Through telling these stories this anthology tries to add the balance in narrative telling about the Australian environmental movement. Through granting me the right to tell their story, these women move the debate about how to save our environment out of the arena dominated by government and large non-government-organisations (NGOs). These narratives allow us to hear more than just the words of the traditional power holders within the movement. In telling and recognising the value of these stories the movement builds greater momentum. This momentum, incorporating all the voices, talents, hopes, dreams and shortcomings of each and every participant is the fundamental power source that drives social change. It is the voices of the myriad participants in the movement that make it loud, and this short volume aims to help amplify some of those less privileged stories.
The women profiled in this volume have seen the internal workings of the environmental movement, and lived the environmental advocacy experience over a wide range of years, communities, geographies and issues. They are the movement.
And yet, many of my interview subjects would not agree with that statement. Like so many women I spoke to as part of this project they denied any unique or privileged positions within the movement. There often seems to be some other type of person who represent ‘the movement’. Perhaps a spokesman. Perhaps someone who was famous from the Franklin blockade. Or someone employed by a major environmental NGO.
I don’t agree. The women I spoke to on the frontline, are the environmental movement. Their stories and the paths they have taken in and out of activism, in and out of conservation, and in and out of other social justice issues demonstrate the flexible and ever changing nature of something called a ‘movement’. People become active for a time, for an issue, for a person, and then revert back to daily life, often for many years. This description of people who make a movement give us hope, and explain the groundswell of anger that has prompted many thousands of people to get back to activeness.
Each of the women in this volume represent a different part of what the environmental movement is to me. Just as with the women, the environmental movement represents, and is, many things to many people. The incredible range of ways we can care for our environment plays out in the stories of these women, each of which culminate in a presence or role on the frontline.