Existence is Rebellion #2: The Birth of Galaxies

Existence is Rebellion: A Regenerative History of the Universe

by Matthew Crawford

Two: The Birth of Galaxies

[All quotes and information below are sourced from the website of the McDonald Observatory in Austin, Texas: https://stardate.org/astro-guide/galaxy-formation]

We have already established that the very existence of the Universe is an act of Rebellion -the original act of Rebellion.

The Hubble Space Telescope and other measuring tools have shown the first galaxies took shape from around one billion years after the Big Bang or the Original Rebellion, as you might call it. 

There are two main theories to explain how the first galaxies formed. The truth may involve both theories.

One theory says that galaxies were born when massive clouds of gas and dust collapsed under their own gravitational pull, allowing stars to be created.

The other theory says the young universe contained many small “lumps” of matter, which coalesced to form galaxies. 

Every galaxy is a rebellion, because before galaxies, there were no galaxies. Extinction Rebellion is just such a galaxy. 

According to the McDonald Observatory, ‘The galaxy-formation process has not stopped. Our universe continues to evolve. Small galaxies are often pulled into larger ones.’

Extinction Rebellion attracts other smaller social movements, gives them a platform and a new, larger centre of gravity.

‘Galaxy mergers happen fairly often. A large portion of the bright galaxies that we see today may have formed from the mergers of two or more smaller galaxies.’

Extinction Rebellion joins in solidarity with other global non-violent direct action movements for ecological and social justice, like Youth Strike For Climate and Earthstrike. Together we can form one uber-movement.

‘Mergers can take anywhere from a few hundred million to a few billion years to complete. They can trigger intense bursts of new star formation’.

Extinction Rebellion is making stars of all of us, but let’s not take too long about it!

‘Galactic collisions rarely produce head-on wrecks between individual stars. Even when two galaxies ram together, the distance between stars is enormous’

Extinction Rebellion and every other global non-violent direct action movement can work together without anyone getting hurt.

‘While galactic collisions rarely destroy stars, they often create them. As vast clouds of gas and dust in merging galaxies slam together, they can create thousands or even millions of new stars.’

The more Extinction Rebellion joins with other movements, the more new volunteers will appear in all movements.

Join the international Extinction Rebellion here.

 

 

10 most irritating attitudes amongst my vegan activist friends (?You Gather? #11)

?You Gather? Vegan and Climate Activism (for Heroines and Heroes) #11

Hello climate heroines. Vegan heroes, what’s up?

This post is directed at some, not all of my vegan activist friends…

Okay, so I have previously classed myself as vegan. At the moment I eat 95% plant-based, with a little honey and very occasional eggs and even more occasional meat, usually in the form of fish. So right now you could call me ‘flexitarian’. I have had diverse conversations about veganism and plant-based diets with 100% hardcore vegan friends, as well as flexitarians, vegetarian and meat-eating friends. I have observed, often with horror, the kind of ‘discussions’ that go on in an often uncivilised and polarised way between vegans and non-vegans online. Particularly on Facebook, which, although many of us find it useful, is not designed to be a platform suited to diplomacy, consciousness raising and conflict resolution.

I am a climate breakdown and sixth mass extinction activist. This is why I organise with Extinction Rebellion. This is the starting place for my activism. This naturally takes me to the conclusion of eating predominantly plant-based for global sustainability reasons. Naturally I also come to the conclusion of being fundamentally against the neoliberal globalised capitalist paradigm we still inhabit, and which inhibits us.

In my view we should be aiming towards relocalised decentralised economies, tied to the land and local biocultural diversity, the true source of regenerative i.e. sustainable culture. The backbone of relocalised economies should be a predominantly de-industrialised, plant-based diet. I think this does mean more people will have to involve themselves in growing or producing food, even if just for a few hours per week. (It will be fun, you’ll get used to it). It is becoming well-known that vegan diets typically have a massively smaller carbon footprint than vegetarian and especially omnivorous diets, (the exception being fruit-only diets). Vegan diets also use significantly less land and water than meat diets, on average. (Different sources give different numbers, but at least ten times less land per pound of protein). Thus to address climate breakdown, cutting out 90% or more of meat and dairy (for most of us) is a no-brainer.

less_meat_less_emissions

Eating predominantly plant-based for global sustainability reasons does not mean that I am immune to the suffering of animals. I very much want to end industrialised animal agriculture, including for the well-being of the animals involved. I support and empathise with direct actions performed by vegan groups at farms and slaughter-houses. They are at least alerting farmers to how times are changing, and must continue to change.

However, when considering global land use patterns, it is the destruction of entire species of wildlife that pulls at my heart-strings the most, caused by the deforestation and pesticide use associated with all industrial agriculture, not just animal agriculture. The extinction of an entire species might not get you crying like a video of mis-treated farm animals can, but I can assure you that many animals go through physical torture during the process of their entire habitat being wiped out. Not to mention the air miles involved in transporting many of our current staple and favourite foods to the UK…whether they be meat or avocadoes. Aviation drives further exploration for oil and gas, which in turn causes more destruction of habitat and deaths of animals. For instance, see this report from the WWF: https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/oil-and-gas-development

I know there are a lot of very sensitive people amongst vegans. I have met many of them, indeed to an extent I am one of them. Sensitivity is a good thing. I understand why this sensitivity is expressed as anger towards meat-eaters, by some vegans. And I am not someone who takes the suffering of animals lightly. When I discover a fly trapped in my home, I am anxious for its release, and I have previously risked being stung by hornets in order to carefully guide them to freedom. Choosing not to own a motor vehicle is partly motivated by my desire to minimise my impact upon the planet’s wildlife.

My business Epic Tomorrows is motivated fundamentally by compassion.  For human beings and towards all life on Earth, from the bacteria which live in my gut, to the whales which swim in the ocean. My current commitment within Epic Tomorrows, as a climate and mass extinction activist, and a flexitarian (at the moment) is to commit to collating, curating and cross-referencing useful web addresses for activists. I’m listing them in a suite of spreadsheets which I’m calling the Well Gathered Workbook.

I have put countless hours into building this product already. I will put in many more ahead of the launch on 24th April. I will be selling only 30 copies at the introductory price of six squids (hopefully six squid or other life forms are not implicated i.e. killed every time a monetary transaction is made somewhere on Earth). After the first 30 copies I will take it off the shelf for a little while. I want to engage with the first 30 (could that be you?) on a deep level to get feedback and find out if there are other ways I can help you individually, (at no charge).

squid

But before I continue to build this product, I just need to get the following out of my system, hopefully in a sensitive way which could trigger bridge-building debate, rather than Facebook point-scoring and Twitter slanging matches. I will admit, the title of this post is deliberately provocative, to alert more people to my post -a marketing tactic, although I did tone ‘annoying’ down to ‘irritating’. On the other hand I have been put out and frustrated by some, not all, of my vegan activist friends who have been subject to some of the attitudes listed below:

10 most irritating attitudes amongst my vegan activist friends, (okay, so I call these ‘attitides’ but some of them are beliefs, assumptions or areas of ignorance):

1) ‘Going vegan will save the planet’. This belief is complacent and wrong, and in my experience seems to come from a place of narcissism amongst some vegan activists, rather than genuine concern about, or research into, sustainable global land use and C02 emissions. See this article from New Internationalist for more details https://newint.org/features/web-exclusive/2018/06/06/vegan-climate-carbon 

Going vegan will certainly HELP save the planet -it’s a big part of why I’m mostly plant-based myself. Yet, if we all went vegan tomorrow -which would be disastrous in terms of the multi-species deaths that are associated with too sudden a system change- C02 emissions in other industries could still easily take us beyond climate tipping points within a couple of decades. (This is related to my point above about food air miles and new fossil fuel exploration). Direct action (non-violent) against governments, and possibly corporations, is the only response to this. So, cut out meat and dairy consumption, sure, but that’s not good enough.

