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It's Nice To Know I'm Part Of A Kind Of Tribe

As a kid I was interested in nature. I remember taking my dad round to the back of his car, which he had left running in the driveway. And I had to show him - I was about five - there was this terrible smelly smoke coming out of the back, and it was clearly wrong. And he should do something about it. He was like, “no, no, no, that's normal. That's called exhaust.” Yeah right! And I was like, “no, it's going up there. It's gonna gather, it's bad. Switch it off.”

I’ve been following climate change since the 90s. I came out of university quite disillusioned. The world was going downhill. I didn't know what to do. Through university, through community groups, through friends, I was introduced to people who I found to be exciting or useful or inspiring. I soon got earmarked as the guy who painted good protest banners.

The groups that make up the CAG network, and there's nearly 100 of them across Oxfordshire, some of those groups were active before CAG. They were doing stuff in their communities. And as a self-employed designer and illustrator, I was also often invited to help them. People had heard by word of mouth that there was this smiley hippie in East Oxford who was well up for painting banners, designing leaflets and posters, getting them printed, eco-friendlily.

And that’s how I got introduced to many of these groups. And I've probably worked for 30 or 40 of them over the years. Some of them again and again, especially the local ones. And then when the CAG network formed, they asked me to design a logo or make a leaflet and I carried on doing that. I have a sliding scale of fees. We live in such an unequal society. It's not fair to have a set fee, I think. It means only rich people can afford you and I don't really want to work for rich people! So I have a very sliding scale, which means I get to help a lot of really great projects who haven't got much funding. And I am quite poor! Ha ha!

Becoming aware and being a helper of many of the CAG groups, for me was great, because I felt like I was helping the people who I wanted to be helping. It's a desire to help as many people do as much as they can to make a difference. And it was great to see them being organised and getting funding and getting support from the central CAG group. I've known some of them many years, and they've done brilliantly. Fundraising, organising events, training. Yeah, just brilliant. And it was, it gave me hope. And yeah, I suppose knowing that there's a lot of like minded people all over the place near me and other parts of Oxfordshire is encouraging. It's nice to know I'm part of a kind of tribe. Yeah, that's been good. Very good.

I've been researching climate science for 25 years, mostly through radio, internet radio, because I can work and listen at the same time. I'm a slow reader. And I've read and listened a lot. I've watched a lot of documentaries. So I know a little bit about a lot of it. And yeah, it's really depressing. But by meeting the people who are trying to change things, by being involved in some of those campaigns, I saw some successes. And I saw lots of people being awakened, inspired, informed, and organised. And that was, it is exciting.

I think it's easier to live if you allow yourself some hope. Yeah, I know a lot of people who've given up and that results in them usually becoming sadder and less connected and depressed and usually overweight! It's a cliché but doing something about a problem makes you feel much better about the problem. And doing things with people is brilliant. Working with other people can really help you feel like you're actually participating in something useful. Yeah. So the CAG network is great on that level, because it's brought in lots of people together of all ages, all different backgrounds. I think it's a good thing.

It would be great if politicians and the media found a spine and a conscience and did some big changes. And there's a few politicians who have done some good. But I think that none of them are going to do much unless there's a massive groundswell of people from the ground up pushing them.

We need everything to come together if we're going to make climate change as “livable-with” as possible. It's very easy to feel that you need to hide away or escape or run away from it. But we can't because this is where we are. And this is our home and we have to fight to defend it.


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