Black Earth Podcast

Season 2 is complete!

In this episode, the Black Earth team, Marion and Anesu, reflect on their highlights and lessons from Season 2. We reflect on how our relationships with nature are evolving, the importance of radical imagination and re-defining community. We also discuss what active hope means in a world undergoing immense change and crises.

Thank you for being part of our amazing listener community from more than 110 countries! See you in Season 3, which will bloom early 2024. In the meantime, you can listen to our other episodes, stay updated by subscribing to our podcast wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts and connect with us on Instagram and LinkedIn @blackearthpodcast.

Episode timestamps
00:00 - Welcome to our final episode
02:26 - How our relationship with nature is changing
13:00 - Our reflections on Season 2 
19:32 - How Valerie’s episode inspired Marion to reframe her definition of community
28:25 - How Evie’s episode has inspired Anesu to practice imagination daily 
31:26  - The importance of reclaiming radical imagination
38:35 - Active hope in a world of immense change and crises
01:01:00 - How to support Black Earth Outro

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Creators & Guests

Marion Atieno Osieyo
Creator and Host of Black Earth Podcast
Anesu Matanda Mambingo
Social Media and Marketing Lead

What is Black Earth Podcast ?

Black Earth is an interview podcast celebrating nature and black women leaders in the environmental movement. Join us for inspiring, informed and authentic conversations on how we can make a positive impact for people and nature worldwide.

Episodes out every Wednesday. Connect with us online @blackearthpodcast on Instagram, LinkedIn and Tiktok.

Hosted by Marion Atieno Osieyo. Healing our relationship with nature, one conversation at a time.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: [00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to Black Earth podcast. Um, this is our final episode for season two. And I'm very excited that today, um, the amazing Anesu will be joining me, um, and we'll be taking some time to reflect on season two. So welcome Anesu.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: Hello. Um, yeah, it feels a bit surreal being here again, a season later.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: It's awesome. Right. How, I mean, I feel really sad that season two is ending. I think I've told you this multiple times. But it's honestly been such an amazing [00:01:00] season in terms of like the conversations and insights and the connections. Um, how do you feel about season two?

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: Yeah, I equally agree. I feel as though season two has sort of been accumulation of all our learnings from the past season.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: And like the growth and development, it's felt so beautiful to see what we've been able to create and like what our community has come together for and all the opportunities that have come out of it is so funny to think that's not even been a year. I don't know why my mind works so much on like seasonal and yearly calendars that anytime something new happens, I automatically am like, oh yeah, it's been a year since that last thing, but it hasn't even, um, which is surreal.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Yeah. I think we came together this time a year ago to start working on the podcast. And like season one, we launched in February.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: So it's really been like nine months. Um, um, and that's amazing. I feel [00:02:00] incredibly like proud and grateful to just be on this journey of, um, creating this podcast. Um, so, okay. So let's, let's start with the question that we always start with, but I guess, cause we already had this before. Um, so the question I ask everybody is, how would you describe your relationship with nature? Um, and so I was wondering, Anesu, since, uh, we last spoke in, um, at the end of season one, um, how your relationship with nature is evolving?

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: Oh, I absolutely love this question. Um, and yeah, thank you for asking. And thank you for asking all our guests. I think it's one of my favorite parts of the episodes. Um, but my personal relationship with nature since we last spoke, um, I've recently moved up to Scotland and it's, it just feels wild. And I think perhaps one of the things I'm really appreciating [00:03:00] with my relationship and something I'm aware of, and I think a lot of our guests mention is.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: Like, we are nature, but also nature sometimes feels so much greater than us. And I think for me, like being in a new city, I've started a new course, like it feels as though there's a lot of new ness around me at the moment, which as an introvert and somebody who struggles with anxiety, like it can be a lot.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: But nature sort of grounds me, it, in a good way, makes me like reminds me of like scale and how, um, we are so small, but there's like significance in that smallness and nature's so grand, but also so close to us. And I think it's sort of full of ironies and oxymorons and it's like perfectly imperfect. And I think I really use that as a reflection on myself and yeah, it's continued to sort of be, um, a thread that runs through my life, and I always seek out, um, [00:04:00] so my relationship, I think, with nature, like, continues to grow and evolve as I continue, I think I find some weeks, especially being in a new place, I maybe don't get out as much as I would like to, um, just because it's just been a busy couple months, but then when I do, and I actively decide to, like, get back into nature, I'm so full, full of like everything.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: Um, yeah, it's still there for me, which is nice. No matter where I go. Yeah. What about your relationship with nature, Marion?

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: How's that going for you?

