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The inescapable climbing concrete jungle we now live in is a reality that some city dwellers refuse to embrace without a little greenery. Though we may have to live amongst man-made structures there is nothing in the agreement that stipulates no nature, and an increasing number of people have come to view plants as a good green compromise. Author, model and presenter Summer Rayne Oakes is a botanical boffin with a skill for nurturing plants in urban spaces. Her city abode is a living interior of flora and fronds so effervescent as to attract full page spreads in lifestyle magazines. Who better to instruct a course in plant mastery?

Summer Rayne has launched her first kickstarter campaign to help hapless horticulturalists get better acquainted with their house plants. How to Make a Plant Love You is an online audio-visual workshop and experience to help you demystify plant care and learn how to have a relationship with your plants. Forget partners, think plants—what’s your perfect match?

What exactly is a plant master class?

My vision behind How to Make a Plant Love You: Houseplant Masterclass is to create an online-audiovisual course + experience to help people demystify plant care, learn how to have a better relationship with their plants, and guide people to create the indoor jungle of their dreams.

What are the hardest horticultural habits to master?

Caring for plants is highly achievable; I believe there is a plant for everyone at some point in their lives. The biggest hurdle is learning how to listen to your plant’s needs. They clearly don’t bark or meow to get your attention, as our beloved pets do, so you have to observe their day-to-day signs. What I’m aiming to achieve with the Houseplant Masterclass is to help people “think more like a plant”. When you do that, you don’t have to memorize what yellow leaves mean vs. brown tips, for instance; instead, you’ll have a keen sense as to what’s going on with the plant so you can intuit yourself.

Why are plants a smart choice for busy people living in tiny spaces?

Plants immediately make a home far more inviting. When my roommate had moved out of my apartment years ago, the house was rather cold. The first thing I did was get a sizable Ficus lyrata, or fiddle leaf fig, and it immediately changed the nature of the space. Since that time, I’ve filled my home with around 700 plants—it’s a veritable oasis! I invite people in for meditations or tours, or just to hang out, and it really creates an idyllic atmosphere—even in the middle of the big city!

Are plants like pets, is there a perfect match for different personalities?

I think you have to triangulate to answer this question. One of the first questions I always ask people is what kind or quality of light they have in their homes. Plants eat light through their leaves, so they need it to operate, grow and reproduce. That’s one of the most limiting factors. Then I often ask what kind of “plant parent” or “caretaker” the person is so that he or she can come to a conclusion as to the best plant for them!

What are some of the more imaginative ways to integrate plants into a home or office?

I look at any type of container and think, “hmmmm, that would be a great plant pot!” There’s just a range of ways you can display plants in all creative ways—in colanders, in mason jars, etc. I think in home or office, bringing in Tillandsia, or air plants; or perhaps a small terrarium can be a real statement piece.

Support the Campaign @ How to Make a Plant Love You!

During last year’s UK National Whale and Dolphin Watch, a record-breaking 1,529 hours of dedicated watches took place. Some 300 hours more than any previous occasion, this represents 2,500 volunteers all around the British Isles getting involved to report on the UK’s whale and dolphin species.

2017 was the sixteenth year that this huge citizen science scheme had taken place and clearly the event is building on popularity year on year. “It’s so important for people to join in helping us to track whales, dolphins and porpoises in UK waters. The Sea Watch Foundation database holds hundreds of thousands of records which are used by scientists and governments to inform research and policy on these wonderful animals” says Kathy James, Sightings Officer for Sea Watch. “By taking part, people are directly contributing to their conservation”.

Aside from the expansive effort put in by volunteers in 2017, there were also a huge number of whale, dolphin and porpoise sightings reported as part of the event. 1,410 records of cetaceans, the collective term for whales, dolphins and porpoises, were reported from land and at sea.

“The wonderful thing about watching for whales and dolphins in the UK is that you don’t necessarily have to get on a boat to see them” adds Kathy.

More than half of the reports received came from land-based volunteers stationed at one of 108 survey sites or those who were lucky enough to spot a cetacean as they went about their other business. Forty-eight vessels were also involved with the event, from pleasure craft and fishing vessels to ferries and cruise ships.

The reports received during the 2017 National Whale and Dolphin Watch amounted to around 6,500 individual animals “captured” by the survey, a powerful testament to citizen science.

This most recent effort also showed that on average around the UK, a cetacean could be spotted once an hour! North and East Scotland, South Devon, Cornwall and North-east England all had a greater sightings rate than the national average. These excellent cetacean-spotting areas clocked up between 1 and 5 animals per hour on average per site.

