TEGAN SULLIVAN: With climate change, people are terrified. How do you two feel about climate change and how have you been able to turn that fear into action?
NINNA LARSEN: From pretty early in my childhood I have been confronted with life’s biggest issues. I’m from Denmark and I remember when I was in high school we had CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire) in Switzerland…
T: That was the particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider?
N: Yeah, and they tried to recreate the Big Bang. I was fucking petrified. At that time in my life I started to become fearful of a lot of things that were much bigger than myself and my family and just too big to comprehend, and I think those thoughts really kickstarted my path into sustainability. I started studying after that and fell into an internship dealing with sustainability, and really found a space to confront my fear.
T: And how about you Kaitlin?
KAITLIN REID: I come from Brisbane where I was never really confronted with climate change. I was quite sheltered from it. Then moving here, I was a bit more open and I was choosing to learn. I was very lucky in meeting Ninna and Reground and seeing a way that I could use my skills and really answer a yearning that I had which was to live for a bit more purpose and change the definition of success. Now when I see my family back home, and my granddad especially, I know I’m never gonna change his mind. He said to me, “We’re just Australia, we’re tiny, what can we do?” And I’m just like [laughs] you know, he’s not just talking about one person, he’s talking about a whole country. So I do feel very lucky that that is no longer the mentality that I am in, because that is a hard thing to break.
T: Totally! And I read something about a trip to South America as being a kind of pivotal turning point for you.
K: Yes, yes! I quit my day job, took my boyfriend and went for a year to South America. I was working in a media agency and it just wasn’t for me. There were a lot of superficial things going on there. I didn’t own a TV and I was trying to place TV ads, it just wasn’t working. So I spent a year in South America volunteering on coffee farms—having no idea that I would have anything to do with coffee.
T: That’s such a crazy connection!
K: Yeah! We stayed in a small town for a month in Colombia in the coffee hills and we were the only white people that the town had ever seen. We were really just immersed in those communities and seeing what really affects them and also how they’re so happy. And I vowed to do quite a bit of soul-searching and really try to understand my values on that trip. I came back and was like, I need to work in sustainability. When I first came back I worked for a food wastage app called Yume. Then I deviated a bit and worked for Deliveroo, and again hit that same wall without really understanding why. It’s like, I’m in a great job, I’m in a really awesome startup and I’m earning heaps of money, but every time I’m in a sales meeting I’m asking about packaging and if they care about that, and I was doing my own little audits on the side. So, yeah, doing a trip like that with that intention, you know, not just a holiday, or to have a good time, really helped steer my path.
T: And Ninna, how did you come to be in Melbourne?
N: Well I finished my studies in Denmark, I did an internship in Japan, and then the earthquake hit.
T: Oh wow.
N: Yeah, so I had to leave Japan pretty suddenly, and ended up in Thailand. I spent three months there just living with these people who had nothing, and they were so happy. They’d just find happiness in sitting together, talking, eating, really basic things, and that helped balance out my stress from the earthquake. I finished my studies the following year and then came to Australia.