UPDATE: For our response to the sad news of the passing of our founding patron, Bryce Courtenay, please see below.
It’s time for the 2012 BOOKEND presentation night in Hobart. Join us to see the footage, photos and students involved in our projects this year, from Coastwatchers' Tasmania-wide coastal cleanups to Antarctica and our Scholarships. Help us celebrate what’s been a multi-award winning year, and hear some of the big things we have planned for 2013…
When: 7pm, Tuesday 4 December 2012
Where: Dechaineux Lecture Theatre, UTAS School of Arts (Hunter Street, Hobart waterfront)
In this update: a very sad loss but also a thank you to our patrons and supporters for helping build a multi-award winning program; the epic Coastwatchers expedition wraps up for 2012; summer scholarships, Antarctic and Thai expeditions on the horizon; another big year for Lynchpin; something brewing with rhinos; and more!
VALE BRYCE COURTENAY: THIS IS WHAT YOU BUILT
"Bookend is about trying to stop the full stops in the narrative of nature. Bookend is about preserving the beauty and the joy... Let’s get started. Let’s change it all." - Bryce Courtenay, Bookend Trust launch, 2008.
As another year draws towards a close, I write this update with mixed feelings. 2012 has been a fantastic year for Bookend, with our programs reaching and benefitting more students than ever, and receiving an overwhelming number of awards and recognition that will in turn help the program expand even further in future (more on this shortly). However, there is also a big note of sadness in 2012, as most people will by now be aware of the passing of Bryce Courtenay, our founding patron.
Everything we are currently doing and achieving has developed through the support and guidance of our patrons, and - of them - Bryce was the first. He was the one key person who was prepared to listen to us when we started to build the projects we run today. In 2005, we had a convoluted concept, an idea, that he helped shape and form, freely providing his marketing advice and expertise without any expectation of recognition or return. He gave us the seeds of what has become the Bookend identity, and how to build and promote it. Bryce's interest and advice provided me with the impetus to change my career, to take Bookend from being a concept into making it happen. And he provided me with the best advice we ever received: "Don't listen to anyone who tells you it can't be done."
October 2012: Niall and Vicki present Bryce with a thank you present from everyone involved with Bookend. The framed picture details the diversity of our projects and was designed by Andrew Knott to show Bryce what he has helped us achieve.
All of our patrons - Bryce Courtenay, Neil Gaiman, Saul Eslake, Liz Dombrovskis, Nick Mooney, Cathy Henkel and Henry Foster (retired) - have been available to provide advice as needed. In fact, they have each helped us much more than they probably realise, as it is due to their own underlying philosophies and achievements that they first came to our attention. At times, simply knowing these patrons are there has been enough to bolster our work and reinforce the importance of what we do. In turn, we couldn't have built on the advice of our patrons without the support of everyone who has contributed to Bookend with donations, advice time and effort - all of the supporters who have joined us along the way.
And look at where that's taken us: we've now expanded from a simple university-level (and supplemental) scholarship program into running a diverse range of projects that benefit all ages and abilities. We're expanding our reach from Tasmania to schools across Australia. We have projects involving Papua New Guinea, Antarctica and Kenya, and - announced in this update - an environmental and cultural student exchange about to take place between Tasmania and Thailand. We've also enabled inspiration people like Andrew Hughes to transform their passion into careers, which in turn reaches and engages so many more.
Sometimes we've taken unusual paths to do things, and amid the chaos of all our projects timeframes sometimes slip. But Bookend is an expanding, fun and positive program through which we can give back to the community and thousands of upcoming students. I am enormously proud of the team, and of the recognition it has received this year. Take a moment to soak in the scale of what's been achieved:
- Andrew Hughes named Tasmanian Australian of the Year for his work with Expedition Class and Skullbone;
- Banksia Environmental Foundation Award: GPT Group Community Grant for creating lasting and positive community impact;
- Bookend team named Australian Geographic Society Conservationist of the Year;
- World Environment Day Award from the United Nations Association of Australia for Community Outreach;
- UTAS Vice Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Community Engagement;
- Breath of Fresh Air (BOFA) Film Festival inaugural "Devil" Award for Innovation;
- MediBank Active Tasmania Community Award for Coastwatchers;
- Bryce Courtenay/Penguin Australia Power of One Australian Hero Award for Expedition Class and Skullbone.
