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Centre for Building Sustainable Value · Gareth Gransaull

Jamie Bastedo: Storytelling, hope, and the protectors of the planet

Mar 18, 2021

Jamie Bastedo

Gareth Gransaull is an HBA Candidate pursuing a combined degree with business and international affairs and is a member of the HBA Sustainability Certificate.

These days, it seems like the word apocalypse is everywhere. Powering past Zoom fatigue, we spend hours doomscrolling to discover all the new ways that the world seems to be coming to an end. From the COVID-19 pandemic to the climate crisis, intersecting global issues contribute to an atmosphere of anxiety and fear that can often be paralyzing.

Jamie Bastedo argues things have never been more dire, which is why we need hope more than ever.

At a time when environmental pressures have never seemed more imminent, Bastedo is trying to turn the apocalypse narrative on its head. He urges us to believe, like Elizabeth May, that “cynicism and despair are our enemies.” What we need in these times is not more doomsaying, but a radical new vision of hope and optimism that can animate and galvanize collective action. On its own, fear has the potential to turn people into inactivists people who are too scared to do anything, overwhelmed by an extreme sense of inexorable calamity. Only hope can compel action. 

Bastedo wrote his book Protectors of the Planet about a particular type of visionary activist or changemaker that he calls an inspioneer, or individuals who trailblaze new ways to inspire hope by showing us that a better world is indeed possible. From luminaries like Bertrand Piccard, who conducted the first solar-powered circumnavigation of the world, to Ian McAllister, a courageous rainforest defender, Bastedo investigates the lives of brave people who are changing the world with their hopeful visions.

As Bastedo reminds us, we are all storytellers. This is a truth that Bastedo has lived, moving from the world of science to the realms of art and activism. Everything that happens in the world is a product of the stories we choose to tell; we can either choose to tell ourselves stories of fear and desperation, or we can choose to be inspired by stories of hope, of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Instead of telling ourselves stories about profit, power, and prestige, Bastedo argues that we must tell ourselves stories about connection, community, and personal contribution. If we tell ourselves hopeful stories, there is no limit to what we can do.

As Bertolt Brecht once wrote, “whoever struggles can lose. Whoever does not struggle has already lost.”