All the latest news and events at the Port Phillip EcoCentre. Local Action = Global Future!
Port Phillip EcoCentre logo.   EcoCentre News February '17
In this Issue: Learn from our Chief how you can be a Net Zero hero. Our Educator, Bronnie shares her passion for biking and biketour of Europe.  Did you know the EcoCentre provides free PDs for teachers? Sick of rubbish at the beach - Target the very source of marine litter! Discover what's on at the EcoCentre and locally. Check out the latest vollie opportunities. Or just browse some cool extras.
Our Chief Speaks: Be a Net Zero hero
Last year, Victoria committed to net zero greenhouse emissions by 2050. This means that any emissions will be reduced until in balance with heat-absorbing and carbon-sequestering activities. ClimateWorks demonstrated this is possible to achieve with current technology and while growing the Australian economy. EcoCentre Affiliates enable many gratifying emissions reduction actions, from cycling to planting trees to veganism.

TAKE2 compiles Victoria’s cross-sector climate change pledges to keep the global temperature rise to under 2 degrees. It also creates voter-driven imperative for any future government to maintain climate commitments! Pledge for your home or business. We did. Next, swap to carbon-neutral green power. (Personally I use Powershop - tell them I referred you & we both get $75 free electricity.) Saving the planet doesn't take a caped crusader. Collectively, we mortals can reach net zero. What will you do today?     ~ April 
Bronnie and Bike at the Cliffs along the Danube.
Europe by Bike!
This month we hear from Bronnie Walsh, our Education Programs & Community Education Facilitator:

Like most Aussie kids, I’ve been riding a bicycle from a young age.  It was mostly seen as a way of getting from place to place, providing me with independence and a sense of adventure.  In recent years, riding a bicycle has developed into a passion, as it satisfies my personal need to exercise both my body and my mind in sustainable practices.  I like to commute to work, to participate in group rides and occasionally complete a tour.  The highlight of my day is often the cycle to and from the EcoCentre, either through Albert Park Lake or along the beach as I feel the wind on my face and enjoy random conversations with strangers from the saddle of my bike. 

In 2016, I discovered that a friend from Melbourne was organising a private bicycle tour overseas, partly following the Euro Velo 6 trail. Pardon my global cycling ignorance but I had never heard of the Euro Velo trails. These are worth checking out, if you’re interested in cycling through Europe, no matter how long or short the path is.  In a three week period, we could afford the time to complete a section of the trail, so we settled on Germany, Bavaria and Austria.  I will also add that this trip was a huge undertaking for me. Since a near-fatal rockclimbing accident many years ago, the legacy has been managing chronic back pain on a daily basis and having numerous spinal operations, one of which was only a matter of days prior to me departing for Europe.  I also anticipated that the pain and suffering would be superseded by the amazing experience that lay ahead. I wasn’t wrong.

I landed in Zurich, Switzerland with just my two little bicycle bags (panniers).  This provided me with an opportunity to catch up with family and friends, as well as a gateway to the train line to access Trier, an ancient Roman town (established 17 B.C.) in Germany.  It was my first opportunity to try staying with a warmshowers.org host and I wasn’t disappointed.  It’s an international organisation that is ultimately a free couch surfing service for cyclists.  I had only previously experienced being a host for a few guests in Melbourne.  I met my host Magdalena who had kindly organised a barbecue with some friends in her apartment block. The best part about staying with such a host is that a bicycle automatically connects you and there is a common bond. I was surprised to learn that Magdalena cycled 25 minutes to work each day in Luxembourg, which was common practice for residents of Trier.  It was a memorable night staying with a gracious host. During my time in Germany, there were only five occasions where I was hosted though this website. They were the most memorable moments of my journey. Otherwise, I stayed in AirBnB accomodations or guest houses.

The following day, I met up with my Aussie travelling companions, the father and son team of Jurgen and Nick (see their blog of the tour here). Jurgen spoke German (he was born in Stuttgart), which made our ability to travel a lot easier.  We began riding along on our first river, the Mosel.   I was impressed that the average age of tourists (carrying loaded panniers) cycling along the bike path was about 70 years old! It was the first day of passing many castles, wineries, barges and fields of (white) asparagus.  One little town boasted six million grape vines!  Riding through the heart of the little villages on my bicycle was wonderful; there was so much character to them.  I was delighted to discover one restaurant serving up a delicious tofu schnitzel.  For a country that features meat quite often on the menu, it was refreshing to learn about the rising popularity of veganism/vegetarianism in my travels.

