Bill McKibben – speaks out in Paris – December 2015

IMG_0224Bill McKibben is a powerful speaker. It was because Bill was speaking and also Naomi Klein, Vandana Shiva and others that I bought tickets for the Pathways to Paris concert at Le Triannon on 5th December.  The concert was run as a benefit for < and it was a magnificent event.Bill was amazing as always and you can hear some of his talk here. (I recorded just under 7 minutes.)

 Or better still go to the Pathway To Paris website and hear Bill speak and Patti Smith sing so soulfully directly to us, here a bit of what Naomi said and some rocking music with Thom Yorke and Flea.

IMG_0267Tenzin Choegyal played and sang for us and upon his entreaty, the audience raised their arms above their heads in solidarity with Tibet – the roof of the world. Tibet is already feeling the frightening impacts of dangerous climate change. The glaciers are melting. Up to 70% of the Tibetan plateau is covered by permafrost which is now degrading.

Halfway through his talk Bill donned a shirt that said “EXXON KNEW”. He talks about what this one company has cost the world. The time that has been lost.


Scientific American released a report in October 2015 titled “Exxon Knew about Climate Change almost 40 years ago. A new investigation shows the oil company understood the science before it became a public issue and spent millions to promote misinformation.”

Any wonder it’s felt so hard to get the message across much less the extreme urgency and the scale of what is at stake now having lost so much valuable time. Now the time left for action and the challenge are far more more daunting. 40 years ago or even 25 years ago we could have simply adjusted to avoid this very situation we are now in.

Now we have to step into Emergency Mode to get the job done and what does that mean exactly? Emergency Mode to enable climate conditions to be restored to a safe level. Not 2ºC – not  even 1.5ºC – actually SAFE. We are already experiencing warming of more than 1ºC and seeing the shocking effects happening before our eyes. How do we turn that trend around in the time we have left and why are so few people even talking about this?

That’s the conversation I went searching for.


In solidarity with Tibet – the third ‘pole’ and the ‘roof’ of the world.

Posted in Climate Change, COP21 | 1 Comment

A vintage morsel of Delight & a sip of sparkling Clarity to share with my Best Wishes for 2016.

The new year is nigh and I am resting a bit and preparing for what comes next. Edging myself gently to something that will feel relevant and I hope can in some way be commensurate with the challenge.

When in that percolating state I often find myself tidying things. It’s a way of ‘doing’ that allows a sense of purpose to emerge. My focus is superficially on the task and, at depths unknown, a creative coalescing of ideas is occurring that I anticipate with a strange enthusiasm.

It was as I was tidying up my cupboard today and discarding old DVDs that I came across this gem. I had to watch a little bit and then I had to watch it all.

It goes for 45 minutes. You may have seen it before? It’s been around for quite a while now. Even so I commend it to you. It is the work of Robert Newman and this one is called The Story Of Oil.

I loved the oh-so-relevant finish – on just what to do with our great ideas.

Happy New Year. In it may we see more of the beautiful, creative, intelligent genius surging through our collective hopes, wishes and voices. May our actions steer our course firmly to a Safe Climate and continue to unlock the fully scaled up Sustainability Renaissance that so tantalises and inspires us.


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Looking back on the whole amazing trip. COP21 is over and so is my time in France.

I left France  heading home to Australia a week ago. It was six weeks to the day since I embarked on the journey from Melbourne to Paris. I had gone with tightly restrained optimism, a determination to contribute what I could and one hundred USBs all loaded with Safe Climate Restoration work. I had a trusted travelling companion – Margi – ahead of me in Paris, too much luggage, and a whole lot of anticipation about living in France for six long weeks.

In the time I was away Margi and I explored Paris in the Autumn becoming familiar with Gare du Nord, Barbés – Rochechouart, St Cloud and the Paris Metro. We travelled into regional France enjoying the friendliness and hospitality everywhere we went. We had experienced the terror attacks, martial law in France, had witnessed the clamp down on climate activists and participated in the creative actions that followed. And we plugged into the two weeks of the COP21 from within the pop-up community – the Place To Be – located centrally in Gare du Nord.

DSC01017DSC01221Our local café, ‘La Ville Aulnay’, was just over Rue de Dunkerque from the Place To Be and became the preferred breakfast spot for coffee – une longue noire – and the best croissants I’ve ever eaten.

Place To Be was the brainchild of Anne-Sophie Novel bringing 600 creatives, thinkers, artists, and activists from all over the world to be thoroughly immersed in the life, briefings and workshops for the two weeks of the COP21.

By doing so she and her team created an enormous container – a cauldron in which to unleash the alchemy of emergence – in order to cook up a new story about climate change and social change. “Change the System not the Climate” as the placards read.

Between us Margi and I attended six of the seven two-day workshops in the Creative Factory. It was an intensely challenging and satisfying way to participate in the civil society activities around the COP and was immediately fruitful. It really worked.

DSC00255This was my first time in Paris and with every journey out to somewhere, I stumbled with surprise and glee across famous Paris icons. The sheer lavishness of gold of the Pont du Alexandre 3rd and the Place de la Bastille was astounding.


So too Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur Basilica where we stayed overnight and joined the continuous prayer.

Shoes and night lightsPlace de la Republique was where on the 29th November, creativity unlocked by the banning of the Global Peoples March, Avaarz mobilised twenty-thousand pairs of donated shoes assembled to symbolise sympathy with all the climate change protests happening around the world. Melbourne had the largest of all the Global Climate marches with 60,000 concerned and caring people standing up to be counted representing additional thousands who were there in spirit. The final global tally was more than 750,000 people. For every one attending how many more are being represented?

The Marais area explored at night after the sobering ‘Cost of Coal’ Film Festival. The Arctic research yacht, the Tara, moored in the magnificent Seine to raise awareness about the critical role and plight of plankton.  Seeing the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais where ‘Earth to Paris’ was held and exhibits displayed. “Earth to Paris” had a host of impressive speakers including John Kerry, Ban Ki Moon, Mark Jacobsen and Emma Ruby Sachs.

The lovely Le Triannon theatre where the ‘Pathways to Paris’ concert was performed introduced by amongst others Tenzin Choegyal and featuring Patti Smith, Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, Thom Yorke, Vandana Shiva and Flea. It was an inspiring call to action, a call to “Use Your Voice” and a celebration of people power.

The Louvre where the “Fossil Fuels Out of Culture” protest happened spilling oil on the floor of the gallery and walking it around in bare feet. The oil was actually molasses – much easier to clean up and this avoiding heavy charges of damage to heritage listed ‘National Treasure’ property. Then outside the black umbrellas spelt out the message and again the angels showed up.

The Eiffel Tower was active in the lead up and throughout the COP blinking out messages of hope – “Decarbonise”, “1.5 degrees”, “100 percent Clean”, “No Plan B” – and was the site of the Sit-In on ‘D12’ – December 12th.

The Champs Elysees was the location for the ‘Red Line’ civil disobedience protest marking the line drawn by civil society on climate change damage and injustice, the circular road around the Arch de Triumph that was painted with yellow paint – chalk – by Greenpeace to represent the Sun.

The Trocadero where the Oath of Paris was sworn – the same location where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948. So great to be in those awesome places doing those amazing things.

