January 2020 Issue / Artwork: Red

Contents:

[Untitled 01] – Ruby Allan (age 12; Christchurch, New Zealand) 
New Zealand Fairy Tern – Ava MacKay (age 11; Christchurch, New Zealand)
The Whisper of the Wind  – Kimberly Currie (age 12; Christchurch, New Zealand)
[Untitled 01] – Jana Thea (age 15; Dunedin, New Zealand)
Ice – Alexander Foulds (age 10; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Blue Duck / Whio – Tom Nalder (age 11; Christchurch, New Zealand)
A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words – Sophie Yu (age 21; Auckland, New Zealand)
Star Girl – Sylvie King (age 13; Christchurch, New Zealand)
[Untitled] – Pieta Bayley (age 14; Christchurch, New Zealand)
[Untitled 02] – Jana Thea (age 15; Dunedin, New Zealand)
if i committed – Lauren Young (age 17; Connecticut, United States)
Storm at Sea – Natsuki Hastie (age 10; Christchurch, New Zealand)
[Untitled 02] – Ruby Allan (age 12; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Things That Bugged Bob – Eliza Sellier (age 10; Christchurch, New Zealand)
A Silent Cry – Oshadha Perera (age 14; Invercargill, New Zealand)
[Untitled 03] – Jana Thea (age 15; Dunedin, New Zealand)
Naglfar – Pieta Bayley (age 14; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Still Life with Violin – Sophie Yu (age 21; Auckland, New Zealand)
Keep Calm and Carry – Charlie Knight (age 12; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Yellow-Eyed Penguin / Hoiho – Tom Nalder (age 11; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Feature interview: E Wen Wong and P.S. Our Beaches

[Untitled 01] – Ruby Allan

Ruby Allan is twelve years old and lives in Christchurch New Zealand. She has loved drawing and writing for as long as she can remember, and has been published in fingers comma toes and a few other writing companies.


New Zealand Fairy Tern – Ava MacKay

small, white, grey and black
feathers flutter wildly
twisting over the ocean
looking for a fishy prey
feet and beak shine
like newly minted coins
as they dive towards
the shimmering ocean
their ovoid eggs lie waiting
like hidden treasure
in a sandy dip
by the shore
Ava MacKay is eleven years old and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. She enjoys reading many different books for inspiration for her writing. She also loves singing and is learning the piano in her spare time.

The Whisper of the Wind – Kimberly Currie

The whisper of the wind
slowly moves towards me
I glance out at the views
birds floating around me
I walk down the misty street
Raindrops glisten
a streetlight blazes down on my eyes
I fall further and further into the dream
my memories fly by
like a cloud on a windy day
I look up at the sky
the rainbow falling
down to the big pot of gold
at the end

Kimberly Currie is twelve years old and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.


[Untitled 01] – Jana Thea

Jana Thea is fifteen years old and lives in Dunedin, New Zealand.


Ice – Alexander Foulds

Cracks in the ice
Deep cuts like a saw
Big ball of white and snow
Feasting on a seal
Cracks grow wider
Joining together
Narrowing the escape of the bear
And the ice plate breaks off like a crumb of a cookie
He’s stuck
This is where he will sadly die
Reduce your fossil fuels and greenhouse gases
Save the bears

Alexander Foulds is ten years old and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.


Blue Duck / Whio – Tom Nalder

He calls you with his wheezy whistle
from the mountain river
of the Kepler track.
He begs you to catch
the caddis fly
for his lunch.
He dives into the river
and swims away
then towards you.
“Come and catch me
if you can.”

Tom Nalder is eleven years old and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. His favourite colour is yellow, and he really likes cheetahs and would like to learn a lot about animals. He would also like to be a scientist.


A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words – Sophie Yu

Sophie Yu is a fourthyear medical student studying with the University of Auckland. Art has become a visual language that portrays her growth in ideas and experiences to all viewers. With these as her inspirations, she’s been able to create more original works that hopefully inspire others and evoke her viewers’ own interpretations.


