February 12, 2021
In Conversation: Ella Noah Bancroft
is a global activist movement to end violence against all women, girls and the planet. When we think of Rise, Resist, Unite these compelling words connect us to a powerful soul here in our local community. Ella Noah Bancroft
is a Bundjalung Activist, therapist, writer, mentor and Founder of The Returning
and Yhi Collective
. As a a pioneer for the Decolonisation Movement Ella believes that by creating small movements and communities of women to reconnect back with our wisdom, each other and the land, we can solve a lot of the root causes of our current social and environmental crises.One Billion Rising i
s the biggest voice for mass action to end violence against women in human history. Their 2021 campaign is Rising Gardens: a defiant creative call for revival, restoration and transformation. It’s a compassionate call for justice, because one of the greatest injustices of our time has been the destruction and eradication of Mother Earth.
Below Ella talks to us about honouring and protecting Mother Earth, and creating community connected by nature for the future wellbeing of people and planet…
2020 left me with a need to want to simplify. To amplify my engagement with my local community. And to make a stand with growing gardens and help guide women back to the deep ecology of our food systems and understanding that our connection to this planet will create deep healing for humans, other species and the earth.
My hands in the dirt and skin in the sun has become a new self-care practice for me. A time where I can be with friends or solo amongst the garden. I socialise with a group of women every Tuesday morning at a community garden. It is my way of actioning change into my own backyard and deepening my connection with the land.
I must take my words and place them into action. Put my hands in the soil, plant seeds for the future and start to understand that only when I interact with the earth will she interact with me and develop a deeper understanding of ecology. Time for activism, to come off social media, and off the soap boxes, and start to action activism in our own backyards or better yet, the backyard of our neighbour.
Gardens remind me of my enduring connection to life. They remind me of my freedom, of the exchanges that are made between humans and plants. A reminder to protect that which provides for me, to cultivate relationships with plants as a direct homage to my ancestors who saw the plants as our way of survival.
Feed yourself and your community, love is in many cultures expressed through food, so it would make so much sense that the process of cooking begins in the soil.
This is how we create real autonomy, real sovereignty, real culture.
Some people have criticised the local food movement as being for the elite, but in fact all around the world we see people connecting to the earth through farming and gardening. This is an ancient practice. We all have in our bones and ancestry a family member who once was connected to the land, and in fact fighting for our right to return to this is our human purpose.
About 690 million people globally go to bed hungry each night. Yet according to the action against hunger organisation, there is more than enough food produced in the world to feed everyone on the planet.
So why? Small farmers, herders, and fishermen produce about 70 percent of the global food supply, yet they are especially vulnerable to food insecurity – poverty and hunger are most acute among rural populations. This is due to the fact that most growers are exporting the produce from their lands to distribute globally. And a staggering THIRD of all food produced for human consumption ends up being uneaten and discarded. Worldwide, up to 1.6 billion tonnes of edible food.
Hmmm, so what could gardens do for us? Remind us of the importance of growing and eating what we have. It also means we are eating from our lands and not importing the produce from other lands that may be the result of many humans in many countries going without food.
Maintaining a garden can be a direct act of resistance against capitalism. So, protest by getting your hands in the soil, planting seeds and connecting to the plants and trees.
Why is food sovereignty so important? When we grow together, we create more access to local organic produce. We're not only reaping the benefits of the nutrients to that particular soil and land in which we live, but we are also creating small local economies. Such as farmers markets, local Community Gardens, or even getting together with a group of your friends to rotate from household to household every week to work 2 hours on somebody's garden. These things can bring us back to connection, not just with each other but with the natural world around us.
Getting your hands dirty in the garden can increase your serotonin levels. Our direct contact with the soil can trigger the release of serotonin in our brain, which is the happy chemical and a natural antidepressant. Contact with the soil also strengthens the immune system and the vitamin D which many people are deficient in you can get right there from the sun. So even the beginning stages of gardening seems like a recipe for good health.
Last year we saw the cracks in our system begin to be exposed, with black lives matter movements showing how capitalism is responsible for punishing the poor and is embedded in systemic racist policies.
The system is fundamentally flawed. It is the same system that created genocide on the land in which I stand, and continues to attempt to destroy the natural resources and Indigenous people who inhabit it. This is not a new story; colonisation has happened all around the world, the enforcing of a system that changes its name but remains fundamentally the same. The greatest pyramid scheme we have ever seen.
History has proven the exploitation of those who were oppressed, marginalised and discriminated against because of their race, gender class and caste. People are waking up all around the planet starting to see now how the Sacred connection of Indigenous people to the land is our only way back to understanding our deep relationship and purpose on this planet.
Time and time again we have seen land violations through colonisation broken treaties and the continuous violations of human rights made against Indigenous people all around the world. This is a mistake. For what Indigenous knowledge teaches us is that when you're in reciprocity with nature you create a relationship and establish a belief system of reliance. In our current paradigm we are convinced that money is the goal as we attempt to find success through consumption. A life spent separating ourselves from nature and our more than human kin.
Human beings have placed themselves on top of the hierarchical pyramid of species, not understanding our deep interconnectedness is what will save us from a future of ill health, increasing mental illness, and fundamental questioning about our purpose here on the planet. How often do you hear the saying what is the meaning of life? Many Indigenous communities around the world know the answer to this.
Gardening is a simple act, it is the step before meal celebrations, it is better shared with many, both the workload and the produce. Breakfast, lunch and dinner celebrations are embedded in a time where our ancestors would harvest and feast on the rewards that they had grown. But we are losing this age-old tradition as our Western societies have made us a globe of consumers.
2020 was the earth crying out with dis-ease, a global pandemic where we were forced to simplify and retreat to self-reflect on our environments and livelihood. Here in my community, we have had an influx of people move out of the cities and back to the rural areas: a good beginning for a human awakening to want to return to greener, more wild spaces.
Let’s stay with the momentum of 2020; with local gardens and simple living, with less travel and more local engagement. The world is trying to find balance. We cannot continue to destroy her. We must start to do what we can to give back to her.
We must choose a path before us; will we take the path of the olden ways and modern days where we look to the teachings of our ancestors to understand a simple way to live. Or will we move towards the techno future, the digital dictatorship and continuation of capitalism and global trade, which is the continual extraction of our planet's natural resources?
I’m saying yes to gardens, to collective and community gardens, to serotonin and good immune systems.
I am saying yes to a social space outside cafes, clubs and pubs and back on the land, to understand our true purpose of living.
The greatest gift we have been given is the magic of being able to grow food so that we understand the deep ecology, an embodied truth of our role within the cycle of life.
We are nature and nature is us.
True freedom for modern societies is completely entangled in our food systems. True freedom is changing the narrative of success not to be determined by your job, home and income, but rather the health of your family, community and environment.
Fundamental shifts must begin to take place where the extracting of our natural resources in exchange for plastic bills must cease. Take down the system of extraction and exploration.
Freedom is in our deep relationship with plants, which provide us with oxygen, medicine and food. Plants that keep the planet cool, which retain water in our soil and which are so complex and in deep relation that we as humans can begin to build communities based on our garden beds. Diversity being the key to any good community, a place and purpose for all and one where each of us look after each other.