Making an impact on two wheels

Daphne Pleace / 4 min read / Inspiring Activist
1 November 2023

Our Inspiring Activist today is Bénédicte Herbout. Bénédicte hails from France, and is currently living in Munich. First thing to say is that she cycled from there to Glasgow for COP26 in 2021, giving Climate Fresk workshops as she travelled. Inspirational indeed: we could end this interview here, really, but there’s more…

What concerns you about the world today?

“The level of cognitive dissonance…” is Bénédicte’s immediate response. “As in, for example, well… I recycle.” (ed: nothing wrong with recycling of course, but not if we think that’s all we need to do.) Bénédicte also makes reference to how many wealthy celebrities think that making donations to ‘worthy’ environmental causes is all they need to do…

What positive contributions are you making?

As well as being the Climate Fresk co-ordinator for Germany, Bénédicte is a sustainability consultant, raising environmental awareness in companies, with Changes that Matter. She’s also a writer, you can visit her website at the bottom of this interview.

And she is passionate about organic farming: seeing herself very much on a learning pathway with that, including regular practical work at an organic farm local to her.

Have you had to make any sacrifices?

For Bénédicte, as with many of our Inspiring Activist interviewees, there is a reluctance about the word ‘sacrifice’. Everything she had to say here was positive: “Really, I don’t think so… I love what I’m doing… doing the things that matter… taking action is a joyful experience.” She mentioned the practical difficulty of not flying, but added that there are other ways to travel. 

How do you stay motivated?

“I feel we have a strong mission to fight for a liveable and just world”, says Bénédicte, “and what motivates me is that I can do my part to help accomplish it. I know [this work] will never be done, but I want to do more after each action… it’s a small motivation for the next”. She adds how important is the inspiration she gets from others working for the climate crisis, especially within the Climate Fresk community. Binge watching tv was also mentioned as a ‘switch-off’!

Credits: Vincent Kleeman

What gives you hope?

Again, Bénédicte references community, and the power of the activist. She comments that there are plenty of initiatives that have succeeded, and are succeeding. This gives her hope for the future.

What if… we make the changes needed, what will your world in 2030 look like?

Bénédicte smiles as she tells me “I’ll be an organic farmer and poet –  feeding people’s stomachs and brains.” She adds there will be healthy soil, resilient systems, and communities will value farmers’ work. She offers a lovely image of people gathered around the fire, talking about the time when they used to be activists: though perhaps that’s a date somewhat beyond 2030! 

A book that has helped you grow

A song that keeps you going

A quote that lifts you up

The original in German:

Ich freue mich, wenn es regnet, denn wenn ich nicht freue, regnet es auch.

Karl Valentin

The translation would be:

I’m happy when it rains, because when I’m not happy, it rains the same…. and my interpretation of it is: situation is bad anyways, so let’s take it with joy.

Your message to the world:

“Could you please face the truth and take action that’s commensurate with the ecological crisis. Thank you, and enjoy the ride.”

I love this: short, sharp, and absolutely vital!

Avatar photo 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
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