2005 was a big year for sustainable development. From 2004 I had been getting ever more anxious about the state of the planet and the lack of progress and genuine actions to tackle climate change and build a more sustainable society. Three things happened related to my journey

  1. Going to Washington
  2. The G8 Summit at Gleneagles (Green Tourism Gold award)
  3. Planting EU flowers in Ireland (as the UK representative for the EU flower)

This account is about travelling to Washington to present ecolabels to the meeting industry, explain them and highlight a Declaration of Inter-Dependence  

In March 2005 the first city to be severely damaged by climate change happened.

This was the year of hurricane Katrina and it devastated New Orleans. It was also the 700th anniversary of William Wallace and 25 years since Rosa Parks stood up for justice in the United States by refusing to move her seat on a bus.

For me it was a watershed year and one where I needed to drive my actions and be more ambitious and sharing. As Katrina hit the US I knew I had to visit the country and help inspire people to make a real difference. I searched online for an organisation which would complement my concerns.

I have always wanted to work in the United States I love the spirit of free enterprise and the never say die attitude of the people in general. The American dream is generally very positive (maybe lacking a bit in responsibility) and there are some freedoms I really don’t agree with.

So I investigated the types of organisation I thought could help to transform their society and considered the best group to consult with was the event management industry. I looked online and found the green meetings industry council a group of mainly women who were all entrepreneurs running various organisations and who were to have an event in Washington.

I wrote to them about green tourism and that we would love to share our story from the UK Europe with the group and discuss how we could work together.

It was wonderful to get a response and so in Easter 2005 I started arranging to travel to Washington.

I had already been to America for a short holiday and see the Abraham Lincoln memorial, visited Thomas Jefferson’s home, seen Boston and even been to the top of the Empire States Building with Marybeth one of my friends from my Africa Odyssey.

As I prepared I was reminded to watch an old movie about Washington. I think I had seen it many years ago whilst staying at my grans it was called Mr Smith Goes to Washington. It was a 1935 film with one of my old heroes James Stewart and in it he played the part of a boy ranger who was elected to become a senator for his state and how he took on the corruption of the political system.

What I particularly liked was his background as a boy ranger and his desire to create a camp for boys and girls to learn about nature and the values of being an American such as truth and justice and just plain common sense and decency as he told us.

The film was so inspiring in the beginning he gets bamboozled by the bright lights, by a pretty face and twisted up with media who make fun of his naivety. But he continues and starts to tackle the corruption he comes across in the only way its possible to defeat it. By being true to himself and playing a straight bat and taking whatever criticism and lies and standing up for truth and justice.

One really memorable element is when one of the corrupt politicians seem to be so overwhelmingly powerful that he thinks he is unable to take them on. His wonderful assistant then tells him not to worry and that these people just cast long shadows. I really like that analogy and it gives me hope that we can banish these shadows with the light we bring.

Being British gives us an unique perspective on America we look at the country as one of our children not so deep in history as the UK but similar in sharing a language a vision for a free-er and fairer world where there is opportunity for all and one with institutions built upon solid foundations of justice, free speech and accountability. Of course that is not always the case and there are lots of examples of Britain and America making the wrong choices and covering up mistakes but in general I believe eventually the truth comes out and that there are so many Mr Smiths out there trying to do the right thing.

Being British means we also remember the days when we were one nation and supported one another. As it was an important anniversary for Scotland with William Wallace and his pursuit of freedom I also thought that I could create an idea of how we are interconnected.

As a result I decided to promote our green tourism programme, the work I did for the EU Flower but also the concept of a declaration of interdependence to build on the earlier declaration of independence. The idea had come to me from having contact with Satish Kumar and his quest for a peaceful future. Peace with all peoples, peace with all life and peace with the earth.

And so I presented our programme and the work we were doing in Europe I promoted the EU flower which was one of my SEA Ltd projects for the UK Government  (DEFRA, who helped sponsor my travel) and the idea of a declaration of interdependence.

I highlighted man’s greatest tourism adventure to the moon and how travel had given us the perspective of the earth and the need for us to work together and so promoted my 5 points in my declaration:

  1. We are all part of life on earth and should recognise our responsibility to preserve it
  2. We should work to overcome our own ignorance and that of others to support the freedom of the individual and of expression in a positively focused way
  3. Establish good relations with our fellow beings with a view to sharing knowledge, love and ideas to establish a harmonious and prosperous global society
  4. To establish partnership with other individuals and organisations and recognise our enemies as simply friends in disguise

The 5th point was the threats to this declaration:

The greatest threats to mankind are:

  • Natural threats – Katrina, Tsunami, droughts, floods etc
  • Human threats – Individuals acting in ignorance

It was cheeky for me to ask that the US and the UK join forces and become more interdependent but we share many of the same values and as we face the next crisis of our time maybe even a greater crisis than the second world war then we really need to find a way to support one another and create the future which our children and grandchildren deserve.

Needless to say the audience loved my young and cheeky nature and my positive story. One great woman in the group from Eugene in Washington state told me  “its all about stories Jon it always has been and it always will be, keep up the good work and you will always be welcome on the west coast.”

I have never been there as yet but I hope to visit one day when I am invited or when my path chooses this as my next step. It may seem funny because I could always drive myself to visit and a few times I have looked up Eugene on the map but I follow a spiral path not a straight line.

It’s the reason I have my spiral logo. If you recognise that we are on a revolving earth you can also see that the straight line is also a curve. Nature is all about curves and fractals and beautiful patterns. Before I chose a spiral I had a fractal as my business logo. Why so? Because it represents a simple algorithm with a random factor. This is the nature of life, a single line, a simple path with the effects of mutation or random chance just like a strand of DNA. And that too comes in curves and spirals.

We all move through this multiple universe living both here and now but also through our higher and lower selves. If we are aligned together we follow a beautiful journey of awakening and of responsibility and incredible stories. My stories so far are just a drop in the ocean of all the stories of my life and of all of those of my true friends. I hope now you have read some of my account that just like in the declaration you see me as a friend. Like Satish I only want peace even if I am a rainbow warrior.

So you might wonder what came from the meeting with the Green Meeting Industry Council well they got into some management difficulties between some of their leaders and they didn’t deliver the change they hoped to. I guess it’s a sign of how some people can behave when given a lot of money or authority. Sadly the ones with the greatest wisdom are not always those with the greatest influence but I have no regrets that I tried. Now many years later I can see how much wiser I have become and yet I still retain that innocence that is so necessary if we are to tackle these issues. Darkness surrounds us but that will make the light all the brighter when it comes.

No Regrets

Do I regret the patience I have shown to fools

Or the ignorance I have shown to the wise

Neither for were I more ignorant I would be less patient

Jon Proctor 2005