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Thank you so much, Anessu. That is so like beautifully shared. Uh, and I really love when I heard you say like how nature is perfectly imperfect. Um, and I think that's one of the reasons why, for me personally, I really embrace, like, [00:05:00] diversity of, of people, of thought, of experiences, because I know that's like an inherent, like, reflection of the reality of nature, um, and this ideal of like normality or like what is perfect doesn't really exist because everyone has perfection in their own way. So it's really amazing to hear you say that.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: And I'm glad that you're in Scotland because Scotland is It's top tier when it comes to nature and landscapes.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: So hopefully you have more space to like experience and explore.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, I think for me, my relationship with nature has evolved in the past few months in terms of, um, I'm making more time to actually like be with nature and to listen [00:06:00] to nature, like actually listen to the land. So it's not just hearing the sounds that come from nature, if that makes sense.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Like when I'm walking in a landscape. Yes, it's about hearing the different, like, bird song or the different movements that are happening in the land, but actually, like, listening to what nature is showing me, uh, on a deeper level. And by observing nature, like, observing how it's manifesting in a particular space, allowing it to kind of shed light into my life in terms of the type of person I'm becoming or the type of, um, experiences I'm having or...

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Yeah. So listening to the land, it's not just about listening to the sounds of nature, but listening to what the land and what nature is sharing with me, um, and how that is perhaps providing like insights [00:07:00] into my life and just things that are happening at a particular point in my life.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, and it's been very profound because it's also meant that when I do go out to be in nature, I'm actually, I'm present. I'm fully present. It's not just kind of like, Oh, nice walk. You know, then I'm back. I'm actually like trying to be very present, um, in nature. And so I think that's been a certain level of like depth in my relationship with nature, which I haven't really experienced before, but I'm very much, um, looking forward to engaging with more.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, and it's something that I've also spoken to with, um, other, like, activists, like black women activists or organizers in the environmental space. Um, quite a few of them are experiencing, like, burnout, [00:08:00] um, in part because they're spending so much of their time doing, like, the advocacy work and doing all of that organizing work.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: But they're not actually spending as much time in nature and with nature. Um, and your relationship with nature is profoundly different and separate from whatever other activities you do, um, in terms of like earth care. So, yeah, I think also just spending time in nature has been good for like my nervous system and things like that.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, aside from the fact that I'm also gaining deeper wisdom and knowledge and understanding about just life and reality in general. So, yeah. Yeah.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: Thank you so much for sharing that, Marion. And it's so insightful as well to think about like how our relationships are constantly changing and evolving. Um, and I think what you're saying about like the different levels of being able to listen to nature, like the sort [00:09:00] of, Yeah, I've not thought of it in that way.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: And to hear you say that is, yeah, really, really powerful. Um, I think it also goes, I feel as though like, I'm also becoming more connected to nature in a way that obviously when you hear about like things that happen in the world, it's like quite hard to hear. But I think once you build that like sensory relationship, I think I watched a film about a dam that was causing like fish to die.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: And I almost feel that sensory now, um, beyond just sort of like the sadness of hearing that going on. And I think it's like, I don't know if it counts, but it feels as though this relationship with nature is becoming a new sense, like the sixth or seventh sense, I don't know, in my being. And that's just what I was thinking of as you were speaking and how within itself, like it's so ingrained in us.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: Um, and it's like relearning and rebuilding those skills and [00:10:00] abilities to our surface to properly be able to listen and feel, um, alongside nature. But yeah, that was a bit. Yeah. Thank you.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Thank you so much for sharing Anesu. Um, I wonder like if that sensory experience comes up when you're climbing. Cause I feel like sometimes when I see pictures of you climbing out in nature, like my breath is just taken away.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Cause I'm just like, okay, I need her. So I just need her to be safe.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: But aside from that, like, I guess when you're climbing, you're, it's like you're fully immersed. So do you, is it like a, do you have a sensory awareness of nature and like the different landscapes or are you so in flow that it's just like timeless? Yeah.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: That's so interesting. Um, I think it's maybe a little bit of both.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: I think with climbing, I'm just so aware of my body and like time and space and perhaps then, like, the environment I'm in [00:11:00] becomes an extension of that, um, because in order to move, I'm sort of like, I'm thinking of nothing external except for everything that's happening in the moment. And within that moment, it's kind of just me, the rock, and then everything around me.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: Um, so, I suppose in that way, I feel... like hypersensory around my environment and what's going on. And I think one of, for me, one of the beauties of rock climbing is like focusing on really tiny and insignificant bits of nature that perhaps are often overlooked. Um, I'm not sure if anyone who listens to this as a climber and for those who aren't, maybe it's a bit boring, but you can fixate over like little chips in rocks, like little, just like bumps and indents and like the way a rock curves and I think it's quite like refreshing to think I think like for many different aspects of nature there are people who have found their niche and like love it and it's quite rewarding to think [00:12:00] that all bits of nature are appreciated by someone like I know there's people who love moss and like the different types of moss and can tell you all that.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: Yeah, it's nice that we can all find our different niches.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: 100%. Um, yeah, it's amazing. It's amazing. Thank you for sharing that Anesu.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: We'll have to get you climbing one day. I'm selling it. It's gonna happen. It's happening.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Maybe like... One feet off the, off the ground, that's like my climbing and then I just come back down.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: Let's start somewhere, it'll be fine.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Maybe I will, I will come up to Sheffield for like a Peaks of Colour, shout out Peaks of Colour, promoting. And then, um, we'll go from there.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: Sounds like a plan, we've got it recorded now, so. Yeah, I know.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: [00:13:00] Um, okay. So let's talk about season two. Um, so our theme for season two was, um, Environmentalism reimagined.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: So what does it mean to reimagine the environmental movement as a place of joy? Of belonging, um, of effective action and of deep relationship with earth. Um, and so we had a whole range of guests, um, talking about, uh, we spoke about gardening, um, indigenous women's leadership. Um, we spoke about um, building a homegrown movement, uh, in the Caribbean for climate justice.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, Abolitionist Earthcare, Black Girl Environmentalism, Disability Justice and Earthcare, um, and African Mythology, [00:14:00] um, and I would say, like, Radical Education. Um, and so it was just, wow. What were your, what were your thoughts or, like, your highlights or lessons from season two, Anesu? Uh, cause it was rich.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: This season was rich.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: This season was so amazing and so needed, I think, at this time. Um, like every single conversation that was on the podcast was so, I found so powerful and so profound and so lovely to see, like, yeah, just the amount of work that's going on, like in the world by black women who were just, you know, changing it.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: And yeah, I think my overall thoughts of season two were that, um, I find it just really hopeful. Um, and I don't know, I've been thinking about time a lot recently and Um, I suppose we think of the future as this thing [00:15:00] that's like far off, um, and it's like constantly changing but our present is so linked to our future and so linked to our past and I think like listening to all the episodes that like is so apparent like within Hindou's episode, um, and talking about like indigenous knowledge systems and how that's always been around and how like maybe like a linear sense of time isn't always necessary because the knowledge they've passed down through generations.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: It's timeless then in a way. And it's like the current president present, um, I think she tells a story of a young kid who can sort of like go and get water, but still be able to tell the health of the water and like the animals and how they all share that space. And that's like generational knowledge that the young of today are applying in our living.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: And I don't know, I felt really sort of hopeful in that this, the future is not something that like the change has to happen now. [00:16:00] Like obviously change has to happen now for climate crisis, but there's history behind. Like, the work that's already happened in order to help us achieve what we're trying to achieve.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: I'm not sure if that makes sense, but for me, this season helps, like, tackling the environmental crisis feel less overwhelming because there have been Black women throughout history doing the work and who will continue to do the work. And like, it is accumulation of all the work we've all been doing that will... give us this environmentally just world and I think that was the power for me of season two and like that collective just, yeah, that I just really felt empowered from this season about like the collective work and I suppose I don't even like the word work because For some of us, like, it is, like, just being, um, and it's like this balance between work and being, I think, um, and that's, [00:17:00] for me, season two's, I think, my biggest highlight or takeaway or learning from it.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Wow. Thank you so much, Anesu, for sharing. Um, yeah, there's, there's so much richness in season two, and when I say rich, I mean, like, the depth of, like, thought. and depth of practice that comes, that has come from our guests.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, I think in part because one thing that has been recurring in the conversations, especially when I ask, um, when I ask each guest, like how they would describe their relationship with nature.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, the, the one response that has come back over and over again was like, I don't have a relationship with nature because I am nature. And I think When you're living from that [00:18:00] space or that world view that you are nature, there is just, yeah, there's a certain level of depth you reach in terms of even how you think about, um, the environmental crisis and you think about solutions and you think about, transformation.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, and that really came up in our conversations, um, in this season. Um, yeah. And it's also kind of invited me to really reflect like, what, what does it mean to really live as nature? Cause it's something that I know, and I believe that I am nature. But it's, it's like, okay, so what does that actually mean in a day to day practice in terms of how you live?

