Speaking Up for Women and Climate with Osprey Orielle Lake

by | March 15, 2024 | Permaculture Podcast | 0 comments

Join me in this episode as part of our International Womens’ Series to explore how we can speak up for women and climate with Osprey Orielle Lake. Osprey is the founder of Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International, leading and inspiring a just transition towards a one-planet, democratised and resilient world.

Tune in on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Youtube or any of your preferred podcast platforms.

We discuss her new book, ‘The Story is in Our Bones: How Worldview and Climate Justice Can Remake a World in Crisis‘, diving deep into the importance of worldviews of how they shape our understanding of the world and determine how we act.

We need to engage at different scales – from personal actions to global community building – speaking up for nature and building womens’ leadership in whatever ways we can.

We also chat about how permaculture can be used in these actions and forming the basis for a theory of change. Deeply informed and felt worldviews are so important in creating the world we want to see.

Make sure to look into Osprey’s amazing work – get involved and support WECAN and read her book to delve more deeply into these ideas.




Join me to learn more about permaculture. Come and explore the many free permaculture resources my Our Permaculture Life Youtube channel and subscribe to this blog below.

The world needs more permaculture teachers everywhere – local teachers share local ways for one planet living. Let’s work toward a climate-safe future through design, resilience and connection. For you that may be through film and story, kids clubs, workplace education, or hands-in the earth. Whatever the way that moves you to speak up and share, I wholeheartedly encourage.

If that inspires you, I invite you to join the Permaculture Educators Program with others from 6 continents to explore what that might look like and how you can make the change. This is a comprehensive online course that includes the Permaculture Design Certificate and the only online Permaculture Teacher Certificate anywhere. We are a global learning community. People all over the world encourage you to be the change you want to see in the world.


We support free permaculture education for people in refugee camps. Help by donating to Ethos Foundation – our registered charity.


If your main interest is getting a thriving and abundant food garden set up, then take a look at my online permaculture gardening course: The Incredible Edible Garden.

Much love


I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which I live and work – the Gubbi Gubbi people. And I pay my respects to their elders past present and emerging.


Read the full transcript here:

Morag Gamble (00:01.655)
Well, hello and welcome and thank you so much for joining me on the show today, Osprey. It’s an absolute delight to have you here with me.

Osprey Orielle Lake (00:09.39)
Thank you so much for inviting me. I’m really honored to be here.

Morag Gamble (00:12.855)
So I’m really excited. This morning I was on another call with you with the Deep Transformation Network and talking a lot about the work that you do with WeCan. And I’d love to talk about that more. But first I’d like to really dive into your new book, which has just come out and the title being, The Story is in Our Bones, How Worldview and Climate Justice Can Remake a World in Crisis. Now the title, just to begin with, you know,

The story is in our bones. Where does that even come from? And what does that mean for you? Because it’s so evocative in terms of how we can really start to begin to think differently about the kind of changes that we need to be engaging in.

Osprey Orielle Lake (00:57.23)
Thank you for bringing that forward. Yeah, for me, the title was a way of understanding that we’re in this polycrisis of quite extreme situations that we’re facing all over the world from social and ecological degradation to wars and climate crisis. I mean, we could go on and on. And so I wanted to look at what is…

the story that we’re needing to now narrate and perform and act upon. And some of that is that we are carrying the stories in our bones, in the land, and where we come from and in our bodies. And because it’s such a large topic of looking at worldviews, which is the subtitle, and climate justice, I wanted to ground the title and also understand that we’re in the story now.

and the stories in our bones, it’s in our ancestry and it’s part of looking to the past deep in our bones, if you will, while we also look forward. And how do we really understand the historical context as humans living in an earth lineage? And so that’s why the title, The Stories in Our Bones and how also I was thinking a lot about how the blood is formed in the bones and how actually it’s a place of place making.

and creativity inside of our bones. And so there’s also just sort of a scientific component of the fact of the DNA that we carry in our bones and the stories that are kept there and how we need to reconnect with nature and the land and who we are, as I say, in the Earth family. And so the stories in our bones, how worldviews and climate justice can remake a world in crisis and how we’re really engaging deeply in this narrative right now. And we are all a part of it.

Morag Gamble (02:51.831)
Yeah and it’s that sort of sense too I think when it when you realize that it’s in your bones that it’s within you there is a great sense of permission, authority, courage that can come from that because often there’s that sense of disconnection is it’s like oh this this meta crisis is just too big to tackle this meta crisis I don’t know

we need to kind of leave it to someone who has the capacity to do it. But when it’s all in our bones and it’s all of us and we are nature defending itself, you know, it’s that reconnection with the world. And I wanted to come back to that the word world in your title as well, because it conjures up lots of different concepts for lots of different people, isn’t it? You know, the world is in crisis. And I was doing a talk the other night around permaculture and really trying to

deconstruct this notion of world. Like what is your world? And what is your notion of the world? And that’s different for everyone, isn’t it? Like if depending on whether your world is your home, your bi -region, your world, you know, you consider it planetary. So I wonder like where in the discussion can we open up that a little bit more to really explore that actually if you focus on even a small part of the world, that your world.

which is your big world, is making an amazing difference and contribution at a planetary level. I guess it’s a question of scale. Like how do we engage at a scale in our world that actually feels like we’re contributing to a larger whole?

