From buffel grass action to raising awareness of dingos to mobilising local people through letter writing, ALEC supporter and Alice Springs resident Jacqueline Arnold has worked tirelessly to protect the desert. We want to acknowledge her energy, vision and love for country.
I recently returned to my home town of Alice Springs after several years away. I was shocked by the degradation of the landscape. The buffel grass! Deep water holes of my childhood - disappeared under hooves and weeds. Then came the horrific death of my darling pup – a ‘non-target’ victim of 1080 and the fires.
I was home and settled and had time and space to think and act. Going to protests wasn’t really my thing. I knew letter writing was meant to be one of the most effective ways to engage…
So in 2020, I formed Letters for the Environment Central Australia (LECA) with the aim of providing structure for myself and a resource for others in the community wanting to learn and act in a relatively slow, evidence-based way. LECA involves a monthly open letter writing session where anyone interested can come, discuss the case card and write a letter.
After that, we distribute 'letter writing kits' to cafes in town. The kits include a case card, example letters / letter writing tips, and more recently colouring in templates. They even come with a prepaid envelope and pen! Some of the case cards have led to more action – in Feb 2021, LECA started a petition opposing the Singleton Station water licence which was signed by over 23 000 people!
In April 2021, we started the ‘Buffel Grass Information and Action Group’. We have just started working on a dingo protection campaign and look forward to turning our attention to stock and feral animals in permanent and ephemeral water holes. I manage multiple social media pages and accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Keeping these active is a full-time job in itself!
In such a short time, I have received the most amazing support, encouragement and / or inspiration from organisations in Alice Springs (ALEC, CAFFA, Landcare, the cafes who host the LECA Letter Writing Kits including the The Roastery, The Goods, 8CCC Café, the Base Cafe), the NT (ECNT, the EDO, Gamba Grass Roots) and experts, and other community members locally, nationally and internationally! Volunteering to this extent has been time consuming (I spend on average 3-4 full days a week working on the various projects), entertaining, confronting, satisfying, exposing, and empowering.
For sure I've got some things wrong – gotten angry and gone too far, felt out of my depth and not gone far enough. Volunteering has put me on one of the steepest learning curves of my life and I have developed so many new understandings and skills.
Do you have a story to share about the importance of taking action to protect the desert country? We'd love to hear it, and publish it to help inspire others! Email [email protected]
Letters for the Environment Central Australia
Letter writing sessions – last Tuesday of the month at ALEC Office, 90 Gap Rd, 5:30 – 6:30pm
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/lettersfortheenvironment
Facebook Group - https://www.facebook.com/groups/lettersfortheenvironment
Twitter @letterscentral | Instagram @lettersfortheenvironment