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Tim Smit created Eden
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Tim Smit created Eden
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Tim Smit created Eden
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"Dare to be as big as you can afford to be. And then be even bigger than that. Be bigger than you can afford to be."
Conversations
10 September 2017

Tim Smit created Eden

Interview by Livia Albeck-Ripka
Photography by Amandine Thomas

Livia on meeting Tim...

Two weeks after Donald Trump’s inauguration, I call Tim Smit from my tiny studio in New York City. It is pouring where Tim lives, in Cornwall. He is thrilled. Wind is rattling the rafters, rain is coming down sideways. In New York, it’s a crisp six degrees and sunny, but the mood is bleak. The new president is a man who has described the Earth’s warming as a “Chinese hoax.”

A few weeks later, spring will come early because of climate change. I question Tim with the despondency of a millennial struggling to come to terms with all of this. Is his relentless optimism realistic?

Two decades ago, Tim abandoned a fruitful music career (he received seven platinum and gold discs) and moved to Cornwall, where he restored the Lost Gardens of Heligan. In 1995, he took on a grander project: transforming an abandoned mining pit into two colossal greenhouses—one of them is the largest indoor rainforest in the world. Thousands of plant species thrive inside the plastic domes, which mimic natural ecosystems. It was a feat of design thinking that earned Tim a place in the Guinness Book of Records, and in 2011 an honorary knighthood. Oasis, Amy Winehouse and Muse have graced the Eden Project’s stage.

Time is inimitably witty. It’s a trait that gets him invited to speak at countless events. Once, in Cornwall, he alienated a whole crown of tweed and corduroy-wearing men by saying: “If you can’t dream in it, if you don’t like getting drunk in it and you’re not inspired to make love in it, for fuck’s sake, tarmac it.” That’s the kind of thing Tim says. Other people call him things like “social entrepreneur” and a “cutting-edge thinker,” but to Tim, that’s dead language. I agree. We’re at a crossroad stage here. But what to do about it? Words like “environment” and “sustainability” just don’t seem to do the trick.

Once or twice during our conversation, Tim falls into polemic, before popping out the other side and earnestly apologising. His radical honesty is disarming. He is reluctant to even tell his own story, for fear that over the years he has crafted a messy reality into a clean tale of success. “People are just forever on a journey,” he says, “I think you should just be happy—because actually, it’s a very exciting time to be alive.”

This story originally ran in issue #52 of Dumbo Feather

LIVIA ALBECK-RIPKA: Hi there Tim! How are you?

TIM SMIT: I am absolutely smashing! I’m in marvellous condition. In fact, if I was a firework, I would be fizzing. I would! It is a howling gale outside and I’ve decided to work from home at my kitchen table. The slates are rattling in the rafters, the rain is sheeting—almost horizontally, and I can see down to the river beyond and it feels unbelievably snug. As it always does when you’re inside on really bad weather day.

It’s funny you should say that. Here in New York, that’s a little how I feel about the world outside right now.

Well, I refuse to be a pessimist. But go on—you’re going to tell me the reason why I should be really depressed. Go on. Go on.

Well, [laughs] you’re one of the first people in recent days who has given such a positive response to the question, “How are you?” In the post-Trump era, things are feeling a little apocalyptic I guess.

I actually feel that what we’ve got is what we deserve. It’s actually our fault. That is,

This story originally ran in issue #52 of Dumbo Feather

This story originally ran in issue #52 of Dumbo Feather

people like me—liberal-thinking people who’ve got smug about the world—we all got a lot of very sloppy emotionally-driven ideas about what society was. We preferred to sit around coffee tables talking about it than actually making it happen.

I actually believe that. I’m not just saying that to be derogative. I was very despondent, as you can imagine, when we voted in Britain for Brexit. And then when the Americans voted for Trump. But I have to say, I was not surprised. Various friends of mine who were over there were saying there was this huge number of people who felt embarrassed to say in public they were going to vote for Trump but in private indicated they weren’t happy with the status quo. That’s always a bad sign, isn’t it? I actually think President Trump is symbolically rather magnificent: he’s the great “beest” representing something from the past that is about to be brought down like a giant bull or a minotaur by the forces of some other light. At a time when the great transfer of technology into environmentalism is about to go past the point of no return, the very enemy of it at its gates is someone putting himself forward as if he were the champion of business—actually, the business that he’s a champion of is the dead business of capital. There’s a great democratisation of access to power taking place, and he’s missed it completely. I think it’s rather sweet. I think it’s fantastic. Let him try to build his wall, and whatever else. Distract him for a while. He’ll incense so many people. And those people will suddenly feel refreshed by their anger, to believe in stuff they may have been a bit lazy about. They’ll suddenly think, Well, I ought to do something.

