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Byron Shire
September 19, 2021

Interview with Cyprien Clerc, Founder and managing Director of Futureseeds

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Cyprien Clerc

Founder and Managing Director at FutureSeeds, Cyprien Clerc, talks to The Echo about this upcoming event.

So what is the overarching vision for FutureSeeds?

To provide a different perspective on our future. Many people are anxious, ‘eco anxiety’ is new in the last couple of years. We are continuously bombarded with negative information, problems and catastrophes. A majority of information we receive is negative. Information isn’t passive; it modifies us, it makes us. If we ingest 90 per cent of negative information then our mind lives in doom and gloom. As a result, people are losing hope in the future. I want to provide positive media to people, which promotes solutions to the world’s problems. FutureSeeds’ vision is for people to find hope again – the kind of hope that’s grounded in reality.

You theme it ‘planting a different narrative’ – tell us a little about your background and how you switched your narrative?

I’m originally an IT engineer. One thing I will never, ever regret is having quit my job in corporate Paris, leaving everything behind and traveling the world with a backpack. I travelled cheap. I slept in $1/night rooms, I harvested rice and bought a small wooden boat to paddle down the Mekong. I visited intentional communities and observed the multitude of different worlds that exist within our world. The idea that ‘there is only one correct answer’ to important questions like governance, spirituality, or even economy is one of the most wrongheaded statements ever made. There are as many worlds possible as there are dreamers. Planting a different narrative is opening to the possibility of us being the absolute creators of our world. As human beings, we are the designers, we choose our way and our fate. We can, today, plant a different narrative into the soil of our mind by opening to the possibilities of tomorrow.

What new narratives would you like to see take hold?

First of all we need to get rid of the way-too-popular idea that we humans are a virus on this planet. We need to shift from ‘we are exploiters and destroyers’ of the planet to ‘we are guardians and custodians’. With power comes responsibility. We really need to believe in ourselves, or else we won’t even bother trying to solve the social and ecological crises that are dawning on us. We need to believe in our creativity, our capacity to imagine solutions and solve the problems that we have created. We need to behave as a healthy species, connected to each other and the natural world. Then a new narrative, a new story of society, will unfold. It will be a second Renaissance, a blossoming of ideas, innovation and enthusiasm for the future.

What are the key themes around change that keep coming up?

The climate emergency is real. Australia is going to lose about 40 per cent of its beaches over the next 80 years. Our economic system is either creating or worsening climate change. An economic transformation is already taking place but nowhere near fast enough. In the near future, our social and democratic structures could even collapse under the intense pressure of the ecological catastrophe. We can act now, while we can. We can act on our governance and economic systems, build community safety nets, and ensure we have the right systems in place to protect us from further ecological destruction and flouting of human rights.

Tell me about the speakers and what they bring to the conversation…

I am very proud of the speakers that FutureSeeds will be presenting. Together, they form a circle of interconnected fields that, if reformed together, can change the trajectory of our world. Kyle is a design and research manager at NewDemocracy and will be offering us a different take on what democracy could be. Jean is the founder of Resilient Byron and a lecturer at Southern Cross University, he will develop how he came to believe that mindfulness, resilience and regeneration are the ways to navigate the future. Helena Norberg-Hodge is a worldwide renowned environmentalist who received the Goi Peace award in 2012; she brings a focus on localisation and community-building, and has brilliant insights into the fork in the road we’re at following the COVID crisis. Finally, last but not least, Mara Bun is the president of the Australian Conservation Foundation and a director at Australian Ethical Investment and will share her thoughts on how we can use money to steer the world in a positive direction.

Is our region capable of embracing real systemic change? What might that look like?

If we believe our four speakers, change is already on its way all around the world. Jean tells us that grassroots community initiatives are springing up everywhere. Helena sees change in almost every country, with farmers’ markets, permaculture, community co-ops, local finance and business alliances, place-based education and nature reconnection testifying to this shift in values. Mara tells us that investors have injected 51 billion dollars into sustainable development goals in 2020, more than twice the total of the year before. As for Kyle, he mentions that the number of deliberative processes happening in the world, from participative budgeting to citizen assemblies, is skyrocketing.

In our region, its strength will come from community, local services and businesses. We need to take the future in our hands. Organisations like Resilient Byron are a wonderful example of this.

What should people expect for this event?

They should expect uplifting conversations and ideas. They can look forward to time to meet and connect. My wish is that people leave the event with real calls-to-action in their mind, enthusiasm in their heart, and a desire to connect even more with like-minded people and be part of a vibrant, local, solutions-driven community.

Tix from $27.80, 26 May, 6pm, Byron Theatre. www.futureseeds.news/futureseeds-live-byron.

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