Star Girl – Sylvie King

They have always said that no one can hear you scream in space. It is often used as a threat, but I never saw it as a comfort, until I was 10 years old.
Asteroids. Planets. Stars. A world of confusion. A dark, eerie setting. A home.
My tears group into asteroids, frozen ice from the soul. I have no one to hold on to but the comfort of the ever-burning sun. I lie awake at night, upon the surface of Mars, dust storms keeping me warm as I watch the Earth rotate by. Holding up a telescope, I look down to my long-gone home. I see the Commonwealth, the water, the grass. Every year, I turn the lights off. I put a pause on all energy. I make Earth whole again, because here up in space, I have control.
I have been here so long, the stars accept me as one of their own. I rest with them, I glow with them, and I burn with them. My friends are the planets, the exoplanets, the protoplanets. I watched my human friends burn up in the STS missions, Challenger and Columbia, and watched them land on the moon, Lunar in the Apollo missions. Every step humans take leads them closer to me, so I take a step backwards, shielded by the darkness and infinity of space. I climbed here myself after Earth didn’t accept me. Here, space took me in, protected me, taught me.
Some days I look down on Earth with jealousy. I see my brothers and sisters in the Royal Commonwealth, and I wish I was down there with all humanity, although peace no longer reigns. Then, I remember the connection I have up here, the spark of the shooting star that is my heart. I shield myself up here, and I watch, and I wait. And then I wait some more.
In years and years to come, I will be joined to the Commonwealth. I will be lonely no more, my screams and tears comforted by more than just the infinite, dark stretch of space. In years and years to come, I will run out of supplies, run out of the spirit that led me here. In years and years to come, I will return to what I once called my haven. In years and years to come, gravity will pull down on me once more. But for now, I live only with who accepts me. Hydrogen and Helium, the majority of space, accept me.
I place my star-crested crown upon my head, willing gravity to abide. I look through a mirror planet, see my graceful reflection staring at me. The crown rests slightly above my head, and I can see it rotating in my reflection. It spins slightly to the left, and I see the tiny gemstone that is my last piece of Earth. It was a gift to me from the Royal Commonwealth when they funded my solo space exploration. I treasure my last thread of connection to the Royal Commonwealth, my long gone home. I treasure it with my life.
I tether down my telescope to the surface of Mars. The Martian dust is eager to release my telescope from its grasp. I direct my equilateral frame up to Earth, the weight leaning towards Polaris, the Northern Cross. I look down towards Earth, and strength fills my mind. The telescope is so strong I can see the continents and countries. I see England, New Zealand, Africa, the Commonwealth countries, and I glance one more time at the life I used to have.
They say it takes years to call it “home”, but for me, it only took flying to the place I saw through my telescope. I have seen the unseeable, done the undoable. But here I am, in a world created years ago, in a world I recreated to include myself inside it. Here I am, the girl of the stars. Here I am, in space, looking down on humans, looking down on who I once was.
Here I am, in my home.

Sylvie King is thirteen years old and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.


[Untitled] – Pieta Bayley

we’re building an altar to a broken world, I tell you. we’re pretty sure we can fix it.
but we wish we didn’t have to.
we’re using torchlight on our phones for candles, I tell you. the rage behind our irises
is fiery enough as it is.
we’re standing on its polished bones, digging up its ashes.
someone cremated it with fossil fuels while we were moonfaced and giggling
in a cradle they built for us from the thing that cost the least.

Pieta Bayley is fourteen years old and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. She enjoys stories in all their forms—and, when they hide, will resort to telling them herself.