With Margi’s organisational skills we also set out to explore the sharing economy – Couch surfing with Florent and family (where we were when the terror attacks occurred), Bla Bla Car, ‘Auberge de Jeuness’ (Youth Hostels), ‘Friends’ Backpackers, AirBNB, The Place To Be pop-up community, The Creative Factory workshops and a restaurant called Le Grouin that had its own local currency.

As well there were many meals shared with friends, parties, entertainment

and a 10-bed dormitory that became a little micro community for two weeks. Room 105 was home to a lovely young English artist; an earnest young journalist from India; an activist from the States; and a group from the Rural Women’s Assembly of southern Africa – all rural famers from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawe, Mozambique, Swaziland, Namibia and Botswana. We had a lot of fun.

Then there were the Art exhibitions – The gala opening at the Gallerie Au Medicis of Barbara Albasio’s “Sensi” –the work of Jean Dometti– with the unexpected and amazing didgeridoo experience; the photo exhibition of Stephen Sarvarese’s exquisite portraits of 200 people of Kiribas;

DSC01660And, since I was there anyway after attending the anti oil sponsorship action, I spent some time enjoying the work of some of the grand masters in the Louvre (Breughel, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Monet, Cezanne, Rubens, Pissaro, Degas, Renoir and so many others – and Napoleon’s apartments – Oh mon dieu –  magnifique).

There were Film Festivals and movies – The Cost of Coal showed us the bigger picture of terrible costs in Russia, Columbia, South Africa, Australia, Philippines, India and Egypt; Merchants of Doubt made clear the motivations behind the misinformation campaigns; and the beautifully filmed ‘Les Saisons’ by famous French film director Jacques Perrin made it impossible not to feel the age-old connection with nature.

And the exciting and creatively edgy “Alternatiba Festival”

“If Not Us Then Who” brought indigenous speakers and young people from Africa, The Phillipines and Indonesia. Some of these presentations were sad and frightening.

Yator Kiptim from the Sengwer Forest Indigenous Peoples of Kenya has since sent me his disturbing story of the displacement programme waged against his people in the name of carbon offsets – another variation on climate injustice that needs our attention. Violence against innocent people, home burnings and environmental destruction to make people move is happening. Sea levels are rising. Climate change exacerbated floods and monsterous typhoons are all part of what has to be fixed.

There was a host of speakers at Place To Be including James Hanson and many others. I hung out a lot with George Marshall and Jamie from COIN who were both staying at Place To Be and lunched with Marta from the Donella Meadows Institute.

Margi got to attend the Leap Manifesto’s workshop of two hundred people that was championed by Naomi Klein. She also made it to the civil society’s ‘Generations area’ adjacent to Le Bourget where all the government delegations and wranglings were going on which was by all accounts predictable if not interesting. I never made it there – too much else to do.

Getting a chance invitation to attend the Heads of Island States reception at the Musee Quai Branley almost right under the Eiffel Tour and meeting the President of Kiribas was pretty incredible. Bumping into Natalie Isaacs – One Million Women, Stephen Bygrave – Beyond Zero Emissions and Claire Greensfelder – Women’s Global Call for Climate Justice was great. Meeting Dr Greg Stone – Conservation International – and later dining with the Ambassador of Kiribati and founder of Pacific Rising, Mrs Makurita Baaro, and half a dozen others was an utter blast.

Being interviewed by Eric Guilyardi, having lunch with Marta Ceroni from Donella Meadows Institute, making friends with Jerome Veil the bee keeper from Montreuille and a strong connection with the impressive Rama Mani of the Theatre of Transformation were all great experiences. Hanging out in Belushi’s Bar in the Place to Be and casually meeting the Past President of the Sierra Club; making new friends from France, Africa, England, Canada, the US, the Solomons, Alaska, Kiribas, Germany, Italy, Peru and New Zealand and reconnecting with old friends from Scotland, Lancaster and Portland – it was all wonderful. And Australia was well represented with many accomplished workers in the field making excellent and important contributions into the COP, through the side events and all around Paris perhaps none more visible than the outstandingly successful Climate Guardians. Those angels just didn’t miss a beat. The impact of their message was undeniable. For those who want to ignore climate justice – it will not go unnoticed and they do so at their peril. Polluters must pay.

Getting out of Paris after the terror attacks, what started as a two day trip away to Tours and Chinon in the Loire Valley became ten when we continued on through Saumur, Rennes, Mont St Michel, all the way to picturesque Cancal.

We stayed in a chateau, picnicked in a castle made famous by Elinore of Aquitane and Joan of Arc, visited an Eco-Museum preserving heritage breeds, an annual folk music and dance festival of Brittany and finally arrived at the little seaside town of Cancal. We ate two dozen oysters from the famous waterfront oyster sellers and stayed in a gorgeous room overlooking the bay at La Mère Champlain.

Six very full weeks is still inadequate to satisfy the curiosity and the craving to explore this wonderful country. The trials of our travels were constantly eased with so many random acts of kindness and offers dispensed with concern, love, respect and generosity, we were delighted. People to see, places to go will have to wait til the ‘maybe’ next time.

Holing up in Chattellerault with a log fire and a few friends in a beautifully renovated 17th century mill house before coming home has provided a perfect breather after the intoxication of the COP21 or, more accurately, of all the civil society side events that now fill us with hope. I’m home now with lots of leads to follow up and a sparkling new network and sense of global belonging to enjoy.

As we feel a change and go up a gear I find I myself grateful for all the dedicated work over the many decades, and over recent years, and the months and weeks leading to this moment in time. The luminaries, scientists, authors, poets, academics, artists, children and grown-ups, the people of spirit and the extraordinary array of amazing activists world-wide; the ENGOs, and those savvy businesses, those far-sighted bureaucrats and the uncorrupted politicians that saw the writing on the wall a long time ago; the citizens and civil society and the faiths stepping up; all the generations making their contribution and the waves of new people – younger and older – engaging more and more right now. “To change everything, we need everyone”.

I’ve brought home old ideas soundly reinforced – like the active egalitarianism of the co-operative model – and new ideas and creative approaches – ways of bringing artists and thinkers together – to foster the magic of emergence. Creativity to expose the pantheon of economic deities – Personal Success, Free Market and the big daddy of them all, Economic Growth and explode these zombie myths. As well as Sit-Ins let’s have Play-Ins. As well as the serious stuff, let’s have lots more engaging stuff. And let’s shine a stronger spotlight on the better world we are co-creating, check out Solar Punk.

Let’s accelerate the transition and turn off the lights on the fossilised age that we are leaving behind and disempower it into oblivion.

May we soon talk about the anxiety, anger and dark stupidity of the tense past – in the past tense.

There is obviously so much still to do though. The commitments of the nations as they stand still take us to over and beyond 3.5ºC. To get implementation on the 1.5ºC will take enormous pressure, vigilance and resolve from civil society on the commercial lustful urge to capitalise at all costs. But I have returned home in the knowledge that a stronger global movement has been forged and it is growing apace.