Osprey Orielle Lake (04:31.918)
Well, it’s a great question. I think that, you know, how I sort of view it is that we’re in an ecosystem of activities. And while one world, speaking of worlds, is unraveling and burning and being destroyed, which I think we need to be very honest about and look directly in the eye to see how because of the worldviews that we’ve held of dominion over nature, dominion over others,

this idea of white supremacy or racism or colonization and the taking of indigenous lands and all of these things are part of a world view that has been very detrimental to communities all over the earth. And when we look from that frame, we can see that we’re not all living in the world evenly. So when I’m talking about the world, I’m looking at…

you know, from the very close at home where I live in my own little garden and what influence I have here and growing pollinator plants for the bees and the butterflies and the bats and how that feeds the ecosystem to extending that to my bio region and my relationship to the land around me and the forests around me to then the communities that I work with at the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network where we’re working on the front lines.

of the climate crisis, everything from reforestation to forest protection and food sovereignty and going to climate policy meetings and all things in between. And so then there’s the world of our global community and how we’re building relationships in that world. So I think it’s at different scales, as you were saying, sort of like a right at home, looking at the macrocosm to the microcosm, going back and forth between the large and small.

scale of what our world means to us. But I think what’s important is that the systems that we’re in are collapsing and the ecosystems are in our grave danger and frontline communities, especially Indigenous Black and Brown communities, and add gender onto that, women because of gender inequality, are suffering terribly in these conditions. And so the question is, how do we open up our worldviews?

Osprey Orielle Lake (06:48.014)
to look at other ways we could be living in the world and with the earth and one another. And I think that’s the provocation of the book is to really explore not only the hardships, but what are the solutions and how do we actually get at solutions that address root causes of the crisis that we’re in.

Morag Gamble (07:07.863)
when we’re talking about worldview, can you, are you able to describe or worldviews describe that kind of worldview that we’re imagining into? What is that worldview that we’re transitioning to?

Osprey Orielle Lake (07:25.582)
Well, I think there’s, as it should be, a variety of visions because I think it’s also healthy at this moment to realize we’re not trying to have one uniform future. And this whole idea of like a mono -crop idea or one single path forward, I think that’s gotten us into a lot of trouble to sort of be looking at, you know,

everything is a globalized, unified, homogenized world, is not nature. Nature, as you know, from someone who works in permaculture, is, you know, the more diverse an ecosystem is, the healthier it is. Well, I think that’s true culturally and insofar as our vision going forward, we need to invite in many, many diverse voices and also the voices of people who have been marginalized and…

those who are on the front lines, who have so much to offer because they’re experiencing having to find these pathways through multiple crises. And I would also really center Indigenous peoples in this conversation because of their longstanding relationship with nature and living in harmony with the land and their traditional ecological knowledge. And so, no, it’s not about romanticizing Indigenous peoples, but learning from intact Indigenous cultures and respecting their rights and supporting their rights and their calls for land back.

and recognizing that, you know, 80 % of all the biodiversity left on earth is in the hands and of Indigenous peoples. And there’s a strong reason for that, which is their understanding of how to live with the land in a healthy way. And so I think it’s really important, but when we talk about visioning the world we want, that we look at models that are already working. So it’s also pulling from our own past and ancestries when we live close to the land, while we’re also developing

different ways in our current ecological and cultural context to bring this wisdom of living close to the land in really pertinent ways that can work, whether you’re in a city environment or in a country environment, wherever, for rural or urban, how do we alchemize and really metabolize these ideas of how we, in our modern society, can live in harmony with nature, which is going to look very different. And I’ll just give…

Osprey Orielle Lake (09:46.414)
One small example that popped into my mind, we have this really amazing program we’re doing in the Gulf South with a lot of indigenous farmers. And it’s a series of trade routes, old trade routes in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. And so all of the different farmers have different plots and they grow different things and trade amongst themselves. But it’s all very, very diverse and they’re all doing different things that then together sort of create this framework for

how we’re going to have these islands of sustainability as people are facing the climate crisis and what do we need to grow and how do we create places of safe harbor as people are facing more and more difficult conditions. And so I think about things like that, like how do we do diverse things that then collectively create all the needs that we have and how we can support each other sort of in a mutual aid framework.

