Power Up Your Commitment to Sustainability – World Earth Hour

Map of Australia as seen from space

By: Joni Boyd

Earth Hour is a grassroots movement which began in 2007. Best known for its “lights out” challenge, this year Aussies are also encouraged to get outdoors and do an activity of their choice every day for 60 minutes in the lead up to Earth Hour on 23 March.

Key points:

  • Aussies are being encouraged to get outdoors for 60 minutes daily in the lead up to Earth Hour.
  • Australia has the highest rate of mammal extinction on the planet.
  • Earth Hour is the world’s biggest grassroots movement.

“Earth Hour has grown into the world’s biggest grass root movement to protect our planet,” says Rachael Lance, Head of Individual Giving at WWF-Australia.

“Historically known for its signature lights out moment, where millions of people and landmarks around the world switch off their lights in support of stronger action on climate change and biodiversity, landmarks will still be switching off for Earth Hour this year but we’re also encouraging Aussies to make an impact beyond the hour by taking part in a new initiative called Challenge 60.

“From March 1st until Earth Hour on March 23rd, we’re challenging people to get out in nature and walk, run, swim, cycle for 60 minutes a day and raise funds to regenerate nature.

“The funds raised will drive critical conservation projects that help protect our wildlife and the planet.”

Landmarks will still be switching off for Earth Hour this year.

Research conducted by WWF Australia has revealed that we’re spending less time outdoors.

“30% of the Aussies surveyed admit their time spent outdoors has decreased by up to 50% in the past year,” Rachael says and explains that this has been linked to due to mindlessly scrolling our phones, heading back into the office full time and having a jam-packed social calendar.

“That’s one of the reasons we’ve launched a new challenge to encourage people to get active in nature for Earth Hour this year.”

We’re known around the world for our diversity of flora and fauna but sadly, our wildlife is suffering.

Climate change and nature lovers are two of the biggest threats facing people and wildlife here in Australia, with bushfires, floods and mass coral bleaching events taking their toll, among many other factors.

“We also have the highest mammal extinction rate in the world and our list of threatened species continues to grow.

“Our precious wildlife and wild places are on a really tragic trajectory and need us to urgently take action.”

The community-led movement is known for its signature “lights out” moment, with millions of people and landmarks around the world switching off their lights in support of stronger action on climate change and biodiversity loss. Landmarks will still be switching off for Earth Hour this year, with the addition of Challenge 60, a more personal challenge available to help individuals become more active and aware.

“We’d love for as many Aussies as possible to join us in switching off and getting active in nature to power up their commitment to a sustainable future,” Rachael says.

Register for Challenge 60 at earthhour.org.au. 

Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.

About the author: Joni Boyd is a writer, based in the Hawkesbury Region of NSW. She is passionate about the power of stories shared, to transform lives.

Feature image: Photo by CanvaPro

“We’re so proud to come back” for KING + COUNTRY Return

By: Laura Bennett

From our vantage point in Australia, the global success of Aussie brothers Luke and Joel Smallbone and their band For King & Country can feel intangible.  

They’ve toured Europe and the Americas, won four Grammy Awards, collaborated with Dolly Parton, made two feature films including the upcoming Unsung Hero and continually feature on the Billboard and Dove Award winners list – and yet, because it all happens “over there” away from the shores they once called home, their impact can be overlooked.

However, this May and June, for KING + COUNTRY will bring the full force of their musical heritage to Australia.

“On our Homecoming Tour [we’ll] be bringing more of the bells and whistles [and] take a lot of what we’ve been doing here in the Northern Hemisphere down south more officially for the first time,” says Joel Smallbone.

Energetic photos of Luke and Joel Smallbone from their concerts


Testing the waters in 2019 with what became two sold out shows at the Sydney Opera House, for KING + COUNTRY’s return to Australia solidifies what, at one point, they thought was an uncertain bond with their birth country.

“[In 2019] we were pretty frightened coming down.”