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, so I've, I just found this season that there was a certain depth to our conversations that, um, were just really profound. Um, I mean, I, I honestly loved every episode [00:19:00] because the, cause the, I feel like season two, we, we were focused on solutions, but we were also focused on ideas, like worldviews or different perspectives of thinking about the world, thinking about ourselves, thinking about nature that really shifts like our relationship with nature and that work we're doing in Earth care. And so it was just like, every episode was like a world shift. So you're just like, okay, I didn't know there were so many dimensions to reality.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Like this is a lot. Um, I think one thing that. Uh, was profound for me, honestly, every episode was profound, but one for me was the episode that, um, we featured, uh, Valerie Novack on disability justice and earth care. Um, I feel because some of the [00:20:00] practices in disability justice, um, are things that you and I are practicing in terms of uh, like black earth.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, so it was, it was profound to see that working towards the liberation of one group of people is actually liberating for everyone else. And I know that we know that because it's something that we say a lot in social justice movements, but it was like, yeah, actually. Choosing to live in this way is, creates capacity for a certain group of people, in this case, disabled people to live in a dignifying way.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: But in essence, it's also going to be dignifying for everyone else, whether or not you're disabled. And it was, it was things that we intuitively wanted to practice as a team [00:21:00] because we are trying to do this work differently and we're trying to really center like our relationship with nature in this work.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: So the idea of like producing in cycles and seasons is so that we have space to rest and space to be. and space to also evolve as people and come back and kind of share that into our work. But it's also a way that enables different group of people in this case, disabled people to actually be able to, um, live a dignified life because you have space and time and rest.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: So it was just like, Valerie challenged me in a great way, um, inspired me in a great way. I loved our conversation about, um, interspecies relationships because, you know, that's where I'm at in my relationship with [00:22:00] nature. Because, um, you know, I've, I've, I remember having a conversation with someone else. Um, and kind of, they were asking me, it was another guest and it was off, off, like, weren't recording, but they were asking me about my relationship with nature and I was like, I'm really exploring what it means to live in relationship with other species because as a human species, I know it's nuanced and political because not every human being contributes differently to the environmental crisis.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: But. as a human species, we have had a profound impact on the rest of the planet. And so when we're thinking about things like uprooting hierarchy or moving, you know, towards different, uh, modes of organizing and being. I also have to confront within myself the hierarchy of the human [00:23:00] species over all the other species in the planet and how to move towards, uh, a different way of being and relating that is, um, yeah, that allows for life to flourish.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Because that is really the fundamental goal of earth care is to allow for life to flourish. So, you know, and this person was like, okay, you're talking about interspecies relationships, but 99 percent of the human species can't even survive like they're struggling to afford food. They're thinking about losing homes.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Like, are you, are you on the same planet as I am? Or is this a different? And I was like, I know this sounds so weird, but that's, that's where I'm at in my journey. Um, I'm thinking about my relationship with other species.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: And so, and I remember Valerie, when we [00:24:00] spoke in the episode. Um, one of the things that she really wanted to, um, explore in the conversation was about community and expanding our notions of community because community is an essential practice in disability justice.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, and for her community is also extending beyond the human species to other species. So her practice of disability justice is having a definition of community that includes, um, other species. And so that, for me, I was like, wow, we're going into new realms. We're going into new realms of understanding.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: This is a lot. But, um. Yeah, I, I just found that conversation to speak to me and speak to questions that I'm trying to wrestle with as well, because, you know, even when I'm talking about, okay, where I'm at in my [00:25:00] journey, um, in terms of earth care is trying to understand how I relate and treat other species.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: I never want someone to kind of think, I think it's problematic in some senses, because when you think about certain. Um, disciplines of earth care, for example, uh, Western models of conservation, they have privileged species and ecosystems over human beings, right? And so I never want someone to see the way I'm thinking about interspecies in that lens, but I understand how it can come across if they live in a community, for example, where 90% of the funding that comes to that community is purely to take care of a forest, but nothing is kind of privileged or given to them for like healthcare, you know, and access to fresh water. So me talking about interspecies [00:26:00] to them is like you are just perpetuating the same models or structures that are keeping us in poverty.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, but it was also refreshing, um, and enlightening to hear Valerie speaking about community from the perspective of disability justice and her definition expanding, you know, from human species and strengthening community within human species, but also extending it to you know, all of life on earth, which includes other species. So that conversation just, yeah, I remember just thinking, wow, this, this is a lot. I feel like I'm leaving the matrix as I stay rooted in the matrix.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, but I think that's, that conversation is an example of just the depth of conversation that, um, came from season two. And I hope people received in this season [00:27:00] because it really just makes you think about earth care on a deeper level. You know, there's the material actions that we can take on a daily basis to be more environmentally friendly.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: But there's, there's levels to this, which is really about thinking about your worldview and your mindset. How you're showing up in life and what, what values you place in society or in your practice that are then showing up in, in the world. So yeah, that was a long one, but I just wanted to explain, cause there was a lot happening in that conversation, but we managed to land in the same place in the end, took us to the same place.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: Honestly, that was. So lovely to hear. And thank you for sharing that sort of journey in that thought process. And like being critical with those thoughts as well. Like, I think sometimes like people assume everything's just sort of this and that, and it's just so nuanced. And I think what you're [00:28:00] discussing is like almost those injustices come again from like perpetuating another hierarchical system where you then put earth ahead of people.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: And it's like, that's the issue. Um, not the idea itself within like properly. Yeah. Um, involving nature and like these non, um, these like beyond species relationships.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: Um, I think it kind of reminds me a bit of the conversation, um, with Evie and that episode was so surreal for me just because you both are such like in the history of my life.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: I think you guys are up there as like have had such a profound effect on my like development and growth as a person, as an individual. So to bring you two together, um, and to listen to that conversation. Oh, it's just so magical for me. Um, and yeah, I think while you were speaking a little bit, it takes me back to sort of like growing up and I, I kind of tried to imagine having these conversations with my mom.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: She's like [00:29:00] quite traditional and quite old school and to be like,