2) ‘Animal farmers are all evil / bad / insensitive people.’ This is a ridiculous assertion to make. For those of you who have seen Cowspiracy (despite its factual inaccuracies), do you remember the former rancher -turned activist Howard Lyman? A truly inspirational figure, to be sure, but do you think he is in isolation? What do you know about where farmers are in their personal journeys and livelihoods? Have you thought that some farmers may not be happy in their jobs, that they were born into farming families, and find it very difficult to find other suitable employment options in rural areas? As most vegans live in urban areas, this is something you may not have considered. Even the ones who are happy in their jobs are, believe it or not, capable of compassion towards their animals, even within what could be called, the culturally accepted context of genocide and betrayal that is industrialised agriculture.

There are other contexts which could qualify as culturally accepted genocide / ecocide, such as abortion and levelling land to build houses, but I certainly wouldn’t label these pregnant mothers and builders as ‘bad’. Yes, I’m being controversial -a woman’s body should not be directly equated with a farm, but do you see what I’m getting at? Black and white thinking is just not good enough when it comes to global climate justice.

3) ‘Eating plant-based works for everyone’. It doesn’t. A small minority of people have health conditions which have been cured by eating a meat-based diet. Best leave them be. 

4) ‘My vegan dietary and lifestyle choices can be exported to any part of the world / my vegan dietary and lifestyle choices do not have an impact on the dietary and lifestyle choices of people in other parts of the world’. In my experience, this isn’t a consciously held belief of many vegan activists -it’s just an area of ignorance that they haven’t dealt with, because ‘they don’t know they don’t know’. This article from ‘NOW’ magazine (Toronto) does a good job explaining, although perhaps in a more spiky and confrontational way than I would choose: https://nowtoronto.com/news/vegans-climate-change/ 

However I would also make the additional more subtle point that modern affluent lifestyles in the global north reduce dietary and lifestyle options for the poor in the global south, and that includes specifically vegan consumption patterns in northern countries which perpetuate oppressive global infrastructures, including fossil-fuel-based, just as much as meat-based consumption patterns do. Only a ‘systems thinking’ approach to Earth and human society can save us now. We must not be isolationist in our thinking, which brings me to my next point…

SeppHolzer

5) ‘Permaculture? What’s that?’ Permaculture recognises the integrated role that sensitive animal husbandry can play in Regenerative Agriculture and rewilding (bringing back many species from the brink of extinction) -true for modern as well as pre-industrial societies. This doesn’t mean that these practices have to be used, but it is important to be aware of them (before wading into discussions wearing potentially oil-derived sized nines). The most excellent and revolutionary Maddy Harland explains things well here in this article from way back in 2014, which champions veganism in Permaculture: https://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/veganism-and-permaculture

6) ‘My nine cats are not having an impact on the planet’ (substitute with preferred pets). This doesn’t actually apply to anyone I know, but I have encountered some vegans on the dreaded (but currently necessary) Facebook who seem to take the simplistic view that it doesn’t matter how many pets are propagated on the planet, as long as they are being cuddled and cared for and posted on Insta. I have known dogs weaned onto vegetarian diets, and I understand that veganism can work for some dogs too, but that’s not true of cats.

Additionally, whatever the pet, please consider that there is already an unsustainable number of humans on the planet, without any of those humans having pets too, with all the land use implicated in keeping those pets, even on vegan and vegetarian diets. It all adds up. Could we just stick to rescue pets, otherwise an absolute maximum of two large pets per household (cats, dogs, giraffes etc)? That would really help improve the greenhouse gas emissions scenario. Below is some information on the C02 impact of keeping pets in America from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The study is two years old but I doubt things have changed much in Trump’s America. Most of these pet owners won’t be vegan but they will nevertheless be contributing to a culture of excessive pet-keeping which vegans are not immune to: https://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/the-truth-about-cats-and-dogs-environmental-impact

7) ‘Some lives are more important than others’. Again, this doesn’t seem to be a conscious attitude amongst any vegan activists that I know of, but an unconscious one, or a type of ignorance. It’s not helped by the media and marketing industries which have tended to use pictures of cuddly animals to signal content about veganism and / or attract people to the vegan cause. It’s the same easy option that conservation organisations use to encourage protection of (some) endangered species. I am not wholesale against ALL such marketing techniques, but when they contribute to a culture of ignorance about the importance of biodiversity and ALL life-forms in maintaining the complex inter-connected web of life which supports us and makes for the Earth’s rich tapestry, then, well…

Ironically some vegans may have fallen prey here to the farming industry’s portrayal of cartoon and cuddly farm animals over the years, at the expense of native British wildlife. This is not to ignore the great efforts of my vegan activist friends on badger culling sabs and hunt sabs, which I fully support.

buzzard

‘Cuddly speciesism’ can compound and be compounded by attitudes 6) above and 8) below in particular. Have you ever found buzzards poisoned and dumped by the side of the road? I have. It makes me cry.

8) ‘If my food and clothes and other products I use are plant-based, I’m having a benign effect on the planet’. It is complacent and dangerous to think like this. This is an extension of points I have already made above, especially 1) but let me summarise it like this: If we drive motor vehicles, we are implicit in ecocide. As long as our food is flown to us, we are implicit in ecocide. As long as we propagate the neoliberal capitalist ‘paradigm’, ‘Business As Usual’, (or as I call it ‘Same Old Story’ in The Evidence), we are implicit in ecocide. Make ecocide law.

9) ‘I shouldn’t / won’t be friends with meat eaters, at least not on Facebook’. It’s up to you, but this attitude frustrates me because it is clearly unstrategic. If you want to convert the world to veganism, surely you can’t take an isolationist stance? If you want a compassionate world, should you not demonstrate compassion, even to those who don’t, even to your ‘enemies’? If you are genuinely so sensitive that talking to meat-eaters upsets you, then cool, but if you are coming from a place of hatred -not so cool. 

10) ‘Vegans are the best’. You’re alright, okay? And so am I, when I’m vegan and when I’m not.

Now, after all that, I hope you will all come and give me a plant-based hug. I mean it, no hard feelings. I’m trying to build a stronger movement here, against climate breakdown and the sixth mass extinction of life on Earth.

