Wendy Clarity Van Dort & Neil Blake


Youíre listening to Communicate with Zen and John from Empower Your English.


Zen:†††††††††††††††††† Welcome to the Communicate podcast.Hey John, we are back.


John:††††††††††††††††† And itís good to be back, always.


Zen:†††††††††††††††††† Yes in this new episode we have two amazing guests in here to use a different type of their communication style to talk with us but right now I will keep it as a secret first, letís listen.




Neil:††††††††††††††††† Well how about that?Thatís good enough for rock Ďn roll.


Wendy:†††††††††††† Something different.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Who are you anyway, by the way?Oh itís Wendy, my good friend.


Zen:†††††††††††††††††† And who are you?


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Iím Neil Blake and Iím the Port Phillip Baykeeper at the moment but Iím getting on a little bit and Iíve been around for a while so Iíve been many things over my 60 odd years.Itís one of the pleasures that Iíve had is working at the Port Phillip EcoCentre which is a community environment centre in St Kilda and thatís where I met Wendy.So one of the beautiful things about being there is the fantastic people that sort of seem to be attracted to those kind of places, places that want change and they want to bring the community together and they have a solid future for everybody rather than a fragmented world which we tend to live in.


Zen:†††††††††††††††††† Actually I think the audience they donít know that actually we have amazing instruments in the studio at right now.Neil could you introduce what music instruments that you used?


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Yes, this is the bamboobular, itís the only one on the planet.


John:††††††††††††††††† And for those people who canít see it, itís weird looking.Looks really weird.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† It is, itís made of bamboo but itís also a drum shell, a floor tom-tom drum.So the concept is with these instruments that I make is that theyíre made out of found or abandoned materials or all-natural materials.So this was a drum kit that was found rusting on the roof of Northland Shopping Centre some years ago and amazingly the bamboos fit beautifully into the shell and itís got a full octave in the key of eight.And itís played by thongs so you hit the top of the bamboo and the different lengths of bamboo give a different pitch of sound.


John:††††††††††††††††† And for those people that donít know what thongs are, Ďcause not everybody does know what a thong is.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† No itís true.


John:††††††††††††††††† It is, itís goes on your foot.Itís rubber and it sits between your toes and you normally see them on the beach.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Yeah they turn up on the beach quite a bit.


John:††††††††††††††††† Thatís right.And theyíre good for flotting, swatting flies and stuff.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Yeah theyíre a nice fliable, pliable product.


John:††††††††††††††††† They help the sound come out too.


Zen:†††††††††††††††††† And also we have Wendy here as well.Wendy would you like to introduce yourself?


Wendy:†††††††††††† Sure Zen, Iím really excited to be here amongst such inspiring and empowering company.Yeah so I met Neil probably 15 years ago when I was yeah a member of the EcoCentre team as well, I was the garden coordinator there and thatís where my passion for the earth and gardening was ignited.I learnt a lot about living sustainably there and I did so through the example of the people who worked there, I think that was the strongest way of learning for me because I learnt by watching everyone else live by their word and what they talked about they actually did and thatís how the Centre operated and so itís influenced my life ever since and I live a sustainable life and I also teach yoga and it comes through in that as well.


John:††††††††††††††††† And you play a good instrument too, what were you playing?


Wendy:†††††††††††† Oh that was the clarinet.


John:††††††††††††††††† Did you make it?


Wendy:†††††††††††† No, no I definitely didnít make the clarinet but it is the clarinet that I used when I was at high school.Like itís been with me all this time.


John:††††††††††††††††† Wow.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Good friend.


Wendy:†††††††††††† Yeah, my dad called it the liquorice stick.


John:††††††††††††††††† The liquorice stick, okay.


Zen:†††††††††††††††††† We can hear that our guests today they living the alternative lifestyle but we are going to cover the themes right now.I think that we all do have different style in communication like as Neil as a Bay advocate and Wendy as a garden coordinator, yoga teacher and so when Neil, Neil and Wendy when you meeting someone for the first time is there any particular style that you use to share your knowledge in topics that you are passionate?As thus for example the sustainable living, Bay advocacy so how do you communicate with other people that may not live in that style or that alternative world?


