Where did the idea for Where the Leaves Fall come from? What inspired it? What drives it?
We used to live in front of one of London’s ancient woodlands and we would see the leaves falling in the autumn. They either fell in the wood, where they were mulched back into the soil, or on to the pavement outside the wood’s perimeter fence and we’d often see people slipping over on these leaves in damp conditions. This is where the name Where the Leaves Fall came from – referring to our push pull relationship with nature. But the name also refers to the magazine’s stories – which as leaves, fall in different countries. It’s an exploration of humankind’s connection with nature – our relationship with nature and with ourselves as a part of nature.
Our articles focus on the intersection between social justice and the environment, food – such as food culture, the system, growing – art and culture, science and philosophy – we present ways of reconnecting with the natural world and we do this by listening and learning from voices that are often marginalised. For example, through the collaboration with environmentalists, scientists and Indigenous leaders – and also with artists, architects, horticulturalists, chefs, philosophers – people who can help us relocate ourselves in the natural world and ensure a better future on Earth.
Your latest issues explores the themes of ‘Cosmology, Indigenous Art and Resistance’ and is guest edited by Indigenous activist, Txai Suruí. How did this come about? You reference how important it is that one is the protagonist and narrator of their own story in a recent podcast with specific pertinence to indigenous people. How did this influence your latest edition?
Our collaborative work in issue 12 goes beyond the work we usually do – we invited Txai to guest edit the entire magazine. Part of the reason for that was the work we’d been doing with various Indigenous people over the previous issues and the division between the western or colonisers view and the view of their communities was stark. It’s taking away the stereotyped exoticization and introducing layers of meaning. It’s so important for Indigenous people to be able to tell their own stories – to have ownership of that. You can see the power and influence this is having in Brazil with Lula setting up an Indigenous ministry. This is because the different peoples came together to be heard.
Their worldviews and perspectives are dynamic and unique. Their cultures and ways they see the world through arts, their connection with the spirits through their stories, crafts, paintings, their songs. It’s an opportunity for all us to recognise our common humanity – to appreciate what is similar and to learn from what is different.
We saw that Txai was going to be speaking at an event in London and we got in touch to meet with her. We usually have three themes in each magazine and when we talked about this with Txai she wanted to bring in the cosmology and wisdom of Indigenous people – something that isn’t often talked about. She wanted to discuss how Indigenous stories and thinking is expressed through art, and – of course – resistance which, as Txai says in her editorial, has lasted more than 500 years and does not end now.
You give each issue three anchor words and concepts – do these direct the editorial or emerge from it?
Where the Leaves Fall is a project of OmVed Gardens – a creative space in north London that has been undergoing ecological restoration since 2017. Their aim is to champion regenerative practices in our urban settings and in the ways we relate to our environment – to improve biodiversity at all levels and to use creativity and nature-led knowledge to help tackle the climate emergency. They curate a programme of events/exhibitions/workshops and discussions around food, art and ecological transformation. The magazine is a result of the conversations that take place there – where practice meets metaphor – seeding, taking root, germinating, entangling, spreading, breaking through, flourishing, blossoming, pollinating, nurturing and evolving.
For the magazine we first meet with the OmVed team to set the themes for the next year, and then we have additional meetings to discuss ideas for those themes. This is just the starting point for us reaching out wider with research and open calls. So in answer to the question – the themes direct the editorial, but are just the starting point for conversations to take place.
What are the eco-friendly credentials of the magazine?
Firstly, we pay for our commissions and this is a way to support writers, artists, photographers and communities (including Indigenous communities) who are engaged in ecological living or restoration – or shining a light on that. From these conversations and collaborations, the content of each magazine evolves. Perhaps it’s a bit like a seed packet – with each feature having the potential to sow some change in a reader’s mind.
We spent a lot of time researching the best way to print the magazine as printing is traditionally one of the most wasteful industries. People talk about the smell of print but that isn’t usually a good thing – it’s the chemicals! The size and page count of the magazine are designed to maximise the use of the paper sheets the magazine is produced from. The magazine is printed in the UK by Seacourt, which uses 100% renewable energy and creates zero waste to landfill. Its waterless printing technology has saved millions of litres of water and reduced volatile organic compounds by 98% (= no print smell). A wormery happily munches through staff food waste, while paper waste and printing plates are recycled.
However, there’s room for improvement in what we do and how we do it and we’re actively looking to improve as we go.
What are your thoughts about Cop27 and your hopes for Brazil with the election of Lulu?
COP27 – we were and are sceptical. Is COP becoming a place to be seen? UK prime minister Rishi Sunak hot footed it over there after receiving criticism for saying he wasn’t going to go but what more did he do than just be seen? What action was there? In one breath the Loss and Damage fund is a positive step, but at the same time the breakthrough really needs to be on the actions that lead to a Loss and Damage fund needing to exist in the first place. So Rishi Sunak delivers his speech, smiles for the camera, is seen, while the UK approves more and more fossil fuel projects. It’s a great place for people to meet and the exchange of ideas but there isn’t enough action that comes from it. We’re at a point where these talks, discussions and actions need to be happening on a daily basis – not concentrated over a few weeks each year.
For Brazil – we’re hopeful. Lula seems to be doing the right thing and building a government of cross-party coalition – including a new Indigenous ministry, as mentioned above. His speeches have contained many of the right words such as discussing the protection of the Amazon and the nation’s biomes while also ensuring that the people engaged in things like deforestation are supported in transition. It’s going to be a challenge and the government will need all the support to achieve those goals.
How optimistic/pessimistic are you for 2023?
There are a lot of great things going on and being said – but we need action from governments. There needs to be policies in place with the assurance that those policies will be met. It’s too easy to set goals for the future that won’t be met – that’s already happening. We’re in a state of slow and rapid collapse – not just of the environment but also of the systems by which we structure and live our lives. But we also see hope in some of the movements taking place that suggest a new way of doing things – it’s a process of rebirth.
Issue €12 out now, £12.