The women of Southern Chronicles
Words: Marie Knowles|
March 6, 2019
We celebrate the brilliance of extraordinary and adventurous humans all year round. This month, in recognition of International Women’s Day, we turn the spotlight on some of the incredible women we’re lucky enough to profile through our journal, Southern Chronicles. Meet the forward-thinkers, the great humans, of our age.
Anna Frost is an international and professional mountain, trail and ultra-runner from New Zealand.
She’s a proud ambassador of Sisu Girls, an empowerment project to get girls outside reaching their potential and she’s co-founder of Trail Run Adventures, a blog platform about her passion for travel, adventure, personal growth and cultural immersion. Her vision is to support others in reaching their own summits (whatever they may be), while having a positive impact on local communities and living life to the full.
“It gives me a real sense of achievement, when I'm up a mountain and it's so much bigger than me. In fact, I'm a tiny dot on the planet. But I have an impact. There are the hard times, the tiring times, but also the super highs – traveling to new places, meeting new people. I feel like everyone can tap into that bit of ‘difference’, they just need to grab it and be empowered by it. It’s just taking the leap to do it – because it’s scary to do it. And maybe it won’t be perfect, but you’ll learn from it.”
Social entrepreneur Lisa King is on a mission to help kids in need.
Her lunch-delivery business, Eat My Lunch, is based on the buy one, give one concept; every time a customer buys a lunch, one is donated to one of the 83 schools in New Zealand signed up to the program. We caught up with her to find out how far she’s come, and how others can follow in her footsteps to make meaningful change.
“One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Everything you want is on the other side of fear.’ There were times at the start when I thought, ‘It’s not going to work, it’s going to be too hard.’ It takes courage and bravery to step away from what you know, from what you’re comfortable with, to do something that’s completely unknown. But that’s also the exciting part. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Dr Steph Gardner is a marine biologist specializing in the study of corals.
She was recently chosen to join a group of women working in crucial fields for climate change action. The Homeward Bound program aims to develop 1,000 women leaders over the next 10 years as a collective force for good in caring for our planet. We caught up with her on her return from Antarctica, a life-changing journey that has started her on the path to influence in the future of our environment.
“As women, we generally put others before ourselves in most, if not all, aspects of our lives, but we need to treat ourselves with kindness, compassion and respect. Once we know and understand ourselves and our values, we can be more effective leaders. It’s incredibly important to me to use my research, knowledge and voice for the environment, because she is having trouble doing it alone. Mother Nature is sending a powerful message in the form of fires, floods, droughts, and extinctions - beckoning us to help rethink the way we care for our planet.”
Dr Michelle Dickinson (MNZM) – aka Nanogirl – is a passionate researcher, author and teacher whose life mission is to make science and engineering accessible for all.
She’s a senior lecturer in engineering at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, the director of Nanogirl Labs ltd, and a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to science.
“I really want to get more women into engineering for the diversity of thought, and of products. I started to research why so many girls drop science at around the age of 12. I wanted to find a way to show girls that science stays interesting and fun, and that it has a point… I would like to see more scientists become celebrities, as it could really change the dynamic of our world.”
Several years ago, Kalina Silverman began the journey now known as Big Talk.
This social research project aimed to skip the small talk with strangers and have deeper conversations that would lead to more meaningful connections. From personal mission to viral sensation, Big Talk has enabled thousands of people to open up, empathize and connect.
“Simply by listening to others express the same sentiment I was feeling – that there is a lack of real human connection - inspired me to do something about it. I like to listen to people's needs, and take my time to develop a creative idea or solution that feels most intuitively helpful to me, while also tangibly impactful for the greatest amount of people. Asking a big question that actually requires a thoughtful response breaks the ice and the conversation gets more real.”
A teacher and marine conservationist, Libby Bowles lived the dream for three years in coastal Mozambique, researching rays and sharks.
But on returning to the UK to teach, the first-hand experiences of human impacts on marine life haunted her. In 2017, she rode a biodegradable bamboo bicycle around the world to raise awareness about plastic pollution in the oceans. The Tread Lighter project is her ongoing commitment to make a positive change.
“If there is something you don’t like in the world, work out how you can make it better and go for it. My school’s motto was, ‘Dream Big,’ and that suited me just perfectly. My pupils and I talked about marine and terrestrial conservation, and the kids wrote letters to organizations asking for help. They raised money for causes dear to their hearts; here was a blossoming tribe of game changers. I came up with the idea of riding a bicycle, made from grass, around the world to share messages on living more sustainably with the future generation of conservation superheroes. Tread Lighter isn’t just the name of my blog, it’s my wish to tread lighter on our precious planet.”