• Eugene McGarrell

Sowing a seed to rekindle community

Last week I went along to a School of Life function in Sydney to showcase the new film by Damon Gameau 2040 which highlights the technologies available today that would tackle climate change if only we could mobilise communities and governments to act. The refreshing difference about this film is that it provides an optimistic future and aims to enrol the viewer to take action.

The website provides tools for any of us to “join the regeneration” movement so that we can all make a difference at home and in our communities.

On the 15 April a new movement in the UK with aspirations for international action was launched. The Extinction Rebellion appears to be proposing a more militant approach against governments to influence environmental policies. This year we have also see the emergence of school children striking in order to underline their concern for the future they will inherit.

This of course is a complex issue and an issue that won’t be served by reductionist argument. However anti-capitalist sentiment seems to be a common theme and if governments continue to fail to listen to the science of climate change then I suspect polarisation of this important issue will lead to clashes on the streets, not unlike the clashes we have seen in France and more recently in the UK.

The problem with "climate change" is that it is too big for any one of us to feel like we can have an impact. We feel impotent because despite our efforts to recycle, avoid plastics and compost climate change isn’t being reversed and the oceans are filling up with our rubbish.

Let’s be honest, capitalism is at the heart of the problem. We all love to consume, we all love the sense of importance we get from the work that we do and we all love to see how the housing markets and stock markets are lining our pockets so that we can continue to consume after we stop working.

When I say “all” I am really referring to my generation (AKA the Baby Boomers and the Gen Xers). We pride ourselves by owning a house worth 3 or 4 times more than it cost us 25 years ago. We reflect on how hard we worked to create the prosperity we now enjoy. We comment on how the current younger generations should just work harder and eat less avocado toast. After all that’s what we did.

The truth of it is that we were lucky. The timing was perfect. Back in the day houses cost less, single income families enjoyed a good lifestyle and there were jobs aplenty. Today the cost of housing is out of reach, to keep their heads above the poverty line families need at least 2 incomes and jobs are becoming more specialised, casualised and scarce.

We got rich on the back of destroying our environment. Now our grandchildren face a world that is dying, governments that refuse to listen, a capitalist system that is continually driving "growth" and a future without meaningful work.

Mea Culpa!

So being sorry for the mess we are exposing our future generations to is not enough. We need to act. Militant action will not achieve the results we need to deliver. Blaming governments, politicians and past generations might be fun but it’s ineffective. We need to take responsibility and take local action with the people that live in our neighbourhoods.

We need to rekindle the spirit of community.

The "What’s Your 2040" website provides an opportunity to design and activate a plan based on our skills, abilities and resources. It’s a real opportunity to engage with a movement from the grass roots up. The #WhatsYour2040 campaign has the potential for making a real difference while we and others enjoy the fruits of our economy.

By rekindling community spirit, we will also see the emergence of resilient communities. Resilient communities support people in vulnerable situations. Improved social connections and relationships help to reduce poor social outcomes like addictions, anxiety, depression, homelessness and domestic violence.

We won’t only be saving the planet. We will also be revitalising our local social and health economy. We have an opportunity to act. Let’s join the “regeneration generation” and leave a legacy we can be proud of.

Of course without a healthy planet there will be no one to hear about our legacies. It will all be for nought.

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