[Untitled 02] – Jana Thea

Jana Thea is fifteen years old and lives in Dunedin, New Zealand.


if i committed – Lauren Young

if i committed myself, maybe i would be happier, maybe i would
be satisfied, maybe i would be able to smile without dying inside, like a
vase of poisoned flowers.
if i committed myself to you, i would be lost in the galaxy that is your existence, drowning
in the scent of white lilies and dead birds,
i would be hopeless, clutching your hand like it was the fishing line and i was the stupid fish
dreaming of not starving, of taking and eating, of living on and on and on,
i would be carving life into death and mercury into immortality, because i’d want a forever and
an everlasting, but never a sudden gone.
if i committed to perfection, you’d see an empty body and broken soul, too immersed in numbers
and meaningless words, too confused about choices and truth, too sober to turn around and face
the philosopher.
if i committed to kindness, i’d be made of stars and glass and a thousand cranes, ready to shield
against bullets of letters and metal, praying for grace and smiles and the damn sun—only to be
cast down and hanging from a tree in a soulless forest.
if i committed to the truth, i’d be hoarse before people listened to my screams, exhausted from
witnessing and knowing and standing on a podium in front of an empty stage—being a messenger
meant visions and regrets and what-ifs and never enough time to deliver.
if i committed murder, you’d only see my guilt and not know why, the evidence existing only in
my head, pale fingers and cracked tibias buried more than six feet below the black roses, my
fingerprints not there because i am a whisper of a silenced ghost
the judge, jury, and executioner.
if i committed suicide, i would disappear into oceans deep, blood frozen and eyes closed, flesh
covered by the sand of time, my last words only an echo of golden trumpets; you’d look up into
the sky and see the constellation and wonder if I was ever real.
Lauren Young is a seventeen-year-old high school student from Connecticut. She’s interested in photography, art, and both the natural sciences and humanities. She’s been recently trying her hand at creative writing, and can be found figure skating, sleeping, or reading during her free time.

Storm at Sea – Natsuki Hastie

Waves crashing with anger
Sucking up dust
Clouds flying fiercely
The typhoon threatens my waka
My waka drinks the waves to make
Sure I stay warm and dry
I say a karakia hoping the typhoon will stop
A green blur in the distance
It’s land

Natsuki Hastie is 10 years old and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.


[Untitled 02] – Ruby Allan

Ruby Allan is twelve years old and lives in Christchurch New Zealand. She has loved drawing and writing for as long as she can remember, and has been published in fingers comma toes and a few other writing companies.


Things That Bugged Bob – Eliza Sellier

There were certain things that annoyed Bob. Bob was a worm. He hated how bees got so much attention, like water for the bees, or people saying, ‘Aren’t we lucky to have bees that turn nectar into honey?’ But actually, he had grown the beautiful saffron flowers himself. It made him nearly explode when the gardener put a net over the scrumptious cabbages or the superb snow peas—it looked so ugly. He screamed when the violet flowers were crooked. He hated parsley, it made his eyes water.
He made his decision…he was going on strike!
Eliza Sellier is a passionate ten-year-old vegetarian from Christchurch, New Zealand, who loves everything to do with animals, be it playing with them, reading about them or writing stories about them. While she loves bugs, her favourite animals are monkeys and orangutans!

A Silent Cry – Oshadha Perera

A silent cry within the heart
A massive loss for the world
Sad news for all of us
When a green tree is cut
The wail of animals fills the air
The cry of nature fills the world
The howl of the sky, the charge of fury
When somebody chops a tree
Tons of oxygen will be lost
Nature’s beauty will reduce
Food and fruits will be scarce
When somebody cuts a tree
Global warming will increase
Temperatures will rise high
Hazards, disasters will strengthen
When somebody chops a tree
Every single tree is irreplaceable
Every single tree is valuable
With every chop you place on them
You slowly lead humans to extinction
Oshadha Perera is a high school student at Southland Boys High School and has a passion for writing. An avid chess player, he likes to read in his spare time.


[Untitled 03] Jana Thea

Jana Thea is fifteen years old and lives in Dunedin, New Zealand.


