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Interview: An Afternoon with Back To Ground Zero

An enlightening afternoon spent with Back To Ground Zero that inspires me to give back with a happy and mindful energy.

On the inspiration for Back To Ground Zero

Back To Ground Zero was founded in 2017 as a pet project by three friends who were passionate about sustainable living in Singapore. Believing in the power of aggregating small changes to make big waves, they aim to inspire individual actions.

Back To Ground Zero wanted to raise awareness for our Kampung roots and our relationships with nature. As a group managed by a handful of volunteers, it evolved to a scale beyond the founders' expectations. "We definitely didn’t expect our flagship events—Ground Zero Market 2018 and Ground Zero Festival 2019—to reach the scale that it did", recalled Maria.

BTGZ is turning 4 this year! Share with us on the challenges faced.

Alongside the passion project, "we were juggling school or full-time work, so time management was always a challenge", Maria added.

There were several hiccups from liaising with many different vendors and event participants, but one of the key challenges was reaching out to their target audience. Connecting with people who were not necessarily on social media often involved more manual labour, but with the team, it was made possible.

To achieve such heights, the team must have given their all! Share with us the journey on juggling a full time job alongside running the nonprofit organization.

Back to Ground Zero is a diverse and fiercely passionate team about sustainability and mindfulness.

Everyone in Back To Ground Zero hold full-time positions and this initiative as their side hustle. Open communication is strongly encouraged and with flexible timelines to prevent burnouts when life gets in the way.

"Most importantly, we never forget to have fun! ... and celebrating one another’s wins when we’re together -- this makes the work that we do never feel like work at all."

On the motivation that propels the team forward

"Our vision of mindfulness for ourselves, for others, and for the planet is what motivates us. We’re also constantly learning from one another, having fun, and celebrating one another’s wins when we’re together -- this makes the work that we do never feel like work at all", Maria explained.

On some of their favourite work

"What we’re building with Mindful Magic is my personal favourite. I love that we’re working on education and creating awareness among young children. The sessions that we’re building are carefully designed in-house which is what makes the curriculum so unique and meaningful. We want to pivot towards bridging the information gap about sustainability and mental health resilience among underserved families", Maria described.

"In our Instagram episodes, our work on practising Mindful Activism remains close to my heart", Maria added.

"Being mindful means being aware and present ... to appreciate the things that truly matter and develop relationships with the items we own "

On the importance of talking about mental health alongside environmental concerns

She explained that the two topics are rarely discussed together but they are in fact inseparable.

The team went on to describe that being mindful means being aware and present, which can be applied in many aspects of our lives—our thoughts and emotions, and the impact we make on others around us, as well as our planet.

"When one is mindful, one will start to appreciate the things that truly matter and develop relationships with the items he/she owns, which naturally slows down the velocity of one's consumption", she illustrated.

It is common to feel anxious and overwhelmed in the journey of environmental action. But when this happens, she advises us to take a step back to practice self-care.

What do you hope to achieve with Back To Ground Zero?

"We want to consolidate eco-literacy efforts in Singapore to work towards our vision of a mindful, compassionate generation. In the coming years, we’ll also be looking to target underserved groups in Singapore and bridge the access to resources and knowledge on mental health resilience and sustainable living", she expressed.

I grew up becoming jumpy and sometimes I get caught up in those emotions of anxiety. Like most people, I have a tendency to dwell on yesterday or worry about tomorrow.

This afternoon with Back To Ground Zero has set me with a new goal to strengthen my brain muscle by practicing being present in the moment, even with a particularly strong emotion but without getting caught up in it.

Ask yourself, "how are you feeling now?" Pause. Take a deep breath. Know that its okay to feel down in the dump, but continue to be good to yourself. Spend quality time doing things you enjoy doing. Only in achieving that, will we be able to have fun and experience abundance of joy and share it with the community.

Love, Vencia

Photography: @soe.what


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