Posts for the environment dept

Environmental Collective: What we do and how to get involved

Environment Officers, Steven Kwon, Marco Avena and Amelie Van Der Stock

Like trees, bees and seas? Interested in meeting other folk who share these interests and want to protect them? AHAH! I see you’ve found the environment collective!

Who are we? We are an SRC collective (no access needed to join!) dedicated to learning about and taking action on issues of social and environmental justice both on and off campus.  We are linked with like-minded mates across the country as part of Australian Student environment network (ASEN) and together work on local and nation-wide campaigns such as ‘fossil free universities’.

We Are:

  • concerned about coal, coal seam gas (CSG), uranium mining, nuclear energy and the destruction of Indigenous autonomy, forests and marine parks as a result.
  • Love renewable energy, forests, reefs, food coops, community gardens… and sunflowers
  • Always strive to campaign in solidarity with local and indigenous communities
  • Have a non-hierarchical approach to decision making that is inclusive and consensus based so everybody has an equal ownership of the group and its actions

What do we do?

  • We run campaigns, have weekly meetings,
  • host discussion groups and info nights,
  • fight fossil fuels directly on campus,
  • join the NSW anti-CSG movement and blockade bulldozers and logging machinery,
  • host forums, screen films,
  • rally for the reef, attend camps,
  • organise ride to work days,
  • discuss societal change,
  • eat awesome food and enjoy good company!

Fossil Free Universities:

As part of a nation-wide ASEN campaign, we are pressuring USYD to ‘divest’ from fossil fuels on campus. That is, stop investing hundreds of millions of dollars in coal companies and their financiers such as ANZ to send the message of a lacking social and academic license as well as prevent such money from influencing the direction of our research and education.

USYD Community Garden:

In 2013 we joined the SRC, Food Coop and Centre for English Teaching (CET) to build a community garden on level 5 of Wentworth (Look up from Hermanns). We’ve found that sustainability education and growing our own food has become a fantastic way to meet new enviroey mates! Join the USYD Community garden to get involved!

Leard State Forest (Maules Creek):

We’ve been joining the 500 day blockade at the leard state forest to stop the construction of the Maules creek mine. This would destroy 1600 hectares of unique bushland and farmland. This region contains sacred indigenous land and 544 hectares of critically endangered habitat. The machine are in but and farmers, activists, community members, students and Gomeroi peoples are uniting against them.

Mining the Truth Roadtrips:

We join ASEN folk from NSW in an annual roadtrip around the state to visit communities directly affected by the impacts of coal and coal seam gas. In 2012 we filmed an award winning documentary ‘Mining the Truth’ which shares the stories of those we met on our travels. Themed ‘Just transitions’, in 2013 we met not just the fighters, but people working in the mining industry to build a dialogue of a just and sustainable future.

Students of sustainability (SOS):

Imagine all the awesome enviroey (mostly) student folk from around Australia in the one place sharing skills, knowledge, ideas, SUCH GOOD FOOD, camping, campfires, performances…. In 2013, we went to SOS Tasmania, and road tripped with other ASEN folk around the state. We visited the Observer tree with Miranda Gibson, stopped saw mills using old growth in Lornevalle and used our collective fire fighting and first aid skills to survive a 400year old myrtle falls when camping in the Tarkine. Watch out for SOS 2014 in Canberra! (A bunch of us are riding our bikes down!!!)

Want to get involved now hey?

Come along to our weekly meetings on Mondays 12pm, Sunken Lawns nr Manning or email us at
FB: “Sydney Uni Environment Collective” & “Fossil Free USYD” / Phone: Marco 0410881385, Steven 0416406900 & Amelie 0413679269.

Community Garden

Who are we?

We are a group of keen, green bean students who love building, gardening, sharing skills and growing food together! After seven years of lobbying the university for a greenspace, in November 2013 we joined up with the SRC, the Usyd Food Co-op and the Centre for English Teaching to create a space where domestic and international students can garden together on campus! We grow food crops, friendly flowers and native plants for both nummy consumption and education.

