Love to all.
My name is Keenan.
I have decided to do a public hunger strike from July 1 to September 1 over social media, with the ultimate purpose of inspiring zero-waste parks all over the world.
This hunger strike is called Hunger Strike for Earth.
We are @zerowasteparks on instagram.
This page exists to explain how I found myself making this decision,
and how I envision we can use social media and this hunger strike to heal the Earth.
It will begin in city parks.
* * *
First and foremost, what must be understood is that we are not responding to the climate crisis fast enough.
Presently, there is no future for our species future generations, or for any other life on earth.
I will not spend any time presenting figures to support this current truth.
We don’t have any more time for that.
We must act, now.
I have been spending my whole life trying to understand why it is we are not changing as fast as we need to.
The various environmental crisis we face will take every pair of hands we are blessed to have. Thankfully, there are already many helping hands, with more added each day.
wherever you are,
if you are using your hands each day
to help heal the earth.
We need you.
However, what we truly need is for each person on earth to prioritize healing the earth. Solving the environmental crisis we face will take all of us.
* * *
Perhaps for you it is hard to imagine everyone working together to heal our shared home, Earth. I have struggled with hopelessness, as well.
I know many people are trapped
and struggle to prioritize the health of the planet.
However, I will not make a list of all the barriers.
We simply don’t have time.
What I will say, instead,
is that we have the most powerful tool imaginable.
And we must learn how to use it.
That tool is social media.
* * *
Each one of us is a creator, with influence.
We create daily, in all our interactions.
We have created a way to communicate globally in an instant.
It’s a miracle, really, that social media exists.
I know that social media has been harmful, in some ways, to the human heart.
But I will not make a list about that, either.
We don’t have time.
Instead, we must all make the choice to use this platform to heal the earth, each one of us, as fast as possible. That is what Hunger Strike for Earth is all about.
But first, a bit about me.
I was born on December 20, 1992, in Toronto, around 4 in the morning.
I have lived an incredible life.
I have always eaten well.
I was lucky to go to university for music.
I have travelled around the world.
My life is a life I am nothing but grateful for.
A life that led me to have love for all around me.
But for me, to love is to want what is best for that which is loved.
And so, I have dedicated my life to trying to heal our home, Earth.
I love Earth, deeper than I know how to express with sound.
I want there to be a future for my families future generations, my friends, and all other life. It is simply miraculous that we exist, love, laugh, and create together on Earth.
I hope to do this for a long time, still.
I hope you can, too.
But first, some things absolutely must change.
We have not other choice.
There is very little time.
* * *
I moved from Kitchener, Ontario to Montréal, Quebec in mid-November, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I moved because I wanted to create a new life, based on what I learned from my life in Kitchener. I moved right across the street from the most beautiful park I know, Park La Fontaine. When I moved here, I decided to consecrate myself to this park.
I had saved up enough money to not think about money for a year.
So instead, I thought about my values.
Each day I went into the park and lived the values of the community I dreamed to see.
The more I lived my values, the more I remembered what it means to be native to a place.
To me, being truly native to a place means a few simple things:
First: learn the languages and cultures of the people around you with curiosity.
Second: learn how life is woven together where you are, also with curiosity.
Third: love and take care of these peoples and places based on what you learn.
I spent a lot of time
getting to know people in the park,
trying to learn their languages.
I spent a lot of time researching
how the life was pieced together in the park.
I picked up lots of waste.
I spoke lots of French, and other languages.
I gave little tours based on what I learned,
and started encouraging people to respond to an invasive species in the park,
scrambling up trees to collect the cocoons in front of thousands.
But after about 6 months I realized that it was not enough.
We were running out of time,
and the park health was not improving.
It was then that I left for a walk.
* * *
I left my apartment one morning with my satchel and a walking stick.
I had no phone.
My goal was to find a new place to rest for the night.
This goal led to the most transformative experience of my life.
One connection led to another,
and suddenly I found myself walking from Roxton Falls back to Montréal,
weaving through the small towns of the Quebec countryside.
On the way, I asked for water and food when I needed it.
I slept in garages, on lawns, and in beautiful cabins.
I worked for people when I could.
