Episode #39 Communities of Earth Protection: embracing the law with Jozette Khimba
Jozette Khimba has been a lifelong activist, but it was her connection with activist Barrister, Polly Higgins that took her to Stroud and the Stop Ecocide campaign.
With Polly’s death in 2019, Jozette became part of the Earth Protector Communities movement, striving (in her case) to bring the concept of Earth Protection as a moral and legal construct into schools, colleges and universities across the world.
As increasing numbers of young people are joining the movement for change, Jozette explains what each of us can do to bring action to our local communities.
Above: Jozette Khimba
Below: Polly Higgins
Manda: [00:02:08.59] Welcome to the Accidental Goods podcast. How is it with you? You’re in Stroud, I think.
Jozette: [00:02:14.62] Yes, that’s right. Stroud Gloucestershire, Home of Extinction Rebellion.I’m very fortunate in that there’s a lake near here here where you can go wild swimming. So that’s a bit of a practice. I tend to get there just before 7:00 in the morning.
Manda: [00:02:37.81] So we are in the the second week now of Extinction Rebellion Action as we record. By the time this goes out, the action will probably be over, although XR always say they’re rebelling for ‘at least’ the stated amount of time. And I remember in October last year there was a theory that we were going to go on until the government changed its mind. But then I think we realised, first of all, people’s stamina was running out, and second, the government wasn’t going to change its mind. And now they have an 80 seat majority. I guess that’s even less likely. But we want to talk today about Stop Ecocide and Earth Protection and all of the things that lead to that. And one of the reasons that XR is in London, Cardiff and Manchester as we speak, is to try and get the government to support the Climate and Ecological Emergency bill. And I know that when you started, you were quite closely allied to Polly Higgins, who was a pioneer in the area of using the law to bring climate awareness and particularly the concept of ecocide into legal parlance. Can you tell us a bit about that and about your history with Polly?
Jozette: [00:03:54.73] Yes, with pleasure. I first found out about Polly in 2010, and it made total sense to me. The idea of a global law after spending so long looking at the state of the world and thinking’How can we how can we heal this?’ And coming across Polly was a bit like an epiphany. And Polly herself, when I actually got got to meet her, was a very warm and charismatic individual. And I think quite extraordinary in that she was very pragmatic, but also very heart-centred and would certainly embrace spiritual aspects, which she she wouldn’t take into more conventional areas, but those of us that were close to her knew that she was holistic in her approach actually to her work.
Manda: [00:05:09.79] Brilliant. And she was what we would call now an activist lawyer, I think, which seems suddenly to have become a dirty word in government circles. But for the rest of us, feels like a really good idea. Can you tell us a little bit about what she did and her aims?
Jozette: [00:05:25.84] Polly got a first for her law degree and and was a very successful barrister with a very lucrative career in corporate law. And famously on defending a client, she looked through the window of the courtroom and and decided, well, ‘Who’s defending the Earth? The Earth needs a good lawyer.’ And she walked away from that career and dedicated 15 years of her life from that point on, she gave herself a year to research how she would use the law to protect the Earth and and never look back. And actually, she and her husband sold their house in London to support her work. And what Polly discovered in her research was that the idea of Ecocide wasn’t a new concept. It was first named and brought to collective attention in Sweden by in nineteen seventy two by the prime minister, Olof Palme. And then in nineteen ninety six, when the Rome Statute was drafted, an international law against Ecocide was meant to be on that document, but it was blocked by four countries.And this is what Polly discovered.
Manda: [00:07:11.29] Do we know what four countries that were? I’m guessing America, the United States, France and Russia, the nuclear countries?
Jozette: [00:07:19.15] It was America, this country, France and the Netherlands.
But that obviously gave Polly a lot to work with. And she she built a team around her, but then decided actually Stroud was the place she needed to be and that’s where she met Jojo Mehta. And they were sort of like sisters, souls, if you like. They had an immediate connection.
Manda: [00:07:55.60] You better tell us a bit about who Jojo is.
