a deep remembering and a reawakening of our inherit way of being in this world. To find balance again and be in harmony in the web of life. Every day we have an impact on this world, we get to choose what that impact is- good or bad.
My motto in life is ‘leave everything more beautiful than you found it, whether that be a piece of land that you are regenerating or someone else’s sense of worth or building community or creating art. This is how I hope to spend my days giving back as much as I take from nature and if I am lucky giving back a little more.
Given the multitude of threats facing the environment today, what meaningful action can we undertake to improve this situation?
I believe that in this time of environmental and social crisis everyone has a unique strength and gift to bring to the healing of this planet. Part of the workshops that are being run through the Eco Voices project help people uncover their part to play in the larger story of life. I think that the most powerful action we can take it identifying this and utilise it to make change on an individual, community and global level. The Earth is yearning for people to step into their full unique selves and come together for a collaborative response.
You undertook a PDC in 2016 – did this affect your outlook on the environment?
Attending the permaculture design course in 2016 helped deepen my appreciation for the profound inter-connectedness of life. It further opened my eyes to the magic and importance of the small things like micro-organisms and the make-up of soil. It helped me read the land and see the stories that are written in the landscape. It made me curious about how the whole system breathes as one. It highlighted the deep intelligence nature holds, an intelligence that we will only ever touch the surface of. It also acted as a reminder about ensuring I was sustainable in the work I was doing to avoid burn-out.
I met with Joni, mother of rays, who is dedicated to researching the smooth stingray also known as the short-tailed stingray. The smooth stingray is the world’s largest marine stingray and has been chosen as Joni’s focus for her PhD. Joni's research will explore the impact that the discarding of fish cleaning waste has on stingrays when it’s thrown into the ocean. This practice which has been in place for many years in Jervis Bay and has resulted in smooth stingrays altering their travel patterns to eat the readily available food waste. The stingrays gather expectantly near the fish cleaning tables and wait for the scraps to slide down the pipes pretty much right into their open mouths. Some days there is 20kgs of fish waste being deposited by one cleaning table, much more food than the stingrays would forage daily. Without having to forage, the stingrays are using considerably less energy than they would catching their food in a natural environment. They are also eating some fish that originated from deep water fishing, scraps from species that they might not usually be exposed to. These factors are all being explored amongst many others in Joni’s research. Alongside these considerations there is work being done to track the smooth stingrays to learn more about their behaviour but also to discover new mating areas. There is only one known area that the smooth stingrays mate making it important to identify these specific locations to ensure protection can be provided for them. The smooth stingrays are quite common therefore have been placed on the conservation status as ‘least concern’. This is a point of concern for Joni as there is very little known about these mysterious beauties. Joni believes that they should maybe be categoried as ‘data deficient’. This is an important point of difference as mis-categorization could result in issues or concerns for the smooth stingray to fly under the radar. Longer term considerations include the impact of climate change as research is showing a southern shift of the species due to the warming of the oceans. Continued in comments….. photo by @stingray.diaries
Imagine you received a crowd-funded amount of a million dollars. What would you do with it?
I would use the money to empower and inspire thousands of people in different regions to be leaders of change in their own area, building the grassroots movement and supporting innovative and creative mean of addressing climate change. This would create flow on ripple effects that would reach many many more people and support communities to implement their own change. Climate change is an all-encompassing issue that requires humanity to come together to create a world that honours all life. I believe a shift in consciousness is required to best move forward to ensure that the world is balanced and self-sustaining.
How can people get involved with Eco Voices?
There are many ways that you can get involved with Eco Voices. You can follow the stories on Facebook- Eco Voices or on Instagram- @eco.voices. The project has been running since April this year and has had the privilege to collect stories from species such as the leadbeater possum, the greater glider, the koala, the smooth stingray, the humpback whale, the bell frog and many more. People can also get involved by contacting Karina on [email protected] to share a story of a species, collaborate in an event for sustainability/activism or book Karina for various different education packages or for workshop delivery in deep ecology.