For anyone unsure of what we do and the breadth and links between each of our projects, you can read more here to see how it all fits together, and you can read the latest updates on each of these projects below. Rest assured, we still have more to do...
We will miss the wonderful man who helped start all of this, and our thoughts are with his wife Christine.
To Bryce, to Christine, to our other patrons, and to all of our supporters and contributors, thank you.
Dr Niall Doran - Director, Bookend Trust.
Bryce's final message to the Bookend team.
National Australia Day Council interview with Andrew above. ABC Radio audio interview here.
COASTWATCHERS - EXPEDITION CLASS AND SKULLBONE COMPLETED FOR 2012
Since our last update, the epic COASTWATCHERS expedition, a combination of this year's EXPEDITION CLASS and SKULLBONE programs, has been and gone. The project was launched in mid-July by Education Minister Nick McKim and adventurer Robert Pennicott at Woodbridge. Andrew then circumnavigated most of the coast of Tasmania by self powered travel, mostly by foot, bike and kayak (and a little bit by yacht). Throughout the 4-month course of the expedition, daily blog, forum and data updates were posted on our Expedition Class site, a weekly blog hit the online pages of the Mercury newspaper with periodic catch-ups on ABC Radio, and regular video updates were posted to the Coastwatchers video page and on Facebook and Twitter. Some video samples from the launch and one of the regular updates are shown here (for more, and a video background to the project, see the link above).
COASTWATCHERS engaged thousands of students around the Tasmanian coastline, removing over 36,000 pieces of plastic pollution and other marine debris from Tasmanian beaches, weighing nearly 2,000kg. Most schools joined Andrew's trek for a day at a time, but four schools (Jordan River Learning Federation, Ogilvie High, Scottsdale High and Smithton High) sent groups to join him on week-long expeditions to different wilderness areas in the state (Recherche Bay, Flinders Island, the Tarkine coast and Melaleuca). These stories are told on the blog pages and in the videos, with thanks to the Tasmanian Land Conservancy, the owners and crew of the Magic Miles yacht, and Par Avion/Airlines of Tasmania for their help in delivering students to meet Andrew in remote locations.
As can be seen from the progress maps, there was one major inland leg around the south-west, an area covered by the crew of the annual South West Marine Debris Cleanup earlier this year, and reported online by Expedition Class blog as a prelude to COASTWATCHERS. It's also an area devoid of schools for Andrew to meet with! However, as shown on the wider map below, school cleanup reports and data came to the interactive Rubbish Dump map from wider afield than just Tasmania alone.
As reported in our last update, Bookend has partnered with teacher David Dieckfoss at Calvin Christian School and researcher Dr Rebecca McWatters to further develop an innovative new approach to Antarctic Studies that directly links high school students to scientists and expedition support staff. Our last newsletter had a preview video of students participating in an Antarctic flyover as part of this program, but now a much more detailed video clip on the program has been completed:
This fascinating program is underway again in 2012, with even more students participating. The classes were visited by Economic Development Minister David O'Byrne while in the process of refining their scale model of a biopile development (as explained in the video).
Following this, the students moved on to work alongside scientists and construction crews on an even more hands-on test-build of a full-scale biopile than last year. This exercise was training for the Antarctic expedition team before building these structures for real down south, but also offered an opportunity for the students to learn directly from the experts in a hands-on environment. The expedition team is now at Casey Station, from where they will remain in contact with the students throughout their work. Excitingly for the students, more Antarctic flights are also on the cards...
