Well, here we all are. In the climate crisis we were all hoping to avoid. It’s time to muster your community, and get to work. Where do we start? With inspiring precedents, and with community resources for radical hope.
The fires are raging from end to end in Australia this year, and it’s not even ‘fire season’ for months to come. Everyone I know is worried about the Summer that is on its way, and what may come with it.
This fire season is one of the most immediate dangers to many of our communities, in Australia. This particular danger is big and fiery and red – it is immediately tangible, and we can immediately respond. We can prepare our homes and properties, we can watch and act, and we can support first-responders and evacuees.
Oh – and we can vote to elect representatives who will take solid and swift action on climate change rather than denying its existence, or it’s links to the current bushfires, and who will also fund our emergency services properly.
But then there’s also the long-term strategies for how we all mitigate and adapt to this climate crisis together, as communities. And how exactly do we do that?
Some of the work to do is home-level, everyday habitual change. Some of the work to do is community-level, citizen initiated-and-led change. Some of the work to do is top-down system change.
As permaculture teachers, right now we’re fielding a lot of questions from folks who are desperate to do the most important thing to respond to the climate crisis – but are confused as to what that thing is.
No-one wants to be called a hypocrite, when all they want to do is help. No-one wants to look back on their last twelve months and realise they were working on the wrong thing, or at the wrong level, at a time when every day matters.
Unfortunately, some of the binary signals and arguments that we are all receiving – as this ‘what should we do’ climate conversation gathers steam – can fracture momentum, good intentions and even, in some cases, the will to act…
- If you stay at home and grow food, you’re ignoring the real fight – you should be out on the streets.
- If you take to the streets on a climate march while using your mobile phone (made with/of fossil fuels), you’re a hypocrite. Also, you flew in a plane last summer (BUSTED!) so now you’re a wanker as well.
- If you start a community initiative, you’re pretending it will change your government, but obviously it won’t because look at our current government and how much attention it pays to our communities.
- If you don’t make your own yogurt from scratch, you’re a wasteful capitalist dedicated to upholding the Patriarchy.
- If you DO make your own yogurt from scratch, you’re just re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic while virtue signalling (especially if you tell anyone). Also, add in the industrial milk you used, and you’re basically Satan.
- If you make cashew yogurt, you are also Satan (see above, but substitute industrial Amazon-clearing cashews for the milk bit).
These are all snippets of actual discussions I have had in the last 6 months.
And I am here to tell you this: do not get binary on yourself, when it comes to responding to our Climate Crisis. Do not let others get binary on you, either. Do not define your efforts, or your ability to make and participate in change, by your imperfections.
Focus on what you CAN do, and get the hell on with doing those things.
Because we need everyone to do everything that they can. Big and small. Top level and grass-roots. Sometimes and always. Everyday and once-off. On Tuesdays and on Thursdays.
Everything we do matters, now.
Just like it always did – except now, many of us can see that more clearly.
And so – when thinking about, and responding to the climate crisis as both individuals and communities, we need to replace our ‘OR’s with ‘AND’s.
In our minds, in our families, in our communities. In our individual responses, and in our collective ones, too.
Your response might look like: recycle AND stand up for indigenous rights AND have a ‘climate conversation’ dinner party. Change your lightbulbs AND lobby your local member of parliament to take action on climate. Divest from big banks who support fossil fuel companies AND take your keep cup. Vote for change AND start a garden AND support your local food bank AND join a climate strike AND make your own yogurt.
Simply put, do whatever you can. And don’t beat yourself up for what you cannot do, right now. No-one can do everything! But we can all – each and every one of us – do something.
The more we all do, the more we will all get better at doing… more and more things. Especially if we focus on what we CAN do, and then add an ‘and’ to that… rather than letting ourselves, or anyone else, negate our precious momentum.
We can all work on the solutions we need – at a home level AND a community level AND at a national level – each in our own way.
So – starting next week, we’re going to bring you a bunch of fantastic resources and good ideas to take action on our climate crisis at every level. We’ll be looking at:
- Community level: Examples of fabulously effective, community climate-response initiatives – things that are already happening – for you to plan and learn from.
- Household level: a swag of new habits and skills you can start on immediately, that effectively respond to climate change and will make a real difference, at your place.