“It was our first official time as a band, and you know the adage a prophet’s not welcome in his hometown? We [knew] we still consider ourselves Australian, but do Australian’s still consider us Australian?”

“[But] there was this beautiful poetry to our returning to Australia, and our first event being at the Sydney Opera House.”

In the years since, the band have expanded into a more “theatrical space” with Joel appearing in the Christmas musical movie Journey to Bethlehem, and filming the upcoming feature film Unsung Hero which tells the story of the Smallbone’s disgraced exit from Australia in the 80’s, onto their success in the States beginning with the career of sister Rebecca St. James.

“[We’ve] told our family’s story from stage at nearly every concert we’ve ever done,” the band shared on Instagram.

“As many of you may know our Dad was a concert promoter in Australia, and on one particular tour things didn’t go very well and we lost everything that we had.”

“He got a job offer in Nashville, and thought it’d be a good idea to bring his 6 kids and his wife (who was pregnant at the time) to America, then shortly afterwards actually lost that job.

“It dawned on us about four years ago that this story of immigrating from Australia to America and all the adventures and challenges we’ve walked through in between was a story that needed to be told – so we made a movie.”

It might be easier said than done to make a movie, but there’s a tenacious pace and commitment for KING + COUNTRY seem to operate with that makes the achievement totally plausible.

Will they ever slow down?

“Creativity is seasonal,” Joel said.

“You get to a point in anything where you start asking yourself, ‘what is the next era of for KING + COUNTRY?’

“I think [the next era] has to do with stepping into a more theatrical space, [and] quality over quantity as far as touring [so we can] leave space for family and our wives and space to create in this season.

“I feel like there’s a change afoot.

“What that is we’re just going to stay sensitive to the spirit on, but we’re enjoying it and we’re not slowing down – don’t be worried.”

Tickets are on sale and selling fast – get yours now


Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.

About the Author: Laura Bennett is a media professional, broadcaster and writer from Sydney, Australia.

The Christian Origins of Halloween

bottom half of parent and child in snow white costume walking

By: Justin Rouillon

It’s that time of year when the shops have been decorated with skulls, gravestones and all things spooky, but what should a Christian response to Halloween be?

The secular version of Halloween as we know it was heavily commercialised in the early and mid 20th century, with much of the celebration having its roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced Soh-nn).

Samhain celebrated the end of the harvest and the beginning of winter, the dark time of the year that was often associated with death.  The Celts believed that at this time of year the gap between the spiritual world and the physical world would draw closer – a thin place where humans walked in two worlds, and where the ghosts of those departed would be more likely to return to.

This is where much of the modern, secular versions of Halloween come from.  But for centuries before its commercialisation, Christians observed the holy days of All Hallows (Saints) and All Souls Day on November 1 and 2.  All Hallows Eve (October 31) was reserved for the remembrance of family members who had passed away, along with prayers and fasting ahead of the feast days.

Headshot of Paul Blom, male with glasses and beard smiling
Paul Blom – Catholic Educator

Paul Blom is a Catholic educator and says that for his family, it’s a time of year for remembering the traditional Christian observances.

“November is the month set aside to remember the dead, and in a special way we are invited to remember our family and friends who have died, especially those who have passed away in the previous year.  We can also extend those thoughts in a wider sense, by remembering and thanking those that have positively influenced us in our lives.”

Paul also said that there are a number of ways that Christians can use the secular version of Halloween to remind them of the religious and spiritual meaning of the original celebrations.

“Perhaps you can remember the sacrifice of Jesus, and more importantly, his resurrection that brings heaven closer to our reality.

“Take time to pray and remember those who have played an important part in your life’s journey, and who have formed you into the person you are today.

“Find a quiet place of solitude, where you can gather treasured memories and remember those who have shown us wisdom, those who stood by us, believed in you or encouraged your faith.”

Article supplied with thanks to 96five.

Photo by: Haley Phelps on Unsplash