Morag Gamble (10:43.383)
Yeah, and you know, it’s really paying attention to the fact that there is a, we are in crisis and we need to create these safe havens and we need to be paying attention to that. And I think this is one of the things that drew me to permaculture in the first instance was understanding that we are deeply in crisis. And, you know, and we’ve been talking about this for decades, haven’t we? I mean, it was like, it’s not a, it’s not a new…

but it’s taking us time and I want to talk about the theory of change in a moment, but just coming back to this point about permaculture, I found it was a way for people who don’t necessarily have connection to an Indigenous way to start to find a point of connection with knowing their place differently, connecting with community differently, having a different relationship with plants and finding a way to be part of a bi -region again. And for me, it’s that conduit.

to start to understand that way of being and to be in place differently. I think that’s what’s appealing to me about it. And then the relationships that form between permaculture communities and Indigenous communities and actually finding the resonance in that. But I did really want to ask you about…

Morag Gamble (12:06.007)
Sorry, I had 20 questions all in one. I’m just gonna have to take a note of where I messed up there.

Do you, there was a question I threw in in the middle of that. Do you remember what the question was that I started asking you? No, that’s all right. No, no, no, that’s all right. I’m sorry. I’m numb.

Osprey Orielle Lake (12:23.372)

I’m so sorry. I, I, but you, you were talking about how you, um, you know, came to permaculture because it was a way for, for, okay.

Morag Gamble (12:38.103)
I remember now. Yeah, thank you for winding back. So I’ve been using permaculture, I guess, as a theory of change. And it’s a way of engaging communities, for me to engage with place, to be able to start to step into a new paradigm, to step into a way of action that feels really regenerative and

as a community self -generating and responding to what the meta -crisis that we’re seeing around. And I wonder, what’s your theory of change? Because, you know, you really deeply analyse the root causes of the meta -crisis and at the same time articulating, you know, the need for moving towards different worldviews and climate justice. What’s the pathways?

that you see in between those two realities.

Osprey Orielle Lake (13:38.446)
Yeah, it’s a great question. It’s interesting because I think this space in between is actually the critical space we need to be in, meaning here’s all these systems of oppression, of colonisation and racism and patriarchy and capitalism and all these systems that have led to this moment. And then over here is a world I feel like we’re all really calling forth and summoning of living intimate with the land, having more time for friends and family and not being in this wild pace that our culture has set us up to do so we can survive and where we see so many ways that we want to express our joy in our life and live very differently than many people are living right now, but we can see it and we know we want community in a very different way. And we want there to be justice for everybody and have healthy and equitable lifestyles. So we know that’s there, but yeah, what is this space about

traversing here. And again, I think it’s multifaceted. I think permaculture is such an amazing space because it really holds the potential for all the things that we’re talking about here. And I think, yes, traditional ecological knowledge from Indigenous peoples and also I think digging into understanding root causes and why I got into that so much is because I think we need to understand where we are to then make the transformation. It’s really hard to…

to know what to transform and where to aim to go through this sort of tunnel space in between here and there, if we don’t really know what we’re talking about. And sort of like when you go to the doctor or healer and you want to get a diagnosis, because then you can name what it is that you’re addressing. And I think we’re in that stage where people are beginning to really see the interconnected crises and how these systems all tug on one another and feed one another.

And so as we unpack that, we can begin to decolonize ourselves and begin to understand different ways of living with the land in each other. But it’s an inside process inside of ourselves as well as in our actions and activities. And I think both need to go on at the same time. So sort of an answer to your theory of change, I think it’s very personal, but it’s also something that we need to take action on on a daily basis. I mean, the climate crisis isn’t waiting.

Osprey Orielle Lake (16:03.934)
people who are suffering from war can’t wait and the planet can’t wait and so our communities can’t wait. So therefore we also need to to keep moving forward and practicing different practices and I really believe also in looking at things in terms of short -term activities while we also have a deep systemic analysis so that we’re constantly looking at you know what activities can we do today or you know how are we going to approach this reforestation project and

How are we going to support these communities in their activities for protection of their lands and their waters? All of that is like on a constant basis that we can because we’re very practical. We have all these programs and projects and campaigns we’re running. But at the same time, it’s so important to step back and go upstream so we can look very deeply and keep improving our analysis and our research so that when we’re feeding information into these programs and projects and campaigns, we’re also sharing a narrative.

and a story that’s big enough to create bold, transformative change at every level of our being emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. So where are these ideas coming from and how do we approach things that really center Mother Earth and center women and center Indigenous and Black and brown voices and everyone who’s been marginalized that needs to be lifted up at this point to create balance, which is how we got here is through imbalance. So we need to create balance in the system. And…

So I think all of those things of naming what the root causes are and then responding to those and bringing back in the voices that have been missing, those things that have been marginalized, those things that have been harmed and those expressions get us through this space as we begin to create, you know, space for all of the missing bits and parts and voices and hearts and spirits that have been out of the conversation. We begin to find our path towards this balance that we’re seeking.

