Christina Bellis

Self-described Queen of effin’ everything, Christina is known to be a force of nature and a force for good by everyone around her. The image above should really feature her astride a bicycle heading off to support a righteous kaupapa, multiple arms in motion Shiva-style, armed with the tools of a changemaker and THAT smile.

As Community Projects Manager at Sustainability Trust she has been part of the team that turned a windowless carparking building hidden down a potholed lane into an award-winning environment centre complete with a curtain bank, electronic waste recycling and all kinds of eco-fabulous solutions for your home. She also represented Aotearoa’s Frocks on Bikes crew in Vienna for the Velo-City conference and is a passionate advocate of the Local Food Network.

 

What’s happening in the world of Christina for 2014?

Change and opportunity, like most years I suppose! I’ve had some significant changes in my personal life of late so I’m coasting those out and adjusting accordingly. I’ve also got my fingers crossed for a large collaborative funding application I’m waiting on hearing about which would mean I’d get to design a big new programme. That’s pretty exciting – can’t tell you too much about it cause I’m a superstitious type and don’t want to jinx the chances!

 

Describe the most generous person you know. How have they influenced you? 

The most generous person I know is someone I don’t know. Many years ago I was traveling through Vietnam and Cambodia. I’d borrowed a bicycle and was snaking my way through rice paddies, roaming wherever each pedal push would take me. A woman outside a little house beckoned me to stop and invited me inside. As I sat in a house that many of us would say barely had proper walls, we spoke in languages neither understood but communicated through gesture and expression. She shared with me a bowl of rice and as I ate with her family I wondered how much food they actually had to share and if they might go a little less full by giving to me. This was the first of many similar experiences, and it humbled me to no end. In a war ravaged country with a history of conflict perpetrated by Western armies, I was still welcomed into their home. I realised that the most generous people can be those we presume to have the least, but really have the most to give. 

 

Can you name an everyday action that makes the world a better place, yet is underrated?

I’d like to say a simple smile, which I do think is underrated and can make such a warm fuzzy feeling for someone … but I’d rather say: Ride a Bicycle. Exercise releases endorphins which gives you a boost of positive feeling, and exercise also helps your brain to focus, engage, and remain attentive. Let’s also think about the health benefits, and reduction of harmful climate changing emissions… Riding a bike adds to the community as you find yourself waiting at a light, without being caged in 1.5 tonnes of metal, but able to smile and say a hello, before pedalling off to work, your date, the dairy, to school, et cetera. I’m very excited that Wellington City Council is prioritising improved bicycle infrastructure to enable better transport choices for people to move around the city. 

 

Can you tell us three things that inspire you and why?

The people I work with. I get to work with professionals that are incredibly passionate about what they do, and who impart knowledge and help others to make great choices that affect both the quality of their lives and our environment in a positive way. It’s a great boost to be part of a team like this. 

Carers and supporters of mental health patients. I have the utmost respect for the patience and gentle care that’s bestowed on people who struggle with their mental health. Having a close family member with a lifetime of schizophrenia, the composure and tenderness that caregivers have is inspirational. 

The natural world. Getting out on the water in a canoe, or a kayak, or walking through the bush, is refreshing and revitalising. I love those opportunities to tune out the hustle and bustle of city life and tune in to the roaring sounds of water, wind, and wildlife.  

Learn more about Sustainability Trust at www.sustaintrust.org.nz