Lovely, empathetic, friendly, caring
The new kind of people, the new kind of economy, the new kind of world, the new kind of life, …
Here are some of my takeaways from spending five days in beautiful Marion Bay, on Tasmania’s East Coast, at this year’s Newkind Conference. In its 5th year it is “a conference for social change, designed to inspire and empower you to effectively address the social, environmental and economic issues we face as a global society.” It is all about “Inspiration. Integration. Action” and the overarching mission is to support full system regenerative change.
It was a bit different to what I expected, but nonetheless a good experience that inspired me to do more research on some topics. I was surprised about the activism focus, the young age of most of the participants and the fact that over 2/3 of the attendees were women – yeah!
Anti Protest Laws are a sign of the impending collapse of capitalism
Someone who stood out for me was Aiden Ricketts, activist and law lecturer at Southern Cross University. He talked about the latest anti protest laws in the light of them being “a sign of impending collapse of capitalism. Our economic system is reaching its end days.” It sounds harsh, but not too far from the truth.
Have a bit of a read about the laws across the different states, it is super interesting (and scary). NSW for example only tolerates protests on crown land, theoretically they could arrest everyone if they wanted …
Welcome to Country and Indigenous Wisdom
I loved being allowed to participate in a beautiful indigenous opening ceremony, a welcome to country including a smoking ceremony where everyone was invited to ‘cleanse themselves’.
Thomas Mayor, a Torres Strait Islander man born and living on Larrakia country (Darwin) talked about the Uluru Statement from the Heart. I had not heard about it before and I believe many haven’t, but it is such an important thing. It is “a profound call from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples for constitutional change and structural reform in their relationship with Australia - a relationship based on fairness, truth, justice and self-determination where Indigenous cultures can flourish, and the Australian nation can reach a fuller potential. It is an invitation from First Nations to all Australians “to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future””. Basically, it is about “constitutional enshrinement of a First Nations Voice. The Voice will empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples politically, a permanent institution for expressing First Nations’ views to the parliament and government on important policy decisions affecting their rights.” What we all can do to help to make this a reality is spread the word, talk about it, write to our local MPs.
I also enjoyed a short walk with a couple of elders who showed us all the edible plants within a few metres of our camping area. And I loved what they said: “The bush tells you a lot more about seasons than a calendar.” It shows the importance of being aware of everything around you and observe and learn.
Observe before you act
Observing is such a major part of permaculture, a design system that delivers ecological resilience. It is not just about gardening and growing food, but so much more, touching the social, economical and environmental pillars. The main principles are caring for the earth, caring for the people and fair share.
Every function supports at least two elements and 95% of what you do is observing and 5% action. You need to understand your land across the seasons, different weather patterns, what animals come in, what grows where and when, where is natural shade, where is the best place to put a dwelling, where is your water, …
It is a fascinating topic and I did an intro to permaculture weekend a few years back and am now determined to get the design certificate.
Business is a catalyzer of change
Business is often seen as the bad and ugly and the reason together with capitalism on why the world is the way it is (at least this is what I mostly heard from most of the talks and panels given). But, we all also need to understand that business can change the world for the better. New business models have evolved over the last few years (BCorps, social enterprises), purpose-driven organizations and even large corporations using some of their funds to drive positive change in this world.
Saskia Rysenbry’s words “Using business to catalyze change” resonated with me as this is exactly what I am doing. Unfortunately, activists often don’t acknowledge or understand that business has the money and the resources to be a driver for change and that business can be good.
Reframe to look at the positives and solutions
Shankar Kasynathan gave one of the keynotes and ran a workshop about Human Rights Advocacy. There is a huge global humanitarian crisis with refugees across the world, and Australia’s policies are currently not helping. Private sponsorships in Australia are possible, but the cost is extremely high: $50,000 for an individual and up to $100,000 for a family. And, worse it is taking away a place from the humanitarian intake. Can you believe that? Australia only takes in an average of 16,000 refugees each year anyway.
Then there is fear in the country about people who are ‘different’, but there are also numerous examples of where refugees have been welcomed into the communities. As long as “we're doing stuff with refugees, not for them or at them. It's about reframing the conversation and seeing people as neighbours wanting to build community and not as us and them or someone from a third world.”
He talked about the importance of standing up when racist comments are made, but doing so in a smart way that doesn’t turn the perpetrator into a victim. Mediating and leaving your own values aside will help build more inclusion and diversity (not always an easy task to ignore your own values for a little while).
My learnings for myself, my business and society
My biggest takeaway though is that realism is necessary and important when we are changing the world (and this is something that was lacking from many talks).
We all have our dreams and they are super important and will guide us, but I am really hoping that our young idealistic and caring generation will be interested in understanding our economic model better, learn what capitalism is, where it is coming from, where it is at and what our economy and world will need to look like ina better and different future.
A world that is kinder, more inclusive, diverse and in tune with our planet.
This won’t happen overnight, so we all need to be resilient, stay positive and chip away.
At the same time it is so important that we don’t get lost in our idealistic views of the perfect world (self-sufficient permaculture communities that share and live in peace), but put that sense of reality back into the equation.
I really hope this new generation of change makers can do this.