In order to effect change, it seems we need 5 crucial steps:
Be willing to See and acknowledge the issue we need to
Decide you are in fact going to Do something about it;
Connect with others to gain support, new ideas and collective
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 Stephen 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?
There are those who would argue that I’ve always been a (creative?) disruptor. I troubled my teachers at school by quoting bits of Beatles songs in English essays and, as an undergraduate, I inspired a walk-out from a zoology practical that involved dissecting living frogs (albeit immobilised). As a public servant I was once described as “dangerously irresponsible” for promoting a cost-saving and environmental beneficial idea that I, and many others, thought was bleedin’ obvious.
I suspect this tendency is never really dormant and so doesn’t need awakening; it’s just that there are some issues where I think it’s worth persevering and allowing thoughts and approaches to develop over time (trickle-thinking).
The most important issue for me, and the one that I WILL NOT park is the natural environment. I think our society’s abuse of our environmental assets is a scandal. I will continue to try to think-up ways of helping win arguments and make good stuff happen.
2 What action are you actually taking to tackle this, and how do you feel about what you do?
I’m currently a Trustee and Vice-Chair of Cornwall Wildlife Trust. My goal in this role is to link the Trust more widely to other people doing great work in this sector and to find a channel of maximising our contribution to Environmental Growth.
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?
I can do nothing on my own. It’s harder now that I have retired from a job where I had a budget, staff and ‘positional power’. That has gone and some people no longer return my calls and emails unless it suits them! I work through, and with, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and am beginning to think of reactivating some of my old Environmental Growth network, maybe through the CoaST Project!
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?
I have a great love for, and a reasonable understanding of, the natural environment. When I hear of environmental degradation my mood turns stubborn but whenever I see an animal or plant in the wild a whole series of hopeful little bells start to ring!
This is an existential fight but one that won’t be won through aggression. Persuasion and demonstration are the keys.
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?
Not enough. I need to change that.
And finally ... if someone came up to you in a pub or a cafe and said they were fed up/infuriated/anxious about something they felt was wrong or needed to change...what would you say?
Never be afraid to state, or re-state, the bleedin’ obvious if you think it will help improve the world. The more you think about truth the more obvious it becomes to you but don’t assume that other people have given it any though or understanding. Keep going!