Marion Atieno Osieyo: [00:00:00] Welcome to Black Earth podcast. I'm your host, Marion Atieno Osieyo. Black Earth is an interview podcast that's celebrating nature and the incredible Black women leaders in the environmental movement. In today's episode, I'm joined by Evie Muir. Evie is a writer, a domestic abuse survivor and specialist and the founder of Peaks of Colour.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: Peaks of Colour is a nature for healing community group by and for people of colour. In our conversation today, Evie and I explore abolitionist visions for earth care and how these visions can help us reimagine the environmental movement. [00:01:00] Today's episode contains some very powerful themes, including Evie's experiences of surviving domestic violence, intimate partner violence, and white supremacy terrorism.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: If you're especially affected by these themes, this is a trigger warning for you.
Evie Muir: So, my name's Evie Muir, my pronouns are she and they, and I am a domestic abuse specialist and survivor, um, and I am a writer and founder of Peaks of Color. I always have to like try and pronounce that better because I'm so northern it always sounds like I'm saying pizza. Um, so Peaks of Color, um, which is a nature for healing grassroots [00:02:00] community group, uh, by and for people of color only.
Evie Muir: I think that's it.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: Thank you. Yeah, thank you so much, Evie. You know what's so interesting is like when you said, uh, you're so northern, I actually realized people don't know what that means. Like we've got listeners from like 99 countries. So could you tell us what northern, what you mean in that context?
Evie Muir: So Northern is in the north of England. Um, I'm born and raised in Doncaster, which is a, uh, really working class, ex industrial town, uh, in South Yorkshire. And I have been living in Sheffield, um, an ex industrial city, um, up north. for quite a few years now. Um, so yeah, the North of England representative.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: Yes. Yes. And we love it.
Evie Muir: We're here for [00:03:00] it.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Um, so Evie, how would you describe your relationship with nature?
Evie Muir: Oh my goodness. Um, I think I'm just in love with it. Like I'm just, I'm just so in love with it. And, um, I'd really love to say that that was mutual. And I think that whole point of my work really, and just probably life in general, is to aim for that to be a mutually reciprocal relationship with nature.
Evie Muir: Because I don't think any of us can really say that we have that given the context in where we're living. As much as we want to, it's so hard to. We're in a extremely capitalist, white, Western society. So those factors really sever our [00:04:00] connections with nature. Um, but for me, I think it's just building that relationship, continuing to build it as, as, um, as lovingly as possible.
Evie Muir: And in a way that isn't extractive, I think capitalism can only, um, offer us a relationship with nature that is extractive, where we take from it and don't give anything back other than more destruction or we take from it in so much that there's nothing left to take or there's nothing left for anyone else to enjoy, including nature itself.
Evie Muir: So I think for me, it's. Um, over the years I've just fallen so deeply in love with it that it feels like a responsibility to build a relationship where I know I can give back. I think it gives me so much in way of kind of mental health support and trauma recovery and connection with my community and my family and my friends that it feels like a [00:05:00] responsibility to be able to give something back to it, um, and find, figure out what that is that I can do. And I think that's something we should all be doing really, is figuring out what our role can be in, in giving something back to nature. Um, so that it doesn't feel like I'm just taking, and I think there's, you know, we all do that in different ways, whether it's like fossil fuel companies that are quite literally extracting from the land.
Evie Muir: Um, but for me, I think what I take from it is that kind of like, the healing power, so to speak. And I feel like that sounds really wishy washy, but I'm sure we'll get into that in a minute. Um, that it, they offers, um, and I think like you can't. Take something that's that kind of transformative, um, without giving back something in return.
Evie Muir: So I definitely say it's extremely, deeply loving and in, [00:06:00] yeah, one that I hope will continue to be reciprocal and can build that reciprocity. God, I can't even say it. Um, yeah, as I kind of like. As I grow into and with nature to
Marion Atieno Osieyo: thank you so much, Evie. Um, I really appreciate that. Um, that element of firstly centering your experience and your relationship with, with earth on love and that intention of reciprocity. Um, because when we we start to see nature as a living being, there's really space and capacity for reciprocity. And I think one of the, the, the biggest fallacies that come from capitalism is this idea that nature is this thing without life, it's an object and it's therefore anything [00:07:00] we can do anything to it. But actually seeing nature for what it is as a living being opens up space for questions like consent and reciprocity and exchange and care, you know, uh, and communication as well. Um, so much of my experience of nature being a healing, healing being in my life has come from the fact that nature actually literally emits things to me that allows me to like have wholeness and wellness in my life, you know?
Marion Atieno Osieyo: So yeah, I'm really grateful for you sharing that with us.
Evie Muir: No problem.
Evie Muir: So I'm 30 next year and I have [00:08:00] been, um, yeah, I guess, like, carrying a lot of trauma since I was probably about five or six. And sometimes I really struggle with the idea that there could be another 30 years of it. Yes, I'm so much... More healed, so to speak, than I was 10 years ago or 15 years ago. But I think there's a recognition that this, like healing journey is lifelong.
Evie Muir: And sometimes that feels really daunting and that feels like a lot. Um, but in terms of, yeah, me getting to this point where I'm at currently, um, and I will preface it by saying like, I am at the best place, I guess on that healing journey than I've ever been, and I'm really grateful for that and like, I can recognize how much work I've put in for that and how much support I've had to get to this place also, whilst also recognizing that like, I've still got [00:09:00] so far to go.
Evie Muir: And like, it's not, I don't know, I don't know what being healed full stop look like looks like for me. I have a feeling, not many of us do, to be honest. Um, so it is kind of that idea of like stepping into the unknown and just kind of. Yeah, working towards the unknown and this kind of like imagined version of myself that like I've never experienced before.
