Tessa De Josselin is an Actor and the founder of ‘YIKES!’, an ongoing series of environmental documentary screenings and panel discussions.
We sat down with Tessa to talk ‘YIKES!’, how we can all help make a difference and the one thing she would chance in society.
Tell us about a cause that’s close to your heart and why?
It’s very hard to pick just one. I feel strongly about any environmental degradation that comes at the hand of corporate greed, laziness and consumerism. Climate change that effects coral bleaching, the sheer amount of plastic that is in our oceans, the fracking the mining – there are just so many. They’re all linked, they’re all horrible but they’re all fixable and preventable and I care about them all.
I started up a non for profit with a friend called ‘YIKES!’ and our whole aim is to educate people and facilitate discussion around environmental problem. Each event is focused around a different environmental problem, we show a documentary and then we facilitate a panel discussion with industry professionals. I think education and transparency of information is super important because climate change is such a hyper object and it’s so complex. It can be really discouraging because there’s a lot of fear based news which is not fact checked, instead its aimed at making people stressed out. So we’re trying to stop that and facilitate non-judgmental discussion and education.
Have you felt your work through ‘YIKES!’ has made a positive mark within your community?
Definitely. I have a lot of friends who have said, “Oh, I didn’t know what coral bleaching was about, you hear it in the news and know it’s bad”, but it wasn’t until they went to an event YIKES! hosted on coral bleaching where we showed a documentary and then we had the filmmakers and biologists come along and my friends were like, “wow, I now know about coral bleaching and I understand what’s causing it and what I can do to stop that.”. So yeah, I’ve noticed a direct shift in people. It’s small as we’re just starting out, but I know it will get bigger and I just think starting the conversations is the first step to going – it’s fine if you don’t know what coral bleaching is and it’s fine if you don’t know exactly what climate change is because it’s a confusing thing, but breaking down that barrier of embarrassment to talk about these things or speak out is so important and is what causes a movement of change.
What are some small things Australians can do to help your cause?
If you care about climate change a really good thing to look into is divestment. Divestment is basically looking where your money is and checking how that organisation, for example banks or super funds, are investing your money. If it’s in fossil fuels that are obviously not good, I encourage people to move their money, even if it’s not much. If everyone thinks about where there money is and what it is funding, that’s a massive way to start shifting just the lay of the land in terms of climate change.
How have you been keeping motivated during this time?
Many things have kept me motivated. I’m currently doing an environmental masters degree, so that has kept me informed and the brain ticking over. Films, novels and zoom webinars have kept me creatively inspired. My friends have kept me connected and amused. And the ocean has kept me sane and active!
If you had the power to change one thing about Australian society overnight what would it be?
Beyond education, I would love to see change within our policy and our government. We need a better and more just transition to renewables, we need more transparency within the media – we need so many things. But if I could make one change it would be within the policy sector and within environmental law to help people fight these massive corporations and fight these companies who are coming in and destroying our earth.
What does a better tomorrow look like for you?
One that involves more kindness, love and appreciation for each other and our planet. The pandemic is a wholly tragic event, but the silver lining is how we’ve been forced to slow down. I’ve enjoyed being able to reflect on how the world operates, what my place within it is and how we can use this grinding halt to pepper our lifestyles with more positive habits. A slower way of life, from many aspects, would do a great deal to repair our environment and our health. I hope things don’t just snap back to how they were, we need a permanent shift.
You can follow Tessa on Instagram here.