I agree! I see growing food as an act of welldoing too. Doing the gardening & eating food (both acts of care) contribute to wellbeing & spillover effects (carbon sinking, healthy soil, feeding bees, creating ecosystems & food networks) contribute to a larger eco-socio wellbeing.
My daughter has been through a huge amount this last few weeks, not least losing a classmate to suicide, worrying about my own isolation due to possible coronavirus infection, potentially transmitting asymptomatically to her grandmother, plus GCSEs now cancelled after she has worked and prepared so hard for them.
Despite everything, she has prepared an Active Transport Day for next week, which is now cancelled due to school closures.
I am so proud of her, and she has given me permission to publish the letter she composed, with some statistical help from her friend James, which was to be sent out this week. We hope it may inspire others who might be thinking of arranging similar days at their schools, once normality resumes, as part of a transition to healthier, safer, less air/climate polluting methods of getting to and from school.
We are writing to inform you of the school’s Active Transport Day which will be taking place on Tuesday 24th March. On this day, we encourage students and parents not to travel to and from school by car, but instead to use more sustainable modes of transport. Our aims in doing this are to reduce air pollution in the local area, to raise awareness of the dangers of air pollution for both children and adults, and to encourage students and parents to pursue a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle.
Air pollution from vehicles has been proven to cause a wide range of serious health conditions in adults and children. Our local nitrous oxide air pollution levels are routinely over 4 times the NICE recommended safe thresholds, and often break EU legal limits; as a result, lung afflictions pose a particular threat to members of our school community. We ask that you prioritise the safety of the community over convenience when considering your transport options.
In addition to the health risks of air pollution, the waste products released by vehicles also contribute to a number of dangerous environmental phenomena, most significantly global heating. By continuing to contribute to these problems, not only do we set a bad example for children, we also put our own futures at risk. By participating in Active Travel Day, we can start to make a change.
On the day, in order to reduce pollution in the local area, we encourage parents to drop off/pick up their children a minimum of 1km from the school. Some convenient locations for parking/drop-off include:
(example) – 5-10 minutes’ walk from the school
(example) – 10-15 minutes’ walk
(example) – 15-20 minutes’ walk
The school car park will be closed all day. We also encourage parents not to use the Pay & Display car park in the High Street; whilst convenient, this is a very popular spot and traffic quickly builds up, meaning car fumes linger on school grounds for much of the day. Given the risks of air pollution to children’s health, we ask that you avoid parking in and around the High Street car park at drop-off/pick-up times when at all possible. At the very least, if you continue to park around the school grounds, please refrain from ‘idling’ and, instead, consider switching off your engine whilst waiting in pick-up areas.
As parents, you may wonder how you can help your children participate in Active Travel Day, and hopefully transition to more sustainable travel options in the long term. Could they walk or cycle to school at least some of the time? Could they use public transport, which is more sustainable than cars? The school will be happy to offer advice on these issues.
We look forward to seeing you and your children on Active Travel Day and hope that this letter has given you pause for thought.
There’s nothing more simple nor complex than love. Love is life-force manifest as relationship, the process of doing that makes life real and meaningful. I call this Fluminism.
Life is so strikingly complex; a dynamic weave we share no full comprehension, and perhaps never will. In our un-sapient attempt to shrink this world mentally and physically by rationalism, industry (including processed food), and trade, I do not think most could fully even imagine it.
We are evolved from the most exquisite resistance to, and acceptance of, physical, chemical, and biological forces. We have absorbed them, and them us, and the complexity is magnificent. Like hands around wet clay, they have shaped us down to the atoms within each beautiful cell.
But they have cost us dearly as we have evolved and adapted through generations, in the loss and grief of loved ones by mistakes, negligence, and more. And so it has been with viruses.
Since before we can fully imagine, viruses have existed as a shaping force. They emerged early, perhaps, as rogue genetic outliers, or even as replicating co-evolutionary beings, trying to come “home” to living organisms through time and space.
Unseen by our naked primate eyes, they invade, multiply, and spread. In doing so, they test us sometimes to destruction but strengthen our individual and collective immune systems through survival, adaptation, and diversity. They can even change cell proteins as speciation occurs.
