My brief speech about the need for "Re-story-ation" given at today's wonderful Extinction Rebellion (XR) Streets for Life action in Cambridge

It's been a pleasure and honour to have been able to welcome so many of you to the many XR events that have been held in the Cambridge Unitarian Church over the past few months. Thank you, too, for inviting me to say a few words here today.

I have no doubt that all of us gathered here today are people completely committed to playing a real part in the necessary restoration of our planet and its associated ecosystems. Even without the mountain of scientific evidence which clearly shows that our current growth-obsessed, industrialised and financialised cultures are destroying the world at an unprecedented rate it is now possible for everyone to see that humanity simply has to start living in very different ways from those we are currently pursuing. As events such as these, and the inspiring school climate strike movement, are showing, there is now ever more widely in play a new ethical demand to protest against and to begin actively to disrupt our old ways of living.

However, as we do this we must never forget that as a movement we are not only concerned to protest against something and to disrupt it but also — through the creation of intelligent, scientifically informed, plural, inclusive and democratic Citizen’s Assemblies — we hope to articulate and then to bring into law, radically new public policies designed to protect the world from any further rapacious exploitation and wilful destruction and, secondly, to introduce policies which will help all of us play a part in the slow, careful, loving process of restoration.

In connection with this necessary process of restoration today I want simply to add a single, brief thought to our collective conversation which I learnt from the environmental film maker Steve Dunsky.

He realised that any true and lasting restoration of the world needed to be intimately accompanied by the need to “re-story” our world and he memorably insisted that “[b]efore we make new policies, we need new metaphors.”

Dunsky could see that our metaphors, in the form of the stories we tell each other, continually shape us; indeed, it is no exaggeration to say WE ARE the stories we tell each other and ourselves.

What is now clear to us all is that the old, growth-obsessed, industrial and financial stories that have prevailed in our world for too long must now urgently be abandoned. As loving, thoughtful gardeners of the earth we need lovingly to dig into the rich and fertile soil of global human literature, music, art and philosophy and religion to encourage the appearance, growth blossoming and fruiting of new stories, new metaphors suitable for our own times.

Our present political, financial and industrial leaders refuse to do engage in this work of re-story-ation and endlessly say to us TINA — There Is No Alternative — to their way of doing things.

But, if we take seriously the need to re-story ourselves, we will find not the TINA beloved by our current political and industrial leaders but the far more wonderful TATIANA — That, Astonishingly, There Is AN Alternative.

Today, we are gathering as a people who know, deep in our bones that, astonishingly, there is an alternative.

But these alternative ways of being in the world — prefigured for a summer afternoon here in Cambridge — will not take root, blossom and fruit unless we all take time to re-story ourselves. For it is only out of our own individual and collective re-story-ations that there can come the right kind of new policies which are truly able to protect and nurture this our most beautiful, but often bruised and hurting world.

So let’s raise a glass and a cheer to TATIANA — that, astonishingly, there is an alternative and we, through our new stories, will be ourselves TATIANA embodied.


I took a few photos at the junction of Emmanuel Street and St Andrew's Street where I spent the day with a lovely bunch of people. I post a few of them below for your pleasure — just click on them to enlarge. We talked and sang and thoroughly enjoyed the blessed lack of traffic . . .

We were even joined by a bride on her wedding day!