My name is Katie Walters and I’m interested in how we can build the best possible future for the unique Moreton Bay marine environment and for the people who rely on it.
I’m doing a PhD late in my career – I returned to study marine sciences after many years working with communities. I learned during that work that positive transformation at the community level only happens when people feel heard, valued, and safe.
Before beginning my PhD my only connection with the oceans was holidaying at the beach, but then I started diving, and thus began a love affair with the ocean. What really spurred me to action though, was finding out how much it’s all at risk – not just the oceans, but everything I’d been doing up until that moment. Every community ailment we were addressing in our work – racism, inequity, polarisation of ideologies – would become so much worse as our environments became less healthy and resilient. Safe spaces for people would become rarer.
When I decided to re-train, I knew I would focus my studies on the oceans. First, because the oceans, more than any other environmental feature, connect humanity across the globe. Our populations flock to the coast. We’re dependent on food, even oxygen, provided by the oceans. We’re inspired by, and rely on, the oceans – we are all saltwater! Also, because despite my love of nature generally, it’s the oceans that really inspire me personally with a sense of awe, wonder and mystery.
The PhD project I’m doing, with Moreton Bay Online and the Moreton Bay Podcast (which just hit over 600 downloads) is in recognition that I’m not alone in this – I know there are many people who share a unique personal connection with the oceans, the bay, or even their local waterway. These personal connections, shared and grown in a safe space, have power – individual and collective social power – that will help us, together, ensure Moreton Bay remains healthy, productive, and beautiful as we head into the future.
The more you learn about the Moreton Bay environment, the more you realise we have something very unique here. From coral and rocky reefs to mangroves and salt flats – we have this remarkable crossover of temperate and tropical waters, which means it’s always possible to see something new, rare or unexpected out there. But we also have a community who are really invested in Moreton Bay, which is probably why we’ve managed to keep it in a pretty healthy state, despite the fact it’s located next to a developed, modern city. This active, engaged community was one of the reasons Moreton Bay was named a Mission Blue Hope Spot in 2016, and it’s why we can set a global example of engaged community stewards of the environment.
The core values of the Moreton Bay Foundation really resonate with me. They’re a checklist of everything I’ve learned in my years in community development and marine science. In particular, the values around collaboration and being a not-partisan voice suggest they value the diversity of experience and knowledge that is contained within our community – this is exactly what I’m hoping we’re exploring in the Moreton Bay Online Podcast.
Moreton Bay Online Podcast:
http://moretonbayonline.libsyn.com/ or search “Moreton Bay Online” on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or your podcast app of choice!
Moreton Bay Online Blog:
Written by Katie Walters, Moreton Bay Researcher