While I studied law I worked as an environmental volunteer in a National Park in Ireland over the summers. I loved it so much to be outdoors all day to protect the oak woods from invasive species that I realised I wanted to work with nature in daily life. I should maybe have become a veterinarian as I initially planned! Anyway, when I came back home I signed up for a course on Environmental Law. And that became a very depressing period to me: The whole environmental law system evolves around the idea of ‘pollution rights’. Companies have a right to cause a certain amount of emissions and pollution. If they don’t use their full share they can sell it to a company that needs a little bit more: tradable emission rights, the complete moral downfall of capitalism.
Strangely I found out lately that individuals think exactly the same. When talking about climate change issues people say for example that ‘because they don’t eat meat they can fly to Asia for their holidays now’. As if we also have a certain right to pollute and that we can choose how to divide that. Of course being alive causes pollution. But we can still try to keep it as low as possible. That would ask a major lifestyle change for many. I find it strange that we are not able to do that ourselves without government intervention. When I see how people are loading up their supermarket trolley’s for December feasts I lose my hope for change already….
This climate problem needs a cultural and psychological revolution. Sometimes I can’t understand why it’s so hard for people to change their own lifestyles on their own initiatives, to buy less, fly less, holiday less, change their diet. Even many people who believe the climate facts still don’t change their behaviour. We must be a very egocentric species. I hope we all can talk about it over a sober Christmas dinner to make the people around us more aware that there is no such thing as a ‘ right to pollute’ . Happy Christmas!
There was a time when I was very idealistic. From the age of 17 I worked many summers in a national park as a volunteer to do my share for tree conservation. I graduated on a legal topic hoping to contribute to the preservation of common goods: property of our common heritage. Things that don’t belong to just one person like our bikes or cars, but areas like woods, seas and lakes that belong to us all, that should be kept in a good state….
Western society sadly isn’t based around the preservation of “common heritage”. Most of our lives we spend focussed on our individual property: saving money to buy a car, a house, the nicest of clothes, saving for expensive holidays to far away destinations. We work all of our lives because we committed to pay off a mortgage to finally become the full owner of a tiny plot of land, or an appartment in a big block of houses with other people doing the same. But with which higher goal? Or should I even say: with which entitlement? I have always found it very interesting that humans are not well able to think for the sake of all people.
In the meantime the effects of climate change are really making themselves known now. Wildfires on the North Pole, unbearable heatwaves in the most of Europe, smog alarms: it’s only a small part of what’s to come in the next decades. Why are we still obsessed with expanding our own individual properties, neglecting the effects our lifestyles have on the planet as a whole? Knowing that if we continue like this our own little situations will be affected?
I could imagine a system where people would be rewarded for their footprint, like getting a basic financial incentive when keeping their footprint under a certain amount of points, taking into account how many kids one has, not having a car, eating a plant based diet etcetera. Many people are waiting for the government or companies to come with solutions. What we can do as individuals now is raising awareness about lifestyle changes and voicing out our opinion, like when friends announce their 5th flight to a destination far away or buy a second car. Even though this might not be nice. And even though it might seem futile: it is all in the little things!
Apart from that in my opinion the State’s public property of common goods should be getting a distinct position as ‘common property not meant for exploitation’, like it used to be in the past and still is the case in some countries. It seems the only way….Do you have any other good ideas to combat climate change?
In the meantime I’m working on songs on the subject. All I can do as a musician….
I can be quite a hermit at times. I have always been able to easily entertain myself for days without interacting with other people. Last week I stayed in a house in the woods at the Veluwe and most of my social activities were with animals haha! A conscious decision! So nice to be fully in touch with nature. Waking up at 5am when the sun rises, with the sounds of the dawn chorus, long walks in the national park, cycles, horse riding, swimming, deer spotting. All of it just out in nature, no city visits etcetera. It reminded me of the feeling I had when living in Ireland and that I sometimes miss here. To really be away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. I find it very relaxing and it helps me grounding and focussing on my own goals again.
Even though I love the dunes and the beach it’s impossible in The Hague to go for walks without seeing any other people. Have you ever had that experience of being alone in nature for a longer period of time? What feeling or which insights did it give you? I hope you’re enjoying the spring weather this Pentecost and your inner fires will be resparked aswell!
When I was a little kid, there was always one item on my birthday wish list: a Shetland pony. I’ve always loved animals: domestic pets but preferably the bigger ones, like donkey’s, horses and deer. I wanted to become a veterinarian in primary school. Maybe I should have!