To use sailing analogies, the faint breezes of hope have strengthened, and for the first time in so long the winds of optimism have filled our sails. Our course has been corrected in the right direction and with close monitoring and further corrections can steer us to where we want to go. A ‘safe climate’ for all people, all species and all generations is still over the horizon and off the charts but the way to get there is now open. The ripple effect of what’s happened in Paris is apparent around the world. The response from the around the world reflects the growing awareness. The people are awakening to the danger and stepping up to demand change.

On the last day in the Creative Factory at the Place To Be we were led in a meditation and asked to then write in a continuous flow whatever came to mind from that experience, what we saw, what we felt. This is what I wrote:

I closed my eyes and I saw my heart. It was filling the space within me and I knew that it could grow and grow and never be too much. I felt connected through my body, through the chair and my feet, through the floor to the earth and beyond to the cosmos. I felt connected to my community everywhere. I thought about why I decided to come to Paris for the COP. It felt right and necessary. I felt strongly that this COP was the one. I felt coming to the Place To Be was perfect for me and would help me in my goal to make a difference.


Posted in Biosphere & Oceans, Climate Change, COP21, Travel | 1 Comment

Transformative Change is in our Hands

I have had to work at understanding the human disconnect, the human capacity to operate with a split brain – cognitive dissonance – where one part can understand we have a problem and the other part can ignore it and remain, if not unmoved, at least inactive.

Nothing has rammed this home as forcefully to me as this COP conference in Paris. It is what I expected but it is nevertheless still shocking to see. The COP is an expensive economic conference with the Business As Usual part of our collective brain strutting its stuff to out-shout, out-fund and in whatever ways possible, dominate the conference and the outcomes. It is simply seeking to maintain the status quo, to change as little as possible and that means to keep taking from the poorer countries and from the planet’s ecology.

A big part of this attitude of privilege that is meant to justify the exploitation is anthropocentrism.

“Thinking Like a Mountain” snapped me out of whatever anthropocentrism I had left when I read it in 2007. Written by Arne Naess, John Seed and Pat Fleming and published by New Catalyst Books, it’s relevance has never been greater than now with our ‘developed’ nations’ collective disconnect from the rest of the human population and the natural world which itself is clearly leading us into very dangerous territory.

At the same time ‘reconnect’ can lead us away from danger and into a world that embraces justice, reciprocity and cooperative thriving in a healthy biosphere of all life.

Naess, Seed and Fleming have created a collection of poems, artwork, meditations and essays to provide “inspiration and instructions for leading deep ecology work”. I came away understanding anthropocentric* thinking as an aggressive form of bias against the nature world in the same bag as racism, classism, sexism, agism and many other divisive, disconnecting and discriminatory ‘isms’. *anthropocentric: regarding humankind as the central or most important element of existence, especially as opposed to God or animals. 

In a way anthropocentrism is the ultimate expression of denial that humans are part of the world of species, mammals, part of the animal kingdom and part of the interconnected web of life that all life including our own species absolutely depends on to survive.

It is for this reason that deep ecology speaks so strongly to me as a way of understanding the world.

This extract is from a review of the book …

This book’s title is taken from the 1949 SAND COUNTY ALMANAC, in which Aldo Leopold warned us that unless we attempt to connect with our ecosystem by thinking like a mountain, disaster is inevitable. Stated differently by Thich Nhat Hanh, we must listen within ourselves to “the sounds of the earth crying” (p. 7). Contributors to this 122-page book include, among others, John Seed, Joanna Macy, Pat Fleming, Arne Naess, Gary Snyder, and Chief Seattle. John Seed recognizes that “nothing short of a total revolution in consciousness will be of lasting use in preserving the life-support systems of our planet” (p. 9). He reminds us that we are “part of the rainforest recently emerged into thinking” (p. 36). Joanna Macy observes that we touch the Earth by touching our face, by touching our brothers and sisters (pp. 60-61).

This thin book contains a mountain of deep thinking, including exercises designed to “help make us more conscious of our embeddedness in the web of life” (p. 80), and meditations to protect the Earth “from the blades of men unhinged by greed, prestige and authority” (p. 91): “Relax and breathe in, breathe in Mountain, I feel my rock-roots go deep deep down to where the Earth herself is very hot” (p. 80). Reading this book could change the way you think about your life. “When you think like a mountain, one also thinks like the black bear, so that honey dribbles down your fur as you catch the bus to work” (p. 39).

The full title of the book is Thinking Like A Mountain: Towards A Council of All Beings. In 1985 I participated in the second Council as part of a three-month immersion course into Sustainable Living held at Dharmananda and Bodhi Farm communities in the Rainbow region of northern NSW in Australia. This no doubt was part of what was at play when I contributed to the founding of the Sustainable Living Foundation fourteen years later in 1999. The book has been translated into other languages including German and Spanish and there have been many Councils held in different parts of the world in the interim. I joined another with my friend John Seed held in Melbourne at the Abbotsford Convent a couple of years ago. This has become a major thread in the research I am doing for my doctorate and it continues to inform and underpin my work and to motivate me to keep going.

And this is why I have adopted For all people, all species and all generations (a thoughtful phrase coined by Philip Sutton) as my sign-off message. This is the goal. This is the work. And it is also from this perspective that I have come to Paris.

I was asked to contribute to Place To Be by submitting something to the creation of the new story that is being so thoroughly workshopped here throughout these two weeks and that will continue after the COP is finished. Saturday’s theme is

In a nutshell the paper I submitted which can be found in the Resources and Tools page of my blog, discusses the nature and scale of the problem, current and future impacts of escalating climate change, the inappropriateness of the targets and an alternative course of action to the acceptance of 2º and overshoot. It touches on our choices, the Sustainability Renaissance, the Precautionary Principle and the need to establish an Emergency Mode for the duration until Safe Climate conditions are restored. When Emergency Mode is over, with a safe climate economy in place, we can flourish sustainably within a sustainable world and with prospects of an amazing future. We = all people, all species and all generations.

A traffic jam in China brought this "freeway" to a standstill. The artist added the little boys to give a disruptive twist to the story.

A traffic jam in China brought this “freeway” to a standstill. The artist added the little boys to give a disruptive twist to the story.

In it I do rail a bit about the fact that we didn’t have to find ourselves in this shocking situation. And it is shocking: the scale and gravity of the tragedy. My involvement in Safe Climate work is based on my refusal to accept that it has come to this and can’t be reversed. Those working in this Safe Climate Restoration field have been doing so for quite a while now. For me this focus has been central since late 2003 when Philip Sutton brought it to my attention. That he needed people like me to understand it made me realise I had a role to play. My need to have others around me understanding it is the same. We don’t need everyone knowing all the details and complexity of some of the science although we do need (nearly) everyone to get active and stay active and keep moving forward reducing emissions and pushing for change.

Night sky

The night sky in the Solomon Island village that is being lost to anthropogenic climate change.

But we also do need some people understanding what is meant by restoring safe climate conditions and pushing for this specifically otherwise the crazy targets already in place will keep slipping and grow to even crazier proportions. I think it helps if some people understand what happens with global warming – even half a degree of warming puts island nations under the ocean. Since we already have one degree (+) what does this mean for these people? That’s a whole other discussion.

