We continue our 2023 Inspiring Activist interviews with Andreia Olaru, a former digital strategist and now a climate activist and educator originally from Romania who lives in Sweden and Tenerife.
What concerns you about the world today?
Andreia commented that there’s so much she doesn’t know where to start, although it feels as if it can all be summed up in one word: disconnection (incidentally, a word used many times by our interviewees). Disconnection from each other, from our selves, and from the natural world. Andreia added it’s such a paradox that we live in a highly connected world in one sense, yet with almost total disconnection in another.
What positive contributions are you making?
Sophia, the founder of With Many Roots, may not want this part included, but Andreia was insistent: “Everything started with Sophia” she said promptly, when I asked her about her work; her contributions as a climate activist.
After participating in a climate education workshop facilitated by Sophia, Andreia knew that her life had changed and that she wanted to focus on engaging in such work herself. She trained as a Climate Fresk facilitator and is their Country Coordinator for Sweden. She’s also a member of the facilitator community at With Many Roots. She went to COP27 last November to engage with different organisations from around the world. While she was there, she also had the opportunity to speak on panel discussions
Andreia is also keen, as part of what she calls re-prioritising her life, and embracing a “less is more” philosophy, to become a ‘craftivist’: to engage in more art and craft based activities that are climate focused, political, and not monetised. Her current interest/passion is embroidery. She loves creating and working with her hands. Her embroideries represent also a way of sharing emotions and feelings, and sending messages to the world. The act of stitching is very mindful and meditative and she loves immersing herself in a new embroidery, finding inspiration in discussions she has in her workshops or events.
Have you had to make any sacrifices?
Andreia felt it was not necessarily a sacrifice, but that there was a downside to committing to travelling and consuming less. Also, she said she no longer had what many might define as a clear linear career path – though again, that was not necessarily a sacrifice as she is spending far more time doing what she really wants to do. Andreia added, “It’s less sacrifice and more about what we must put up with to change the world”.
How do you stay motivated?
Andreia spoke about her love for Sweden and the wonderful experiences of what she called “the rawness of nature” there. But she usually spends some of the winter in Tenerife which she sees as her “recovery time”. To talk about sustainability, and to live a more sustainable life, one should attend to sustaining one’s own self, and for Andreia this is about the sunshine and relaxation on offer in her winter residence.
What gives you hope?
This question brought a chuckle from Andreia: “The same as what doesn’t give me hope: people! People and communities.” We’d had a little grumble together earlier about how some individuals, and some groups of people, still aren’t getting the climate crisis, even if they aren’t actually denying it. But Andreia went on to say that when you see what other individuals and communities are doing to create change, and the creativity and energy involved in that, then there is hope. For Andreia, hope comes from the opposite of her one word answer to the ‘what concerns you about the world today?’ question: connection. “We must remember: we are connected, each and every one of us”. A salutary reminder.
What if…we make the changes needed, what will your world in 2030 look like?
Andreia commented that 2030 really doesn’t sound that far away, so she ‘visioned’ ten years into the future. Her answer began with a lovely list: more quiet and silence; less noise and pollution in cities; community gardens; bike highways; more community-based working and not for 8 hour days; technology being put to better uses; more neighbourhood and citizenship based activities… she laughed at her long list, but added that “Everything starts with a vision”.
A book that has helped you grow
Andreia thought that The Art of Gathering by Pryia Parker was a must read for anyone who organises and facilitates gatherings of people. It offers a sensitive approach to any kind of gathering, from a few guests around a dinner table to hundreds attending a keynote conference.
A song that keeps you going
Unstoppable, by Sia. Andreia told me that she doesn’t see herself like a Porsche, as the lyrics say, but more like a lioness. And unstoppable? Because she feels unstoppable every time she steps into a workshop room and the magic happens.
A quote that lifts you up
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”James Baldwin
Your message to the world: imagine we gave you a microphone and every person on the planet can hear you, what would you say?
Andreia told me this is something she always says in her workshops:
It’s both a blessing and a curse, but we are all connected. Whoever you are, when you make choices, choose wisely, because whatever you choose, you are impacting on someone, or something, else.
Daphne Pleace Yorkshire, UK Daphne is our well-being director and in-house writer. She has over 50 years’ experience of ‘people’ work in a range of contexts. She has been, or still is, an English and drama teacher, a counsellor in educational and relational settings, a psychotherapist, and a facilitator and mentor in both personal and professional developmental contexts. She chooses now to devote her time and skills to individuals and organisations working with the climate crisis. View all posts