‘You can’t do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth’ – Shira Tehrani
At the core of the Earth Rights Walker philosophy is the belief in the power of discourse. The stories gathered and shared along the journey help us to understand the passions, lives and struggles of the communities and individuals we meet, as well as help us to develop our understanding of how we can implement change.
This page will be used to publish the stories of those who travel along side us and who are doing similar walks, talks and campaigns to safeguard the rights of the Earth.
I told most of those who asked, that I only saved up and kitted up for my trip to Sweden to witness the grace of the Swedish women (I had heard their looks have quite a reputation), and that indulging in a little promenade with Dee was more of an added bonus. Of course, this wasn’t completely true.
I joined Dee in Sweden for the campaign walk for lake Vattern. This is the second largest lake in Sweden, and arguably the world’s largest for good drinking water. With it’s beautiful, crystalline waters you wouldn’t be surprised to hear so too, with a belief that the respectable Swedish government maintain the cleanliness of such a large lake; but the reality is very different. Widely used for munitions testing by the military, and having big heavy-metal mining companies sniffing around – in a country that actually has surprisingly weak environmental laws – Lake Vattern is circling the fringes of a major chemical spillage. We walked to raise awareness of these mindless acts of devastation taking place; the mining companies especially cannot be allowed to exploit nature in the area, using the same unsafe techniques as the Talvivaara mine (which last year was the site of a disastrous uranium leakage in Finland).
From a young age, I’ve always found Dee – my God-mum and one of my mum’s best friends since their late teens – very inspiring. A constant source of wisdom and awe-inspiring energy, I’ve always felt blessed to have someone so… interesting in my life. It was last summer I first heard about this epic trip she was planning, and as many other friends and family buried their heads in their hands at the thought of this mad-woman walking out of her posts as CEO of two major health companies to go gallivanting around the planet, I got more respect for her than ever. This journey is the embodiment of all my own ambitions and beliefs in life. Dee is acting out – for, like, real – the dream of actually doing something; actually going out and trying to make a difference instead of trudging through the gradual decomposing process of our 9 to 5 lives just like we’re told to, that so many of us contemplate but never find the right moment to plan.
So, naturally, I jumped at the chance to join Dee at some point on her incredible life/world-changing journey to try and help conquer the enemies of common sense. For one, it meant finding an excuse for not having to “find the right moment” to plan my own quite yet; but for two, I could have my own small part to play in something I believe in so much. Therefore, I actually planned to go and actually went instead of just saying how much I’d like to but not quite getting round to it, as is usually the case with anything remotely challenging or exciting.
Thus, after a night of 3 hours sleep, a short plane trip and several wrong numbers (I’d been texting a confused Scottish guy about my arrival time and how I couldn’t wait to see him) resulting in an hour and a half search for Dee in a Swedish bus station, I arrived blearily in Stockholm. My first impression of Dee, after having not seen her in person for several months, was of her having a new shimmering force-bubble of glimmering youthful energy following her around that you get caught by if you get too close: She’s not only content with her epic journey of great epicness, she carries the alive air of a woman fulfilling her destiny; making her mark… Which is great, normal Dee probably would’ve been much more pissed that I’d made her wait so long due to me not taking down her number properly. Instead she was all Zen.
I spent that day in Stockholm in a sleep-deprived haze, slack-jaw-amazed by the fantastic people I was getting to meet and the places I was seeing. Then came the last proper pillow for many days (I remember it so well…), in a flat we’d been very kindly lent for the night. The amount of kind, giving people Dee encounters along the way is wonderful; it’s heart-warming to see. In my experience, there was always someone to give a place for the night, fill up an empty water bottle or give a great conversation.
After a bus ride out of Stockholm, the next 9 days of walking began. They’ve blurred together now, but I’ll treasure every moment of them. I had so many unforgettable experiences, and some great photo opportunities… It was fantastic to spend so much time with my wonderful Fairly-odd mum too, and get to really know each other properly through chattering and bickering, philosophizing, and the situations my ‘map-reading’ got us into. To get an opportunity like that – helping in a stand against the insanity of rulers who endlessly put their profits above maintaining the land we live off, and the welfare of the people they serve – was also greatly special to me. I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity to do something so great with someone so great, and to meet such fabulous people and see such beautiful places.
I’m back at school now, buried in A levels, but feel I should never have left Sweden and should still be hitting the road with Dee as her official Glamorous Assistant and photographer and (very good, obviously) map reader. But I’ll definitely be joining her again soon, and couldn’t look forward to it more.
The first story we shared was from our friend Ling, who was planning to begin a walking pilgrimage in September 2013 from Schumacher College to her home in Guangzhou, China, visiting ecological/spiritual/humanitarian centres/communities/associations on the way to explore the question: how does walking bring the diversity of the world into step?
Her story is one of courage and simplicity. Ling is currently stuck in a nightmare of visa applications, she has not given up on her plan to walk.. but is now waiting for the right time to do so!
I wish to explore the diversity as well as the unity of the world, to learn to love all members of this planet as my family with all our differences, and to find common ground. I will walk without money in order to have more connection with people while receiving food, accommodation, clothes and giving back in different ways.
I choose to walk because walking is the best way to fall in love with the land and to share this love with the people living on it. Also, I want to be slow enough to embody the natural and cultural landscape from the west to the east, and to be transformed by the beauty of Nature and humanity. East is the direction of sunrise and enlightenment. For me, this is not just a walk back home, but also a walk that connects the east and the west within me, a walk back to the source, towards sunrise, towards illumination.
We shall follow and track Lings progress through our Social Media pages, as always please contact us with any ideas and suggestions, and offers of friendship to support Lings journey.