- National level: where are the most effective places to point the time and energy you have for this? We talk to the experts about effective strategies, to make your time and input count.
- International Level: is any kind of international response, or individual response to international solutions, even an actual thing, when it comes to the climate crisis? Simply put, yes. And there’s a lot you can do.
Join our newsletter if you want to get updates when the resources above go live.
And please comment below with any suggestions for action or initiatives that you are involved in or have heard of – we’d love to hear about them.
Because the more options we all have, the more diverse and resilient our collective response can be.
In the meantime, here’s some reading, to get you started:
- Radical Hope – as a reasonable response to the climate crisis
- The need for new stories and solutions (in addition to demanding change) from Naomi Klein
- From What Is to What If – Rob Hopkins’ new work and direction (author of The Transition Handbook)
- The Circular Classroom – a free toolkit for activating the circular economy through experiential learning
- Turning towards each other – and in the process, calling these problems in, not out.
Until next week! x
Yes, yes and yes! Too much time wasted on these arguments about relative merits of binary solutions. Do both! Do them imperfectly. Feel good that you tried. Thank you Kirsten!
I love the Climate Victory Gardens movement, with its sound historical precedent of galvanising folk to secure food locally during the World Wars, especially II. Also Fearless Climate Leaders are a great new group, full of ideas for action.
Thanks for writing on this topic.if in Melbourne, parts of victoria and Qld, Climate for change organisation helps people have climate conversations in own homes or work place, also includes discussions about what actions are meaningful. https://www.climateforchange.org.au/
I also facilitate a group meet up to discuss aspects related to our wellness and resilience.
Current event: http://www.facebook.com/events/979987732
S.O.S. Sustainability of Self as part of the Whole:
Lost Species Day Website: http://www.lostspeciesday.org/?page_id=14
The Blue Mountains has the 25 year old Food Coop, Toolo tool library and the dynamic Lyttleon Stores, all providing hubs for new thinking and actions.
Yes, love all of them! 🙂
And Farm It Forward 💚
that’s a whole blogpost in itself Manu 🙂 x
I wish there were more libraries of things (tools etc) in Tasmania 🙂
I really appreciate what Australia remade are trying to achieve, worth checking out if you haven’t come across them yet. https://www.australiaremade.org/
I think a Hobart tool library might not be far off (fingers crossed) – thanks for the remade link 🙂
Millie Rooney is Australia reMade contact in Hobart. But she’s offline for a few days
I love that you wrote about this. I’ve heard the conversation about hypocritical actions so many times recently. But I truly believe every little helps and better many people do a bit than a few do a lot. I think sharing land, sharing resources and tools (still gets me that everyone owns a lawnmower and uses it day a month, could be shared by 30 people with little effort) sharing food, sharing knowledge. All the things that make sense and happen to fill the heart at the same time and should have been common practice. Not only we can help… Read more »
yes! Exactly 🙂
Makesoil.org is a fantastic initiative where anyone can be involved in making compost by either being a soil supporter or soil maker. A local map shows where a maker is located and supporters can drop their kitchen scraps, leaves etc off to be turned into lovely compost. A win for all participants and a huge win for the environment!
Thanks Maree! Will add 🙂
I love this thank you 🙏 I’m hosting a screening of 2040 with some fried. and having a few speakers on sustainability. So nervous as I’ve it’s really out of our comfort zone but this film focuses on what we can do and I am hoping it inspires others like it inspired us! Australian Parents for Climate Change has been an amazing and helpful group too.
Awesome news on the screening, it’s going to be great 🙂 – that film always gets such a good reaction, from the screenings I’ve seen! And it’s a starting point to talk about SO many things. I’m sure it will be a grand success!
So much love for this. Also, we do not need to unmoore ourselves from the world in order to fix it. Every person in the history of humanity whom we admire for doing something great did it from a position within the broken system they were trying to make better. The abolitionists worked in the midst of a society that saw slavery as not only permissible but necessary and just. The suffragettes protested from a position of privilege as women of wealth and property. The unionists used the jobs they already had as leverage when trying to enshrine fair rights… Read more »
yes! Absolutely 🙂
Thank you for this excellent post Kirsten. Another AND thing we can all do is to support and spread the word about Carbon8: https://www.carbon8.org.au/ – helping farmers to transition to regenerative agriculture.