I’ve heard this argument—that he’s kind of a catalyst for revolution. But don’t you think that idea is a privilege of the middle class? He may also bring about very real and serious negative consequences.

I actually think the privilege you are addressing is a privilege that should be smashed. When you spend a lot of time with those Washingtonians, you know, the west coast and east coast literati—which I’ve had the misfortune to do—you get this extraordinary sense of disconnect from working people. A bit like in this country. The theft of intellectual ideas from working engineers, the blue-collar tradition by the universities to build up a sense that they are vital to society when, in fact, many major inventions worth having were made in a garden shed. So, I actually disagree with you for that very reason. Many of my chums who are political, or say they’re political, they don’t actually address the issues: How do you really create jobs? How do you create community? You have conversations about, “What I don’t like is this, because I stand for that” and “I think education systems could be improved like this.” But I never hear conversations about, “What colour dirt do I get under my fingernails?”

And you get dirt under your nails?

I didn’t intend that little polemic to turn me into the coconut in the coconut shy! [Laughs] well, I believe the Eden Project here in Cornwall, having had a sunny start and a rocky middle, is now going from its adolescent years to adulthood. But it’s having a bit of a rebirth—a bit like a tree that’s flowering close to its end. My anger at the “certainties” is making Eden shake. Because I believe there’s no point in building a theme park in a clay pit. If that’s all you’ve ever done, it’s a tremendous failure and you should be ashamed.

[Laughs].

I’m sorry. I was enjoying my rant. But I do think that the glitterati and the intellectual elites need to look at themselves and wonder whether they actually are intellectual elites or whether their particular talent is for sucking up the knowledge of a very few people and pretending that they thought about it.

And you don’t feel part of this presumably? How do you identify?

Well, Eden is important to me for a number of reasons. That’s a hugely self-important thing to say but I can’t spend 20 years doing something that I think is unimportant. It’s important because we brought our politics to the table. We insisted on local sourcing. We insisted on local training. We were completely dogged about testing, trying and building this stuff. We make mistakes all the time, but we’re trying. We try to organise ourselves in different ways so that the hierarchies aren’t rigid pyramids, they’re more like bands of people hunting in packs. We show people that if you get together and start on a journey, lots of other people will join you. I think it’s exactly that territory which we middle class, liberal, educated people missed: we want for ourselves and our children something which we’re not prepared to actually fight for. It sounds as if that’s a socialist polemic. It’s not. It’s actually just about doing the right thing.

One of the things that most motivates me is the thought that politics, as we know it, is dead.

Most of us are a long way ahead of the curve on anything that those parties say they stand for. It’s the same in Britain. When you look at the Tories, the conservative party, or the Labour Party, you wonder where they found these people. Where have they come from, these people who don’t represent anything that I know I believe in?

Have you ever thought about getting into politics?

Do you hate me that much already!? The truth is, I think I can make a bigger contribution not being in politics. We’re now at the end of the design phase for a new project in Qingdao in China. That’s going to be all about water. We’re going to be building three in China I think. Each one different. One is going to be built at Yan’an, which is the holy of holies for the Communist Party. It’s where Mao Zedong’s Long March ended. It’s quite poor, but it’s a place of pilgrimage. It’s great to build environmental projects in China because China now wants to prove to the world that it can be just as good at saving the planet as it was at making money. The amount of smart young Chinese people we meet makes me feel very, very excited about the world. America and Europe have got to be very careful that their energy hasn’t now sapped away, that they can find the energy somewhere to have a rebirth. I think we need it. It’s not that there aren’t smart people in either of those continents but we’re so celebrity-focused—we like to tell the story of the individual amazing people in Palo Alto or wherever.

In a way, you’ve become the celebrity of Eden though. Do you resent that?

