5 epic online articles for a solid sustainability science base to vegan activism (?You Gather? #13)

Featured image: a lane on the outskirts of North Tawton, amongst the gorgeous countryside, where I sometimes remember to walk, to relax.

?You Gather? – Vegan and Climate Activism (for Heroines and Heroes) #13

Heroines, heroes, it’s almost time for the international Extinction Rebellion (XR). The Rebellion that will go down in history as the most fun and festive Rebellion ever!

Check here for a whole bunch of crazy, fun and half-illegal stuff happening in the middle of London and around the world from 15th April.

In this post, I want to share some information specifically useful to vegan activists –whether you support XR or not. My next post will be ‘5 reasons why vegans should support the international Extinction Rebellion’, so look out for it! On a side note, a couple of days ago I finally retrieved the XR jacket I wore for this action in January, from Exeter police station. In the background here you can see the map with pins in that Devon and Cornwall Counter-Terrorism questioned me about, and probably got the wrong idea about, when they visited me earlier this year (for being a dangerous window-painting activist!)

XR jacket back!

If you read my last post, the most popular I have ever written, you may be forgiven for thinking that I want to create arguments with vegans -but the opposite is true. I am interested in the truth above everything. Only the truth will purify our activism and set it free. Especially for you hardcore vegan activists who are prepared to get arrested for your actions (non-violent please), I’m sure you appreciate you need to be operating from a sound information base to maximise your effectiveness. With all uncertainty cleared from your hearts, you can strike like fire.

As part of my product building for the Well Gathered workbook for vegan and climate activists -to be released in three weeks- I have been specifically researching, over the past few days, online articles supporting veganism from a general sustainability and land use point of view. These are listed in my ‘Vegan Science & News’ spreadsheet, which is one of the spreadsheets of a dozen included in Well Gathered. Other sheets include Climate Science / News, Climate & ‘Eco’ Activist groups -with preference given to NVDA- and Vegan & Animal Rights Activist groups. Here’s a screenshot of the (incomplete) Climate Science spreadsheet, to give you an idea of where I’m going with this whole thing:

climate science site screenshot

I will be cross-referencing all sites and I am providing notes to help guide users with how to use the information. (Go here to be one of the first 30 to pioneer my product). After the first 30 I will stop selling for a couple of weeks as I want to concentrate on working with my first thirty customers -I’m looking to add value for free, on an ad hoc basis, through phonecalls and emails, developing product ideas by researching information for you on anything you want, if it is sustainability related. I’ve got three customers so far, so you’ve still got time…

Within the Vegan Science & News spreadsheet, there will also be sections looking at veganism from animal rights and human nutritional and well-being perspectives. But for now I would like to share these 5 articles with you which look at veganism purely from a general sustainability perspective. Even if you are not a vegan activist -even if you are not vegan!- looking for a solid science base to your activism, you may still find these useful-

5 online articles for a solid sustainability science base for vegan activism:

1) Veganism and Permaculture?

https://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/veganism-and-permaculture

The Vegan Book of Permaculture by Graham Burnett. Writing about this in the linked article, the co-founder of Permaculture Magazine and Permanent Publications Maddy Harland writes:

What we at Permanent Publications really respect and love about Graham Burnett, the author of the Vegan Book of Permaculture, is his enabling approach. He inspires people in a positive way to eat more vegan and vegetarian dishes rather than shaking angry sticks at them. Let’s encourage people to question where their food is coming from and to save lots of money by following Graham’s suggestions: Eating more vegan food, growing our own, community gardening, buying from wholefood co-ops, shopping locally, sharing the harvest and generally taking positive and pro-active steps towards living more lightly on our planet.

However be warned that the majority of the article defends Regenerative Agriculture and certain biodiversity conservation practices, including grazing animals and hunting wild squirrel, rabbit and deer to keep populations down (to allow diversity of fauna growth -because we don’t have lynx and wolves any more). I’m not commenting on whether Maddy Harland is right or wrong here as a whole, but if you are a hardcore vegan you need to be aware of these sophisticated arguments for eating omnivorously. For success in activism you must ‘know your enemy’ inside out.

2) Vegetarianism is Good For the Economy Too

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/12/vegetarianism-is-good-for-the-economy-too/

This article is a must for hardcore vegans looking to convince hardcore economists / capitalists, from the very respectable and progressive (within the limits of capitalism) World Economic Forum. Ultimately we need to dismantle capitalism, but meanwhile this article could win you some battles. As well as the sustainability and economics of veganism and vegetarianism this article includes neat sections on animal welfare and human nutrition. This from the section on sustainability:

According to the World Health Organization, every year over 20 million people will die as a result of malnutrition, and approximately one billion people suffer from chronic hunger. Most of the food that is currently fed to animals could instead be used to directly feed the world’s hungry. What we often fail to realize is that the crops required to sustain livestock are fuel for a project that creates food to supplement the creation of more food. Instead of supplying the grains yielded from the crops to human beings in desperate need of it and those affected by the world food crisis, those crops are fed to livestock, exacerbating the pace of the current climate change crisis.