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Do you want to start Wendy?


Wendy:†††††††††††† Sure.Well I think speaking is only part of it.I think thereís a great emphasis on our mental understanding of things in this western society in particular.So I feel that one of the ways I communicate about the lifestyle that I live is through doing, just by doing things and the choices that I make are important and they have an important impact on the environment and the quality of the relationships with the people around me.And thatís with all the people who I meet, not just my circle of friends but you know being in the public and working with the public I meet all sorts of people so itís important that I can communicate with them not only verbally but through my actions as well.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Yeah and Iíve noticed that Wendy is very observant of other people when sheís interacting with them, you know so people whoíve come to the EcoCentre and involved in the garden and many of them with different cultural backgrounds or abilities and being aware of where theyíre coming from, how theyíre feeling and getting a sense of that is a really key part of good communication I think.Without, before you say anything just try and know or get a sense of who youíre actually communicating to.


John:††††††††††††††††† And I think itís one of those areas where are they absorbing what youíre saying too.ĎCause quite often comes up Zen doesnít it?In the Communicate program about communication people do that nod yeah, yeah whatever.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Yeah nah .


John:††††††††††††††††† What did you say before that?Yeah nah.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Yeah nah


John:††††††††††††††††† Thatís a bit of a strange saying, yeah nah between yes and no and Iím not sure.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Covering all bases yeah.


John:††††††††††††††††† Yeah so it is about being able to hone in on saying, have I got your attention?Do you think and to be fair people may not know I guess.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† No, well thatís right.


John:††††††††††††††††† They may hear your pitch and say yeah and it could be a few days later where people say get it, get it.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Yeah and different people have got different attention spans as well and so humour is a good way of actually getting people on board I think so and showing them that youíre sort of at their level rather than thinking youíve got superior knowledge and you know you, they really need to listen carefully to what youíve got to say.Because that approach is not going to work.You really need to sort of establish a personal relationship with them.


John:††††††††††††††††† For sure.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† To get that genuine communication and get their interest.


John:††††††††††††††††† Thatís right, otherwise you get automatic shutdown.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Thatís right, and particularly when weíre, you know the field that weíre working in is a little bit out of the norm so many people have been droned to accept societal norms such as consuming and you go and you get a takeaway Slurpee from the, from the corner store and you donít worry about dropping the plastic on the street or the fact that youíre only going to use it once.That sort of stuff.Everyone else is doing that you know so who are these people to tell us that weíre crazy, you know or that we need to change our ways so.Itís difficult so we really need to establish that personal connection and get the respect of people if we want them to listen and take us seriously.


John:††††††††††††††††† When about when your, the fire in your bellyís really going where you feel like something really majorís happened here and theyíre not getting it?Do you ramp it up?Do you Ö


Neil:††††††††††††††††† I have done yes.As a matter of fact I did yesterday.


John:††††††††††††††††† Oh here we go ladies and gents, breaking news what happened?


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Well I went into my favourite falafel store in St Kilda just because of bit of lunch and there were two younger people in before me getting falafels and one of them got also some fried chips that were placed in a polystyrene clam.You know and Iím really passionate about polystyrene because itís a serious pollutant thatís getting into the bay.This person got chips and a falafel and the man behind the counter said, and would you like a bag?And he said, Yeah nah .And so he put the, put the polystyrene in the bag and out this guy went, a young person with a plastic bag and a polystyrene container.Then there was a young woman came in and she got a falafel or might have been a kebab or something like that and he said, would you like a bag?She said, Yeah nah .And so she walked out with a plastic bag and I, and then he said and would you like a bag?Said no I donít want a bag, this is ridiculous.Itís really donít need a bag, itís really bad news that two young people have just walked out of this place today with a single use plastic that they donít need.And he just sort of looked at me but you know I just had to tell him straight that we really needed to start rethinking norms.


