“I’ve been really fortunate. I’ve worked with many extraordinary women, men, young people, organisations and communities who have shared similar ideas and philosophies. Without exception, their work reminds us of the importance of good will, cooperation, equity and actions ‘on the ground’ and the roles we can all play.
I’m a writer, photographer and professional consultant specialising in sustainable futures and slow travel. There are lots of dimensions to my work, but they mainly focus on the ways we, all of us, are connected to the rest of the natural world, for better or worse.
I’m a great believer that we all have capacities to be actively engaged in looking for better futures through understanding the shape of these connections. If we understand these, we can develop a fuller understanding of options for sustainable futures and how to achieve them through things like slow travel.
I’ve been really fortunate. I’ve worked with many extraordinary women, men, young people, organisations and communities who have shared similar ideas and philosophies. Without exception, their work reminds us of the importance of good will, cooperation, equity and actions ‘on the ground’ and the roles we can all play.
Slow travel, sustainable futures and I
I’ve been a walker, cyclist, canoeist and camper for a lot of years now – long enough to remember the pain of walking with external frame rucksacks. I still have scars on my hips to prove it I’m sure. (For those of you who have never heard of external frame rucksacks, do a quick web search.)
My first hiking tent weighed in at about 5 kg if my memory serves me correctly. It was ‘A’ frame and the fly went on separately to the inner. When the tent went up in the rain, invariably the inside was wet before the fly got on.
Wet weather gear consisted of Japara rain jackets and Gore-Tex was some glint in someone’s laboratory. I was absolutely rapt when I bought my first geared bike – a 3-gear Repco which made contours ever-so-slightly easier.
And there is no way I’m going to say ‘Ahh.Those were the days’. Things improve, technology has made walking, cycling and paddling easier, safer and more comfortable. But I remain a fan of the essence of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s famous saying on design (possibly roughly quoted):
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothingmore to add, but when there is nothingleft totake away.
For me, the activities of walking/trekking, cycling and even paddling allow us to know more about the landscapes we travel through. This is partly why I’m so keen on reflection – it allows us to to make the most of all this and moves us away from bucket-lists of things to tick off.
These activities and the sheer enjoyment of being out in wild and not-so-wild places have led very specifically to my professional life focused on communities and their search for sustainable futures. Because communities are parts of landscapes, this has taken me to work on all kinds of issues and in all kinds of landscapes – national parks, wildlife and endangered species protection, tourism, world heritage, collectives, fishers, nomadic herders, the Himalayas, forests.
So there was a very obvious pathway from my outdoor activities to a desire to work in a field that supported the sustainability of those very outdoors – be they wild places or agricultural landscapes. And as a social scientist, my beginning point is with people – you and I and others – and our role in this.
Much of my work over these years focused on tourists and their roles in landscape sustainability. This might have been the important role of tourism in rural areas in supporting local food production, the ways ecotourism (in particular forms) can support local or indigenous people’s livelihoods and culture or perhaps the ways protecting wildlife creates sustainable futures for communities and local people.
All this work has a common thread and a common focus – the important roles travelers can have in sustainable futures and the importance of slow travel approaches to all this.
Currently I live in Northeast Victoria, in Australia. Not far from the Australian Alps, this is a place near mountain, river, agricultural and engineering landscapes that have etched themselves in Australia’s consciousness and identity. My city is on the iconic Murray river, which is under increasing threat. Within a couple of hours drive, the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme tells a story of industrial development. More recently, the debates over cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park remind us of conflicts between conservation and human use.
I’ve also been based in Delhi, India, working with an international conservation organisation on various initiatives focused on cooperative systems for jointly managing shared ecosystems. It was challenging, but I got to meet extraordinary women and men doing amazing things, I got to see what differences people can make and I got to support initiatives which are supporting them. This was the culmination of some 25 years of working in India – usually at least once each year.
I am extremely fortunate…
Images, slow travel and engagement with actions for sustainable futures are all part of me – the very human dimensions to sustainable futures that we all can engage with, and become part of.
Localslowtravel.com focuses on the connection between slow travel and sustainable futures. It’s focus is on travel, sustainability and sustainable landscapes (recognising communities also live in these landscapes). I have an additional site where I explore in more detail the multiple connections between people, nature and sustainable futures (brianfurze.com.au). There is sometimes some common material but more often than not it’s different because it’s dealing with different parts of the human dimension to sustainability. In a sense, brianfurze.com.au provides a broader set of ideas for the LoST approach to draw on. If you’re interested in some of these broader ideas, you can access brianfurze.com.au here.
Interested to start a conversation? Great! Let’s see where our paths can cross. My contact details are at the bottom of the page. It will be great to hear from you!
Want to know some more? Click on the link below for more detail on ways we can collaborate.