I could be falsely modest, but, yeah, I am the front man. I am the tone of the project. But that tone has attracted many smart people to come to Eden and my voice changes with the smart people that are around me, because I absorb stuff, just like they do. The Eden that’s there today is not the Eden that was going to be there three years ago. I’ve learnt a lot. In 2012 we very nearly went bankrupt. We came through the other side and we realised something terrifying about ourselves: we are all adrenaline junkies. We started to allow that word “consolidation” to come in. It was the kiss of death. When we spread money evenly across things and made sure we saved a little bit, the wheels came off. We rescued ourselves by taking a gamble that was so big that it would have brought us completely to our knees if it had failed. But of course, the public like gambles.

Dare to be as big as you can afford to be. And then be even bigger than that. Be bigger than you can afford to be.

Okay, [laughs], let’s go backwards. I want to talk about how you got to where you are now. You’ve had a very unusual path.

Oh god, I don’t really know how to talk about that because I’m not convinced I’m capable of telling the truth. By which I mean, I think all men—I think women are better at it—cannot bear the thought that their previous life was chaotic. Therefore they make sense of it in hindsight.

You think that men do that more than women? I think we all have a tendency to narrative.

We’ve all got a tendency to narrative but I think women are—this is a tremendous generalisation for which I ask your forgiveness before I utter it—I believe that women have a degree more honesty about themselves and their experiences than men do. Men whistle to stop the crocodiles biting their toes under their beds at night. They tell a very straight story as if it was an important quest with a reason behind it. My experience of women is that they don’t come out of it as if they have something to prove. That’s all I’ll say. Do you think I’m wrong?

It’s an interesting point. Though I don’t think…

Let me ask you another question. Sorry.

Go on. Turn the tables!

Would you agree with this sentence: Men are more prone to self-pity than women?

I would say that, anecdotally, in my personal life, I have experienced that, yes. But…

[Laughs].

…let me ask you this. If you’re sick of telling the male-quest-narrative of epiphanies, what’s the messy story? Try it a different way.

No, no, no, it’s not about it being messy. I started to play the piano when I was, what, two years old. I was a bit odd because I didn’t really want to play music by anybody else. I never, ever, ever wanted to play Beethoven or Mozart or whatever. I loved Beethoven and Mozart, great jazz. It’s just that it was never my desire to play it. Others were going to be far better at it than me. I didn’t wish to have virtuosity in those areas. I only ever played music to please me. It was something that I found early on in my life that whenever I felt sad—I don’t do a lot of sad, believe me. I don’t do depressed sad. I do tangential melancholy. I found that I could riff on my melancholia on the piano and it was wonderful. I could capture my spirit and I could then, through my fingers and through the notes and chords manipulate my passion or my mood to be exactly where I wanted it to be. And my heart would go with the music that I played.

When I went into the music industry, it was completely by accident. Me and my friend Charlie Skarbek were skint. We formed a band to play at spring balls because they paid quite well. That was the first time ever I decided to play music by somebody else. And we played the kind of music that was popular at the time, you know, Jackson Browne, the Eagles, things like that. We played gigs and got a bit of a following. But that was mainly because there weren’t many live bands out there. We convinced ourselves we were rather good for a while. And then when we finished university we spent about six months in employment and realised that we were earning diddlysquat at our jobs and decided that we would go to London and just have a go at becoming songwriters. We’d only written a few songs at that point but we went to London and discovered that actually, on any night of the week, there would be many, many people there who were far better at playing instruments than we were. But eventually, we became pretty good at writing songs. We were very lucky that I met a guy playing football who was a sound engineer at Abbey Road Studios. We became really friendly and he said that he would make available some time at this amazing studio. We were just incredibly lucky. We were completely skint. We were on social security at that time. We went to the studio and five of our songs back to back got record deals. Which was extraordinary. None of them were hits, I hasten to add, but we got a deal, which if you know the music industry, that feels like you’ve climbed Mount Everest. Then, we were very, very lucky and had a monster hit. That just took us off.

So we had a bit of time enjoying success but actually almost as soon as we were successful I realised I loathed it. I absolutely loathed it. Emotions are complicated. Your emotions do not go: introduction, two verses, chorus, verse, two choruses, middle eight, choruses, out. That’s what pop music is. That pretty much is the formula. With every new song we were writing I was becoming more and more despondent because I felt I was betraying something I loved. I suddenly felt this real wretchedness about it, and I did have an epiphany when we were in Paris and I felt unspeakably sad at the sense of betrayal of it all and decided to leave it. The other bit of the story that I’ve never really honestly told is that when I came to Cornwall, I didn’t have very much. I had enough to buy a house, but the house was falling down and I didn’t know what I was going to do.