The next river we rode along was the Rhine. It was impossible to resist a Riesling flavoured ice-cream after cycling past all those wineries. Yum! It was also my first sighting of a purpose built tower to accommodate the region’s beloved Stork. Throughout the tour, these birds continued to stop me in their tracks, whenever I was lucky enough to spot one.

We took a train to Heidelberg for a short part of the tour to enable us to reach our third river, the Neckar.  I had the fortune to meet my next warmshowers hosts, Matthias and Veronika and their young son Jakob. For a touristy town, these special people enabled me to see the real town.  They were part of a huge community garden co-op, a short bike ride from town. I was invited to join them at the garden, where I got to plant some cucumbers and harvest some vegetables for the co-op.  This German couple worked summers in the Swiss Alps, taking care of a herd of milking cows. Later that night, they shared with me an aged raclette cheese that they had made during a previous work stint.  It was common for the Germans to work in Switzerland for better pay. That night it rained and rained and rained. By the morning, it had turned into a state of emergency as several people were reported to have lost their lives in the floods.  We left the town via a road, as opposed to the bike path and saw cars being winched from the raging torrent.  It was quite a scary time for us as we detoured around towns for a few days trying to navigate our way around the floods

My next warmshowers host was in Besigheim. His name was Christian and he is passionate about being a food share ambassador to address food security.  I was the first non-German speaking guest he had hosted, which was quite brave of him, as he spoke in broken English. We enjoyed dinner from his rooftop garden, where he had just begun growing some vegetables.  He convinced me to visit Ludwigsburg Palace to get a feel for this infamous former monarch of Germany. It gave me a great insight to the history of controversial German royalty as I rode along the Neckar for the last day.  Then it was onto the Danube, or the Donau, as it is known to the locals.  This was the beginning of the Euro Velo 6 track proper, as we passed towering limestone cliffs along this magnificent waterway.

My next warmshowers host was Andi in Stuttgart, who wrote, designed and produced three cycling e-magazines.  He got to road test e-mountain bikes through the hilly forest on his way to and from work.  His engaging stories of travel through Bolivia on his loaded up e-mountain bike was remarkable and I leant a lot about this style of travel.

Riding through forests, hearing cuckoos singing and passing little villages along the Danube river was such a joy. Heading through to Ingolstadt and doing a rolling interview with my cycling buddies ended in a bit of a disaster as my friend clipped my wheel. Whilst I was cleared in hospital, I was to discover back in Australia that I had torn the thumb ligament, requiring surgery. I developed an odd looking technique to change gears from that day forward, as I adjusted to my new pain and heading off to meet my hosts, Harald and Natalja. Harald was a bike enthusiast who was happy to repair my bike that had been giving me trouble with my gears for some time. A friend had bought the second hand bike for me in Switzerland so I didn’t need to bring one with me from Australia. One of the bonuses of staying with hosts is their ability to assist with biking issues and repairs that may crop up during one’s travels, especially when language and opening hours of bicycle stores may bring about challenges.

The final legs in Germany included the wonderful cycling towns of Regensburg and Passau, as the appearance of live onboard ferries increased up and down the waterway.  As I watched these luxurious monster ferries pass on by, I felt relieved that I had made the right choice to travel the way I had chosen, providing me a rich experience, despite the pain that riddled my body on a daily basis. In Regensburg, I had the pleasure to meet my hosts, Alexander and Connie, who delighted me with a bicycle tour of their wonderful city.  Connie was a member of a canoe club, so we visited there to appreciate the fleet of boats that members used along the rivers.  As canoeing has been a big part of my life, I was thrilled to have that experience.  When I arrived in Regensburg, I was surprised to find so many young people dressed in lederhosen and drindls as they headed out for the night.  It was insightful to learn from my hosts that dressing this way was a recent phenomenon and it was (still) embarrassing for them to dress this way, rather than trendy!  Alexander is self-employed and often chooses work locations a few days away, so he can cycle tour to get there. Connie is a teacher working with refugees. We chatted long into the night about the some of the challenges faced by refugees in Germany and how different parts of Germany have different attitudes towards these newcomers. It was times like those that I was grateful that I was staying with hosts, as opposed to the sterility of a hotel.  The final stop was Passau, the meeting of three rivers, being the Danube, Inn and Elz rivers.  It was a busy place on the rivers for boat traffic but plenty of room along the cycling paths as we steadily counted down the kilometres.