Also see this excellent post by my friend L. J. Stirling, The Moral Limitations of Being Vegan.

***

Here is my Rebel listening track for this week (a bit different from last time’s Bach). This is the kind of music I use to wake me up in the morning, before I get to work. When I listen to the lyrics, ‘I follow you, deep sea baby’ it conjures an image of a blue whale.

blue whale

 

Please like, comment, share or slam!

?You Gather? -Vegan and Climate Activism (for Heroines and Heroes) #10

PHOTO BY GILLTUKHA/ISTOCK

Hello lovelies. Heroines, heroes, peaceful direct activists! Climate heroines, vegan heroes, rebels for Life.

I have finished the key entries in the first spreadsheet of my Well Gathered workbook which will be on sale in one month’s time. The first spreadsheet is a curated list of climate science and climate news websites. Here are the best of them:

LINKS ON FIRE!: Carbon Brief Climate Denial Crock of the Week CO2.earth DeSmogBlog Envisionation National Snow and Ice Data Center Paul Beckwith Skeptical Science

HOT LINKS!: AGW Observer Carbon Capture Report Climate Action Tracker Climate Bites ClimateChange.net Climate Feedback Climate Science Watch Climate Sight Global Snow Lab Grist Historical Climatology Inside Climate News IPCC NASA Paul Gilding Polar Research RealClimate The Daily Climate The Science of Doom Yale Climate Connections

And here is my guidance on how to use this particular spreadsheet within the workbook:

  1. THE PARIS NARRATIVE: The IPCC is a useful scientific body as a starting point for the interpretation of climate-related data. Their best-case target of a 1.5C limit to warming is sound. However their scenarios and literature downplay the fact that 3 degrees of warming (AGW) above pre-industrial levels (1750) is already baked in to the Earth System (barring an industrial miracle -see below), although it hasn’t fully unfolded yet. See the excellent Extinction Rebellion talk, ‘Heading for Extinction and what to do about it’. Thus all IPCC 1.5-2C scenarios and recommended pathways for governments rely on global-scale, unproven carbon reduction technologies (technologies that take CO2 out of the atmosphere). This unprecedented technological revolution, requiring unprecedented global co-operation, would need to happen within the next ten years, and there are no signs whatsoever of it happening… It is this narrative of ‘mass carbon reduction’ that defined the non-binding inter-governmental Paris Agreement of 2015. According to the ‘Paris Narrative’, all carbon dioxide emissions reductions pathways towards 1.5-2C rely on the science fiction of this massive and expensive industrial revolution. Beware the Paris Narrative!
  2. ACTION NOTES or HOW TO USE THIS SHEET FOR EPIC HEROINE & HERO ACTIVISTS!: For insight on how climate activism strategy relates to the wider Epic Tomorrows theory and strategy, please visit The Evidence. Use this sheet in the following ways. A) Nip your doubts in the buds, and calmly shoot your foes down in verbal flames. (See DENIAL BUSTERS sites in the spreadsheet) B) Get your facts straight, when talking to the media and engaging in NVDA / mass civil disobedience. C) Arm yourself for peaceful war with the knowledge in this spreadsheet. Your life quest to save all life on Earth depends on it. Do not overburden yourself with excessive knowledge. Choose your sites. Limit yourself. Less is more. Start with LINKS ON FIRE! Connect with others. Join Extinction Rebellion and associated movements. Eat less meat.

To get a FREE copy of this first spreadsheet in the workbook, just email me at epictomorrows@gmail.com

This week’s rebel listening isn’t hip-hop or dance music. For a nice change I have been listening to some baroque music, particularly Bach’s six unaccompanied cello suites. Very relaxing to have on whilst working. And as Yo Yo Ma says, Bach was very clever at composing in a way where the listener’s ear is used to complete musical phrases…notes are suggested as well as played, allowing the single cello to sound like more than just a single cello. Bach may have been very privileged, but to me his music sounds rebellious.

This relates to how it has felt with me on my internet searches of climate science -related websites and from today, climate activism sites. I feel like I am just on the edge of discovering melodies and harmonies in activism and in representations of climate science. This place of undiscovery or nearly-discovery feels like a very fertile place from which to direct my web searches. I am using this intuition, combined with some logic, to direct my searches. I know that some of you, the people I am meant to reach, will benefit from the results.

epictomorrows@gmail.com

 

?You Gather? Vegan and Climate Activism (for Heroines and Heroes) #9

Heroines and heroes, radical climate and vegan activists and others, things are really coming to a head. In the positive sweep of global history, we are reaching a pivotal moment. Either we evolve to the next level, as a species, or we go down in flames (or possibly a mixture, depending on our location). Everything is to play for, and we need appeal only to the highest virtues and traits, deities and questers. Today I appeal to Athena, Ancient Greek goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration and strategy, amongst other things.

I am only a little embarrassed to report that after a meeting with my ‘work coach’ at the government job centre the other day, I am now bound to provide evidence of business sales at my next appointment on 29th April, meaning I have to move my launch date (again!) forward to 22nd April. During that launch week I need to make sales. This means I have to step back from XR afterall. It means I can’t be directly involved in the International Rebellion in London mid-April.

You may think I am involved in some Climate / Extinction denialism, to think like this. Quite the opposite. My personal view is that Extinction Rebellion will achieve great things this April, but not (yet) the stated aim of a national citizens’ assembly to work alongside the government to deal with the ecological crisis. I did want to be directly involved anyhow, but heigh-ho.

You may ask, how can I be a capitalist (a business person, an entrepreneur) when I know that neoliberal capitalism is responsible for the sixth mass extinction event, including climate breakdown, as well as entrenched social injustice within the human species?

For me it’s simple: I want peace. For someone who wants peace, and has studied (a little) the inevitable decline of global capitalism and the inevitable relocalisation of culture, a period of managed decline, including ‘Transition capitalism’ or what I call ‘ecopreneurial Descent economics’ (eDe) is needed to help mitigate the chaos and social unrest that always occurs between civilisational epochs. More on this another time, but essentially what I advocate for is a decade of private enterprise, the main purpose being to further global activism for system change (the end of capitalism), by dismantling large corporations and redistributing wealth. The way this private enterprise is conducted is just as important as the end goal of redistributing profit and using it to break up corporations. By ‘the way it is conducted’ I mean, what the substance of the business is (what is being sold) as well as how the business is resourced, owned, staffed, and directed. The business must play a clear and sustainable role in global system change, and have obsolescence designed into it (a planned disintegration phase as we move into the next post-capitalist stage of global civilisation).

My first product is the Well Gathered workbook -spreadsheets of useful websites for activists. In other words, curated lists. They include cross-referencing and suggestions for how to use the information. The information will always be free to those who can’t afford to pay.

It is absolutely vital that as activists in an over-complex world of competing forms and articles of knowledge, we build up a coherent picture of what is going on in the world, in order to act from a place of reasonable certainty. Ignorance holds us back, and it is only by being aware of the shifting whole, that we allow the whole to evolve to heal. This is a principle of Gestalt Therapy. What we deny (in ourselves, and on Earth) will sabotage our efforts at global transformation.

