Meet the Seed Mob
We’ve been sharing stories of good people doing good things for the theme of ‘Community’ this month. Another of the people we want you to meet is Paul Gorrie, a Kurnai/Gunai man, who volunteers with Seed as their Victorian coordinator.
Seed is Australia’s first Indigenous youth climate network, connecting young people to protect country and fight for climate justice. “My involvement with Seed, and nature more generally, is a way of continuing the long history that Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people have had with protecting country and all that is on it,” Paul explains when we meet, with a coffee balanced in his hand and a beanie on signalling the onset of winter. Paul is a journalist, traveler, activist and musician whose respect for the land is strong, motivating and visible in all that he does.
Please tell us who you are and how plants feature in your life.
My name is Paul Gorrie, and I am Kurnai/Gunai man from the Krauatungalung clan, currently living on Wurundjeri Country. The way that plants feature in my life is like a cultural statement. Reimagining the way native plants can be used is so powerful. I like to fill my bedroom with native plants, and I currently do some work with a native plant nursery called St Kilda Indigenous Nursery Coop. I also volunteer with Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network.
My involvement with Seed, and nature more generally, is a way of continuing the long history that Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people have had with protecting country and all that is on it.
What community group do you work with, where is it based, how many people are involved and what is the focus of the work you do there?
I work with Seed. Seed is a network made up of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander young people from the desert, sea, bush, and the reef working together to protect country from fossil fuel extraction on sacred land. We have over 150 volunteers around Australia, and our focus of work at the moment is working in solidarity with Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander groups who are currently resisting mining projects on their country.
Why did you join the group and when did you join?
I joined the group because I was aware of the drastic effects of climate change but didn’t know where I could fit into the picture. In early 2015 I was invited by the National Co-Director of Seed, Millie Telford, to come along to a joint summit hosted by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and Seed in Sydney. That’s when I realised that being a part of this community was where I was meant to be.
What’s special about the place where your group is based?
We are based all around the country. Which makes it special because we come from such diverse landscapes and have stories about our countries, and homes. I am currently based on Wurundjeri country of the Kulin Nations (Melbourne) and this is spectacular country, where I’ve been blessed to live for the past 5 years.
Please describe one project that your group has undertaken recently.
Seed have undertaken a petition campaign to gain signatures from Indigenous and non-Indigenous people from around the country in the lead up to the federal election. We are calling on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to rule out any Federal Government investment, subsidies or royalty free periods for any new coal and unconventional gas projects.
Favourite meal of the group?
Seed mob’s favourite dish would have to be a dish that originated from the Torres Strait Islands and far North Queensland and was originally shared with us by Seed’s National Co-Director, Larissa Baldwin. The savoury dish is commonly known as ‘Sop Sop,’ and it features bananas, sweet potatoes, potatoes, ginger, garlic, pumpkin, coconut milk served with rice.
We bust this dish out when we are all together, normally on training camps.
What lessons have you learnt since joining the group?
I have learnt to never underestimate the knowledge, passion and energy of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander young people. Also, I’ve learnt from being around Aboriginal & Torres Strait young people that we are some of the best dancers in the world – check out this video!
What philosophy or message does your group hope to promote?
Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people have been looking after these lands for 60 thousand plus years and we will do it for 60 thousand plus more – we need to move to 100% renewable clean energy and have no new coal, gas or coal seam gas mines.
What projects do you have planned for the future?
Some of our future projects will be continuing to support post-election the groups that are currently resisting mining and fossil fuel extraction on country, amongst a bunch of other things too.
How does being part of this group enrich your life?
Being a part of Seed has indeed enriched my life. I believe this because it feels like being part of something much bigger.
Seed is a deadly mob of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander young people.
How do you think individuals make a difference?
I think the way individuals can make a difference is by supporting organisations like Seed, who fight to protect country from the destruction of the fossil fuel industry, or even by reconsidering personal decisions in life, thinking about what we each do, and making changes in areas of life where positive effects are possible.
How can others get involved?
If you are an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander young person – head to our website – http://www.seedmob.org.au/volunteer.
Or if you’d like to donate, every little bit counts towards supporting our campaigns and development of our volunteers – https://seed-aycc.nationbuilder.com/donate.
The featured image for this interview was taken on film by Corina Ritchie. The portrait of Paul appearing in the interview was taken by photographer Kiernan Ironfield, who you can follow on Facebook, too.