Narrative

?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!

*

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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Existence is Rebellion #1: Cosmic Inflation and The Big Bang

Existence is Rebellion: A Regenerative History of the Universe

by Matthew Crawford 

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.

?You Gather? Vegan & Climate Activism #3

Happy New Year? Maybe. How was your festive period? Mine was very low key. Time for me to reflect, read books, do some writing, and finish the first version of my business plan for Epic Tomorrows, which was finally signed off by my government-employed business adviser yesterday (the 28th). Funnily enough, the British government are funding me to develop informational resources which challenge the British government. Email me at epictomorrows@gmail.com if it would be useful for you to have a copy of the plan. Especially if you are vegan or a climate activist. 2019 is a great year to start a business themed around veganism or climate activism. My own flagship business product is explained here.

I’ve also been enjoying continuing my work for Extinction Rebellion (XR) albeit in a more relaxed and sparse way than I have been in recent months. We have a good regenerative culture building within XR, e.g. we encourage each other to take time out and recuperate. I have been enjoying reading about the recent XR BBC blockade action in London. I couldn’t be there myself, but I did take part in the now infamous November 2018 bridge blocks, at which I was arrested. It’s amazing how XR have managed to create atmospheres around their actions which are both edgy, facilitating non-violent direct actions which end in arrests, and also family friendly, often with children contributing to the debate on the microphones. I put this down to the discipline of non-violence which prevails, drawing on the traditions of Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

I hope that those of you who are non-vegan but are considering a more plant-based diet will try out ‘Veganuary’ i.e. going vegan for the whole of January. This simple exercise in self-restraint is itself a type of activism and has value on many different levels, from the personal and political to the commercial and environmental. Here’s a website to help you do it.

When it comes to vegan educational resources and campaigns, Viva! are one the forefront organisations (in case you didn’t know).

If you really want to go for it with climate activism in 2019, we are in such a dire emergency now that I would advise you join one of the more radical climate activist groups that have formed in the past two years. For the UK, a good bet is XR. Internationally there are also the options of ‘By 2020 We Rise Up’, ‘This Is Zero Hour’ and ‘We Don’t Have Time’. There are many more resources for vegans and activists which I will be gathering together all in one place in my Well Gathered spreadsheet.

I’m a romantic person, and you could say I have quite a romantic idea of what could happen in 2019 for vegan and climate activists, and hence for the whole of society. We really are in the cow-shit when it comes to climate breakdown and ecological collapse, and unfortunately our short-sighted democracies are just not equipped to take the radical and far-reaching economic, technological and social restructuring measures required. These measures are required to avert an otherwise likely global temperature rise of 4 degrees by the end of the century, a 4 degrees which some scientists and complex systems theorists say is ‘incompatable’ with organised human civilisation as we know it. Does that scare you? It should do! Look here for some good science.

My ‘romantic’ vision is one of massive planetary change, but I dare not go into too much detail here, because all our visions are different, and we need a shared vision of change, for any significant change to happen.

Speaking of romance, I hereby make a call-out to lovely, polyamorous, vegan, climate activist entrepreneur women to even notice me in 2019 and ask me out on a date 🙂 Or if I’m being too fussy, vegetarian, climate activist, polyamorous, and female would be okay. And lovely. I live in the southwest of England. Near Exeter. And sometimes Bristol. Maybe near you sometimes. If you want.

As always everyone, please get in touch with any of your vegan activist and / or climate activist dilemmas. If you are seeking information or advice you can’t find, maybe I can help you (for free I mean). Respond to this post or drop me a line at epictomorrows@gmail.com or send me a voice recording (that would be extra nice, audio content is more human).

To hear my vocal rendering of the spirit of this post, visit Epic Tomorrows on Soundcloud.

?You Gather? Vegan & Climate Activism #2

The last few days has been family time. My family are not vegan and they are not activists, but I love them all the same. My mum is proud of my direct action climate activism with Extinction Rebellion (XR). She said something about wishing she had engaged in such activism, but not feeling able to, and being therefore glad that I am engaged instead.

I’m in Somerset, Hatch Beauchamp -the village where my mum and step-dad live. I have a stinking cold. I’m looking back over a year of turbulence. Turbulence in my own life but also in the field of climate science and the politics that is affected by that science. Every now and again I have doubted the mainstream consensus view on anthropogenic global warming, but every time I have read even more deeply into the subject and come out with a renewed conviction that yes, we are (almost) fucked, and yes, it is almost certainly our own doing and therefore yes, we should be rebelling against our governments until they take appropriate action. I’m glad I’m with XR.

Here is an article about a recent piece of information gathering which may be of interest to you, regarding so-called ‘climate tipping points’.