SUMMER SCHOLARSHIPS & TASMANIAN OUTDOOR LEADERSHIP TRUST
Bookend will consider funding a small number of students for summer scholarships, and will also consider additional volunteer placements. An opportunity also exists for students to gain external financial support for activities such as this through the Tasmanian Outdoor Leadership Trust, which is accepting applications until 7 December. Application information can be found via this link.
In our last update, we gave a run-down of the experiences of last summer's students in their own words, and a video preview of their work. A more detailed look at their summer can be seen in this video which went online during the year, including some fantastic aerial footage from Joe Shemesh:
There's also a bit of extra behind-the-scenes fun in this companion clip:
As previewed at the end of the above clip, participants in last year's program (including student Georgia Hofto and DPIPWE biologist Mike Driessen, above) have been taking part in the development of a longer piece specifically focussing on the challenges of working in remote areas such as Mt Weld. Graphic artist Jodee Taylah has contributed some darkly evocative artwork to help illustrate the video when it is complete.
THAI EXCHANGE and KENYAN LINKS
Bookend is extremely pleased to announce a new high school student exchange between Thailand and Tasmania. The exchange is being run in partnership between Bookend, the Australian-Thai Institute and the Monsaengdao Ecological School in northern Thailand. It will provide an environmental and cultural learning experience for both sets of students, and is targetted at students in both countries who may not otherwise have the opportunity to travel.
Five Tasmanian students (3 from Triabunna High and 2 from Ulverstone High) will travel to Thailand in February for 10 days to take part in local ecological work, including hillside revegetation and elephant rehabilitation. In April, four Thai students and their teacher will visit Tasmanian for 10 days in return, and will take part in comparable projects here with Tasmanian wildlife and projects.
Bookend team member Felicity Wilkinson was recently able to visit the Monsaengdao Ecological School as part of her own travel to Thailand and was pleased to see what the Tasmanian students have ahead of them. As with all of our projects, the exchanges will be filmed and live-blogs will be online from the participants so that other students and the public can follow their progress.
Also internationally, an innovative new project is in development between Bookend, teacher Mark Pritchard, farm manager Gerard Noonan and the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. More on this project soon, but Bookend alumnus Katie Mulder was recently in Africa and was able to visit Ol Pejeta and to see the rhinos and the local rangers that will benefit from this work!
LYNCHPIN - THE OCEAN PROJECT
As ever, it's been a busy 6 months for Lynchpin! In early August, 2011 scholar Leva Pertl (formerly Lewa) represented Lynchpin at the Living Data: Animating Change arts/science forum and the Muse exhibition as part of the Ultimo Science Festival in Sydney. Leva recorded interviews with artists and scientists and documented the exhibition itself.
Midyear, Lynchpin arts scholar Malou Zuidema utilised the Hobart City Council's Urban Smart Project to draw attention to the important story of Giant Kelp through an urban box design seen both in the city and online. Teaming up with Leva as camera-operator, the pair spent five days dealing with inclement weather and the busy corner of Murray and Bathurst Streets telling the story to passers-by as Malou painted the work. Leva's interpretation of the work can be seen in her video Forests of the Sea.
Meanwhile, Malou has been working with researchers Jorge Ramos and Felipe Briceno, from Mexico and Chile, to use stop motion techniques to tell the story of species shift in response to warming waters off the east coast of Tasmania. This is a very different and challenging way to tell a marine science story, using one of the hottest but most difficult and time-consuming forms of film-making today. Living Data leader and animator Dr Lisa Roberts is helping mentor the project, and comments: "Malou has chosen a most difficult medium, (but) it's so important to be ambitious... to be encouraged to learn from attempts, and model that courage."
