Narrative

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

!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. (Listen to her on the Epic Tomorrows frontpage here).

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. Finally, if you would like to order your copy of the Well Gathered Workbook, let me know. I will be capping early sales at 30 for five quid each, so that I can concentrate on engaging with my first customers and getting good feedback / providing extra help and mentoring to them. So contact me to be one of the lucky 30. Thanks.

#devonindies #devonindiecreator #supportindiecreators

 

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

I haven’t got much to offer you this week. I’m sorry. I don’t see the point when I’m behind on building my product (which I really do hope will help you) and behind on building my email list. I thought last week’s post was one of my best yet but it was hardly read. I have an idea why, a complex reasoning based on the fact that I have started a cut-up novel with this same WordPress account, which because of its nature may appear to WordPress to be a cynical attempt to maximise my website traffic. I know WordPress can penalise in such instances. So last week’s ?You Gather? post may have been bumped down the WP Reader. Here’s the offending creative work in question: The Rebel Sense of Kathy ‘Sugar’ Celeste.

Meanwhile, let me break it to you brutally. ‘Going vegan’ will not save the planet (even if everyone did it tomorrow). That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be vegan (or for some of us, realistically, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t eat less meat). Nor will reducing CO2 emissions to zero by 2050 (the standard conservative narrative of what we need to do to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown). Reducing emissions to zero by 2025 might however, avert catastrophe. But only if in concert with dealing with the wider ecological crisis of the sixth mass extinction event on Earth, including the loss of biodiversity and the loss of ecosystem services vital for human life, including soil fertility.

Look up the resources for yourself. They are everywhere. Here is a realistic appraisal.

Accept the immanent collapse of civilisation, or be a heroine. The choice is yours.

 

 

?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. Here she is on my new and improved front-page. 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.

Jin-ku #2: 13/01/19 (for Gail Bradbrook)

The jin-ku is a poetry form that I invented. For the rationale behind jin-ku and suggestions on how to write them, visit my first jin-ku with a comprehensive explanation here.

Jin-ku, in a combination of Kurdish language and Western street slang, means ‘woman friend’.

Jin-ku must be comprised of 13 syllables.

This second jin-ku is dedicated to Gail Bradbrook, one of the founders of Rising Up! and Extinction Rebellion.

 

stood on the moor

in a white woolly hat

– big warm grin

 

 

 

?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 which I am in close touch with due to my role as an editor -and the founder- of XR Blog. 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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Existence is Rebellion #1: Cosmic Inflation and The Big Bang

Existence is Rebellion: A Regenerative History of the Universe

by Matthew T-hanu Kalessin 

One: Cosmic Inflation and The Big Bang

The Big Bang -or rather, the cosmic inflation that is now known to have preceded the Big Bang- could have been the original act of rebellion. This was the rebellion of Existence against the Nothing that came before, or for religious people, perhaps this could be described as the rebellion of God against Nothingness or even, the rebellion of God against the unity of Theirself. In the mysterious and unlikely context of this Something, or this Creation, coming out of Nothing, criticisms that the Extinction Rebellion (XR) movement won’t succeed suddenly seem utterly ridiculous. If the Cosmos exists, seemingly without reason, and if ‘life’ as we know it exists, against all odds, then against lesser odds, XR can succeed.

Yet, if time began at the beginning of the cosmic inflation, then there can have been no ‘before’ the inflation…so the inflation has always existed. If this is the case, there was no rebellion against Nothing, but there was still this massive rebellion against everything that came after. Everything that came after the cosmic inflation was dependent on it, whereas the cosmic inflation was dependent on nothing. The inflation then, whatever the case, is conceptually a rebellion against the Big Bang and everything afterwards. Just as XR is a rebellion against the supposed inevitable extinction of humankind and many other species.

Am I making any sense? No? Good, then I’ll go on…

The cosmic inflation and everything that came ‘after’, in short, the whole of Existence, is also a rebellion against Non-Existence in a different way. In other words, whether there was a beginning of time or not, a starting point to the cosmic inflation or not, everything we know is a rebellion against what could have been, or what could never have been, or what we can’t imagine, or the complete absence of an everything which includes both Nothing and Something.

With me so far? No? Don’t worry, here comes a simple instruction:

Support Extinction Rebellion.

Why? Because you already do. You are already a rebellion against extinction, by your mere existence. Why not manifest that more fully, by rebelling, by existing more fully, now, while you have the life for it? Merely existing is no rebellion against the likely untimely deaths of your grandchildren and their pets.

Please don’t go out tonight

Please don’t go out tonight. Ecosystems are collapsing, and alcohol dumbs down your capacity for action and change.

Please don’t go out tonight. Especially if you are an activist. Why don’t you just have a quiet drink at home with some activist buddies, and plan your next arrestable action? 2019 has to be a year of massive escalation if we are to pressure our governments to act in an appropriate and timely way in response to climate breakdown and worsening ecological catastrophe.

As a mystic, gratitude is central to my practice. But it’s not enough to sit in meditation and feel grateful for my flat, my clothes, my books, my relationships that all, somewhere or other back along the karmic lines (and surely not very far back along them) depend on the oppression and exploitation of indigenous peoples and biodiversity around the globe.

I’m not about to give up my affluent Western / Northern lifestyle, it is so deeply ingrained in me. However the least I can do is use this privilege in 2019 to 1) get arrested as often as is practical, as well as manageable for my well-being, for the cause of drawing attention to Extinction Rebellion, which is to say the cause of all life on Earth, and 2) rather than just ‘make a living’, work towards generating as much monetary wealth as possible, so that I can redistribute it to where it is needed (including Extinction Rebellion.)

Here is a line from one of the books in my golden bookcase. Some of you will know or be able to guess at where this came from. It’s a very popular book.

‘When action is pure and selfless                                                                                            everything settles into its own perfect place.’