Can we turn the 2020s into ‘The Regenerative Decade’? In this series of interviews about what that would imply, we talk ecology, deep adaptation, grief, compassion and passion, connecting with nature, resilience, revitalisation, restoration, revolution… – the bigger picture, in other words. Guest in our 17th episode is Gilbert Rochecouste.
New ideas are coming out of The Tunnel. What seemed impossible to us for years, it turns out we knew how to do it and could do it in just a few days: put everything on pause and start to think differently.
Enter Gilbert Rochecouste, founder and managing director of Village Well, and what you could call a professional agent of change. Because Gilbert has worked with over 1,000 cities, towns, main streets, universities, property developers, government organisations and communities over the past 25 years, helping them to think differently and craft new approaches to how to create vibrant, resilient and loved places for people.
“He blends commerce, culture, community and ecology to create magnetic destinations that are socially, culturally and commercially successful,” notes Gilbert Rochecouste’s biography on Linkedin, and that includes two locations in Geelong currently. His ideas and projects has helped Melbourne earn its title as “the most liveable city in the world”, and he is recognised as a leading global voice in Placemaking and City making. He also co-founded the EPOCH Foundation promoting the adoption of business ethics. He has been on the boards of Ross House, Donkey Wheel House Trust and Hub Australia.
“Citizens leading the way”
In The Regenerative Hour no 17 we listen to Gilbert’s recent Zoom-presentation, which the Jeder Institute organised and now has made available on Youtube:
In the time of “The Great Pause”, Gilbert Rochecouste from Village Well delivers an inspirational zoom presentation: “Preparing for a New Story, Recovery and Transition in the Covid19 and Climate Change Era”. From Week 2 of Jeder Institute’s “Days Starting with T” series of zoominars.
Gilbert Rochecouste was recently interviewed by Vivien Langford from Beyond Zero Emissions community radio show, where he talked about pressing the reset button and becoming “an ecosystem of place” with a new narrative of living lightly on the planet:
“Climate action is often stymied by the elephant in the room which is consumption. How can we reset our lives to relocalise and share in the decade when emissions need to plummet? Citizens are leading a new narrative after the drought, the fires and now the pandemic. We are at a tipping point in consciousness. We must not let the big institutions and corporations drag us back to the old paradigm which is destroying the biosphere.”
→ You can listen to the podcast interview on www.3cr.org.au.
Tim Hollo, Executive Director of the Green Institute, wrote a piece recently where he asks:
“What if we treated the abject failure of our systems of government as a liberating opportunity to reinvent them? What if, instead of the end of the world, we decided to make it the end of the world as we know it?”
“We’re at an inflection point in history,” says Tim Hollo: “The current world is over, burnt to cinders on a pyre of its own making. In order to both turn around ecological, economic and social collapse, and generate the resilience we need to survive and thrive in the decades ahead, we urgently need to cultivate from the ashes new, regenerative democratic norms and institutions.”
Charles Darwin said: “It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but those that are the most responsive to change.”
Is that you? Is that us?
Yesterday we had the Australian military and the country’s public broadcaster warning us we must prepare for worse: “Think of coronavirus as a test run”, the Australian military leaders warn – according to the headline on ABC News.
We know the problems, we know what’s coming. So let’s get started doing all those things things that are needed to be done. Stop polluting the planet – as number one. Make it illegal to pollute.
Political strategist – and a former monk – Tom Rivett-Carnac put a great TED-talk up just the other day, where he talks about how we can get the job done – and just like we’ve been talking in The Sustainable Hour about what happened in the train tunnels in London in 1940, Tom adds another dimension to that:
When it comes to big life problems, we often stand at a crossroads: either believe we’re powerless against great change, or we rise to meet the challenge. In an urgent call to action, political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac makes the case for adopting a mindset of “stubborn optimism” to confront climate change — or whatever crisis may come our way — and sustain the action needed to build a regenerative future. As he puts it: “Stubborn optimism can fill our lives with meaning and purpose.”
Transcript of the excerpt we play in the podcast:
“With the climate crisis, we have this huge separation. It used to be that we were separated by time. The impacts of the climate crisis were supposed to be way off in the future. But right now, the future has come to meet us.
Continents are on fire. Cities are going underwater. Countries are going underwater. Hundreds of thousands of people are on the move as a result of climate change. But even if those impacts are no longer separated from us by time, they’re still separated from us in a way that makes it difficult to feel that direct connection. They happen somewhere else to somebody else or to us in a different way than we’re used to experiencing it.