Morag Gamble (18:01.217)
And like you said before, there’s no one path in that space. There’s multiple journeys. And I think there’s something about what you’re saying about entering into this space. That it’s a response to something that we’ve noticed that we’ve been moved by that we’ve felt directly in crisis. And it feels like you need to almost take a direct and active intentional step into that space. And I wonder,

maybe we could talk a little bit about that. Like how have you noticed in the work that you’re doing, sort of inviting people to come and join you in that space, or maybe, you know, even reflect on how you ended up in that space in the first instance, because it’s really interesting to hear those little sparks of awakening, I suppose, like, oh, you know, it’s like this veil is lifted, like, oh, now I can kind of see this whole other part of existence that I can dwell within. And it…

It’s not there necessarily often. I grew up in Melbourne in a city and that just wasn’t the reality. I had, you know, we’re parents, I had weird conversations going on around, but there was a veil across much of this until much later, you know, in my late teens, I didn’t ever even notice or question any of this. So, yeah, maybe what was your invitation, impulse, inspiration to join this?

kind of way of acting in the world and showing up in the world and how can we possibly invite more people and what have you noticed has been a good impulse or attract invitation into this.

Osprey Orielle Lake (19:43.872)
that came to mind when you’re talking is I grew up in a small town called Mendocino which is on the northern coast of California and you know for me my childhood was disruptive and so for me going into nature which I don’t think I’m alone in was a place of healing and renewal and solace and um uh

On the coast of Mendocino, there’s the ancient redwood trees, which are just so profound and magnificent. And of course, many of them have been logged. There’s not, there’s just a small corridor left of what used to be here. And there were some big logging operations up in the region in Mendocino County when I was growing up. And so, I remember my experience of first seeing a clear cut redwood forest that just absolutely devastated to me because this was like where I was going.

for my own renewal, my own healing, for beauty and communion with nature and watching that level of devastation of just, as far as your eyes could see, just seeing a huge logging operation and feeling like I was in this battle zone where all my friends had just been chopped to the ground, literally. And that really sparked something in my teenage years of really beginning to question, what are we humans doing here? What is our role here? Are we just destroys in that kind of…

you know, began a momentum of me looking at, you know, environmental issues and really studying that at college, et cetera. But I think that the deep question is that, you it really brought forward is why are we not life enhancing? Why aren’t we here like other parts of nature in the web of life enhancing and beauty making and being part of this wondrous experience called life? Why aren’t we contributing to that? Why are we destroying and extracting?

And so this is where the dialogue began for me. And then later, you know, it began to have like a racial lens and understanding colonization, understanding racism, how people are being impacted very differently, that we’re not on an even journey. Not only are things diverse, it’s not even. And really how do we, you know, how do we contribute to healing that and having reparations and dealing with colonization at a very deep level and responding to that and addressing that and making…

Osprey Orielle Lake (22:01.858)
you know, yes, reparations and being able to listen to the calls of people from the front lines. And so I think that this is part of the journey is, you know, our different moments that were really touched in our heart and our spirit by perhaps some tragedy or perhaps some beauty, you know, equally just the astonishing beauty of Mother Earth that moves us to want to protect and defend the land. And now we see also,

We are talking about an existential crisis for humanity with these these polycrisis all crashing in on each other. So we’re in a small window of opportunity to make some drastic changes. And so I think there’s also what can call us in as the urgency of the moment and the fact that we all need to roll up our sleeves and engage and also help each other maintain our hope and our strength together as community.

to make our way through a very challenging time because I think things are gonna get more challenging before they get better. And so we also need these to create these islands of sustainability, these safe harbors, protect as much forests and plant as many trees as we can and do all these activities we know to do that are life enhancing. And so I think that’s kind of the through line is like, how do we act life enhancing and live?

and create an equitable and healthy world that we’re really calling forth at this point.

Morag Gamble (23:30.071)
And as you were speaking, a lot of the qualities of that kind of action comes from the feminine. And I wonder whether that’s something that you’ve noticed or why you focus on, you created We Can. Why is it that you focused on the work of women in particular in helping to bring forth the activism that you do?

Osprey Orielle Lake (23:56.288)
Yeah, when I first started working in the climate space, I did not know I was going to focus on women, but I started researching and seeing that in fact, you know, women are the backbone of a lot of these environmental movements. And, you know, all the statistics just kept pointing to the fact that 40 to 80 % of all household food production in the Global South is done by women, which is critical to mitigating and adapting to the climate crisis.

There’s all these UN studies that showed if you didn’t involve women in these water programs, it didn’t work because the women were the one collecting the water and watching the water tables. Up to the highest levels of government where I was asked to do a presentation at the Scenarios Forum, which is a group of researchers that prepare information and feed information to the IPCC reports that are important to the global community as we make decisions about the climate.