When you’ve got the terror in your late thirties of admitting that you might be a complete loser and are about to go into an area of ordinariness—or what you perceive to be ordinariness—I just decided to trust in luck.

Someone gave me a pig. And the rest is history. I bred the pig, the pig and I became mates. I found another pig and they bred. It was fantastic. I decided that that was a sign I was meant to start a rare breed park. So I went to look for land that I could build a rare breed park on and found out this name of a man who had some land. I went to see him and he told me instantly that he couldn’t let me have the land, but he’d give me a very hot cup of coffee. I couldn’t drink it. So, we ended up talking. I told him I’d been an archaeologist and he said, “Amazing! I’ve just inherited the estate next to this land you just wanted and no one had been in there since 1915. Would you like to come with me tomorrow as an archaeologist?” I went into this amazing place that was completely overgrown and within 45 minutes I’d fallen in love and decided that that’s what I was going to do for the rest of my life. It’s in fact, what I have done. I restored that garden, we opened it to the public, did television, wrote books, became the most visited private garden in the country. More than 400 people chose to have their ashes scattered there, because they thought it was brilliant too.

So first you were an archaeologist anthropologist, then a music producer and now you’re working on these environmental projects. The smashing together of science and art and music. Do you try to make sense of that? Or it’s all just one big soup for you?

No, I make sense of it in a way you may find a bit child-like. One of my favourite words which was stolen by the alternative movement is “holistic.” My contention is that one of the reasons we are so far from having an appreciation of the natural world is that we have split into so many sub-sections of study that no one sees it as a complete thing. I think in the late 1800s, what we are talking about now would be called natural philosophy—the study and understanding of everything, the theory of everything. I think one of the reasons why we have some success at Eden is because people, just like anything else, are complete things. Everybody needs enriching in every fibre of their being.

If you want to make people feel joyous in their existence, you need to create a sense that all life is something of which curiosity was the key that opened it.

In everything. Absolutely everything. I thought that I was a bit of a strange one until I read this book which may well be now the number-one book I’ve ever read called Pandaemonium by Humphrey Jennings. It will make you a better person and teach you how to make better coffee. Promise. All those things. It’s about this guy Jennings who realised that if he wrote a history of the Industrial Revolution it would be the greatest hits. You find Isaac Newton was as interested in what made sound and what made music. You know, was it made because of the inherent quality of the things, or was it caused by the friction between them? He was as excited about that as he was about what made that green light, or that luminescence coming off the back of a beetle shell. The weirdest thing is that when you read it as it was written at the time, you get this completely different sense of a world on fire at curiosity at discovering everything. I think that’s what we’ve got to rediscover—a sense of wonder and awe. If we can rediscover awe I think we have a good chance.

So, do you ever fear that it will happen all over again, that what you’re doing now will lose this sense of awe, the romance, the way the music did?

For me to answer that truthfully would require an act of immense arrogance. The truth is, I don’t fear it, because I feel that the status that I’m lucky enough to have achieved from doing Eden means that I can define what it is I do next. In the music industry—where I could theoretically have written singles that were seven-and-a-half minutes long and were all about doom and gloom and philosophy—I have a feeling that the market might have stopped that. What I do in the field I’m currently in is to try to excite and entertain people into caring about the environment. I’m being given lots and lots of opportunities to do that, to work with really smart people. I am 62 now. I feel that my role is to create platforms, stages if you like, on which other people can be drawn to play and all I would require is the ability to be, not the Mephistopheles at its heart, but the conductor. The editor-in-chief. I don’t even mean that it’s me, Tim Smit. I mean that a group of people just make sure that the language is insistent. The projects that we’ve got in the tubes right now fill me with excitement to the point where I sometimes find it rather difficult to sleep. And they’re all so different. We’re working in Derry, which is one of the most troubled cities in the world. It’s where the Troubles began in Northern Ireland. We’re working with a derelict Catholic estate owned by the council next to the Protestant landowners’ estate next to a convent. And we’re persuading all three to put their assets together so that we can create this wonderful walk that goes down the River Foyle which is one of the most beautiful rivers in Europe.

But unbelievably, in Derry city, practically none of the smart houses look out on the beautiful river. They all look away because you feared getting a bullet through the front window from the other side. Working in an environment where people are so hungry for—I don’t know what the right word is, I would say “redemption”—it’s just really exciting. And very, very humbling.

