What’s Your Role in Remaking the World?

What’s Your Role in Remaking the World?








Here’s the thing about change and remaking the world: it requires each of us to play our role. And not just any role – the role that we feel called to.

To do otherwise plays into the paradigm of right/wrong, good/bad and urgency as rejection of needs.

With this in mind, its helpful to know there’s a framework for changemakers of 3 major callings:

1. Disrupt: to shine a light on injustice, and halt it in its tracks. Activists, law professions or journalism are just some examples. So too are disruptors within mainstream companies, who challenge them to change policies or do better.

2. Aid & Heal: to help those who are impacted by injustice. Healers, medical workers, conservationists, herbalists, nonprofits and volunteers often do great work in this space.

3. Build: to create the systems – businesses, movements, networks – that stand when the current structures fall (history teaches us that all structures do). This space is about planting the seeds of a more just & regenerative world.

The role of our inner compass (read through our body, emotions and desires) is to direct you into the area in which you best thrive.

Because none of us should be burnt out and exhausted while helping the world.

If we’re called to build, but we find ourselves in systems trying to aid, butting up against structures still resistant to change, we’re gonna get tired.

If we’re called to aid, but we find ourselves trying to disrupt, we’re gonna feel heavy, lost, out-of-place, anxious.

And while following your callings is not a magic bullet for thriving, it’s one part of what’s needed.

Are you a builder, disruptor or healer?

Bell Hooks taught us that “To love well is the task in all meaningful relationships, not just romantic bonds.”. And Lilla Watson reminded us that “our liberation is bound together.”

That’s why I write Love Notes to Liberation, a weekly-ish email empowering changemakers with the skills to get free, get power and wage love as a robust, public good.  Join us here.

Joy as Resistance

Joy as Resistance

A few years ago when I was a little more active in climate organising, I was part of an affinity group with a penchant for dance actions.  We held space with dance and music, channelling our emotions into action, publicly declaring our intentions for a more just and regenerative world.

We used our joy as part of our resistance.

I love this method for so many reasons.

One, my experience matches that of Monica Hunken, who said “I’ve done a lot of actions and a lot of blockades and we always have more time in the space … with theater or dance or music,” before the police break up the scene. Sometimes, she says “the security guards might even enjoy it.”

And secondly, with influence from Kazu Haga’s wisdom, I believe that our movements can and should be spaces for healing.  Healing and art, in my experience, go hand in hand.

My calling to devote more time to art and activism is getting stronger again.  As I dip my toes back in, I’m conscious to call on the tools I teach in my burnout to thriving course, Internal Revolution.

(Yep – I need them too, and created this course for a reason).

For activism – and any form of changemaking – to be sustainable we need spaces that infuse and inspire our joy, as much as our rage.  That fill us back up.

Because I’m not interested (and I suspect, neither are you), in just  ‘avoiding burnout’.  I care about thriving.  Flourishing.  Living my most meaningful, exciting and impactful life.

So, if you’re curious to learn more, join the free workshop on July 27, From Burnout to Thriving.

I’ll be giving away one free spot at that workshop to my longer program, Internal Revolution starting in August, but whether you want or can join that, you’ll get lots of value from this workshop alone.

Love & courage


Revolution is an Inside Job

Revolution is an Inside Job

the world we want can't be boughtHey reader – how’s your heart today? For many of us, I know this week has been painful and frightening.

From the overturning of Roe v Wade in the US, the shooting at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Norway, to the continued raids and crackdown on climate protests in Australia – It’s been a heavy week.

Considering all this, I’ve been reflecting on sentiments from friends in the US who said that the Supreme Court had been bought, and therefore was for sale.  Similar sentiments were made – on a different issue – back here in Australia, suggesting money was the answer we need.

These sentiments have merit.  There is little doubting the influence of money in politics (no matter the country), and the role it has played in the rise of the far right.

The problem is in the solution though.  As Audre Lorde famously wrote, “For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.”

Genuine change is not buying back our options.  It’s a total revolution of values and systems.

 To be clear, money isn’t a bad thing – it’s not the root of all evil, wealth is not the same thing as capitalism, and wielding it with power doesn’t lead to corruption (more on that in another email).

But we’re not dealing with a broken system – we’re dealing with systems that fundamentally were not designed for the wellbeing of all, and ‘buying’ our way to power is not enough.

We’re not looking to tweak the system – we’re looking to revolutionise it.

So, this week, while we find our footing, I want to offer some guidance to finding your most meaningful path to change.

