Journey to the Sinking Lands

A witness to the world's first evacuation of an entire people due to climate change

Archive for Journey of a Lifetime

Goodbye…

This will, I think, be my last post. I left the Carterets over a year ago now and have been privileged to have that journey, and those people, dominate my life since. I’ve lost track of the number of places I have been to talk about what is happening, as well as the number of articles  written and interviews I’ve done. On Wednesday, I gave my last in the series of regional lectures organised by the Royal Geographical Society (and IBG), at the Brewhouse Theatre in Taunton, Somerset, and I couldn’t have wished for a nicer audience with which to finish. I had to draw the questions at the end to a close, but could easily have gone on talking for hours. The night before, in London, we didn’t win the One World Media Award for radio documentary of the year (though the doco that did is well worth a listen), but I genuinely don’t mind. The whole thing has been a pleasure from start to finish. I still keep in touch every now and then with Ruth from the islands, who calls when she is on the Bougainville mainland and lets me know what is happening, but it feels like this chapter of my life is drawing to a close. I have a standing invitiation to go back to the islands, Ruth says, though I don’t know if I should take it. I think it is more important that other people – academics, scientists, aid workers, governments – visit the islands now, and try to learn some of the lessons from this, first, evacuation of a people before we face many more like it in the years to come. So, to all of you who have shared the journey, thanks. It’s been a pleasure.

Dan

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On tour

A few more tour dates have been added for next year, which I have listed in the column to the right. As well as these public dates, I’ve also been asked to speak at quite a few schools, colleges and university societies. I’m pursuing a policy of saying yes to all of these invitations – after all, I was given a slab of money to make the Journey of a Lifetime, the least I can do is share the experience – which means I’m going to be nice and busy in 2010.

Talking and (silly) walking

I gave the Monday Night Lecture at the Royal Geographical Society about the Carterets journey this week (would have blogged earlier, but have been laid up with flu). It was a real privilege, it was good fun and a great way to end the year on a project that, to my suprise, has come to dominate the year.

A whole bunch of friends and family came down to watch, as well as the entire class six of Clearwell Primary School – one of the schools that I visited before and after I went to the islands, and who followed the journey live on this blog. The Society president, Michael Palin, hosted the night and seemed pretty happy with how it went. He also got me very drunk on port at the dinner afterwards. Despite all this dutch courage, however, I never had the guts to ask him to show me his silly walk…

Journey of a Lifetime

PNG mapEast, Dan, east. The Carteret Islands are in the east of Papua New Guinea. Not, as you said three times in the course of the programme, the west. Idiot boy.

That apart, I really enjoyed listening to the programme (which can be downloaded here), maybe more than anyone else who did. I could remember every moment; the heat, the music, the taste of the fish eyes…

Simon Elmes at the BBC did a great job stitching it all together and I’m really proud to have worked with him on it. The programme has also been made the Radio 4 ‘podcast of the week’. My Aunty Sue says they should give me a badge.

Latest news: This just in from the Carteret Islands…

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On air – tomorrow

I had no idea when I started this journey just how long it would take, nor how much of my life it would fill, nor how much I would get from it.

For those who want to hear me take some of those steps, the broadcast of the radio programme about the journey to ad life on the islands will be broadcast tomorrow, Friday September 4, at 11am on Radio 4. I haven’t heard it yet, so will be one of those listening – along with my mum.

But there’s more…

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On the radio

The Journey of a Lifetime radio programme has been scheduled to go to air on BBC Radio 4  at 11am on Friday September 11th 2009. It’s a chance to hear some of the sounds and people I recorded over on the islands (most of whom will do a much better job than me of describing what is happening). I haven’t played any part in cutting it together so I will be just as interested as anyone to see what they make of it.

slide screenshotI’ve also been asked to give one of the Monday night lectures at the Royal Geographical Society on October 5. It’s a great honour and I hope I can do the people justice (both those on the islands and those who turn up on the night itself). I was speaking about the trip at my old primary school today, which was great – that’s one of the slides I used on the left. If that audience is any guide then there is a substantial interest among people to find out where the islanders go to the toilet. I promise you, on October 5, all will be revealed…

Money (well) spent

Spent a good part of today going through the various pots, pockets and bank accounts used to finance the expedition to make sure I have at least some idea of where all the money went. It’s amazing how complicated things can get when you are working in an economy where the sea shell is a recognised form of currency and the nearest bank is a three-hour boat ride away, and doesn’t accept your card.

Doing so has really driven home that this expedition simply would not have been possible without generous support, and among those who provided it, I would particularly like to single out the Ashden Trust.

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