3) This Vegan Brand Just Proved That Plant-Based Burgers Are More Sustainable Than Those Made Of Beef

https://www.forbes.com/sites/katrinafox/2018/09/26/this-vegan-brand-just-proved-that-plant-based-burgers-are-more-sustainable-than-those-made-of-beef/#7e47b273475a

This may seem like a relatively trivial matter in the global picture of sustainable food production, climate breakdown, animal welfare and nutrition. However we need more mainstream sites printing mainstream articles like this. America and Australia are two of the world’s highest per capita carbon dioxide emitters. As we know, the global industrialised meat industry is a high emitter of greenhouse gases, even compared to plant-based industrial agriculture (although plant-based is still pretty terrible). America and Australia are also two nations where burgers are a large part of the national diet, so this article is useful ammunition for vegan activists. From the article:

Beyond Burger generates 90% fewer greenhouse gas emissions, requires 46% less non-renewable energy, has more than 99% less impact on water scarcity and 93% less impact on land use than a quarter pound of US beef. To give you an idea of the real-life impact, according to a spokesperson for Beyond Meat: “On average, Americans eat three burgers a week. If they switched just one of these beef burgers to a Beyond Burger for a year, it would be like taking 12 million cars off the road and saving enough energy to power 2.3 million homes.”

4) Environmental impact of omnivorous, ovo-lacto-vegetarian and vegan diet

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-06466-8

This is an important scientific report, taking into account cultural considerations as well as inter-individual variability in diet. For any vegan activist looking for a nuanced hard science support of veganism from a sustainability perspective. The abstract in full:

Food and beverage consumption has a great impact on the environment, although there is a lack of information concerning the whole diet. The environmental impact of 153 Italian adults (51 omnivores, 51 ovo-lacto-vegetarians, 51 vegans) and the inter-individual variability within dietary groups were assessed in a real-life context. Food intake was monitored with a 7-d dietary record to calculate nutritional values and environmental impacts (carbon, water, and ecological footprints). The Italian Mediterranean Index was used to evaluate the nutritional quality of each diet. The omnivorous choice generated worse carbon, water and ecological footprints than other diets. No differences were found for the environmental impacts of ovo-lacto-vegetarians and vegans, which also had diets more adherent to the Mediterranean pattern. A high inter-individual variability was observed through principal component analysis, showing that some vegetarians and vegans have higher environmental impacts than those of some omnivores. Thus, regardless of the environmental benefits of plant-based diets, there is a need for thinking in terms of individual dietary habits. To our knowledge, this is the first time environmental impacts of three dietary regimens are evaluated using individual recorded dietary intakes rather than hypothetical diet or diets averaged over a population.

5) Vegan Dogs: How Does it Work, and Are They Healthy?

https://www.rover.com/blog/is-a-vegan-diet-right-for-your-dog/

Okay this one is ever-so-slightly off-topic, but bear with me. Your meat-eating friends might try to label you a hypocrite if you keep dogs that eat meat, even just in terms of the global environmental impact and biodiversity loss implicated in dog-food production. However your dog may be able to go vegan. This article is a great introduction to the subject of veganism in dogs, including links to four popular vegan dog food companies. Here’s an extract:

In an interview with CNN, Dr. Fox says that some adult dogs do adapt and even thrive on well-balanced vegan diets, but most do best with a variety of foods that include some animals fats and protein. Still, Fox notes, “Dogs could benefit from a vegan meal at least once a week to detox.”

Okay! I hope the above was useful to you in some way.

Before I go, I want share a dance music mix that has really been helping me work recently. It’s nothing new, but it’s nice: Sima Deep, ‘Make Me Flow’.

If you want to put in a pre-order for the Well Gathered workbook (27 copies left) or if you want to contact me for any other reason, email me (Matthew) at epictomorrows@gmail.com

Otherwise, feel free to like, comment, share or slam!

Here’s this post on Facebook in case you want to share from there (although that’s probably where you came from) Click on the small ‘f’ icon below.

Be heroic!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 most irritating attitudes amongst my vegan activist friends (?You Gather? #12)

?You Gather? Vegan and Climate Activism (for Heroines and Heroes) #12

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

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

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

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

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

less_meat_less_emissions

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

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

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

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

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

squid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SeppHolzer

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

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

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

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

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

buzzard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

blue whale

 

Please like, comment, share or slam!

?You Gather? Vegan and Climate Activism (for 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.

