After trauma: writing for truth and justice

Many times over the years, people have recommended I read The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk.

(Or, to give it its full title, The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma.)

The book lays out a modern understanding of trauma and describes therapeutic approaches that many traumatised people find helpful.

It also shines a light on the often-shocking ways individuals such as war veterans and abused children were treated in the past. Thank goodness there is more enlightened guidance on offer these days – for those who choose to heed it.

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk - book cover


Read More

Of good deeds and doughnuts

To die extremely rich is disgraceful. So said Andrew Carnegie.

More precisely, he said, ‘…the man who dies thus rich dies disgraced.’

Carnegie was a successful industrialist and later a philanthropist, and his philanthropic legacy includes thousands of public libraries, as well as vast investments in education and research.

The very first library I loved was a Carnegie library. Sadly, it’s now sitting empty as a result of funding cuts.

Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie. Source


Read More

Are you a (climate) realist yet?

Would you say you’re a realist?

According to Oxford Dictionaries, that would be ‘A person who accepts a situation as it is and is prepared to deal with it accordingly’.

On 30th June 2020, I took part in the Climate Coalition’s virtual lobby. I spent an hour on Zoom with my MP and around twenty other constituents, talking about climate reality and climate solutions.

The reality in 2020 is that we have already seriously destabilised our climate (the one that keeps us alive) and we have major work to do to buy ourselves time to

  • adapt and survive
  • restore as much stability as we can.

BUT the reality in 2020 is also that there are endless impactful ways to do this work – regenerative land management, fossil fuel divestment, retrofitting, community wealth building, expansion of renewables, lobbying and protest, policymaking…

The list goes on. (more…)

Read More

Communicating climate change: from words to solutions

In the most recent episode of BBC Radio 4’s Word of Mouth (14th January 2020), author Michael Rosen spoke to George Marshall of Climate Outreach about communicating climate change in ways that are relatable and true to life.

They know their stuff, of course, and listening to their conversation was half an hour well spent.

Michael Rosen

Michael Rosen. Credit

Words into action

In the climate crisis, we’re seeing something truly unprecedented. We face major challenges as we try to get a critical mass of people to respond as necessary – to engage with what’s unfolding and take action to protect the habitat we all depend on.

How well we communicate this necessity – in the media, in boardrooms and government chambers, over the garden fence, and everywhere – will determine the pace of change.

I recommend listening to the full Word of Mouth episode for all the fascinating detail, but in the spirit of spreading the word in urgent times I’ve also briefly summarised the insights I took from it.


Read More

The power of speech, and speaking to power

How we communicate about the climate crisis matters, of course – the words we use and the occasions on which we choose to deploy them.

I live in a part of the world (the UK) already affected by climate change but not yet overwhelmed by it. Most climate-related death and disease, most of the climate refugees, have so far come from other places.

So when I talk (or write) about climate breakdown, I am often talking (or writing) about events at a remove – far from home, or in a potential future. This adds to the challenge of communicating persuasively in some cases.

And so do the angry reactions it’s possible to provoke just by raising the subject.


Read More