Thank you so much for the clarity and insight here. I stood up for election to our local Coucil as a Green. We achieved a renewable energy policy with targets and funding for solar energy on big buildings. I’d rather be in my garden than at Council meetings, and I know I will return to my garden soon. Thank you Milkwood, Retrosuburbia and al the great community initiatives referenced in comments. Together we are Radical Hope!
Thanks for all your hard work – yep, I think we’d all rather be in our gardens (I know I certainly would) but there is a lot to do… onward!
3 years ago I stepped out of my garden and meditation priority practice and into our local Council. It has been very challenging, however our community now has a renewable energy policy with a budget to implement itand solar panels on our largest building, Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre. We bought 3 electric vehicles, our Mayor drives one. We are not in a progressive community, we just tried hard and got lucky. Leaders who come to office with the background of permaculture, non-violent communication, meditation and valuing of indigeous culture can make a difference. Mostly, I want to thank Milkwood, Retrosuburbia and… Read more »
I’ve been living a frugal lifestyle for years, in a conscious way, and felt overwhelmed last year by the writing on the wall and the lack of big picture momentum (or so it seemed). I started to get depressed and felt hopeless. That obviously needed to change. So I started searching around for things to buoy me up and change the narrative inside (important step to action taking and adding the and, in my world). I found evidence of the regenerative – incredible regenerative – power of earth and our involvement in that. I found that some species thought extinct… Read more »
Great! Hope you find some folks to brainstorm with 🙂
Great article, relieving and empowering! Thank you so much, Kirsten!
you’re welcome! 🙂
for my possible future read “The Third Industrial Revolution” – Jeremy Rifkin
there are plenty of clues on what ideas and concepts to support
a collective outcome is the only way forward
take control and do leave it to the politics
Wonderful! Brilliant! Bravo! Pretty sure you’re already across all of the various things we’re doing but will include a short checklist in a case any of it is useful to others: * The zone zero stuff; it’s where the best opportunities are for reducing waste and saving energy * Teaching permaculture in the alternative economy by exchanging learning for help on our property: Permashare * Redesigning the produce swap model to make it a produce share where people give without expectation of return: share abundance * Using facebook as a powerful tool for building real community locally: the problem is… Read more »
yes yes yes!
Yes, yes, yes…. you would make a great prime minister KB, but please don’t.
I love this! Binary arguments are so energy sapping. My son and another community memeber and I recently established a new Repair Cafe in Hobart (the first one in Tassie) we have a facebook page if you would like to see 🙂
Yes please! 🙂
Hi, Your project is a great idea. Have you seen this link about a similar, but place-based project? I sent this link (https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/oct/31/us-city-preparing-itself-for-the-collapse-of-capitalism?) to our eight progressive Byron Shire Councillors, the 9th is a National, of which 4, including our Mayor, are Green Party members. Only one of the four non-Greens Councillors replied. While three of the Greens gave one or 2 word replies with words like “Interesting”. I thought it might inspire them even to the point of twinning with Kingston, New York State. But no. No wonder we rarely get their visitors from overseas that we used to… Read more »
Hey Guys I thought to share The Growing Trend Future Fruits Program where we are installing Recycled wine barrels and planting fruit trees with Schools.
It’s a great way to teach about food production and pollination at the same time.
Oh my goodness, I am so sorry people actually spoke to you like that. For all the incredible work we all try and do, there is always a detractor and a negative view. It is certainly hard to keep positive, but every little bit helps, every conversation we have and little seed we save or grow. I think you guys are amazing and I have learned such a lot from you. Thanks so much for changing the world.
Thanks for the inspired post. I have just read an instagram post about picking single bananas in the supermarkets as these tend to be left. What a great idea. I use the ‘brown’ ones to make a banana loaf then add the skins to water to make a potassium rich plant food then add the ‘old’ skins to the compost bin. Likewise with lemons, I use the peel in cooking, then the juice, then add the ‘old’ lemons to a jar of white vinegar to make a cleaning liquid with bicarbonate of soda, finally I add the ‘old lemons’ to… Read more »
So great – thanks Ken. And good tip on the bananas!