IMG_20190102_175227

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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genderwild mystic; diary #8 / The Golden Bookcase

I have a golden bookcase of books. Not literally. I mean the books themselves are golden, and if they were stored in an actual golden bookcase, the case would barely be noticed, for the wisdom shining from the books within it.

This golden bookcase is on my desk, in my office. It is only fifteen or so books wide at the moment, but these are precious books, favourite books, those books that I know if studied from all possible angles, in all possible combinations, would reveal all we need to know about creating heaven on Earth.

There is a surplus of wisdom in this world. There is wisdom everywhere you look, if you look correctly. Oh, the tiresomeness of ‘revelations’ that folk proclaim and write about and sell millions of copies on the back of! And here I am with my own tiresome revelation! Everything we need to know is here already, in the wealth of experience we have already had, and already read.

Two days until January -Veganuary- begins. What role do I have in this senseless celebration of the neoliberal capitalist turning of the yearly wheel? I have nothing to celebrate except my wonderful presence on this wonderful plane, and in this delight of biodiversity on Earth! Everything else is bullshit and dust…

But there is one thing. Again and again and again, I am lonely. I seek my brethren. I am a lonely bull elephant, wondering in what remains of my forest home. I don’t seek other bulls. I seek to be welcomed by the matriarchy, the herd of females. Even as I practise sexual restraint, I would like a little polyromance, a little polyintimacy -for these do not explicitly need sex to flower. A hug, a smile, a nice date out somewhere in this crumbling empire that surrounds us; some lovely and interesting female company to muse on the decline of capitalist civilisation with, and a signal that I am at least a little understood.

For now I am held together –well gathered– by my practises of restraint and renunciation -a vegan diet and sleeping on the hard floor (which is strangely comforting)- as well as the golden bookcase.

The first lines of one golden book read like this:

‘A way that can be walked is not The Way                                                                                      A name that can be named is not The Name’ 

?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.

Activist Diary #4: Out on a limb

A few days ago I returned from a short trip to the wild west of Cornwall, where I had given two talks on Extinction Rebellion, the activist campaign run by Rising Up! of which I am a member.

Talking first at Penzance, and then at Porthtowan, I was really out on a limb, geographically and psychologically. I had never given the talk alone, and had only once before delivered it (with a co-activist).

It turned out that the whole two-day experience was productive but intensely draining, including a fair degree of psychological exposure and vulnerability, and some criticism absorbed because I wasn’t robust or clear in my thinking enough to rebut it. Criticism that would not have been forthcoming, I feel, if I had been better prepared.

Knowing something of the workings of my mind and the human unconscious in general, even as I was going through the whole experience I understood that I had engineered the situation to be a difficult one for myself, as a toughening experience on the extreme western edge of the UK to prepare me for the campaign ahead.

Even before the first talk which I gave in The Lugger Inn in Penzance, I walked right to the far edge of the beach, away from the shops, and literally ran across the boulders piled up there. Slipping could mean a serious injury or worse, but at the time it was imperative to maintain the highly strung mind-state that I had cultivated for that first talk.

Sat on the far edge of the boulders, I delighted in the company of juvenile gulls and cormorants, and practised the talk a little, reading to a brick wall.

Thankfully the audience at The Lugger turned out to be much more engaging than the wall, but they had a toughness to them; perhaps it was their Cornishness. I knew my talk was successful when a few people walked out during the early minutes of the second half of the talk. They hadn’t disagreed with the science of catastrophic climate breakdown, but when I started talking about the necessary solution of direct action to force governments to enter war-time level mobilisation, to reduce carbon emissions to zero within just a few years, in heated frustration they claimed ‘it can’t be done!’

I was glad to get the sign-ups for the campaign at the end of the talk.

The second night didn’t go so well. I was over-tired, and didn’t manage to give the audience much eye contact. I think this led to a lack of trust, which contributed to the break down of the talk before the end, with interruptions turning into a discussion at the wrong moment i.e. before I had a chance to fully explain myself. I got no sign-ups this second night, but at least we were all in agreement that ‘something needs to be done, and soon’. (I can still maximise the Facebook interest that this event generated).

Getting a lift back to Redruth from the venue with the owner of the Vegan Cornish Pasty Company and her partner, was the highlight.

The Cornish experience overall reminded me that Extinction Rebellion and the science and principles behind it, occupy the extreme edge of intellectual thought in this country, even though our contention is that they should occupy the mainstream of intellectual thought, such is the climate breakdown emergency that we are currently facing.

I was also reminded of the human need or drive to express underlying emotions and preoccupations in unconscious behaviours, which can become more conscious if we let them. Personally, I am becoming increasingly aware of a momentum inside me that wishes to act out the extreme, the wild edge of thought and emotion and behaviour. This need to act out the extreme is a reflection of the generally unexpressed urgency of climate breakdown that I see in the denial of the eyes of the people that surround me.