Brianne Peters Story

My journey with the Untouched World Foundation began just a short 5 weeks prior to where I am today. I received an invitation to join the Tertiary Leaders team on the Central Otago Waterwise trip, based in Bannockburn, to which I keenly accepted. My background at university as a second year geography student tied in quite nicely to the main themes addressed at Waterwise of water use and sustainability. I thought I was relatively interested in these ideas, but only when I was mid-way through the week at Waterwise did I realise how much so, and further, how much potential there was to explore sustainability in its entirety.

For what I considered a hobby, I realised my sustainable practices I set out to do on a daily basis such as reducing my red meat and dairy intake, carting around a glass keep cup and rejecting plastic bags left right and centre, was actually a point of conversation and, with hope, a point of influence. I offered to speak to the high school students about my journey with sustainability, to which I shared my current practices to help the planet, and the ones I hope to implement in the future. I thoroughly enjoyed this, and at the end of the week when we all shared one action we plan to execute after this trip, I was pleasantly surprised to hear a number of them sharing ideas I had put forward when presenting earlier. This may have been the first moment I realised I could create something profound.

Perhaps a shift, a development… a change.

I was privileged to be invited to the Advanced Leadership Programme at Mt Aspiring in late January of this year. In summary, this weekend has been the most impactful on my life to date. Surrounded by incredible minds from various backgrounds, all brought together to discuss leadership, sustainability, opportunities, and whatever else the conversation would spark. By the end of the first day, my brain felt as though it had done three days worth of thinking, but I had never felt so inspired. I opened my mind, challenging myself to think at a deeper level than I knew I could and push myself beyond horizons I didn’t think were reachable to begin with.

I learned the power of the head, the heart and the hands; having the knowledge and understanding to engage an emotional connection, creating a willingness to act. I learned the power of stillness; being present in your surroundings. I connected with the importance of observation in your surroundings, both physically and personally. I understood the power of listening. I developed a greater sense of engagement, and advanced my reflective skills.

Many deep discussions about qualities of leadership made me think hard about myself as a leader, and I now understand my leadership skills in a way I can use my strengths to create ripples in the water.

I learned in myself that I like to challenge ideas people accept as norms, and ask the question ‘why?’.

The exemplar I challenge people with is asking ‘Why do we focus on recycling?’ Should our focus not be on reducing, so there is less to recycle in the first place?

I have thought a great deal about the best way forward, and that perhaps changing the way people perceive issues from what is wrong to what can be done better is a shift in thinking much needed for progression. If we focus on the process, we will reach the desired outcome, not the latter – an idea my Father taught me and one I remind myself of to stay grounded.

I have many ideas, big and small, and I hope those I am able to put into practice have influence. I am on a journey with myself, others, and the planet. As a foundation, the main focus is not to come in to change, rather to come in to do better, and that is what will make a difference.

The world is not a simple place, but I do believe we can do simple things to make it better.

Brianne Peters

Brianne Peters