Dear twelve year old me,

Twelve is going to be a big year for you. It’s nice to meet you, by the way. I think you’d recognise me. That wouldn’t sound silly if you’d seen me a couple of years ago, because I don’t think you’d have recognised me then, honestly. I’m Katya, I’m 23. I’m currently sitting in the middle of an empty room in an empty apartment, drinking cava. I keep trying to lean against the radiator but it’s too hot. I am very tired because this is the end of a very long two months. I am single, though not quite alone – you’re single too (but not for much longer! Ditch the eyeliner, even if you tight line – which you definitely cannot do yet and are still pretty piss poor at – it’s gonna make your eyes look smaller than they are, and you don’t want that because they are lovely), and you’re definitely not alone. Bonnie and Christina are still two of my best friends. They’re going to stick by you through everything. Christina will remind you of this, she is a rock. Bonnie will cry in your kitchen when you tell her things you never shared in school. They love you so much, and without judgment.

There are so many things I want to tell you not to do, so many people I want you to stay away from. Things not to say, even to wear. Twelve is the peak. Continue reading


Full Circle

I was sitting in the cafe of the National Theater this morning, with a hot chocolate and a fruit and nut slice and book of poems (Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing) and note pad and pen, and was just suddenly smacked around the head with how familiar the situation felt. Friday night I dug through a folder I have carted across the world. It is a folder of poems and short creative pieces and drawings, but mostly poems. I was looking for lines by Cohen which I’d taken note of, but couldn’t find them. I remember so clearly sitting upstairs in the National Gallery of Victoria, between shelves, and being awed by this one damn line, and writing it down. And I couldn’t find it. I went out and bought the book, and still haven’t found this line (but found lots of other lines I’ve liked; the spine is already bent, the corners of pages already turned).

But I was sitting in the cafe of the National Theater. And this is something that I spent a lot of time in Melbourne doing: sitting in a very particular cafe, Thresherman’s, with its exposed brick and long wooden tables and dark red brick floor. I would sit with readings, with notebooks. I would write poems endlessly. Some of them are truly terrible. Most of them are stream of consciousness. Most, I have in fact pulled lines from, and inserted them into bigger and better poems. But that feeling of being alone, with a book and a notepad, writing and rhyming in your head – that has not been something I’ve felt for a long time. It is an isolating but comforting feeling. I distinctly had three out of body experiences in the theater, where I zoomed in and out on myself sitting there, perfectly centered, looking out the huge windowed front, rain and grey over the Thames. Everyone with umbrellas. Everyone seemed to be a couple. Everyone in the cafe was an elderly couple (I wrote a few lines on how we are not scared of old age; we are scared of being old and alone).

Continue reading

The EPA’s Village Green Project

So, in my opinion, the Environmental Protection Agency in the US has been doing a commendable job of trying to steer politicians, corporations and citizens in the right direction. The right direction, just by the way, is reducing carbon emissions, replacing fossil fuel and natural gas use with sustainable means of energy production, and, in general, living cleaner and greener lives. One of the ways the EPA has been working on doing this on a local, citizen level, is through what’s called the Village Green Project. I wrote this blog post over the summer whilst I was a climate change intern for Physicians for Social Responsibility (an environmental, anti-nuclear, Nobel Prize winning NGO head quartered in DC). So here’s a bit about the project, and their latest pop-up. It’s something that I’d love to see the UK use as a tool of education, especially in areas like London where air pollution is a real issue. I honestly don’t even want to think about what’s going to happen to the EPA (80-90% budget cuts? new global-warming skeptic to head it up?!), never mind great projects like this, under the incoming administration.

The Village Green Project, initiated by the EPA, was first piloted by Durham County’s South Regional Library, North Carolina, in 2013. The project places a bench, powered by wind and solar and equipped with air sensors, in a communal location to encourage local residents to engage with the issue of air pollution. At the library in Durham, local Citizen School volunteers have created entire classes based around the bench – teaching students how to collect and display data, discuss issues of air pollution and climate change, and educate on the health risks. The EPA itself organises community events and has formed partnerships with local schools and the library to create educational programs around the bench.

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Most recently, the Project was introduced to the Jane Addams Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois. Continue reading