I ate very well most days,
and whistled a lot.
I made some of the closest connections I’ve ever experienced.
Deep connections with Earth and all the life on her.
On the way
I collected seeds,
and shared what I knew
and life in general.
I used money very rarely
and often didn’t know where I would sleep,
but I was always taken care of.
I was a child at the doors of strangers,
trusting I would be all right,
trusting to be raised by the cultures
I shared the land with.
And I am so grateful to say that I was.
I am alive because of the hospitality of those who I met on this journey.
Thank you for showing me hope in our species.
This journey transformed my understanding of how I can be human.
* * *
I returned to Montréal at the beginning of June.
The question in my mind on my return was very simple:
how can we make this way of life possible in cities?
We know that when there are many cultures and languages in a city,
there can be tensions.
However, just like when different ecosystems meet, like water and land,
cultures meeting is where we find the most biodiversity.
And so I see Montréal as a blessing.
Montréal is one of the most multicultural places on Earth.
It is full of many, many creative humans.
Especially Park La Fontaine.
So the question became:
how can we make this way of life normal, in parks?
Parks are very important in cities.
They are sacred places.
They are the places where we connect with nature.
They remind us of what it means to be human,
alive and playing in a forest.
However, although countless beautiful communities exist in parks,
we are not taking care of these places as we need to.
That’s when I realized what I needed to do.
* * *
The world needs a symbol for how we treat the earth.
This is what led to Hunger Strike for Earth.
We are consuming more than she can give.
We need to lower our consumption as soon as possible,
and bring her back to life.
I am prepared to use my body as this symbol,
but this is not about me.
In fact, I do not see myself as an individual.
Instead, I see myself as a result of the countless interactions I have had
with the community of life over the course of my life.
I am a body,
but my mind has been formed by my experience of the world
and all the people I have connected with.
So, I see this more as a decision that I am making on behalf of a community.
And I hope you will take the time to understand why.
Again, we do not have a future right now.
But even so, it is not too late.
We just need to act fast.
I see the parks in cities as seeds of hope.
These are sacred places where we can remember how to be human beings
outside of the system that we have created in the ‘concrete jungle’.
In other words, parks are where all the monkeys can learn to belong together in the forest. I see this happening already, in Park La Fontaine.
However, it is not fast enough.
To form communities where we can all belong
we need to share some core values.
I believe I know these values.
They come from the new practice of Permaculture.
* * *
Permaculture is the most important word on Earth, right now.
Permaculture can be interpreted in two ways:
These are, essentially, the same thing.
Permaculture is a recent remembering of an ancient practice -
the practice of creating ecosystems.
Ecosystems based on permaculture are designed to meet our basic needs as humans,
offering us food, medicine, and resources sustainably.
They are also designed to meet the needs of all other life on earth,
working with the Earth, rather than against her.
Permaculture has been practiced by indigenous people all over Earth for millennia.
It is the most beautiful art I know.
It is also the most important.
We are in the sixth mass extinction.
Our planet is polluted with waste.
For many, food is poisonous.
Our system is broken.
People are trapped in it.
Earth is warming rapidly.
Meanwhile, we have very little time.
The way forward is, thankfully, simple:
We must rebuild ecosystems all over the world, using the science of Permaculture.
Every available space that can be used must be used.
I believe this is what our hands are here to do.
Everyone on earth must research Permaculture.
Growing the life on this earth is, truly, what it means to be human.
I believe we are all gardeners, and we must grow the garden back very quickly.
I believe we have a chance, if we use social media properly,
and we all see that it starts in our parks.
* * *
The first thing that must be understood is this:
we are the parks.
Each one of us creates the community we want to see in the parks.
If there is tension in parks,
it is because we created it.
If there is waste, it is because we created it.
If the soil is hard and sick, it is because we don’t care for it.
If the animals are not coming, it is because we are not planting for them.
If people feel they can’t visit the park, it is because we are not being welcoming enough.
Each of us must make an individual choice to do our best to create a park welcome to all.
The concrete jungle is different -
often we are forced to adhere to rules that we have created,
based on a system that is quickly destroying Earth.
when we are in the forest,
we can redefine how we want to relate and connect,
and form new communities.