From there, we took a train to magical and musical Salzburg in Austria and continued the cycling from there. I eventually returned to Switzerland before coming home to Australia. Amongst the many things that I learnt from my trip, I was reminded that cycling is a wonderful way to see a country. Despite the challenges that it presents, I am keen to explore more of the world and my own country in this way.  Staying with fellow cyclists added huge value for me and I have returned to Australia being a better warmshowers host, by making more time to spend with people, no matter how busy I am.  Some other insights: following rivers in Europe means cycling on fairly flat terrain, it is helpful to learn German if planning to visit small towns, southern Germany has its fair share of flooding, bike paths in Germany are well marked for easy navigation, and that cycle touring can be addictive. I am currently considering my next cycle tour, if anyone is interested in joining me!
Free Professional Development for Teachers
Did you know the EcoCentre provides free Professional Development for teachers via our Teachers' Education Network (TEN)? We are committed to helping teachers grow their sustainability skills for the sake of the next generation. Our PDs provide an important space in which to rejuvenate, grow your ideas, feel inspired, and celebrate your successes. Please pass these PDs along to any interested parties. Teachers, please register your interest at ten@ecocentre.com and mark your calendars for 2017:

March 22 at the EcoCentre, 1-4pm - Biodiversity and Indigenous Perspectives: A half day workshop.
This workshop will look at how indigenous peoples of the Port Phillip Bay area and in particular the Elster Creek Catchment maintained their relationship with the land and its biodiversity. Gio Fitzpatrick, our resident naturalist, will conduct a biodiversity walk. This will help increase our awareness of the rich diversity there is to be found in our urban places. There will also be opportunity for teachers to share their experiences and knowledge.

May 24 at a Bayside School TBA, 4-5:30pm - Waste/Biodiversity.

July 26 at a City of Port Phillip School TBA, 4-5:30pm - Energy. We are thrilled that Sustainability Victoria will facilitate this workshop.

October 18 at a Bayside School TBA, 4-5:30pm - Waste.

November 22 at a location TBA, 4-5:30pm - Beach Citizen Sciene, Waste and Water.
Target the Source of Marine Litter
Are you sick and tired of seeing rubbish at the beach, in our waterways and ocean? Want to be part of the solution to stop marine debris and litter at the source? During February and March 2017, Tangaroa Blue Foundation is coordinating Source Reduction Workshops in seven council areas around Port Phillip Bay (see dates below).