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: Oh yeah. Um. We just need to abolish everything, and humans, and the planet, and the environment, we're all on the same level. Um, for her, it's sometimes like this distant, um, thing to visualize. I think she is getting better, and she's making those efforts, so sort of, I think innately we all understand what it is we're saying, it's just sometimes the words in which we use to describe these things seem far off.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: When, I think when you break it down. people are like, oh yeah, that makes sense. Like, that's really obvious. Um, but one thing I really got from, um, the episode with Evie was discussions about, like, maybe like practical examples of how we can maybe use imagination a bit more and how it's not naive.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: It's like actually, realistic. I think she uses how they had a workshop about like mycelium networks. And could those be like an example for how businesses are [00:30:00] structured? And like, I think they always had a workshop about migration and how the flow of birds within conservation is valued. And like these birds always do these, but then as soon as we start, thinking of people and the migration of people.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: There are all these like negative connotations and just a lot of different ideas. And I think for me, that was so powerful seeing, I suppose practically is not the right word, but hearing these examples that even I suppose the biggest skeptics. It's so easy to see the parallels then and then it's like, then why do we see ourselves as separate when there's so much interlinking between us and nature and the environment and it just really like drove in and handed in like we are just One.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: And we need to continue that and need to ensure that we see, like, I don't even think equals the right word. I don't know what word it is I'm looking for. Um, but yeah, what you're [00:31:00] saying really just really resonated with me and reminded me how that conversation was just Illuminating, I think is the perfect word, and I really, yeah, that was definitely a highlight of the season, but again, I find it so strange having this conversation because I think I could genuinely go through every single episode and identify something that I think properly shifted sort of my worldview, um, which speaks to the power of this season.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Honestly, every episode was like, wow. Okay. This is a lot in a great way. Um, Yeah. I hear you with Evie's episode as well. Uh, this idea, just the kind of reclaiming imagination. And that's something that I, I really wanted to bring out in this season about dreaming again and dreaming as a radical act.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, because I, I feel so much [00:32:00] of oppressive systems in our society is about limiting um, and destroying our capacity to, to dream and to imagine alternative ways of being. And so, Evie's episode, they were so amazing in terms of just encouraging and reminding us, um, on the role and importance of imagination. Um, and I feel spending time with nature. really sparks that again. Like when you, when you're really immersed in nature and you're observing the different shapes and colors and contours and sounds, just your creative, like, intelligence, like sparks up again.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, But also Evie was so great in providing practical examples like the one you've mentioned about the workshop on mycelium networks and how to use that as a model for imagining different ways of organizing that aren't kind of rooted in [00:33:00] hierarchy or kind of the, the conventional models of organization that we know.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, you know, that was like incredible to, to hear. And I also really appreciate how Evie was open in sharing their experiences of surviving, um, domestic violence and intimate partner violence because um, I feel that, um, it's important to create spaces where people are allowed to have all of the experiences showing up in earth care.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, cause sometimes I wonder if, if people who are not, you know, engaged in the environmental space, whatever that looks like, I don't know what that means, but you guys, I hope you guys understand. [00:34:00] It could be seen like there's only one type of way to be like you either have to be a full on activist or a full on this or a full on that full on researcher.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: And we're whole beings where people with lives and life stories and life experiences that in many ways shape how we show up in this work and shape how we think about this work. And so, um, I appreciate that Evie trusted us enough to kind of be open about their experiences. Um, um, and not, not even as a way of, you know, because I experienced that, this is why I do this work, but more so just like.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: This is something that had a profound impact in my life and this is my story. Um, and then now I'm here and I'm with Peaks of Color and I'm writing, um, and that's, that's me.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, and I, it's something that's also come up in other conversations I'm having in terms [00:35:00] of organizing around environmental and like earth care, how to create spaces where people can bring their whole lives there. So, for example, if you have caring responsibilities, how can we create resources or access to resources where the person you're caring for can also be there or you can have space to show up and the other person that you usually care for is cared for by someone else?