We need Transformative change to clean up and fix the mess and make the world better and safer and it’s in our hands. The thing is transformative change is already happening in the Solomon Islands and other atoll nations of the Pacific and Indian Ocean – but it’s the worst kind. And that’s in our hands too.

In the paper I also talk about how the measures that are needed in the rapid transformative change – Emergency Mode – are temporary and once the process is on track to restore safe climate conditions the human population can enjoy the prospect of flourishing once more albeit sustainably and equitably into the future so as to have a good future.

A set of Climate Rescue Action Tools was developed and brought to Paris on 100 USBs available for people with whom this resonates. The tools comprise Climate Code Red work including a précis of the book, 3 short movie clips, a discussion paper on Natural Drawdown of atmospheric CO2, a couple of graphics for this work and two pivotal brochures: RECOUNT – It’s Time to Do The Math Again and STRIKING TARGETS – Matching Climate Goals With Climate Reality. Please contact me by email

The greatest need right now is building the political will and some of this comes from doing good things like reducing our individual and work based consumption and emissions, going solar, contributing to food security and so on. And the global upsurge of energy and enthusiasm to find ways that are creative, engaging and often fun to do is one of the key take home messages from this time here in Paris around the COP21. (More on that later.)

But the bottom line is creating conversations and connections that can lead to a change in voting habits. We can’t get out of this fix until we have collectively bent the political process to serve the common good. It’s about long-term survival and also for many, short term survival and the reality now is that lives as well as property are already being lost. And since none of us are likely to put our hands up and say “I’ll go first” we have to vigorously defend the rights of those immediately affected as if they were our own brothers, sisters, parents, children, friends and neighbours.

And of course, on one level they are and I think this is the value that underpins the true meaning of global citizen.

The artist in resident at our workshop showing the Champs Elysee car free (for a day) and bringing in the birds, the sentient life

The artist in resident at our workshop showing the Champs Elysee car free (for a day) and bringing in the birds, the sentient life

Going further and dispensing with anthropocentrism this then extends to include all species as expressions of the life force that unites us all, even the very earth of the Earth herself.






Posted in Climate Change, COP21, Travel | Leave a comment

COP 21 in Paris : Not your average conference!

In Paris – COP21 is underway. It’s all happening.

On Saturday 28th December PlaceTo Be launched with a party. In a sense the party hasn’t stopped. It’s get up early and get ready for anything. Today I had done a filmed interview before breakfast and that certainly wasn’t on the list. Meeting people from all corners of the Earth, everyone with a story and some with extraordinary credentials. There is so much going on at the Place To Be it’s hard to leave  – many must-see speakers, excellent movies, singers, talks, briefings, analysis, reports and conversations over breakfast.  And that’s just here at Place To Be.  There’s a lot to check in on out there too – so much still to do. The challenge from here will be pace – how to last the distance through to December 12th.

There are six scheduled two-day workshops to choose between:

  • Dismantling the Buying Imperative 9        (Margi did this one)
  • The Balm of Nature                                        (I’ve just finished this one)
  • Invoking the Spirit of Change
  • Empathy In Action
  • A Children’s World
  • Life Renewed

And there are fourteen exceptional evening talks – chapters in the New Story being created here.  The first five have now happened already bringing to us a range of luminaries including James Hanson, Naomi Klein, George Marshall, Rob Hopkins and Vandana Shiva.

  1. B–The Message : “Why Doesn’t the Message Come Across?” (29 Nov)
  2. B–Come : “How shall we learn from the past?” (30 Nov)
  3. B–Clear : “How can scientists talk about climate change differently?”  (1 Dec)
  4. B–Modern : “What is the Role of Technology in changing the world?” (2 Dec)
  5. B–eing : “How to reconnect with our human nature?” (3 Dec)

Next to come are :

  1. B–Usiness : “How can we revamp our economies and invest the future?” (4 Dec)
  2. B–Immersed : “Special focus on ocean and climate” (5 Dec)
  3. Let it B … “A new mission for religion and spiritualities” (6 Dec)
  4. B–The Power : “How shall we redesign collective action to answer the biggest threat humanity has ever been facing?” (7 Dec)
  5. B–Or Not To B : “How can we build a new shared meaning?” (8 Dec)
  6. B–Haviour : “How to Change Everyone to Change Everything” (9 Dec)
  7. B–Cause : “What are the Legal Priorities We Need to Deal With?” (10 Dec)
  8. B– Long : “How to Act on Time” (11 Dec)
  9. B–Ginning : “This is Not the End” (12 Dec)

There are a heap of other interesting, even exciting things that could veto some of these events in the programme here. Plus there are people in Paris to catch up with – I’ve already bumped into Deb Hart, with wings, and Cindy Eiritz, had dinner with Fiona Armstrong. Still hoping to catch up with John Wiseman and Kate Auty. Terry Lewis from Portland, Oregon and Roger Doudna from Findhorn, Scotland are staying at Place To Be so we have ample opportunity to catch up and there many others of course, including Chris Jordan from Seattle, Washington, Paul Chatterton from Leeds, England. Mark Jacobsen (Stanford University, San Francisco) has emailed to catch up next week and I was lucky enough to talk very briefly with James Hanson on Tuesday night.


There are many people to meet and discuss things with here of course and although, the topic of Safe Climate Restoration may not be the central focus of their work most people are open to or in agreement with the idea of safe climate restoration.

How many believe it is possible I don’t know but it was good to see yesterday’s Guardian articleby Karl Mathiessen which asks: Should we be aiming to keep global warming to 1.5C, not 2C? “2C the widely reported safe global warming limit, would still mean devastation for many countries that are pushing for a more ambitious target for climate deal in Paris – but”Mathiessen ask,  “is 1.5C realistic?”

I say ‘No’ to this question because 1.5C still gives us dangerous climate change. It is still a woeful compromise. I believe with the amount of effort involved either way we should go for what we really want – a return to the climate conditions that have supported our biosphere so well for so long – and that we give it our all.

I’m obviously not looking at this through a ‘Business As Usual’ lens. I’m looking at an Emergency Mode where the funds necessary can / will be found and it is conceivable that we could run the full infrastructure transition with three eight hour shifts a day so that  thirty years of work could be accomplished in ten. Time is of the essence and, if everything’s at stake, the human species can do this. When the balance has been restored or is on track at least we can move out of Emergency Mode and start building the future we want. Humans can do amazing things when the need is great.

The article is worth a read. In it Bill Hare said scientists also had a responsibility because pessimism would be self-fulfilling. “The more observers say it can’t be done, the less likely it is to be done. So scientists have an impact on the policy debate.” We all do.

Something IS changing. I’m seeing growing support and meeting more and more people who are now pushing for 1.5. A few even say – without prompting – that 1.5C is too high so maybe something is starting to bubble up. I take it as a good sign.

The biggest issue being ventilated more and more is that of climate injustice. The penny has dropped that some pacific ocean and indian ocean island states have already been doomed to disappear as ocean levels rise with the warming already incurred. This has brought home other terrible consequences of sea level rise to human coastal communities. Not just these. Food security has finally made it into the serious priority list and the ramifications for many countries around the world are horrendous. These things are being understood in a context that clearly points the finger at where the responsibility – and the ability to make a major difference – really lie.