Why a community garden?

Across Sydney and around the world, communities have sprung alive through gardening in their street plots and local centres. As we spend most of our student lives at uni, gardening here is a great opportunity to work together and learn about sustainability and food security.

In the city, where many of us don’t know how to grow veggies or don’t have the space, the balcony on level 5 of Wentworth can offer both garden beds and garden friends.

What do we do?

In creating our garden, we sourced recycled crates, lugged tonnes of dirt up to the balcony, constructed self watering (wicking) beds, painted them with colours and quotes, planted seeds and trees, and watched them grow into a flourishing food forest!  It was both educational and socially rewarding, as we bonded with a group of similar-minded people who are passionate about food and the environment.

But the best thing about a garden is that it just keeps growing! We still have beds to build, seedlings to transplant and delicious organic strawberries to harvest!

Now that the garden is established, we’ll be holding monthly working bees, weekly organising meetings and weekly harvesting-skill-sharing meet-ups. The community garden is not just a space to grow food, but a live music and workshop space – from  permaculture 101  to urban food farms and community organising.

Numerous ideas for this year have already arisen, like starting a seed bank, developing a worm farm to process the scraps from Wentworth food court, starting a native (stingless) bee hive, and constructing our own garden-furniture.  With your garden gloves and grand ideas, this garden and space will just keep growing!

Getting involved

Whether you are a green thumb or have never gardened before, the Usyd Community Garden is a space to meet new friends from a diversity of backgrounds, faculties and year groups. Anyone can be a community gardener! You don’t even need an ACCESS card.

In 2014, we hope the community garden can be a great space to hang out with your friends, meet up for organising meetings, and connect with nature in the middle of the city, through growing food and eating it fresh.

We meet at the Community Garden on the Level 5 Balcony of Wentworth building (Look up at the trees from Hermann’s) twice a week for organising meetings, skillshares-harvests and have monthly working bees.

So, when you’re having a drink at Hermann’s, look up at the sunflowers, and take the lift to level 5, it’s blooming marvellous!

For more information please contact us:

Email –

Facebook Page – Usyd Community Garden

Call Amelie – 0413 679 269

Amelie Vanderstock reports on the Students of Sustainability conference held over the holidays

Environment Collective spent an active winter in Tasmania with the Australian Student Environment Network (ASEN) at the Students of Sustainability conference (SOS). Each year, SOS creates a safe space to explore ideas of environmental justice and its intersections with social movements. Eating vegan deliciousness, camping, dancing and skill-sharing with likeminded folk from around the country meant whether we were workshop facilitators, movement oldies, or first-timers, we could learn, make friends and work towards a sustainable world together.

Over five days in Leterrermairrener country, Launceston, we participated in workshops from ‘Theories of change’ to ‘Permaculture 101’ and even tree climbing. In plenaries, inspirational Indigenous elders including Darren Bloomfeld shared stories of continued dispossession by mining- and stressed why we must work together for sovereignty. We learnt of Tasmania’s current environmental politics surrounding the Tasmanian forestry agreement (TFA) which involves a protest-silencing ‘durability’ clause when forests remain unprotected. From Alice Hungerford and Bob Brown’s reflections on the Franklin river campaign, to Jonathan Moylan’s view of direct action- collective shared successes, struggles and tactics with experienced activists and community campaigners.
In the founding state of Australia’s environmental justice movement, our deepest learning and shared experience lay in the Post-SOS Roadtrip. A convey of 40 ASEN students joined local forest crew from ‘Still Wild Still Threatened and ‘Huon Valley Environment Centre’ for 1402 km to explore and protect Tassie’s native forests. We camped in the Upper Florentine, where for six years the lively community of ‘Camp Floz’ prevented logging of 1000ha granted, less than a month ago, UN World Heritage.  Miranda Gibson brought us to her home of 457 days in the canopy of ‘Observer Tree’, where she not only shared Tassie’s unique ecological values with the world- but prevented logging by her presence. Scott Jordan from ‘Save the Tarkine’ led us into the mystical temperate rainforest. Such a magical walk was contrasted by sickly orange sludge oozing through eucalypts at a discontinues aluminum tailings dam base further into the Tarkine. No words could describe our shock when we saw (and smelt!) such ‘rehabilitation’.