Jozette: [00:07:58.03] Yes. So Jojo met her, had been born and brought up in Stroud, but she was an activist in her own right and had done a lot, actually, to close down and raise support to close down a local incinerator. But also that had done a lot of work to stop fracking in the Forest of Dean and and elsewhere. So she was very used to public speaking and had also got a first from Oxford. She’s a linguist.
Manda: [00:08:38.59] Ok, what role did she play in moving the Earth Protection concept forward?
Jozette: [00:08:44.83] Well, they worked together and Jojo basically provided a lot of support and a sounding board for Polly also. Jojo is is very tech capable. So that that was helpful as well. And together they launched what is now the Stop Ecocide Foundation, and that was launched in twenty seventeen.
Manda: [00:09:12.31] So around the time that XR was beginning – it started in 2018?
Jozette: [00:09:19.09] Yes, that’s right. November 2018. But actually Gail was very friendly with, with Polly and Polly was wholly supportive of her mission to create mass civil disobedience. And she didn’t laugh at Gail’s idea which was what had often happened, Gail found. And to test case Polly and Jojo’s new trust fund document, I and Gail and a couple of other ladies who were based in Stroud went up to Lancashire and Preston New Road and got arrested. And we were one of the first ones to run as the defence, as conscientious Protectors, which is to say we had acted on the point of conscience. And we had a legal document to show that.
Manda: [00:10:26.59] And this was against fracking up a Preston New Road?. And did the defence work?
Jozette: [00:10:32.02] It didn’t work. We we were fined. But what it did enable us to do was to speak from the heart in the courtroom and to support our words with the fact that actually we were legal trustees of Earth, which is what happens when you sign up to become an Earth Protector. You then get a document which shows that you are a legal trustee of Earth.
Manda: [00:11:03.19] And is this beginning now to have traction? Because I know that a lot of us had signed up who were sitting in the streets last October, I’m guessing the same this year with XR. But I was never arrested, so it was never I never tested it in court. Has it begun to gain any traction in the UK?
Jozette: [00:11:21.64] I think it’s opened up a lot more conversations. And I think like the conscientious objectors of the First World War who who weren’t recognised initially and were were criminalised. But at the time of the Second World War, twenty years on, that was recognised. And so they were given, you know, roles as ambulance drivers and this kind of thing. So I think with this, it’s a case of numbers and actually the more people use this and the more people sign up, the more it becomes a a recognized status.
Manda: [00:12:12.13] I remember reading an article or a blog, possibly by a judge who had been presiding over XR prosecutions, saying that they kept taking them off because they were becoming too sympathetic. And what they were realizing was that the XR people were were genuine, decent people doing their best, exactly as you say, to be advocates for the Earth and were not the the crazy anarchist hippies that the Telegraph and the Mail were telling them. Which is kind of interesting, that that is what judges invariably read and believe. That’s quite a scary concept. But the fact that they had to keep switching them out and therefore this defense was made again and again, then more and more judges presumably would become aware of it. ANd if we have a legal system at all, by the time this government is finished breaking international law with impunity, it seems that has to be a step in the right direction, do you think?
Jozette: [00:13:08.98] Yeah, absolutely. And it only takes one judge really to to recognize that, ‘Yes I can’t I can’t really argue with you. That seems very reasonable.’ And then that sets the precedent, doesn’t it?
Manda: [00:13:27.09] Polly Higgins’ husband was a judge, was he not?
Jozette: [00:13:30.96] Yes, he is actually. He’s the county judge of Gloucestershire. And I know he he was he was very proud of the legal work that Polly did, particularly on on the Earth Protectors Trust Fund document, because it was legally tight and and it could be recognized in nearly every country across the world as as a recognized legal document with that validity. If you don’t mind I’d love to read the words of the document because I think they’re worth hearing. And I always find them really moving, especially the fact that the word love is enshrined in the legal document. So when you become an Earth Protector, you become a trustee of this document.