Or, as I like to say it,
“All of the monkeys belong in the forest”.
* * *
We cannot waste any more time,
pointing to fictitious hierarchies.
These are simply a reflection of the communities we create,
communities that are a reflection of our own hearts.
We cannot waste any more time
refusing to take our own responsibility
for how the forest, and the humans within it, are treated.
Each one of us must be entirely dedicated to caring and growing these parks in our cities. It is the only connection to nature that many people in the city have.
We must remember how to take care of these sacred places
Otherwise, we will continue to create cities that lack understanding
of how we can all care for the earth,
from which we are all born,
to which we all return.
I see another path.
A path lit by very simple values,
The core values of Permaculture:
1. Create no waste
2. Care for people
3. Care for the earth
Hunger Strike for Earth appears to focus on one of these values,
the value of zero-waste.
However, waste is deeply connected to the other two values,
and so this hunger strike is really about all of them.
Waste is a reflection of how connected we are
to ourselves, and to the land.
These are, of course, also the same thing.
We are all born of the soil, and return to the soil.
We are made of what we eat.
Our minds are shaped by the ecosystem we are raised in.
We are Earth, and Earth is us.
All of us children from one mother.
This is obvious,
but even though people agree,
our behaviours often do not reflect this truth.
The existence of waste in a culture means this truth, at least in action, has been forgotten.
And because we have forgotten,
we have created materials and chemicals
that are not meant to be in ecosystems.
The place where we must start to grow this value of zero-waste is,
first and foremost, in the parks of cities around the world.
Parks are what is left of nature in our cities,
and in nature, waste cannot exist.
In fact, waste is an idea, and should be dispelled completely from our planet,
if we are intending on staying here.
We can start in the parks.
* * *
The goal of Hunger Strike for Earth,
starting officially July 1 to, hopefully, only September 1,
is to transform each park around the world to be completely zero-waste,
each garbage bin permanently transformed,
and ready to plant garden beds in by the fall.
This could be simple to achieve, if we work together.
What this means is we treat these sacred places like we are camping in the woods:
leave no trace, and make it more beautiful than before you arrived.
Take your waste with you when you leave,
since there are no garbage bins in a forest.
Simply take your waste back to the concrete jungle outside of the forest.
If there are those who rely on bottles and cans in your community,
empty them out at the base of trees
and leave them there to be collected.
Do not put them by garbage bins in parks -
this normalizes the usage of these bins.
Remember, these bins are a symbol of the idea of waste,
which cannot truly exist in nature.
We must have this value firmly rooted in the heart of each person in cities around the world. And this value can be grown in the parks.
Besides, those who rely on bottles and cans to eat
will certainly make the effort to recycle them,
and the trees will be happier for the drink.
If we all followed these simple principles,
our parks would be zero-waste very quickly.
However, picking up waste and taking responsibility for our waste
is one of the largest transformations a human can go through,
because the only word waste knows how to say is “me”.
The human species has become disconnected from our true nature as children of Earth.
Because of this we have created materials that are, really, only useful to our own species.
This is, in my mind, our species saying “me”.
We must change to saying “we” very quickly,
and take responsibility for all the waste we create.
We have no time to lose.
We must purify all of the existing natural places we have left on earth.
In other words, we need to clean up our room.
In other words, our waste is the weeds,
and if we want to grow a garden,
we need pull the weeds.
This is easier said than done,
because right now the waste in our culture
is a sign of our pain.
* * *
It feels hard to be human, right now.
We have seen what we are doing to our mother,
and we find it hard to face.
I don’t need to make a list.
We all struggle with this reality.
Picking up waste and cleaning our parks may feel hard to do,
when you find it hard to belong even to our own species.
However, this is why we must all take responsibility,
because we will then all belong to this value.
And so belong more to each other.
However, I often say,
do not do things ‘because of’ other people,
but do things ‘for’.
This is what is hard,
because when we pick up waste,
we feel it as picking up another humans pain.
This is because it really is our pain.
However, I encourage you to view everything as material,
something with potential use.
Instead, pick things up ‘for’ the Earth.
For the future generations of our species,
and all life.