John:††††††††††††††††† So this guyís the retailer of course.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Yeah yeah.


John:††††††††††††††††† Yeah, how did he handle that?


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Oh he smiled but, oh Iíll go back again so at least heíll know where Iím coming from pretty sure.


John:††††††††††††††††† Sure.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† So he makes a good falafel.


John:††††††††††††††††† Actually if you donít mind I wanted to jump into it.I was at yesterday was at a train station and group of school kids and just similar approach to you, kidís dropped some paper on the floor and what was amazing this other schoolkid saw it and went and picked it up. And I made him like a champion.I said well done pal, thatís youíre really good doing this.There were about four of them standing around but I made him like a hero.Good on you picking that piece of paper up. They all go, hor.I could have shamed the guy who dropped the paper but this, is it this other ways.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Well you kind of did in a, yeah in a gentle way thatís right yeah.


John:††††††††††††††††† Yeah that happened yesterday so. Synchronicity, again.


Zen:†††††††††††††††††† And how about Wendy, how do you deliver your message across to people by your communication style or technique?


Wendy:†††††††††††† Thatís an interesting question so telling people what to do doesnít work or telling people off as in the examples that were just given.If anything it alienates people so to get the message across just using different communication styles, listening is a big thing like weíre born with one mouth and two ears for a reason and I really feel that listening to the other person and hearing what theyíve got to say, creating a bridge and a bit of a rapport even if weíre on like two totally different perspectives.Asking open questions and trying to like connect on our humanness rather than our differences creates some kind of bond or unity or mutual understanding.And then from there you can begin a broader discussion.And perhaps remembering our connection to the earth as well, like what we do to the earth we do to ourselves so how are we treating the earth, how are we treating ourselves, howís your self-care today and questions like that.And when we begin to realise the consequence of our actions, particularly to the earth and our future generations then it might begin to influence the decisions that we make.


John:††††††††††††††††† Isnít that a beautiful word, humanness.


Wendy:†††††††††††† Mm.


John:††††††††††††††††† We donít hear that word much. We donít.


Wendy:†††††††††††† Thatís right and we all have the same colour blood, yes.


John:††††††††††††††††† Itís just a word that we need to share more often I think.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Yeah thereís lots of differences in the world but we need to look at the things that weíve all got in common and work around those for sure.


Zen:†††††††††††††††††† Yes I definitely agree with you Wendy.And touch on the connection and also the bonding with other people and then listen to them from different perspective.Is any of you doing any mentoring with other people before?Like can you share with us some stories that when you have connected with someone and then they are now more understanding your message and understanding what you mean about like to be aware of the world, be aware of our connection to the mother earth or surrounding?


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Well I can start with that, I mean I think you know that people, children in particular, are raised by a village rather than by and when it comes to mentoring you know there are a lot of different influences that affect peopleís outlook over time.You know I take great pride in knowing that Nadav Zisin whoís a great rap singer and a youth worker who grew up in St Kilda I knew him when he was in primary school and heís, and I know him now as a man and a parent and heís got a great outlook towards the environment but I canít take all of the credit for that.Heís got a beautiful mother and family and extended family that, around him you know so yeah itís that sort of thing that you can only hope to, that people will be impressed but thereís a lot of things that can get in their way too over time.


John:††††††††††††††††† Sure, yeah I think thatís interesting what youíre saying Neil about a village.That people are brought up with other people around them.And it is very hard to sort of say have I just done some mentoring?Youíll never know, it doesnít really matter.We hear the word mentoring and itís like supporting each other and itís whether you do or you donít doesnít really matter but if you, if your heart feels, I get you know itís like being missed.If someone sort of says I missed you last week, I didnít see you, youíve been thought about.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Yeah thatís right.


John:††††††††††††††††† And whether youíve been thought about or your message has been thought about, tick a box.Thatís a type of mentoring or sharing a common message that needs to be heard.