Evie Muir: Um, so that's where I currently am at. And that has come from, yeah, a real messy journey. Um, as I think it usually always is. It's never, it's never straightforward. Um, yeah, where to start from?
Evie Muir: Well, I, um, I witnessed abuse, my dad abused my mum when I was little. Um, I feel like that's important to say because, um, in recent years, I can't remember specifically because lockdown brain.
Evie Muir: In the past couple of years, [00:10:00] um, a new, uh, definition of domestic abuse was, um, released, launched in England as part of the, um, Domestic Abuse Bill, which I'll caveat by saying I think is trash, but regardless, um, that includes, uh, the witnessing of abuse as an experience of abuse. So now children who were witnessing abuse can also be identified as victims too.
Evie Muir: So I feel like that's just an important like side note. Um, and then, um.
Evie Muir: When I think, I was probably 14 or 15 when I got into my first, uh, it's so weird to say like my first, like I own it, it's such weird language we have around abuse, but I feel like everyone will know what I mean. Um, yeah, the first, um, abusive relationship [00:11:00] I was in, I got into that when I was about 14, 15.
Evie Muir: It lasted way into university, probably like my second year of uni. Um, and then quite quickly after that, um, went into a second abusive relationship, um, that I left in 2018. Um, and the first one was defined really by physical abuse and coercive control, emotional abuse. The second one was purposefully not defined by, uh, physical abuse.
Evie Muir: He was so conscious to not leave a mark in any way, shape, or form. Um, but was predominantly emotional abuse and sexual abuse. And actually he has a, uh, yeah, a long kind of list of victims that he's left in his path over the years, too, [00:12:00] alongside me. Um, so I think... Kind of like my, you know, these were really formative years as like a teenager growing up, um, and to have your sense of self defined by, and I think it's quite important to say, defined by white men, um, as a mixed race black girl, um, was, was huge.
Evie Muir: It's huge. I could talk about it forever, the kind of the ways that, um, our racial identities often as, um, black teenagers, black women are manipulated, um, through the lens of this like white dominance, power and control in interpersonal relationships. Um, and that was certainly my experience that the racial violence and the gendered violence were entwined.
Evie Muir: Um, and yeah, it was. Yeah, essentially a decade if not longer of, [00:13:00] um, being in, of living in, um, complete survival mode of living like in live trauma in real time, all day, every day. Um, and, yeah, just kind of trying to figure out who I am in the context of being told who I was by two consecutive really abusive partners.
Evie Muir: Um, so I think that's like the context. I, well, I guess to say as well, so I left my abuse, my last abuser in 2018 and moved to Sheffield quite quickly afterwards. And that really kind of began the real journey of healing very gradually at first, um, and, um, yeah, I think, you know, having the physical space and safety is a huge part of that [00:14:00] to be able to then give yourself mental space and emotional space to think, okay, what do I need? What's next? And figure that out for myself after years of being told what it was that I needed or liked or wanted. Um, it's been quite a short period really of time in terms of my own exploration of who I am and what I need and how I can build that for myself.
Evie Muir: Um, yeah, I certainly, I think it's definitely been like, In terms of my life, I've been in, uh, abusive relationships longer than I haven't been. So I'm really conscious of that, like, just that self awareness to like hold space for myself and show myself care and show myself grace. And, um, yeah, to not have any wild expectations of myself to be in a place that I'm just not yet. I am where [00:15:00] I'm at and I'm doing the best I can with that journey. So I think that's all we can ask of ourselves. Um, you're kind of carrying so much trauma and it's been such a big part of your life.
Evie Muir: Thank you, Evie. Thank you for sharing.
Evie Muir: Thank you for holding space for it.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: Of course. I can't believe that you are, you know, as you, as I heard you say, healing is a lifelong journey.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: Uh, and I can't imagine you've been doing that alongside. Your work in the, uh, violence against women and girls sector, which you you've been in for such a long time. Um, how have you made space to tend to yourself and tend to your own healing practices whilst also, you know, creating space and having to do that work for other people or with other people, shall I say?[00:16:00]
Evie Muir: Yeah, I guess, um, yeah, I guess the quick answer is I haven't, and, um, or I, I didn't, I should say, past tense, because, um, the violence against women and girls sector doesn't allow you to, and I think that's a, really important. I started working in the violence against women and girls sector when I was 18, so I had been in it 10 years before I left.
Evie Muir: Um, and I went into it, as so many of us do, and you know, I don't really think there's statistics around this, but I think it's fair to say the majority of people working in the Violence Against Women and Girls sector are survivors themselves, or have at least witnessed someone else who, who've experienced it, like they have a relationship with and an understanding of abuse quite intimately.
Evie Muir: Um, so I, yeah, I started working in the sector whilst I [00:17:00] was at university in my first year and I never left. And I started off working in, uh, refuge support, um, and then moved to advocacy support, which is, um, very similar, just not within a refuge setting. Um, and then specialized in the support of black and queer survivors of, um, domestic abuse and sexual violence.
Evie Muir: Um, and from that moved quite swiftly into not only the support, but the kind of development roles that are all about changing the system from within. And it's very diversity inclusion and it's load of crap. Um, because. Yeah, by the time I'd done my 10 years, I realized, and I still feel really strongly about this, I don't believe the violence against women and girls sector [00:18:00] will ever eradicate gendered violence, ever.
Evie Muir: Um, simply it's not in the position to do so. The charity sector as a whole is not in a position to eradicate whatever elements of social injustice it says it's trying to target. Um, For many reasons, it's because of how it gets its funding. It's because of how, like, tied to capitalism and white supremacy it is.
Evie Muir: Um, and the violence against women and girls sector actually upholds patriarchy, it upholds abuse, um, the amount of violence and harm I've seen perpetrated by particularly white women in power within the violence against women and girls sector is like breathtaking. Um, And we see this across the board.