Becoming a trustee of this document is to become an Earth Protector and Trustee of the Earth. It is a declaration of love and acknowledgement that the Earth, the ecosystems of Earth and inhabitants of Earth, whether human or otherwise, have the right to peaceful enjoyment. It is a declaration of belief that this peaceful enjoyment is both a moral and legal right, and that any human act or omission which severely diminishes such peaceful enjoyment is a crime. Becoming a Trustee of the Earth is to become a Protector of the Law, which is in alignment with a universally recognized moral code of respect, peace and a duty of care for all life. It is the direct expression of intent to create peace between all beings.
I think that’s well worth signing your name against.
Manda: [00:15:32.90] Yes. And if people listening want to do that, can you tell us where they go to become universally recognized Earth Protectors?
Jozette: [00:15:42.47] Yeah, if you just go to the Stop Ecocide website, I think that will make it very clear how you sign.
Manda: [00:15:50.60] Ok, and I will put a link to that in the show notes.
Jozette: [00:15:53.11] Thank you. Yes. And the beauty of it is it’s a one off payment. So you’re not tied into monthly or unless you want to be, of course, which I know they’re very open to that. But but to become a legal trustee of Earth and Earth protector it’s under £5
And then you get a document that you can print out and carry with you. And if you happen to be sitting on a street somewhere and the police happen to pick you up, then you have that with you. And I understand from those who were arrested that the police at the police stations were taking it seriously as a legal document, which is also a very good start.
Manda: [00:16:34.74] So you became involved with Stop Ecocide and Polly, and we need to say at this stage that we’re talking about Polly in the past tense because she died in April 2019, which felt like a huge loss to the world of the same caliber as the loss of David Graeber last week, which was such a shock and such a loss to the intellectual capacity of those of us who believe in a different world. And Polly Higgin’s death was not quite so unexpected. I think. And she had planned for it and she had set things up so that the whole Stop Ecocide movement could carry on after she had gone, but it still felt like a huge gap in the firmament of of those of us who care. So you knew her and you were involved with Stop Ecocide and then you moved on more into Earth Protection Communities as a specific entity. Can you tell us about your involvement with top aside and then how you moved on from it?
Jozette: [00:17:39.03] When I found out about police work, I began a campaign that ended up being called Rolls to Rio, and this was using wallpaper lining to create community letters. So we’d stand on the street and get people to sign and write comments about how they they thought global earth law and international law against Ecocide was really important and really necessary. And in the end, I think there were around 12 of those rolls. They were very beautiful, and they were handed to David Cameron at some point, but they didn’t quite make the splash that we hoped for. So there were lots of other ways that I found to support and promote Polly’s work through events. Before the Paris COP in 2016, I did a lot of letter writing, even to the venerated David Attenborough himself. Who did return a handwritten response to me. He wasn’t quite ready to give his support to Polly’s campaign at that point. I think that’s being worked on now,
We’re getting a lot of notables on board. I don’t know if you’re aware that Paul McCartney has become an Earth Protector and a supporter of Stop Ecocide. And and earlier this week, Valerie Cabernés, who’s leading the French arm of Stop Ecocide, was speaking to the Pope in the Vatican. So it’s really moving. And that’s happened in the last year. I mean, you said that Polly had prepared for her death. That’s only something that we knew in retrospect. It was deeply shocking, her quick demise and very unexpected by so many people who were touched by Polly. But the thing is, she had got things to a certain state whereby Jojo could step into heading the campaign. And even Jojo herself will say if Polly had died, even six weeks earlier, things wouldn’t have quite been in place to support what’s happened since. So that was a very uncanny thing, really.
Manda: [00:20:36.87] So what we find in a lot of these things is that however difficult things are, we are still being given help. That things do link up, even while the forces of opposition seem also to be having things to link up. And I’m also thinking that last week in London, there were a huge number of really quite well-known people speaking in the XR Writers Group. There was Mark Rylance and Al Kennedy and some really very well-known writing names. Have they all signed up to Stop Ecocide as well? Do you know?
Jozette: [00:21:14.00] I don’t know that, but I would think that Jojo’s working on that.
