In this sixth conversation between an Extinction Rebellion Rebel and a home-grown sustainability leadership (I hope) leader, we explore more of the life of someone who has devoted himself to solving our environmental problems. We continue comparing and contrasting the approaches, learning from each other, developing friendship, sharing the challenges, and sharing why we do it. If you, listener, haven't yet decided to make sustainability your priority, I think you'll find everyone needs your help. I hope this conversation helps influence you. Whatever else you're working on, clean air, land, food, and water will help. I hope Etienne and my conversations help reveal it's a deeply rewarding life. And hearing from an Olympic gold medalist who sees this work as the most valuable he can do is pretty engaging.
In Etienne and my continued exploration of each other's work, we look at my leadership work from his perspective. What are the differences between leadership and protest? What's the difference between a purity test and living by your values? How do my goals, strategies, and tactics differ from theirs? How do our efforts complement each other? Our time was tighter, so it was a shorter episode. I think it may lead to collaborating some time with Extinction Rebellion.
Following up last conversation with Etienne, on Extinction Rebellion's mission, strategy, and tactics, this time we talk about his path from disengagement to becoming a Rebel---that is, playing a significant role in Extinction Rebellion and committing a major part of his life to it. I don't know many others who have committed and dedicated so much personally, with such dedication and passion, to making sustainability one of their priorities or the priority. Most people seem content to talk about it and get outraged but not act. Etienne shares about peaceful civil disobedience, pressuring the state, his personal risk, coming to terms with engaging so fully, talking to loved ones about it, and more of the personal side of preparing to act. He knows his history and title lead many people to listen to him more, though it could also lead people who disagree to push back harder. The Olympics and patriotism mean different things to different people. He has stature, but many people may decry him for that reason. It meant preparing himself, emotionally, socially, intellectually. If you're thinking of acting, you can learn from Etienne's experience.
Etienne Stott is using his Olympic gold medalist status to augment his impact acting on the environment, including working with Extinction Rebellion on peaceful civil disobedience. He's been arrested, spoken publicly, and more. When I started acting on sustainability, I looked for organizations to work with, but found none doing the leadership that I considered essential but i couldn't find anyone doing. I only learned enough about Extinction Rebellion to see it wasn't doing what I thought I should. After all this time I figured I should learn more what they do, so emailed Etienne to ask if he'd describe the organization. Before he started explaining, he asked if I was recording, so I started to. Etienne then extemporaneously but thoroughly described Extinction Rebellion at the mission, strategy, and tactical level. He isn't just following some trend. You'll hear he researched the organization and what it does, reflected on his values, and chose to act deliberately. This episode describes Extinction Rebellion from a researched, thoughtful insider's view.
Etienne starts by sharing how his government in England is beginning to increase how much it threatens punishment for people protesting, including what he does as an MBE working with Extinction Rebellion. He sees that reaction as showing they are making a difference. I hear it is similar to what is happening in my nation, the U.S. In our first conversation, Etienne was already acting and protesting. Sustainability is among his highest priorities. He isn't just talking about it. He's on of the most active people I've spoken to, by no means backing down. On the contrary, increasing his activities, as determined as ever. This episode features two people who have done what everyone can: making changing culture to increase human flourishing our top priorities, including leading others. For my part, I relished being able to talk about achieving the clean air, water, and land we all want without defensiveness. On the contrary, we explore each other's interests, actions, motivations, and results. We're talking about glory, if you ask me.
I met Etienne on a holiday conference call of Flight Free UK, which celebrates what life brings when we enjoy people, culture, cuisine, and so forth around us, not flying all over. The concept would have sounded crazy to me before trying, but the attendees had made that transition. Etienne spoke joyfully about his working with Extinction Rebellion in the UK, a wonderful contrast with two things. First, his Olympic gold medal, which he overcame a huge deficit to win in front of a home crowd, after an injury months before that left the tiniest window to recover and retrain from. Second, the joy he spoke of getting arrested in civil disobedience acting with XR. I saw a role model---someone with a prominent voice who acted from internal convictions. Before talking protest, if you know me, you know I love the parts of sports, athletics, and competition that help us reach our potential---physical, mental, spiritual. I love learning of people surpassing imagined limitations to learn more about ourselves as individuals and humans. So of course I started by asking him about sports and Olympics. Then we spoke about the passion we share on stewardship and leadership, not just passively watching, nor accepting that it's hard or undesirable. For Etienne to say, as you'll hear, that he's doing the most important work of his life after the dedication to reach a global pinnacle of sport reinforces to me how valuable stewardship is in our world now. However many people call what we do extreme, role models like Etienne remind me that helping others is not extreme. It's just the start.