Naglfar – Pieta Bayley

A Character Examination From The Wrong Side Of Ragnarok
 
Hel was glad to see the ship crowded. The sheer volume of beings on the deck did a good job of concealing its hideousness. The entire vessel was huge and grotesque, made of toenails instead of wood. They were mainly the toenails of outlaws and peasants who died alone with no one to remove their nails postmortem. Hence the material for the ship was poorly manicured, obnoxiously long, scraggly and yellowed. They were cold and hard; broken at the tips and sharp to the touch. They linked and folded over each other like roof tiles. She had no doubt some of her subjects could identify their own nails in the mess. The newer ones were much better, their translucent forms rounded and clean. One still sported the chipped remains of vibrant pink nail polish. She looked away immediately. She didn’t need another reminder that these had belonged to someone. She could hardly look at her feet without retching.
Jormungand seemed to think this was a grossly amusing paradox. “All those years among rotting dead folk? I would have thought you’d be more stoic at the sight of this.” His long, serpentine body curved toward her, gently shoving her in his best impression of elbowing.
“I’d have thought so too,” she said, shuddering.
Jormungand laughed. “It’s good to see you again. I missed you all a lot.”
“I missed you too.” She was painfully aware that his existence had been the loneliest of them all, trapped beneath Midgard. No subjects, friends. A pang of guilt writhed uncomfortably inside her. “At least we’re all together now. For the end,” she continued.
Jormungand approximated a smile. “Yeah. I’m glad. I mean—I’m scared. But if I’m going out by my family’s side, I’m okay. Not happy, certainly. But better than I would be alone. I’d be terrified to die alone.”
Hel ran the back of her hand under her right eye. It came back wet.
“I suppose so,” she said.
Jormungand gave her a little nod. “Good luck, sister,” he said. “Be brave.
“I will.”
He coiled his neck back towards the rest of him, slowly curling into himself like coiling string around a finger. His scales glistened beneath the icy waves.
She straightened purposefully, addressing the assembled draugr.
“I presume none of you are leaving now?”
The crowd rippled with shaking heads.
“Good,” she said. “I need not remind you; this isn’t a fight between good and evil. It’s just a fight. You’re here because you want retribution and, honestly, I don’t blame you. Perhaps you didn’t die like a warrior to get here. But it’s the end of the world today! Am I right?”
 From their grey lips sprung resounding cheers.
“Let’s die like warriors now!”
She punched the air, as their enthusiasm grew and overtook hers.
Móðguðr stood in the front row and clapped. She had to drop her axe to do that. Her smile was sad and proud. 
Hel’s heart fluttered as she mirrored that smile. She spent long as she could mapping the stars in Móðguðr’s eyes and decided Jormungandr was right. If this was Ragnarok—if her endless, inevitable, unavoidable death was just about to seize her—it didn’t seem half so tragic around the people she loved.
A person stood as close as they could to the figurehead of the ship. It was a dragon with a fanged mouth twisted outward near the jaw to form a crescent moon arc, as if someone had turned its lips inside out. Its eyes were hollow and its long, narrow tongue hung hungrily from its mouth.
The person was alone up there; perhaps to isolate himself, or to distinguish himself as a leader on the ship, or to be the first to see the battleground of Ragnarok. Fenrir stepped forward, but a hand reached out swiftly to stop him. 
“Don’t,” said the voice that hand belonged to.
He exhaled indignantly, facing the voice in anger.
“Why n—Mother?”
Angrboda’s hair was wild and black, caramel face showing no sign of windburn. Her eyes narrowed against the snow. Her demeanour was characterised by fierce determination. She allowed herself the barest hint of a smile at seeing her son again.
He leaned his silver head on her for a moment, the closest the two of them would ever get to a hug. They were the kind of prideful creatures who didn’t need words to express how much they cared. The kind of people who’d each spent sleepless nights wondering if it was possible to save their family and friends on Ragnarok by fighting hard enough. People who worked on the assumption that you knew they’d die for you. 
They stood there a moment, mother and son, nearly grinning at their reunion, nearly crying that it had to happen then. At the end of the world.
“Are you afraid?” Angrboda asked.
Fenrir shook his head. “Doubtful? Yes. Afraid? Never. And certainly not now. I’m too angry to be afraid.”
