BEAM Mitchell Environment Group is a habitat that supports a wide-range of skills, life stories and areas of expertise. Our members are engaged in supporting sustainable outcomes in government projects, advocating for our local region, supporting green initiatives and generally causing a fuss about protecting the environment when no one else seems to care. We are an independent, membership based environment group based in the Mitchell Shire. Our vision is to grow a thriving community that is locally active and globally aware.
Some time this century, the day will arrive when the human influence on the climate will overwhelm all natural factors.
Tim Flannery FFA
To grow a thriving community that is locally active and globally aware.
Stand up on issues that impact our environment.
Take a collaborative approach and support one another.
Respect each other – everyone has something to offer.
Be accountable for what we say and do.
BEAM President for a record-breaking five years, Peter is a registered architect and builder, and has worked on energy efficient building design and construction for decades. He was a Councillor with the City of Geelong for two terms before moving to the Mitchell Shire. His interests in this field are local opportunities and working with one’s context. He has worked for years in Aboriginal communities creating competence in building skills, and more recently in India (Punjab) building a ‘sustainable’ demonstration house for regional consideration of what an energy efficient house might entail (in this case, rice straw bales, tin roof, bamboo structure and water collection). Peter has been a BEAM member for 15 years, and sees local communities as having enormous capability to secure a durable future through local action. He lives in the Tallarook Ranges with his potter partner Sandra.
Peter has a PhD in zoology (ask him about the social life of koalas), and is BEAM’s resident ecology expert. He was also a Landcare coordinator, and has had various roles advocating for the environment in government departments. Since retiring, Peter is involved in too many committees, environmental and activist groups to list, including the Broadford Land Managament Group, the Seymour Revitalisation Community Working Group and the Biolinks Alliance. Peter writes many of BEAM’s submissions such as the responses to the Seymour and Kilmore Structure Plans, sometimes behind the scenes, but it is work for which we are very grateful.
Irene has worked as a primary school director, and throughout her life practiced resourcefulness and community inter-dependence. She has built a community in Seymour after moving to join her son. She coordinates and collects events for The Seymour We Want, which distributes a newsletter. Irene’s role as Treasurer of BEAM is linked to her belief in the power that money can have in effecting social change. She is interested in our society putting its money where its values are, and thinks we should take a more active role in what our money does, and how we invest.
Hi I'm Bernadette!
Clare’s background is in migrant education and TAFE teacher training. As a freelance instructional designer, she wrote resources for various industries and educational organisations including Sustainable Development and Environmental Issues training modules for the Commonwealth – Diploma in Youth in Development Work. In 1994, she and husband Vitto Oles, jumped the Great Dividing Range from Emerald to 40 acres in Whiteheads Creek, so that they could “grow things”. Knowing little about being on the land, they undertook a Permaculture Certificate course and immersed themselves in learning about organic and biodynamic farming. They established a six acre vineyard, practising what they had learned. Clare became involved with BEAM during the Cherry Tree Wind Farm planning stage, preferring renewable energy to coal-fired energy production “in her backyard” and because of her interest in sustainable development and concern over the climate emergency.
Richard is a former BEAM President, and has a background in visual communications. After a short-lived stint in advertising, he discovered an interest in peri-urban permaculture and its promotion. He built (with Peter Lockyer) and lives in Abdallah House with his partner Kunie and two sons, which is a case study in RetroSuburbia The house aims to demonstrate what anyone can do with an urban block and live with less impact. Richard has an interest in connecting with the broader community, reaching to through BEAM and beyond. He believes in the power of (local) food, eating together and having fun. One initiative he’ll be pushing is for more bike paths.
Vanessa’s Italian roots have not stopped her becoming quickly attached to the Seymour area, and she wants to see it improved both materially and through the bonds of community and identity. After a Masters in Agriculture (Botany), Vanessa worked as an academic, teaching courses in sustainable food consumption, food security and agroecology. She wants to see Seymour heartily adopt its ‘green soul’, supporting a network of activities and events about sustainability. With her experience in education, Vanessa would like to see BEAM outreach more, and advocate for information centres to encourage engagement and spread knowledge to both locals and visitors about our natural environment. Vanessa believes in including the whole community, and enjoys networking and sharing knowledge.
Peter works as a nurse at Nagambie Hospital, and is applying for registered status. After growing up in Kilmore and working for some years in the horse industry, Peter found his way to Edgar’s Mission in Lancefield before moving to Nagambie. At Edgar’s Mission, Peter helped develop a new water management system. He believes in promoting our natural assets more widely and was excited to revisit Kilmore Creek and discover the benefits of the work of community groups.
David is a born-and-bred local to Seymour, and having retired from a position in IT specializing in software quality in the aviation industry, has become more involved in various community groups. David enjoys outdoor activities such as kayaking, and is involved with the Scouts. He ran the Repair Café initiative in Seymour and hopes to do so again pending location changes and guarantee of turnout. With Peter Lockyer and Marie Gerrard, David runs EarthChat on 103.9 FM community radio. His outlook is ‘spiritual atheist’, and combines it with a practical mindset, and enjoys BEAM for its network of like-minded people.
Ruth spent 35 years in professional theatre in numerous roles from stage manager to executive producer, and latterly as artist’s manager. Having always had an interest in sustainable environmental practices, conservation, organic and regenerative farming, she took the opportunity to participate in some of these areas alongside her work when becoming a freelance theatre practitioner in 1990. From the board of Elwood Neighbourhood House she collaborated with the City of Port Phillip to create the St Kilda Community Gardens; and had the privilege of sitting on the board of Cultivating Community who created, with residents, community food gardens on the grounds of housing commission flats all over Melbourne. Ruth found a new home for the St Kilda Food Coop and ran the coop for the next few years before moving to Commonground, a social change venue and intentional community on 95 acres of revegetated ‘land for wildlife’ near Seymour. Since then Ruth has trained in group facilitation and has created residential and non residential retreats and workshops in Melbourne and Seymour including bringing guest facilitators to work with activists to learn to ‘reach across’ difference instead of the more outdated adversarial approach to creating change. Ruth finished her work in the theatre in 2005 and left Australia in 2008 to train in the Feldenkrais Method, (a somatic movement education), while continuing her activist interests. Since 2015 Ruth has supported Elephant rescue operations in Kenya and has made many visits to Africa to support conservation generally while continuing her relationship with orphaned Elephants under the care of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Save the Elephant Foundation. Ruth is currently based in Seymour where she is growing organic food and creating native habitat in her garden, particularly for small birds and pollinators, the odd blue tongue lizard… All other native visitors are welcome!
& Monument Hill Representative
After graduating from RMIT, Marie spent her working life as a medical laboratory scientist working first in diagnostic pathology laboratories and then in infectious diseases diagnostics. She did some consulting work with the WHO in biosafety and biosecurity. Marie also has qualifications in immunology. Biological sciences led to her interest in the environment. Marie’s other long term interests have been in Human Rights and public health. She is currently on the board of Nexus Primary Health and an active member of the Rotary Club of Southern Mitchell as the International Director and as the club Environmental representative.