Category Archives: Work

Thinking Forward

I’ve landed a job with Landcare Research, a top NZ environmental research organization. Much of the work that they do is scientific in nature, studying the natural environment (plants, animals, soils, etc), but they also think about how we as humans could be living our lives more sustainably. I’m working in their Sustainability and Society group.

This is all quite exciting for me because I’ve been spending quite a lot of time during our travels trying to explore different aspects of sustainability through reading books, interviewing people, taking courses, and just keeping my eyes wide open. My hope is to figure out a bunch of different ways of how I might be able to focus my work more into this area.

But maybe I should back up a little. The word sustainability gets thrown around a lot these days, but what does it mean? First of all, it’s more than just ‘environmentally friendly’. When we think about sustainability, we think about what it will take for us to live in a way that meets the needs of today’s people and environment without jeopardizing that of future generations. This takes into consideration the environment, yes, but also economic and social factors.

In any case, trying to make our society more sustainable pretty much always requires change of some sort. Change in the way we think, change in the way we act, change in the systems we build… it all depends. So, my job is to help think about the best way to bring this change about. In order to do this, you need to understand the people that it would impact. By doing this, you can design ways to bring them along instead of causing more problems or contention.

The particular project I’m looking at is in the commercial building sector. How to encourage and spread the uptake of sustainable building practices. If you have ideas, or examples of people doing this well, let me know.

Here’s a few photos since it’s always fun to have photos in a post. They’re from the Earth From Above exhibit, which was on display in cities across NZ. Check out more of Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s work on his website ( )

Work Work Work

For some reason, we keep getting questions about work. I don’t really understand, since we think that work is a much less interesting topic than all the adventures we’re having, but I suppose it’s time to satisfy the masses and answer some of the questions:

Yes we’ve been working.

No, we don’t think it’s as fun to tell work stories as it is to make you jealous of all the beautiful places we get to visit in our time off.

No we’re not shearing sheep or picking kiwi fruit (although I did consider getting a job as a bread maker at an organic bakery, mmm bread!).

Boring as you may think it is, we’ve actually gotten jobs more or less in our fields. I’m working at an insurance company and Greg’s designing websites.

Didn’t you know that’s what our specialties really are?

Greg gets to sit at home all day, messing around on the computer, and I get to go into a big traditional insurance company and help them learn how to do User Centered Design. Very similar to the type of work I was doing at IDEO, except that working with a team of people that’s familiar with the process, I’m working with a bunch of people who have never done this type of work before.

Turns out you have to spend money in order to make money. I don’t think they would have been too happy if I had showed up in the faded shirt I’ve been wearing hiking for the last 5 months. Especially since all the software programmers wear ties and shiny black shoes to work. Ah well, I guess I can save the hiking shirt for casual Fridays 😉 .

Time for me to go learn some more insurance terminology!