Take a minute to look outside at the beautiful environment. You may be sitting in your office, at home or even outside. The environment surrounds us and provides us with so many benefits that some just aren’t aware of. There are so many walking tracks that we can participate in to become fitter, healthier, and to improve our health and wellbeing. I have made it my mission in a Digital Artefact (DA) for BCM325 Future cultures to provide my audience with awesome tracks they can participate in to take advantage of the environment. These tracks are in and around the Sutherland Shire.
Campbell (2017) in The Rangeland Journal explains that it is vital to take care of Australian agriculture or there is a risk for the future. He explicates for the past four decades there has been transformative course in Australian-agriculture such as ecological restoration, revegetation and agroforestry as a reaction to land degradation. Conversely, the land remains fragmented. Unfortunately, all the innovation that Australia is good at, progress with land management is still slow. Campbell exposes that, “the challenge will be to maintain the momentum and provide adequate succession so future generations continue the work”.
“For over 50,000 years, Australia’s Indigenous community cared for country by using land management that worked with the environment. Using traditional burning, fishing traps, and sowing and storing plants” (Gillies 2019). This allowed a system that was sustainable. Though, when Europeans arrived, the farming practices that they brought didn’t suit Australian land and has caused long-term erosion and salinity. There are groups in Australia who work with farmers and Indigenous communities to create a union of shared knowledge and to manage the land. These groups include Local Land Management, the Aboriginal Land Management Councils, and Landcare groups.
The Sutherland Shire also acknowledges the Dharawal speaking people and traditional custodians of the land. Nevertheless, there are many organizations out there that maintain the land in the Sutherland Shire. For instance, Bush Care Volunteers in the Sutherland Shire. This group is active in the community involvement to manage bushland areas. They also rehabilitate natural areas for future generations.
Henceforth, this DA inspires to serve three main purposes. Firstly, to encourage good health and wellbeing. Secondly, to show future generations what the land once was in case of developments or the land degrading. Lastly, to stress the importance of maintaining the land for future generations.
Iteration is an important process in any project particularly with a DA. This DA is publicly available therefore, the feedback has come from both students and the public. I posed a pitch of my DA and then 3 weeks later a BETA of my progress. With both I gained valuable feedback on what I was doing well and what I could be doing better. From this, I then iterated my prototype DA and kept improving it. In my pitch, my original idea was just to post a blog with relevant information on the tracks and then attach a YouTube video. Though, the main piece of feedback I toke was to create more ways of sharing my DA rather than just on a WordPress blog and YouTube. Thus, I created an Instagram account (@shirehikes) and joined walking and hiking communities on Fitbit to share the routes and Fitbit data with others. Another piece of feedback from my BETA was to explore more obscure hikes which I defiantly will try to tackle harder hikes.
I have measured my public feedback through the number of followers and likes received on my Instagram and the views on my blogs and YouTube videos. My strategy with Instagram was not to set out and follow a random uninterested amount of people for big followers and likes. Instead, I posted photos attaching the relevant hashtags and gained a following and like base with the right audience. This audience is people who are genuinely interested in the environment, fitness, and health. I have developed loyal and repeat followers of the same interest for my DA. Therefore, I continue posting photos with key points of that location.
The blog posts include general information on the hike, what to bring, where to go, what to look out for, attractions on the way. Fitbit data of steps, calories burnt, distance and heart rate. Along with this information I attach a YouTube video so the audience can see a visual image of the hike itself and interrelate with the content.
Blog 1: https://allanahjohnson.wordpress.com/2019/04/22/bullawarring-walking-track-to-kingfisher-pool/
Blog 2: https://allanahjohnson.wordpress.com/2019/05/23/cronulla-beach-walking-track/
Blog 3: https://allanahjohnson.wordpress.com/2019/05/07/garie-beach-to-burning-palms/
The platforms that I have shared the blogs and YouTube videos with are Instagram, Fitbit and Shire Talk Facebook page. With Instagram, I post short videos or photos of the track that I am on. In the description, I post relevant information from my blog and then encourage the audience to press on the link to read more or to watch the YouTube video. Instagram has led to opportunities for my DA to grow. For example, @thevitalityworld commented on one of my photos. They reached out to me because they love the content I have been posted and are interested in collaborating with me. They are a new brand focused on love and mindfulness. They believe in empowering people. They create socially and ecologically sustainable jewellery. They messaged to see if I would wear their jewellery in one of my hike photos and they will share it on their page.
I have furthermore joined both a walking and hiking community on Fitbit. I share data from the track I went on including the calories, steps, distance and heart rate. Or, I share a photo of the map trial outlining where I went. Like Instagram, I share relevant information from my blog post and then encourage the audience to read more on my blog.
I am fortunate enough to intern at Shire Talk. This is a marketing company who promote all things Sutherland Shire related. At Shire Talk we used my blog posts and videos from the DA on the Shire Talk Facebook and website to expand to the Shire Talk audience. This was successful with thousands of views, and the audience shared the videos, liked and tagged their friends.
As we can see, this DA has a clear social utility and relevance. It relates to short, medium and the long-term future. Specifically, it relates to the short term as people are gaining access to ideas on where they can go on hikes. It will also provide motivation and shows the beauty of the environment which we need to maintain now for the future. It relates to medium and long term future also. In the case of the land becoming a development or eroding due to poor land management people can see what the land once looked like. In this case, this DA could be something future generations use as a case study as to why land management is important. Though, there are limitations to this DA as it takes time to make a video and go on the hike. Thus, consistency with content was limited.
Gillies, C 2019, Traditional Aboriginal burning in modern day land management, Landcare Australia, viewed 15 April 2019, <https://landcarensw.org.au/>
Sutherland Shire 2019, Bushcare Volunteers, Sutherland Shire, viewed 10 April 2019, <http://www.sutherlandshire.nsw.gov.au/Community/Volunteering/Bushcare-Volunteers>
Campbell, A, Alexandea, J, Curtis, D 2017, ‘Reflections on four decades of land restoration in Australia, The Rangeland Journal, no.39, pp.405-416