Manda: [00:21:20.55] Good. OK, so let’s carry on and talk about the spin offs, the other directions that people have gone.
Jozette: [00:21:29.93] So when Polly died after the funeral and of the community taking in Anita, who was really girl Friday to Polly and Jojo, she she’s she’s a lady. I know she won’t mind me saying who’s who’s in her early 70s, but she’d done a lot of things herself, environmental work with Transition down in Chichester. But she heard Polly and then she came to see Polly and basically moved to Stroud because of Polly and offered herself in service to Polly.
She basically was chief cook and bottle washer and anything that that was required in a wonderful way that somebody who offers that gift of service will be. Anita organized an event for anybody who is interested in in continuing Polly\s work through a different means on the ground rather than the the advocacy and diplomatic work that Jojo was necessarily going to be involved in now, having taken on the torch that Polly passed to her.
From that, we developed a small team who thought the Earth Protector communities needed to be something that happened at community level. So the Stop Ecocide Foundation works at the legal diplomatic level. It doesn’t leave a lot for on-the-ground activism once you sign up as an Earth Protector. And this was the gap that we looked at and wanted to develop.
We’re still in the pilot project of that. But we have approached schools, health organisations, businesses, community groups. We’ve worked with the town council. And basically the ask is that we act as if that law was in place. So we look at all of our practices and see how we can reduce the harm until we’re living in a zero harm place.
[00:23:57.38] My particular piece of that, because I’ve been involved in education as an English teacher in the past and as a supply teacher on the periphery of education – my arm of that has been been to look at how we can encourage local schools to make significant changes.
Manda: [00:24:33.35] And what are they doing specifically?
Jozette: [00:24:35.30] When I first began and when we first had our meetings so you could choose which area to work in. I’m very interested in health as well. So I could have gone there, but I thought there were quite a few people in the health, so I’d do education. I was quite cynical, knowing how the education system is, how the state school system operates, and the inordinate amount of pressure that is put that teachers and young people are put under. So I wasn’t sure how this might be going to happen. But we received a lot of good advice from a local education organisation that has already been working in the field of encouraging environmental care. And she pointed out a number of things that we needed to get clear.
Manda: [00:25:37.61] Can you tell us what kind of things? Because I’m thinking that people listening all around the world would find these really useful, if they want to go out into their own communities and begin to do this.
Jozette: [00:25:47.31] We developed a framework. It’s very simple because you have to begin at the beginning. We’ve got a leaflet on ‘How to become an Earth Protector school
Manda: [00:26:05.28] And can we download that from your site? Yes. And just before we go on, tell us what your site is and then I’ll put that up onto the show notes as well.
Jozette: [00:26:13.38] It’s Earth Protector communities, dot net.
Manda: [00:26:17.64] Brilliant. We can download quite a lot of resources from there. For for people who might be inspired by the podcast and want to set out in their own communities and do it.
Jozette: [00:26:29.16] That’s what we’d really love people to do with the understanding that we are still working it out yourselves. We’re still in the pilot project.
Manda: [00:26:41.55] And is there room for other people? If people were inspired and wanted to contact you and help with the pilot project, is that also open or have you got enough people on the ground?
Jozette: [00:26:52.16] No, absolutely. We’re very open to that kind of interest.
Manda: [00:26:57.42] So we have Eerth Protector Communities and Earth Protector Schools and we can download the leaflet from from the website. And what else?
Jozette: [00:27:08.52] As afar as I’m concerned, in the Earth Protector schools, what has to be prioritised is mental and emotional wellbeing and frequent opportunities for time and immersion in nature. One thing that we ask, which is a bottom-up way of supporting Stop Ecocide is that Earth Protector Schools publicly endorse the campaign to get an international law against ecocide.
Manda: [00:27:42.52] And how are you finding much pushback from the parents? Because I’m imagining the young people that I know would be wholly supportive of this. But we live in quite a rural area with people who still think the conservative government is a wonderful thing, doing a really good job, I imagine, if their children came home with this it would have the same kind of trigger impact that Extinction Rebellion seems to be having on certain parts of the community. So are you finding that that schools are doing this and then the parents are marching with pitchforks?