Again the Guardian publishes the evidence (Wednesday 2nd December) “The richest 10% of people produce half of Earth’s climate-harming fossil-fuel emissions, while the poorest half contribute a mere 10%, British charity Oxfam said in a report released Wednesday. Disputes over how to share responsibility for curbing greenhouse-gas emissions and aiding climate-vulnerable countries are among the thorniest and longest-running issues in the 25-year-old UN climate process. “Rich, high emitters should be held accountable for their emissions, no matter where they live,” Oxfam climate policy head, Tim Gore, said in a statement. “But it’s easy to forget that rapidly developing economies are also home to the majority of the world’s very poorest people and while they have to do their fair share, it is rich countries that should still lead the way.”

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 9.02.54 AMThe report said that an average person among the richest one percent emits 175 times more carbon than his or her counterpart among the bottom 10%. Developing countries say the West has polluted for much longer and should shoulder a bigger obligation for cutting back. They also demand assurances of finance to help them shift to less-polluting renewable energy,  shore up defences against climate impacts such as sea level rise, droughts and super-storms, and to cover damage that cannot be avoided. “We hope advanced nations will assume ambitious targets and pursue them sincerely. It’s not just a question of historical responsibility – they also have the  most room to make the cuts and make the strongest impact,” Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, told Monday’s opening of the summit by world leaders.

Oxfam said its analysis “helps dispel the myth that citizens in rapidly developing countries are somehow most to blame for climate change.”

The other night James Hanson said he is very pessimistic about the outcome of this COP. He said that the problem with Obama’s commitment to reducing emissions and of all the commitments, is that without a binding global agreement for all countries, a piecemeal approach will simply drive the price of fossil fuels down and someone somewhere will continue to burn them. He says we need a fee imposed – a fixed price on carbon – and that the money should go to the people and from them into the economy.

For myself I am sure COP21 wont deliver results that are commensurate with the scale of the emergency – I don’t believe it will even come close. But what I think can be hoped for is that a clearer, more honest, realistic and, let’s face it, frightening picture is being revealed and there is greater receptivity for this even though it is so unwelcome. I am optimistic that this will galvanise people both inside and outside of the political system to step up and take seriously the need to truly transform the way we individually and collectively live; the personal and the political.

I hope that there will be enough wind in the sails that momentum will built, opportunities grabbed and readiness to act enhanced. And we know that the circumstances warranting action are going to keep coming. We have to get ready anyway.

I want to see full recognition that we have a global climate emergency of the most severe proportions greater than anything we have ever seen. With this recognition will come a response, a ‘mode of being’ equivalent to the threat faced – Emergency Mode – and from this we will work our way through the crisis.

When we emerge at the other side and look back we’ll wonder why the hell we left it so late and had to lose so much? Why we didn’t “Just Do It”? And by then we will know the answers to those questions too. … If we don’t already.



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En Bretagne … Rennes, Mont St Michel and Cancale

Such an extraordinary place and time to be travelling. COP 21 only days away and here we were in Bretagne – taking a deep breath before entering the fray back in Paris. A good time to prepare.

On the morning we checked out we decided to walk to find the bus. It started raining. We walked along the foot paths in single file pulling our bags with our new umbrellas pulled down low keeping our upper bodies dry, just allowing the view ahead. We walked far further that we needed to it turned out having overshot where we wanted to be and then following some confusing directions which took us somewhere else altogether. But we caught the bus with a little time still to spare so felt pretty satisfied with that. It was our first real experience of rain and it rained all day, at times quite heavily, and with gusts of wind that blew our umbrellas inside out. Margi’s wayward umbrella was punished, banished to a rubbish bin to spend a sorry minute contemplating the error of its ways. It was retrieved by a friend and put back into service with strict instructions to behave.

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 2.10.07 AM We caught two busses that day – the first to Angers and then on to Rennes. In Angers we arrived at the station and nearly didn’t get off the bus in time. We went looking for lunch in heavily pouring rain and arrived in the Restaurant de la Gare like drowned rats. The staff looked after us with such great sympathy and fuss and we left feeling nourished and warm and ready for the next leg. Again we find the French people so friendly and sympathetic.

We stayed for two nights at the Auberge de Jeunesses in the old quarter overlooking the Canal St Martin. After a morning on our laptops working away at our planning and our contributions to the PlaceToB activities etcetera we headed out to visit the EcoMuseum on the outskirts of Rennes.

It took us a considerable bit of traipsing across town on buses and trains and buses to get there. Five centuries of farming practice – the original farm house, the lifestyle, the barn full of animals, cows eating hay from the manger, pigs in the sty, horses, miniature goats in the paddocks – all heritage stock. The orchards still bearing apples that were too delicious for words – such flavour. All protecting the DNA and the biodiversity from the obliteration of industrial farming and monocultures.

That night we headed out to a different part of town out past the airport to the Parc L’Exhibition and an annual UNESCO sponsored cultural event helping to keep alive the old music of Bretagne that has been deemed a national ‘treasure’. Arriving by bus with a bunch of other people of all ages we made a bee-line into the hall and to the food – Creole Vegetarian with Rice and local beer. Sensational!

Yaouank Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 8.57.42 PMStayed put for a while and became accustomed to the dance and music and then made our way to the other dance hall only to be blown away by what we were confronted with there. A stand of seats on scaffolding holding perhaps a thousand people and perhaps another thousand people who were dancing in long lines in enormous circles, all threading through the whole dance floor. They were all doing a simple step for all ages and proficiencies and more to the point, were making eye contact with each other as they were passing in threads going the other way. The step made the whole dance floor bump up simultaneously; an exemplary form of cooperation. Yaouank Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 9.00.57 PM

Sitting up there in the audience rows looking out over the amazing scene was one thing. Being in amongst it was something else completely.

We caught the shuttle bus back to the city and found ourselves late on a Saturday night in the little centre of Saint Anne – so pretty, an antique town centre tucked into the city and still full of contemporary life. A hot chocolate French style – ooh la la – and then we found the bus stop. The night was not over yet though. We still were to meet Cheko – the exuberant man from Senegal with whom we found we had much in common fighting for things we believe in, working through NGOs and being in France at this amazing time. A lovely exchange at the bus stop and then we found our ways home and had an excellent night’s sleep.

DSC00669One more day in Rennes and we decide to walk from Auberge de Jeunesses to Saint Anne and found it wasn’t far at all. We found a café that served only coffee and spoke with a young couple with a puppy called Jack Sparrow. We talked about the terrorism and the demoralising effect of the banning of the march and of the creative other ways that would emerge to take its place (March4Me) (The Human Chain) (The Shoes in Place de la Republique). And we talked about the link between the terrorism of the Daesh in Paris and climate change impacts that occurred in Syria four years ago that contributed to the playing out of the whole Syrian situation and what that implies for the future.

A bit further into this sunny Sunday in Rennes we stumbled upon Le Khalifa – a fabulous restaurant that served us tagine and couscous with such flair and in such sumptuous surroundings, so colourful, with aroma and steam and leadlight windows and such flavour. We were in heaven.

The next day we headed to Mont St Michel and what a surprise that was.

