Why Extinction Resilience?
If all you follow is media coverage, this is the Extinction Rebellion you get: neon pink boats, buckets of blood on Downing Street, 91-year-olds in the arms of police, outstretched hands super-glued to towering financial institutions. Stories that are handcuff-and-wildebeast sexy, more wild than a rewilding project, moments that have galvanized countless thousands to shout “this is it!” with their keyboards, to their mothers, over cold roast broccoli and, of course, while otherwise stuck in traffic.
But here’s the rub—all that steel and neon hides Extinction Rebellion’s secret heart, XR’s commitment to regenerative cultures. It hides the true bedrock of the movement, the intricate spider webs of healing, joyous community that XR rebels are spinning together wherever they come into contact: at the edge of an Adelaide bushfire, while protesting for democracy on Hong Kong’s streets, disco dancing on the steps of Sheffield town hall, guzzling Fin du Monde at a terrace bar in Montreal. It hides the relationships that rebels are building when they don’t even realize it—while otherwise feeding a baby avocado; while huddling around a single candle trying to read a single paper; while learning to listen to indigenous sovereignty; wrangling a wheelchair; texting obsessively about a friend’s missing water bottle; while falling in love between two hastily constructed plywood towers in the middle of Trafalgar Square (you two know who you are).
This movement has so much resilience, reconciliation, celebration, humanity, love, and—yes, sometimes also handcuffs.
So many stories of regenerative cultures flourishing, and flying, and also—stories of how we can do better. Can make this movement even more beautiful.
Let’s tell those stories.
What do you mean by regenerative cultures? Where did the concept come from?
As the movements’ founding members developed Extinction Rebellion’s principles, they took inspiration from Daniel Christian Wahl’s “Designing Regenerative Cultures.” As the movement’s third principle, they set down a framework to guide their vision of a regenerative culture. The principle reads:
“We Need A Regenerative Culture
Creating a culture which is healthy, resilient and adaptable.
A regenerative human culture is healthy, resilient and adaptable; it cares for the planet and it cares for life in the awareness that this is the most effective way to create a thriving future for all of humanity. Regenerative culture means improvements year on year, taking small steps to heal and improve, and on all levels, including individuals, communities, our soil, water and air. More than being a network of “activists”, we seek to find ways of being and doing that support positive change. This can include ceremony and prayer (in ways that are neither dogmatic nor expected) as formats to find inspiration from things bigger than ourselves. We need to reconnect with our love for ourselves, our country and our people alongside wider neighbours; people and the natural world.
Regenerative culture includes a healthy focus on mutually supporting categories of:
- Self care – how we take care of our own needs and personal recovery from this toxic system
- Action care – how we take care of each other whilst we undertake direct actions and civil disobedience together
- Interpersonal care – how we take care of the relationships we have, being mindful of how we affect each other, taking charge of our side of relationships
- Community care – how we take care of our development as a network and community, strengthening our connections and adherence to these principles and values
- People and Planet care – how we look after our wider communities and the earth that sustains us all
It’s about relationships. Our relationships with ourselves and personal histories, our relationships with what we struggle against, our relationships with other individuals day to day, and our relationships as a group – these are completely interdependent. Self care is also about taking care of the animal parts of the self that respond instinctively to stressful situations with fight or flight or faint.”