Stirring Worlds, An Essay about Speedwell
We forgot that we remain tethered to that which we hold down.
In 1620, The Speedwell, a ship intended to sail alongside the Mayflower, did not make the journey across the Atlantic, but instead returned home.
The Mayflower left these shores 400 years ago. The voyage marks the dawn of European colonisation, an apparatus of attempted worldwide domination. In seeking a New World, other worlds were stolen from Indigenous peoples; silencing their languages; capturing their stories, burying their magic. Forgetting that we remain tethered to that which we hold down.
Endless extraction and consumption, in the name of liberty, is making a graveyard of our planet. The rate of multi-species extinction is accelerating. 80 percent of the biodiversity left on land is under Indigenous peoples' guardianship, making our survival intrinsically linked to theirs. The British Empire covered 13.01 million square miles of land - more than 22% of the earth’s landmass. Many of these colonial ventures were embarked upon by sea, a living body which carries the past, the present and the future and remains witness to the brutal wake of humanity's behaviour. The ocean has absorbed more than 90 per cent of the extra heat that has been produced over the past 50 years. As a result, half the world’s coral reefs are already dead.
Beyond the Breakwaters of Plymouth one connects into the world’s oceans. The Mount Batten headland was home to a prehistoric port and trading settlement that was still flourishing at the time of the Roman occupation. The nearby Cattewater anchorage subsequently became the trading heart of medieval Plymouth and a historic gateway to the Atlantic passage. Victorious empirical history overlooks the fact that this nation is made up of migrants. Its people have been robbed of magic, lands and resources. Instead of seeking remedies, the cycle of violence has been repeated. This unhealthy system of domination has led us to this moment in time, where just eight men own the same wealth as 3.6 billion people, the poorest half of the worlds’ population.
Surely it is time to break this seemingly endless pattern? To refuse the modes of oppression so clearly marked by corruption, greed and theft. To face the uncomfortable truth about what the comfortable lives of the privileged are built on. To process the dual nature of this collective trauma, both to the colonial past and to the future with its accelerating environmental crisis teetering on the horizon. Through discourse, action and reparations, we can personally and collectively generate modes founded in equality, diversity and sustainability. To step into our intended dignified role as stewards of this world and re-learn a reciprocal approach to each other, to our children and to all life on earth. It is said that we become Indigenous to place by caring for it; now is the exact time to illuminate and re-remember this symbiotic way of being. 'Speedwell' is an invitation to return home.