Firstly we didn’t realise we booked into a hotel actually in Mont St Michel. The room looked down into the narrow little street – the main street nevertheless – that was full of traders and surely not that different from the historical original purpose of this street. It led to the Abbey and a view out over the tidal flatlands where les moutons (sheep) graze and are known for their different tasting meat as a result; more salty of course.

The whole place was comparatively empty more due to the terrorism than the off-season we were told. At the ramparts before the gates to the town, Margi and I were stopped by a journalist. She was researching how the recent terrorism affected people’s attendance at iconic tourist locations. Margi spoke for us both when she said as Australian’s we are not easily intimidated and in our case we are also stepping out in solidarity for the people of Paris and people everywhere who are victims of terrorism. We spoke further with her later and explained our view that climate change and the fight for resources globally are entwined and destined to become worse and more frequent if the climate emergency is not recognised and the appropriate climate emergency response including ensuring climate justice is initiated.

Although such a picturesque place it also was for the tourists and our quest is community and collaborative economy, climate change and communication, cooperation, compassion and other ‘c’ words like Cancale – the name of the next little coastal town that beckoned. I’ll let the photos do the talking.



Most of those first two weeks or so were delightfully mild, unseasonably warm, and we marvelled at the soft air, the flowers, blue skies and sparkling sunshine. That quite suddenly changed as, what we were told was, an unseasonably icy cold snap arrived. This snap was linked to the strange ‘COLD BLOB’ over the north Atlantic.

…..  just so we have some idea of what what’s going on with the weather in the context of the climate changes we keep talking about … while “global average temperatures have reached new records”  – brace yourself Australia – the “cold blob” is having an effect in the north Atlantic too. Basically the message is “expect the abnormal”.

Here is an extract re the “cold blob” that can be found in David Spratt’s post on Climate Code Red: How 2015’s record-breaking El Niño emerged on a warming planet.

“There are other extremely odd features in the climate system this year that can throw a curve ball into the complex work behind predicting El Niño-driven global weather patterns. One such example is the “the cold blob” in the north Atlantic that appears to be caused by ice water running off the melting Greenland ice sheet and is affecting ocean currents. “Our scientific understanding of El Niño has increased greatly in recent years. However, this event is playing out in uncharted territory. Our planet has altered dramatically because of climate change […] So this naturally occurring El Niño event and human induced climate change may interact and modify each other in ways which we have never before experienced. Even before the onset of El Niño, global average surface temperatures had reached new records. El Niño is turning up the heat even further.”
World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.


And here is an excerpt from The Guardian (UK) article: Forget El Niño, start worrying about the North Atlantic blob  …. “The easterly winds of last week, bringing unseasonably cold weather, are believed to be as a direct result of this North Atlantic cold diverting the jet stream and allowing cold easterly air from Siberia to reach our shores. There has already been snow in Germany. How the competing forces of El Niño and the cold blob in the Atlantic combine to shape our weather we will probably not know until after it happens, but meteorologists “expect the abnormal” for at least 18 months.”



DSC00830 - Version 2



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The Loire Valley – Tours, Chinon to Sanaur

The few days after the night of terrorism were spent very low key hanging out with our hosts in St.Cloud and taking just a bit of a walk around the neighbourhood.

But even the big natural park we wanted to visit was closed.

We had already planned a short trip out of Paris to have a look at some of the wonderful places to be found in the regions. After the night of terrorism, the closures, lock down, the declaration of Marital Law; the news broadcasts of the manhunt, the Daesh; and of the tide of grief engulfing Paris, France, and for Beirut, and for so much of the world and from so much of the world 😦 it felt like a good time to go. Our wonderful couch-surfing host, Florent, was happy for us to leave most of our luggage there so we  left for two days – taking his front door key, instructions and best wishes – and stayed away for ten.

DSC00311It was a busy Monday morning (16th) and we first had to successfully navigate the Parisian morning peak hour catching a 7.30 am bus from Florent’s place. We were headed for the Loire Valley. We had to change buses and then get dropped “after the bridge and in front of the church” at Porte de St Cloud and there wait for our Bla Bla lift.

DSC00321We hung around for about half an hour and then phoned Aureliene who as it turned out, happened to be standing almost right behind us waiting or us.

DSC00323We walked past the stadium – the scene of the terror there only three days previous and then we were all on our way; five people in the car.

DSC00330Aureliene drives to Paris to see his girlfriend but works in Tours and lives in Chinon. He likes to share his car and he gets paid from us through Bla Bla about twelve euro from each person in the car when he and we are validated to Bla Bla via text.  This trip took about three hours.

IMG_0175With Bla Bla we learnt that you have to phone when you arrive at the meeting place. We also learnt that you really need to make an effort to speak to other passengers. The guy next to me was asleep quite a bit and we missed out on a conversation with someone whom we found out -right at the end of the trip- has made a film for the BBS on Joan of Arc in Chinon – where we were heading.

DSC00333We arrived at the station just before midday and wandered in just as the Three Minutes Silence for the victims of the terror – held throughout France – was concluding.

Then we wandered around Tours for several hours marvelling at the old village, the vibe, all the students and how picturesque the whole place was.

Margi got to see inside the cathedral renowned for its amazing stained glass. I sat at a cafe in the station hooked up to wifi and did some work on the Introduction I’m working on to be included in the  “Climate Rescue – Action Tools” USBs I’ve brought over. We had dragged our bags all around because the train station had no capacity to look after them for us. French people have been endlessly friendly to us. One woman stopped us in the street concerned that we were pulling suitcases and might need assistance to find where we were going. We assured her we were just enjoying a walk around Tours – suitcases trailing behind us. Don’t know how many times I proclaimed how glad I was to be ‘travelling light’ having left the bulk of our luggage with Florent.

By then feeling tired, we caught the train to Chinon, arriving at night we purchased a few provisions from the handy organic (ie “bio”) supermarket nearby and caught a taxi to our accommodation for the next two night, the chateau – Manoir de la Giraudière. Exhausted by this time we skipped dinner and got an early night after watching some French news on the TV about all the responses to the terrorism and the State of Emergency imposed. The next morning (17th) we worked on our computers dealing with messages, sharing things on multi media, writing, planning and solving problems.  Finally pulling ourselves away from the news and discourse – so much of it depressing – we headed off for a walk around the local area.

It was amazing. Autumn, quiet, rural, woods and farm lands, very old stone houses, vegetable gardens, a few cows and chickens. We were amazed at how neat the wood was stacked, at how many flowers were in bloom, at how mild the air felt. We were questioned by a suspicious man when we took photos of a wood yard – we must’ve looked very out of place wandering down that deserted country lane.

Taking photos all the way of patterns in the trees, of fungi, leaves, light on the water, a snail, anything that caught the eye and there was much that did. It was lovely.

We found the river, the Vienne, and walked along the course of the river back to the quiet road that led back to the manor.

The next day we caught a taxi back into Chinon. Seeing it in daylight was a complete surprise.

