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An Ecological Conversation of the Heart and Mind

It is no secret that environmental challenges facing the world are growing in scale and complexity. These may include climate change; an emerging global crisis in water availability and water pollution; record loss of biodiversity and long-term damage to ecosystems; pollution of the atmosphere, deforestation and land degradation to name a few concerning and growing environmental factors currently endured throughout the world.

In his encyclical Laudato si’, Pope Francis declares, ‘A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out in the long path to renewal.’ As educators, we have a unique opportunity to promote a new way of thinking about human beings, life, society and our relationship with nature. (Laudato si’ #215)

Inspired by this urgent declaration, the leaders of EREA Schools invite our communities to:

- Contribute to a cultural transformation, whereby an ecological conversion of heart and mind can take place.
- Come together to care for our common home as a way of embodying our commitment towards becoming a national community in mission.
- Be awakened to a new reverence for life and a firm resolve to achieve sustainability. (Earth Charter 2000)
- Come to experience our common home as a “joyful mystery to be contemplated.”
This statement was created after consultation with school Principals and Ecological Educators at the National Arboretum in Canberra, 2017. It references Pope Francis, in particular his insights on the responsibility of schools in addressing environmental issues.

As a college we have a critical role to play in addressing these challenges, with responsibility to minimise our own environment impact, and explore how we can have a positive impact. Admittedly, there has been some phenomenal work completed by a group of outstanding and committed students who have taken on the daunting task of rejuvenating Brother’s Gully. Over the space of four years they have introduced over 150 species of native trees and increased bird life and native fauna in this area, winning awards and accolades from local community groups, Brisbane City Council and environmental awareness campaigners.

However, these boys do not rest on their laurels! The group agree that there is still a wealth of work to complete and improvements to make. Situated on the banks of the Brisbane river, our community of nearly 1500 people has a significant responsibility to keep our waterways clean. When walking around the grounds, plastic wrapping and packaging is often seen along our embankment and gardens near the water. We continue to challenge students on waste disposal by asking them critical questions and prompting them to think of the consequences of not disposing of their waste correctly. Every student understand that it eventually ends up in our water ways, impacting on sea-life and the water quality.

We feel the need to ask the question, ‘What should we be doing as a college community?’ By adopting a ‘baby steps’ approach, it is hoped that we can:

These are just a few achievable suggestions which the group highlighted, hopeful that students and their families can take time and care when packing their lunch boxes or when purchasing groceries.

With a joint approach from a team of teachers and students, we endeavour to create significant changes in the way we live, controlling our output of waste

We must actively contribute to a cultural transformation and engage in ecological conversions of heart and mind for such change to take place. The challenge has been set. Let’s make a difference in our homes and let’s make a difference in our community and ultimately have a positive impact on our beautiful planet.

Bernard Wong
Environmental Club Coordinator and Head of Year 8