And sort every piece properly,
so that it can be reused.
This is the first step.
When our hearts transform,
and we decide to start purifying the garden of our weeds
not ‘because’ of others,
but ‘for’ the future of life on Earth,
our communities will transform.
We will create a shared sense of pride for our home,
and no matter what culture we are from,
or what language we speak,
we will live in a way that heals,
caring for the earth and ourselves.
For each time we pick up a piece of material,
removing it from the ecosystem where we know it does not belong,
We will find each time we decide to take shared responsibility for our home,
we put that much more care into how we listen to others,
how we speak to others,
and how our actions
Our communities will tighten around the value of Create No Waste, and, naturally,
we will grow the values of Care for People, and of course
Care for the Earth.
And we will have hope.
* * *
Over this summer, I believe that communities could be transformed all over the world
simply by transforming how we relate to these sacred places called parks.
Each bin for ‘waste’ could be transformed into a gift:
a public herb garden,
a free beer box,
a clothing box,
and public library,
a food box,
or, my favorite,
a place where we give away
the art we make
out of what
we bring to the park,
proving that it’s better to create
These spaces in cities could be seeds that grow a new global community,
one that takes care of all of the monkeys in the forest,
and the rest of life, as well.
Over time, after we dispel the idea the waste,
we can transform these parks into magnificent, sacred places,
where all people can go to reconnect with what it means to truly be a human on Earth.
each park could be a hub
for learning about Permaculture,
where people all over the world can go
to learn how we can all weave life together, again.
Quickly, we could reconnect with nature in a deep way in cities,
and with this connection and understanding of how to rebuild ecosystems,
leave our cities with the intention of healing the surrounding area.
I believe this not only possible,
but absolutely necessary if we want to stay here.
* * *
When I moved to Montréal, I started juggling.
I’ve realized that we were only ever playing with one ball.
Perhaps we have dropped this ball, but of course,
all children have a chance to pick the ball back up,
and continue playing.
If this transformation were to happen in Montréal,
the whole world would watch as we embrace each other
in the interest of the future of life on Earth.
All cultures, all backgrounds, all languages would unite,
and work together to transform this city in the way we must
to prepare for the environmental crisis we are currently facing.
And, if we use social media well,
cities all over the world would follow suit
leaving behind their tensions,
and instead growing the most beautiful, sacred gardens
for the people of the city to come to,
and feel at peace.
We could begin to exhale, knowing that the work is being done that needs to be done,
and that we are starting to restore the garden as it needs to be.
Perhaps, one day,
we will know we’ll be well,
that our children will have a future,
and that the life will steadily coming back.
On that day, I hope to walk into Park La Fontaine,
trusting it will be there for generations to come,
and that all the monkeys in the forest
will always be welcome and loved.
It is on this day that I know I will be able to pass on happily,
proud of the community within which I have lived my life,
and full of love for all of the life that has sustained me,
here to stay for generations and generations.
But first, we must clean up our room.
* * *
I have made my choice.
I am going to do a hunger strike until, if necessary, I return to the soil.
We all know need to see change on this scale,
and I know nothing else I can do in my life as an individual.
I will use my body.
However, I really want to stay.
I have many friends,
and many dreams I would love to see come to life.
I am also in love.
So, this can be more of a game, and a very fun one.
There are many #hashtags that people can use to get involved.
I would love for this to be a celebration.
We will create a video for each one at @zerowasteparks,
and I really hope you join in this journey.
My life, literally, depends on it.
There is one in particular:
#feedkeenan or #nourrikeenan
that is very important.
Each time we accomplish something,
like Park La Fontaine being Zero-Waste,
with all the bins transformed,
I will eat, with a lot of gratitude.
The other hashtags have to do with how the values of Create no Waste, Care of People, and Care for the Earth can take root in these city forests.
So please, check out these ideas, and try to transform your city, too.
Then, day by day, the values and community we create here
will transform the city surrounding the parks,
and we will remember how to be.
We have between now and September 1.
However, I am prepared to prolong the fast if necessary.
I hope you will help to create this world that we need,
for ourselves and all other life.
I love each and every one of you,
and all of the life that made you possible.