Preparing for Goblin's Gold at Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney
Aged eight, Dentdale, Yorkshire Dales, UK
My passion is life
Choosing to thrive rather than survive takes a shift in perspective and practice.
I created Thrive Story to light up imaginative paths to a kinder, more joyful and colourful world that works for everyone.
For more than twenty years I've been leading high-profile, high-impact projects in the public, private and not-for-profit sector. Most recently I was Principal Knowledge Broker for Place Based Science at NSW Department of Planning Industry and Environment. I collaborated with people across Government agencies and councils to incorporate the best environmental science knowledge into land use planning across the Sydney metropolitan area. Together we imagined and began creating the Green and Blue Living Map - to protect and restore the hydrological and ecological grid that supports life in the Sydney basin.
Some years ago, working on climate policy in NSW Government, it became increasingly obvious that climate change, along with many of the other complex social and environmental issues we face were really story problems. Humanity seemed stuck in a narrative of co-dependency on coal and fossil fuels and sacrifice of life for the god of economic growth. Science tells us that burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests has created a thick blanket of carbon dioxide that's causing our planet to overheat and destabilise the predictable climate patterns on which our life and civilisation depends. When we seem to be groping to imagine a different future, pop on storytelling glasses and we see thrive stories emerging all around. Imagine new possibilities. Embark on the journey of our lifetimes. Yes we will encounter significant challenges along the journey that test us and may just bring us together to unleash new relationships, creativity and joy. Let's imagine what if....
I love the city and its technology while my veins run with the rugged wildness of English moorlands and the red dirt of Australian deserts. I grew up between worlds – between Manchester’s swagger of industrial ingenuity and Dentdale’s ancient dialect of roaring tannin brown becks coloured by moorland peat and Norse ancestry. The North of England was home to my Mum and my Australian Dad still called Australia home though he lived more of his life in the UK.
On birthdays and Christmas, our postman brought a package covered with stamps of Australian botanicals and marsupials. Inside, Granny’s vivid sound pictures of her childhood in the Australian bush, imprinted electromagnetically onto a plastic cassette tape. Her stories of this great Southern land made Australia feel so familiar it was like coming home when I first visited aged eleven.
In 2002, my railway job was taking over my life. Commuting between Manchester and London was giving me corridor cognition. Like the song, Come Home by James, I got the urge to "Go walkabout, I got the bends from pressure. It was a testing time when the choice was mine." I chose Australia.
Podcast interview with Anne E. Stewart for Australian Fairytale Society
About Thrive Story
Life creates the conditions for life. Thrive Story's purpose is to strengthen the health and potential of our world to regenerate itself, the conditions for a thriving future for humans and all life. (Plessis & Brandon, 2015 ). Join me on the journey to thrivability - where your impact enhances the integrity, beauty and regenerative capacity of the living community you touch.
Thrive Story has minimal environmental impact from its operations. My electricity is 100% renewable GreenPower. I offset the carbon footprint of my gas and travel by planting trees with Birdlife Australia for Regent Honey Eater habitat in Capertee Valley. Most travel is by public and active transport. My office is a building made entirely of locally sourced reused and found materials, delivered on a pedal-powered bike trailer.
Thrive Story is a for purpose-enterprise. I support other for-purpose businesses through pro-bono work with Storytellers NSW, and Wollemi Common. I also host community gatherings and perform stories for the public and specialist audiences.