Rock, Water, Tree. (For Our Children, And Their Earth.)

“People gonna rise like water, and turn this system round. In the voice of my great grand-daughter, climate justice now”

From the phoenix-like flames of Notre Dame, to the sound of hundreds of people joining in a traditional Scottish mourning song on the streets of London, and from hearing Greta Thunberg address the crowds at Marble Arch, to the death of Polly Higgins yesterday, the week has been overwhelmingly full of hope and grief, in equal measure.

I have watched from afar, feeling pride in my fellow humans who are standing up for my children and yours, for the rights of all life on earth and yes, for Earth herself. Feeling connection with the fire of the divine feminine rising as Notre Dame ablaze lit the night sky over Paris. Feeling sorrow for the loss of a woman whose legacy must surely be new powers that protect the planet. Feeling frustration that I can’t put my two feet and my heart and my voice to work in the rebellion taking place in London. Feeling awe and inspiration and hope listening to the young woman who has brought the fight for climate justice to the hearts and minds of school age children the world over. Feeling the hypocrite, that I still am not doing enough. Feeling fear for my children and theirs, and shame that I have been complicit in leaving them a planet destroyed by consumerism and greed. So much to feel. So much to despair and grieve over.

But the peaceful march on capitalism, on ecocide, on economics, and on the governments who can, if they choose, make positive change happen, is on the move, is growing, and is gaining support daily from people of all walks of life. I imagine, in the moments when I feel hope that these actions will produce long lasting positive results, a future where history records these brave Earth Protectors, these courageous Rebels, these inspiring leaders, in the same way as we look back now at human rights activists, civil rights activists, suffrage activists. Of all the emotions that are turning through me, hope is what I’m clinging on to like a life raft.

When hope is all you have, you have to make it count. Caroline Lucas, writing in today’s Guardian about Greta Thunberg’s UK visit said

“There is hope in a generation of people who are demanding from their leaders not just what seems politically possible but what is scientifically necessary to prevent total climate breakdown. That generation builds on longstanding struggles, particularly from environmental defenders who have risked – and given – their lives defending their land, water and rights against the power of fossil fuel firms who have stopped at nothing in their pursuit of the bottom line.”

We can grieve all that is lost, all that will be lost, but have hope that our collective actions will be enough to turn the system, the destruction, the loss around. The Earth that our great grandchildren will inherit deserves to be cared for, nurtured and protected. And only hope, and a whole lot of action, will get us to that point. We are literally holding the planet and it’s future in the palm of our hands.

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Photo credit Victoria Clare Photography

The feeling that for me has been running up a close second to hope, has been outright frustration. Mostly at not being able to be part of the rebellion, but also at the desire so many people have to discredit the movement. I’ve been combating my frustration at not being a physical part of the rebellion by watching the live streams on social media, and sending supportive messages to those who are there, standing for me and my children. Indeed, while the mainstream media has largely ignored the last week of rebellion, social media has been key in keeping up to date with what’s been happening. At those who seek to challenge the Rebels because they probably flew once or twice in their lives, maybe the drove a car to the protest, or eat meat, or wear leather, or drink water out of single use plastic, or litter (or none of the above) I’ve been practicing deep breathing and sending out peaceful intention to them. And grumbling a fair bit too. It’s hard to remain peaceful when people are spreading lies, but important to put the extra effort into not getting drawn into their drama.

In terms of our personal actions at home, the children and I have started a plan to fill our garden with trees – growing them in pots until we have somewhere to plant them. We already have a Rowan, an eleven year old Horse Chestnut, a Corkscrew Hazel, a Birch, and a Sycamore. I’d like to have some more native species, and some fruiting trees too. I will share our progress as we grow more trees, and perhaps we might inspire you to grow some trees in pots in your garden too?

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Online we are changing our search engine too – Ecosia uses their ad revenue to plant trees. That must be a good thing, right? I’ll let you know how we get on – perhaps you already use it? Leave a comment below if you do.

There’s a hopefulness about trees that has always soothed me. A flexibility. As the roots are anchored into earth, so the branches, reaching skyward, must flex against the strength of the winds. Bend but not break. There is a determination with trees to grow whatever the circumstance. I remember a derelict house, not far from where I live now, that had a tree growing right through the middle of it. I have seen Rowan trees growing literally out of the side of mountains. When I was a teenager, my dad brought home four birch saplings from work. Work that day had been fixing someone’s gutters. The trees had been growing in the gutter – tiny wee saplings from seeds brought no doubt by a bird. Rather than throw them out, dad brought them home, and put them in pots in the garden. When I moved into my own home, one of the trees came with me, and now grows at the bottom of my garden, surrounded by winter flowering jasmine, clematis and ivy. It’s in the shadow of a huge sycamore, and ought not really to have had much chance of surviving, but it does, growing and reaching into the lighter spaces, despite it’s larger and more imposing neighbor.

When I think of all the people standing for our planet, from the oldest to the youngest, I see a forest of strongly rooted trees, all moving as one, flexing against the prevailing wind, supporting each other, full of determination and strength as fierce and hard as the bedrock beneath, so that not even the rising waters will drown out all the courageous spirits within. A legacy full of hope for all the great grandchildren to come.