The serious stuff: if you want a free copy of the first sheet in the Well Gathered workbook, contact me. The first sheet is a curated list of climate science and climate news sites. I would like your views on it. How can I improve on it? If you help me out, you will get a free copy of the final product, and free product updates for life. Email address at the bottom of the post.

In my attempt to keep things light, I’m integrating my love of music into Epic Tomorrows. (Because activism should have a great soundtrack!). I finally interviewed Queen Left the other day. It was a really great interview, and you can listen to it on the Epic Tomorrows Soundcloud channel. Please skip through the first ten minutes of silence and mumbling (whoops!) I haven’t worked out how to edit it yet.

So tell me what you think of Queen Left.

This brings us to my recommended Rebel listening for this week. ‘U.N.I.T.Y.’ by Queen Latifah, because Q.L. likes this track as much as I do, and because it’s partly where Q.L. got her name from.

By Queen Latifah and Athena, I strive onwards!

As always, feel free to comment or contact me with your vegan and climate activist dilemmas on epictomorrows@gmail.com. Also email me to get your free spreadsheet of climate science and climate news websites, with some suggestions on how to use the info. (The vegan sites will be coming soon.) I am doing my best to find answers for you. Also feel free to sign up to my posts by email, by clicking the button in the Epic Tomorrows sidebar. Finally, if you would like to order your copy of the Well Gathered workbook, let me know. Thanks.

#devonindies #devonindiecreator #supportindiecreators

?You Gather? Vegan and Climate Activism (for Heroines and Heroes) #8

‘!Hello you lovely activists, you heroines and heroes! Today’s post is dedicated to Medea, the sorceress who was the true power behind Jason of the Argonauts, the woman who enabled him to plough a field with fire-breathing oxen, defeat a band of skeleton warriors and the dragon that protected the golden fleece. In the original myth, Medea was not scorned by Jason, and so did not poison him. And they all lived happily for a while…!

Okay, it’s all about the climate this week folk…It’s been just over two weeks since my last post. I’ve been struggling with my own skeletal adversaries, and don’t even ask me about that slumbering dragon -I’m not ready for that!

I was due to interview the political rapper Queen Left last night. She was stuck in traffic in her home city of Atlanta, Georgia, USA and I was tired, so we postponed. But having the very human email exchange that we had has only given me more enthusiasm for the upcoming interview. Respecting these postponements, these flows of life…

I’ve been playing some more games with time recently. A few days ago I had a message from my solicitor to say that Devon and Cornwall Counter Terrorism Unit had gotten back in touch with her. I had instructed her to hold fire when they last contacted her, to see how long it would take them to chase it up. She was keeping my written response ready to send. They wanted to talk to me about a blog post I wrote for the Extinction Rebellion blog, where I mentioned that I would probably get myself arrested again in April, non-violently in the streets of London along with many other XR rebels. The CTU are attempting to scare me a little it seems, or make an example of me. But they are only responding to me making an example of myself. 🙂 A message for the police and the CTU (if you are watching me even here on my own blog) and I mean this kindly: We’re going to win chaps, one way or another, so give up now. If you have children and you want their future safety assured, take off your uniforms and join XR. And please do carry on reading to learn something about climate science.

fire heart

I’m almost done with trawling through climate science websites! Literally and emotionally! I hope I’ve saved you heroines and heroes some time though. After extensive searching over several weeks I’ve dismissed the most deceptive and misleading of so-called ‘climate sceptics’ / deniers’ arguments over ‘hockey stick’ tree-ring proxy data, the related ‘Climategate’ and other controversies. I’ve discovered how massive, fragmented and often profligate the nature of modern knowledge is, and how hard it is for any of us, including us activists, to have an accurate overview of the truth of what is going on in the world in one small subject area at any given time, let alone to try to maintain an overview from week to week as data and conclusions grow and shift.

The area of climate science is no different, despite the urgent imperative that we respond coherently to climate breakdown as a species. In my online search I have also been reminded of how our egotistical tendencies, natural desires for social recognition and a secure knowledge of the universe and our place in it, give rise to bias and an unwillingness to maintain an openness to complex, ever-changing data and the variety of conclusions that can be drawn from them. It takes a certain kind of intellectual rigour and moral courage to be able to continually occupy a place of ‘I’m not really sure’, rather than identifying with a clear position of ‘believer’ or ‘denier’. It’s nice to see initiatives like Berkeley Earth which was set up in 2010 to scientifically deal with the valid concerns of so-called ‘climate sceptics’. Reassuringly for some of us, the first Berkeley report of 2012 concluded that the concerns of the sceptics were ultimately unfounded -though it took a fair bit of rigourous investigation to reach that point.

Without the openness of initiatives like Berkeley, we give so-called ‘climate change deniers’ -or alternatively, anyone with an outlying opinion on climate science at either end of the spectrum- too much power by not engaging with them properly and reasonably, and I might add, with compassion for their insecurity -an insecurity that we all feel.

As I think is implied by The Science of Doom, although it is not always useful to polarise people between anthropogenic climate change ‘believers’ on one side and ‘deniers’ on the other, it is sometimes a convenient and almost unavoidable way to frame the debate. But we must understand that there is a diversity of debate between the extreme positions of claiming to ‘prove’ that climate change is not predominantly human-caused, and claiming to ‘prove’ that humanity will all but have disappeared from the face of the Earth in under five years from now.

The truth is somewhere inbetween. Yes, of course the warming in recent decades is predominantly human in origin. But predicting the future is notoriously difficult. Nevertheless, after my extensive online search of climate science / news sites for the Well Gathered workbook I can confidently say that there is a reasonable likelihood of civilisational collapse before the end of the century as a result of climate breakdown, unless we reduce greenhouse gas emissions (mainly CO2) to near zero by around 2030 -not 2050 as the IPCC suggests.  Ideally we should be looking at 2025. With a war-time effort it is possible. For the sake of my nieces and nephews, it is a no-brainer: the precautionary principle simply must be used here -human civilisation, perhaps even human survival (beyond a few thousand breeding pairs anyway) is at stake.

This is why I support Extinction Rebellion. Here is one of our recent actions, ‘Blood of our Children’, that made headline news.

Blood of our children

Okay, so this week’s rebel listening is a clear choice. Keith Flint, prodigy frontman, died just a few days ago. No I’m not going to link to an article on his untimely death. Suffice to say that I’ve had The Prodigy playing many a time during intensive work periods for Epic Tomorrows.

So feel free to sign up to my posts by email, by clicking the button in the Epic Tomorrows sidebar. And if you would like to order your copy of the Well Gathered workbook, let me know. Cheers ~

#devonindies #devonindiecreator #supportindiecreators

 

 

 

Extinction Rebellion isn’t about the Climate

A re-post from my friend Stu of Extinction Rebellion (XR). Many of the subjects covered relate to Epic Tomorrows.

 

Yes, yes, I know. The climate is breaking down. It’s urgent. An emergency. We’ve only got a few years left to ‘fix’ it.

