Profiles in Regeneration: Florence, 23, UK
We’d like to become the source for environmental news — tackling politics and everything else through the perspective of what we feel is the greatest issue of our time.
Young people all around the world are working to build a regenerative future. At 23, Florence Wildblood is one of those people. She is the founder of Ours To Save, a crowdsourced interactive map from climate change actions across the world.
Regenerative Futures: How are you feeling right now?
Florence Wildblood: Really inspired, energetic, and brimming with ideas—but also like I need to go into hardcore hibernation because it’s dark for what seems like most of the day now.
RF: What’s a secret your search history can tell us about you?
FW: I donated to Wikipedia before realizing they literally have millions of pounds and did not need my donation at ALL.
RF: What are you reading/learning about at the moment?
FW: I’ve just finished Natives by Akala, which was a real lesson in the bleaker aspects of UK history — those that mysteriously don’t get covered in school curriculums. I’ve just started Love and Summer by William Trevor, which is about forbidden romance in Ireland in the ‘50s.
Being a journalist is the best job in the world because you basically just learn stuff all day every day. It’s like university but with fewer fancy words. So — courtesy of my full-time role at Maddyness and my side-hustling at Ours to Save — I’ve been learning about carbon markets, the Escazú Agreement, the right and wrong ways to “afforest,” eco-friendly fireworks, the Attenborough Effect, lead poisoning in the USA, and illegal mining in Brazil.
I have also learned, from watching I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!, that Vernon Kay is actually really good-looking and not within the aging comedian category I had mentally assigned him to.
RF: Who is your favorite human and why?
FW: Friends, family, and boyfriend aside, it’s probably Laura Marling (the singer) because every single album she makes is magic and she also seems like great craic. I was really shy as a teenager and she was quite vocal about her anxiety at one point, which was definitely important for me.
RF: Which key moment inspired you to start your project?
FW: Just before lockdown started in the UK, everyone was obsessed with breaking news. There were constant updates on how fast coronavirus was spreading and what was being done about it. We wanted to emulate this level of urgency for the climate crisis, since people, businesses, and governments didn’t seem to be as bothered about it. So, we made a “rolling news” function.
And then we made a map, because we felt like a lot of climate coverage was A. Eurocentric, ignoring the struggles and triumphs of those that are already dealing with extreme weather patterns in their day-to-day lives and B. intimidating and impossible to digest — in the sense that we were only hearing stats about the scale of the problem, and not enough about green innovation, tech, activism making waves at the local level.
RF: In two years’ time, what would success with your project look like?
FW: Our main priority as things stand is getting it to a point where Ours to Save is financially sustainable. We’re aiming for at least 100 subscribers paying £5 a month to keep paying our writers fairly — but obviously we want to reach way more people than that!
Our main goal is to make it easier for people to engage with the climate crisis — to raise its profile in the public consciousness, and therefore work toward solutions — by harnessing the power of technology and community.
We’d like to become the source for environmental news — tackling politics and everything else through the perspective of what we feel is the greatest issue of our time. We’d like to [compel] people to make better choices and consumers to use their votes and protests for the good of the planet; we’d like to be a part of the conversation urging companies and governments to take their responsibilities more seriously, whether it be through calling out greenwashing or more investigative work.
Our aim is to be an inclusive, non-judgmental space where anyone who isn’t a climate-change denier can feel empowered. As big believers in solutions journalism — “focusing on the responses to social issues as well as the problems themselves” — we also want to play an active part in those solutions ourselves. Our first campaign, #PlasticFreePints, which was covered by Time Out, The Telegraph, Euronews, and other outlets, was just the start. Once we have the time and money, we will ensure campaigns are a core part of our output.
RF: If you could focus a large percentage of government funding on one industry or project for the next five to ten years, which would you choose and why?
FW: Clean energy projects that create jobs, stimulate the economy, and give back to communities. No one should be left behind as we transition to greener living — except maybe Shell and BP executives. Octopus Energy’s creation of a thousand new technology jobs all over the UK is a good example. Basically, something pretty close to a Green New Deal — which deals with inequality and climate change in tandem.
RF: What is the best and worst thing about the education system in your country?
FW: The best thing is that everyone has access to a free education. The worst thing is the massive disparity in the quality of education depending on whether you can afford to pay or not. I have so much respect for teachers across the UK — especially right now as they try to deal with COVID in classrooms.
RF: Do you have a message for anyone your age living in the year 2060?
FW: I really hope you guys aren’t still eating meat!
RF: What inspires or frightens you most about the future?
FW: Probably quite obvious by this point?
RF: Regeneration is…
FW: The goal and the beginning.
To learn more about Regenerative List finalist, Florence Wildblood, click here.