Above Landholders in the Gecko CLaN Network favour personal connection over online events and services. This field day at Strathbogie was an opportunity to meet and discuss a soil test plot established in collaboration with Goulburn Broken CMA.
Gecko CLaN is a community Landcare network that supports 19 Landcare groups stretching from Yarrawonga on the Murray to the Strathbogie Ranges and Nagambie in the Goulburn Valley.
But what do landholders think about the increasing move to online services? I asked some of our Gecko CLaN members this question. The consensus is that they would prefer to meet their neighbours for a cup of tea, walk a fence line or chat about dung beetle breeding programs in the paddock.
Doug James from the Warby Ranges Landcare Group finds online meetings lack spontaneity.
“They are disengaging, and they are hard work. Put simply, there’s nothing like eyeballing people, because that’s how humans work,” Doug said.
Service providers and agencies often assume that all Australians have speedy internet services and are proficient with updating their software. Doug’s morning routine involves turning on his new computer and then making a cup a tea as he waits for his internet to connect. He is often awake at 4am trying to pay bills due to the failure or slow speed of his internet.
In my experience people who work on the land are observant, thoughtful, practical, professional, and resilient – a product of their environment. They often love a laugh and are generally excellent storytellers. As a Landcare network it is also our responsibility to listen. The message is clear. Our members are asking to reconnect in person. They want more events on farm where the learning and communication happens in the paddock not behind a computer.
Currently Gecko CLaN’s promotion, publicity, planning and communication is by email, on our website and very recently on our Facebook page. Otherwise, word of mouth prevails. We hope to continue with workshops in paddocks, events in the local CFA shed, reading books, advertising in the local newspaper, posters in the shops, letter box drops and good old-fashioned phone calls.
Landcare works through doing and seeing: that plant is growing well, that dam has eroded further this week, that lamb has been alone all morning. It’s the same with people and communities. Physical observation helps us to assess energy levels. Without eye contact, touch and body language, people become lonely. How do we know how they are really feeling and if they are coping?
Brigitte Brocklesby is a Landcare Facilitator with Gecko CLaN.
Her position is funded through the 2021-24 Victorian Landcare Facilitator Program.
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