Without viruses, there could be no us. They are as ancient as all life’s common ancestor. Viruses are critical to climate, and an intimacy; we are clearly symbiotic, but sometimes a profoundly painful commensal or mutualistic symbiosis.
Coronavirus forcing the disease now called COVID-19 is one of thousands to emerge from, bizarrely, the strong immunity of a fellow symling. In this case, and so frequently with various coronaviruses like SARS and MERS, bats. Coronavirus is a bat mutualistic symbiosis, largely beneficial to them by strengthening their immunity to other microbes. But now we have it, and it’s killing those with compromised immunity.
Bats are exceptional mammals, high in metabolism for unique flight, long in age compared to other small mammals, surviving to forty years compared to less than a handful for most terrestrial rodents of the same size. They are beautifully adapted to nurturing one another in the same ancient roosts over millennia. Their sense of place and belonging is strong, and their ecological gift to the community is valuable in so many ways.
As in all sentient life, their distress causes the release of energy and cellular matter into the nagorasphere. This includes viruses. We must now understand that bat-immunity is so powerful that it can hold strong against infections that would knock us down in an instant. Bats are distressed by us, with mass light disturbance, forestry logging, and ecological fragmentation via construction, so they shed virus, and the spread of infection multiplies. It’s inevitable this crosses into ecological communities in bat flolocas, including indigenous humans. When wildlife is trafficked for trade and consumption, the viruses follow, mutating and battling stronger to return ‘home’ to any suitable host. They find domestic animals too, especially the more intensely reared, before leaving shadows in our own biological matter, hospitals, graveyards, and memories.
COVID-19 is not itself an expression of anything new. In fact, it is pure evolutionary force in our complex world. But its speed and reach in such a shocking short time, and the human curation and management of this spread is a huge mirror reflecting our own deficiencies and impiety towards indigenous and endemic lives, natural forces, and the biosphere. It reveals the shabby cracks of hostile competitiveness, the failures of fast international travel and markets, and false short-cuts away from inequity. But it also presents an opportunity for love, a crystalline perfection of compassion and hope. It may even spur a new era of Cherishism.
Helping one another is a healing thing. Vaccines will play a part in giving us the anti-bodies without suffering and death. They will help shape us without such huge pain and loss, even though our species will have evaded an evolutionary opportunity for genetic diversity. Epidemics seem inevitable in co-existence with all life in flolocas. But pandemics are there by way of destructive forces, globalised transmission, proliferated by the very same agents that cause Earth Crisis in climate volatility, human inequity, ecological shifts out of the norm for comfort or survival.
I will leave you with two critical documents that have helped me shape this post. I believe they are powerful, and if shared in common knowledge, empowering too.
Shi has been instrumental in physically tracking the source of coronaviruses, including COVID-19, to specific bat roosts, enclaves, caves, and flolocas. Her research and wisdom are necessary for discussing the ethical implications of intrinsic and extrinsic relationships with bats. Wildlife, livestock, and even nearby human life can find resistance over longer periods of time, but move or distress bats, wildlife, or domestic animals as reservoir hosts into novel populations, and the results are devastating. We need to learn about these complex flows, for-align them in daily life, and build them into our consciousness as we move away from the Anthropocene and into the Symbiocene.
Second is this critical appraisal from Berkeley Uni, California, of the astonishing superior immunity of bats compared to our own, which is pathetic by comparison. Bats can teach us so much on immunity, floloca, and in our own behaviours. Praximund must be shown towards them and for our own good too. And onwards into time.
As part of nature, we may respect the life of fellow symlings, the bats, and offer peace and protection for them. This will be difficult when habitats are valuable to expanding human populations. But it is a process we need to accelerate, to be ahead of any new curve of disease infection rate, instead of having to “flatten it.” We need to be ahead of any of the numerous other novel or bat-surviving viruses ever-patient in finding their moment to “come home”. Listen to Shi.
