On why we invited Mona’s Kirsha Kaechele to Tomorrowland –

News from the front desk: We’ve been following Kirsha Kaechele’s work for a few years now, marvelling at how this interesting woman, a trained architect and now artist, who married Mona founder David Walsh, has been causing a stir in Tasmania, campaigning against the salmon farms and raising money for her program to bring vegetable patches and healthy eating to primary schools in Hobart who need them.

The video clip of the madcap naked swim to raise money for the project and with her “ladies who jump” in the dead of Tassie winters is something to behold. Check it out here and the spoof with the US Navy seals is another work that brilliantly exemplifies an approach to sustainability that is far from the earnest and worthy norm.

In a briefing with her this week ahead of her appearance at Tomorrowland and as our feature host for the Tomorrowland Soirée the night before (yes we clearly don’t know how to put a lid on our ambitions here at TFE!) Kirsha said the key to getting change is to speak the language your audience understands.

A clever way we see to make us change our minds.

It’s worth pondering. The Fifth Estate met Kirsha in Hobart a few months ago to see if we could persuade her to trek north to help our cause as well!

She agreed. Here’s the story we wrote.

As the bad news keeps coming from COP27 and elsewhere (there’s no point putting lipstick on the proverbial) it’s clear that whatever we were doing in the past to keep warming to 1.5 degrees is not working.

Ten years ago, maybe. Twenty years ago, absolutely it might have worked. But the point is that something was missing. Some cut through action that could beat what’s turning out

to be the most powerful force in humanity. The oil companies got their toehold right at the start, stomping on electric cars at the turn of the last century. They’ve learned a few tricks since. In the US more than 20 states are in the process of making fossil fuel divestment illegal

Let’s be clear – what the fossil fuel industry is doing to our planet is outrageous in the extreme. It’s criminal, disgusting and a violation of human rights, not to mention the rights of this beautiful planet and its living creatures and plants.

But the biggest underlying element of this industry is its boundless audacity.

Can we even imagine the next unbelievable piece of spin or influence of the authorities?

So how to counter that?

We often wonder are so many of the people trying to counter this industry’s impact are so polite and restrained? (Well they are definitely nicer and more caring!)

That’s not to say the war is not fought on many fronts. It needs to be.

We need the earnest worthy folk in the vanguard, we need the brave activists who glue their hands to the road

We need the earnest worthy folk. We need the brave activists who glue
their hands to the road to draw attention to the fact that climate change is disrupting more
than just your morning commute. And we need those that are starting to be prosecuted and jailed for their work and we also need those who want to stick to personal behaviour and consumer change that keeps sending the right political messages.

But one thing we need so much more of is bold.

To win this war we need to match the audacity. We need to walk away from our comfort zone and become radical, creative and brilliant thinkers, to outdo the best brains in the world that the fossil fuel industry is wealthy enough to buy.

There are geniuses in our space.

And some of them are really wealthy and capable of great impact because of that.

For instance Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinardwho gave away his huge wealth.

Sadly the overt worthiness of so many climate campaigners saw this guy attacked because his company had used synthetic materials in the business. What did people want him to do? Not give the money to the climate fight? Was that more pure and un-greenwashed? Isn’t every single one of us who doesn’t live by air alone or meditating in a cave guilty of greenwash? Being in a cave though is not exactly innocent either. We need to “bring out our dead” to fight this thing. Opting out is not a viable option. Besides, greenwash is just the first stage of transformation because it signals awareness of the problem. Let’s look at it as the greenwashers’ opportunity to deliver what they promise and hold them to account!

The boldness and fun of Kirsha Kaechele work is a stark difference to that attitude.

It’s why her work resonated so much. And because she understands the different languages needed to win the many battles that confront us.

Not everyone can chain themselves to a tree and not all of us can be as creative and provocative – and confident – as Kirsha in her work but we can all do a lot more than we do now to influence people wherever we go, whether it’s at the supermarket or at the big end of town, where a nod and wink are a powerful signal indeed.

In Kirsha’s world how much better to make your campaign fun and funny! How much easier to engage and keep engaging. Laughter and bright ideas are self-generating. And perhaps a bigger Trojan horse than many other techniques.

TFE events

At Tomorrowland on 1 December Kirsha will share her work and join in conversation around it as an introduction to a discussion on how art infrastructure can anchor a community and a precinct with the highly successful influencer Lisa Havilah chief executive of the Powerhouse Museum and Mark Raggatt of Ashton Raggatt McDougall with his take on ARM’s work and influence in the arts.

At the soirée the night before on 30 November is where we can let loose a bit with some provocations – from Kirsha and you, the audience. It will include Ross Harding of Finding Infinity with a sneak peek of his New Normal for Sydney launch and some “interesting” food to help us expand our mind on food security.

It’s a nod to Kirsha’s Eat the Problem banquet based on invasive species. But no, we won’t be serving feral cat.

But let’s see if Kirsha can make us change our minds!

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