Learning how to bloody well shut up and listen is marvellous.

Being in the presence of people who’ve had to deal with real tragedy and real peace-making and you just listen in slightly muted awe at people who have put themselves in the service of their community.

We’re working in the city of Morecambe in the north of England in Lancashire. There was a tragedy there some years ago where a lot of Chinese cockle pickers drowned. It once had a famous sea front and was very popular. Now it’s full of houses that feel sad and people that feel sad. We went up to do some work with the local university and we said, “What happens if you could dare to do something fantastic?” And they said, “Fantastic things don’t happen in Morecambe.” And we said, “But just imagine you built the best pier the world has ever seen, what about we tell the story of everything that is happening underwater around us and whatever? And make it like a living laboratory with virtual reality and reality and wonderful live shows?”

If you can show them a stage on which they can perform and they can contribute, most people will go the extra mile and make it happen. And that’s what’s happened. We’re building a motorcar service station and a motorway. Everybody would say, “What’s an environmental project doing working with cars?” We’re going to build the biggest electric car charging hub. We’re going to build a shop window on the world of agriculture in the 22nd century. My pet theme at the moment is, if you can see something terrible coming towards you and it’s not what everybody else sees, how do you get people to address it? The global population of farmers have an average age of around 60 years old. If almost all the farmers are going to die out within the next 15-20 years, how do you create a climate where people reposition what they think about growing stuff so that it becomes cool? So that “cool people” want to do it?

So the question is: how to make nature part of culture again? I’m wondering what you think about the word “environment”—is it “cool”?

This is where we started the conversation: that the great and the good, the wonderful thinkers and the university boys and girls, we all look down our noses at people who get dirt under their fingernails. We believe that people who farm or who grow things are the thickest child, and that’s how we actually treat them. The reason is actually middle-class snobbery towards an applied science which is every bit as much a science as is pharmacy, as is engineering and as is medicine. Yet it doesn’t get the respect. But, I quite agree. There are lots of phrases that should be killed. “Our environment” is one. Talking about the environment in some vague way—also shit, but you can’t help it if people talk about “sustainability” in the same way. Meaningless phrase.

If we kill off the old phrases like “sustainability,” “environment,” what words should we use?

Well the words which I use a lot are: “resilience,” “durability,” “adaptability.” The truth is, as soon as they get picked up, they lose their power. It’s like that word “social enterprise,” the moment politicians talk about it, they become neither very sociable or enterprising.

I was looking at the biomes of Eden. On the inside, they are wondrous. But on the outside, well, they kind of look like alien bubbles. Is this the planet we’re destined for—pockets of wilderness in an otherwise desolate landscape?

Anybody who thinks that building Eden is a solution to anything is mad. In fact I would blow it up if I thought that that was becoming accepted! “Oh the world’s all right then! They’re saving the plants!” No.

The symbolism of Eden is simply that we took a place that was poisonous and created life there using nature. It’s a great artificial environment and we made it look life-like inside. Through so doing, we wanted to create a visible essay—a riff if you like—on our dependence on the natural world, for those people who might not have really thought about it. Now I want to do it again, but using different metaphors, using water, using the earth itself. We’re going to do a wonderful project in North America, we’re going to do one in Sequoia Grove in the Sequoia National Park, and we’re also going to do one north of Vancouver.

And what are their metaphors?

The Vancouver one will be about the interface between the Western scientific method of study and observation in marriage with Indigenous cultural thought. So we’re working with the Squamish First Nation on that. A lot of this stuff that we thought was hippy stuff in the sixties, you know, about the spirit of the animals and anyone who believed it and tied their hair up in braids was regarded as a bit left-field and strange. Now science is starting to see all sorts of areas of commonality which it never dreamed was there before, and in its arrogance denied it existed, until they had machinery which found it. You know, whether it be from the microbes that inhabit our guts and make us who we are, and then discovering that that microbial world has many parallels with the world of the soil, the fungi, the extraordinary creatures that make all living things, if you like, agglomerate together. The cultural glue. We are all made of the same sort of stuff. The biggest evolutions in our life are going to be when we merely appreciate that we should stop struggling as if nature was something outside ourselves and realise that we are part of it.