Indeed, we won’t fix it. Weather patterns will become increasingly unstable and unpredictable, and the effects it will soon have on how humans around the world grow food will be devastating, likely causing harvests to fail across entire continents and food prices to sky-rocket. Millions have already suffered due to the amplified instability. We’re facing imminent societal collapse (whatever that means), both around the world and in the UK. All of our lives are soon going to radically change.

None of this is particularly controversial. When a bus is driving with a certain momentum towards a person, it gets clearer and clearer that it will hit the person. After a certain point, it’s inevitable. And that’s where we stand now, with regards to the momentum of climatic change. The bus is about to hit us. Our lives are about to change. It’s not clear whether or not we’ll survive (as a species). Many species have already been run over. Two hundred species each and every day go extinct.

I’ve been with Extinction Rebellion (XR) from the start. I was one of the 15 people in April 2018 who came together and made the collective decision to try to create the conditions that would initiate a rebellion. I was a coordinator of one of the original five working groups, and I’ve been organising with XR day-and-night since then (frugally living off my savings so I don’t have to work, having quit an industry that paid me £1000/week). And I’ve been in RisingUp (the organisation from which XR has emerged) since the first RisingUp action in November 2016. I’m a RisingUp Holding Group member, and a member of the XR Guardianship Team.

And for the sake of transparency: that previous paragraph is all about me ‘pulling rank’ — I’m trying to convince you to listen to what I have to say…

And I’m here to say that XR isn’t about the climate. You see, the climate’s breakdown is a symptom of a toxic system of that has infected the ways we relate to each other as humans and to all life. This was exacerbated when European ‘civilisation’ was spread around the globe through cruelty and violence (especially) over the last 600 years of colonialism, although the roots of the infections go much further back.

As Europeans spread their toxicity around the world, they brought torture, genocide, carnage and suffering to the ends of the earth. Their cultural myths justified the horrors, such as the idea that indigenous people were animals (not humans), and therefore God had given us dominion over them. This was used to justify a multi-continent-wide genocide of tens of millions of people. The coming of the scientific era saw this intensify, as the world around us was increasingly seen as ‘dead’ matter — just sitting there waiting for us to exploit it and use it up. We’re now using it up faster than ever.

Euro-Americans violently imposed and taught dangerous delusions that they used to justify the exploitation and reinforced our dominance, while silencing worldviews that differed or challenged them. The UK’s hand in this was enormous, as can be seen by the size of the former British empire, and the dominance of the English language around the world. There is stark evidence that everyday racial bias continues in Britain, now, today. It’s worth naming some of these constructed delusions that have been coded into societies and institutions around the world:

  • The delusion of white-supremacy centres whiteness and the experience of white people, constructing and perpetuating the myth that white people and their lives are somehow inherently better and more valuable than people of colour.
  • The delusion of patriarchy centres the male experience, and excludes/hinders female assigned people from public life (reducing them to a possession or object for ownership or consumption). Patriarchy teaches dominating and competitive behaviours, and emphasises the idea that the world is a place of scarcity, separation and powerlessness.
  • The delusions of Eurocentrism include the notion that Europeans know what is best for the world.
  • The delusions of hetero-sexism/heteronormativity propagate the idea that heterosexuality is ‘normal’ and that other expressions of sexuality are deviant.
  • The delusions of class hierarchy uphold the theory that the rich elite are better/smarter/nobler than the rest of us, and make therefore better decisions.

There are other delusions. These delusions have become ingrained in all of us, taught to us from a very young age.

None of these delusions have ended, although some of the arguments that supported them (e.g. phrenology) have been dispelled. They continue to play out through each of us, in our ways of relating, regardless of our identity. The current pride in the history of the British empire, or the idea that the USA is on the side of ‘good’, continues to enable neo-colonialism in 2019, taking the form of palm-oil plantations, resources wars, and the parasitical financial sector, to name but a few. The task of Extinction Rebellion is to dispel these delusions. We need to cure the causes of the infection, not just alleviate the symptoms. To focus on the climate’s breakdown (the symptom) without focusing attention on these toxic delusions (the causes) is a form a denialism. Worse, it’s a racist and sexist form of denialism, that takes away from the necessary focus of the need for all of us to de-colonise our selves.

My ancestors are European, some of whom claimed to ‘own’ people as slaves. There are black people with the name Basden in the Americas, and I have begun to mobilise my (white) family to make contact in order to seek to pay reparations.

However, my own accountability cannot be fully paid through this. The insanity* of the mind of the coloniser continues today. It continues in the extraction of fossil fuels, minerals and water from the earth. It continues in deforestation and industrial agriculture. It continues in a callous culture of consumption, which intensifies each Christmas. It continues in evictions and deportations. It continues in the ways of relating to those around us that perpetuate separation and division.

The result is isolation, pain and suffering. The result can be felt at the individual level — in the endemic levels of loneliness and mental-health illness. It can be felt at the community level — in the theft of land for plunder and profit by largely-European-and-US-based banks and corporations. And it can be felt at the global level — in the polluting of our air and oceans.

So Extinction Rebellion isn’t about the climate. It’s not even about ‘climate justice’**, although that is also important. If we only talk about the climate, we’re missing the deeper problems plaguing our culture. And if we don’t excise the cause of the infection, we can never hope to heal from it.

This article is calling to all of those who are involved in XR who sometimes slip into saying it’s a climate movement. It’s a call to the American rebels who made a banner saying “CLIMATE extinction rebellion”. It’s a call to the XR Media & Messaging teams to never get sloppy with the messaging and ‘reduce’ it to climate issues. It’s a call to the XR community to never say we’re a climate movement. Because we’re not. We’re a Rebellion. And we’re rebelling to highlight and heal from the insanity that is leading to our extinction. Now tell the truth and act like it.

* I use the term ‘insanity’ carefully, with the intention of highlighting the need for healing. Indigenous First Nation people helpfully taught me to see the mindset of the coloniser as a sickness. In no way do I intend to marginalise or discredit the experience of people who have been labelled ‘insane’ by a normative system, nor who identify as being ‘insane’.
** Climate Justice refers to the injustice that those who are affected first and worst by extreme weather events (the people in the poorer countries, the majority of whom live in the Global South) are not likely to be the ones who caused the climate emissions (the people who consume the most, including the pathologically wasteful cultures of Europe and Turtle Island (aka North America), and the rich who live/travel around the world).

?You Gather? Vegan and Climate Activism (for Heroines and Heroes) #7

!Hello all you heroines and heroes, tragic characters all. We live in tragic times. Tragic times require heroic responses.

The Well Gathered Workbook is coming along. I’ve done plenty of work on the Climate Science & News spreadsheet this week. I’m rating tens of climate science and climate news sites -the most useful ones I’ve denoted ‘Hot!’ and the super-useful ones I’ve denoted ‘On Fire!’ I’ve also labelled which sites I think are the most useful for tweens and teens to start with, and Earth knows we need our youth to take a keen interest in climate science, starting now. The listed ‘On Fire’ sites so far are https://climatecrocks.com/, http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/, https://www.desmogblog.com/https://skepticalscience.com/, and https://climatesight.org/. This last one is the personal blog of UK-based climate scientist Dr Kaitlin Naughten -an Antarctic specialist who started blogging when she was sixteen. Very inspiring for girls who are into science and want to pursue it further. 