Firstly the cave houses – the famous Trogladites – and then the castle. The women at the info desk decided we were not terrorists and kindly offered to let us leave our bags tucked behind their desk. We then spent a couple of hours immersing ourselves in this castle and the rich history of Henry the second, Elinore of Aquitane and their sons – one of whom was Richard the Lion-heart and the other was Robin Hood’s nemesis, King John. The castle was also the location for the famous story of Joan of Arc who came to Chinon to find the king of France, who although disguised as a courtier mingling in the crowd, was identified by Joan and from there the story goes on ….

We had lunch -a picnic- and some wine inside the castle in the very room of that event. It was amazing. There were few people around that day. It’s the off season anyway but we had the place to ourselves. Being in those rooms and staircases in the castle, looking through the lead-light windows and out over the town below of Chinon and the ramparts and watching the video clips screened onto the old walls telling the story of seiges, treachery, death and heroinism was pretty amazing.

I have new admiration for the young Joan. She led an army, liberated Orleans, urged Charles to become King of France and was burnt at the stake at the tender age of nineteen. In the end she was a young woman who had become too powerful to be allowed to live.

From there we walked around Chinon for an hour and then caught a bus to Port de Boulet and a train to Saunur.

It sounds easy but in fact there was a lot of luck, just-in-time management and maybe a bit of starting to know the system involved. Buying the train tickets from a machine with only minutes to spare was intense. We nearly bought extra tickets for children and nearly went first class and nearly went to the wrong platform and really nearly didn’t catch that train at all – but we did. And it rained that day – il pleut!!

Half an hour later we were in Saumur and then taxi to our very reasonably priced and pretty nice accommodation, at the Kyriad. We had a room with a skylight and old beams set in the walls and just around the corner from a lovely street with cafes, boulangeries, patisseries, bars and restaurants. We went to Auberge des Ecruyers (The House of Horse-riders) and devoured the local speciality – galipettes (somersaulted) mushrooms – filled with different delicacies.

Over our two days there we did heaps of work and felt a lot better prepared for the COP21 and PlaceToBe and other climate-related activities coming up back in Paris.

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Armistice Day: Paris Day 5 – the 11th November 2015

DSC00110Day 5 – Wednesday 11th

(NB. As I wrote this post the night of terrorism – Friday Nov 13 – is still ahead of us and we, like the rest of Paris and the world, are unaware.)

It is Armistice Day: the celebration of the World War 2 agreement to stop fighting.


In Paris the significance of this day is embedded in the very cobblestones, the streets, the buildings. ‘If these walls could only speak’. The history. The Occupation and the Liberation of Paris. The gallant and determined French Underground. The suffering and the devastation – not even a hundred years ago.

Every generation has its huge and scary challenge they say. Devastation on an unimaginable scale. Overwhelming odds. To capitulate or keep going? Who will step up? Who will lead the liberation? Who will survive? This day and these thoughts are a poignant backdrop to the experience I am about to have.

Margi and I have been staying at ‘Friends’ the funky backpackers in Barbès an edgy, multicultural, poorer part of Paris. A short walk away is Montmartre. The hill of martyrs.

This is where Vincent Van Gogh lived for a while. Where the Moulin Rouge is still operating and where we stumbled across another much more authentic ‘moulin’ up the hill. It is where you can find jazz late at night, restaurants and curved streets and steep ones and steps that bring you to the top of the hill and the huge Sacred heart cathedral. The Basilique de Sacré Couer.

DSC00200From the dawn of time Montmartre has been a place of worship : from the Druids of ancient Gaul, through the Romans with their temples dedicated to Mars and Mercury, to the Church of Saint Peter, the oldest in Paris, rebuilt in the 12th century next to the Royal Abbey of Montmartre by Louis VI and his wife Adélaïde de Savoie… Finally, the Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur, erected at the end of the 19th century. #1

We are booked in to stay the night here – inside Sacre Coeur – and in exchange for accommodation (€4 if you have your own sleeping bag) have agreed to take part in the ‘night adoration’ which is part of the perpetual prayer that has been prayed here by a continuous line of people with their individual prayers, reflections and meditations for more than 125 years.

Tomorrow I pray/reflect/and meditate.

DSC00202I wake up in my ‘box’; the tiny one-bed cell with the curtained doorway and open to the ceiling of the large room I am in. Another 9 boxes are in here – several are occupied.

It is 4.17 am. My shift starts at 5.00.

I feel full of positivity for this moment, of anticipation and a sense of the significance. I am here because I’m in Paris on a mission. I’m wanting to help get a message out – a strong and convincing ‘can do’ message. Climate change requires an emergency response and a huge mobilisation to address it and change direction. I feel the biggest obstacle is the sense of overwhelm that so many feel. I feel it myself, often, who doesn’t? It just cannot be allowed to paralyse us at this time of great need for strong action.

There’s another message now feeding into that overwhelm – the message of ‘too late’ is starting to be asserted. These spokespeople, commentators, ‘leaders’ and the disingenuous have gone from ‘there is no problem’ to ‘it’s too big for us to solve’ to ‘now it’s too late’.

Where has the discussion been held looking at options to restore safe climate conditions? An option I am convinced is real and I am committed to pursuing. What else on earth matters? Everything else is moot.

The only circumstances in which other issues – big and small – matter is if climate disruption, climate catastrophe, the destruction of the biosphere that supports life as we know it is averted; in other words if we succeed. If safe climate conditions can be and are restored then we have a lot of other problems that will need to be dealt with. If we can couple some of these issues together on the way through as we fix the primary problem – for example the climate system and the human economic system – we can come out the other side with flourishing communities.

I am here in Paris and yesterday was Armistice Day. The parallels leap out at me. The overwhelming force of Germany that forced the surrender and humiliation of France and the years that followed with Paris and most of the country under occupation with no-one knowing when it would end. The boon given to the Nazis that perhaps accentuated the blows felt elsewhere in Europe. The French enduring the defeat, maintaining their resistance through a gallant and high risk underground movement and waiting and hoping to be liberated.

My father sailed off to fight the Nazis in the Middle East and was diverted in the Indian Ocean and taken to Singapore when the Japanese were invading the Malay Peninsular. In the little he told me about that terrible time he made it clear that he and the other Australian soldiers were angry and dismayed by the British decision to capitulate after barely a fight. In Australia our government made a secret decision to sacrifice the land and people above “the Brisbane Line” beyond which they believed the country was indefensible.

Watch what is happening right now. Who is being sacrificed in this climate change scenario.

When are these decisions to give in on behalf of everyone and to adapt to the consequences – often unknown – ever justifiable? In the case of climate change, any such decision is condemning the world and future generations to a desecrated biosphere with impacts most people do not understand. I believe that of those who think they do understand there are many who really don’t. It is worse than we want to think. Unimaginable and unconscionable.

I speak to people everywhere. I hear the cynicism and scepticism, the indifference and the wilful ignorance. From some I hear the hope. Is the hope strong and active and based on conviction that we have capability if not certainty? Or is it a faint hope, forlorn, defeated in all but hope, with a saviour in there somewhere.

Either way I feel the energy in some quarters growing that we must try. People are collecting their strength and sense of shared threat and shared purpose. They are gathering, and getting strategic and taking action in well-thought out ways. There is a spirit growing.

It’s 4.55.

