Blog / 11 July 2016

She is just around the corner…

She is just around the corner…

Another world is possible... 

Day in, day out I read or hear that there is no alternative; if we want to feed 9 billion people, provide them with energy and maintain our standard of living, we would need to continue doing what we do. At the most we can attempt to soften its sharp social and environmental edges, but the core of our large-scale production model seems to have to remain the same.

But why wouldn’t there be an alternative? Is this really the type of prosperity we want? Everywhere there is sound evidence that alternatives are possible and real. That the production and distribution of food can be done in sustainable and fair ways. That we have the resources, knowledge and opportunities to ensure that everyone, including the billions of people who live in hunger, can get enough healthy food. That we can transition to a world without fossil fuels in the medium term; the renewable energy scenarios are already made.

We have never needed such an ‘other’ world as much as we do today. Our current way of living, eating, traveling and producing overshoots all environmental boundaries of our global ecosystem. Social cohesion is diminishing with inequality on the rise everywhere and with society’s sad tendency to consider solidarity as something pitiful, often dismissed as 'typical' 80s-thinking, something for wimps. We often don’t realise that our prosperity is inextricably linked to the well-being of the rest of the world and that our denial of these linkages will come back to us like a boomerang.


She is just around the corner...

The strength of this part of Ruby’s quote is the 'she'. Deep down I am convinced that female leadership is a decisive factor on the way to ‘another world’. Female leadership would be leadership by men and women who listen, connect and flexibly move towards a fixed point on the horizon. It stands for shared leadership, giving space to others, for making mistakes and repairing them, and for the art to letting go and opening yourself up to surprises.

Across the globe women are taking charge of resistance movement against pollution and destructive mining, against the construction of dams and channels which eradicate entire ecosystems. Think of Mónica López in Nicaragua, Berta Cáceres in Honduras or the rapidly growing network WoMin in Southern and West Africa. But female leadership also characterises the thousands of initiatives around the globe that already form the basis of a new economy, new food systems and new ways to distribute welfare, such as the global movement to create food forests and protect seeds or the global network of Transition Towns.


In a quiet moment I can hear her breathing.

Silence. Rest. Thinking. These are the essentials of deep change. But today there is a lot of noise; debates, dialogues, endless brainstorms. The reality is that we only ever seem to react to immediate shock, to the wind that blows over the tip of the iceberg. We no longer seem to be able to take the time to dive beneath the surface and see what the iceberg is actually floating on.

If we want change we must consider the undercurrent, the root causes of our current crises and their unseen solutions. We need to understand the rules that determine what happens at the tip of the iceberg. Only then will we be able to see the bizarre reality of tax havens and trade agreements and the enormous impact they have on our lives. Or the shocking short term vision behind the ways public money is invested in coal plants and other fossil fuels. In silence we need to work on laws and regulations that ensure fair and green production, trade and investment.


Everyone may have their own quotes that bring up these thoughts. It is not always easy to propel thoughts and emotions into deeds and actions, however small they are. Sometimes you have to abandon the silence: to make sure that you are heard at the next Shell-conference or sit and protest outside the door, apply pressure on pension funds and the Dutch government to turn towards a fossil free future and come by at the next opportunity to plant a food forest ... see you soon!



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