Eleven different cetacean species were seen in UK waters during the National Whale and Dolphin Watch. All in all, 29 species of cetacean have been recorded in UK waters although only fourteen are recorded regularly. Seeing a good proportion of these in just nine days goes to show what people can achieve when they work together.

Sea Watch Foundation are seeking volunteers to come forward to take part in the National Whale and Dolphin Watch 2018 this summer, which takes place 28th July – 5th August. Surveys can take place from your favourite or closest bit of coastline and boat-users are urged to get in touch too. No experience is necessary as the team at Sea Watch will offer you training and advice on how to take part.

Find out more about the event: seawatchfoundation.org.uk

Whilst UK gears up for their annual watch, Jonas Liebschner, a photographer and guide with Whale Watching Sydney, releases ‘Whales of Sydney: and other visitors to our shores’. The book due out in March 2018, beautifully documents the annual migration of whales past the coast of Sydney through engaging photography. Their behaviors and the interaction between them have changed our understanding of the whale’s importance and the need to protect them for future generations.

New Holland Publishers, ISBN: 9781925546132

To ensure a prosperous career in a climate of lightening innovation and constant evolution, gain a vital edge with smart forecasting and insider knowledge.

It’s hard to ignore the tide of technological advancement and its diverse applications in today’s world, and our dependance and integration of these breakthroughs is unlikely to fade in the future.

The zeitgeist of our time is driven by a movement towards intelligent technologies and so the wise who seek meaningful, expansive, and challenging roles in this future might well look at engineering as a smart career choice.

We asked leading career coach, Ray Pavri, to interpret the multi-dimensional value of engineering as a catalyst profession for conservation, science, medicine and more…

Engineers can transform the world into a better place and maintain the world to stay as a better place.

Both have relevance, but is engineering a smart career choice in 2018 and beyond?

Yes, but you must think beyond the stereotypical applications of engineering in traditional industries like mining, oil and gas, coal fired power generation and manufacturing. You’ve got to shift your attention to growing industries such as the environment including air, food & water quality and health. Engineering for an ageing population, urban infrastructure related engineering to cope with growing cities, engineering within defence within what is an ever-changing international climate and agriculture related technology innovation enforcing Australia as the food bowl of Asia. This is where the future will be, for a lot of young engineers.

Irrespective of whether it’s transforming or maintaining type of work as an engineer, if you embark on your engineering career with a genuine love of what you are doing alongside creativity, initiative, business acumen, communication skills and connectedness with others, you will do well.

A lot of engineers facing frustrations in the mid to late stages of their life have lost sight of what makes them happy, being chained to lifestyles rather than de-linking, re-calibrating and re-engaging in areas which they’d get joy out of. It is hard to make the world a better place and through that get true joy in being an engineer, if your own head space does not get better.

Take the example of Professor Ana Deletic, a one of Australia’s innovative engineers for 2017. She created a technology called “green-blue walls” for installation as small planter boxes on walls, taking up entire walls of multi-story buildings, with gravity and plant roots doing the job of percolating greywater and stormwater within urbanised areas. The phosphorus concentrations being extracted also reduce local temperatures, increase biodiversity and the amenity value of urban areas. There are many applications of this technology and it will transform the world into a better place.

Other Australian engineers who are enjoying what they are doing and excelling in their own sub-disciplines include:

Tony Lavorato (Complex Cantilevering Over Heritage Structures)
Wes Johnston (Mobile Swing-stage Gantry)
Gregory Kelly (Flooded Roads Smart Warning System)
Dr Madhu Bhaskaran (Stretchable Oxide Electronics)
Simon St Hill (Heat Recovery Power Generator)
Peter Atherton (New Clinical Waste Management)
Dr Richard Kelso (Low Drag Bicycle Helmets)
Professor Sandra Kentish (Storing CO2 in Microalgae)
Dan Copelin (Virtual Pipes)

See a full list of Australia’s Most Innovative Engineers @ innovativeengineers.com.au

So how can you set yourself apart in the world of engineering?

Seek inspiration and reach out to others. Connecting with others is a sure-fire way to improve your career success.

This need not start only when you are in the work force. It should start even while you are at Uni as a group of students at the University of NSW have done. A team of engineering students from the University of NSW, physicists, lawyers, communications specialists and musicians teamed up to design a DNA scaffold that could help find a cure for HIV. This innovation earned the UNSW students the Grand Prize at Harvard’s annual BIOMOD competition.
To connect though, you need a good range of soft skills.