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Like, how, how can we create, um, dynamic spaces where, like, People can show up as whole beings and, um, I really appreciated Evie sharing that and I hope other people who listened can be encouraged that whatever their life journey is, like earth is, uh, nature is big enough and, and complex enough to receive them as they [00:36:00] are.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, so yeah, honestly, every episode was amazing. I just, I'm trying to, I'm thinking of all, I'm like, oh my gosh.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: That was beautiful, Marion, that, um, what you just said at the end there, that nature is big enough to receive you at any state and before that, I'm just sort of thinking that over and it's really comforting and I just wanted to say thank you for that.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Thank you. Um, Oh, before we move on a highlight for me, oh my gosh, that trailer, Anesu created a trailer for season two, and it was like clips of, uh, from our listener community, our friends, our families, all being in nature, enjoying nature. And that for me was world building. [00:37:00] I saw that and I was like, wow, like that's actually the vision. And that is re imagining the environmental movement right in front of my eyes.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: And it's honestly one of my favorite things about this season, hands down. That trailer was like, I just can't believe this is real. Um, it just awakened so much like joy and hope and hope in like a very active way. Um, but yeah, for sure. Everyone check out that trailer. It's a video. It's on our Instagram.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: It's on all our socials. Just check it out. It's amazing.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: Yeah, making that trailer is actually so fun because I remember when we were planning for the season, I was like, so I've not done this before, but I think, I think we should make a visual trailer. And it was so lovely to put together. And you're so right that like, just seeing people have fun.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: Like there's a video of one of my mates jazz on like a swing and just people playing and [00:38:00] there's videos of people like dancing and just. just nature and the world. And, uh, it was so lovely to receive. And

