Education and communication: the cornerstone for change

By Tracy Brighten

Communication and connection

Education and communication form the cornerstone from which societies build and improve on past ways of living. Whether knowledge is communicated in schools or universities, through media, or within communities, families and social circles, it can prompt us to question our thinking and our behaviour.

With technology linking us across the world, the connection of people and the communication of ideas is a catalyst for global change. Through the internet, we can exchange problems and find solutions.

We are no longer living in ignorant isolation.  Continue reading

Dairy-free for three months and counting

By Tracy Brighten

A dairy-free diet hasn’t been as difficult as I thought, even in New Zealand

dairy free milk options

After reading about New Zealand’s dairy industry, I was unable to convince myself the abuse might be a one-off as claimed by the industry, so as I wrote in a post last year, I’m now on a dairy-free diet. I survived the festive season with a delicious vegan nut roast and hadn’t given my new eating plan much thought until recently. Continue reading

When dietary changes make you a social outcast

By Tracy Brighten

Vegetarian sandwich

Make a decision to lose weight, change career, or have children, and friends and family generally meet the change with excitement and words of encouragement. But tell them you no longer eat meat, fish, or dairy, or even that you’re just thinking about it, and you find yourself being interrogated!

If your reasons for dietary changes are health based, you risk the usual ill-informed response that you can’t be healthy without meat. But if your reasons are ethics based, be prepared for an even rougher ride. Continue reading

Should we care about future generations?

By Tracy Brighten

Future generations

The agreement by 195 countries at the Paris Climate Change Conference is a landmark consensus that climate change is a global problem requiring global commitment. Some people believe spiralling populations and associated development in India and China is the biggest issue. Others believe greenhouse gas emission control will be ineffective with the growing trend of factory farming. Not only do farm animals produce methane, but forests are felled to plant crops for animal feed.

Another question often asked when considering climate change and the depletion of non-renewable resources is why should we care about future generations? Don’t we just live the life we want and leave future generations to deal with the fallout?    Continue reading

Free Range to End of Range

By Tracy Brighten

A poem written in the style of restaurant discourse to voice the plight of  New Zealand’s native birds

Tui in Kowhai tree

Although native birds aren’t normally eaten, I am appealing to the reader’s sense of taste, while simultaneously repulsing them with how wild birds are being killed.

Native birds are facing increasing threats from non-native predators such as possums, rats, stoats, cats and dogs, and also from human behavior such as irresponsible pet ownership, beach and car use, hunting, longline fishing, overfishing and oil spills.   Continue reading

Local nature puts a spring in our step

It’s easy to overlook the local nature in our gardens and neighbourhood, but regular contact helps us tap into our roots 

Yellow Flower

Unless we’re lucky enough to live in the countryside, if we want to spend time in nature, we might wait for a day when we can head to a nature reserve, a wildlife sanctuary, or the coast. But in our busy life, days can turn to weeks, and weeks to months while we miss out on local nature.

Truth is that for many of us, the benefits of time in nature can be enjoyed much closer to home. Continue reading

Joy in fostering an African elephant orphan

I’ve never seen an elephant in the wild, but still these majestic, intelligent, social mammals stir strong emotion. Fostering an orphan is a way of helping 

elephant orphans sharing water

I’ve long known the African elephant is endangered. But until I started writing about wildlife conservation and animal welfare, I wasn’t aware of the complexity of their survival problem. Continue reading

Equal consideration for people and animals

By Tracy Brighten

Animals feel pain and suffering, yet are denied equal consideration in a world that places human preferences above compassion for animals 
veal calf

Calf in veal crate

Philosopher Peter Singer criticises philosophy for failing to challenge accepted beliefs. He argues for a change in traditional Western ethics, which is human-centred, or anthropocentric, and which denies any direct moral obligation to the natural environment. Continue reading

‘No man is an island’: we are interconnected

By Tracy Brighten

No man is an island

I admit to not having a great memory for quotations, but a line from one of poet John Donne’s meditations has stood the test of time: ‘No man is an island, entire of itself’.

What resonates with me is the idea that no-one is self-sufficient – we need each other to thrive in a world that is far greater than one individual. Continue reading

Nordic countries top the world for happiness

By Tracy Brighten

Happy people

The recently released World Happiness Report 2015 identifies those countries where people are happiest and highlights the value to economies of considering people’s well-being when determining public policy.

Produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the WHR examines Gallup survey data from 2012-2014 and past data from 2005-2007, looking at changes in reported well-being and happiness, as well as analysing reasons for happiness variation across nations and cultures. Continue reading

Magical Montessori

By Tracy Brighten

An early education experience for your pre-schooler that teaches life skills, encourages critical thinking and inspires curiosity about their world

Montessori outdoor play

Little Cheverells Montessori School lay back from the lane behind a Horse Chestnut tree and hawthorn hedgerow sprayed with white flowers. I’d started a diploma course with the London School of Modern Montessori and I was visiting the school to learn more about child-centred early education.  Continue reading