And I found the study that shows that just with a one unit increase in something called the Women’s Political Empowerment Index, which is really showing how women are involved in their societies, do they have good access to economic opportunities, are they involved in politics. So it’s called the Women’s Political Empowerment Index. And just with a one unit increase, it’s associated with an 11 .51 degree decrease in carbon emissions.

which is huge. I mean, there’s very few things you can get like 11 .51 % change and degree change. And so, you know, that’s just one of many examples of what happens when we empower women and give them more agency. And so on the one hand, women are impacted first and worst by environmental degradation because of gender inequality.

And especially also, I would add a racial lens, not just women, but also women of color and indigenous, and even more so than women in general. But they are also not known for the fact of how they’re critical to solutions. And so on our website, there are many, many stats, I will go on and on about the role of women, what changes when women are leadership positions, and what they’re actually doing in terms of being part.

Osprey Orielle Lake (26:14.286)
critical parts of resistance movements around protecting water and protecting land from fossil fuel extraction and in every practical way possible. So that’s why we focused on women. And again, you know, having marginalized voices move to the center can help balance entire systems of thinking as well as the ecosystem itself. And so this is why we’re focusing on women’s leadership. And so been very, very honored to work with with women all over the world.

on campaigns, on climate policy, on practical projects. Maybe I’ll just give one last example and then hand it back to you. One project that comes to mind right now is I’m really thrilled to be working in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is also a very violent region for women because of the conflicts in the region, often around extraction of minerals and other materials, unfortunately.

that creates conflict in the region. But we started to do a reforestation project in the Otombe region. As many people know, the Amazon rainforest is one of the largest rainforests in the world, but Congo is second to the Amazon. And in terms of climate mitigation, it’s so key that we keep these forests healthy and intact. And this one area,

we have been working in with a wonderful We Can coordinator, a woman named Nima Namadamu, who’s just an incredible force of nature herself. We’ve been working there for over eight years now, reforesting this area that was completely decimated through slash and burn. I mean, we’re not even talking steps, we’re talking nothing. We’re talking flatland, no green, just completely destroyed and then drought on top of that. And now, you know, eight years later, it’s just so exciting because…

25 % of the trees that we’ve grown are for human use for the indigenous populations there. And then 75 % of the trees are going back to rewild the land. And so it’s a really multifaceted holistic project where the women are lifting up their stature in the communities. They’re being able to fund themselves and through this project, they’re able to.

Osprey Orielle Lake (28:31.726)
grow 25 % of the trees for their family needs and their medicine and their household needs, and then they’re rewilding all this other land. And two really amazing things have happened relatively quickly, which is there’s 1 .8, excuse me, 1 .6 million acres of the Atom Bay Rainforest as oil growth that now the population is pulling off of and just using our 25 % of the trees that we’re growing. So we’re protecting 1 .6 million acres.

of old growth forest, which is essential to the whole world. And this has been really remarkable through the trees that we’ve grown, but also, you know, you being a permaculture, you could relate to the fact that what I did not expect to happen so quickly as if the rains are returning, the moisture through the trees is calling back the rain. And so now we have our own nurseries where we grow the trees, but now we’re calling certain areas just wild nurseries because mother nature is reseeding herself, of course, which is the best. And so it’s just been so inspiring to see.

empowerment of these women, their dynamic in their cultural structures changing because now they are the ones in charge with this all this reforestation, the trees themselves, the land being healed, and the protection of this oil growth. And so it’s just an example of sort of a holistic approach to how can we be life enhancing and the incredible role of these women leaders who are doing this work.

Morag Gamble (29:55.639)
That’s a phenomenal story. And I would love to ask you a little bit more because people who are listening to this might know how much work we do with the Ethos Foundation, with communities, women -led communities in various parts of East Africa, from refugee communities to village communities and bioregional projects. And I want to ask you, firstly, how could these groups connect up with We Can? And maybe also how could…

Like what is your way that you make that happen? What is the relationship, your global network relationship? You know, how do you find support to make that happen? Like really practical questions actually.

Osprey Orielle Lake (30:37.646)
Sure, sure. I mean, you know, We kind of started with a big, I mean, it started in 2009 and had different variations on a theme, but we really landed everything specifically in 2013 when we did this big conference in upstate New York where I had this wild vision and dream. I don’t know if I would do it again because it was just really hard to do, but it was really good. We invited a hundred women from around the world.

a lot of grassroots indigenous women from regions all over the world. And then top level leavers like, you know, Jane Goodall and Vandana Shiva and Christiana Figueres. And I mean, it was just, you know, both sort of the grass tops and grassroots coming together. And it was just phenomenal for four days. And we rewrote the Women’s Climate Action Agenda and sort of got things going.

but it also created this network to answer your question. That’s where I met Nima. I had researched all these different women for like a year and then invited them to this conference. So it created all these relationships that are still growing and rippling out to this day from that conference. And I think it is a lot about networking and relationship building and then being present with life. I mean, some of the things that we do are extremely planned for years.

and others come our way and our opportunities that come from the grassroots and from the relationships that we have. And we’re listening to our communities that we’re working with. And so there’s also an organic process of just what’s being called for from the land and from the communities that drive the projects and programs and campaigns forward. And in terms of like, so there’s like finding leaders in the area and making sure they have the training and resources that they need to enact a project or a program or a campaign.