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Yesterday, on Thursday 21st February 2019 -although already it feels like a week ago- Devon County Council declared a ‘climate emergency’. However they failed to set a zero carbon target date. A 2030 date was proposed by a Green councillor and was accepted by the left-wing third of the council,  but predictably the Tory majority voted against it. The motion for climate emergency was passed with no date ostensibly, but it was after the ramblings of an old Tory who referred to the IPCC 2050 zero carbon target as a reasonable target (which it isn’t, relying as it does on unproven, undeveloped atmospheric carbon capture technologies). I knew that the failure to adopt the 2030 motion was partly due to entrenched livestock farming interests in Devon which would make the necessary land-use changes very difficult.

This decision came after many impassioned speeches from the public gallery, including from friends of mine, urging the council to act on the global emergency. Exeter students spoke, and a young girl spoke, daughter of a friend, telling the adults that they have had their time to get fat off the land, but now they must pay for it.

I sat in the public gallery and listened to the whole debate. This was after sitting through hours of other County Council matters. Outside County Hall it was a great atmosphere of festivities and resistance, on a warm and bright February day. Colourful Extinction Rebellion banners, as well as anti-Brexit banners, abounded. Students and children were everywhere. Some young girls, head high to my waste, proudly proclaimed to my friend that they were members of Extinction Rebellion. They held their signs of Nature and resistance. It was moving. Meanwhile, the cops trained their cameras on me. No surprise there. I joked with an old friend who I hadn’t seen in a while that the police were probably making all kinds of fantastical links between us that didn’t exist.

Earlier I had enjoyed a tense pause as I waited for my friends in Magdalene Street cafe in Exeter -where some but not all of their cakes are vegan. 

Inside the public gallery it was stifling. I removed my coat and my funereal shirt underneath focused my attention on the action that could be immanent. I fingered the personal attack alarm in my pocket nervously, and pinned on my XR patch, following the lead of my buddy next to me. If the council voted for 2050 we were to jump over the barrier separating the public gallery from the floor, and storm to the front of the building, locking on to each other with arms and legs.

It didn’t happen. Some of us were deflated, but we had stuck to our plan of no action for no zero carbon date.

After huddling round with the others in a circle on the grass outside, the debrief and the grief, the anger and resolve, I turned on my heels and walked back to the bus-stop a little darker, a little more determined, a little more free than before.

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Today’s rebel music track (for the tragically heroic) is Put The Message In The Box by World Party. They would have changed the lyrics to ‘Put the box onto the bike…’ had they known…

As always, feel free to comment or contact me with your vegan and climate activist dilemmas on epictomorrows@gmail.com. I will do my best to find the answers for you. Also feel free to sign up to my posts by email, by clicking the button in the Epic Tomorrows sidebar. Finally, if you would like to order your copy of the Well Gathered Workbook, let me know. Thanks.

?You Gather? Vegan and Climate Activism (for Heroines and Heroes) #6

!Heroines. Heroes. Activists. Are you having a legendary time?

Forget about Valentine’s Day -we have work to do!

I’m starting to write this post with a burning in my writing hand. This can only be a good sign. The real reason for it is the young stinging nettles I picked from the hedgerow earlier to break my half day fast. (Come on vegans, learn how to forage in the coming climate chaos!!!) In my mythic imagination though, I can fantasise that the gods have instilled this burning in my being to bring out a communicator of heroic proportions. Let me be Metis, the Titaness of wise counsel!

Ah, how I love the play of synchronicity through my everyday life! As I search for an image of the goddess Metis online, a different meaning of the word Metis appears. The Metis Nation of Western Canada are a Nation of mixed indigenous and Euro-American ancestry. Their symbol, the featured image for this post, reminds me of both the mathematical symbol for infinity, and a super-heroine’s mask.

The Metis language ‘Michif’ is a mix of Cree and French. This brings me to another synchronicity. About a week ago I received a friend request on Facebook from ‘Daphnee’, a French-Canadian who is the co-ordinator for XR (Extinction Rebellion) Prince Edward Island in the northeast of Canada. Here they are. We started chatting online, resulting in agreeing to have a videocall (we haven’t yet) and Daphnee provisionally agreeing to be another editor on XR Blog I founded XR Blog for Extinction Rebellion and am now a co-editor on the blog with an increasingly international team.

I started messaging Daphnee from an off-grid wooden cabin in the middle of a young woodland in mid-Devon, where I go sometimes to take a break from modern technology (so it didn’t quite work this time!) and do some nourishing physical work. Worried as I am about the food and energy security of my future, it’s nice to know I can still split wood with wedges and a sledgehammer. During my couple of days in the woods I received a vision related to Daphnee, which I haven’t told her all about yet. I’ll let you know next time. Suffice to say, I am not a superstitious kind of person, but when I occasionally receive these visions I take them very seriously.

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Anyway, I suppose you’re looking for news on how it’s going with developing my Earth-saving heroic informational product, designed with vital (but perhaps slightly impatient) vegan and climate heroines (and heroes) like you in mind??? Well, I can tell you that the Well Gathered Workbook is progressing nicely thank you!

In the last couple of weeks I have actually got round to starting the product building (yes, I know, it’s a bit late after all the fuss I’ve been making). I am starting with a spreadsheet within the Well Gathered Workbook which focuses on online climate science resources. I have been finding in my own exploration of these complex resources that, in my opinion, guidance for activists is definitely needed. I came across this site, which is a great resource (and I will be listing it), and yet, some of the links are out of date (possibly because the sites no longer exist) and there is not enough assessment of quality of the sites. In the Well Gathered Workbook climate science sheet I will be assessing quality of sites, including my ‘best picks’ from the sites listed on the site linked to above.

One such best pick is this staggeringly useful website, which includes this database of climate disinformation, comprehensively listing information about individuals and organisations involved in the climate breakdown denial industry (there are a surprising amount of them!).

I’m also thrilled that two people got in touch to reserve their copies of the Well Gathered Workbook (okay, so one of them is a friend!).

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In other activism related news (from my life!), I got back from a therapeutic day out the other day on a ‘Play Day’ (see Christie Animas’ amazing ‘Fooling’ here) to find a hand-written note pushed through my letterbox. For the second time in a few months, the Counter Terrorism Unit of Devon and Cornwall police wanted to talk to me to ‘discuss my interest in environmentalism.’ Yeah right.

I was unsettled, but not too much so. I contacted the excellent people of XR Exeter and they offered support. The next day I also phoned Green and Blacks, who offer advice for activists and free services from lawyers affiliated with them. Soon enough I had an email written for me by Kelly’s solicitors in Brighton addressed to Devon and Cornwall CTU, warning them off. The great result, which I was cc-ed into, is that for the time being I will be left alone. The attention was due to the action I related in this post.

