Back in July this year, I went to my first Landworker's Alliance Skills Fair. A group of around 1,000 like-minded people got together on a farm in Cirencester to discuss agriculture and forestry, learn new skills, share good food, and dance to good music. Over the course of the weekend, I did some stone carving, turned a dibber for the garden, spun wool, made a print, and joined in conversations with people of all ages about the state of the planet and what we could do about it. It was a great experience - very wholesome, very informative and pretty inspiring. So why am I writing about it now? With the news turning back to the cost of living crisis, a 'mini budget' on the way later this week, and the prospect of some 'turbo charging' to the UK economy, I've been reflecting how at odds all that is with what we talked about in Cirencester and how far it is from those early days of the Covid lockdowns, when communities were supporting each other to make the very best of the very worst of times. And now, rather than protecting and sustaining ourselves and the planet, we seem to be marching headlong into destruction. I, for one, don't want to. So I thought it would be useful to revist some of the thoughts I had in lockdown about how we can stay hopeful.
My first suggestion is to start talking! Now, your usual business blog posts tend to stay away from politics, but I think we have a responsibility to speak up and speak out when we don't agree with what's being done in our names. With an unelected head of state (yes, I'm going there!), an effectively unelected prime minister, and a decision to leave the EU that was opposed by over 60% of the people I live nearest to (Scotland), I'm struggling to see the UK as a functioning democracy. So it's more important than ever that we remind those in power of who we are, and what we stand for. And this means to talk about politics and political decisions much more openly than we might do currently. I'm suggesting we talk to our workmates, our neighbours, the people we volunteer with, and those we meet in the shops about what we think and how these decisions are affecting us. So, I'm having conversations about the inequality of our country, where banker's bonuses are more important than addressing child poverty, and where people choosing to queue for hours on end are treated to food and blankets whilst those living on the streets have been ignored and forgotten for years. If I can make just one person stop and think in a bit more detail about the issues, or question the focus on growth rather then degrowth, then I'll count that as a success.
The next thing on my list is to get organised. Now, activism on the streets isn't for all of us, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't put ouselves in the best position we can. Trade Unions are just one example, providing a structure that many of us can use when conditions and pay don't meet our needs. The huge hike in fuel costs we'll be facing this winter - even with the government support - has led to groups such as Don't Pay and Enough is Enough calling on people to join them to hold the government, corporations and the fuel companies to account. Organisation can be on a local level, with groups of neighbours or friends getting together to set up a food sharing hub, to campaign for local facilities such as electric car charging points, or to buy a new community asset. Whatever organising looks like to you, do it! Join in, make a stand and show those in power that we can't be walked over, yet again.
I like to keep my lists short and manageable, so my final idea is to get going and do something that will make a change. Remember, as an individual, you don't have to save the world and you're not going to stop corruption or climate change on your own. But your choices really do make a difference. Here are Lucidity HQ (or home!), we buy in bulk from a local food cooperative, so not only are we supporting a healthy work model, we're also getting ethical products delivered to us on a regular basis. We've been using renewable energy for years, and are looking at ways to save more, not least with our new sustainable office which we're building off-grid to be powered only by solar energy. We're growing more of our own vegetables, on land that wasn't being used for anything near to where we live, and we have a few hens that provide us with fresh eggs. Beyond that, I've decided not to fly for work or for leisure, and am now taking the train whenever I can. There's loads more I could be doing, but I'm taking it one step at a time, not least to make sure that the changes I do make are likely to stick in the long term. My dreams of riding my bike to the office in the winter are yet to be tested! If you're struggling for ideas, this TED talk might help.
In short, I think we need to be more open, offer (and accept) more help and stand up for ourselves and each other. As Emma Goldman once said, 'To the daring belongs the future'. Let's be daring in our resistance - and we might just have a future.