She can’t leave the house without bumping into someone she knows, but Seddon climate change campaigner Katerina Gaita wouldn’t have it any other way. She speaks with Benjamin Millar
What’s your connection with the inner-west?
I started volunteering with the local Sudanese community in 2002. It was the first time I’d really been to this part of town and I instantly felt like I’d found my home. My husband and I bought a house here in Seddon in 2004.
What do you like most about the area?
I first fell in love with how multicultural the west is. Then when we started living here, I found a really connected and supportive community. I love that I can never walk outside my door or go to the local shops without running into someone. I have to allow extra time to chat. I love that when I leave my charger at work or I need some butter for a cake I’m baking, I put a call out to my neighbours and within 15 minutes someone has come to my rescue.
What are your favourite local places?
Fig and Walnut – Vera is always so supportive of Climate for Change and a heap of other local initiatives. Littlefoot – Stu and Liana are also really passionate about the area and the community and do so much to support and cultivate it. My backyard with my family and friends – we’ve always had a very open house, so people are always coming and going. I also just love walking around Footscray, seeing all the different people from different walks of life – the different foods and smells, sounds.
What led you to start Climate for Change?
When I first realised how serious and urgent climate change was, all I knew is that I couldn’t do nothing. I started doing all I could, but soon realised it would never be enough because there weren’t enough people active on the issue. When I looked into what creates individual and social change, time and time again I found that conversations between everyday people were key. I looked around for an organisation that could help me have those conversations and found there wasn’t one – so I started it.
What has been the most rewarding aspect?
Working with people who are so passionate and committed. We have hundreds of volunteers every year who give so much to make a difference. They energise and inspire me whenever I’m around them. I also love hearing their stories of the conversations they have had and the change they have made through those conversations. Almost every day at the moment I hear a story that makes me think all the hard work has been worth it.
What are you ultimately hoping to achieve?
Our goal is to have enough people committed to the action we need to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees that we could have those policies put forward and delivered by government without backlash and with active support from people, communities, business and industry.
What is something people may be surprised to learn about you?
Haha – I don’t know that there are any surprises about me. I think I wear everything on my sleeve. I get violently sick from quinoa!
A fundraising night of climate-friendly food, mulled wine and community building will be held at Fig & Walnut Cafe on May 30 in support of Climate for Change. Katerina Gaita and Colleen Hartland will discuss post-election climate action. Tickets via winterwarmer.eventbrite.com.au