Too often engineers are remaining in silos rather that reaching out to others – after all engineering has day-to-day applications and for that to happen you need to connect with the full fabric of society.

It is also important for engineers to understand market context, relating what they are doing to current and future market needs. There are several engineering related Phd’s who show untapped potential driving Ubers when they could be re-shaping the world – all because of the desire to create the perfect mouse trap which no one wants.

Another imperative to make it in engineering in the modern world is to keep up with societal challenges and that means keeping up with what is in the news both here and globally. It is about keeping an eye out for the “wouldn’t it be nice if” societal needs because inherent within these needs, lie creative engineered solutions which could turn the world on its head. Australian engineers are equally placed as engineers globally to change this world we live in.

The future of engineering as a smart career choice lies in its diverse applications – industrial batteries adjoining intermittent power generation like wind and solar. Or in smart devices proliferating society and work places within the internet of things revolution. Or in driverless cars, driverless trains at mining sites and now driverless cargo ships within the broader automation revolution taking shape.

When you start to think about the application of engineering to the world’s problems, the opportunities seem endless.

Ray Pavri is Australia’s most respected career coach for degree-qualified engineers. A career professional with an MBA in Business, Ray has held senior roles with many large organisations in Australia. But his real passion is working with engineers and technical professionals at all levels of management who are stagnating in their careers.

For the past twenty years, Ray has helped over 4,000 technical professionals escape the work trap dilemma to discover more rewarding and meaningful careers. As founder of Watt Electrical News, a premier online resource within the global electrical community, and My Electrical Community, a peer-to-peer business and social network, Ray is devoted to improving the lives of technical professionals throughout Eastern Australia. Connect with the Career Coach @ jobtransitionstrategy.com

The end of 2017 marked a long overdue victory for the little plant of big controversy.

Australia has been slow to adopt hemp as a food-grade ingredient, banning imports and forcing growers to label their products as pet food or skincare. With the lift in policy our shelves are displaying a more diverse offering of hemp infused foods, from hemp yogurt to artisan breads and beers. The consumer is spoilt for choice as imports compete for shelf space alongside homegrown hemp, and here is where we have a chance to support local growers in an emerging industry.

We asked artisan producers Australian Primary Hemp to give perspective on the potential expansion of hemp products and the difference of locally sourced hemp.

Since the legalisation of Hemp as a food in Australia on the 12th of November last year, we have seen the market inundated with new Hemp food products hitting the shelves. At Australian Primary Hemp our retail line includes a Hemp Oil, Hemp Protein, and Hulled Hemp Seeds. Other interesting food products popping up around Australia include Hemp Beer, Hemp Granola, Hemp Milk, Hemp Butter and even Hemp Ice-cream. The wider Hemp market has also flourished introducing a range of hemp clothing, concrete, paper and plastic products to the market.

The Hemp seeds used to produce different consumables can be sourced locally here in Australia and internationally from places like China and Canada. At Australian Primary Hemp we are passionate about supporting local farmers and watching this emerging agricultural industry grow. This is why we source all our seeds directly from the farmer we work with locally around Australia. By doing this we can ensure the quality of the seed, how it has been produced and that it is 100% Australian.

The risk with buying Hemp food products that use internationally imported seed is that you can’t guarantee the seed is fresh, what conditions it has been grown in and where it has come from.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, why not add a new food experience to your romantic plans. Our Vegan Hemp Pesto creates a beautiful vibrant green colour, goes perfectly with crackers or bread and is simple and quick to make. Perfect for a picnic under the stars or for recreating your own ‘Lady and the Tramp’ pasta moment!

Ingredients

2 cups of fresh basil
1/2 cup of fresh spinach leaves
1 garlic clove
1 cup Hemp Oil
Juice of half a lemon
1/4 hemp seeds
1 tablespoon of Hemp Protein
Pinch of salt

Instructions

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Serve with fresh bread, crackers or with pasta.

Dine Differently with AU Hemp @ ausprimaryhemp.com.au

New Year Resolutions are a loaded list of short-fuse goals, the spark ignites a vision of health and success but life and habits happen! This annual ritual of set-then-forget is an interesting psychological phenomena which has inspired countless books and articles. Various theories point the finger of failure at one or more of the following,

Motivation: a goal must inspire you on a authentic and visceral level.

Habit: consistency is required to break a habit and it helps to replace undesirable triggers with positive reinforcement ‘rewards and rituals’.