Evie Muir: It's so rapid at the minute, especially in terms of, um, uh, gender critical feminism and anti trans, um, hate that is [00:19:00] really rooted within the violence against women and girls sector. I've worked with, uh, CEOs, white women who are CEOs, who have all this power and refuse to support some of the most marginalized survivors in our communities. Um, and will act, it's not even that they'll refuse to support and turn away at the door, it's that they'll actively target and harass and perpetrate a lot of the abuses that we are meant to be supporting people with, but will do so in an institutional level.
Evie Muir: Um, I've, I worked there for 10 years, didn't receive therapy once from a organization until the last like six months of me working there within a different organization.
Evie Muir: Um, and it's just trash. It's just trash. It can't do what it's meant to do. And because of that, because of how it manipulates its workers, um, who are mostly survivors, um, into kind of being complicit in, [00:20:00] um, just the maintaining of harm. Um, and in kind of forwarding this idea that the only way to receive healing and justice is to churn people through a really carceral system where only, or well, where the majority of people who receive this Western notion of justice are white women, middle class women, women with resources, women who aren't going to be re- victimized by the police, women who aren't going to be re- victimized by health services.
Evie Muir: Um, but even then the statistics of how many rape cases go to trial, nevermind conviction, are minimal. It's like naught point something, something percent, it's daft. So how is there any hope for any of us who have intersectional identities to be able to access that healing and justice? So support workers, we end up really complicit in that, and we're told that we have to like martyr ourselves and sacrifice ourselves for this work.[00:21:00]
Evie Muir: Um, so it meant that for most of my time in that sector, working in that sector, it ran parallel to me being in abusive relationships and getting no support on either side of that equation. I was told I had to sacrifice myself for my abusive partners whilst also being told I was having to, I should sacrifice myself for the work and therefore I was just this kind of like malleable object spinning in thin air that anyone could like, take a piece out of.
Evie Muir: Um, so. It wasn't until I left my abusive relationships and left my abusive workplaces that I felt like I had space and time to actually, yeah, to look after myself and to figure out what that meant and to, um, to redefine what healing and justice looks like for me as an individual, but then, uh, me as a movement worker and kind of community organizer.
Evie Muir: And I think that's quite [00:22:00] important because, um, before, before leaving the violence against women and girls, violence against women and girls sector. Um, I was really dismissive of abolition as a movement. I really, I was like, yeah, that's cute. Great idea. Sounds great. It's never going to happen. I think that's really important because I felt that way because I was in an institution where abolition did feel, uh, impossible.
Evie Muir: Like, the violence against women and girls sector is not abolishing gendered violence. It's doing nothing to abolish gendered violence. So therefore, of course, it seems impossible. Um, and you're in this kind of like hamster wheel that you can't get off and you're just holding and maintaining the abuse and it's deeply re traumatizing.
Evie Muir: And, um, there is no room for hope and imagination because you get up, you go to work, you experience other [00:23:00] people's trauma, you go home and sit with your own trauma. If you're lucky, if they don't make you do overtime for free, and then you go back and do the same thing every day and you, you just hold it.
Evie Muir: So there is no space to sit and think, how can things be done differently? Nevermind, like put those things into practice. So it was only when I left and at the time I didn't think I was leaving, thought it was just going to be a break because I really, really believed, and I guess it's part of that conditioning, that there was no way that I could do this work otherwise.
Evie Muir: That if I wanted to support survivors, if I wanted to do work against gendered violence, the only way I could do so was in the sector. Um, so I thought I just need a break because I'm so burnt out. Um, and then I'll have to go back. I don't have a choice but to go back. And it's up to me to figure out how I do that in a way that this sector doesn't cause me any more harm than it [00:24:00] already has.
Evie Muir: Um, I had two months break and lo and behold, that's all it took for me to be able to think for myself and to have an old space for hope and imagination and to think creatively. And like that in and of itself was transformative to be able to actually read abolitionist texts and see them as a possibility as opposed to an impossibility.
Evie Muir: Um, and that was it. There was no turning back from that point. I didn't, I haven't returned to the violence against women and girls sector, and I don't think I will. Um, And I think that's because over the past couple of years, what we're building with Peaks of Colour is actively evidencing that it is possible to, to navigate oppressions through a hopeful and imaginative lens, and to build something that's alternative.
Evie Muir: Um, and like, we're [00:25:00] doing it, like, we're just doing it. It's like, it's not, it's actually not that hard. It's not that deep. Um, it requires like a lot of unlearning and a lot of like intention and a lot of support and a lot of community, but it's doable. Um, yeah. So I guess that's, that brings us to now.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: So can you tell us more about, uh, Peaks of Colour? Um, your intention, cause I, you know, from what I've read on your website, um, it's founded on, um, black and abolitionists, feminist ethos, which feels very, there's a lot of juice in that. Um, so could you tell us more about, yeah, about Peaks of [00:26:00] Colour and the world you're building and some of those um, uh, uh, values, I guess, or visions that are forming the world that you're building through Peaks of Colour.
Evie Muir: Absolutely. Um, God, where to start actually. So yeah, Peaks of Colour, we are, like I said, grassroots nature for healing, uh, community group by and for people of colour. And I think our work is.
Evie Muir: It's pretty simple and I quite like that. I think, you know, we have a tendency to overcomplicate things in movement spaces and it doesn't need to be. It's a relatively simple idea that is bring our communities to the outdoors and essentially see what happens. And bring our communities to the outdoors within a framework of healing and justice and exploration and figuring out what those things mean to us when we have the time and space to rethink them, to [00:27:00] reimagine them, to dream them for ourselves.