Jozette: [00:28:12.87] No, not at all. And with regard to schools doing this, that’s inevitably a slow process because it’s we’re talking about the State Education System
Manda: [00:28:25.23] We could also talk about schools that were not in the state. There are there are schools that stand outside of the state education system that could presumably do it without state pressure?
Jozette: [00:28:36.72] I’ll tell you where we’ve got up to with. So last year I was I was doing a lot of stand’s talking about Stop Ecocide and also the idea of Earth Protector Communities.
I did that at Womad and various other places, as well as in Stroud. Significantly, in Stroud. I met a parent who’s actually part of XR families and he said their schools are doing an Earth Week and would I be open to come in and speaking during that week? And of course I said yes. And so that happened in October of last year. And the head teacher of that school is primary school bus, which was open to a conversation about this.
And basically they are stepping in to become our first Earth Protect school. We were in the process of of working out what that meant with them most delightedly.We talked about becoming Earth Earth protectors and how individuals sign up. What the Head decided was that all the staff and all the children could sign up individually, which was something beyond imagining. I’d never conceived a school would agree to that. But he felt what we’re about fitted within the school’s values. And they’ve got on the governing parent governing bodies a lot of green activists. So that feels amazing to me.
We’ve also had conversations and meetings with three local secondary schools who are interested, and there are two private schools around.One that Steiner based school, who are very keen to step into becoming an Earth Protectors School.
Manda: [00:30:54.69] I would think the whole Stiner movement would want to do that. So all of the schools in the country are indeed around the world could do this. And the Montessori schools. All of the all of the ones that are based on this kind of ethos. And then also I’m thinking colleges and universities, we don’t have to limit ourselves to early education. We could go into further education as well.
Jozette: [00:31:17.34] I have in front of me also a leaflet on how to become an Earth Protector university. We are working on that. And we’ve had meetings over summer with some interested university students. And so that’s that’s, again, an ongoing dialogue. And I went and spoke at the Wimbledon College of Art last year, and they’re very interested in becoming an Earth Protector University in their organization, publicly endorsing the international law against ecocide.
Manda: [00:32:02.13] And I can imagine, even if we could get the activists in some of the Cambridge colleges that you could be on Earth Protector College. And I think SOAS and the LSE and others of the really forward thinking activist universities. This could be a really fast moving concept once it begins to seed out. And that’s only one arm, because you’re also you said that you could have moved towards health. And then there’s governance. Are there any town councils that are looking to become earth protect her town councils?
Jozette: [00:32:37.33] Yes. They’re open and interested in in stepping into that. So again, that’s part of this ongoing conversation.
Manda: [00:32:49.39] And what about the C40 cities? Because the they have recently come together. I think there’s there’s now actually 76 C40 cities. But in the beginning, obviously, there were 40 of them. And they are run by activist mayors who have an agenda for what they call a green and just recovery from Covid, and I would have thought that bringing the Earth Protector concept on board with that would be something that they would be interested in. Has anybody contacted them, do you know?
Jozette: [00:33:24.68] So all these things are really in part of what we want to do. I must point out that we’re quite a small team. And so it down to actually at the moment, not having enough human capacity to follow those threads that you’re speaking about.
I’m focused on the school part of it. And just to finish that, I don’t know if you’ve heard of the Educational Resource Group Thought Box.
Manda: [00:34:06.47] Yes I think it’s run by a lady in Totnes? Who I used to know quite well. So I do. But our listeners don’t. So please expand on that.
Jozette: [00:34:21.98] Rachel Musson founded Thought Box as as a way of of bringing in the kind of education that she feels will support and empower young people a lot more than what happens now, which is basically shoving facts and information into children. And so Rachel’s approach is a lot more about the personal inquiry of of the young person. And also, she’s very concerned to hold the well-being of those young people through through the lesson material.
