Natalie Magee is a Berlin-based social entrepreneur who is dedicated to introducing individuals and organisations to social entrepreneurship and the Sustainable Development Goals. Through her initiatives ‘Changemaker Tour Berlin’, a social impact eco-system tour and her ‘By Heart Project’, she has already inspired thousands of people around the world to take action for impact.
She has been a speaker at the United Nations ‘Global Festival of Action for Sustainable Development’ in Germany as well as Airbnb’s ‘New Destinations Summit’ in Spain as part of her commitment to promoting sustainable tourism and to using tourism as a channel for education for sustainable development. We wanted to know a little bit more about who was really behind this all-terrain Australian-born sustainadventurer. Ready, set, explore!
Hi Natalie, it is a pleasure to interview hyperactive people like you. There’s so much to talk about! Can you tell us a bit more about what you do at the moment?
My passion is introducing people to the concept of social entrepreneurship and the idea that we can, in fact, solve global and local issues through business. I use the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for identifying our biggest global challenges and the steps we can take to solve them.
To do this, I have two main channels. Firstly, through my ‘Changemaker Tour Berlin’ weekly tours. This is a social impact eco-system tour in Berlin designed to introduce participants to the amazing network of sustainability projects and social enterprises in Berlin. I run three types of tours; public tours which are open to Berliners and tourists alike, team building tours for corporate teams and study tours for universities, school groups and organisations.
I also regularly offer my ‘By Heart Projects’ workshop series where I run workshops for diverse groups in which they begin to develop their own concepts for impact projects. On top of this, I also do consulting, public speaking and event moderation on the topics of sustainability, sustainable tourism and social entrepreneurship.
How did you come to work with sustainability? Was there a trigger or did this happen progressively?
I believe that real, lasting happiness does not come from the traditional things that society has taught us. I believe that it comes from finding a sense of purpose and meaning and I believe that working in the sustainability sector is a great place to find that. I moved to Germany in 2016 because I wanted to be a part of Germany’s effort to welcome people who needed protection as refugees. I ran a project for 2.5 years which brought me so much happiness and I noticed that many people around me were enthusiastic to create something of their own that would have a positive impact on the world.
Of course, I wanted others to feel the same kind of happiness I was lucky to feel, so I started running workshops about the Sustainable Development Goals, to help people understand what our biggest problems are, and to help them take their first steps towards action. Changemaker Tour Berlin grew from these workshops, because Berlin is such an incredible global hotspot for social impact, I just had to share my knowledge about what was happening here, in the hope of inspiring others.
You specialise in creating experiences for people to engage with sustainability. How do you think we could better communicate climate change?
We have to focus on and communicate the solutions we have at hand and those which we can still develop. Our planet is going to experience huge change, it already is. But, I really do have hope. If we can work together, globally, and take large scale positive action, there is a future ahead that is worth believing in and fighting for.
What frustrates you the most about climate change and what gives you most hope?
What frustrates me most about climate change is the divide between those who are taking positive action, and those individuals, companies and governments who are doing nothing. It’s deeply frustrating when you’ve committed yourself to working for change and you see others around you taking no action at all. What gives me the most hope is the fact that there are solutions available to fight climate change and there are growing global communities demanding action.
You operate tours to introduce groups to the sustainable initiatives happening in Berlin. Do you feel there is something special going on in this city around climate action?
Yes, absolutely and the estimated 280 thousand people at the climate protest recently confirmed this for me. Berlin has always had incredible strength when it comes to grassroots activism, and it is thrilling and inspiring to be a part of this, especially when it comes to climate action.
Who is part of your tours usually? Can anyone join the tour or the sustainable action you present?
Everyone is welcome! I am passionate about welcoming people with all levels of knowledge and understanding about sustainability on the tour. I’ve had everyone from University Professors, representatives from the United Nations, local Berliners who are just curious about it and people who have absolutely no knowledge about sustainability or using business for good.
It is something incredibly special to meet with such a diversity of people with different interests, backgrounds, knowledge and perspectives. I’ve had 72 different nationalities join the tour and the groups are always interesting!
Can you recollect a funny anecdote from your tours
I am excited about every person I meet on the tour and I have made so many friends through it. To add to this excitement, quite often the founders or co-founders of amazing social enterprises that I love join the tour and it is hard for me ‘keep my cool’ as it were, because some of them are real champions to me.
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For example, there is an Australian social enterprise called Flow Hive who have a story that I love. We pass by one of their Flow Hives during the tour, so often I point it out and say something about it. Recently, the co-founder Stu joined the tour. We were halfway through our introduction round when I realised who he was. My excitement really got the better of me at that moment, ha!
Where can we find you next for a tour?
There are just six public tours left for 2019! The dates are below, make sure to book early if you would like to join because they often sell out. If you would like to bring your work team on the tour for an end of year team building event, let me know and we can find a date! For now, the tour calendar is available here.
If you were a squirrel and you could speak to humans, what would you tell us?
Do you guys realise how much pressure you are putting on the squirrel housing market? It’s impossible to get an apartment anymore!
Pineapple or kiwi?
Pineapple, of course!
Funniest looking animal?
As an Australian, I could never try to answer this. You can’t imagine how many funny looking animals I have seen… Cassowaries in particular.
All-time favourite ice cream flavour you’re afraid is at risk from climate change?
You have to live on a desert island because of the consequences of climate change. Who do you take with you, and what CD (yes, there’s a CD player on this island)
I hope this island has a mountain or two – rising sea levels and all… I would take my family, of course. Luckily for me they are all pretty savvy when it comes to the outdoors!
For a CD, it would have to be the first album of Amy Winehouse, Frank (Deluxe 2 Disc Edition). It is the perfect combination of modern and classic, with a mixture of incredible original songs written by Amy herself, in addition to old jazz classics like ‘Round Midnight’ and ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’.
And finally, the Ultimate Question, what is your equation of happiness?
I think the Japanese concept of Ikigai is the perfect answer for me.