Evie Muir: Um, so that comes in the form of monthly walks, which are currently paused at the minute until next year, um, so that I can focus on writing. Um, but they are a really important part of the work that we do because the monthly walks are just that. They are, um, just a really informal and intimate invitation for people to come and walk with us.
Evie Muir: Um, we don't use... Language, like healing, uh, in terms of like advertising them, um, it is just what it is. We go for a walk and see what comes up for you and it might be that people, um, have never been to the Peak District before and are wanting to try something new. It might be that someone, uh, has been to the Peak District loads but wants to do so in a community of people that looks like them and has the same lived experiences as them.
Evie Muir: Um, It might be that, [00:28:00] um, yeah, it, it can be, people can come for whatever reason they wish, um, and take from it, whatever they wish. There is no kind of like output where it says you have to, or you can expect to be like 10 percent more healed by the end of. each walk. That's just not what life is. You can come and just have a laugh and that's enough.
Evie Muir: You can come and like meet new people and leave with a connection that you didn't have before. That's also enough. You can come and like unlock something that you didn't know was buried within your like own emotional health. And that's also okay. You come and take what you need from it. Um, And then we have our, um, workshops, which are creative and holistic workshops in nature.
Evie Muir: Um, they take place seasonally and say, um, really get a slightly deeper into the nitty gritty of things of exploring the. Um, yeah, there's [00:29:00] alternative routes to healing and justice and how we do that.
Evie Muir: So we will bring in other facilitators of colour, and we have some amazing ones that have joined us and that are due to join us in the future. Um, that bring their own creative and imaginative practices, that bring their own abolition, abolitionist practices, and we look at how, um, racial justice and land justice and gender justice are all intersected. And so these are big topics, right? They're big themes. But in reality, what it is, is us going on a walk, sitting in a field by a river, having conversations, doing activities, having a laugh, having a cry, supporting each other, um, and heading back home again, essentially.
Evie Muir: So, for example, we, um, had a workshop in June, that was part of Migration Matters Festival, [00:30:00] in Sheffield. And it was a movement workshop and a bird watching workshop that, um, looked at really answering the question to what does it feel like to be free as a, or as free as a bird? And the idea that, um, birds up until recent legislation changes, at least have always been celebrated for the migration, especially in white conservation spaces, but the migration of humans, and especially people of colour, um, is consistently demonized. We're consistently dehumanized for it. Um, and trying to merge those, the connections with the two. Um, so all we were doing really is going on a walk with some binoculars and birdwatching, and then coming into a space and being guided in a movement, um, a movement [00:31:00] meditation.
Evie Muir: And. Um, yeah, what we were really doing is, um, engaging in embodied practice in challenging, um, white eco justice spaces. We were, um, connecting with our ancestral connections with nature. We were connecting with ourselves as communities of people of colour, forming relationships, forming bonds. And all of that is...
Evie Muir: I just think there's a really lovely like subliminal magic to that kind of work because um, it's so deep. What we're doing is really deep, but at the same time we're just going on a walk or at the same time we're just going for a wild swim. And yet the benefits and the things that we like, again, that we like take from nature in that way are huge.
Evie Muir: They're huge. It could be, you know, if someone learns a new coping mechanism, mine is wild swimming. So it might be that we introduce someone to that. It might be that we introduce someone to nature meditation [00:32:00] and that like one person comes away feeling more, uh, equipped to handle the harshness of real life after they leave our little nature bubble.
Evie Muir: Um, it might be that people have connections that they didn't know they needed at the end. It might be that someone is like, swapped a number for their acupuncturist or their like therapist, or you know, those really like tangible, uh, support systems and like, um, sign postings. Um, it might be that someone's learnt a new walk that's on their doorstep and they feel confident enough to do that on their own without us now.
Evie Muir: There are so many things that, that you can. Yeah, that you can, uh, experience and gain from being in nature and in community at the same time. Um, so yeah, that's, that's where, and I guess in terms of the, the abolitionist and, uh, black feminist influence and kind of grounding. For [00:33:00] us, nature is like the lens in which we do this experimental work and it has to be experimental work because we're trying to build something that doesn't currently exist.
Evie Muir: So like we've all, and like our parents, our grandparents, have all been raised within a racial capitalist system, a white supremacist system. So none of us really know what it is that we're building towards without imagining it, without experimenting it, without, um, yeah, the trial and error, seeing if this works, seeing if that works.
Evie Muir: It might work for us now. It might not work for us five years from now and vice versa. Um, so that's, really kind of like what we're rooted in and the idea that nature is our, yeah, it's our lens in which to do that experimentation work. There might be other organizations that do it through a space model or, um, yeah, like an art space model.
Evie Muir: Um, and there are those great organizations doing all of those [00:34:00] things. And for us, it's looking at nature and the land and how. Uh, that can offer an alternative template for us. Um, I guess one example would be, um, the workshop that's coming up in September actually is going to look at this. Um, it's, um, with, um, Bryony Benge Abbott and, we are, um, exploring how fungi and mycelium networks can offer an alternative model for community care and organizing and governance, um, that we hope will then like influence Peaks of Colour's work because we don't want a traditional charity sector model type of board of trustees thing. We want to, uh, model our work based on um, the ways that we know that nature models itself and that nature flourishes. So, um, it really allows us to be creative in that like unlearning of racial capitalism [00:35:00] and rebuilding of something that just simply doesn't exist. And it's so freeing to have that kind of like, well, let's see what happens.
Evie Muir: And you know. It means we can be unprofessional and imperfect and experimental and have fun with the work at the same time instead of, you know, routine of, um, getting up and going to a job that you hate. And, um, yeah, coming back more traumatized that you went in from it and repeat every single day.