So we’re partnered with Rachel. And over the summer, I’ve helped her with the development of a new scheme of work around equality and justice. But what’s amazing for me is that it will include the work of Stop Ecocide. So that gives state schools everywhere a free downloadable resource that can slot into the citizenship and PSHE curriculum so that young people can be informed about what’s happening now. And obviously it will cover issues around sexism and racism, but also the latest research on tree communications as aside, the World Wide Web.
Manda: [00:36:10.43] Yes, the underground mycelial networks.
Jozette: [00:36:12.56] Yes, exactly. And also interspecies communication and animal communication. And also wellbeing. So the latest Heart Math Institute research, which which clearly shows how important it is for us to take care of our own emotional wellbeing because we affect the collective field.
So it feels it feels great to be a part of that. And I have written an article which which I sent out to a lot of educational journals and magazines and the Primary Times of so far published it. I hope others will.
Manda: [00:36:59.09] And is that something that we could put on on our website? Do you think is it is it available in blog format, or would you rather it is something that you would rather the publications had first use of?
Jozette: [00:37:13.65] I can send you a copy of the article, it’s quite short and it will have the links below it as well for the Thought Box.
Manda: [00:37:25.32] We’ll put that into the show notes as well. Or we might create a separate blog for it, but one way or another, it’ll be on the site. Thank you. This feels really exciting and the potential for moving far beyond the UK with our particular strange and limiting education system. But there are innovative schools all around the world who presumably would be really interested in this. If people listening to the podcast were interested, they could become Earth Protection Community Coordinators in their own countries. Does that work?
Jozette: [00:37:58.32] Absolutely, yes. And there is movement around that in Portugal, in Germany and other places. Like for a lot of organizations,so much has kind of gone gone into the ether for now. And we’re in the business of regrouping. What has come out of this Covid for us, though, as well has has been Earth Protector Communities’ Youth Voices online. So we’ve got a small team of young people to sixth formers and university students who are putting on events. And we have an event coming up next week, which is called Wildlife to the Rescue. And it features Maya Rose Craig, who’s a 17 year old activist who got awarded an honorary degree by Bristol University for the work that she’s already doing and stepping into with regard to ethnic minority communities and recognising how less access they have to nature. And therefore, she’s done lots to change that. She ran a campaign ‘Black to Nature’. She speaks about vulnerable ethnic communities.
Manda: [00:37:58.32] And people who would have had huge connections in their countries of origin. And then they end up in the UK in inner cities. I have some Quaker friends who organised something once a year where they brought communities out from Birmingham and just let them sit by the river near Bishop’s Castle because they hadn’t seen a river since they left and and obviously the children hadn’t seen one at all.
And I have another friend who teaches kids kind of wild camping and bushcraft and gets them lighting their own fires. And she said this little boy who under normal circumstances has ADHD and everybody considers him really difficult. And once he had lit his fire, which took him a long time with the flint and iron, he sat with it for 90 minutes unmoving. And he went and sat beside and said, ‘Are you OK?’ He said, ‘I’ve never seen a fire before’. What are we doing to our children in terms of cutting them off from the origins of who we are is heartbreaking. And yet clearly there are people really working hard to rebuild those connections. And that sounds amazing. And if Bristol is prepared to give her an honorary degree, then Bristol sounds to me like a place that would want to be on Earth Protector university. So that sounds good.
Jozette: [00:41:01.73] Again, it’s a work in progress that one.
Manda: [00:41:06.29] And so a lot of this is happening online, I’m guessing now because of covid. And it looks to me like we’re going into another spike and we’ll be back in the kind of Zoom burn out before long. But are you able to create the networks online that you were formerly creating on the ground?
Jozette: [00:41:24.50] It’s to be hoped so. Now schools are going back, I think the way forward is finding key individuals like the head teacher at our local schoo, and the parent who connected me. It’s people like that who help to move the conversation forward and make it a practical realised result rather than just something that you’re talking about.
Manda: [00:41:59.87] Because that has to be the important thing, that we actually make an impact and also that we make an impact beyond the people who already get this. That’s the ripple effect to the people who don’t know that this is a possibility that seems to make a huge difference.
