All change!

We live in a changing world. Some of these changes are good and improve our lives. Some are not so good. Some we probably just have to accept and make the best of: some we can legitimately try to avoid or mitigate. The big question is “what can we do to avoid or mitigate undesirable changes?” The answer is – start at the bottom, at grass-roots level. Depending on what you are trying to achieve, changing peoples’ minds can of itself be beneficial. If you are lucky enough to live, as we do, in a democracy, people can also be expected to take their message to those higher up the food chain who can make the large-scale strategic changes that will be needed.

I would think that the most far-reaching and potentially influential development in our lives is climate change, and it was with this in mind that I had the pleasure recently of chatting with Ailsa Paterson, the Secretary of Perth Hills Climate Change Interest Group (PHCCIG – use of acronyms is eco-friendly: in the end we will need to use less paper).

Originally from Scotland, Ailsa came to Oz for a temporary stay over 50 years ago. She is still here and for four decades has called the Hills home, first in Parkerville and now Stoneville (she can’t have heard of Darlington when she first arrived!).

She was drawn onto the PHCCIG committee when it was formed five years ago. They started off as a climate sub-committee of a now defunct body called Mundaring in Transition but have survived their parent to become a not-for-profit organization in their own right. The Group’s objectives are:

  • To support activities that may lead to a sustainable, carbon neutral and positive future
  • To promote climate emergency policies and activities and low carbon initiatives in the Perth Hills
  • To inform and educate us about climate change and a sustainable future
  • To advocate for action on climate change
  • To collaborate with organisations and leaders holding similar aims.

They achieve their aims by making representations on climate matters to politicians and local governments, holding periodical public forums to discuss such matters, and having stalls at local shows and events.

As Ailsa told me, they would like to get their message, in as positive a way as possible, to as many people as possible. The ‘positive’ angle is very important: a critical and confrontational approach is more likely to result in a defensive and uncooperative reaction. You want people supporting you, not being given reasons why they shouldn’t. We can all do something. One person’s decision to stop using plastic bags, to plant some bushes, to speak to their MP might, by itself, be completely insignificant. If 25 million individuals start doing these things, it will count.

Councillors reading this will be happy to learn that Ailsa had good things to say about our Shire, their attitude to climate change and the things they have done to reduce carbon output such as the recently-agreed switch to LED street lights. Their original target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% from the 2016/17 baseline by 2030 was achieved last year, and their 2024 plan aims to reduce them by 70% by 2030.

PHCCIG is entirely run by volunteers and their fairly modest expenses have been met by a small grant from the Shire and income from Containers for Change. They would love your support, whether on the committee or just as a foot-soldier and you can find out what you need to do to contact them on their web site at You could also direct to them your income from what you take along to Containers for Change. Every little helps!