In order to effect change, it seems we need 5 crucial steps:
Be willing to See and acknowledge the issue we need to change;
Decide you are in fact going to Do something about it;
Connect with others to gain support, new ideas and collective clout;
Find ways to Sustain your own energies to ensure you don't burn out; and
Use your experience and energy to Inspire others to take action so we make the
change become exponential.
On that basis we asked Chris what he thinks ...
1 What issue do you see or come across that awakens the creative disruptor in you, and why does it matter to you the way it does?
Destruction of the natural world, which is ultimately suicidal for the human race (and the way we are going for everything else we share the planet with). It matters to me because I have always found suicide unappealing, and I have children for whom I wish a better world, with a long term decent future. Another reason is that our current path is stupid, and I abhor stupidity.
2 What action are you actually taking to tackle this, and how do you feel about what you do?
I am using the farm we have in way that shows we can be productive on a whole range of fronts that are not necessarily directly food related, but which provide cleaner air, cleaner water, more abundant bio-diversity, richer soils, a negative carbon balance, and so on and on. I feel empowered in what I do, I positively delight in the friendships this approach has brought me, and I count as acceptable the friends it has lost me. I feel that we are doing just about everything we can to be responsible farmers but it is great fun when we find other things that we can try.
3 How important do you think it is to reach out to and work with others as you work for this change, and how do you do it?
It is fundamental to NOT be in a vacuum. Those that think like I do are in a minority still but it is a noticeably growing minority. I do it using facebook, and through membership of a number of organisations like the Oxford Real farming Conference, the Pasture Fed Livestock Association, CoaST, Cornwall Wildlife Trust amongst others
4 How do you keep that fire in your belly alight without it causing you to burn out? How do you sustain your energies and look after you, and crucially, what's your advice to others?
Strong drink and good friends works wonders. Try not to do too much, and where you are failing do that do not get down because you are not performing as well as you want to. There is a very great deal to be said for being able to live with the half-arsed, to recognise it and celebrate it. If it is important better to be doing something kinda OK now, rather than waiting to do it perfectly in 5 years time. Another point is that I have never done anything in a vacuum – everything I have achieved has been the result of having had an idea, or getting an idea from someone else, then enlisting the help and support (some active, some passive but it is all support) of others to make it happen. And finally accept that failure is a natural consequence of actually trying to do something.
5 Positive change is contagious. Sometimes all that's needed for someone to take action is to see someone else doing something about it. So ... how do you use your experience to inspire others?
Tell them how we have done things here, ask them where they want to go in their life, and try to point out ways that they might be able achieve what they want to.
And finally ... if someone came up to you in a pub or a cafe and said they were fed up/enfuriated/anxious about something they felt was wrong or needed to change...what would you say?
I think I would ask that person what they were going to do about it, what they would like to do about, what things might need to be done to create the conditions to make a change. And try to recognise what things we can change, and what we cant do much more than have a moan about. In fact, lets concentrate on those things we can do and keep a weather eye out for changing conditions that might make the difficult or impossible a much more likely proposition.