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Hanna Thomas – The Futures Interview

Photo on 2011-03-25 at 17.05 #2


Hanna Thomas

Hanna Thomas is the Lead Organiser for the East London Green Jobs Alliance, a coalition of trade unions, NGOs, community based organisations and green businesses working together to create green and decent jobs for East London citizens. She’s currently running a demonstration project designed to take young, unemployed people in East London through a training and skills “jobs pipeline” and into green apprenticeships. She was a finalist in the Sheila McKechnie 2011 campaigner awards for her work with the Alliance.

Prior to this, Hanna was a Programmes Manager at youth-led charity The Otesha Project UK (who still anchor the Alliance), a Campaigner and Coordinator for the UK Youth Climate Coalition (delivering the first ever Youth Intervention speech to the UN Climate Change Conference plenary in Poznan in 2008) and she still enjoys delivering anti-oppression workshops, being especially interested in the concepts of environmental racism and environmental justice.

She holds an MA Hons in Classics from Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and is awaiting the final verdict of her MSc in Climate Change & Policy from Sussex! She lives in Brighton where you will mostly find her baking and tweeting (occasionally at the same time).

?!X: What’s the Future You Choose?

HT: The future I choose is the same as that which millions of people around the world choose – one based on the words of Martin Luther King, Grace Lee Boggs, and Billy Bragg. One where people are judged based on the content of their character, not on the colour of their skin, their gender, sexuality, or ability. One where people have equal opportunity and equal protection. Where we harness the power of our sun and wind to give us energy, rather than digging ever deeper into the earth and endangering the health of our families and communities. One where we are free.

?!X: What’s a ‘think’ to create this future?

HT: My ‘think’ is neverending curiosity and the willingness to take risks. A little known fact about me is that I absolutely love reading about mountaineering (although would never consider doing it!). The best books in my collection are Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, and Touching the Void, and This Game of Ghosts by Joe Simpson. There’s a very particular mindset that mountaineers share that is driven by curiosity, and the determination to face, and overcome, ones limitations. There’s an absolute fearlessness there that’s about confronting possible oblivion. And it sounds strange, but I truly think it’s that same mindset that drives many of us environmental and social justice campaigners. You stare into the void and confront some bleak realities, but there is nothing more invigorating than continuing to climb in spite of those.

?!X: What’s an ‘act’ to create the future you choose

HT: An ‘act’ is just that – to simply get on and do it. Whatever it is, however small, stop putting it off. I struggle with this a lot, especially when I know what I have to do is important, such as getting in touch with someone who I know could have a brilliantly positive impact on my campaign work. The spectre of failure can become paralysing. ‘What if they say no, what then?’ But you have to get over yourself. The best thing I’ve read to inspire you to get on and do it is here.

?!X: What’s a ‘vote’ to create the future you choose?

HT: Voting is about active participation in a democratic process and it’s important to realise that we have the power to exercise that vote every day. We can vote with our wallets and make ethical choices (or simply buy less). We can also become more active participants in our conversations. Decide that the next time someone makes a sexist, racist, homophobic, or ableist comment or joke around you, that instead of letting it slide you’ll stand up for yourself and others. It’s all part of the war of attrition that’s needed to change our culture.

?!X: Future Soundtrack – What song would you take with you into the future? 

HT: Love this song, Peggy Seeger‘s Gonna Be An Engineer because it’s brilliantly feminist and from an album called Songs of Love and Politics.

?!X: Can you share with us up to 5 weblinks that you find interesting and inspiring?

HT: These five links have helped and entertained me no end over the past few months –

Follow Hanna on Twitter @hannathomas

How can we Create the Future you Choose? Take part here.

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