There is a way that we can do this, a powerful combination of a deep and supporting attitude that when combined with consistent action can enable whole societies to take dedicated action in a sustained way towards a shared goal. It’s been used to great effect throughout history. So let me give you a historical story to explain it.
Eighty years ago, London was under attack. In the late 1930s, the people of Britain would do anything to avoid facing the reality that Hitler would stop at nothing to conquer Europe. Fresh with memories from the First World War, they were terrified of Nazi aggression and would do anything to avoid facing that reality. In the end, the reality broke through. Churchill is remembered for many things, and not all of them positive, but what he did in those early days of the war was he changed the story the people of Britain told themselves about what they were doing and what was to come. Where previously there had been trepidation and nervousness and fear, there came a calm resolve, an island alone, a greatest hour, a greatest generation, a country that would fight them on the beaches and in the hills and in the streets, a country that would never surrender.
That change from fear and trepidation to facing the reality, whatever it was and however dark it was, had nothing to do with the likelihood of winning the war. There was no news from the front that battles were going better or even at that point that a powerful new ally had joined the fight and changed the odds in their favor. It was simply a choice. A deep, determined, stubborn form of optimism emerged, not avoiding or denying the darkness that was pressing in but refusing to be cowed by it. That stubborn optimism is powerful. It is not dependent on assuming that the outcome is going to be good or having a form of wishful thinking about the future. However, what it does is it animates action and infuses it with meaning. We know that from that time, despite the risk and despite the challenge, it was a meaningful time full of purpose, and multiple accounts have confirmed that actions that ranged from pilots in the Battle of Britain to the simple act of pulling potatoes from the soil became infused with meaning. They were animated towards a shared purpose and a shared outcome.
We have seen that throughout history. This coupling of a deep and determined stubborn optimism with action, when the optimism leads to a determined action, then they can become self-sustaining: without the stubborn optimism, the action doesn’t sustain itself; without the action, the stubborn optimism is just an attitude. The two together can transform an entire issue and change the world.
We saw this at multiple other times. We saw it when Rosa Parks refused to get up from the bus. We saw it in Gandhi’s long salt marches to the beach. We saw it when the suffragettes said that “Courage calls to courage everywhere.” And we saw it when Kennedy said that within 10 years, he would put a man on the moon. That electrified a generation and focused them on a shared goal against a dark and frightening adversary, even though they didn’t know how they would achieve it. In each of these cases, a realistic and gritty but determined, stubborn optimism was not the result of success. It was the cause of it. (…)
So right now, we are coming through one of the most challenging periods in the lives of most of us. The global pandemic has been frightening, whether personal tragedy has been involved or not. But it has also shaken our belief that we are powerless in the face of great change. In the space of a few weeks, we mobilized to the point where half of humanity took drastic action to protect the most vulnerable. If we’re capable of that, maybe we have not yet tested the limits of what humanity can do when it rises to meet a shared challenge.
We now need to move beyond this narrative of powerlessness, because make no mistake — the climate crisis will be orders of magnitude worse than the pandemic if we do not take the action that we can still take to avert the tragedy that we see coming towards us. We can no longer afford the luxury of feeling powerless. The truth is that future generations will look back at this precise moment with awe as we stand at the crossroads between a regenerative future and one where we have thrown it all away. And the truth is that a lot is going pretty well for us in this transition. Costs for clean energy are coming down. Cities are transforming. Land is being regenerated. People are on the streets calling for change with a verve and tenacity we have not seen for a generation. Genuine success is possible in this transition, and genuine failure is possible, too, which makes this the most exciting time to be alive. We can take a decision right now that we will approach this challenge with a stubborn form of gritty, realistic and determined optimism and do everything within our power to ensure that we shape the path as we come out of this pandemic towards a regenerative future. We can all decide that we will be hopeful beacons for humanity even if there are dark days ahead, and we can decide that we will be responsible, we will reduce our own emissions by at least 50 percent in the next 10 years, and we will take action to engage with governments and corporations to ensure they do what is necessary coming out of the pandemic to rebuild the world that we want them to. Right now, all of these things are possible. (…)
One of the many things I learned as a monk is that a bright mind and a joyful heart is both the path and the goal in life. This stubborn optimism is a form of applied love. It is both the world we want to create and the way in which we can create that world. And it is a choice for all of us. Choosing to face this moment with stubborn optimism can fill our lives with meaning and purpose, and in doing so, we can put a hand on the arc of history and bend it towards the future that we choose.