I’m leaving my box now and heading up into the magnificent basilica. We walked into the Basilica last night and walked quietly around the centre – the nave – past thirteen little chapels off to the side. The very first chapel brought tears to our eyes and clutched at our hearts. It was an installation of boards on easels with pictures, prayers and explanations about the COP21 meeting here in Paris in just a couple of weeks. And that’s the very reason why I’m here.

So I will go to that chapel and meditate on those words with my heart full of hope and tears in my eyes.

Entering that sacred space I am aware that people had filled those pews for over a century bringing with them their prayers, entreaties, love, fear, and all their human experiences. Built before the first world war and the second world war I can barely imagine the pain and horror of the experiences that were brought to this alter. Although not a Catholic and in fact not a believer of the god of any religion, I found it easy to be there and practice my mantra “I am that, that thou art” til I felt present enough and able enough to go to the spaces I want to explore.

I imagine the cosmos and my tiny place in it. I feel connected to time and space and the place I am in and the part of me that exists within it all. I feel reassured that this church has allocated space in one of its chapels to talk about climate change and to encourage right action. I imagine a time coming when every church will allocate space to the need to protect the essential bio spherical connection with our earth. Great institutions, everywhere that humans inhabit, business, schools, offices, homes, individuals, hearts, minds will have that space in their consciousness or floor plan and the ramifications will be seen in their use of renewable energy, the new approach to conserving, not consuming, and everything else that goes with that.

I focus on my own need to not just lighten my ecological footprint but to also lighten my psychic and emotional footprint and to learn how to work tirelessly without getting so tired. I move my state of being to the one of love and grieving and once again abandon fear as self-defeating.

I read again the two prayers of Pope Francis and am yet again blown away by these words and cry tears of love. He prays to God to “touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth”. #2 “Enlighten those who possess power and money that they may avoid the sin of indifference, that they may love the common good, advance the weak and care for this world in which we live. The poor and the earth are crying out.” #3

“Teach us to discover the worth of each thing to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognise that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light.” #2

“give us the grace to feel profoundly joined to everything that is.” #3

DSC00121As Uncle Bob, cherished elder and teacher of Kanyini says, “Kanyini – the principle of being; Kanyini – every living thing is family; Kanyini – we’re all responsible for each other. The teaching is passed on through story, song, dance and art. Kanyini – unconditional love with responsibility.

“It’s so easy” – and Uncle Bob laughs.

Then we left Sacre Coeur and went out into Paris and the dawn of the next day.


#2 A prayer for our earth

#3 A Christian prayer in union with creation

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The first four days in Paris

I have been in France for just over two and a half weeks now and so much has happened in that time. It has been pretty intense to say the least. The first four days was a mixture of the usual highs and lows dealing with jet lag, culture shock, language and accommodation challenges along with some divine, mind-blowingly beautiful experiences with so many friendly French people and such picture post-card beauty everywhere.

The pop up community that Margi and I are booked into for the duration of the COP21 is located in Gare du Nord. We stayed there for the first two nights to get acquainted with the place and the area. Great wide streets to wander down, autumn leaves still clinging to the trees; mild air and sunshine and wonderful old buildings; churches, impressive railway stations, cyclists, traffic, cafes, markets, gardens, a canal near-by, the ambience of city life.

We moved to “Friends”, a backpackers opposite the metro station of Barbès Rochechouart. It was full of vibrant art and wall graffiti and was indeed a very friendly and accommodating place in edgier area – with Montmartre just up the hill in one direction and a Haman Steam bath a couple of doors away, the street life was multicultural, strong and crowded. We went looking for a Laundromat and found a little café tucked away inhabiting that same spot for many decades.

That I had my wallet stolen on the third day in was a blow but I took it as part of travelling and, after all, the pickpockets on the Paris Metro are meant to be amongst the world’s best so I didn’t beat myself up too much. The protracted administration consequences though …. Mon dieu!!


Continuing on our way to find the spa and sauna we were looking for – a very nice way to finish a challenging day – we walked through one of the wealthier areas of Paris, past a beautiful church, wide autumn avenues and passed the Lycée Pasteur – a French state-run secondary school in Neuilly-sur-Seine built in 1914. Jean-Paul Sartre taught Philosophy there.

Day 4. PlaceToB had organised a meeting for the Tuesday night so we caught the train from Barbès and arrived early for the opportunity to meet our compatriots and find out a bit more about what was planned, who was involved and what we had to look forward to. It was great to put faces to names and feel the enthusiasm and eager anticipation of what was to come – all the planning coming to fruition, the huge march anticipated to fill the streets of Paris (little did we all know …. )

The big surprise at that meeting was the news that James Hanson would be speaking at one of the evening events early in our schedule. A courageous scientist who alerted the world to the crisis and impending catastrophe long before the world was willing to listen, Hanson was defunded and lampooned for his efforts to get the truth out. To have a look at some of his most recent and most compelling work visit the Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions Program website at the Earth Institute, Columbia University.



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Why participation in the People’s March everywhere (29th) is now even more important.

The State of Emergency in France is having many repercussions. Some public places, parks and tourist sites –are closed. Taking innocent photos can be viewed with suspicion. Bags cannot be left, lockers may not be available. Life goes on but there is an obvious tension in the air and atmosphere of heaviness, especially of course in Paris itself.

The work that has gone into building momentum for actions giving visibility and voice to the issues of climate change and the COP21 is being undermined by closures and restrictions. The activists here are determined to find innovative ways to be as present and visible as possible over the next few weeks but are now looking to their friends, family, compatriots and like-minded people all over the world to come out strongly at all the international marches.

See this press release below and if you can march please march and if you can’t please encourage others who can.

The whole world will be watching.

Press release

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Plans for mobilizations in Paris cancelled by authorities: French activists more determined than ever before to make their voices heard

PARIS — The Paris Prefecture of Police has announced that due to the tragic events that took place on November 13, the Global Climate March planned for November 29, and the December 12 mobilizations planned will not be allowed to proceed in Paris.

We regret that no alternative has been found to allow our mobilization plans to go ahead. However, we are more determined than ever to make our voices heard on climate justice and throughout both weeks.

“We realize the gravity of the situation, but now  more than ever, we need to find creative ideas to call on people to unite around climate action,” Juliette Rousseau, coordinator of the Coalition Climat 21, the network of NGOS coordinating the mobilisations.

In fact, on the weekend of November 28 and 29, on the eve of COP21, millions of people throughout the world will march for climate justice. More  than 2,173 events are going ahead in more than 150 countries, including 57 major marches across all continents and dozens of marches across France.

Regarding both November 29 and December 12 in Paris, the French Coalition is already at work to find creative ways to take action and ensure that the future climate agreement will not be the work only of government negotiators but of the people around the world.

The Citizens Climate Summit to be held on December 5 and 6 in Montreuil (Seine Saint-Denis) and the Action Zone Climate (ZAC), to be held from December 7 to 11 at Paris-CENTQUATRE should go forward as planned. These mobilizations will be two great opportunities to demonstrate that civil society is fighting and implementing the solutions to climate change, and determined to fight against the climate crisis.

The Paris Climate Summit is not an end in itself. As citizens of the world, we will continue to build a movement that will be strengthened after this summit and beyond to call for a just energy transformation to tackle the common threat of climate change.


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