âScientists tell us we have a 10-year window for change,â says Arielle Gamble, co-founder and director of Groundswell – an ambitious initiative that aims to tackle the chronic underfunding of climate advocacy in Australia.
âWe don’t bring billionaires together. When ordinary people put in small amounts of money, talent or time, we can be so powerful, âshe says. Large format. “The antidote to despair is action.”
Groundswell is an initiative of Anna Rose, climate activist for 20 years; Claire Ainsworth-Herschell, former Head of Next Generation Development at the Art Gallery of NSW; and Gamble, an artist and community builder who brings creative bones to the movement.
Rose and Ainsworth-Herschell have worked together since 2017. They formed an initiative that brought together philanthropists, business leaders, social commentators and cultural influencers at the Heron Island research station in the south of the Great Barrier coral.
âWe saw the power to bring together a group of people who had not been very involved in the climate before,â says Ainsworth-Herschell. “We set up Groundswell as a way to harness that spirit of Heron Island travel all year round.”
Groundswell works as follows: members donate $ 20 per week, $ 250 per quarter, $ 1,000 per year, or you can make a one-time donation starting at $ 20. The funds go directly to grants for climate action. Donations are fully tax deductible.
Four times a year, the trio votes and awards grants to people and organizations fighting the climate crisis. The first grant was awarded to Emergency Leaders for Climate Action – a group of former fire and emergency chiefs who highlight the link between climate change and increasingly extreme weather events.
The group sees itself as a fundraising service for the climate movement, helping to find funds, time and talent for small and medium-sized organizations that lack the capacity to do it themselves.
âOnly two to six percent of philanthropy in Australia goes to the environment,â says Rose. “And even less than that goes to the climate.”
Listening to First Nations voices is of utmost importance to the Groundswell Group. One of the ways the group can do this is by partnering with First Nations people like artist Tony Albert, activist Karrina Nolan and Lille Madden from Seed Mob. Madden and Nolan are current Groundswell advisers.
âThere is no climate justice without First Nations justice,â says Madden. âGroundswell is a grassroots organization run by a group of open-minded people. And for me, as a First Nations counselor, I speak from my point of view and I feel my voice is truly heard.
Groundswell has attracted the support of prominent figures including actors Yael Stone and Isabel Lucas; artist Joshua Yeldham; photographer Jo Yeldham; Chief Kylie Kwong; fashion designers Bianca Spender, Kit Willow and Heidi Middleton; and restaurateurs Anton Forte and Allie Webb.
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