1. Feel.

Love is a powerful foundation for activism.  It is the essence of social healing, the heart of transformation.

But love without the containers of grief and rage is merely platitude.

Love engages all of our emotions – grief, wonder, joy, rage. There is no bypassing the messy, uncomfortable or painful parts.

Our grief and rage this week offer us a compass to where we best act, and we benefit from time to feel them.

Rushing to action – reacting to our emotions, and not responding to them – not only contributes to stress and burnout, but also to ineffective action. The compass, after all, can orient us to our journey, but it doesn’t tell us what to pack.

Take time to be present this week. To return to your body, to the wisdom of feelings, to let them guide you to response.

2. Vision.

We live in a world shaped by someone else’s imagination, and – very often – our wellbeing was often not included in that vision. It’s time to change that.

For too long the lie has been sold that “this is just the way the world is”, “people can’t change”, “power only corrupts”.

 For too long we have been trapped in hustle culture, exhausted by capitalism, with little time to vision and dream of different ways.

Dreaming can also feel painful when it butts against the reality of the world.

Visioning, however, is a form of sovereignty, of conjuring, and resilience.

 As you honour your feelings, trusting their compass, ask yourself: what is the world and outcome I desire here?

3. Organise.

The more just, regenerative world – the one that calls us from the stretches of our imagination – is not born through our purchasing power.

It requires collective organising.

Some of this organising will be in the form of mutual aid, to create support networks for those in need.

 Some of this organising will be to disrupt – to vocally, publicly and courageously stand against injustice. To stop the machine in its tracks and empower others to join them in the disruption.

 And some of this organising will be to build – to create the systems that stand when the current structures fall (and they will – history teaches us that all structures do).

Where is your compass guiding you?

4. Revolution is an Inside Job.

For all we work to change the structures and systems around us, we must also work to unpack our internalisations of the system (read: patriarchy, capitalism, supremacy culture).  The inner work is where we learn to put down the masters tools.

As we rage, grieve, vision and organise for a better world, let us tend and heal the wounds these systems have left behind.  May we plant tiny seeds of revolution within us, so that we embody the change we seek.

There’s no one way to change the world, and we should and can use our money to influence change.  But the world we want isn’t for sale, so let us also use our head, heart and hands in offer this week.

As always – reach out, let me know how you’re doing.

Love & courage


On Queerness & Pride

On Queerness & Pride

Queer is a word I didn’t always feel comfortable using.  Sometimes I still don’t, its other meaning being ‘strange’.  

Growing up, it seemed that queerness was something okay for other people, but less so for myself.  It took a long time to accept and embrace my queerness – to see it as a gift.

Pride Month started as a way to commemorate the US Stonewall riots, which occurred at the end of June 1969.  (How often we celebrate or remember protests of the past, while rejecting movements of the present…).

Pride is born out of rebellion and rage.  It’s born out a refusal to conform, to ignore the truth of our experiences and feelings. A refusal to lay down in the face of injustice.  It is a commitment to radical and inclusive joy, an honour to the wholeness of our experiences, and a refusal to diminish them in the presence of others.

Queerness, beyond my sexuality, is my ability to orient to a world that I cannot see yet. Toward wholeness, toward truth, and away from what culture has conditioned in us.  To see beyond who and what I am supposed to be or do, to who and what I am actually called. 

Queer – and particularly trans – activists have a long history of envisioning a new, more imaginative world, before it is born to reality. 

This month, as we celebrate queerness in our communities, friends, children, *ourselves*, let us also honour this through playing and discovering new ways of orienting to a more beautiful world.  Orienting toward wholeness. 

And of course, let us support and celebrate the LGBTQ+ activists who continue to fight for liberation in the many parts of the world where queerness is not yet celebrated. 

What does queerness mean for you?

Laura x
Social Healing & Critical Yeast

Social Healing & Critical Yeast

With the right conditions our minds & bodies are capable of tremendous healing.

A decade ago I would have questioned that. I remember feeling that something was irretrievably broken inside me – physically and emotionally – that despite my best attempts, was unable to be fixed.

And I was right – fixing was not possible.  However I learnt with the right therapy, the right tools, the right conditions, we can heal.  (fixing and healing are two very different things, but that’s an email for another day). 

And so it is with our world. The fault lines that exist. The fractures that occur between us. The ruptures that tear at democracy and civil society.  With the right tools, the right conditions, we heal.

What are these conditions though?

John Paul Lederach, a Professor of International Peacebuilding, talks about a concept of critical yeast. So often in changemaking (or even entrepreneurship) we focus on ‘critical mass’ – that critical number of people we need to reach before a movement or idea takes off exponentially.

