From growing up in Brazil to a journey of wellbeing in the UK, our Project Manager, Mirella (above, left), talks about her passion for waste reduction and community action in the latest post in our latest Wellbeing People series.
Having grown up in Brazil, a country where the inequality is so distressing, I am very aware of the privileges I’ve experienced in my life. I’ve often wondered how I can effect change even if it’s in a small way. In my upbringing, I was lucky to have a Mum who cared about social justice, through her work on ethics, diversity and inclusion, and about waste. She taught me and my brothers how to recycle at a time when that was still unusual . My Dad, through his example, taught us a lot about kindness and generosity.
At University, where I was doing a degree in forestry engineering, I ran programmes to reduce waste and became convinced that raising awareness about ecological issues, while giving people doable solutions that they can act on (e.g. using reusable cups; composting organic waste etc) could make a difference. One of my many dreams was to learn English and study at Schumacher College, a very special place in South Devon, which has an approach to education based on the head-heart-hand triad, and is focused on ecology.
Thankfully I was able to move to the UK in 2010, study English in London, and join the cohort of the MSc in Holistic Science at Schumacher College that year. My study ended up being about the relationship between music and social transformation, and, after falling in love while at the College, I chose to remain in the country and explore opportunities here.
I dreamt of working in a charity, and continuing living in South Devon, so was thrilled when I got a call from the Network of Wellbeing (NOW) offering me the role of Communication and Events intern in March, 2013. Little did I know that this would mark the beginning of an incredible journey with at organisation and I’d still be there ten years later.
One of my first tasks was organising a Community Brunch in Totnes, Devon. This event brought together people from diverse backgrounds to enjoy a meal made with local and organic ingredients, fostering a sense of community while supporting local initiatives and businesses through a donation-based system and a raffle to raise funds for the organisation. This experience ignited my passion for community building, a passion that has driven my work ever since.
From addressing the need for human connection through monthly Community Potlucks to supporting over 40 initiatives through the Wellbeing Fund, our efforts have consistently focused on meeting people’s needs while caring for the planet. In 2016, I conceived our biggest project to date, the Share Shed – A Library of Things, which offers useful items for people to borrow at a low cost, making a significant difference for those who don’t have the means or space to own such items.
My role at the Network of Wellbeing has evolved, and I have taken great joy in overseeing events like the Big Fix and the ShareFest, which promote and celebrate sharing, repairing, swapping, and making. These initiatives have raised people’s awareness and mobilised action, encouraging us all to rethink our lifestyle and consumption habits. Working at NOW has provided me with an invaluable platform to address such issues and fulfil our mission of connecting people, supporting projects, and inspiring action for the wellbeing of people and the planet.
As a member of a small and dedicated team, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all the volunteers who have generously donated their time and energy to make our projects a reality. Together, we have learnt, grown, and shared the privilege of supporting the wellbeing of people, communities, and the planet.
In this decade-long journey at the Network of Wellbeing, I have found purpose, passion, and a profound sense of fulfilment. It is an honour to be part of an organisation that continues to make a difference and fosters a sense of hope for a better future.