As I gather my thoughts, and gather information for my product-in-development, the Well Hunted, Well Gathered directory for vegan and climate activists, I realise something. It is this: as climate breakdown is a global issue more urgent than any other, affecting absolutely everyone, the response must be a radically inclusive one, which means a non-binary one.

This means that as radical climate activists we must build bridges between all opposing ideologies, identities and groups, in the name of saving humanity itself and the many other species in danger of extinction. This includes building bridges between the religious and the non-religious, between the different religions, between opposing political viewpoints and between vegans and meat-eaters.

It may be up to those of us who are vegans to take the initiative in building bridges with our meat-eating human brethren. I urge all militant vegans to look at the bigger picture here -if we can work together as a species to tackle climate breakdown, then naturally more meat eaters will go vegan. On a scientific level it’s well established that humans need to switch to a more plant-based diet for a sustainable future on Earth, including in response to global CO2 emissions and the paucity of carbon sinks worldwide, with forests cleared by the agricultural industry -particularly meat and dairy- and the growing threat of forest fires.

Practically speaking, the bridges will be built more quickly if vegans set a great example as non-violent direct action activists at the forefront of the climate rebellion -that rebellion that includes XR, that is gathering momentum daily now. As XR has demonstrated, non-violence is the key to success, which includes non-violence in communication. Partly this means, if you want to assure a future for humanity in the long-run alongside a diversity of other species, it’s best you don’t pick fights with meat-eaters (or anyone).

Vegans and climate activists all, it’s time we got our shit together.

 

?You Gather? Vegan & Climate Activism #1

As none of you will know (unless you’re reading this on Facebook) I’ve been involved with some of that there ole climate activism recently (as the Devon elders of my village probably never say). The radical kind that gets you arrested and whatnot. Fridays (today is a Friday) I am now having as ‘regenerative culture’ days, where I fast for most of the day, reflect on groundedness and take a breather from my combined activist-entrepreneur lifestyle. Extinction Rebellion is the non-violent direct action campaign that I am involved with. See the UK page here. On one level it’s a blast. On another level, it’s a very serious business -the most serious thing I have ever been involved with in my life. Extinction Rebellion (XR) is the very good reason behind me neglecting this blog recently.

I don’t regret anything. I have made some great friends in XR, learnt a whole lot about human-caused climate breakdown and I continue to work for the movement, for radical system change in the light of The Evidence of worsening ecological collapse -it’s a good job I’m long-sighted. I support XR even to the point of being arrested in London for peacefully blocking roads with hundreds of others. This is what happened a couple of weeks back.

But now it’s time for me to step back a little, to concentrate on self-regeneration and making a living. If I can’t generate an income for myself, then I can’t afford the luxury of being deeply involved in an activist movement. Not unless I renounced materialism completely, which I’m not prepared to do. My time spent in monasteries in my twenties has given me some good meditation skills and helped cultivate something of a non-attachment to life, but I choose to be materialistic right now, to be able to generate some cash to move about a bit, and maybe even to generate enough eventually, to redirect it to support causes like XR. And I’ll be careful about where and who that income comes from too.

Today, a Friday fast day, I made sure to get some air outside, walking the footpaths of North Tawton village in the biting cold. I enjoyed the bite of both the wind and the hunger pangs which I know strengthen this body for potentially tough times ahead -on the global level which I have strong empathy for.

Earlier, before my walk, I reflected on the product I am building, for a later release now of 29th March 2019. I have been collecting data for this product -a spreadsheet for activists, particularly vegan and climate activists in southwest England- by bookmarking websites. In the midst of this gathering work I realised that the most important kind of gathering is collecting of the self, in this modern society that is full of much opportunity (for some, for the privileged entrepreneur like me) and also so much fragmentation (for most of us). It is the greatest personal, even spiritual, work in modern times to collect everything you need -information, practices, parts of yourself- that may have been rendered inaccessible to you for a long time, or even since forever.

During my activism and reading recently I have encountered problematic dynamics between vegans and non-vegans, and also a lack of comprehensive efforts between vegan and climate movements to join together on some actions and campaigns. I hope that with my upcoming informational product I will gather and curate information in such a way as to encourage climate and vegan activists to work together more. I am vegan myself (usually!), but not militantly. I do empathise with militant vegans, I am just not one of you. If you are one, I would like to support you in getting through to non-vegans, at least non-vegan climate activists, in a diplomatic way.

It may be trite to say ‘We could all do with getting along more’, but it’s true, and I think we will see more co-operation between various environmental activist movements as the global ecological situation becomes more urgent still.

However, we must mindfully gather ourselves together, before attempting to gather others.

Listen to the audio representation of this post on Soundcloud here.