She brushed the hilt of her heirloom sword. “Let’s give them Helheim.”
He grinned a little, before remembering why he was there.
“Why can’t I go over there?” He tipped his head toward the lone person at the front of the longship.
“It’s not a good time to disturb him,” she explained.
Fenrir ducked her hand. “Too late.”
“Fenrir!” called his mother.
He turned.
“Don’t be shocked by his face,” she said. “It isn’t what you’ll remember.”
Fenrir scoffed. Of course it won’t be, he thought. We haven’t seen each other in decades. Shocked by his face! Gods, it’s Ragnarok. I won’t be shocked by anything.
Still, he braced himself upon approaching.
As he drew nearer to the person he began to feel worried for him.
He had the pinched and disproportionate look of someone who’d been very thin for very long and was only now recovering. He looked like a broken animal, shoulders shaking with sobs. His hair was bobbed in rough lines, cut with a blunt knife. His skin had a ghostly pallor.
Fenrir shivered.
He was inches away when he was heard; the figure spun abruptly to meet his eyes.
He jolted.
From the ridge of the person’s nose, it spread down his cheeks like tears: scar tissue, pink and raised, marring the skin like a battleground.
Fenrir’s gold eyes widened.
The figure hastily wiped the sorrow from his expression, running his hands over his tears and wincing when he touched the peculiar wounds. He smudged the black makeup that circled his eyelids and painted lines from eye to cheekbone on each side of his face. He rested his hand on Fenrir’s neck.
“I haven’t seen you in aeons. How’ve you been?”
Fenrir dodged his gaze. “Does it matter?” he said.
The figure’s brows furrowed, fears confirmed. “No,” he said. “I suppose not.” He didn’t even attempt to conceal the lie. It mattered infinitely to him, but if Fenrir didn’t want to talk about it…
His hand shot up to the scarring on their face, a reflex response to imagined pain. It was becoming a habit. “We’re chained monsters of a feather, you and I,” he said.
Fenrir shuffled his feet.
“How have you been?” he asked, afraid of the answer.
He laughed quietly and bitterly. “Does it matter?” he parroted.
“Was it—” Fenrir indicated with his head to the horizon, where the gods would meet them.
“The gods? Yes. It was the gods. And I was a fool.”
“I’m sorry, Father,” Fenrir said.
His father, Loki, chucked once more. Each time he expressed some shadow of his former self he seemed more ghostly.
“For what?” he asked quietly.
“That this happened. Any of this,” Fenrir said.
“It’s not your fault. This happened to us because of what we’re about to do. Let’s make the most of it.”
Fenrir started to leave, but a nagging feeling dragged his feet to a standstill.
“He’s my friend. Tyr. No; he was my friend. It might destroy me.”
“It’s going to destroy us all,” Loki said.
“How am I going to do it?”
Loki paused for a moment. “How do you feel?” he asked.
Fenrir replied, “Like all the rage in the world. And still, I could never hurt him over it.”
Loki could not kneel parentally. His son was heads taller than he was. He looked up and said with all the honesty he could, “I know how it feels to be fighting all your friends. It’s the most stinging guilt you’ll ever feel. The conflict of being a traitor. Because you think that, even though it’s not what you want, you should do what’s best for them. You should protect them. Because they’re your friends. I did what I wanted to anyway. I got endless revenge on them… Because they were bad friends. They really were. But I also loved them. I know that Tyr liked you far more than my friends ever did me. He was a good friend to you. He didn’t mean for this to happen.”
Fenrir dropped his head.
“But neither did you,” Loki continued. “And now you must die at each other’s hands.”
“It feels like it’s supposed to happen. Gods, I want to make them pay,” Fenrir said. “And it feels so wrong too.”
“It feels unfair.”
Fenrir nodded.
Loki sighed. “I don’t know why it has to be this cruel, but it does. The inevitability of all of this…that’s what killed us. My blood brother was eaten by paranoia because he knew that this was how it ended. He’d do all this—” He made a sweeping gesture to the crew of the Naglfar, wronged and hurt by the Allfather. “—to delay it. I’m sure when it comes it will feel like relief. Completion.”
“I just need the strength to face him,” Fenrir said.
“You want my help with that?”
“Yes.”
The two stood in silent contemplation, on a ship that came from nightmares.
“Just think,” Loki said. “Is Tyr fighting you?”
“He will be.”
“Then you’re gonna fight back.”
Fenrir left. He thought about asking his father why he’d been crying, but decided not to.

