Anna Itkonen, event manager and president of Gecko

Passion, dedication and determination inspires me. People can reach amazing goals with these three assets ...

From May 28 to June 5, the Gold Coast will play host to a range of green events, from workshops to open days, to celebrate Gold Coast Green Week. The nine-day festival is facilitated by Gecko, the coast’s peak non-government not-for-profit environment group, and involves cafes, public spaces and community groups. We had a chat with the event’s organiser and president of Gecko, Anna Itkonen, to find out about some of this year’s highlights and small changes that make a big difference.

Tell us about Gold Coast Green Week?
Gold Coast Green Week is a nine-day open access, uncurated calendar of events with in excess of 100 participating events and activities. Activities are hosted by community groups, individuals, businesses, universities and the local council and all have an environmental relevance.

What are some of the highlights on this year’s Gold Coast Green Week event calendar?
There is something for everyone all over the Gold Coast. Some of the highlights for 2016 include Can of Creativity organised by Boomerang Alliance, a family fun day at Mandala Organic Arts Cafe, open days filled with activity at Freeman’s Organic Farm and various school events and activities.

How did Gold Coast Green Week come about?
Gold Coast Green Week is a continuation of Gecko’s tradition of celebrating World Environment Day on June 5. Gecko has hosted an event to coincide with the day for almost two decades and for the last five years in this format.

What is World Environment Day all about?
WED is an annual United Nations event to raise global awareness, encouraging people around the world to take positive action to preserve our planet.

How can people get involved?
People can access the festival guide online or get their hardcopies from local libraries and cafes around the Gold Coast. Getting involved is as easy as choosing the events and activities that are near by or are of interest and simply attending the event. This is such an easy and enjoyable way to connect with your community, find out about all the wonderful environmental work done here and support and celebrate a sustainable Gold Coast.

Gold Coast Green Week is organised by Gecko, the Gold Coast’s peak non-government not-for-profit environment group, can you tell us about some of the orgaisation’s other projects/initiatives?
Sure! Gecko activities also include responding to the public, campaigns surrounding issues such as vegetation protection, protection of parklands and National Parks, sustainable transport, water supply, wastewater management and waste management. Gecko also hosts annual events including Gold Coast Green Week and Clean Up Australia Day. We also undertake revegetation projects.

How did you become involved with Gecko?
I have been involved in Gecko for eight years. I came onboard as an Event Manager and still hold that role. I have been on the Gecko board for several years and am now the President for the organisation as well.

What is your blue-sky dream for the Gold Coast?
This is a really tricky question. I guess I would personally like to see the wonderful natural assets of the region, whether flora or fauna, better protected so that they don’t need to be compromised for the benefit of our modern lifestyle.

What inspires you?
Passion, dedication and determination inspires me. People can reach amazing goals with these three assets. There is a wonderful amount of amazing passion and people on the Gold Coast and it is amazing what can be achieved.

For readers who are interested in leading more environmentally conscious lives but don’t know where to start, do you have some tips on simple changes that will make a big difference?
It is a lot easier than people think. Green Week this year has so many inspirational events and activities for people to attend and apply to their everyday life. For me personally it all starts in my pantry and my fridge. Choose local, there really is no reason not to in a place with such amazing produce down the road, choose organic when possible, it might be a bit more expensive at times but you can save a lot by doing your research, go to your local farmers markets, get your coffee from Byron Bay, go and visit the local farmers and his/her farm.

Only a Gold Coast local would know … what it is like to visit the beach, the rainforest, the waterfalls and the mountains all in one day.

Perk up … Yoga at Gold Coast Yoga Centre in Palm Beach.
Relax … The beach with a good book.
Indulge … My latest favourite online shop is the local organic lifestyle shop All Organix.
Dine … At home in the kitchen after a great shop at Freeman’s Organic Farm in Currumbin Valley.
Be inspired … Being surrounded by the local community.


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