If you are a hardcore front-line non-violent arrestable activist, I encourage you to sit through the fear induced by police visits like the ones I have received. Urgent climate and ecological breakdown demand that we be brave and sit through the scare tactics. I’m a very sensitive guy, and I’ve suffered from my fair share of mental health difficulties, but I can assure you that resilience in the face of the cops, like anything, gets easier over time.

However, this resilience will only be developed if you have robust self-care practices in place in your life. For myself, living alone in a flat and physically isolated for most of the time, these practices are particularly important to keep up. So I walk in Nature, I have enough phone-calls with friends, especially empathic activist friends, and I connect with family. I can’t tell you how nourished I felt the other day when I visited my sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew. My bro-in-law is an excellent chef and cooked some amazing vegan meals -I mean seriously mouth-watering, from this book. Okay, so I know we don’t all have a great biological family. So which friendships can you cultivate to the point that they feel like family?

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So I really feel like I am starting to gather well. ‘Gathering well’ is a mission that all modern people are called to upon to do, especially activists. And sometimes it takes a fair amount of heroism. Sitting through the scary stuff. You and I are increasingly called upon to gather our influences, our families, the practices that we know are good for us and the information that we know could be useful to us. Most of all we need to gather our courage and strength, so that we may begin to face the bumpy (to say the very least) transition to post-carbon, post-globalised humanity, on a soon-to-be vastly warmer world which in the not-too-unlikely worst case may reduce our population to a few thousand breeding pairs.

My role for Epic Tomorrows is to save you time (yes I know you’re busy heroically fighting the multi-headed monsters of the carbon industry and the industrial meat industry). Whether it’s gathering insight from my experiences as a front-line arrestable activist, or collecting and recording the in-depth insights I’m gaining from developing as a highly discerning surfer of the net, I trust that I will start to save you a little time. Obviously, the Well Gathered Workbook is my way of saving you time whilst (just beginning) making a living for myself.

So before I wind up, my recommended rebel political listening for this week is ‘Why We Build The Wall’ by Anais Mitchell. Let us make as many international connections as possible and refrain from building unnecessary walls out of fear, as the global situation deteriorates, as it likely will (overall) for some time to come.

By the way, for those of you who were expecting the Queen Left interview on 14th of February, Queen somehow didn’t get some emails of mine, so we are postponing the interview for a few weeks now.

So with my fingers still pleasantly burning from the nettles, I want to tell you to forget about Eros, that silly love-struck boy. Think of Metis the wise counsellor, gatherer of wisdom, who preceded Zeus chronologically in the Greek pantheon. Metis who caused Athena, fully armoured, to be born from Zeus’ forehead.

Today is the day that School Strikes for Climate are launching across the UK, including in my home city of Exeter.

Heroines and heroes, go forth!

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As always, feel free to comment or contact me with your vegan and climate activist dilemmas on epictomorrows@gmail.com. I will do my best to find the answers for you. Also feel free to sign up to my posts by email, by clicking the button in the Epic Tomorrows sidebar. 

#devonindies #devonindiecreator #supportindiecreators

 

?You Gather? Vegan and Climate Activism (for Heroines and Heroes) #5

!Hi folk, how is your heroic activist journey going this week?

This week, I think what I have been struggling with most is a combined lack of face to face human connection (as usual) as well as a perceived lack of recognition for my talents, and for this blog. I am beginning to realise just how much work and effort will be required to build my blog audience. I have set myself a date of 10th February to increase my audience from 60 to 130, as part of a bigger exponential curve of increase up to 1000 followers by the end of March (the amended launch date of the Well Gathered spreadsheet). Apparently this is needed to make 30 sales at a 3% ‘conversion rate’. Well, it’s not quite that simple. Anyway, I have a lot of great resources to help me, it’s just a case of working through them.

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As human beings, as activists, and especially as vegan activists, it’s important that we eat healthily. This can include gathering some wild greens. Today on my walk in the lanes I was reminded of cleavers and pennywort.

I really didn’t want to go out on a walk, with the weather being so cold and wet, but a nudge from a new friend by text (a co-worker from Extinction Rebellion -XR) reminded me that I really should. A few days previously I had told him how good it is for my mental health to get outside and into Nature. I was quite comfortable with my aloneness -not the same as loneliness- as I struck into the lanes and fields.

Despite my isolation, through my work with XR I am gradually becoming part of a community of fascinating and caring activists. Most of the contact is online or by phone, but that’s okay. It’s good news, since ‘finding and strengthening community’ is one of five things on my slightly obsessive list of ‘the five most important things that I need to be working on until I achieve them’. FYI, the Well Gathered spreadsheet will include a sheet listing online well-being resources for activists.

On Monday I spoke with a new friend from XR who has offered me weekly one-way check-ins by phone i.e. offering to hold space as I share what’s going on for me emotionally and intellectually. A semi-professional therapeutic arrangement. We did end up discussing a bit, but it all felt very natural, boundaried and supportive. She is also one of the only four (!) people so far, who have subscribed to my blog by email.

Then mid-week, something really amazing happened. A political rapper from Atlanta, Georgia in America who I had written to on a whim asking if she would do an interview with me for Epic Tomorrows, got back to me and said ‘yes’. Queen Left is her artist name, and I predict big things for her in the world of hip-hop. What has music got to do with activism? Everything! Here is a vital tip for activists wishing to make connections with other activists, to amplify their campaigns. I contacted Queen Left on YouTube, via the ‘About’ section on her YouTube profile. Not all YouTube profiles reveal email addresses, but some do. It’s worth sniffing around. Choose someone who feels a little out of your league, but not way out of your league.

Through my contact with Queen Left I had a revelation about my website content. I had already been working towards incorporating more of the heroic and the mythic into my site. Truly we live in an age of monsters and heroines, dragons and epic quests, and viewing things like that can be a useful and inspiring way to deal with the complexity and ecological catastrophe of contemporary life. But as I was out on one of my increasingly regular Nature walks, just after Queen got back to me a couple of days ago, I suddenly had a vision of the ‘soundtrack’ for Epic Tomorrows.

Months back I started a site named ‘Music of the Resistance’ -MOtheR for short- which listed hundreds of rebellious music tracks via links to YouTube, Soundcloud etc. I had no idea whether it would ultimately prove to be legal, but I really enjoyed the process of building up the resource, and a few people submitted their own favourites to the website, which was the best part. I eventually abandoned that project due to the ambiguous legality and not getting on with the Wix platform I was using, and also not having the know-how or energy to transfer the information to another platform.

The music is still with me. I like rebellious music of all genres, according to a very wide definition of ‘rebellious’ to include classical and jazz (especially jazz) and even mainstream pop songs that have a rebellious edge or message. I also just like well-written and well-produced music. Since music is in my bones, why should I keep it separate from my blog? Am I not all about gathering every part of myself to serve the whole of myself, and to serve the whole of you, my reader? And don’t you love music too?

If we are to be heroines and heroes in the disaster movie of 21st Century humanity, then by damn don’t we need to do it to a stunning soundtrack?!

When I had this realisation the other day, I literally danced for joy. Queen Left is dancing too.