Just taking a step back do you know what day the Wildlife to the Rescue is happening? Because we go live on 16th September
Jozette: [00:42:21.38] It is on the 16th of September.
Manda: [00:42:28.85] Ok, guys. So if you’re listening on Monday, I will have put a link in the show notes by the time you see this. So head off and find it because that sounds really exciting.
Jozette: [00:42:39.14] Yeah. The other organization that way is being interviewed on on that day on the 16th is Nature is a Human Right. And that’s been founded by a young woman, Ellen Miles, and it’s basically just highlighting what we’ve just been speaking about how many people just don’t have access to nature and the growing body of scientific evidence that shows how beneficial it is for people to have nature connection on all levels of our being. Not really a surprise to me at all, but it’s good that the science is is developing to back that up.
Manda: [00:43:32.58] Because those of us who do spend time in the more than human world know this at such a deep and profound level. But I guess on the occasions when I go into cities and realize that that some people spend all day, I never touch the Earth. I never hear anything that isn’t cars and loud music and sirens and all of the things that are made by humanity. And they haven’t heard the song of the stars because there’s no option to do that. And it’s terrifying, frankly. But yes, OK, so we will create links to that and presumably to ongoing series of which these are part.
And that would be a we find that on earthprotectorcommunities.net?
Jozette: [00:44:21.71] I’ll send you a link to our Facebook page because it’ll be on there.
Manda: [00:44:27.65] So we’re heading towards the end of our time. Is there anything else that you wanted to tell us about or that you wanted to encourage people listening to do so that they can get involved with whatever free time and energy they have to spare?
Jozette: [00:44:43.22] The aim of Youth Voices Online is to encourage to just that. It’s to encourage the small steps that we can take and recognize that those small steps actually do make a difference, even though it feels in the face of there’s so much that needs doing it so easy to get overwhelmed and think, ‘Nothing I do is going to make a difference.’.
But there’s lots of cases to show and highlight how actually even doing a small thing as a regular practice makes a huge difference. So that’s what Youth Voices is sort of aiming to encourage people to do. And to feel that by speaking out in your community, by endorsing the international law against ecocide and signing up to become an Earth Protector, this is how we collectively take charge of this situation.
And I know you’ll be aware of the social change bell curve. So you begin with the pioneers and then you get the early adopters and then the early majority. I’m feeling like there’s a lot of movement in the early majority. And if that early majority could only support the Stop Ecocide campaign, the world will change and we will see a surprising momentum in that shift once earth damage is criminalized.
That’s the bottom line that I want people to be aware of. We have to draw a line in the sand and we have to come to a point of zero tolerance and use the mechanisms we’ve got, like the law to support what we all want to see, which is, in Charles Eisenstein words, that more beautiful world that our hearts know is possible.
Manda: [00:47:05.15] Yes, that is beautiful. Thank you. I am wondering, as we finish, would you read for us again the language of the Earth Protector pledge that people would be signing up to and organizations could be signing up to? Because I think it’s such a core and profound thing that it gives people a framework within which to work. Because I know locally we often go to our local political units and say ‘We want you to declare climate an ecological emergency.’ And then they say, ‘Well, what does that mean?’ And then we have to convene groups to help them work out what it means. But actually, if we were able to go, ‘It means you sign up to this and this is the bottom line of every decision that you make.’ Then it gives us a ready made framework. Could you read that out again?
Jozette: [00:47:52.04] With pleasure. ‘Becoming a trustee of this document, a trustee of Earth is to become an Earth Protector and Trustee of the Earth. It is a declaration of love and acknowledgement that the Earth, the ecosystems of Earth and inhabitants of Earth, whether human or otherwise, have the right to peaceful enjoyment. It is a declaration of belief that this peaceful enjoyment is both a moral and legal right, and that any human act or omission which severely diminishes such peaceful enjoyment is a crime. Becoming a Trustee of the Earth is to become a Protector of a law which is in alignment with a universally recognized moral code of respect, peace and a duty of care for all life. It is a direct expression of intent to create peace between all beings.
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