Wendy:†††††††††††† And Iíd have to make the distinction between mentoring and teaching as well because I teach yoga, however I donít know if I have consciously mentored anyone.I think mentoring again is leading by example, leading by who you are, being a role model.Iíll have to go away and ponder more of the distinctions of those two words but yeah I certainly have had amazing mentors in my life who Iím incredibly grateful to.One of them is Neil.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† I was just going to say youíre one of my great mentors.


[All laugh]


John:††††††††††††††††† Okay are we feeling the love out there? Are we feeling the love?


Wendy:†††††††††††† Iím just so grateful for yeah that our paths have crossed and yeah continue to enjoy Ö


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Yeah as I say before weíre lucky in where we come from in, at the EcoCentre to meet really good people and meeting you people is fantastic.So you know Iím going to come away from here tonight feeling enriched from this experience just because youíre coming from such a wonderful space you know so.


Zen:†††††††††††††††††† Yeah so what you mean actually we are mentoring each other.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Absolutely.


Zen:†††††††††††††††††† Thereís a connection there.


Wendy:†††††††††††† Thatís it, itís happening.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Even though we didnít meant to.


John:††††††††††††††††† And of course people listening to Communicate, we donít know where you are people, you could be anywhere but we hope that we share this message about mentoring, helping and communicating.


Zen:†††††††††††††††††† Well yes mentoring, communications but sometimes communication can be challenging as well.Is there any little secrets or any tips that you can share with us thatís your communication has been resolved in a very positive way or the people listened to you and they understand you?


Wendy:†††††††††††† Sometimes people arenít ready to hear the message and in that case I wouldnít push it, like sometimes the factor is time.Giving communication time and space to be felt and integrated so kind of feel the edge of how far you can take your message and work with that over time.So thatís how I would approach things like that and people who are open and ready to hear the message, you know I can go right ahead and perhaps learn things from then as well and what they bring into the conversation.


John:††††††††††††††††† So Iím interested Wendy as a yoga teacher, yogaís got a perceived image in a lot of peopleís minds.Have you ever been able to, after talking or after showing or whatever theyíve come away and said wow?Any stories where youíve seen the person and found that they now get it with regards to benefits?


Wendy:†††††††††††† Yeah Iím sure and Iím sure it happens all the time and often for some reason I still get surprised by it, like surprised by the benefit that the personís getting or the insight that theyíre getting through the practice.And I want to mention too that the yoga I teach isnít like you know bending yourself like a pretzel, like you donít have to be like an athlete or anything.Itís really open to anyone and itís about sensing and feeling and when weíre able to sense and feel and get in contact with whatís alive in us, particularly our feelings then thatís a wonderful space to begin communication from.


John:††††††††††††††††† Makes sense to me.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† It does, wish I could do that.


Wendy:†††††††††††† You can Neil.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Yeah I can, talking about challenges I think itís partly Wendy touched on it knowing what people are interested in hearing and my challenging moment that Iíll share is when I joined a country music band about 30 years ago and Iíd only just joined the band two weeks and weíd played at two pubs with maybe five people there in the audience and then we went to Tamworth to the country awards night and there was a crowd of 100, 1500 people and we had to get up and play and entertain this crowd and these people knew what they wanted to hear.You know it wasnít, so it was more of an issue about could coming up to the mark of the expectation of the audience and I was quite nervous you know so because I hadnít really played the songs much before and Iíd never been in front of such a big audience and audiences that I had played in front of were generally people I knew or somebody that knew them so you know it was pretty familiar and but and I found about half, or quarter the way through the first song that my knees started going to jelly.


John:††††††††††††††††† Okay.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Which I thought you know whatís going to happen next?


John:††††††††††††††††† Thatís also a good name for a song isnít it?


Neil:††††††††††††††††† It is.


John:††††††††††††††††† What did you do?


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Well I just thought well what can I?Iíve just got to keep on going and look like I know what Iím doing and just carry on with the show.And the sensation of the jelly knees actually passed after around about 10 seconds.


