Warning: Contains some content that some readers may find upsetting, including themes of death.
Earlier this year, TreeSisters Business Partnerships Manager Miriam Holmeide sat down with Founder and long-term partner and friend of TreeSisters, BE Alink.
BE is a Dutch designer, architect, humanitarian, and inventor of The Alinker, a non-motorised walking bike that offers dignity and freedom to many people worldwide. She has also funded over 48,000 trees with TreeSisters. Here, BE talks about the role of nature in her life and products in this exclusive Q&A.
Can you tell us what being attuned to nature means for you?
I think the essence of all the difficulties we see in the world is because somewhere, we decided that we're not part of nature anymore. Measuring in money and seeing trees as a resource that has more value after its cut. I mean, how does that make sense?
I am very aware of nature's pace, the connection with who we are as humans, and how we're living in cycles of death and dying. And I think the essence of death, the value of death, being able to talk about death, that certain things just need to die, regenerate, and come back, and an acceptance of death is huge in my life.
How do you see that showing up in your daily life?
With the Alinker, I'm working with people with disabilities who need Alinkers and who want Alinkers. I think nature shows up there in a weird way for me. Since we separated ourselves from nature, I think we've developed this whole thing of being invincible, that we don't die. And other people get disabilities. As if you can put all the insurances in place so that we don't die and we deny death. And so the acceptance of death, the acceptance of regenerative systems, is very much nature's cycle.
You seem to have a high awareness of the cycle of life, would you mind expanding?
That's where we are human. That's where the beauty happens. But it's only in the full acceptance of death.
If we acknowledge that we are vulnerable, then we can be in life together in a meaningful way, instead of denying that we're going to die and pretending that we're important with status and big cars and big houses.
I don’t believe that anybody is really deeply happy, living in a huge house with a big car, knowing that it comes at the expense of other people. You don't make millions, you take millions or billions. Nature has no ego. And I think where we create ego, we create problems. This capitalistic system has taught us that we as individuals are more important than the well-being of the community. How on Earth did we ever buy into that? Because it kills us all. It's just not an equal system for everybody. It's not supporting anybody's wellness.
My grandma always said, "A dictator is only a dictator as long as the dictator is supported."
She was a very poor woman. And it taught me a lot because living in a western city, with every purchase, we uphold the system that kills people. This capitalistic system is based on abuse. And we uphold that with everything that we do unless you realise how conditioned we are and that we need to decolonise ourselves.
I find it hard at the moment. I struggle with being motivated. We've got about eight years to half the emissions on this planet to stop dramatic events from happening. Eight years. I don't see that happening with how people behave. I really don't. And so yes, the awareness and inner work and decolonising yourself (is good). But when I brush my teeth before I go to bed, look in the mirror and think "I like you. You're a good person." And that's all… that's my bottom line. And I can say in the evening to myself, “You show up. You do what you can do.”
So, I try not to participate in the drama because it doesn't help, and it doesn't make anybody happy.
Do you think honouring our surroundings and ourselves is an important practice?
It’s honouring the food that we buy, how we buy our food, where we buy our food, how we treat our food, how we treat ourselves with the food that we create, and all those things are, are important, the honouring of life, in general.
So would you say we are all connected from the smallest act, its impact, and its consequence to one another?
We're infinitely insignificant as part of that. And we're infinitely huge in that way because we're part of something so much bigger.
Nature is way bigger than us. Why have we tried to control that? We need to be part of it, and then we don't need to control it so much.
That means accepting death, accepting death as part of life.
I always say nature regenerates, there's no waste. So, the moment you have waste, you don't focus on the waste as a problem. Acknowledge that the system was not made for us and then turn around, don't focus on the problem because all you see is a problem. Turn around and create something new.
In remembering who we are as humans. Listening to indigenous people, for example, remembering who we were before we got messed up by a system that only measures money.
To find out more about BE or The Alinker, visit https://thealinker.ca/