Placing A Community ‘Lens’ Closer to Home
Tuesday, 25th October 2016 at 9:49 am
We all need to start getting our heads around what are incredibly sacred, yet vulnerable and overlooked parts of people’s lives and their collective wellbeing, writes social impact strategist Julia Keady-Blanch.
Recently the phrase “climate lens” hit me like a philanthropic tennis ball between the eyes and compelled me to whip out my keyboard.
It happened at the industry-leading conference – National Community Foundations Forum – where while I was fortunate to share some effective tools around community engagement, more importantly I was able to sit in the audience and learn from our sector’s inspiring and unassuming leaders.
It was during a fast-paced and content-rich session around environmental grant-making that Catherine Brown, the CEO at Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, laid out a brief overview of numerous environmental focuses they now had, many of which were overwhelming brilliant and inspiring and worth reading up on.
But it was the phrase “we are applying a climate lens” that caught my attention the most.
Being a stickler and lover of the English language, it was the word lens that had such potency to it. This is not about grants to environment, or environment projects. This is so much more. A much more educated and intelligent philosophy, and a respect for the full implication that climatic changes have, are and will continue to have across our society – housing, health and much more than we have possibly even imagined.
Brown briefly mentioned that she had been to COP21 – the United Nations Climate Change Conference – last year, and how in meeting and discussing with other philanthropic foundations, she had learned ways she could and would need to integrate this climate lens into the work at Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.
I took the time to read Brown’s blog (posted in December 2015) and to lean into what she heard, what she found, and what the implication and opportunity was for us here in philanthropy land in Australia.
Amongst her brief but many reflections, she said that “philanthropy has a very important role to play in supporting community education and resilience and supporting organisations to reduce their carbon footprint”.
Brown gave some great examples of the initiatives that LMCF is and will be getting behind, and how the “climate lens” is being applied.
She spoke briefly of the Victorian Eco Innovation Lab (VEIL) at Melbourne University which has looked at the Melbourne food bowl and how urban development may impact our food bowl as much as 41 per cent to 18 per cent drop by 2050 if we aren’t mindful of the development impact on our food security (among other issues being explored).
One of my company’s clients is working to educate school children about the precious Liverpool Plains Food Bowl (Food Bowl Connection), and I had a startling realisation that I had hardly thought about Melbourne’s food bowl, and also Gippsland’s food bowl, and how much we all need to start getting our heads around what are incredibly sacred, yet vulnerable and overlooked parts of lives and collective wellbeing.
Brown also spoke about LMCF’s collaboration with VEIL through a project called FoodPrint Melbourne which explores the vulnerabilities in Melbourne’s food supply.
Beyond that, she explained the “lens” was applied in their approach and thinking to all projects including their current signature program around social housing. As Kate Buxton, CEO of Australian Community Philanthropy summed up, it is “testament to the value and impact of joined-up thinking”. Indeed.
Thanks Catherine Brown for the gem. A simple word: lens. But effective and something we can all take onboard and integrate into our work.
About the author: Julia Keady-Blanch is the founder of Xfactor Strategic Development which has a focus on supporting individual women or women business leaders who want to set up or amplify their social impact through philanthropy. She also provides low-bono and pro-bono coaching to women change-makers / social entrepreneurs. You can get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.