Tamsin Omond - Do Earth - September 2021
Wow, what a powerful discussion we had on the last day of September with Tamsin Omond about their* book Do Earth.
You might have expected a discourse on the looming impact of climate change and the environmental behaviours we should adopt to avoid that. However, like the book, this proved to be a conversation about being kind to ourselves and connecting with each other.
There is good reason for this. As Tamsin readily admits, they burnt out having thrown themselves into activism - such as dropping banners from the Houses of Parliament roof - with the endless energy of youth.
It wasn't a sustainable strategy without the coping strategies that they subsequently developed: reading books and connecting with the natural world. So, you can see why Tamsin was in the right place speaking with us!
Our exchange felt very much like words of wisdom shared by an experienced crusader to a fresh cohort as we reach the point where, it seems, everyone has woken up to the enormity of what we face. The constant theme was that building resilience and community will help us prepare for and cope with the inevitable setbacks and disappointments.
These conclusions emerged from a discussion covering such a wide range of topics, touching on:
- how change happens in ways we don't understand
- the importance of direct action and its historical precedents
- how we are essentially blind to the systemic roots of our current crisis
- Tamsin's low expectations for COP26, having "never been to a good COP"
- how movements like Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion have raised our collective consciousness
- what we can learn from how excluded groups and minorities have self-organised when political systems have failed them
Tamsin also highlighted two of our most significant challenges: the first being how we respond collectively as a species and avoid being distracted by facing off against each other in a culture war. The second, closely related predicament is whether the media and cultural narrative can shift to make climate change more engaging.
We ended on a hopeful note, with Tamsin reflecting that leaders were emerging and organising in every organisation and field. Which is timely, for as they note in the book, "This needs everyone".
*Apologies for an errant "her" in the introduction; Tamsin is trans and non-binary and identifies with the pronouns they/them. They were kind enough not to mention the slip, but it merits correction.
Buy Do Earth from our Back Issues.