Time: goals need to be realistic and measurable, set the clock back 5-10 minutes instead of an hour to begin with and adapt your schedule in increments. Be flexible and free-style your day to make use of idle moments or suitable spaces ‘office yoga’ anyone? Track time spent on a given goal, frame this metric as you please (minutes, hours, days) and it could reflect how long you have abstained from something also (e.g. not buying the latest fashion).

The sum of this trio is simple: how we frame and plan our approach to achieving goals, will influence the success of our outcome.

Now I’d like to explore two popular resolutions which, have found a way to reinvigorate a superficial goal with a substantive motive.

Fitness is a best-seller come January, who doesn’t desire more energy, strength, and a few less pounds?

What if fitness was a healthy result of a humanitarian mission?

It’s crazy to think that 844 million people in the world—one in ten—do not have clean water¹. It’s something so simple that we don’t think about. Every minute a newborn dies from an infection caused by lack of safe water and an unclean environment. When you put it like that, it’s even harder to understand why mainstream media isn’t tackling the issue head-on. The facts are, if every person on earth had access to clean water, the number of deaths caused by diarrhoea would be cut by a third.

Clubbercise, a UK founded company changing the game in the fitness industry by combining fitness and clubbing in one fun, easy-to-follow workout, is hoping to make a change. Litres of water are consumed at every Clubbercise dance fitness class to keep participants (aka Clubbers) stay hydrated—this luxury isn’t afforded to everyone.

It all started when Claire Burlison Green and her friends were discussing that there weren’t any dance fitness classes that played the kind of music enjoyed in clubs on a night out. Always looking for a creative way to keep fit, Claire and her friends started putting together routines and playlists. Their ‘healthy clubbing’ classes started in mid-2013 and in 2014, Clubbercise training officially launched in the UK.

Clubbercise rapidly became wildly popular and within three years over 2,000 instructors from gyms, health clubs and dance studios were trained. Today there are over 100,000 people who regularly participate in Clubbercise sessions. In 2016 Clubbercise was introduced to Virgin Active clubs in Thailand and Singapore.

With their rapid growth, Claire Burlison Green made it her mission contribute to making water safe and accessible for everyone. Inspired by the American brand TOMS Shoes, Claire loved the idea of buying something and giving to charity at the same time. When she started Clubbercise, it seemed natural to make the water connection with people coming to classes and taking it for granted that they could fill up their water bottle and drink as much as they needed to stay hydrated.

A donation to Oxfam is made whenever someone becomes a licensed Clubbercise instructor. The money donated to Oxfam is used to set up and maintain safe water supply with pumps, tanks or purification systems. With every donation, roughly 10 people gain access to safe drinking water in some of the poorest places on the planet. With over 2,000 instructors trained internationally, Clubbercise has provided thousands of people something that could mean the difference between life and death.

Clubbercise classes will be sweeping the nation in 2018, training more instructors and providing more people with clean water.

Get Fit for a Cause @ clubbercise.com/australia

¹ https://www.wateraid.org/au/why-wateraid/facts-and-statistics

Next let’s challenge our perception of Fashion. Often part of a New Year’s Resolve to curb a spending spree or shake-up a tired wardrobe?

What if fashion was a stylish result of a globally empowering aim?

Project Futures, an Australian not-for-profit whose purpose is to educate the public about human trafficking and slavery issues, has collaborated with fashion designer Steven Khalil to launch its very first charity t-shirt. The aim is to raise awareness of crimes that deprive women and children of their freedom and dignity in Australia and abroad. With over 45.8 million people enslaved, modern slavery is the fastest-growing crime industry in the world today.

Renowned red carpet and bridal gown Australian designer Steven Khalil has dressed the likes of Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez and Nicole Kidman. Casual lifestyle brand Citizen Wolf, who believe in producing ethical, local and sustainable clothes, has also teamed up to create the organic charity t-shirts. In partnership, both Steven Khalil and Citizen Wolf represent the Australian fashion industry as the faces of a better future. Zoe Marshall, Australian media personality, wife of NRL star Benji Marshall, and soon-to-be mother, is one of the celebrity ambassadors who is giving her full support for this project.

100% of the profit goes directly to helping end modern slavery and cover a range of services from medical treatment to psychological service.

The exclusive Steven Khalil charity tee retails for $99 from projectfutures.com.

Khalil and Wolfe talk with BE Journal about the Future of Fashion get it in your inbox!