John Paul, however, suggests that more central to change is the idea of critical yeast.  These few improbable and persistent people, who through their quality of relationship create the conditions for new possibilities to emerge, shifting and transforming generations to come.

So what lessons can we take from yeast as changemakers?

Yeast is the smallest ingredient, yet carries the potential to grow all others.  The small, the relational, matters.

We know that yeast is sensitive to the light, and works best in the dark – the unknown.

Alone, yeast has little capacity to create growth.  It needs to move and mingle to have impact.

Yeast cannot be mixed in directly and quickly. Initial growth must be cultivated carefully.

Yet yeast, after the initial phase, does well to be mixed and kneaded.  It requires pressure to work to its potential.

This time holds opportunity for us all to be the critical yeast of change.

Social healing isn’t about numbers.

It’s about the quality of our relationships – our ability to listen, to hold space for nuance and complexity, to think imaginatively, to embody our values, to allow conflict to be the deepening of our relationship and not the end.

So I invite you today to consider what social healing could look like in your industry or community, and how you can activate a little yeast like energy into your work.

– Laura Hartley

Fire & Water: Holding Space for Revolutionary Anger

Fire & Water: Holding Space for Revolutionary Anger

Anger is a call to action, a just and moral response.  Anger can be fuel. And yet anger without skill, without wisdom, is like a fire that can burn everything, including myself.  

I felt a wave of anger wash over me last night as I read about the sentencing of an activist to a year in prison, with six months no parole. He was part of a recent successful blockade of the world’s largest coal port near Newcastle (north of Sydney) for 10 days, actions I’d found inspiring and important post-COP.  

I watched my anger at his sentencing & the police overreach meld with rage at the unjustness of it all.  Rage at the ecocide that happens around us.  Rage at legal & media bias, at the general unfairness, at the fact this is where we’ve come to. 

This frustration is nothing new – the Government of Australia represents so few of my values, so little compassion, humility or love.  It struggles to use its imagination, so attached to the status quo.

I remind myself that change doesn’t happen in the headlines. It happens in the margins, the liminal, the spaces in-between.  I know that the change I seek won’t come from government, rather will come to transform government. 

And yet I also sit with what to do with this anger.  The fury and rage and grief for all that is lost, all that is unjust, all that is not okay with the world.  

The spiritual upbringing I had taught me to avoid anger. That it was based in fear, a ‘negative’ emotion, and that I would better serve focusing on what I want to create. 

The activist side of me would tell me that anger is useful, a call to rise up, to hold those in power accountable for what happens.  That anger is right and just and moral, to let it fuel me into action.  To not let go, and to hold on to its power. 

Both are true in parts, though neither complete on their own.  Anger is a call to action, a just and moral response.  Anger can be fuel. And yet anger without skill, without wisdom, is like a fire that can burn everything, including myself.  

Anger unchecked, unexamined, leads to conflict, to twitter wars, to bitterness, partisanship & division, to burnout and to violence (physical or emotional). 

And so what we need is not to avoid our anger, not to bypass it it while we speak of loving our enemies, or to push it down while we continue with business as usual, but also not to have it consume is, allowing our anger to control the flow of our thoughts and actions, assuming that change comes from our rage alone.

Like all fires, we need the water, the flow, to temper our anger and guide it.  

My anger at this time exists for a reason. It is both a bodyguard to the grief & sadness I feel at this time.  (For anyone who’s seen Morning Wars recently, as Bradley says,  “I’m not angry, I’m hurt, anger is just what I know what to do with”.)

And my anger is also a call to action. To not be complacent. To not settle back. To never forget that we are in a liminal space and time in the world, and that if we want the future that we dream of, that we must work actively to dismantle the systems that work against it.  

I don’t subscribe to a philosophy of good versus evil, but I do believe we must actively disrupt systems that exist to perpetuate business as usual  However, dismantling systems of injustice cannot be centred just on a person, policy or position, but must also include the very mindset that allowed us to reach the point we’re at; the disconnection of our selves from life.  

Our anger should be informing our actions, but not determining of them, and must be tempered with wisdom.   

So today I sit with my anger. I remind myself of my commitment to nonviolence, and I explore the ways I do and don’t yet embody it.  I engage with and re-commit to my own activism. I let my anger inform me of my sadness, holding space for it,  and I let it ignite my passion, my love, and all that which I am called to.

If you’re wanting to unpack the power & troubles of  anger, consider joining Love & Anger starting in early 2022.