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 in cities 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 believe that social media and this hunger strike
can plant seeds of hope 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
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.
The various environmental crisis that we face
will take every pair of hands we have.
Thankfully, there are many helping hands,
with more each day.
wherever you are,
if you are using your hands each day
to help heal 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.
I have struggled with hopelessness, as well.
I know many people are trapped in a system
and struggle to prioritize the health of this planet.
To be sure, we must support these people, so we can all work together.
Thankfully, we have the most powerful tool imaginable.
And I believe we can solve this issue, if we learn how to use it.
That tool is social media.
* * *
Social media shows that each one of us is a creator, with influence.
Truly, we create daily, in all of our interactions.
Now, 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 Earth,
each one of us, as fast as possible.
That is what Hunger Strike for Earth is all about.
Check out our #hashtags and see how you can be involved.
But before getting into details
I'll introduce myself.
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 something is to want what is best for that which is loved.
And what seems best for what I love right now
is to try to ensure that what I love has a future.
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 no other choice.
* * *
I live in Canada.
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, and take care of it.
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 live in.
The more I lived my values,
the more I remembered what it means to be native to a place.
Right now, I believe we all must immediately become native to wherever we are,
and stop moving around so much if we can help it.
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 feel this dedication to people and place is fundamental
if we are to heal Earth as we need to.
You don't have to go far to be find a neighbor, these days.
So, I spent a lot of time
getting to know people in the park,
trying to learn their languages.
I spent a lot of time exploring
how life is pieced together in the park,
and giving little nature tours to those interested.
I picked up lots of waste.
I even 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 in early May with a 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, in cabins and homes.
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 in my life.
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 that journey.
To you, I say thank you for showing me hope.
Because of your kindness and hospitality
you transformed my understanding
of how we can be human.
* * *
I returned to Montréal at the beginning of June.
As I crossed the Jacques Cartier bridge
the question in my mind was simple:
how can we make this way of life possible in cities?
We know that when there are many cultures
and different languages in a city,
there can be tension.
These tensions can make it more difficult to connect as humans,
and so, sometimes, more difficult to care for our shared home.
However, just like when different ecosystems meet, such as water and land,
where cultures meet is where we find the most biodiversity.
And as we now know, biodiversity is what makes life on earth work,
creating ecosystems where everything is connected to everything else.
So, I saw Montréal as a blessing to the world.
Here, I saw we can embrace multiculturalism
like the biodiversity of a rainforest.
Montréal is one of the most multicultural places on Earth.
It is full of many, many creative humans,
from all over the world.
And all of these people visit places like Park La Fontaine,
because we all want to reconnect with nature
and remember how to be human.
Parks are very important in cities.
All the parks of the world are sacred places.
They can remind us of what it means to be human,
alive and playing together in a forest.
They are places where we are children again.
However, we are not taking care of these places as we need to.
So I started wondering:
how can we build shared values in our parks
based on caring for each other,
and the land?
And 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 I must be clear that this is not about me.
In fact, I do not see myself as an individual.
Instead, I see myself as a community,
a result of the countless experiences I have had
with all of life.
I have a body,
but my mind has been shaped
by the community of all life itself.
So, I see this more as a decision I am making on behalf of this community.
I do this because this community does not have a future on this earth,
unless we all respond immediately to the environmental crisis.
I see the parks in cities as seeds of hope.
Places where we can remember how to be human beings
outside the system that we have created in the ‘concrete jungle’.
Places where we can form communities where we can all belong
if we but share some core values.
I believe I know these values.
They come from the science 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,
and 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.
Many people are trapped in it.
Meanwhile, Earth is warming rapidly.
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.
I believe growing the life on this earth is 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 that we are the parks.
Each one of us creates the community we want to see in the parks.
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 others have created,
based on a system that is quickly destroying Earth.
when we are in the forest,
and we recognize each one of us is the park
we can redefine how we want to relate and connect,
and form new communities.
I hope to use my body to inspire the creation of these new communities,
communities formed around city parks all over the world.
If we can remember how to care for each other and the Earth in cities
by forming communities with shared values in city parks,
I believe that we have a chance.
* * *
Sharing responsibility for forming these communities
means leaving behind our temptations
to point fingers at others
and lay blame.
We cannot waste any more time,
pointing to fictitious hierarchies.
These hierarchies are simply a reflection of the communities we ourselves create,
communities that are a reflection of our own hearts.
We cannot waste any more time
refusing to take our own responsibility
for how life in our cities
is cared for.
We must remember we are all children of Earth,
belonging to one family,
Each one of us must be entirely dedicated to caring for these sacred places.
Thankfully, the way forward is simple.
It is a path lit by 3 values,
the core values of Permaculture:
1. Create No Waste
2. Fair Share/Care for People
3. Care for Earth
Hunger Strike for Earth appears to focus on one of these values,
the value of Create No 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 actions often do not reflect this truth.
The existence of waste in a culture means this truth has been forgotten.
And because we have forgotten,
we have created materials 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.
I see this seed being planted in our parks.
* * *
The goals of Hunger Strike for Earth are simple.
I ask for each city park around the world to be declared Zero-Waste
each waste bin to permanently transformed into a gift box,
and (hopefully) plans made to plant gardens
based on Permaculture design
in all of the parks
by the fall.
This could be very simple to achieve, if we work together
and use social media as it was made to be used,
to connect our species to heal the Earth.
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 toxic to the life we share this home with.
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.
I know this is easier said than done,
because the existence of waste
is the voice 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 belong deeper to these places we share.
And so, learn to belong to each other.
But it is hard, especially when we ask this question:
"Why should I be responsible for other people's waste?"
To this I say:
Do not do ‘because of’,
but do things ‘for’.
Clean up our room 'for' future generations,
not only of our species,
but all life.
But this is what is hard,
because often when we pick up waste,
we feel it as picking up another humans pain.
This is because it is our pain,
and it is certainly hard to face.
I have had to stop many times,
when I have begun feeling overwhelmed and sad.
However, there is a trick.
I encourage you to view everything as material,
something with potential use.
Sort every piece properly,
so that it can be reused,
and made into something new.
This is the first step.
Then, when our hearts transform,
and we decide to start purifying the garden
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.
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 people can go to connect with what it means to be 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.
If this comes to pass,
I envision, in the coming years
millions of people walking on the road,
sharing what they know about Permaculture,
planting seeds and designing gardens,
learning languages and sharing stories,
working freely for the future of life on Earth,
trusting to find a place to rest,
trusting to find food and drink,
learning about the life around them
and recreating ecosystems of the countryside,
in a way that meets our own needs,
and the needs of all life.
Perhaps, this too is hard to imagine.
But I believe this is not only possible,
but absolutely necessary if we want to stay here.
* * *
When I moved to Montréal, I started juggling.
Since then, I’ve realized something.
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 peoples from all cultures would unite,
working together to transform this city as we must
to prepare for the environmental crisis we are 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 the work is being done that is needed,
and that we are starting to restore the garden to be what it was.
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 prepared to do a hunger strike until 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:
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 begin 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.