Radical collaboration & how it might just save our planet

I’m a big fan of podcasts - I feel like in an age of ever-decreasing attention spans and a desire to turn everything into bite-size pieces of content, the podcast feels like a long and much needed deep breath. It slows things down and enables a deeper dive into conversations that need more than a 30 second overview.

I have about about ten podcasts that I plug into regularly. Each one ticks some kind of box for me - whether it’s a go-to when I need to be inspired, a pep talk or a way of staying in the loop with everything that’s happening in the world of sustainability, creativity & ocean (my favourite combo).

Today I had a bunch of meetings to go to so I figured I’d use my driving time productively and listen to the latest episode of The Spaceship Earth. It’s a phenomenal podcast by Dan Burgess - creative strategist, co-designer, nature connector & all round epic human being. I was lucky enough to work with Dan last year on an awesome event in SF called Ocean Hack, and he’s been a fellow Wavemaker at our events in Portugal - so listening to his podcast always feels like such a joy.

His interview today was with Will Skeaping, former creative strategist in the ad industry, who quit his job six months ago to work full time with Extinction Rebellion. He’s one of the four co-editors of This is not a drill - The XR Handbook.

It’s at this point where you make an assumption that I’m all-in on Extinction Rebellion. Where you imagine that I’ve loved every bit of activism & impact they’ve been a part of. But that’s where you’d be wrong. Because if I’m really honest, my views on XR have been kinda negative. I’ve watched as so many of my peers wholeheartedly support the cause and I’ve purposely held back.

Why ? Because I’ve not been totally sold on it. In fact there’s been moments in the last few months where I’ve felt pretty anti the whole movement. It’s important to note that my interaction with XR has predominantly been on a local level. I live on a small island and so I’ve been watching the movement grow here. Perhaps I would have felt differently had I been in London or another major city, but right here, right now, I’ve kinda struggled with it.

Which is all the more reason why this episode intrigued me. It’s the first time that Dan has done an interview about something I thought I might disagree with.

My experience of XR has looked like this - A whole heap of blaming & shaming. An overly aggressive undertone in all comms. A ‘we-hate-the-government’ vibe that quite often has come from an ill-informed perspective.

Here’s the thing - I worked for the goverment here in their Environment Department a few years back, and thanks to Plastic Free Jersey & Protect Blue, I continue to work closely with the team there and know just how much work is going into their climate emergency agenda. I know how committed those individuals are and how much is going on behind the scenes.

But for so many folk there seems to be a perception that everyone who has anything to do with the government has a sneaky agenda and that their intentions aren’t good.

My response to that view ? Please remember that these people (those who work within the environmental sector) have dedicated their entire careers to taking care of this planet. Just think about that for a minute.

Of course, our government can do better. All governments can. And of course, there will be decisions we disagree with. But surely we need to find ways to work together and move away from this ‘us vs them’ mindset ?!

So yeah, you can see why this podcast was an interesting one for me. I was expecting to hear someone riled up & pissed off. Someone who sounded like they were rallying the troops and getting ready to fight.

But what I actually heard was an articulate, super smart & compassionate guy. I found myself resonating with everything he said.

Extinction Rebellion isn’t about telling people exactly what to do to change their behaviour. We’re not saying ‘Hey Extinction Rebellion says no more flying ! No more meat ! What we are saying is that we want citizen assemblies to decide what we are prepared to do as humans, as citizens - and giving that power back to the people.

And that, my friends, is just one of the many reasons I love podcasts so much. We get to delve into a subject and really understand it. Questions are asked and there’s time to explore the answers. I’ve come to the conclusion that actually, the version of XR I’ve been seeing is somewhat skewed. And that’s ok. Everyone has a right to be heard and to express themselves in the way they want. And equally, everyone has a right to agree or disagree with those views.

I think my major takeaway is this - Regardless of my thoughts about XR, the important thing here is that we work together to solve these issues. Right now I’m being reminded of Lord of the Flies, and other such stories, where - faced with adversity, instead of dealing with the problem at hand, everyone starts to turn on each other.

We waste our time & energy hating/blaming/shaming each other and arguing about who’s right rather than recognising that without radical collaboration we’ll never come close to changing course in time.

So if you’re curious to learn more, then I urge you to listen to the podcast. It was a reminder to me that there is always more to learn, and always another side to the story.

Perhaps the most important thing we can do, is to understand that if we’re looking to create a better future, we’re going to need a multitude of solutions and approaches. And these solutions will naturally come from people who have different life experiences & different areas of expertise than our own.

And actually, that’s a pretty awesome & exciting thing.