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Thank you, Anesu. That's world building in action.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Okay. So the final part of our conversation today is about Active Hope. So we're in November 2023. These past few months in the world has been peak ghetto, like we're reaching peakness. Late stage capitalism is doing a lot. Um, [00:39:00] but I, I, I think we, we agreed that we would have a conversation about this with our listener community around, um, active hope.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, I think one of the things that have has obviously happened in the past month, um, coming up to two months, unfortunately, um, is. The, the situation in, um, Israel and Palestine and in in particular, um, what's happening in Palestine, in, in, in terms of the, the level of like oppression. Um, and yeah, just destruction on so many levels that they're experiencing.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, and I think that was heavy for, um, a lot of people. Um, and so, yeah, I just wanted us to have a conversation about like. I guess active hope and [00:40:00] how to move through these times, um, living in these times, um, because yeah, there's so many crises happening in the world. There's so much injustice happening in the world.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: And we're also showing up in this work to address one of those crises or injustices, which is um, the environmental crisis and how, yeah, how we showing up what has, yeah, so just what has been the last month or last two months like for you and, um, how, what is, what is useful? What have you found useful in helping you to move through these times?

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: Yeah, I think we've spoken about this quite a bit and I do think the past few months have just been hard, honestly. Um, I think hard from sort of an environmental level, a human level, like a social [00:41:00] justice level. And I think a lot of people involved in this work, I think question. like the value you can provide into situations and what your role is in situations and with everything that was happening in Palestine and is happening and has been happening for years, I think I just really struggled to see how I, as an individual, could add value and support to the situation and I think it's that remembering of it's not just you, um, and I think that's maybe perhaps what helped a bit, um, seeing the amount of people who are, like, the protests that happened recently, um, and the solidarity marches, to see those numbers, um, I suppose, for me, incites a bit of hope that it's beyond just you.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: And I think. So interesting talking about hope because sometimes it can feel like [00:42:00] naive and I think that's maybe just years of being made to feel like it's naive. But for me personally, I think, especially in the past few months, and just thinking about like all the changes that are constantly happening and legislation that's like happening, like across loads of different things, like with housing and with sort of war and with the environment.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: Um, I think, yeah some may argue it's naive to think of hope and like center positivity and joy in these spaces, but I genuinely would not be able to continue to do this work if not, I think for me, um, if. if I need to sort of source those out and have conversations, um, and perhaps not always come up with like a practical solution, but to be able to discuss things in a way that feels like collective and, um, that feels [00:43:00] meaningful.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: Um, that's really aided me in like having the energy, maybe is the right word, to continue on. Um, and I think one thing is like, yeah, the intersectionality of it all, I think is both like a power and also not fear, but I think it's almost like there's so much that needs so much. Um, but then that's also the beauty in it because when It's just like, it means that the community's evolved, and it's huge, and it's greater than you could perhaps ever imagine.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: Um, and so it's like a, it's like a two pronged sword, is that the saying? I don't like that visualization, but it's like a two edged thing, where, like, it's amazing how all these causes are interconnected and interlinked and it means that there's so many more people there. Um, and I think if you [00:44:00] flip that instead of, it's so easy to feel overwhelmed and I'm not saying that it's not overwhelming as well, how many injustices they are in the world, but on the other hand, they are people and they are groups and they are, yeah, just humans and the planet working on these. Um, and because they're so interconnected, it's then like a huge web of possibility.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Thank you so much, Anessu, for sharing that. Um, yeah, I really appreciate. I, we've had these conversations a few times, which I think is important. I think one of the hardest things, aside from kind of seeing just the sheer level of like violence and indignity that Palestinians were facing, um, have been facing, are facing.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: One of the hardest things for [00:45:00] me as someone working on social change was, um, I guess confronting the fact that, um, some of the, the biggest shifts that we need to make in society, I don't necessarily have, like, direct influence over, so for example, the, the geopolitical structures in our, in, in our global politics, um, or, you know, for example, one of the most effective ways, at least for someone who is, based here in the West was to try and influence our politicians to call for a ceasefire, right?

