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Camilla Bertolini: 5 Steps That Each Of Us Can Take To Proactively Help Heal Our Country

Think of sustainability as an holistic concept . I believe sustainability is composed of three aspect: personal health (body and mind), community health and environmental health. There is a deep link between these three, and one cannot exist without the other. An unhealthy community is made up of unhealthy individuals and will lead to the degradation of the surroundings. One has to work on all three aspects.

As part of our series about 5 Steps That Each Of Us Can Take To Proactively Help Heal Our Country, I had the pleasure of interviewing Camilla Bertolini.

Camilla is a benthic marine ecologist. She lived in the U.K., Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands and has now returned to her roots in Venice Italy to do a Marie curie postdoctoral project looking at including native oyster restoration within aquaculture practices. She also curates a blog ‘the holistic fish’ http://holisticfish.weebly.com which aims to ‘make people think’ by bringing sustainability news and scientific facts to everyone, simplifying the science jargon while maintaining the original meaning.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

I was raised in the city, but was always taken to nature spots : my father taught me the love for the sea , as we spent every summer sailing, and my mother the love for snow, as we went skiing in beautiful places every winter. My father also lived in the countryside and was into organic agriculture, so I was always really aware as to ‘where food comes from’.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Oh. Books: there are too many important books. If I have to pick one that made an impact when I was young I would have to say the book by Louis Sepulveda : The Story Of A Seagull And The Cat Who Taught Her To Fly. The moment when mother seagull dies because of the oil spill. I learnt about the sad side of pollution from a young age.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

Another book I really loved was the alchemist. In there you can find a say The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them — I guess this is still very relevant in my life as I like to appreciate everything and seeing beauty in simple living. Give me a tent and starry sky, I much prefer that than a holiday in a big 5 star resort.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

I don’t know if I have a definition, but to lead one has to be confident and competent. If you are an expert you can lead others. A leader is not a boss, a leader should take on board as much of the knowledge as possible and then decide on actions.

In life we come across many people, some who inspire us, some who change us and some who make us better people. Is there a person or people who have helped you get to where you are today? Can you share a story?

Oh. I don’t know if I can pinpoint one person. I have met so many people in my life and I tend to take some sort of inspiration from everyone I meet… everybody has the power to inspire everybody.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The United States is currently facing a series of unprecedented crises. So many of us see the news and ask how we can help. We’d love to talk about the steps that each of us can take to help heal our country, in our own way. Which particular crisis would you like to discuss with us today? Why does that resonate with you so much?

It may not come as a surprise that I am going to talk about climate change…

This is likely a huge topic. But briefly, can you share your view on how this crisis evolved to the boiling point that it’s at now?

We have been ignoring signs so that capitalism could go on. Sorry, I am a bit radical about this. Instead of finding solution for a new economy we kept going with the old and now we are where we are…

Can you tell our readers a bit about your experience either working on this cause or your experience being impacted by it? Can you share a story with us?

As a marine ecologist I see effects that can be related climate change in everyday work. It is happening, and now — not in 20,30 years. Whether is temperature data that I am analysing, or new species/range expansion records, or mass mortality events.. I also see opportunities to make a change and have an impact, bring different foods to the market, inspire and educate.

Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share your “5 Steps That Each Of Us Can Take To Proactively Help Heal Our Country”. Kindly share a story or example for each.

I’d like to make the choice of 5 steps quite broad but applicable, leaving some leeway for personal interpretation:

  1. Life is more than money. Remember the quote from the alchemist. Enjoy the little things. The smiles, the connection are worth much more than a pay check figure
  2. Think of sustainability as an holistic concept . I believe sustainability is composed of three aspect: personal health (body and mind), community health and environmental health. There is a deep link between these three, and one cannot exist without the other. An unhealthy community is made up of unhealthy individuals and will lead to the degradation of the surroundings. One has to work on all three aspects.
  3. Ask questions . Curiosity can help us avoid being greenwashed. Asking about the meaning behind certain words or labels , understanding where our food and clothes and other materials come from, who made it, at what cost.
  4. Don’t be afraid of stepping out of comfort zone . Dream of a better future and act on it. Nothing good ever came easy. If you want change you have to do something. That something will likely not be comfortable in the immediate but it will bring great rewards.
  5. Voice your choice . Be loud about it. About who you voted and why. About the choice you have made of not buying that item and why. You don’t know who you may end up inspiring..

It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but what can we do to make these ideas a reality? What specific steps can you suggest to make these ideas actually happen? Are there things that the community can do to help you promote these ideas?

A lot of what is said above can just be summed up with this simple rule : be mindful. Of what you say, what you buy, what you do on a daily basis…

And then one of the things about these days is that you can do great things just with the tips of your fingers. You can do a lot of what is listed above just from your socials. Using them mindfully of course.

We are going through a rough period now. Are you optimistic that this issue can eventually be resolved? Can you explain?

I think that somehow the crisis we are living now is linked to the climate crisis. So I would really hope that we will concentrate on tackling both at the same time. I am optimistic and think people are becoming more and more aware. I already see some steps in the right direction. Yes, they should be bigger, yes, they should be faster, but they are there and they are reasons to be hopeful.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

That is absolutely rewarding to do it. You get to wake up in the morning and feel that you have a great reason to be alive, and there is no better feeling than that.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

If I could choose anyone ? David Attenborough! Such a great educator, his documentaries are legendary and have been such an inspiration in my career.

How can our readers follow you online?

If you go to http://holisticfish.weebly.com/contact You will find links to the main medias

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

Thank you too, this was a pleasure.


Camilla Bertolini: 5 Steps That Each Of Us Can Take To Proactively Help Heal Our Country was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.