As in Earth Crisis itself, there’s a need to pull people towards this kind of love, rather than push, bully, and drive. An ethic of care towards food, water, energy, and shelter for all humans is important, and we must avoid abuse and trade going “underground”. True equity for all life will help solve this and in our responses to COVID-19. Offering structural love and Cherishism as New Measures is a good thing to come to all places, and soon.
This week, a young person, a classmate in my daughter’s year, succumbed to the rawest severity of depression. She took her own life, trapped in that state of belief where there seems no other escape. I understand, because I too have been to the very edge. This young girl, as did my mother and too many beautiful souls, took a step further and now are gone into personal memory and collective history.
Her classmates, and school, are in shock. I know too, of course, a little of what her family must be going through right now ~ an emotional nuclear bomb blast. Nothing will really be the same again. The loss of someone so young has its very own kind of sting.
My own daughter is suffering ~ so much has she carried this last few years. I will take care of her, to the best of my ability. We already have help, but require more now this has happened.
Last weekend, we needed to see the world continuing on its axis. We needed to feel. I took Gracie and her grandmother to the sea. After her son divorced me after a short separation, we’ve remained polite but not close. This has been her choice, but we all needed big horizons, fresh air, and to be around people who are walking freely about this world as an open, shared experience.
Cradled between a veil of sunshine, hail showers and a bitter wind, we felt the real warmth of unity as we walked and talked the rhythms of our living coasts. In a cafe at Penarth Pier, we shared cake and hot drinks, watched the sun glowing over a choppy, sediment-laden (another Fluminist blog) Bristol Channel. Flatholm Lighthouse faded in and out of sight on the horizon. It mattered not what we talked about, but that we did. It was our own form of dadirri.
We all begin life equipped with a few genes and a blank page. It is in the nurturing from that point on where the psyche is shaped in a plethora of heart-healing or heart-stealing moments. It is the gentle or rough brush with events, the places and flolocas we become, the people who impress upon us, and through all our senses.
As a nation, too much has a popularist, junk hostility poisoned the shaping of the collective psyche. Like the polluted air we breathe ~ too many lives are lost as collateral to this stupid race. Too many loves lost because of fear and money, or a lust for more.
Here in the UK, our education system is too much, too soon, too competitive and too geared for the growth economy. Like waves rolling in from a vast sea of knowledge, the light and dark, education for its own sake should pulse through the collective, informing and inspiring, and for life-long kicks.
Competition ~ top marks, looks, jobs, and pay. Everything must be top, but of course which means so many fall way below. Because demand is so high, I’ve heard that some of the most well paid counsellors are school and university employed. The whole broader social, economic and political system is laden, like the sediment in the sea, with stories of broken children who grow up to be broken adults. Mental health services are stretched. It’s a lottery as to who breaks and when. I see some of them in my voluntary work for the witness service at our local Crown Court.
We all deserve security. A basic income to buy good food, warmth, clothes and shelter, or land to grow things and thrive. Life should not be a race to be the smartest, cutest, fastest or richest. The only true resistance is to reject it somehow, to embrace compassion, realise a daily ethic of care and make it structural. I’ve lost so much and too many to the opposite. I won’t give up on the idea of a very different way of life. I just want society to be so much more caring, to put love back into the meaning of everything we do. I want to call it Cherishism, where cherishment is no longer an obsolete word, and in all aspects of life.
This is more than kindness where, like tolerance, it can cover and disguise deeper prejudices. A life well lived is one full of meaning and love, young or old. The rest is just anguish, entrapment, broken lives and worse. Climate, biodiversity, equity? As a Fluminist, I believe political Cherishism is the root emergency response.
How can we prune away the hard obstacles in place that make life so difficult? Who can we care for (homosapien or teresapien), as well as caring for ourselves? What language can we change in what we say and write? What could our collective force unleash if Cherishism was the political norm instead of competitive hoarding ~ capitalism ~ or even distributive socialism which finds so much resistance to its (justifiable) anger?
I have been reviewing my nature recordings over the last year, and listening to all the biophonies (Bernie Krause). I merge pictures, memories and feelings in my mind with the sounds to make a 'moment' – a kind of 4D experience.