Marion Atieno Osieyo: And so it means having to engage with a political system that, you know, and so that, that was just, I think I found that challenging to [00:46:00] confront that it's, it's not going to be effective in time, um, to be able to stop the, you know, the lives of people being killed in families and homes. Um, and I think one of the most empowering things about kind of me being part of the environmental movement has been finding and creating alternative ways to build worlds that I want to see that doesn't rely on... the existing political institutions or powers that be to have a sudden change of heart. So that has been the most empowering and liberating thing about earth care. But I think in these situations, it kind of forced me to see like, actually, you still need to engage with these institutions and you still need to find ways to influence them. And I think that was very disempowering at certain points.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: [00:47:00] Um, I also feel that there was a collective sadness and a collective grief, which is important to acknowledge and hold space. We don't need to work through everything and bounce back to agency. Sometimes we just need to like really feel the grief and the sadness of like, wow, this is really, really messed up.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, so I found being in community and, and doing stuff together was helpful in moving through that grief without trying to bypass it or run away from it. Um, so, yeah, that was, that was very profound for me.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: I think also learning what allyship means in a helpful way. Um, and when I mean helpful, I think a definition of allyship for me, based on experiences where, you know, for example, [00:48:00] after the murder of George Floyd, like helpful allyship for me was other people not speaking over us or like just doing too much with the essays, but just,

Marion Atieno Osieyo: and

Marion Atieno Osieyo: coming up with new terms to define how they're showing up. Stop.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: It was, it was them just, yeah, just finding ways to alleviate the pain without having to do the extraness of it all. So I, it kind of forced me to think about. what was helpful in the past, but also just ask people in the community, ask people who are Israelis, ask people who are Palestinians, what is actually going to be helpful in this situation on an individual and community level, but also to help address what's happening in the world.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, [00:49:00] yeah, I think it challenged me to think about allyship in that way. Um, from a human perspective, but also allyship as someone who is deeply embedded in environmental justice. Um, and as I heard you say, being aware and being clear in communicating how intersectional all these issues are, was like so important for us to, as people in the environmental justice movement, it was really important for us to to be clear in our values and our practice and in communicating to other people why what's happening in Palestine is an environmental justice issue, why every environmental organization, every conservation organization should be talking about this and trying to stop it.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, I think that was important for us from an accountability perspective as people working at Earth care, it was really essential for [00:50:00] us to be very vocal and clear in that, um, yeah, I also struggled a lot with social media because that's a lot as a space that is part of our reality now.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: And I find that sometimes it's helpful to, um, for social change and mobilizing for social change. I remember my friends back, you know, in the early 2010s during the Arab spring, the Arab uprising, social media was their tool of organizing and it really helped. Um, but sometimes I also find social media to be quite harmful and almost distracting sometimes.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Because you're spending so much time trying to, I don't know, I don't know if it actually helps, but it helps, but it doesn't help. Um, so that's also something that I kind of had to think through.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, but in the grand scheme of things, [00:51:00] I think I've just learned how to take time to when it comes to active hope and um, being in solidarity with other people, I've learned how to kind of just take a step back and really firstly reflect on my values and what's very like important and non negotiable for me, um, in terms of living in alignment with my values and then finding practical and meaningful ways of doing that, that is actually about being in solidarity with the people in pain, um, as opposed to the other stuff that emerges from that, which is more about the performance of activism and performance of solidarity rather than actually being in solidarity with people.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: I don't know if that makes sense, but [00:52:00] I'm just,

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: yeah, that makes so much sense. And I think you're so right with, um, social media and like. It's never going to be the one solution, and I think that's the issue, is that if people's engagement and allyship ends there, um, perhaps it's performative. And in order to use social media as a tool, I think you need to be a committed actor, um, and then it can be used as a tool.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: But if that's not your goal or objective, then you're equally right that like maybe it is this distraction. Um, and I think, I just think like you never. in every other situation in life, you would never use just one tool to solve or to support in the situation as big as this. Yeah. Um, and it's the same with social media just does not stop there.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: Um, and I think it's, yeah, I suppose I don't, I, I could easily get into a rant about social media and [00:53:00] the ways in which it can be like, a tool in which it can't, and I think like it has provided so much for us all, um, and I think like, I think it's also kind of scary in where it's going, um, like things like misinformation and fake news, um, and Because information can spread so quickly, which is both, it's like, pro and con.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: And in terms of education, educating a wide range of people is so good. But I think it just goes back to, for example, if somebody is doing their part to share sort of like books and stories and literatures and films, um, I wonder how many people then are engaging with that authentically. And so I think that's almost like an example of how...

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: If you're committed and, like, genuinely [00:54:00] then choose to engage with what is coming out of it, then it's amazing. Um, but that's not always the case, I think. Like, the attention span of somebody on social media is so, so short, and it's a shame that then things have to be curated in those, like, snippets, because when talking about something like...