Yes, living now feels out of control. It feels frightening and scary and new. But let’s not falter at this most crucial of transitions that is coming at us right now. Let’s face it with stubborn and determined optimism.
Yes, seeing the changes in the world right now can be painful. But let’s approach it with love.”
~ Tom Rivett-Carnac
“Our response to this health crisis will shape the climate crisis for decades to come. The efforts to revive economic activity — the stimulus plans, bailouts and back-to-work programs being developed now — will help determine the shape of our economies and our lives for the foreseeable future, and they will have effects on carbon emissions that reverberate across the planet for thousands of years.”
~ Meehan Crist, American author and academic
“It has become clear that our current systems of government are simply incapable of tackling the climate crisis. It’s not that the demands of scientists, school kids, advocates and activists, First Nations people, and countless others haven’t been heard, or just need to get louder. They are being heard, and then deliberately shut down.
In some ways more importantly at this point in history, these systems are spectacularly ill-suited to enabling human survival in the far less hospitable world that they have created. As ecological collapse triggers ever worse extreme weather events and food and water shortages, systems based on adversarialism, individualism, disconnection and dominance will only increase the chaos. They may briefly enable survival for a select few but, as the intersecting crises deepen, extinction would seem the likeliest outcome of the current model.
But then the kookaburra laughs.
What if we treated the abject failure of our systems of government as a liberating opportunity to reinvent them? What if, instead of the end of the world, we decided to make it the end of the world as we know it?
We’re at an inflection point in history. The current world is over, burnt to cinders on a pyre of its own making. In order to both turn around ecological, economic and social collapse, and generate the resilience we need to survive and thrive in the decades ahead, we urgently need to cultivate from the ashes new, regenerative democratic norms and institutions.
And right now, facing the immediate threat of ecological collapse, and finally recognising that we humans are part of and inextricably enmeshed in the natural world, what could be more suitable than basing those new norms and institutions on the principles of ecology?”
~ Tim Hollo, Executive Director of the Green Institute
Tim Hollo runs an online reading group in June, called ‘Revitalising Democracy’. More info further below
The green recovery will not happen unless a whole lot of us begin to connect, organise, speak up and change the narrative in this country. Changing the story impacts on who the Australians will be electing to lead our nation next time we go to the ballot boxes.
The climate emergency is already here, with 70 million people displaced every year, the polar ice melting, the Great Barrier Reef dying and so much more calamities and destruction everywhere we look. There is no time to waste.
→ RenewEconomy – 24 April 2020:
No green new deal for Australia as Coalition tightens embrace of fossil fuels
→ Thomson Reuters Foundation – 28 April 2020:
As a ‘green stimulus’, Pakistan sets virus-idled to work planting trees
“The effort shows how funds to help families during the pandemic could also help prepare for the next big threat: climate change.”
→ Transition United States – 21 April 2020:
From What Is to What If: A Green Stimulus and the Importance Envisioning the “Impossible”
“Though many of our ideas may seem “impossible” now, history shows us again and again that today’s “what ifs” can become tomorrow’s “what is” during a time of crisis – but only if we take them seriously enough and put in the work that’s necessary to bring them to fruition.”
→ Energy Balance – 11 April 2020:
Transition Towns, Re-localisation, COVID-19 and the Fracking Industry
“Thus, although Transition Towns thinking came about primarily through considerations about peak oil, all essential efforts toward re-localisation and community resilience may provide the strongest available single buffer against the many storms that are likely to prevail upon us.”
“A sustained green, resilient recovery from COVID-19 requires significant investments to scale and achieve economy-wide transformation, particularly in developing and emerging markets.
Delivering this sustainable recovery and creating new opportunities for growth will involve accelerating the transition towards a low-carbon, resilient future that is already underway. Since its inception in 2010, the Petersberg Climate Dialogue has provided a forum for high-level political discussions, focusing both on the international climate negotiations and on advancing climate action on the ground. This year, the Petersberg Climate Dialogue will be held virtually for the first time, and will focus on climate ambition in the context of a green, resilient recovery.