And then, yeah, there’s all the time fundraising. So most of our work is through fundraising, through individuals or foundations, which, you know, it’s a lot of work. I’m sure that you’re familiar with doing that in your organization. So, you know, most everything is funded, you know, through donations. And, you know, then we’re always looking in the programs that are land -based, you know, how can they become independently sustainable so people are not just dependent on donations coming in? There’s always…

Osprey Orielle Lake (32:49.742)
that component of how do we create circular economy and how do we grow food to sell or do different things so that the programs are become self -sustaining over time. I think that’s a really important component.

Morag Gamble (32:59.831)
I think it’s part of that unevenness though, isn’t it? In order for the destruction that has happened from the extractive processes to be healed enough for then that regenerative livelihoods to take over, there is this bit where there needs to be that direct transfer. And that’s been my experience as well. So, yeah, thank you for sharing that.

Osprey Orielle Lake (33:23.598)
I agree and I would just add, you know, as a lot of the women in the program we’ve discussed this like, yes, there should be a form of reparations. If they’re going to go out and plant all the trees, we need to remember they didn’t destroy it. So there should be funding in the form of, you know, if you want to think about in terms of reparations and input and financing of the change, why should the harmed people and the harmed communities who had nothing to do with it then also have to heal the land with no

compensation for it. So it makes sense that we would compensate people to do the work of the healing that they didn’t cause. So I feel like there is a sort of a good ethical relationship there that we do need to respect and look at in a holistic way.

Morag Gamble (34:07.479)
Yeah, thank you for saying that because that really puts a new dimension on it and it helps to give much more force, I think, to this notion because often, you know, people would say, oh, but when you hand people donations all the time, it’s disempowering. But exactly what you said, it’s well, it’s actually repairing the damage that’s done. So I think there’s there’s lots of conversation. Really good. I mean, I think it’s really important to have that conversation. I’d like to shift a little bit now because.

You do a lot of work with women, but you also are on lots of different panels. And like you were saying, you’re at Paris and you’ve inputted into the COP processes, the IPCC. That is a whole other different world. It feels like a very male dominated process that’s happening there. What’s your take on how the COP process is going and where the change needs to be for really addressing what’s going on in our climate crisis?

Osprey Orielle Lake (35:06.35)
You know, people often ask me, why are you going to the climate talks every year? You know, our COP 28 was last year in Dubai. 28 years later, we’re still discussing what government should do. And I don’t think the COP is for everyone, certainly, but it’s very significant for groups like ours to go because my experience is that it is much better if you have a strategy and you have certain goals and you’re involved in the negotiation process to some degree.

And we work very closely with the women and gender constituency, because there’s these different constituencies of civil society that participate in the process every year as observers, but also directly intervening. And if we were not there, I think governments would be doing far worse than they already are. I don’t go to the COP thinking that world governments are going to resolve the climate crisis there, because…

They’re operating on business as usual and capitalism. And right now there are so many fossil fuel lobbyists who attend and are there in the process, which I don’t think polluters should be in that space. We’re trying to end the era of fossil fuels, not continue them. What are those lobbyists doing there? So there’s a lot of questions for sure around the dysfunctionality of the UNFCCC process and the COP. However,

It is the place where all the governments are meeting and where we can have direct access to government leaders and to intervene in the process. And if we weren’t there, like I said, I think things would be far worse than they are now. And as they say, it’s better to be at the table than on the menu. So, you know, just to give a few practical examples, since we were talking about the Paris Climate Agreement, the fact is that the 1 .5 degree guardrail,

was put in place because of the effort of civil society pushing governments along with climate vulnerable countries who were negotiating from the inside. But that combination of creating a lot of pressure on governments along with climate vulnerable countries produced the 1 .5 degree guardrail, which is critical and has been to all of our advocacy since the Paris Agreement was formed because…

Osprey Orielle Lake (37:23.31)
You know, we advocate with governments to do this, that or the other, don’t put in this fossil fuel pipeline, stop extraction, or we go to financial institutions to tell them, please don’t invest in these harmful projects. We can say, you say you are aligned with the Paris Agreement. That means you have to protect the 1 .5 degree guardrail. And then we have something to hold them to. So that was huge. And if civil society wasn’t there, I’m not sure we would have gotten the 1 .5 degree guardrail. So that’s just one of many examples about why these spaces are important.

