Dr Dominque Hes is on a new journey after moving on from the University of Melbourne’s Thrive hub where she has been director for four years.

Dr Hes is now in an honorary role as adjunct fellow at Griffith University, where she will be working closely with Associate Professor Cheryl Desha to evaluate the cost and end-user benefits of green infrastructure for decision makers to include and maintain valuable green spaces in our buildings.

She will remain in Melbourne, however, to continue her “Modern Custodianship” research that explores the idea of embracing the wisdom of the first nations people and integrating it into the modern thinking and techniques of the last 200 years.

“This is a gentle, slow and sensitive journey, mainly spent listening to those who have been living on, and caring for, country for countless generations,” she told The Fifth Estate.

“The intention is to let their wisdom inform the future of how we thrive on this planet, not to privilege it (just as it is not about privileging western or eastern ways of practice) but looking at how do we work together to address the critical problems we are facing.”

Recently, Dr Hes has been working in New Zealand with 24 design students hosted by the Tuhoe Iwi, at the Te Totara Marae at the Ruatoki Valley. The students looked at what would an eco-village look like if it was designed to heal and support nature to thrive. The results will be exhibited at Melbourne University soon.

One desired outcome of the project is that she can show that we can have both modern technology, travel and education at the same time as the ancient, reciprocal, collaborative and productive connection to non-human aspects of nature.

“It is easy (and wrong) to judge as lacking, this life connected to the land, listening to the land, working with the land, growing food, hunting, living with the stories of the past and looking to the future health of the Tuhoe and the land on which they live. It is easy to see this as ‘poor’, but it is not, instead it is rich, healthy, fulfilling and hopeful.”

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