Germany, the United Kingdom, and Climate Policy Initiative will also co-host a virtual Petersberg Climate Dialogue side meeting on Wednesday, April 29 13:00-15:00 CEST, “Financing Climate Ambition in the context of COVID-19.” This session will bring together high-level representatives and practitioners from the public and private sector to discuss how, in the run up to COP26, finance can support a green economic recovery and foster ambitious climate action.”
Lord Nicholas Stern, Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and adviser to the UK COP26 Presidency;
Larry Fink, CEO, BlackRock;
Mark Carney, United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance, Prime Minister’s Finance Adviser for COP26, and former Governor, Bank of England;
Barbara Buchner, Global Managing Director of Climate Policy Initiative;
Patrick Dlamini, CEO, Development Bank of Southern Africa;
Frank Elderson, Member of the Governing Board of De Nederlandsche Bank and Chair, NGFS;
Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund;
Yannick Glemarec, Executive Director, Green Climate Fund;
Alzbeta Klein, Director and Global Head of Climate Business, International Finance Corporation;
Rachel Kyte, Dean of The Fletcher School at Tufts University, former special representative of the UN Secretary-General and CEO of SEforALL;
Günther Thallinger, Member of the Board of Management of Allianz SE, Investment Management, ESG and member of Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance; Ministerial representation from Germany and the UK.
→ Read more on www.climatepolicyinitiative.org
→ Sifted – 28 April 2020:
Partech closes $100m seed fund to invest in a post-Covid future
“Coronavirus hasn’t stopped VC firm Partech from doing deals — but it has led to changes in how it makes investment decisions.”
Russell Brand interviews Helena Norberg-Hodge, founder and director of Local Futures
From 3:20 to 8:00 they talk about global and personal “localising” and strengthening the local economy.
Here’s a trailer for the film recommend by Norberg-Hodge, ‘The Biggest Little Farm’:
Australia ReMade is a group which is doing a kind of visioning project across Australia to help us move towards a more constructive future. It aims to be a vision which unites many civil society voices. Good food for thought – and with tools on their website – with a spectacular vision across nine domains:
“We can simplify and clarify, by evaluating ideas according to the values they serve, and whether they address key drivers of transformation. We can collectively refocus on the things that truly matter for the long-term (beyond), demanding and designing systems that support a more sane, joyful and sustainable way of life.”
Having now experienced two back-to-back crises of epic proportions, we Australians will share a dramatically reduced tolerance for bullshit. The old ideological battle lines will continue to seem especially useless in the face of long unemployment queues and industries collapsing. The idea that the ‘free market’ should rule over all will seem entirely laughable in the face of huge bailouts, public works programs and ongoing wage subsidies. The idea that government itself is largely a game that’s about ‘winning’ things for your side and ‘beating’ down the other side will strike us as utterly obscene. And while permanent paradigm shifts aren’t guaranteed, nor is it written that we must rush back to an old ‘normal’ that fundamentally does not serve us.
“The challenge, for nations as for individuals in crisis, is to figure out which parts of their identities are already functioning well and don’t need changing, and which parts are no longer working and do need changing.”
~ Jared Diamond, ‘Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis’
We have already learned some very good things in these turbulent times. Things we can’t unlearn: like when faced with an existential threat, we really will spend any amount of money to protect one another. Like ‘there really is such a thing as a society’. Now our job is to take these lessons into the reconstruction, and discard that which needs changing. We will come out of this pandemic a different country. The question is how different, and who decides.”
“The Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted business as usual in ways that are still unfolding and we are still coming to understand. This disruption opens up different possible futures: in one direction deepening inequality, injustice and climate impacts, in the other the chance to recover from this crisis and build worlds based on social and ecological justice.”
First Nations Resistance & Climate Justice
Karrina Nolan – Readings available 4 May (11 – 17 May)
Disaster Capitalism & How to Build a People’s Response
Alex Kelly – Readings available 18 May (25 – 31 May)
Tim Hollo – Readings available 1 June (8 – 14 June)
A New Economy
Godfrey Moase – Readings available 15 June (22 – 28 June)
Building Relationships & Power for Transformation
Amanda Tattersall – Readings available 29 June (6 – 12 July)
Centring Justice & Care
Roj Amedi – Readings available 13 July (20 – 26 July)
Oliver Goshey has published a new ebook all about homesteading and resilient living titled ‘Homesteading for Every Home’.
You can download it and use it to plan your own homestead and start building a more self-sufficient future for yourself, your family, and your community.