Evie Muir: Instead we're building, it's not just the work that we're doing, it's how we do the work as well. And I think that's really important in terms of the, yeah, the abolitionists and black feminists, um, foundations. Wow.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: That's so deep.
Evie Muir: It's so deep.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: It's deep and it's not deep. I know. I know. [00:36:00] I know. You know, it just is. I feel for me, it's for me, it feels deep because one of the reasons why it feels deep for me is because Um, so many things that you are embodying through Peaks of Colour, uh, feels, uh, like it's actually disrupting, um, structures of oppression, um, of division, which so much of our world functions on now.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: So this idea of like imagination, like creative imagination of, you know, of relationship uh, with other people and with nature of community, um, of being experimental. Um, you know, these are all, I [00:37:00] feel, uh, like I would, I, I call it human intelligence. Like I call it, you know, those are things that as a, as a human species are gifts we can offer to the rest of, of nature, but it's also really policed in some of the structures in which we live in.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: And so that's why for me, you know, as I heard you say it's deep, but it's not deep, right? It's deep because it's so radical, but it's also not deep because it's part of who we are. Our innate creations as human beings is to be creative, is to be imaginative, it's to live in community, it's to value relationship, it's to value exchange, but that is not how the political and economic structures which we currently live in want us to be, right.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: And so, yeah, I just, when I was hearing that, I was like, yeah, this is, this is world [00:38:00] building. This is, you know, the, the dreams of speculative fiction. Um, you know, I think it's also something that I drew a lot of strength from, um, Because, um, there's these ideas that like the margins of society, whatever that looks like, depending on where you are, are meant to be these places where, like, it's, it's a place where you're devoid of things, you know, you don't have this, you don't have that.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: But also I find that places that are deemed to be margins are extremely creative, are extremely radical because people are literally having to create out of nothing the fundamentals of life, like community, like a sense of justice, like safety. And so, yeah, for me it is deep and it's not deep at the same time.
Evie Muir: It's a power, right? It feels like a power that, [00:39:00] um, the powers that be really want us to be estranged from and disconnected from. And there's something about, it really just feels like it like consecutive lightbulb moments of just realizing, um, yeah, like the veil lifting of the things that we've been conditioned to believe, conditioned to be, to believe are normal and like are the status quo and are unchangeable.
Evie Muir: and then all of a sudden. And I, I just hope that we continue to have these kind of light bulb moments. So it's like, Oh, we don't actually have to do it this way. And I wait, this is possible. I know this is not only possible, but it's quite straightforward and easy. And it's fun. And like, no, one's getting harmed in the process.
Evie Muir: And it all is actually falling into place and it feels good. And I think a big part of the work that we're doing is leaning into, in the hope of like just fully embracing embodied practice as something that is [00:40:00] our like bread and butter essentially. And that's with the understanding that, um, we're all at different points in our own healing journey.
Evie Muir: So embodied practice is hard for people with trauma because our bodies are not safe for us a lot of the time. Um, so we are like tiptoeing really into that arena of embodied practice and. Um, I mean, I feel like we're, there is so much potential for us to go further and yet where we're already at currently is opened up worlds for us in terms of, I mean, it's, it's huge.
Evie Muir: I feel like this is one of the most like revolutionary things we can do is to only move through what feels good. Like that is. It still blows my mind. Like the thought that for 10 years I was working in a sector whilst also in relationships where I quite literally never [00:41:00] felt good in my body, in my brain, as me, and was told, and I guess, particularly in the kind of violence against women and girls context, was told that was normal and was told to put up and shut up and we were all meant to just suffer for the greater good of this very not great job.
Evie Muir: Um, and then actually, so like to pivot that and to transform that and to really center what feels good for me, what feels good for the team, uh, what feels good for the partners that we work with and what feels good for the communities that we work with is huge because it completely redirects the work.
Evie Muir: We have turned down so many opportunities. We've said no to so many things because it doesn't feel good. And we've said yes to so many things that we probably would never have, uh, even imagined were available to us. Because we've said no to things and it's opened up space for the things that feel good.
Evie Muir: Um, [00:42:00] it's opened up space for the yes. And I think Adrienne Marie Brown talks about that quite a lot with her like concept of, um, pleasure activism and it can be, it's, you know, it's a big concept. Again, it's a deep concept, but in reality, it's not that deep. It is quite literally like I got such an anxious body, and I know what anxiety feels like, I know what depression feels like, I know what stress feels like in my body.
Evie Muir: So, many of us are still learning what joy feels like in our body, what pleasure feels like in our body. Um, and it's... About tapping into those feelings to being like, Oh, my tummy's churning itself inside out. I know what that means. I know that means I'm anxious and therefore this space probably isn't safe for me.
Evie Muir: Or this conversation probably isn't safe for me. Or this opportunity, I should turn it down. And. We've been moving through that and therefore say no to the things that don't feel good, um, [00:43:00] has opened up for the things that do, um, and with the context of, you know, some, you know, we're not looking at it through rose tinted sunglasses, where we will only ever be able to do things that feel good all the time.
Evie Muir: But I think it also means that when this, the things You kind of have to do like, I don't know, banking and none of that feels good for me, but all the like bureaucracy of stuff, none of it feels good for me. Um, it's not my thing. Um, but knowing that means I can put a whole support system in place for when it means I have to do the taxes, when it means I have to do X, Y, and Z.
Evie Muir: Um, so that I'm not, so that I'm cushioned. Even the shitty stuff feels better and I can get through it without having to, like, submerge myself into bad feelings. Um, and, you know, Healing Justice London have been so instrumental in our, like, understanding and learning of this. Um, and, [00:44:00] I mean, all I can say is it works.