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: war and violence, like injustice, you like, how can you communicate all that in that amount of time? And I think that's where my issues lie in that. I think it's the beauty of it. Like, if you look at this podcast, like we've got our episodes, but then the social media is a clip of it. And I think that's perhaps what's needed more, um, in terms of like allyship when it comes to social media and people realizing like, this is a small part of the.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: bigger picture. Um, and if you are able to get that perspective, then there is so much power in that tool to open up other doors and other avenues. Um, but if, you confine yourself [00:55:00] to these clips and these bits, um, I suppose you, you've run the risk of just being quite surface level. Um, but it's a lot of, like, I also don't want this to seem as like an attack because it is a lot of energy, a lot of time, like, it is.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: Um, I suppose effort's not the right word, but it can be tiring and overwhelming, um, but it can also just be, like, quite rewarding and like, It is beneficial and so beneficial, um, after it. Um, and yeah, I suppose no one person can do it all is perhaps where I want to end there. And you can't really beat yourself up for it, but you can try.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: For sure. Thank you so much for sharing that Anesu. And also just social media helps us to meet people where they are. Um, and that's a powerful tool in itself. You know, maybe people won't have the time or capacity to like, Go [00:56:00] to a library and like find books about history of Palestine or whatever, but someone sharing that and taking time to curate a list or recommendation of things that's meeting them where they are.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: And so in many ways, it's, it's a really powerful tool. Um, yeah, and it, it should be used mindfully and, you know, like consciously being conscious of like your agency.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, and I feel in many ways like us talking about active hope is because we're going to be needing this going forward, especially in light of all that's happening in the world.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: But in our, in terms of our work in earth care, in light of the environmental crisis, there's going to be things emerging and coming up. Um, and so it's finding tools and practical ways of like, A, like living and maintaining wellness, whatever that looks like, but also like what, what's helpful in allyship, what's helpful [00:57:00] in being in solidarity with people, um, because these are tools that are going to be applicable in different situations.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, and I think just as a, you know, a final note from your reflection for me, one of the reasons why I appreciated season two and it coming out at this time is because it's pointing us towards spaces of like what, what people would define as like margins. Um, but for me, I, I define as like creative spaces or like edges.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: I call it edges of abundance because I feel like when. people existing in in marginal spaces or places where they have been marginalized from the center, which that's, that's already like, yeah, when people exist in marginalized spaces, they have to find ways of creating [00:58:00] things that they wouldn't be able to access, whether that's like essential services, like, you know, um, food, water, or safety, belonging, they have to find ways to create that.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: So there's a lot of creative energy at the edges of margins. And I think this season really brought that out, that, um, by no means do I see any of the people we interviewed in this season as margins or marginalized in any way. Um, but they are, like, moving towards new edges. Like, they're moving towards frontiers that are helping us think about the world in radically different ways.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: And if there's anything that the world is teaching us right now, is that we need new ideas. We need new ways of like being and organizing and living that are profoundly different from anything that [00:59:00] we've experienced before. And so that in itself has given me a lot of hope that, um, imagination and like dreaming, like active dreaming, active imagination is actually a necessary tool. You're not, it's not something that you're just doing for fun. Like, this is actually really, really important. It's necessary work because the only way we can see radical shifts in our society, um, is when we have really active and radical imaginations at work. So, I feel very grateful to have had a space that we've had with season two.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, on a personal level to help me balance, um, just the level of like grief, um, and violence that was happening in the world. Um, yeah. So thank you.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Any final reflections Anesu?[01:00:00]

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: I suppose I'm just like constantly excited and amazed by the space we've managed. And I just, maybe I want to end with a, just a huge thank you to our community.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: I think, um, it's so strange that people not only listen to the podcast, but like engage with it. And it makes me so happy. So yeah, a huge thank you to the community. It's been lovely to like get to know you all. Um, and to yeah, share this with you. Um, and to see that it's just been needed. I don't know if it's been so lovely.

Anesu Matanda-Mambingo: Um, yeah, yeah, that's it.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: I second that. Thank you to our community. You're amazing. We love every message, every DM, every share, every tag. We love it. We're here for it. So thank you so much. And, [01:01:00] um, see you in season three. We're very excited, um, to share with you what's coming, um, and it's lots of good things.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Thank you so much for joining us in today's conversation. We'd love to connect with you and hear your thoughts. We are on Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn at Black Earth Podcast. Don't forget to share this podcast with your friends, your family, your network, your communities. And you can also subscribe to our podcast wherever you listen to your favorite podcast.

Marion Atieno Osieyo: Black Earth is a proudly independent podcast. And we are on a mission to reconnect and heal humanity's relationship with nature. If you'd like to support us, we are on Patreon at Black Earth Podcast. Thank [01:02:00] you and see you in the next episode.