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Katie Noonan is using her voice
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Pass it on
I'm reading
Katie Noonan is using her voice
Pass it on
Pass it on
I'm reading
Katie Noonan is using her voice
Pass it on
Pass it on
Articles
15 August 2017

Katie Noonan is using her voice

“People have the power to change the world, and when we do as a collective we are incredibly powerful.”

Written by Katie Noonan

This story originally ran in issue #52 of Dumbo Feather

I’ve always been, for want of a better word, a hippie, because nature has been a huge part of my inspiration as an artist and a songwriter. Up until 10 years ago I always lived in the city, but would occasionally leave to have beautiful meditative times in nature. I feel very connected to Nunukul land, which is North Stradbroke Island, Quandamooka country in Queensland. So I’ve always had a real respect for the majesty and power of nature.

But it wasn’t until I had children, which was 12 years ago, that things really changed for me. I kept thinking, What world am I leaving for my children, and what can I do? We moved out to the country onto a property with solar power and tank water. And I became part of 1 Million Women, a programme designed to empower women—who are quite often the main household consumers—to make decisions like not use plastic bags, choose smart energy providers, really simple things you think don’t make a difference but actually do. Never use straws again. Never buy a plastic bottle of water. We’ve gone millennia without plastic bottles; it’s just a bullshit advertising consumer thing we’ve all been told to do. I’m always like, “Can I please have a glass of water?” And people are like, “OK, but there’s a bottle of water there.” And I’m like, “Yes, I know, but can I please have a glass of water?” So that work has been incredibly important to me.

I’ve also come to understand, because I’m a musician and I’ve loved learning about the world from musicians, the power of music in terms of messaging. So when I was asked to join Green Music Australia, which is about artists speaking out on climate change, I was like, “Yeah. Of course.” And so we’ve been making changes where we can in the music industry. With Queensland Music Festival, we’ve really jumped on the BYO bottle campaign and let our artists know that we are a BYO bottle festival. We’re providing them with bottles made from 100 percent renewable raw materials. So we get behind these campaigns. But Green Music is also about getting artists to use their platform to advocate, to gently make suggestions or shine a light on things that people can do to reduce their environmental impact. Sometimes I think that’s just about leading by example, which I’m quite conscious of. The overt messaging isn’t always so impactful I don’t think. It’s the old message of show don’t tell.

I think the problem with big issues like climate change, which is such an overused word, is that people tune out now, people think that they can’t do anything about it because it’s such an enormously overwhelming subject. But actually people have the power to change the world, and when we do as a collective we are incredibly powerful. We have the power to vote. We have the power to remove bigotry and ensure that One Nation doesn’t get in our electorate. We have the power to make small changes in our everyday lives in terms of what we buy, how we consume energy and our carbon footprint. In the words of Kev Carmody, “From little things, big things grow.” And it’s true. You know, I get that climate change is scary. That it’s big. And I think the safety of the nine to five and not questioning stuff is a legitimate thing for many people. But I think we can’t just exist as robots. We’ve become slaves to the digital rather than the digital being our slave. And I’m part of that. I was talking with a choreographer, Amy Hollingsworth, and she said, “We’re not human beings anymore. We’re human doings.” We’re defined by to-do lists and our KPIs, rather than, “Today I lived in the moment for four hours and I connected with nature, with my friend.” You know? That’s not seen as a legitimate way to spend your time. Which it is! We need that time to remind us who we are. That we are individuals with a voice.

I have some amazing heated discussions with family members who very much don’t believe in climate change. And I often talk about them with Tim Hollo actually, he’s the founder of Green Music Australia, because I’m like, “Oh god, far out it’s hard.” And he’ll say, you know, “Anger doesn’t ever really fix these things, it’s best just to try to listen.” Because these are people who are incredibly intelligent as well. They’re not ignorant. They’ve spent a lot of time researching the other side of the coin. And as much as I am a kind of anarchist underneath it all and an agitator I guess, I do believe communication only works when it’s respectful. A softly spoken word is always better than a shouted word. And that’s where some environmental activist groups have slightly messed up the messaging because their anger has led to aggressive or sometimes violent actions and words. So ultimately I would prefer to come to these discussions from a different place, where there’s openness and respect, because I think there’s much more power in that.

Katie Noonan

Katie Noonan is a mother, producer, businesswoman and ARIA-award winning singer-songwriter. She currently sits on the board of Green Music Australia.

Feature image by Tennille Fink

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