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This letter from Julie Hutchinson. Ed
I have to start my letter with a story about something that happened Yesterday. I was walking into town and my two sons were telling me that I was getting boring to them, because all I talk about is the environment and Extinction Rebellion.
For the last six months I’ve been very active. I’ve stood outside County Hall for a week with a banner around my neck, I’ve helped give out leaflets, I’ve helped organise events, made and distributed posters, been to a lot of meetings. I’ve made an enormous amount of new friends, my life has changed dramatically. We have some wonderful specialists here on the Island , we are truly a lucky community.
How many know what’s going on?
Anyway, I’m walking into town and I said to my sons “nobody here is aware of what’s going on”.
My eldest son said, “You don’t know that, you’re just telling us that”. So I said “Right, come on, let’s go and ask those people at the bus stop”.
My sons were embarrassed that I was going to approach complete strangers. So I asked a lady with three young daughters, “Excuse me, do you know anything about Extinction Rebellion and what’s going on in London?” and she replied “No”.
Next question “Do you know anything about the climate emergency we are all in right now?”, “No, I don’t have a television licence” .
So I said it’s in the news, that she should have a look. She kept nodding and looking down, she found it difficult to hold eye contact and clearly wanted me to go so she could look at her phone.
And the same again
Next couple, in their early 60s , I ask the same questions to. Again, they didn’t know – they looked bewildered for my asking them, and said they were only waiting for their bus. Again, I said “look at the news”.
And so it went on, five different couples, families – none knew, all were indifferent – I was a stranger to them, they didn’t know.
Climate emergency worries me
From the time I started to get really active six months ago, I have been greeted with this and worse. Some have been hostile towards me giving them a leaflet and wanting to just talk to them. I’ve seen parents grab their children’s hand and drag them past me, only to have the child look back as if to say that they’ve heard about it, and they’re interested. I don’t think I look like a threat: I’m a mum of two.
Climate emergency worries me. It is the elephant in the room of all conversations. Yet this conversation affects each and every one of us, and the natural world.
I wrote a message to 20 friends asking them why they didn’t take part in the Extinction Rebellion protest back in in March. I got six replies (one artist friend went out of his way and asked people he works with, because he was interested in why people don’t go).
Even though I approached that message as a friend and asked for brutally honest answers, assuring my friends that I wouldn’t be judgemental about their response in any way possible, only wanting to know the truth. I asked them; Did they know? Were they climate aware? Does it interest them? What’s their opinion? Do they think protest works?
Silence from 14 friends . I’m not upset about that, because I know when I see them, it’ll be OK. But that silence told me something, it rang an alarm bell in my mind. These are friends I can engage in any conversation with and feel at ease, not chit-chat about Strictly celebrity whatever.
People need to know what’s going on
I feel people everywhere need to know what’s going on, but it’s a hard truth to face. Just like there’s a hard truth in discovering someone is very ill.
In this instance, our planet is very, very ill. When your friend or loved one is ill, you want to help, you feel concerned.
So I’m asking your readers to get talking to each other, talk to your neighbours, talk to people you think might not know.
Communication is vital
The reason I’m asking people to talk, is that not everyone reads the news. When you’re on social media, your message only goes out to those who share interests. So the only guaranteed way to communicate is talking.
It’s a really hard thing to start doing, especially about something that is so grave in nature. Start talking in communities on how to cut down your carbon, share ideas.
Nurture the land properly
Learn about no dig gardening , permaculture and regenerative agriculture as ways to get carbon out of the atmosphere and back in the soil. We’re a garden island.
We look at green fields and think they are healthy whereas really, many of them aren’t. Our land could act as a carbon sink if it was nurtured properly.
You can get involved
We’ve got endangered marine life and biodiversity that needs protection. There’s a lot to get involved in.
The good thing is, you get involved, you make new friends, and we’re all good people. And you do something really worthwhile.
Island Extinction Rebellion protest march
The next Extinction Rebellion protest march is on 4th May and I urge everyone to come along to Newport St Thomas Square at 12.30pm.
A massive show in people is what is needed to get message across to Government how serious we are about wanting a future.
We’re not going to get the knowledge out there until communities get together and talk about this, whether that’s your work community, school, friends, neighbours.
Watch the documentary tonight
There’s an urgent documentary on BBC1 tonight (Thursday) about climate emergency that is hosted by David Attenborough. It’s a pointer in the right direction.
There’s no guarantee this is going to work, but it’s either we pull together and try our hardest at this, or we don’t and many of us die.
That’s the truth.
Let’s act on this and build communities.
Image: © BBC