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.
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