John:††††††††††††††††† So for those people that havenít heard the terminology jelly knees, you were bloody nervous.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Thatís right.


John:††††††††††††††††† Is that right?


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Yeah and that was the way it was physically manifesting itself was just in the Ö


John:††††††††††††††††† In the knees.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Yeah and Iíd never experienced that before though.


John:††††††††††††††††† What were you playing?


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Oh well I was playing bass guitar.


John:††††††††††††††††† So you donít need your knees to play that so itís okay.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† No but Ö


John:††††††††††††††††† Jelly fingers would be a problem.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† But it would be, it wouldnít be a good look though if you sort of, you know just sort of went to sleep on stage or something like that.So I had to, had to look a bit like I was in the moment and so and that was the lesson for me that if youíre in a public speaking situation that if you just look, even though you may be quite nervous if you appear to know what youíre doing and you get on and do what people are expecting then theyíll be quite respectful of that and appreciate the fact that even though you were quite tense youíll come across as being authoritative and confident.So just appearing to be confidence gives the audience a sense of confidence in you.


John:††††††††††††††††† Youíre right I think itís so true because if you, if youíre sounding confident then people arenít really going to dissect too much.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† No thatís right.


John:††††††††††††††††† They just want to feel a mutual, we know youíre nervous but youíre also confident so hereís my take away after talking to you so, or listening to you.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Yeah and youíre giving it your best shot.


John:††††††††††††††††† Sure.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† You know and people respect that too you know so I think thatís a key thing.


John:††††††††††††††††† Thatís for sure.


Zen:†††††††††††††††††† Well so in the past or in your journey I can hear that you have different communication journey in the past so what have been some important milestones that have made you a better communication right now?


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Tough question, tough question.


John:††††††††††††††††† Yeah it is a tough one.I guess oh just reflecting on that you know sometimes itís kind of the crisis situations that really milestones that you do remember but there may be other things but you know like Iíve in my history of work employment I was a youth worker at one stage and one of the family members of some of the youth actually committed suicide you know and having to deal with that gave me great cause to think carefully about how I was going to communicate with the young people.They were coming from you know disadvantaged background and obviously losing a brother sort of unexpectedly like that so I realised I need to think carefully and do some homework and so fortunately I drew upon the people around me and one of them who happened to be managing the country music band that I was playing in was an undertaker.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Okay.


John:††††††††††††††††† And so had, having great experience of death and I sort of asked him about suicide and how do relatives respond to that sort of situation and he said to me, well the key, the first thing theyíre going to think is it was something they said or itís all their fault.You know so you need to let them know that just take that out off the table straight away you know so I did that and that was really a very valuable thing.So I suppose the point Iím making here is doing your homework and drawing upon the knowledge and the wisdom of people around you who you respect and youíre confident will give you a good honest answer is a really good thing to do.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Yeah so important isnít it, homework and a little bit of research.Doesnít have to be the internet.


John:††††††††††††††††† No.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† It can be talking to people to say hey Iíve got a gig coming up, Iíve got a hot topic, not sure what to do about it.


John:††††††††††††††††† Thatís right and admitting that youíre slightly out of your depth and you know and youíre trying to Ö


Neil:††††††††††††††††† I love that.


John:††††††††††††††††† You know you need to be honest about that and try and make sure that you bring yourself up to the right level that needs, that you need to be.


Wendy:†††††††††††† And thatís a delicate topic as well and itís really nice to find words and ways of communicating and talking about these topics as well because they affect a lot of us and itís nice to bring communication and shine a light on those topics.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Yes those life-changing events really that people are going to have for the rest of their days and yeah thatís, but I mean youíve been through changes too though Wendy.Were you were a nurse or something in your past werenít you so there would have been challenges in there I guess and Ö


John:††††††††††††††††† A nurse or something, thatís beautiful.Whatís the something?A nurse is a nurse, a horse is a horse.