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My blog and everything in it will always be free to inspire and support people to live with less plastic, live more sustainably, live with less, and work to reduce the impact of climate change. It does, however, incur running costs. If you are able to contribute to these costs you are welcome to leave a tip in my tip jar here. If you are able to support me monthly, and would like some beautiful handmade creations in exchange, check out my new Patreon site. If, however, in these financially challenging times, you’re not able to do either of these things, please know that sharing the link to this post on your social media platforms is more than enough. Stay well. Thanks and love, Kate. 

 

Taking The Streets to Save the World

The planet we spend our days walking on, living and breathing on, caring for our children on, is currently, right now, in the throes of a 6th mass extinction. The last mass extinction was 66 million years ago, and saw the end of the age of the dinosaurs, with 75% of all plant and animal species wiped out. This one may see the end of human dominance on planet earth. Some might argue that given the damage we’ve done, that may be no bad thing. One thing’s fairly certain – it won’t be an asteroid that’s to blame – it will be us.

Sounds pretty scary, right? If you’ve been following the science (and you should) you’ll know that we don’t have much time to make a difference. 11 years and counting. And while ditching single use plastic and mending our clothes can have an impact, until our global governments take a stand against coal, start planting more trees instead of chopping them down, and look at changes to legislation that will force big business to put planet and people ahead of profit, there will be no change, and we will sail headlong into climate disaster, ecological collapse, and planetary destruction.

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In October 2018, a group of dedicated planet protectors declared themselves in Rebellion against the UK and other worldwide governments. Tomorrow, they will take their non-violent, civil disobedience to the streets with three demands for Government, namely that they:

1) tell the truth about climate breakdown,

2) act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.

and

3) create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

Supported by Greta Thunberg, Emma Thompson, George Monbiot, Caroline Lucas and thousands of others, the group seek the immediate social and economic changes that are needed to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees centigrade as highlighted by the latest IPCC report.

“Conventional approaches of voting, lobbying, petitions and protest have failed because powerful political and economic interests prevent change. Our strategy is therefore one of non-violent, disruptive civil disobedience – a rebellion”

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You can find information on how to get involved at the Extinction Rebellion website, or via their social media. If  you are planning to be in London, head down to see our friends from No Serial Number Magazine at Waterloo Bridge, for some craft and creativity – don’t forget to bring a plant with you! If you can’t get to London, there are other ways to offer your support, check out the website or social media for more details.

The time is now, because time is running out. Fast.

My blog and everything in it will always be free to inspire and support people to live with less plastic, live more sustainably, live with less, and work to reduce the impact of climate change. It does, however, incur running costs. If you are able to contribute to these costs you are welcome to leave a tip in my tip jar here. If not, please consider sharing this post on your social media platforms. Thanks and love, Kate.

Telling Old Stories, and Painting New Beginnings.

Today I have been painting again. I had been feeling that perhaps I might not ever want to paint again, or at least, might not ever find joy in it again. A daunting prospect, given it’s such a huge part of who I am. I was afraid that it was another lost piece, gone forever.

My first memory of painting is as clear as though it happened yesterday. I was three, and it was my first morning at a local church playschool. I recall crying like I’d never done before as my mother bumped my younger sister up the wooden church hall steps in a blue silver cross pram.

But then there was a large wooden easel, with huge sheets of paper, bigger than I’d ever seen.  Pots of thick poster paint – still now it brings the memory back instantly whenever I smell it. And brushes. One for each colour, wooden handles sticking out from brightness, waiting. For me. I remember the feeling of being lost in the sweep and flow of colour over the surface of the paper.

Painting has been enmeshed in the very fabric of my being ever since. It has been my joy, and a deep, constant meditation. When my brother died, I skipped lessons for nigh on 3 weeks, spending my time instead painting scenery for a school production. Loosing myself and my grief in the movement of colour. The sweep of the brush. Finding solace in solitude. When my father died, in the summer of my first year at Uni, I channeled my grief into my work. My degree show three years later was a summing up and letting go of so much of my tangled relationship with the man whose genes connect me to the Highland landscape that appears now so often in my work. When I finally un-boxed the loss of my oldest friend, somehow more than all the words I had written about him, it was painting that brought me through the emotional turmoil to a place of peace. Love and loss are tied into the fabric of my creative life, and I had not imagined that would ever change.

After my separation from my children’s father last year, I found it such a challenge to even think about picking up a paintbrush and creating a picture. It was as though the switch inside me had been turned off and I couldn’t work out how to turn it back on again. It has been a joy to rediscover that part of myself, when I was feeling that perhaps I might never paint again. I have always considered that the most precious gifts I have ever given have been paintings, and perhaps now recognizing that painting and the quiet meditation it brings is my gift to myself too. A way of untangling whatever muddled fibers of my life need straightening out and working through. Maybe even more so than writing, I see now that my art was in paint, long before it was in words, or in fabric. I was a painter before any of  these other things, and it feels good to be able to express myself so once more. Like I am home again.

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My blog and everything in it will always be free to inspire and support people to live with less plastic, live more sustainably, live with less, and work to reduce the impact of climate change. It does, however, incur running costs. If you are able to contribute to these costs you are welcome to leave a tip in my tip jar here. If you are able to support me monthly, and would like some beautiful handmade creations in exchange, check out my new Patreon site. If, however, in these financially challenging times, you’re not able to do either of these things, please know that sharing the link to this post on your social media platforms is more than enough. Stay well. Thanks and love, Kate.