Every autumn I love to go deer spotting in the woods in the East during the deer rut. And here in the dunes in my backyard I love watching the wild Galloway highland cattle. I’ve even seen the birth of one of the baby cows! Last spring I went for a day hike with a donkey and I’m planning to do that again this summer. Connecting with our fellow friends is so grounding and healing to me. Must be my Sagittarius star sign!
One day I hope to live on a farm again where I can offer music, vocal coaching, meditation, inspiration workshops and….walks and coaching with animals! I even dreamt a very beautiful name for it already!
Maybe it’s because I got soaking wet yesterday while whale spotting, but I suddenly had to think back of my time in Killarney National Park.
This is how I spent many summer hols between my 17th and 27th, volunteering in environmental workcamps and lateron guiding same groups of volunteers from all over the world in the project! Better than a real holiday, so many friends and connections!
Every morning we would take a bus from the National Park Hostel, then a boat trip over the Upper Lake near Eagles Nest and then a long walk through rough terrain to get to the spot where we were working high up in the mountains. That’s where we would cut out invasive rhododendrons to protect the oak woods! No matter how bad the weather. After that lots of music sessions in the evenings! It’s where I got to learn many folk songs. So many good memories!
I was still studying law in Holland at the time, but it was definitely that experience that was part of the decision to leave my lawyer job at the age of 24 and go to Ireland for an indefinite period of time with my guitar!
Since a few weeks the shallow Dutch coastal waters near The Hague have a new visitor: a large humpback whale. A new Facebook group was started with many reported sightings, but I hadn’t been lucky enough to see him, even though I Iive right on the beach.
Suddenly everybody walking the beach or the harbour heads would share one common goal: to catch a glimp of this big mammal. It created a whole new social atmosphere between the usually distant beach walkers: everybody chatting to each other, helping each other, exchanging numbers, binoculars and photo’s and a general feeling of shared excitement.
FINALLY I was in luck yesterday and I suddenly caught the whale making a big jump right in front of the place where I was standing. Impressive!
Seeing this big whale also made me aware of something. Living in a big city I noticed people are usually busy looking after their individual career and family goals. The government is responsible for the common goals so why bother thinking about them.
When I lived in a house in the Irish countryside a 10 minutes drive away from a village of 600 inhabitants (quite in the middle of nowhere) I noticed people would look after the challenges of their community very well. When there were problems with electricity people would share gas tanks for heating. People would point each other mountain wells for drinking water when the private water scheme quality wasn’t sufficient.
I think this social awareness is absolutely necessary to face any of the current climate problems and take up responsibility for these, instead of waiting for the government to come with solutions. Plus it creates a nicer social atmosphere over all!
Maybe that’s why it was so special to meet our whale friend: as a gentle reminder that there are even bigger things than us. I hope you will get to see him too!
Cycling to work everyday in my work suit in busy The Hague traffic at 8 am, meeting the same civil servants at the same traffic lights every morning, very much like the Groundhog Day movie, I thought I wanted a change. Well it wasn’t only a thought, it was also my body screaming for a break. Stress can really get into one’s system, especially if you experience sensory impulses intensely. I think no money is ever worth endangering one’s health.
Anyway, so here I was in the middle of nowhere in the North West of Ireland, with only a wooden stove to heat the house, no tap drinking water, electricity that often went when there were power cuts. And a lot of silence…. Just a house, nature, birds and wild deer in the garden. The quietness was so omnipresent that it felt I was in a different world, and that the real world with the traffic jams didn’t even really exist and certainly couldn’t be important if it did! What wás important here was to collect firewood and water from a well higherup in the mountains. There was a bus once a week to a nearby town in 20 minutes distance. And I actually met one of my best friends on it.
I started focussing on baking breads every morning, pizza’s, cakes, doing the household, volunteering in an animal sanctuary, making music with the locals, meeting some very talented people in the area. All of this felt so grounding and healing. There was plenty of time in a day, no rush to do anything, no appointments in my agenda. Not even internet in the house, so I had to walk down the road to receive messages.
And I loved it…
Back in Holland I still love spending time in the house or nature just by myself to load up on energy. Are you one of these sensitive people too? How do you step out of the 21st century rat race now and then?
Even though some work is still in progress, I will try this first post to find out how this works! Apparently due to my minimal website skills all the earlier news posts ended up in blog heaven where nobody can really read them….
My name is HannekeLaura. I am a Dutch songwriter, lawyer, writer, nature lover, Ireland lover, and country girl who ended up in a big city. I will use this blog space to share some experiences and personal stories starting with the big career change I made years ago working as a lawyer in a big law firm to a free lifestyle as a singer/songwriter. I will share some of the knowledge, struggles, highlights and adventures that I encountered en route. To get a first impression of who I am, please follow me on Instagram. Have a look around on my site, and please join me on this trip! <3