And there’s not just negotiations, there’s a lot of things happening on the sidelines that are really vital conversations in terms of movement building, places to present ideas that like false solutions to the climate crisis, we need to make sure that gets into the media. There’s all kinds of things going on besides the negotiations, even though they’re the critical component of why we’re meeting. There’s a lot of other things going on. I’ll just mention one more, which is I’m…

really honored to be on the steering committee of something called the Fossil Fuel Non -Proliferation Treaty, which we’ve been utilizing that time at the COP and Governments are meeting to push this other agenda, which is a companion piece as I see it to the Paris Climate Agreement, which really focuses on carbon emission reductions, which is important, but it just kind of perpetuates the systems as they are. When we really need to phase out and stop fossil fuels, the Fossil Fuel Non -Proliferation Treaty is…

centered on a specific mechanism to bring countries together to do just that, deal with the supply end, the fossil fuels, coal, oil, and gas. We have to talk about that. So it’s very powerful. And so it’s been great to be able to go at the COP and to really push governments to endorse the fossil fuel treaty. And there’s a wonderful woman, Zipporah Berman, who’s the chair of the Fossil Fuel and Lump Sufferation Treaty. And it’s been quite interesting to watch the momentum of this.

this mechanism. And in Dubai, recently when we were there for the climate talks at the end of last year, there was over 12 countries that had signed on to endorsing the treaty, including Colombia, which is a fossil fuel producing country. So all that kind of conversation just to give different ideas about what is going on at the COP other than what we see in the news. And believe me, I’m not supporting the COP with some great thing. I don’t think the Paris climate agreement is handling.

Osprey Orielle Lake (39:45.902)
the scale or scope of the crisis by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s part of the ecosystem of activities that we need to continue to engage in while we do a lot of other work outside of that space.

Morag Gamble (39:58.391)
Yeah and the as you said being there on the at the table not not just on the menu or not even not on the menu at all and just saying well we won’t engage and it’s that zoom in and zoom out that I think is is really important and finding the place in which we feel like we have that capacity to share our share our voice.

Osprey Orielle Lake (40:20.078)
And there’s also a need I just would add really quickly too for gender equity and indigenous voices to be heard there. So we always bring delegations of indigenous women so that they can speak for themselves. Indigenous peoples are core. They are a climate solution for all the reasons that we’ve discussed. But I also will say that there’s been a lot of fight on having gender responsive climate policies and the role of women that we talked about earlier. So as an example, in Dubai, there was 133 heads of state there. Only 15 of them were women.

This is a gigantic problem. So there’s a real need also for us to get women into these spaces for all the reasons we discussed earlier. And it’s a struggle for sure. And I think things would be so much better if we included gender equity.

Morag Gamble (40:51.607)
It is.

Morag Gamble (41:04.663)
Yeah, and it is a huge struggle. And a lot of people that I work with who have attempted at various times to step into politics, to step into these advocacy roles and do it for a while and then just get absolutely frazzled and burnt out. I wonder, how do we address that? Because it’s such a, you know, if we’re coming from this position of like, you know, we’re tending.

tending our garden, our household, our families, our communities with the tenders, but then to also have this other side where there’s that push and the shove and really elbow our way in. How do you negotiate that space? Because I know so many intelligent advocates who I would love to help uplift into spaces like that, but just feel like there’s a block or they just keep getting pushed out and all that energy feels like it’s wasted somehow. And…

Yeah, I’d love your feelings on that or thoughts on that.

Osprey Orielle Lake (42:06.83)
Well, I think that, you know, we, I think it’s a question also of balance, like where we put our time. So, um,

I know, just speaking for myself, that the spaces are hard to be in. Like when we go to the COP, being there for two weeks in those spaces is really hard. I won’t lie, it is really hard. And it’s also joyful and you’re with your comrades and you’re doing good work. And it’s also exciting. We put on press conferences and put on events and it’s very also illuminating and empowering, but it’s also really hard. And I think it’s a lot about balance and how we find balance between our…

you know, daily life and our workspace and how do we generate well -being? And I don’t have an easy answer for that. I think it’s very challenging. But I do know that we can’t afford to sit on the sidelines. And so we have to figure out ways to renew ourselves in nature, whether that’s gardening or going hiking or any which way we can.

be in the arms of Mother Earth where we can feel our bodies being part and particle of the natural world. I to me, that is always the most healing thing. And it’s also what’s missing from the conversation is if we’re doing all these activities, not with Earth, like this is all about the Earth and getting the Earth centered again. So we also need to be with Earth and listening to the forest and the ocean and getting counsel from wild nature and renewing our bodies and spirits and wild nature. I think that’s part of it. But also,

you know, being able to know when to step up and step back so we can take care of ourselves because, you know, there is a struggle, you know, and it’s like how much time are we going to spend in the struggle because we need to stop bad things from happening while we’re also putting a lot of energy into reinforcing and doing, you know, positive work. And so I know what we can, one of the things that we’re juggling is we try, you know, it’s not perfectly even, but put, you know, half our time into, you know, really…

Osprey Orielle Lake (44:03.886)
getting out there on the front lines and stopping bad projects and intervening, while on the other hand, you know, doing things like food sovereignty networks and reforestation projects and, you know, learning about storytelling and narrative and like, how do we create these different spaces that we can keep going back and forth to so that we can be sustained and go for the long run? I mean, as they say, you know, this is a marathon, it’s not a sprint. So we have to find ways to regenerate and…

I think it’s an ongoing process and I dip in and out of doing well and very poorly on it. It’s a dance how to manage our time so that we can live joyful full lives but also be in these stressful situations. And it’s not for everybody. I don’t think we all need to do the same thing. We have to do our part that is in alignment.

