?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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?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, version one of which will launch on March 29th. (For £5, it will save you doing all the legwork of searching through and vetting hundreds of activism related sites. I also promise to use all feedback to make the second version even better.)

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.