> A closer look
It is hard to miss the mahi (work) Charlotte creates time to do. She not only talks the talk, but she also walks the walk by wearing many hats:
President of Students for Environmental Action
Students for Environmental Action (S.E.A) is the primary environmental activist group on our Dunedin campus, which is our University of Otago’s main campus. This collective of passionate students is always eager to collaborate and support any of our Sustainability Office’s activities. S.E.A members’ aims for 2021 are to facilitate student composting, expand the campus garden, and host discourse on climate justice.
As president, Charlotte has facilitated the renowned Inter-Environmental Potluck + Movie Nights, where about 5-8 community groups across Dunedin share knowledge over kai (food) in a shared space. The aim is to ensure groups working towards the same goal can collaborate and share key learnings. Because these groups are typically applying for the same funding or offering the same opportunities, this circle could easily be competitive, but the Inter-Environmental Potlucks have ensured these groups remain a united community that supports sustainable development and change across Dunedin. Other projects that Charlotte ensured SEA achieved in 2021 are:
- S.E.A Bee Workshops to educate students about bees and how to make wax wraps as sustainable alternatives.
- Building and maintaining the Community Garden to offer composting solutions to student flats, grow seasonal produce, offer education and gardening skills, provide volunteering opportunities, and let people use their gardening skills.
- Supporting the Kiwi Bottle Drive, a national campaign to establish a bottle deposit scheme, to enable building a zero-waste society.
- Encouraging and facilitating a recycling depository in Dunedin for national organisation Bread Tags for Wheelchairs, which recycles plastic bread tags and plastic lids to fund wheelchairs in South Africa.
Foodwaste Flat Hacks event
Foodwaste Flat Hacks Market Day was a student-led event inspired by a need to reduce waste to save both money and the environment. This interactive event had a range of unique activities and stalls that showcased the 157,389 tonnes of food New Zealand homes throw away every year and how to avoid waste. Charlotte’s work supported the Slow Food Youth Network creating a Disco Soup, where students gathered for a great time of dancing, good music and making soup from food scraps. Students had some of the soup – they had to bring their own cup – then it was taken across Dunedin to be distributed to the less fortunate.
Master for Sustainable Business
Charlotte’s study represents her passion, through her postgraduate Master for Sustainable Business. This interdisciplinary course provides students with an advanced qualification in sustainability. This is the only course of its type in New Zealand and the range it encompasses empowers students to follow their passions. Charlotte is exploring how our education providers could better facilitate connections to nature and how the teaching syllabus could include learning in natural environments. Through her study, Charlotte has indicated the need to create a better connection between education and the environment and highlighted how important it is for the education sector to go down this path to support future generations having relationships with our natural environments.
The United Nations-recognised Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) known as Whaiao – Education for Sustainability Otago offered an internship and Charlotte jumped on the opportunity. She spent her summer researching and connecting with a range of community groups, businesses, and organisations to create a database of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are being actioned across Dunedin. This database generated an incredibly helpful mapping tool to showcase what SDGs are being actioned and where, while also identifying the gaps and overlaps. Charlotte’s ability to connect with a wide range of individuals ensured the success of this internship, as she gathered and collated information to create a database that will play a huge role in how SDGs are actioned across Dunedin.
Part-time support work
Charlotte’s busy schedule includes volunteering as a part-time support worker for youth and adults with intellectual disabilities and autistic spectrum disorders at the Community Care Trust in South Dunedin. The trust is a not-for-profit charity that aims to champion and celebrate diversity by working in partnership to enable great lives.
Aspen Institute Scholarship
Charlotte recently contributed to the Aspen Institute online panel discussion on Climate Challenges as a student representative. The seminar was titled Climate Challenges: Systems Thinking and Values Based Leadership. The Aspen Institute brings together people from diverse background to discuss complex issues affecting New Zealanders, aiming to reach common ground. Charlotte’s favourite part of the series was listening to the wide variety of different perspectives on global issues ranging from the shortcomings of electrifying transport to unpacking the inherent tensions between ecology and the economy. Charlotte could attend this panel discussion because she successfully applied for a scholarship to cover the associated costs.
There is more
Charlotte has received the top Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Aotearoa New Zealand, Hilary Award, in 2017 – the Gold Award. She has also volunteered for a range of organisations including World Challenge and Safe Animal Rights Charity. Charlotte is a Youth Councillor for the US Embassy Youth Councils as well, and part of the Dunedin-based improvisation troop Improsaurus.