Amid the work at IMAS, 2012 Lynchpin scholars and Ph.D. candidates Nick Roden and Rob Johnson have both spent time in Antarctica during the year. Nick is an accomplished cinematographer and his spectacular Antarctic footage will be used in another arts/science collaboration in 2013, joining with composer Matthew Dewey's anticipated symphonic work. Nick was part of a scientific survey alongside the Mawson Centenary celebrations in early 2012 and reported back to Lynchpin of the dedication and effort of the teams involved. More on Nick's work and the important science behind it can be seen on the Lynchpin blog.
Rob Johnson studies phytoplankton, the incredible micro-organisms that support all life on the planet by providing every second breath that we take. Although they are invisible to the naked eye when single, Rob is using rapid and large-scale observation of phytoplankton en masse from space, and ocean water sampling for closer research, Rob's plotting what's happening within the Southern Ocean for these globally significant cells. In 2013, we anticipate Nick's cinematography, Rob's adaptation of NASA technology and Matthew's compositional work to generate a very different experience of ocean science in sound and image!
LOOKING FOR A CHRISTMAS PRESENT?
Don't forget about the book Tasmanian Summits to Sleep On, written by Kevin Doran with a Foreword from patron Bryce Courtenay about Tasmania, and with proceeds from all sales supporting Bookend's work.
The latest issue of Australian Geographic's Outdoor magazine calls it "a must for Christmas" (review below). The UK-based Alpine Journal - the annual of the world's oldest mountaineering club - says of it: "For anyone familiar with Tasmania, this book will no doubt bring back strong memories, and for those who aren't the book reveals the surprising richness and variety of the mountains of this unique island, a territory so near to mainland Australia but yet so different."
WILDERNESS WORLD HERITAGE AREA: Check, Clean, Disinfect, Dry!
Following on from a book about about the beauty of the Tasmanian wilderness, Bookend is pleased to be working on a series of Check, Clean, Disinfect, Dry education videos for NRM South. This series will assist with the message that everyone has a responsibility to clean their boots and equipment to help avoid transferring pests and diseases into our sensitive and pristine wilderness areas.
Actor John X and a range of experts from different organisations have contributed to the videos, with the overall message that it's actually quite simple to do, and the benefits for our state are enormous. The videos will be launched by NRM South next month.
IMAS - CAREER PROFILES
Our ongoing series of research and career profiles with the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) is growing, with the following additions on Robert French's research with Mako Sharks, and an overview of three graduates from the Quantitative Marine Science Program.
An innovative collaboration between IMAS reseacher Dr Mary-Anne Lea, Lynchpin Patron Nigel Helyer and the UTAS Conservatorium of Music, using musical interpretation to assist in detecting scientific signals in seal data, is previewed below. The full IMAS series can be seen here, with corresponding profiles for broader science study here and here.
As usual our year has been filled with various additional activities, including ongoing consulting and survey work, which helps fund our projects, and various school and public talks, which helps spread our message.
Of particular note, and as a result of the UNAA and Australian Geographic Awards, Niall was invited to speak at a series of Asia Pacific Sustainability Summits for the International Green Awards. The summits were targetted at business leaders and sustainability managers, and were organised by Anne-Maree Huxley of Models of Success & Sustainability (MOSS) in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth in August (a fifth summit was also held in Townsville just before Niall joined the roadshow).
And that largely sums up our year to the end of November. In closing we'd like to give a brief nod to the Insects of Tasmania site, a new and growing online resource developed by teachers Kristi Ellingsen and Tony Daley with the support of several scientists and specialists. A lot of prior reference material and guides are based on interstate or overseas material - so this is what we want to see!
Thank you again, Bryce, for everything you have helped us achieve. Here's one last video clip of all our programs, prepared to include the awards we'd won at the mid-year mark. Unbelievably, the list grew rapidly from there - we need a bigger mantelpiece...
This update is only a semi-regular summary of BOOKEND's activities. For more regular updates, see our Expedition Class page (daily updates during expedition periods), the Lynchpin page, and for the most frequently updated information "BookendTrust" (no space) on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. An additional Facebook group is also available for those wanting to help in more detail.