What is homesteading? “Homesteading is a term that can apply to a wide array of lifestyles from dense urban settings to remote wilderness living. The main commonality I’ve found in homestead households is that they are all trying to achieve some level of selfsufficiency,” Goshey explains.
In his guide, Goshey writes about what modern homesteading actually is, how it looks in different living configurations, and how you can start taking your first steps towards a homesteading lifestyle, even if you’re living in a tiny apartment in the city. Learn what it means to work towards self sufficiency. Get ideas for ways to make a living on your homestead and much more.
Oliver Goshey founded the regenerative design and natural building company Abundant Edge after he took his first earthen building contract in the Philippines back in 2014. Since then he has designed and built natural homes, permaculture gardens, and worked on farms for clients on six continents.
“I hope this book will inspire you to find hope and take action, no matter where you live, what resources you’re working with, or what your abilities are. We’re all going to have to work together more than ever in the months and years to come to build the regenerative future that we’ve known is possible. I look forward to working towards this goal with you.”
~ Oliver Goshey, Abundant Edge
”Get complimentary access to the different transformational events and sessions happening around the world, aggregated and updated weekly on Portal 2020 – a universally accessible calendar.”
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With sessions from across the NuMundo network of impact centers and facilitators, virtually connect with 40k+ value-aligned community members through our social platforms.
You can use this form to get your own events, sessions and online activities listed in the Portal 2020 Calendar.
This piece was created as concept artwork for a film based off of the novel The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk. The story is set in 2048, where an ecotopian San Francisco defends itself from invaders using nonviolence and magic.
“The city was a mosaic of jewel-like colors set in green, veined by streams and dotted with gleaming ponds and pools. Seen from above, blocks of old row houses defined streets that no longer existed. Instead, bicycles and electric carts and the occasional horse moved through a labyrinth of narrow walkways that snaked and twined through the green. Above the rooftops, gondolas like gaily painted buckets swung from cables, skimming from hilltop to hilltop, moving between high towers where windspinners turned.”
If you support the COVID-19 recovery principles of justice and care for all, sign and share this open letter #JustRecovery
Australia is getting through this crisis better than most because this time we’ve decided to put people before the economy. It is the same values of courage, cooperation, and care for each other that can lead us to the other side and build back better than before.
Principles we believe must underpin our response:
1. Health is the top priority for all people with no exceptions.
2. Economic relief is provided directly to people and workers, especially those in marginalised communities;
3. Workers and communities first, not bailouts for industry and corporate executives.
4. Resilience for future crises
5. Solidarity and community across borders.
Add your name to put people and planet first
Now is the time to invest in an Australia that puts people and planet first
Australia is getting through this crisis better than most because this time we’ve decided to put people before the economy. It is the same values of courage, cooperation, and care for each other that can lead us to the other side and build back better than before.
→ Read more on www.greenpeace.org.au/justicefirst
Disrupting fear, building hope
“Huge thanks to all for your interest and involvement in building a movement; we are building a democracy that’s fit to purpose.
Our work’s urgency is stark in this time of Corona crisis: A crisis linked to ecological destruction, opportunity for further social collapse and the undermining of democracy.
But also a chance to rebuild our society, from the bottom up.
Here are three things you can do now to connect with our work, add your ideas to ours, as we crowdsource a regenerative future together:
DO: what’s your passion? Let’s organise a decision making and action-oriented assembly. Gather a group, and we can use the CoE tools to grow the movement.
JOIN: an online assembly on tree-planting. We’ve not worked out all the details yet, but write to us to help design this key part of drawdown.
INVESTIGATE: the UK climate assembly. The website tells you about the process, how they’re navigating the Corona Crisis and who the assembly are.
Thank you all. Stay safe, stay connected.
Willow, Sonia, Suse, and the CoE.Lab Members
Are we ready to shift our mindset and choose a different future?
I am. If you are too, let’s meet. And I don’t mean physically, for now, but in The Tunnel – the digital tunnel.
We have a members’ area on climatesafety.info which is growing little by little. Its a space for figuring out how we can act as individuals and as a community in a climate emergency.
The choices we make right now matter. Have a positive think about how you will step in and become part of a regenerative and transformative renewal. It’s all happening in The Tunnel. What we need to do, is get ready for the action, once we come out on the other side.
~ Mik Aidt
“The most important word in today’s world is ‘together’.”
~ Jan Eliasson, UN Deputy Secretary-General
→ See more Regenerative Hours from The Sustainable Hour team