How do we teach the children of Australia about the realities of drought and the importance of water, while still being optimistic?
Rural woman, mother and artist Amy Naef wanted children who were affected by drought to have something that was matter of fact but hopeful, and for children, families and educators to increase their awareness and understanding of drought and its effects. She spent many months creating the story and artwork for her new book, One day closer to rain.
This is the climate of Australia,
A couple of good years, then double that dry.
We must remember this in future when the rain falls from the sky.
Bridging the city/country divide
It is Amy’s intention that ‘One Day Closer to Rain’ help bridge the divide between city and country people, and Amy would love to see in every visitors centre, library, education service and home in Australia.
“The city/country divide is the misunderstanding that comes from living different lives and experiences,” says Amy. “It’s not a bad thing, we can only know what we live and learn about – so the book helps those who are not directly living with the effects of the drought to have a little understanding of what drought is.”
The original watercolour illustrations are drawn from Amy’s experiences throughout her time in rural Australia, each loaded with imagery to encourage discussion. Throughout the book you will find Hughie the rain frog, chosen because of the green tree frog’s throaty call summoning the rain (also a nod to the First Nations dreamtime story of Tiddalick the frog).
Amy hopes that the book will create discussions about the drought’s effects on agriculture, on animals, the people and everything in the chain that relies on primary production, and water. She would like the story to help empower people and alleviate what she refers to as ‘climate anxiety’, with some simple solutions offered in the book encouraging readers to ponder other ways they can help.
“The pictures in the book are deliberately busy, with lots of different elements to point at and discuss,” explains Amy, who has written the book to proceed as a drought does, from boom season to bust, presenting solutions along the way. “There is also the activity of finding Hughie the frog throughout the book – his mood tells the tale of the weather, as he goes from being a relaxed frog kicking back enjoying life, to becoming increasingly concerned with the weather as it dries.”
Amy’s drought proofing tips
Amy’s best drought proofing tip is REDUCE and REUSE. Here are some practical ideas she shared with Amplify!:
- Reduce household consumption – shorter showers, less loads of washing.
- A bath is great in the drought – everyone can share the same tub, and then that water can be used on plants, or to flush the toilet.
- A composting toilet, greywater tanks and rainwater collection are vital.
- In the garden/ farm – mulch, make use of organic matter for nutrients, choose ecologically appropriate plants, maintain as much ground cover as you can.
- Water in the cool/evening in summer, early – mid morning in winter (if restrictions allow).
If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down.
For city folk who are a bit more ‘removed’ from the day to day effects of the drought, she has these tips on how to help:
- Choose seasonal Australian produce (this helps Aussie farmers who are able to produce to pay their bills).
- Donate money, goods and time to charities that not only support farmers, but wildlife conservation efforts, land rehabilitation and indigenous projects as well.
- Holiday in the country to keep country towns alive while their income is affected by the lessened income from locals.
- Attend country social events – these are a wonderful way to experience Australia outside of the city.
“City folk can help by sharing these experiences with other folk; growing awareness, and encouraging them to venture outside to the unknown to experience the country and the effects of the drought first hand,” says Amy. “I believe regardless of where we come from, we all have the same hearts and we depend on one another to survive – without city folk, farmers don’t have a market for their produce, and without farmers, city folk don’t have produce to buy.”
You can buy ‘One Day Closer to Rain’ directly from Amy at www.amynaefart.com or Facebook www.facebook.com/amynaefart