When I started this blog, I was motivated because I felt like I was at a real turning point in my life. I was on a journey… a journey that started with a bigger commitment to being more sustainable, but became so much more than that. It has led me down all sorts of interesting paths. I felt like I was learning so much, and I really wanted to share what I was finding out, as well as keep a kind-of record of my progress.
I love being able to share what I know, and as part of that I got involved with Living Smart, a not-for-profit organisation based in Australia that provides practical knowledge and skills for people to live more sustainable lives. Living Smart run community courses over 7-10 weeks that cover 10 sustainability topics: simple living, water, power, waste, gardening for food production, gardening for biodiversity, transport, healthy home, healthy you and community. They are low cost (the course is offered free and participants pay $40 to be a member of Living Smart) and focus on positive and practical changes at the individual level through knowledge sharing, personal stories and goal-setting.
Both I and my boyfriend have completed the training to be Living Smart facilitators, meaning we can run our own courses. When I completed it last year I felt that I had the passion to facilitate the course myself, but I didn’t feel like I had the knowledge. But I’ve spent the past year becoming more and more involved in my local community in Perth, learning as much as I can and being surrounded by super-inspirational people… and I finally felt ready to run a course of my own.
The courses run during term-time, and this term I was unable to commit to a running a full course because my parents were visiting in October/November, and we are going away in December. However, I was asked to present one session (2.5 hours) for a course being run by the City of Swan – Healthy Homes and Healthy You. Which, you may have noticed, is one of my favourite topics!
I have to say, it was a lot of work. All the facilitators I know will say that running Living Smart courses are a lot of work, but I was not expecting quite how much work it would be. I suppose when you’re super passionate about a topic, and can think of so much to say, and really want to do a great job and leave people feeling inspired and motivated to make positive changes to their lives, it’s not going to be a quick task. Condensing everything I wanted to say into such a small timeframe was hard enough! A key focus of Living Smart is making sure participants actually participate – share goals and discuss – so there needs to be a balance of talking and activities.
So, I talked about why Healthy Homes, Healthy You is such an important topic. Not only because it links back to so many of the other topics – simple living, transport, gardening for food production – but also because of social sustainability. We need to look after ourselves first in order to be fit and well and able to participate in our communities, to be there for our friends and family, and to be around for our grand-kids. The session was divided into food, exercise and mind (managing stress). After the break I talked about Healthy Homes, including all of the chemicals we are exposed to through our homes and work spaces, the cleaning products we buy and the skincare products we use. Then there was a mini-practical where people got to make their own homemade toothpaste and deodorant!
It was so much fun. The group was fairly small but really interested and engaged, and it felt great being able to share what I’ve learned with new people who are on their own sustainability journeys. Everyone seemed to enjoy the session, and it was great seeing people leave clutching their own containers of homemade toothpaste! Seeing people being open to new ideas is so refreshing, and I felt good knowing that I’d help inspire them.
It may have been a lot of work, but afterwards I could barely remember that. I felt like a million dollars. (Bad expression probably, given the context!) But it was such a great feeling. Even now I’m still smiling about it. I can’t wait to run my own course next year : )