 

Pieta Bayley is fourteen years old and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. She enjoys stories in all their forms—and, when they hide, will resort to telling them herself.


Still Life with Violin – Sophie Yu

Sophie Yu is a fourth-year medical student studying with the University of Auckland. Art has become a visual language that portrays her growth in ideas and experiences to all viewers. With these as her inspirations, she’s been able to create more original works that hopefully inspire others and evoke her viewers’ own interpretations.


Keep Calm and Carry – Charlie Knight

Keep calm and carry a quiet noise
like ninjas running along rooftops
acoustic guitars playing in the background
closing my eyes and looking into the empty abyss
watching movies flicker before me
feeling the wind rush through the open window
seeing the trees sway around me
colouring the blank canvas of people’s lives
walking down lonely roads
feeling the grass below my feet
water washing up the shore onto my toes

Charlie Knight is twelve years old and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.


Yellow-Eyed Penguin / Hoiho – Tom Nalder

She wears yellow sunglasses
always.
Her black wings as smooth
as stone,
her chest as white as hail.
She loves to sing in Akaroa Harbour
and hide in dark side caves
under hanging cliffs.
This NZ bird of the year
is as brave as justice.

Tom Nalder is eleven years old and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.  His favourite colour is yellow, and he really likes cheetahs and would like to learn a lot about animals.  He would also like to be a scientist.


Feature interview: E Wen Wong and P.S. Our Beaches

P.S. Our Beaches – a Pollution Solution for Our Beaches (psbeaches.com)

“P.S. Our Beaches was founded by 13-year-old Cantabrian, E Wen Wong, as part of a 2016 Project Based Learning (PBL) initiative. From its humble beginnings as a plastics poetry project, P.S. Our Beaches has emerged as a diverse, nation-wide community, working to rid our beaches, waterways and oceans of single use plastics. At the heart of everything we do is a mission is to restore a positive environmental footprint for our oceans, both now and into the future.”

E Wen Wong is a year 13 student at Burnside High School. Since becoming passionate about poetry through Paula Green’s Poetry Box, E Wen has had her work featured in various anthologies, on the back of local buses, and on display in the Guernsey Airport. E Wen is on the committee of the New Zealand Poetry Society, and in 2019 placed first in the Poetry New Zealand Student Yearbook Poetry Competition and runner-up in the National Schools Poetry Award.

E Wen Wong speaking and reciting poetry at TEDx

fingers comma toes: Your website describes the project as emerging from a “plastics poetry project”. Can you tell us more about how that gave rise to P.S. Our Beaches?

E Wen Wong: In 2016, through a project-based learning initiative, I decided to use my growing passion for poetry as a platform for communicating environmental issues. I was honoured to receive two scholarships from the Bowseat Ocean Awareness programmes for the plastic pollution poetry anthologies I had written. These scholarships gave impetus to P.S. Our Beaches (Plastic Solution for Our Beaches), an organisation working to instigate change in New Zealand’s plastic pollution scene. Using this organisation as a foundation, we hope to advance the education and understanding of the effects of single-use plastics and the ways through which we can mitigate them.

fct: What are some of the other projects that P.S. Our Beaches has been involved with?

Tree planting at Styx Mill

EWW: In the past, P.S. Our Beaches has facilitated and promoted litter audits, awareness posts on sustainability initiatives and short interviews with organisations such as DoC and UNESCO. In April, we coordinated the inaugural EnviroPAST (Plastic and Sustainability Talks) Conference in which we welcomed over 100 young people to the Christchurch Art Gallery for two days of inspiration, education and action on environmental issues. The conference combined talks by leading academics, entrepreneurs and environmentalists, with workshops and tree planting at Styx Mill, thanks to the donation of 1000 plants by the Christchurch City Council and Trees for Canterbury. The support and willingness of organisations and individuals to share their expertise and inspire the next generation of environmental leaders was nothing short of incredible.

fct: In addition to P.S. Our Beaches, you’re also involved in technology and poetry, including your 2018 BIRD technology project about litter collection from beaches. Can you tell us more about that project?

