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Part 1: Benefits of catchment groups

A four-part series from the Women's Enviro Evening. There’s nothing more humbling and inspiring than when people, despite the immense challenges and/or forces against them continue to show up and ask, ‘How can we do better?’ If Brené Brown could have been in Clinton last week, she would have seen a room full of women doing just that, ‘daring greatly’ and ‘rising strong’. I was one of five speakers last week at the maiden ‘Women’s Enviro Evening’ event, designed to connect, empower, and inspire the rural community in and near Clinton. Inspired by the recent Summit BOMA Grow Agri Summit she attended, which was kind of like a TedTalks for the Food & Fibre industry, local Catchment Group member Sandra Campbell put the event together and it was a raging success. The following contribution to my blog, is one of a five-part series from each speaker at the event, including Sandra. So, the fire that has been lit can be shared beyond that evening. Enjoy!

Part 1: Benefits of catchment groups By Janet Gregory (The ‘mother’ of catchment groups). Janet is the Canterbury Regional Coordinator and South Island Team Leader for the NZ Landcare Trust and has been a key supporter of catchment group development in the South Island.

What a turnout and what an interesting and motivating evening! Not just from the information that was shared but by the fact that there were 160 interested women of all ages in the Clinton Community Centre at the end of July!!

The speakers covered a range of topics that people are either challenged with or are looking for more information on, so I know that was a drawcard but by hosting activities in the rural areas it is also accessible to more people dealing with these issues on the ground and a key reason why all these women were there.

Farmers are being bombarded at the moment not only with new regulations but also with a lot of negativity from the wider community. Whether people are right or wrong is not the issue but the lack of understanding from different perspectives is, so we need to work together to build these opportunities to connect with our communities and the wider audience that have been lost. This takes courage.

Farmers are getting together in catchment groups at an increasing rate and these groups are an opportunity to share their issues with other farmers and also identify good practical solutions. These groups are also an opportunity for farmers and their communities to gather and share information on the current state of the environment, and jointly develop a vision for their community and what it may look like in the future. This shared understanding is crucial to having everyone working in the same direction but taking account of different perspectives.

A plan of action can then be developed that sets priorities and outlines how it can be done, with everyone contributing their time, money and expertise. In some instances, funding can be gained from local and central government to assist.

The NZ Landcare Trust, along with sector groups and regional councils, have supported the development of these groups. We facilitate forums where catchment group leaders can come together and discuss issues and connect with a range of stakeholders. It gives them the encouragement to speak out about the challenges they are facing and how they are endeavoring to meet them.

We all need to look at our own situation, be honest with ourselves and say what can I do better? We also need to be listening to each other with an open mind, consider different perspectives and have the courage to speak up and be involved. I'll leave you with this quote from Veranoa. “Individual threads are not that strong but plied together with others become unbreakable. People are like that too,” Veranoa Hetet, Iwi master weaver.

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