Antonia goes behind the scenes of the 100% Renewable campaign as part of her Year 10 work experience.
The reason I was so interested in doing work experience with 100%, is that we’ve been learning a lot about global warming in Geography at school lately, and how important it is to protect and conserve our environment, especially by reducing carbon emissions.
After learning that Australia produces an unbelievable 90.36% of their energy through non-renewable resources, I wanted to know if anyone was interested in or taking action on this issue, and how people can become involved. This is when I came across this wonderful campaign that definitely cares and is without a doubt 100% committed to reducing the use of non-renewable resources, that is, literally by 100%.
So on a Tuesday morning at 9am, I waited outside a café in the city to meet the national co-ordinator and Young Environmentalist of the Year, Lindsay Soutar. To say the least, I was very excited. After meeting her and making our way to the office, the experience of being part of the 100% Renewable Campaign had begun.
Walking up two flights of stairs and ignoring the open lift door, I decided that she wasn’t the lazy type. And this decision was confirmed, becoming more apparent after seeing her do so much throughout the week to achieve the campaign’s goal! The office foyer has a large wall display saying ‘THE CAMPAIGNERY’ with all the names of the various campaigns listed beneath. Including makebelieve, GetUp!, streetlinemedia, centre for Australian Progress, AVAAZ, communityrun, change.org and of course, 100% Renewable. I immediately felt excited to see it all happening.
The door was opened… the first thing you hear is a never ending wave of speedy typing. This is accompanied by rows of desks full of campaigners typing away and scuttling around the office space without a moment to spare. There’s a great community vibe to the place, I especially love the overflowing fridge full of pasta meals and tubs of yoghurt, and of course, the communal office fruit box.
Just near the kitchen, there’s a large flat screen TV with black leather couches and scattered newspapers lying around, and instead of the standard male and female symbols for the toilets, there’s a poster up on the female door with celebrities such as Meryl Streep and Cameron Diaz. It has a nice homey feel to it.
Lindsay guided me around explaining which group of busy typers belonged to which campaigns. And after a headspin of introductions, we landed at her desk. Nicely tucked away at the back with some pot plants sitting on the desk separator as a view.
Before my work experience, my knowledge on 100% was that they're a campaign aiming to have an Australia powered by entirely clean and renewable energy. To be perfectly honest, that was about the extent of it. I had no idea who was on the team, when they started, how they started, their action taking, their achievements, their impacts on politics and ultimately, their overall importance to Australia’s environment.
I’d like to think that I now have a better understanding of how this campaign works and what they do. So now I’ll tell you all about my work experience of ‘experiencing’ the crazy world of campaigning and what I learnt along the way. Which, due to my limited knowledge, was quite a lot.
I was surprised to find out that the team consists of only a handful of people, about ten. And not only a handful of people, but a handful of people scattered all over the country. It seemed like all the work they do and publicity they get was done by a larger team, but it just shows how dedicated they all are.
This is where I realised how important online communication and media is. Not to mention how effective it is. I was able to meet the team through the internet, who were all extremely friendly and welcoming.
This isn’t your average email or facebook message that sits in an inbox unreplied to for who knows how long. This is an application where team members can jointly build up content and watch eachother’s movements as they type. The first time I had a go it almost seemed unreal, like the computer was typing from it’s own accord.
One of the first things I learnt was that getting Australia to run off 100% renewable resources isn’t just as easy as that. In order to make the shift to 100% renewable energy, there will have to be huge public support first, and that means local groups and communities taking action with the help of 100%. It involves community organising, where organisers help groups and individuals develop the skills, ideas and strategies to achieve their goals.
So basically, instead of being a big organisation with countless administrators and officials, 100% aims to show the government that investing in renewable energy has high levels of community support and is an issue that is under public scrutiny. They aim to prove that it is possible, and popular, to reach the perfect score of 100% renewable energy, and that it just makes sense given Australia’s infinite resources. Then with the public behind them, they aim to make the goal a reality of Australia being powered by entirely clean and renewable energy.
From what I gathered, the main objective of the campaign at the moment is to expand the Renewable Energy Target and work on the ‘Let’s Build Big Solar’ campaign in a particular effort to win Australia’s first big solar power plant in Port Augusta, South Australia.
I didn’t realise how much effort goes behind all of this, or should I say, how many phone calls! It really does take a lot of organising. I often wondered what kept Lindsay going, and I was given the opportunity to ask this over lunch with salmon and cream cheese bagels.
Which, were delicious, and for some reason quite oily. After much consideration, we came to the conclusion that Lindsay’s was fried by the chef who obviously had a soft spot for excessive amounts of oil. Sitting in the small café, I asked about how she got involved with the whole campaign. And it turns out she got her first taste of campaigning in Thailand! I could tell she was really passionate about reaching 100% renewable energy in Australia, and after the lunch, I never had to question what kept her going again.
After a busy, eventful, fun four days of being a part of the friendly 100% team and sitting in the office next to Lindsay, I can say that I am definitely inspired to make a difference and take on the challenge of reaching 100% renewable energy!