Evie Muir: Like, we don't, we quite literally don't have to suffer for anything, for any work, for any, like, we don't have to. We can, we can actively seek. Paths of positive emotions, positive feelings, not just for ourselves, but also for our community and through that lens of like, do no harm, which means that we're not putting our own, uh, pleasure, our own positive experience above anyone else's or at the sacrifice of someone else's, is that we can all feel good together and that's fine.
Evie Muir: And I think it's, it's so important to center um, our, our lives, our being, our experiences on things that feel good on pleasure, on joy and allowing the capacity to, to trust. Because I think there's a vulnerability if, if, [00:45:00] if a group of people have been conditioned to function on survival, they've been conditioned to function on pain.
Evie Muir: Um, it can be hard to trust things that feel good because it's like, so what's the catch? So what's the catch?
Evie Muir: It's a scary mindset, right? But like, and I know I have this, I know I have this, but anything good that happens, I, I'm like, Oh yeah, great. And then I go into a bit of a hole of like, I can't enjoy this because.
Evie Muir: Something bad is going to follow because something bad always follows. And yes, something good might happen, but it's not long until like a new traumatic situation happens. Um, I really lean into that a lot. And I think there's a scarcity in terms of money, but also a scarcity in terms of, um, feeling and positive feelings.
Evie Muir: We feel like we. We, yeah, they're few and far between and they're going to run out any minute. So we've got to hold on to them, uh, with both [00:46:00] hands.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: For sure. And I, I feel as people who are in some ways facilitating or, and supporting other people through their own journey with EarthCare, it's, it's really important to make space to acknowledge, uh, the level of violence and damage that's being done to, to earth and to people, but also supporting people to, to know what it really feels like when you are living in harmony with nature, because I fundamentally believe it feels really, really, really good.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: Like really, really, really good.
Evie Muir: And that's the point. Like I think that was because nature is the lens in which we explore these things. Nature, it feels like such a perfect metaphor because I don't know how you can go to nature and not feel good immediately, [00:47:00] immediately, in whatever way you're interacting with it, like you can't go for a swim and not be like splashing each other and you immediately return to this like childhood place of awe and wonder and silliness and play, uh, climbing a tree, like figuring out, uh, what bird it is that you're trying to identify through its song or like identifying a plant for the first time, or I don't know, a butterfly flying past you and you're like, Oh my God, this is amazing.
Evie Muir: Like you can't, you can't, there's nothing in nature. And I'd like to say a flourishing nature in particular, but like doesn't, um, that can't spark joy and can't spark positive feelings. So just by being in it alone, you're opening yourself up to, um, Yeah, what it feels like to feel pleasure and joy and healing and, um, like safety in a, in a really just like organic, tangible way.
Evie Muir: For sure.[00:48:00]
Marion Atieno Osieyo: I wanted to speak to you about safety because, um, in recent years. Okay. So in recent years, there's been a number of like documented cases of, uh, black people, uh, predominantly in America or the UK going out in, in the outdoors and facing, you know, harassment or just experiences of, of being made to feel unwelcome.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: But also that goes beyond to actually threatening people with, with violence. Um, and at the same time, there's been like an offshoot of, uh, lots of collectives, uh, for, uh, people of color. And it's just been really, uh, exciting to see that and like nourishing. [00:49:00] Um, and I know for, for many black communities, safety is something that is not assumed whenever you step out into public spaces.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: We don't have that guarantee that we will get back home, you know, um, by virtue of, of, um, our, our racialized identity. So I want us just to ask you how, how you go about navigating and creating safety, uh, you know, as a community, um, in Peaks of Colour. Um, and what advice you'd give to other people who were thinking of starting something similar in their communities?
Evie Muir: Yeah, definitely. I think in terms of how we've gone about it, and I guess for context, um, the Peak District isn't a safe place by default. There is a, um, white fascist, um, right wing group, I guess, called (bleeped out name) which [00:50:00] over recent years we've learnt are like organising mostly quietly, but sometimes not quietly at all, um, and using the Peak District as their safe space to do that organising.
Evie Muir: Um, I think in 2020 maybe it was, um, they took to Mam Tor, which is one of the Peak District's most, like, famous hikes. I guess famous might be the right word, um, and pulled out a massive, um, uh, White Lives Matter banner. So I think this is really important in the context of like, if the land feels safe for them, it cannot feel safe for us.
Evie Muir: And we, although we try not to get into it too much, actually, in the terms of like recognizing where our time and energy is better placed. But every now and then we are asked to get into it by, [00:51:00] um, like white led outdoors organizations who are like so far away from racial justice that like they're not even on the diversity scale nevermind the decolonizing scale.
Evie Muir: Um, and they are like baffled when we say the outdoors isn't safe for them. And I think like fundamentally it comes back to land justice because is it, is it, I think it's like 8 percent of the land is accessible. Um, and even less than that, I'm going to have to find the like proper statistics.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: What do you mean by accessible?
Evie Muir: Legally accessible, um, for the public. So only 8 percent of land in England and Wales, um, is legally accessible. If we access other parts, it's that like private land that we have to trespass in order to access. Um, And then I think if you look at the statistics of, um, [00:52:00] who owns the land, who lives in the countryside, um, it's just dire.
Evie Muir: Like there's no black people living in the countryside, essentially, the statistics are minimal. So we don't actually own. And then there's another argument of whether we should own the land or not, but we don't, we don't own it. We don't have access to it. And for me, it's. But that's really important because if we don't own it, we don't have access to it, um, how are we meant to heal without that?
Evie Muir: So it really is a case of like, until we can have our own land that we are stewards of, then otherwise we're just... playing on white people's terms in order to be like, you can heal, but only on these conditions, or you can do this, but only on these conditions. So they are really, really important conversations that like, I think underpin all of this.