Contrasting beautiful forests with their destruction re- catalysed our need to take action. Native growth forests are still being logged by forestry Tasmania despite the TFA, and human-rights violating companies like Ta Ann are feeding veneer mills with old growth despite ‘ripe’ plantations. Learning by doing with forest crew, collective members participated in direct actions to reveal this ‘chain of custody’- from constructing tree sits in logging coups to stopping work of mill machinery. The Media hiatus generated reinstated the controversy in national eyes- allowing us to help forest crew and learn skills for home.

However, it wasn’t just skills that made the roadtrip one-in-a-lifetime. It was a powerful learning experience regarding collective interactions and consensus decision making. Where respect and trust in my ASEN comrades stood out, was the night a centuries old myrtle fell onto a campfire and two friends, including Marco from collective (*both fine!). At that moment everyone snapped into self-facilitated, coordinated action. We were fire fighters, first aiders, camp constructors, carers… And when we were threatened by loggers with knowledge of our whereabouts? We were able to collectively decide, under the pressure of conglomerate emergency, a plan of action. Collective decision making is a process- and doesn’t get harder or more rewarding than that moment. Nor does the comradery I felt with all involved.

Winter in Tasmania, through SOS and the roadtrip, was an experience environment collective will never forget. We’ve been incredibly inspired by the forests and crew- and excited to return in December for a “Fearless Summer” of forest Campaigning.
But it’s not just Tassie’s forests which remain under threat. The red alert has been sent by blockaders of the Leard State Forest, NSW. Whitehaven have just received approval to commence construction of the new mine despite a courtcase revealing corruption of Tony Burke’s EPBC approval. Enviro collective will be blockading together to stop forest destruction- contact us or “Front Line Action on Coal” to join!

Amelie Vanderstock

Amelie Vanderstock tells us about activism in regional NSW

“If you love this country, fight for it. This will be the biggest social movement this country has ever seen, and it will change this country forever.” – Drew Hutton, Lock the Gate Alliance President

From Urban ASEN students to rural Knitting Nanas, 270 community campaigners from across Australia joined experienced activists, doctors and academics in Kurri Kurri NSW (18-20 May) to share stories from our growing fight for country and livelihoods so undermined by extractive industries.

Organized by the Sunrise Project, panel discussions featuring experts and community leaders were integrated with training, report-backs and networking in an open workshop model.

Climate expert and former chair of the Australian Coal association, Ian Dunlop, revealed our recent emissions trajectory as alarmingly higher than the most conservative IPCC projections. The imminent call for ‘fossil-free’ was supplemented by Dr Merryn Redenbach, Doctors for the Environment Australia, in her discussion of extensive public health impacts at every coal energy production stage. Grounded in realistic economics and existing technology, the switch to renewables was detailed by Mark Diesendorf, UNSW. Groups including the Community Power Agency and Beyond Zero Emissions further revealed how solutions are already amongst us.

David and Goliath successes were celebrated alongside ongoing campaigns. From the small town of Bulga, NSW’s win in court against mining giant Rio Tinto, to the termination of the mega-port project on Balaclava island in the Great Barrier reef and Woodside’s LNG gas hub in the Kimberley, there was energy and hope in conference participants. Surveys, blockades and innovative tactics such as Jonathan Moylan’s ANZ- Whitehaven hoax were work-shopped. The Sierra Club, US, shared their organising model which successfully closed 177 coal fired power plants across the continent. Lock the Gate, in a ‘Call to Country’ seek to unite these ubiquitous demands to prioritize farmland, water catchments, nationally significant ecosystems and community concern.