Morag Gamble (44:56.215)
but also to be aware of how we can connect and uplift each other, which I guess is the power of an organization like we can. And I’m gonna make sure that I drop the links to all of your work and where to find your book in the show notes. But just as a final question, there’s something about the, I love the way that you’re languaging this new worldview. It’s really.

drawing from the language of nature. You’ve talked about metabolizing things and you know, it’s upstream, you know, if there’s all these sort of bi -regional terms and ecological terms that describe it, how would you describe maybe the movement or movements that we really need to be activating or joining to move forward?

Osprey Orielle Lake (45:47.822)
Oh gosh, there’s just so many. There’s so many. I love what’s happening, the permaculture movement. And I mentioned the fossil fuel and proliferation treaty. I think the degrowth movement is really key, like how we’re gonna quit consuming so much. And I go into the book on a great length on why we’re over consuming and how that connects to our current modern society and the sense of separation from nature. So I think…

A lot of these movements around transforming our economy are really important. And I would also mention rights of nature, which is this idea that nature needs to be viewed as a right -sparing entity and has the right to thrive and live and be healthy just as humans and be taken out of the marketplace that our rivers and forests and mountains are not for sale. And we need to stop the commodification and financialization of nature and really honor nature as the sacred web of life.

And so I’m very excited about that. We’re very engaged in the Rights of Nature movement, which in 2008 Ecuador was the first country to put Rights of Nature to their constitution. And cases have been won there and there’s cases across the United States at the local level with local ordinances where fracking has been stopped in communities and bad projects and rivers protected. So this whole idea of Rights of Nature is a very powerful movement that’s growing very rapidly all over the world.

And I’m really interested in how we can have a universal declaration of the rights of Mother Earth that all countries honor. And I spend a couple of chapters in my book actually talking about rights of nature for people who want to know more about that. But I think we need to get nature into the center of our economy and in our legal frameworks so that we can really find different systems than we have now. And I just wanted to also hold up the book of the cover. Can you rewind that? I messed that up.

Morag Gamble (47:38.071)
Yes, please do.

Osprey Orielle Lake (47:42.35)
for your, when you do the recording. Okay. So I also want to show the cover of my book because I love this artist. Her name is Christy Velcourt.

Morag Gamble (47:42.615)
Sure, yeah.


Morag Gamble (47:56.055)
Oh, that’s gorgeous. Can you tell us the story of the picture?

Osprey Orielle Lake (47:57.486)
And exactly, so I’m very, very honored. Christy Belcourt is an amazing Indigenous artist from Canada. And I’m beyond, beyond moved that she agreed to have her gorgeous, meaningful piece of art on the cover. And what this is, is it’s women praying over a river with their bundles. And this is a river in Canada that was poisoned.

And so it’s very fitting for the book in the sense of this polluted river and the need for that river to be healed and the humans who go to pray for the river and heal the river and really our role now to become life enhancing species or as Lila June Johnson says, I really love the idea of seeing ourselves again as indigenous people have as keystone species. Like we’re here for a reason to interact in a healthy way. And I think we really need to.

Morag Gamble (48:49.015)

Osprey Orielle Lake (48:55.742)
uplift that code of conduct and remember that at every level of existence right now and that’s a lot what the book is about.

Morag Gamble (49:03.479)
And where, where, so I’ll share the links to your website, but obviously it’s available in most places where people can find books. Wonderful. Great.

Osprey Orielle Lake (49:14.326)
Everywhere, it’s online, everywhere you can get it.

Morag Gamble (49:16.311)
Wonderful. Yeah, well thank you so very much for joining me today. It’s been an absolute delight to learn more about your work at WeCan and to learn particularly about your new book and I look forward to sharing it out across our community with the permaculture community because I really feel like these two worlds are one and the same and it’s about one planet living, it’s about becoming that keen.

keystone species again. So thank you so much for being part of the Sensemaking in a Changing World Show today.

Osprey Orielle Lake (49:51.47)
Thank you so much for having me. It’s such a pleasure to speak with you. Thank you for your beautiful work.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More articles:

Sacred Activism with Cynthia Jurs

Sacred Activism with Cynthia Jurs

Tune in on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Youtube or any of your preferred podcast platforms. The most pressing question in these uncertain times may be...