Evie Muir: So much of the work that Peaks of Colour does at the minute feels quite like, I don't want [00:53:00] dismissive of the work we're doing, but we, recognise that it is like surface level in the case of we're doing what we can with what we've got, both time capacity, like income, money wise, the whole shebang, um, whilst knowing that, like, the potential of what we could do could be huge if we completely recommon the land, if we completely like re evaluated what it is to have land sovereignty and, um, land justice, essentially.
Evie Muir: So, we, how we navigate that is just as intentionally and carefully as possible. Um, we center our own needs as the community. Um, we do so through a harm reduction practice, so that we're really in a trauma informed practice, so that [00:54:00] we are navigating these landscapes, knowing exactly what we need to keep ourselves safe, exactly what our own access needs are.
Evie Muir: Um, and I think sometimes that feels like all you can do, all you can do is. Like, safeguard, for want of a better word, yourselves and your communities, um, knowing full well that You are not yet in a position to change something as, like, deeply, uh, institutional as land. So whilst we, like, figure that out over here, that feels like the long game.
Evie Muir: In the meantime, we're still going to access that healing, but on our own terms and in ways that keep us safe. So it means, for example, not working with the likes of the National Trust, because we don't feel like they can present a landscape of safety for us. And other, quite a lot of other white led, um, especially mainstream organizations in the outdoor sector.
Evie Muir: So we have our points of [00:55:00] negotiations, we have our own terms. I think that's really uncomfortable. We found for a lot of white led organizations, um, or landowners that. You know, come to us thinking, you know, with a little white savior hats on and like, Oh, we can, you can work with us and let's see how we can work together.
Evie Muir: And what can you get from us? And actually they need us more than we need them because they are so uninclusive that it's embarrassing. And actually they're losing, um, customers, so to speak, because we're quite literally saying, we don't want to work with you. Um, and I think there's something really powerful about that, of really like divesting from this idea that we need whiteness in order to do anything, in order to heal, in order to, you know, exist as a community group.
Evie Muir: It comes down to like, like, we have really specific terms of who we will and won't take funding from, and the funders have to meet our [00:56:00] requirements, um, in order for that to happen. It's the same with who we partner with, it's the same with who, like, whose spaces we'll come into. And, Um, yeah, I think having those points of negotiation that center your trauma and then navigate through that trauma.
Evie Muir: So it's, you know, it's not necessarily having the walls up forever, but if we need those walls up to keep us safe, we'll do that. And we'll maybe take those walls down if you can prove that you're safe to us, but we're not just going to let anyone bombard us willy nilly. This is how the charity sector has gotten to where it's gone essentially.
Evie Muir: So, um, yeah, I think it's just um, having that grace and compassion for yourself, having and moving through spaces that are in landscapes that aren't safe with that grace and compassion. And, um, in a way that, yeah, fundamentally is do no harm and we can't. Like not many people will do that for us, we'll have [00:57:00] that same grace and compassion for us. So we have to do it for ourselves.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: I really wanted to speak to you about Radical Rest, your upcoming book, um, Radical Rest, because there's, there's been a movement amongst black women. These past few years has given me so much joy from, you know, Soft Life Inc, the Soft Life community to the Nap Ministry. I mean, I'm, I'm really here for it. I am, I am actually an active participant of this divestment that's happening.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um, I think the [00:58:00] previous generations of black womanhood did a lot and they did what they had to do. Um, but I think From my experience, my own personal experience of the women I've seen in my community, there was a lot of hard work, a lot of lifting, uplifting, holding up communities. It was just a lot of stress on our bodies, a lot of carrying, heavy lifting.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: And I just love that for this current generation, uh, we're just saying, no, no, thank you. This isn't, it's not possible. It's actually not possible. We cannot do it. Um, and I, and I truly appreciate, I truly appreciate and understand that in spaces and situations of survival, you, you, you have to do what you have to do to survive.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: Right. So I'm not critiquing in any way um, the generations who've come before us who've done [00:59:00] that, who are doing it now also in different situations, right? But I I am very supportive of us separating struggle from Black womanhood as two intertwined elements when they're not. They're not. So I just want to hear about Radical Rest and your intentions and the book and everything, whatever you have to share with us. I am, I co signed already.
Evie Muir: Where to begin? God. Yeah. I mean, it's such a labor of love in itself and, um, it's still in the works. It's due to come out next year, probably this time next year ish. It's a, uh, abolitionist, black feminist exploration of, um, activist burnout.
Evie Muir: Um, and... Really looking at what it is and why it is and why we, all the things you [01:00:00] were saying, essentially, why, um, we have come to be as we are this like really exhausted, um, yeah, exhausted population of community builders, essentially, who are really struggling to keep up the fight. Um, and then kind of pivoting that and looking at what those alternatives could be, how we can build movements that center rest and very much like following Peaks of Colour's journey even into our own exploration of that.
Evie Muir: And also saying like, well, we can't do this on our own in order for us to, to be able to have. Uh, to lead with rest, we also need to be doing so in a society that allows us to do that. And I think... A big part of, yeah, I guess like the research and the understanding throughout the [01:01:00] book is that the fact that we are so divested from rest is that it's no accident, like all these systems, uh, racial capitalism in particular is built to ensure that we don't rest, that we don't have the space and time to think, dream, imagine, question, unlearn, um, very similar to the charity sector.
Evie Muir: Um, it's no accident that the charity sector doesn't let us do those things either. Um, and that so many of us as activists are like molded within that charity sector. So that actually there's like scores of potential radical movement builders that are assimilated into a really, I don't know, just whitewashed and watered down version of activism, manipulated version of activism within that charity sector.