Workshops run from 9am-1pm followed by a networking lunch. It’s free to participate in this fantastic initiative. Places are limited so get your registrations in here. Contact info@tangaroablue.org for more information.
Magpie Lark foraging in filthy Yarra River (courtesy of Tangaroa Blue Foundation)
Bayside City Council, 17 Feb
City of Melbourne, 20 Feb
Wyndham City Council, 22 Feb
Hobsons Bay City Council, 24 Feb
Kingston City Council, 6 March
City of Greater Geelong, 8 March
City of Port Phillip, 10 March
What's On
Fri 10 Feb starting at Federation Square 8am - Social Bikeride by EcoCentre affiliate, Port Phillip BUG. Ride to the Bike Futures Conference. Email Georgie at portphillipbug@gmail.com.
Fri 10 Feb at Christ Church St Kilda - Wine & Cheese Fundraiser in support of EcoCentre affiliate, 6:30pm, $20 pp, bookings essential. Email communitycentre@christchurchstkilda.org.au.
Sat 11 Feb at Federation Square - Redefining Progress by The Rescope Project: How do we redefine and measure progress beyond the consumer economy? Join a conversation with a prominent panel.
Sat 11 - Sun 12 Feb at Christ Church St Kilda - Quilt Show in support of EcoCentre affiliate, 11am-5pm Saturday and 10:30am-6pm Sunday. See and buy amazing quilts.
Sun 12 Feb at Federation Square - Renewable Energy & Beyond by The Rescope Project: How do we transition to a renewable society? Hear from a prominent panel including global energy expert, Richard Heinberg.
Sun 12 Feb in St Kilda - St Kilda Festival has Council valet bike parking and Port Phillip BUG members will be talking to fellow cyclists and recruiting. Come say hello!
Wed 15 Feb in St Kilda, 6:30pm - Basic Bike Maintenance for Women. Georgie from Bikes at Work will teach you repairing a puncture and more as part of the Sustainable Living Festival.
Thurs 16 Feb at Port Melbourne Town Hall - Free Film Night about our Backyard: Come see local  environmental docos Baykeepers & Melbourne Down Under and have a Q&A with the producers.
Sat 18 Feb in Port Melbourne - SkillsFest, Life in the Garden: Free hands-on workshop for the Sustainable Living Festival to learn about the beneficial creatures that abound in our gardens.
Sat 18 Feb in Prahran - Summer Fling: Loving Simpler Living. Join a Swap Party and swap old items for something 'new', plus a workshop on how to declutter your home. Part of the Sustainable Living Festival.
Sun 19 Feb at St Kilda Pier, 4pm - Be the RE-Generation: Young people (15-25 yrs) meet to protect the biodiversity of our beloved bay. Fun marine-focused activities. Please book.
Fri 24 Feb at Melbourne Girls' College - Pedal Cinema: 'Finding Dory' is a carbon-neutral bicyle-powered cinema.
Sat 25 Feb in St Kilda, 10am - Basic Bike Maintenace for Women. Georgie from Bikes at Work will teach you repairing a puncture and more as part of the Sustainable Living Festival.
Sun 26 Feb at St Kilda Pier, 4pm - Be the RE-Generation: Young people (15-25 yrs) meet to protect the biodiversity of our beloved bay. Fun marine-focused activities. Please book.
Sun 26 Feb at Acland St Plaza - The Sunflower Forest is a free environment art event for primary-school kids. Learn about pollinators, paint pot plants, nature, and pollution.
Sat 4 - Tues 28 Feb - Sustainable Living Festival is Australia's largest sustainability festival running a host of events aimed at accelerating the uptake of sustainable living by us all.
 
Be the RE-Generation project in action!
Be a Vollie!
Every Friday at EcoCentre - Community Garden Group. Seeking green thumbs, propagationers, waterers, and  training black thumbs to be greener.
Register now for Sun 5 Mar Clean Up Australia Day. Clean up your local area with friends and family!
Port Phillip BUG is seeking 'PassBox volunteers' amongst regular cyclists. PassBox is a device that detects how close cars get to your bicycle - this is part of a world first study to find out what makes cars pass too close to bikes. To get involved visit http://passboxmelbourne.com/.
Volunteer for the Sunflower Forest in Acland Street:
The Sunflower Forest in Acland Street Plaza will engage visitors in nature, and promote the importance of pollinators through art, where children have fun in the process. There will be activities to paint plaster moulds and small pots containing butterfly and bee attracting plants. Gio Fitzpatrick will talk on pollination and insects and there will be a SKINC native plant talk. The event runs from 11am-5pm on February 26 at the plaza. We are after volunteers who are interested in supporting this event either for a half or full day. Volunteer roles include:
- setup from 9-11am
- activity assistance and general helpers: painting and potting from 11am-5pm
- packup 5-6pm
Working with Children Check required. Register your interest with Anthony or call 9534 0670.

 
Cool Extras
Just Add Water: Watch the Djambana choir sing, dance, and make music to protect our beautiful Port Phillip Bay and its creatures. Our very own Baykeeper Neil wrote this song.
Rescuing Tawny Frogmouths is Aussie David Joyce's passion. Watch this inspirational short video on the camouflaged insectivore that's so often mistaken for an owl.
Sign the Climate Emergency Declaration before Steve Posselt delivers it to Parliament on February 25. The target is 100 000 signatures to support climate restoration. Read up on Steve's canoe odyssey to collect signatures.
Bring your foodscraps for the EcoCentre's Community Compost: Deposit them into the mini green compost bin on our veranda. Thanks to our generous volunteers we are up and running again.

 
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