E Wen Wong with BIRD

EWW: Attending the Limitless Conference in 2017 motivated me to build on the P.S. Our Beaches campaign to incorporate technology and solution-based thinking, layered between advocacy and awareness. Realising that Limitless’ guiding values of passion and purpose lasted long after the conference was over, I decided to combine my passions for technology and the environment by designing BIRD (Biomimicry Identification Robot Device), a UAV capable of detecting and georeferencing macro-plastics such as plastic bags and bottle tops. BIRD uses machine learning software and onboard GPS to provide georeferenced locations for any plastic pieces identified by the drone, which are then linked to a crowd-sourced beach clean-up app to guide users to each item of rubbish. With the intention of sharing the outcome I produce with the wider community, I hope that BIRD can serve as a further tool to inform, intrigue and inspire people to reduce your plastic usage and ensure that as little plastic as possible reaches our beaches and oceans.

Rubbish from one of the beach litter audits

fct: Is there a connection for you between the environment, poetry and technology?

EWW: Similarly to the BIRD project, the connection between poetry and the environment, for me, is also based off a drive to help build a better world, as well as the emerging youth movement. I have been a committee member on the New Zealand Poetry Society since 2017 and, through my work in this role, I am geared towards increasing youth involvement and ensuring that the perspectives of young people are incorporated within decision-making processes. Immersing myself in the arts in such ways has been empowering, as it has allowed me to draw parallels between dichotomous disciplines and ensure that I am always thinking in a way that is creative, dynamic and relevant to the world around us.

fct: You started this project when you were thirteen. What were some of the main challenges, for both the project itself and you personally, initiating it at such a young age?

EWW: One of the greatest challenges was recognising my lack of experience, being only thirteen. That, as you might expect, came with a significant lack of confidence and assurance in my actions. What helped me to overcome this was my intrinsic attitude of not being afraid to ask for help and obtain greater knowledge from environmental experts. A love of learning, as well as the environment at Burnside High School, where I am a student, meant that I was fortunate enough to be able to tap into the advice of exceptional leaders around me.

fct: What have you learned from the project?

EWW: Establishing P.S. Our Beaches and coordinating clean-ups, plantings and conferences has refined my organisational skills; it has taught me to prioritise and strive towards an end goal, to think globally, act locally and inspire change. To me, looking from this lens is invaluable as it keeps me grounded, grateful and growing while helping others to realise what they can achieve for themselves and the world around them.

Microplastics talk at EnviroPAST

Each individual project—for instance, EnviroPAST—has also taught me so much. Realising the impact the conference had on its delegates has taught me that EnviroPAST is much more than a conference. It is the collective body of people who are engaged and excited about making a difference, who are equipped with the tools they need to do so and the community that will support them from start to finish. It is my hope that the EnviroPAST conference will have a multiplier effect on our community, helping to spark similar events and actions which are led by the community we have built around the event. The experience has helped me to appreciate both the small wins and the bigger ones, the impact it has made on individuals and the wider community. I have learnt to combine creativity and environmental initiatives through poetry, virtual reality and live polls, increasing the confidence I have in communicating an environmental message. The experience has changed my attitudes by making me believe that my passion is not limited to my individual actions. The skills I have gained include the appreciation that leadership can take many forms, the importance of teamwork and critical thinking, designing runsheets, budgets and communicating with stakeholders. It has changed my actions by adding fuel to the P.S. Our Beaches movement, delving deeper into microplastics and social, entrepreneurial spins to the issue, while teaching me to use my passion for the environment as a vector for increasing public awareness about environmental issues.

Thanks to E Wen Wong for participating in this discussion. 


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