Sarah Wilson joined us for our August Community Café event, to share her wisdom and experience, from the personal, through the social, to the political.
It is a treat always to hear someone speak with ease across a range of topics that all interconnect. She chose the Q & A format, rather than giving a prepared talk and these are some of the areas of the questions that Transition Bondi put to her:
- what influenced her as a child
- her journey as a ‘nomad’
- some of the people she met in her solo travels
- describing her connection to nature
- the effects of consumerism on us as individual and on the society
- choosing useful actions in the present day, regarding the climate crisis
- how to support ourselves and each other, through dark times in our lives, and the current situation.
From a young age, Sarah was drawn to listening to elders in her life – teachers and media people, especially those talking about how to live and the inner dimension of human existence. She used to skip school so that she would catch The Spirit of Things on ABC radio, with Caroline Jones (she is still in touch with her).
Her early career was in the area of fashion publishing (Cosmopolitan) and she threw herself into her work, while also fostering different values in her home life – moving toward minimalism, which became central to her way of living, later. The tension between her public and private ways of living ended up making her very unwell, to the degree that she left the job and embarked on years of recovery and searching, through travel and seeking out wisdom from philosophers past and present. She spoke about her ‘nomad’ years, where she’d reduced her belongings first to three suitcases, then a mere backpack, before setting off on a global journey.
Her immersion in the environment and the natural world sustained her, and she encountered remarkable people along her journey. Areas of interest and concern that she told us about centred around the western world’s addiction to ‘consumption’ and the effects of that on the environment. She reminded us that if all the world consumed resources at the pace of the industrialised world, this would require 4.5 planet Earths. A shocking measure of the injustice of our western ways of living.
And the effects on individuals and communities of these realities is often to undermine our mental wellbeing, to isolate us from each other, to blinker us to the situations of others, and to leave us overwhelmed or cut off from the ability to see, think and act.
Her prodigious energy and output – writing a number of books, touring as a speaker, and initiating and supporting environmental campaigns – must inspire anyone who hears her speak.
She mentioned the circular economy (seeing waste as a resource) positive initiatives like those who repurpose clothing and set up community-based swap networks.
And the need to not allow Climate to become dimmed in people’s minds due to the urgency of the COVID crisis.
She urges us to keep our eyes on the bigger picture too – COP in Glasgow that is coming up on the global stage. And in our national politics, to support Independents in our marginal seats, aligned with steep cuts in carbon emissions.
These topics are all woven together in her books. You might like to dip into them!
“What we think, will eventually become our life. And if you think positive, you will have a positive life.”
— Sarah Wilson