Wendy:†††††††††††† Yeah nah .Yeah I was, I was a nurse and I chose to be a nurse because I came from a family of nurses and I Ö


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Pressure, pressure.


Wendy:†††††††††††† It was the obvious thing to do.But yeah I got out there pretty quickly, like there was a lot of situations that I was confronted with and I was young and didnít really know much about life.But yeah I just felt after a while I could no longer work in a system that wasnít sustainable.Yeah I donít know, like I thought there was just a better way to promote health, promote a healthy environment.So yeah I shifted careers.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† So the best way to communicate your position was to leave.


Wendy:†††††††††††† Thatís right it was a big statement.So itís like I donít want to participate in this, thereís got to be a different way so.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Would have been challenging though environment to work in.


Wendy:†††††††††††† Yeah.


John:††††††††††††††††† Yeah that it is interesting when youíre picking up on that word to walk away that is a type of communicating.You can do it abruptly, you can sort of slam the door and walk out, or you can sort of say well actually yeah people know Iím a nurse now but Iíve made a conscious decision to go down a different path and people, youíre reflecting with us now Wendy people say okay thatís a big call to make.So in my mind when I hear that story Iím sort of visualising you taking your nurse, taking your nurseís hat off and going down a different path but your heartís still in caring for people.


Wendy:†††††††††††† Thatís right.

John:††††††††††††††††† But youíre using a different hat.


Wendy:†††††††††††† Thatís right and there, you know there is a place for nursing and the hospital system, however I think thereís a lot of room for finding ways to look at our wellbeing holistically in the way we live and the self-care and how we interact with each other.So yeah it was a real crossroads in my life.


John:††††††††††††††††† Sure.Weíve covered the hot topics havenít we?


Zen:†††††††††††††††††† We do.Actually I have heard about Neil, you are also a film maker as well right?


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Film maker?


Zen:†††††††††††††††††† Yeah or making the frame that you to advocate for the bay.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Yeah well I was lucky to have good friends around me who helped to do that yeah so.


John:††††††††††††††††† What is it?


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Oh the film Baykeepers.


John:††††††††††††††††† Okay.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† And I made a short film on how to revegetate with native plants too back long long time ago and that was for schools so I find yeah communication is really central to any walk of life or even run of life.Itís you know whether youíre in business or you know trying to advocate for environment or if youíre a football coach, communication is key and yeah so itís really important factor for our whole society to have people who can clearly say what they think.


John:††††††††††††††††† Can people Google your film to find it?


Neil:††††††††††††††††† They can yeah, itís on Facebook page which is Baykeepers documentary film.


John:††††††††††††††††† Okay.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† And thereís a link on there and it goes for 26 minutes and beautifully made by a young American film maker.


John:††††††††††††††††† Okay.Features in Australia?


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Yes it was actually he made a film about plastics in the ocean, the south pacific ocean, and we screened it at the EcoCentre one night and lo and behold the Michael Lutman, the filmmaker, walked in the room and said Iím living in St Kilda now.And I said to him, Michael people are going to be really impressed by this film but theyíll also be really depressed because thereís nothing they can do about the South Pacific Ocean, South Atlantic Ocean.We need to make a film about Port Phillip Bay.And so he said okay weíll do it.And he did.


John:††††††††††††††††† Thatís great, lovely story.Well timeís got away so I, itís my great privilege to say thank you to Wendy and Neil and Zen to be part of this amazing conversation.It was really good.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Thanks for mentoring us through this interview.


John:††††††††††††††††† Iíve done nothing, Iím just Ö


Wendy:†††††††††††† Thatís right.


John:††††††††††††††††† I just butt in.Itís all good.So of course and our listeners, thank you for listening and hopefully thereís been a few takeaway messages.If youíd like further information about Communicate itís hosted by Empower Your English.Our website isís Empower Your English dot Melbourne.And see you next episode.Thanks guys.


Neil:††††††††††††††††† Thank you.Thank you Zen.


Zen:†††††††††††††††††† Thank you.


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