We need to address the philosophical challenge that creates for us. But most importantly, we’ve also got to look at the notions of growth and capitalism in our society. Capitalism isn’t, of itself, bad, but we’ve allowed so many people to dominate what business is for so long that we believe the rules of it as it currently stands were handed down by Moses himself. They are the constructs of men. The truth is, the environment—if we are allowed to go back to that word for the moment because we haven’t got an alternative—the environment could have a hell of a helping hand in being saved if all the countries of the world that allow limited liability companies to set up enforced a law which was that every company had to have one share that belonged to the nation in which that company operated. And why do you have that share? Well it meant that when the auditors asked how your company had performed they would also measure, because of course they represent the shareholders, how that company had performed in terms of the quality of the air that it left behind it, or the services it used from other forms of nature. Very simple. It’s as though it can’t be done. You know what really pisses me off? In probably 50 years it will be done. It’s almost treasonous to the human race. Right, I’m coming off my high horse. I’ve just got down.

Yeah [laughs]. I mean, I have to play devil’s advocate for a moment here and say these sound like incredible ideas for policy, but under a Trump administration, for example, they also sound impossible.

Under a Trump administration they may well be. But they will not be impossible under lots of other administrations.

The great joke about all of this is that many examples of business embracing good behaviour towards the environment seem to perform better.

And it’s not just because performing well in the environment is good for business. It is also a better quality of person who wants to work for a company that is doing a better quality of thing towards the environment. And that’s why a company like Unilever are so quickly trying to change what they do because they can see that when it comes to the future of food production, if they’re going to attract all the best and brightest to them, they’ll become even bigger and richer.

Where do you think these radical systemic changes begin?

I think the only way these things will be changed is if you make enough people of opinions that others respect share them. The way you do that is to make oneself really successful in demonstrating that of which you speak. Therefore, it would be my intention that the projects that we build around the world and in China, that we will adopt those techniques even though they are not required by law. We will then set out on the strategy of finding people to travel with us. And you know what? If I wanted to fail I would just shout at people. Because I’ve never changed my opinion ever when someone shouted at me. But if I said, “Come on friend, come join this journey,” a lot of people will. So, that’s how it’s going to happen. I just have to make sure that I don’t die quickly or get memory loss.

Are you worried about that? I heard someone yesterday say that the reason we place so much emphasis on things like species extinctions, for example, is because of our own mortal fears.

I do forever fear the galloping hooves. I’ve done that since I was a youth. I’ve always feared death. But I think Leonard Cohen got it about right actually. One of my favourite quotes ever was him saying the problem of the human condition is that we haven’t yet worked out what to do in between meal times. I think there is a certain truth in that. We desperately make a lot of noise because we want to think we’re important. When you look at the oceans and you look at the creatures that surround us, many of them have got antecedents going back hundreds of millions of years. I read something the other day which just made me giggle, it was so obvious and so profoundly amazing. And so stupid that we hadn’t thought of it. It was talking about how many miles a turtle migrated. And it was like, this particular group of turtles was migrating I think 1500 miles, you know, to lay its eggs. This article said, “Do bear in mind that when turtles started their migration there was 50 yards to go from one beach to the other.” Every year it’s got another few inches! It’s just they’ve been around so long that they’ve had a lot of training, going a couple of inches further every year, you see. So eventually they get to 1500 miles. I just think that’s really rather sweet in terms of the human condition!

I think we’re a fantastic shower of a species. But what I really do like—and I’m being serious now—is that I actually think we’re living in a period of a new Renaissance. I think we are becoming aware of all sorts of stuff and we’re having teething problems.

I think the fact that we called ourselves “homo sapiens sapiens”—so wise we called ourselves that twice—is brilliant.

It’s utterly brilliant. We have the opportunity to either fry or embrace a new reality. I think it will ask all people whether they have the ability to reimagine the future, and if we can’t, then we deserve to fry. But I think it’s just unbelievably, mind-blowingly exciting to think that maybe, as a species, we have it in ourselves to not just be carnivorous killers, but actually something new, something that has an aesthetic and a link to fellow creatures in us which no other species has ever, ever had. And I think that’s actually rather riveting, don’t you?

Livia Albeck-Ripka

Livia Albeck-Ripka is an Australian journalist in NYC. She has had bylines at The Atlantic, Quartz, VICE, Haaretz, Tablet & others. Livia is a former fellow at Fabrica & previous Deputy Editor at Dumbo Feather, covering culture, identity, politics & environment.

Photography by Amandine Thomas

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