As always, write to me with your activist -especially vegan and climate activist- dilemmas and I will try to help you out with them. You can contact me about anything else too. Email: epictomorrows@gmail.com, address to Matthew.

?You Gather? Vegan and Climate Activism (for Singles) #4

!Hello you lovely activists, heroines and heroes! Are you rested after the ‘Christmas break’? Are you full of beans or your choice of protein (less of the animal protein please) and ready to go? Or are you still a little fatigued, like I am? Still a little overwhelmed and stressed out at the state of the world, as I am? Still a little sad at the way the world seems to be going, as I am?

And yet, I have so much joy in my heart, and yes, there is a growing energetic spirit within me, despite this nasty ongoing cold and cough I have. It is the joy of courage and determination that being part of the wonderful movement of Extinction Rebellion (XR) has given me. It is also the joy I have gained from getting back in touch with Nature recently, albeit a Nature artificially divided up into industrialised beef, lamb and milk pastures. In the leaf-mouldy footpaths in-between the fields, where edible succulent leaves grow from the shades of Devon banks (yes even in January), and where I imagine up fairy stories about the souls of extinct animals, my soulful strength returns.

The past couple of weeks for me has been dominated by XR once more, and yet I trust that the experience is also giving me valuable insight into activists and what would help us be more effective. My Well Gathered spreadsheet is addressing this question. (It will be given free to committed XR people).

Well Gathered will launch for sale to most of you on 29th March. I have put forward the launch date by a few weeks for about the fifth time, but I have the best possible reason this time -my government employed business adviser thinks that this is giving myself the best chance in terms of government benefits I can receive. I can receive Jobseekers Allowance payments at £70 for 12 more weeks before signing on to the reduced £60 per week New Enterprise Allowance payments for a further 13 weeks. During all this time I don’t have to look for work, and any business money I make doesn’t affect my benefits.

I have been wondering today whether I should narrow down my audience more to ‘climate activists’ rather than ‘vegan and climate activists’, especially as I am struggling a little to get my head around the different attitudes towards veganism and plant-based diets of different people who identify with these diets (sorry, vegans, ways of living), as well as the attitudes of meat and dairy eaters towards vegans and vice versa.

Just a couple of days ago I had a long chat with a fellow XR volunteer over the phone (the first time we had spoken) about the potential difficulty of encouraging urban vegan activists to de-stress themselves and recuperate by staying in the countryside and learning about land use and land-based livelihoods. We agreed that WWOOF could be a better used resource for urban activists to de-stress, and links could be made between WWOOF and XR.

But for vegan activists (and there are many vegans in XR) there is a potential barrier, in that Permaculture growing systems (established by some good WWOOF hosts) incorporate animals to be most energy-efficient, e.g. by rotating their grazing to prepare vegetable beds and use their manure for food growing. This is a standard energy-saving traditional farming technique (as opposed to modern industrial farming). It arguably kills many less living beings than mass-grown (polyculture) plant crops in a single large field requiring imported fertilisers, even if the animals are eaten near the end of their long lives. (Think of all the animal deaths indirectly caused by fertiliser production and transportation).

I identify as vegan myself for approximately 95% of the time (or does that make me ‘plant-based’, I’m still not sure?). Yet I have enough understanding of sustainable land use to know that some compassionate animal husbandry can be part of the answer for long-term relocalised food systems. And we do need to relocalise the whole of society. Flying around the world, whether people or food, is fucking up the atmosphere.

Speaking of fucking things up, I was arrested for graffiti-ing the front of Barclays Bank in Exeter (southwest England) the other day for an XR action. But it’s Barclays who are really fucking things up. Read this article, if you dare. So this occasion counted as in the 5% of the time that I am not vegan, as I accepted the cheese slice and then the biscuits that were offered to me in the police cell after the action. When I was released at 11pm I did have a fully vegan sandwich in Exeter’s 24 hour Subway, but that would have been more than cancelled out by the general ecological destruction entailed by any large multinational corporation, especially one as massive as Subway.

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I must admit, I felt pretty heroic on this action. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. I bet there will be many activists reading this who like to get in touch with the heroic too. Indeed, in these extraordinary times of climate and ecological crisis, we need to call on the heroines inside all of us. We need to call loudly, firmly, to call inwardly to ourselves and outwardly to society.

You are heroic. I know what efforts you put in as an activist. I really do. With the activism-related information I gather as part of my efforts for Epic Tomorrows, I sincerely hope that I will save you some legwork. Damn, you’re busy! I know you are!

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Being a rural activist. I’m lonely. XR activists are spread all over the country and now the world, but it’s in the towns and cities they gather. My life is full of paradox, as living alone, I do get lots of work done, including work for XR and Epic Tomorrows. I also communicate daily with other XR activists working in all the different departments, especially the Regenerative Culture (including well-being) team of which I am a member, and the Media and Messaging team. Yet when the communications stop, when I close the laptop after spending too much time (again) online, I can feel suddenly isolated, even depressed. It’s a common story.

Nevertheless, something positive is starting to happen. Something that I remember writing about in a post a while back. Something about how online communications can eventually result in greater human connection than ever was possible before the internet, if these communications are pursued wisely. I refer to a long-term vision, not yet realised, of the deep connections formed in activist circles becoming more manifest in geographically based communities. Sure, it happens, but nowhere near enough, or not quite in the way I would like to see it. You’ll have to bear with me a few years on that one.

So now I find myself starting to have conference calls and phonecalls with my new XR friends that previously I may have only emailed. This in turn has encouraged me to get out into my village, and start to see again those old friends that were waiting for me to call round all along.

And I received quite a shock when the building developer putting up some flats across from the row I’m in, came round to measure my porch (to measure against the new porches across the way), and informed me: ‘My wife’s joined Extinction Rebellion’.

In more ways than one, XR is helping me gather myself socially, and I’m getting more grounded with it.

When it comes to dating, most of the time I am quite happy being single. Every few days I do get overcome by waves of loneliness, but I watch them pass. Very recently my phone informed me that ‘Zara has joined Signal’ (name changed to protect Zara’s identity). Signal is a secure messaging service, highly recommended for activists to say the least. I struggled for a second to remember who Zara was, and then I remembered she was a contact from the Ok Cupid dating site, from a couple of years back.

So now XR Namibia may be starting up. You think I’m joking. Wait and see. There’s no symbol on this map of XR groups over Namibia yet, but check it in one month’s time. Admittedly, that would have been an impossibly long-distance relationship…

Single activists probably get more done, I think, and now is a very urgent time to get things done in terms of the global climate breakdown and ongoing ecological catastrophe (surely you agree with me if you’ve read this far?). I am starting to meet lots of lovely women through activist conference calls and phonecalls. For now I am happy to admire from a place of detachment -I have my hero quest to pursue!

How about you?

For an audio representation of some of this content i.e. me rambling on, visit Soundcloud.

As always, get in touch with your vegan and climate activist dilemmas, and I’ll try to help, or at least signpost you to some good information. Info gathering is what I have a knack for afterall. Email me on epictomorrows@gmail.com

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