This trip has taught me the importance of a person’s surroundings for determining how easy it is to live sustainably. The infrastructure of a place – the likes of access to public transport, or presence of recycling bins, or the half flush button on a toilet – can dramatically affect the size of a person’s environmental footprint. When features to aid sustainable lifestyles are part of the fabric of daily living, everyone can be more environmentally friendly, whether they think about it actively or not.
This still all starts with individual action – the Generation Zero crew (see profile at www.seekthechange.org/profiles/generation-zero) are a passionate, committed and professional bunch of young people who are helping to change the debate around transport issues for making New Zealand sustainable. They realise the need to engage with politics and decision-making to make changes to infrastructure happen.
Generation Zero have become an authority in this area. The recent debate in Auckland about the city’s future transport plan demonstrates this – Sudhvir Singh, the direction of the Auckland branch of Gen Zero was on the panel (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11410472
– if you’re keen to learn about the city’s transport deliberations).
They have come up with an alternative to the two proposals from Auckland Council, and by the reception it has had so far, I could see it becoming THE chosen option.
I’ve learnt a few things from them about how to engage in creating infrastructural changes:
- They know their stuff – they go through relevant documents with a fine tooth comb to ensure they understand everything about the issue they are addressing
- They keep up to speed with political processes and engage with them at every stage
- They make it easy for their networks to engage too by producing online quick submit forms so that people can respond to government/council proposals to make their voices heard
-They provide thoughtful, pragmatic and realistic alternatives, focused on the solution not just the problem
- They are professional – in their publications and in the way they look (check this out to see what I mean: www.fixourcity.co.nz)
- They work as a team, and they know who is good at what – the design guru, the articulate spokesperson, the political processes expert
Generation Zero makes grappling with the gigantic building block of infrastructural development for creating a sustainable society seem not only possible but also achievable.