Evie Muir: Um, so it's kind of naming these things. It's speaking to movement builders. I've [01:02:00] spoken to so many cool, fascinating, amazing organizers that are doing just phenomenal work but again, how they do the work and how rest is centered, how, um, decolonized practice, how abolitionist practice is centered.
Evie Muir: Um, and yeah, it's not been easy I can say that much. It's, it's been, it's been ironic. I think I burnt out about two weeks ago. I hit burnout myself while writing the book about burnout. So there's been so many lessons throughout. Um, and it is like, I'm essentially writing it in real time. It probably may have been easier if I was writing it in hindsight, but we're here now.
Evie Muir: So it's actually like following my journey as me, my journey as Peaks of color and like peaks of colors journey into, uh, this exploration of what it is to be able to send to rest [01:03:00] in the work that we do. Um, and really, yeah, burnout is, I guess, just the catalyst or the other thing that we're looking at, which really allows us to examine all these other facets of society.
Evie Muir: Through burnout we can understand racial capitalism, land injustice, um, uh, white supremacy, uh, patriarchy, the family, like there are so many mental health, physical health, like there's so many things that burn out that kind of offshoots out of a conversation or a discussion around burnout because, um, yeah, I think it's, it really, the fact that we are so burnt out shows it's the symptom of a really sick society.
Evie Muir: Um, and it's from there that I kind of do that, like, unweaving and unpacking. Um, and... Yeah, hopefully by the end of it, [01:04:00] it'll be kind of like a, again, I guess, I guess doing the same thing, but that we hope Peaks of Colour does just kind of evidence that another way is possible that we don't have to, uh, just roll over and give in to these systems that we are conditioned are the norm and the be all and end all that actually we can imagine something different.
Evie Muir: And then if we can imagine it, we can build it.
Evie Muir: Thank
Marion Atieno Osieyo: you so much. I feel that the, the work that you are creating now through the book, but also through your, your life practice, just you living is so essential to our conversations about what it means to belong to the wider. collective movement of people who are working to restore and care for earth and also address the root [01:05:00] causes of why we're in this situation, uh, with, with the climate and nature loss.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: And I feel there can be such a sense of urgency within our bodies to to feel like we are running out of time and there's no, you know, but that can put us in a really dangerous space, um, which doesn't allow us to, to actually even step back and say, hold on, are we, we are running out of time in some ways, but the urgency shouldn't be coming from this place.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: It should be the urgency to eradicate the things that are actually perpetuating and driving us to destruction. Um, and I also, I, I feel very moved by you know, where you're at right now in thinking about radical rest because I know this idea of the strong Black woman that shapes so much of our identity and having to be [01:06:00] strong for everyone else and having to be victorious and come out on top all the time just isn't kind and compassionate to the realities of, you know, living through multiple crises, whether it's, um, the violence of racism or anti blackness, the violence of the capitalist system or the violence of, of climate injustice and just all these things, you know.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: Um , I think radical rest gives us permission to kind of take a step back and, and say no to some of these expectations that can be placed on black women to A, solve world hunger and B, do it smiling and looking pristine and perfect, uh, which isn't.
Evie Muir: You're going to get me how I am on that particular day and whatever truths [01:07:00] I've got and then I'll bow out and have a nap.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: Yes, for sure, for sure. Uh, thank you so much, Evie. Um, it's been such a pleasure. Um, How can we support your work?
Marion Atieno Osieyo: How can we support you? No, let me rephrase that. How can we support you and how can we support whatever it is you're doing and being in the world? You are more than your work. Sorry about that. I had to check myself real quick.
Evie Muir: I appreciate it because I fall into that trap. As much as the next person. Um, I guess in answer to both things, really, because as much as, yeah, as much as we don't want to be our work, it's also, kind of goes hand in hand, the more Peaks of Colour is supported, the more I also will be supported, as like, one of the people behind the scenes of it.
Evie Muir: Um, so, Yeah, I [01:08:00] guess the more Peaks of Colour is supported, the more I get to rest, the more our team gets to rest, um, and so a big part of that is obviously financial. We've got a donation, a PayPal donation link on our Instagram and all that jazz. So if anyone has financial capacity and these cost of living times crack on because, uh, no amount, what we've learned is that no amount of funding is ever enough to actualize the dreams that, the dreams that we want.
Evie Muir: Whilst also being able to get paid for doing those dreams, because we can't do it for free. It comes back to, yeah, time capacity, being resourced. We need to be resourced. Um, and I think money's a big part of that.
Evie Muir: But also I'm going to put it out there into the universe. Land is a huge part of that. If there's any rich white landowner out there that wants to share, hook us up.[01:09:00]
Evie Muir: Because it's about time for one. And. I, yeah, I think the future of Peaks of Colour and also the future of any black person's ability to rest relies on having space. It's the idea of spatial justice and land justice entwined. Um, so yeah, I'm just going to put that out there while we're here. Um, but otherwise, uh, it's all the obvious stuff just to share our work, come join our work as well.
Evie Muir: Um, and to contribute to it in whichever way you feel you can, I think we really have open an open door policy about this kind of thing. It's most certainly not just me, and there is a way for everyone to contribute. Big or small. Um, and we're just open ears for all of it.
Marion Atieno Osieyo: Thank [01:10:00] you so much, Evie. Thank you so much. What a blessing.
Evie Muir: Thank you so much for joining us in today's conversation. We'd love to connect with you and hear your thoughts. We are on Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn at Black Earth Podcast. Don't forget to share this podcast with your friends, your family, your network, your communities. And you can also subscribe to our podcast, wherever you listen to your favorite podcast.
Evie Muir: Black Earth is a proudly independent podcast, and we are on a mission to reconnect and heal humanity's relationship with nature. If you'd like to support us, we are on Patreon at Black Earth Podcast. Thank you and see you in the next episode.[01:11:00]