This month, we’re celebrating Sustainability Superstar Isabella who has been working with the Sustainability Team on a wide range of projects this year. Hear from Bella about the Climate Café project, the Hedgehog Friendly campus initiative, the Kent Community Oasis Garden and much more:
“My name is Isabella Sabin-Dawson, and I’m currently in the 3rd year of my Environmental Social Science undergraduate degree. I am interested in ‘eco-anxiety’, a new concept that describes the fears that people experience in response to dangerous changes in the climate system, and also how spending time in nature can have a positive impact on our wellbeing. I can often be found at the beach walking with my dog, practising mindfulness, or crocheting amigurumi characters in a cosy corner.”
What are you doing to improve Sustainability at Kent?
“This year, for my year in professional practice, I have taken on the role of ‘Sustainability Projects Officer’ at Kent as I was lucky enough to get a work placement here with the Sustainability Team. Throughout this academic year I have planned events during Climate Action Week, helped the University achieve gold Hedgehog Friendly Campus status, written and filmed educational videos for the Sustainability website, and developed a new sustainability training module for staff to undertake in the new academic year.
In my second year at Kent, I began working with the School of Anthropology and Conservation Sustainability Working Group (SWG). I am now the SWG Wellbeing Subgroup Lead and we were recently awarded a runner-up position in the Sustainability Student Prize for our Climate Café project. A Climate Café is a space where our fears (and other thoughts and feelings) about the climate crisis can be safely expressed without judgement or advice. Expressing these thoughts and feelings can help to relieve eco-anxiety and help us to feel less alone in the changing world that we live in. There is always cake too, which is a bonus! We will be running Climate Cafés at the Kent Community Oasis Garden (KentCOG), so keep an eye on their Instagram if you are interested in coming along.
I have been volunteering this year with KentCOG, spending time with other students, staff and members of the public to grow fruit, vegetables, herbs and much more! Volunteering at the garden is very rewarding as you can see your hard work turn into something beautiful, and it has also been a great opportunity for me to make new friends and learn from others that have much more gardening experience than I do!”
What advice would you give to other students?
“If someone asked me for advice, I would say get involved! There are so many groups and societies that are working on loads of exciting projects. I’ve built dams in Blean Woods and planted trees on campus with UKC Conservation; made banners, attended climate marches and discussed climate politics with ECS society; and built campfires and experienced mindful walking with Community College Life.
Other environmental groups you could try out are BeetBox, EcoGeog, VegSoc, the Kent Union Sustainability Network, and the SAC SWG. I was hesitant to join in when I first started University, but getting involved with groups like this means you make friends with people that have similar passions and help you make a difference within your community.”
What are your plans for next year?
“Next year I will be back in seminar rooms and lecture theatres after finishing my placement in May! I am extremely excited to travel over the summer but I am also looking forward to starting my new modules in September. I like to keep busy and spend as much time in nature as possible, so I will make sure I can continue volunteering at KentCOG and working with the SAC SWG whilst studying. I intend to make it a fantastic final year!”