We live… lives based on selected fictions. Our view of reality is conditioned by our position in space and time – not by our personalities as we like to think. Thus every interpretation of reality is based on a unique position. Two paces east or west and the whole picture is changed. (Lawrence Durrell, Balthazar 1963)
Noel Gough used this quote on his fascinating article Narrative and Nature: Unsustainable Fictions in Environmental Education and it has stayed with me for some time now. How do we take “two paces east or west” and change the perspective of how we see the world? Is this important for our work and what we hope to achieve? Noel Gough certainly thought so, particularly with the “unsustainable fictions” we cling to in environmental education.
As a manager at SV, one way I gain perspective is by having diversity in my team. Everyone has a unique life-story – diversity is not just gender, race or nationality – it is “everyone’s view of reality conditioned by their position in space and time”.
In the Investment, Data and Procurement team, we have two Columbians, a Greek, South African, New Zealander, someone born in England but who grew up in Sydney via South Africa - and two Melbournians. Our formal qualifications include: Bachelor of Arts (Criminology), Bachelor of Applied Science (Chemistry), three Masters of Environment, a Masters of Education, Masters of Arts (Economic Development), Post Graduate Certificate in Carbon Finance, Advanced Certificate in Media and Communications, Bachelor of Arts (Ancient Greek History and French), Bachelor of Science (Geographic Information Systems) and the languages spoken include English, Spanish, Greek, Afrikaans and a smattering of French and Japanese. That’s a tiny snapshot of the diversity within the team – dig deeper and you get musicians, historians, marine enthusiasts, prison workers, mountaineers, gardeners, photographers, bank workers, consultants, industrial chemists and the list goes on.
This diversity is a valuable resource. Every day, we are inspired by each other’s perspective and passion for what they do. Within every group there is the ability to solve any challenge – it just needs us to listen and respect. If the perspective that is needed doesn’t lie in the immediate team, we expand our concept of team to include the people and views we need.
As manager of such a diverse team, I try to value and work respectfully but also encourage us all to pursue diversity of thought. I think this leads to greater team identity and definitely greater results.
In a first for Australia, the Investment, Data and Procurement team just launched a new waste data portal with interactive maps identifying where Victoria's waste streams are generated & managed. Victorians can now search by kerbside service, local government area, or region and see projected waste flows until 2045.