As a participant, I was truly inspired by stories of struggle and success, shared by people who don’t necessarily converge on politics or priorities for ‘why’. The gathering revealed how our efforts contribute to a broader environmental justice movement, as what we do agree upon, is that we can and must take our land, our water and our future, into our own capable hands.

SRC Environment Officers

The Student Environment Action Collective updates us on enviro activism

Welcome to the Student Environment Action Collective (SEAC)!

There is plenty of excitement this week in the Environment Department because we have found a space for our community garden! After sneakily building a guerrilla garden on Eastern Avenue and after a long time negotiating with Uni admin we’re ecstatic to see this finally happening! We’re excited to be working with the Centre for English Teaching and the USU Food Coop to bring together domestic and international students by building and maintaining a community garden. This will strengthen our campus community through sustainability education. There are huge opportunities for sustainability education to show people how to work outside of corporate food production. Gardening is also great for mental health. We hope that the space can be used for all sorts of groups to run workshops and hang out.

Examples of student community gardens abound. ANU, Monash, Wollongong and CSU Wagga Wagga all have vibrant garden spaces run by students and for students.

If you’re keen to help out planning and building the community garden then you should totally get in touch! or come to a SEAC meeting every Wednesday at 12pm on the Sunken Lawns next to Manning. And find us on Facebook or at

SEAC is also planning an awesome trip to Tasmania in the July holidays. This year Students of Sustainability (SOS) will run from the 5th to 9th of July at the University of Tasmania, Launceston Campus. Come hang out with three hundred students fighting for environmental justice! Sounds like a great way to warm up the winter holidays.

The program is looking awesome! Focusing on campaign success stories, practical skills and workshopping current campaigns. Workshop submissions are welcome and due by Friday 17th May. We are also planning to go on a mass roadtrip to the Tarkine forest afterwards with local forest campaigners and the Australian Student Environment Network (ASEN) to help stop the clear-fell destruction of old growth forest in order to mine the area for fossil fuels. We’ll also visit the Florentine and other key sites for the endangered Tasmanian Devil.

Don’t miss out, register now and get your transport sorted. Subsidies are available from both the conference organizer and from the SRC, so don’t miss it because of money issues. The SOS crew is also offering financial help to first-time SOS-goers.

Find out everything you need to know on the website: It’s organised by the Tasmania Uni student enviro collective and the Australian Student Environment Network, so it is by students and for students.

Coming Up:
You are invited to our discussion night on Thursday 30th May at 5pm in New Law 115. Pop it in your diary: How to be a Good Ally: Indigenous Solidarity in the Environment Movement.

Environment Report

Hello and welcome to Week One!

The Student Environment Action Collective (SEAC) are the environmental group on campus dedicated to learning about and taking action on a number of environmental and social justice issues.
The month ahead is definitely a busy one for enviro action, so you are sure to find an event that gets your tree-loving heart pumping.

On March 8-10, the Leard Forest Listen Up will host a weekend of inspiring music and performances opposing the destruction of the old growth Leard Forest for coal mining. Check the Facebook event for more details.

March 10 will mark two years since the Fukushima nuclear disaster. With large areas of land still contaminated by radiation, we are reminded of the devastating effects of nuclear energy. From 5pm to 7pm, Face to Face with Fukushima will be held at the NSW Teachers Federation Auditorium, Surry Hills.

Interested in a sustainable and kale-giving community garden on campus? On Friday March 15, a Community Garden kick-start strategy session will be held at 11:00am in the SRC meeting room, Level 1, Wentworth Building (access from City Rd, walk down the staircase to basement level). Come and plant your ideas to help this project grow!

Already the world’s largest coal export port, Newcastle is facing plans for a massive new coal terminal which will mean even greater health, economic and environmental impacts for the community. Join us on March 16 at the Stop T4 Rally, starting at 10:00am at Customs House, Newcastle.

SEAC holds weekly meetings on Wednesdays at 12:00pm, Manning Sunken Lawns, so come and join us!

For more information, or if you want to talk about cats, call Elyse (0439 286 123).