Engaging people in the environment and empowering communities: Naomi Edwards

You might have noticed that Women in Coastal has a shiny new identify! Our logo, colours, branding materials and new website design are created by the talented Naomi Edwards, who is now our Design Contributor. Naomi also works in community engagement and is studying for her PhD at Griffith University on the Gold Coast of Australia. Hear some words from Naomi about her journey into coastal science below.

Naomi Edwards: Artist, social scientist, and PhD student at Griffith University who is passionate about community engagement

My journey in the coastal world started when I was encouraged to get involved in Coast care at my local beach on the Gold Coast, Australia. I was (still am) super enthusiastic about lots of different things, and I thought, why not get involved. On my first day volunteering, I met this inspiring volunteer called David Hopman. We got chatting about life and I asked him why he volunteered and cares for the coastal dunes. He replied with some of the most profound words that will forever shape who I am.

“I build homes for a living, but out here, I get to plant habitat. Can you see that coastal banksia over there? I planted that, and the bird up there on the branch enjoying the nectar of the flower is called a blue face honey eater” He continued…

“It is up to you what you want to do with your life, why not create a masterpiece, and as nature is a true artist, we are creating a masterpiece out here and you can be part of it.”

The next day I shared this story with my botany professor and fellow science students, and we create a student group to support the efforts of Friends of Federation Walk.

Fast forward 12 years, what I do is more of an art than science. I have since found a deep passion for social science to engage people in the environment and empower communities through good design. I am deeply involved in youth engagement and more broadly community engagement, and most of my professional life is spent researching and designing engagement strategies, branding and program-design. And supporting lots of non-for-profits with good design and governance – another passion of mine.

And my student life continues, and have almost reached the 2yr milestone of my Phd at Griffith University, School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science. Given my intense interest in understanding people and why they do what they do, I decided to turn my research inward to deconstruct the coastal professional, a professional product of coastal management in Australia. This has taken me on a journey to capture inspiring stories from professionals and understand their deep rooted personal and professional conflicts that you might deal with everyday in your professional life – whether they be gender, age, power, knowledge, politics, positionally or institutional.

Why choose such a topic? Observing those around me, I realised it doesn’t matter how smart you are, what you do or passionate about. It’s about understanding your identity and working out the best way to navigate the politics of coastal management. Hit me up if you want more information…

So, this takes me to why I decided to become an active member of Women in Coastal Geoscience and Engineering. I wondered what could I possibly offer alongside emerging and established scholars in oceanography, engineering and geomorphology! I thought that I could probably share my passion for social science, and in particular, good design to keep adding to that masterpiece called life. Having loosely followed the journey of the group, and watching its own identity emerge, a brand to hone its much needed mission was in need. I have had heaps of fun working with the group to co-design a new logo and changing web presence to hopefully reflect the professionalism, passion and people-power.

Identity gives us a presence in the world. And we have a new identity for Women in Coastal Geoscience and Engineering.

Follow Naomi on Twitter and Linkedin and find her coastal management blog here.

Posted on: 30/05/2018, by :