Satish Kumar, the UK’s longest standing editor, prepares to celebrate his 80th birthday and the 50th anniversary of Resurgence magazine with a pilgrimage and festival flying the flag for a sustainable future
Satish Kumar, internationally renowned environmental and peace activist, who has been editor of Resurgence – the UK’s longest standing green magazine – for 43 years, will turn 80 on 9th August.
Satish – who once famously undertook an 8,000-mile peace pilgrimage from India to America – will mark his 80th birthday and the 50th anniversary of Resurgence (Resurgence & Ecologist since 2012) with a festival at Worcester College, Oxford calling for a more sustainable future (22nd-25th September); he’ll also be making a 50-mile pilgrimage from the source of the River Thames to Oxford (arriving 21st September), raising the curtain on this landmark event.
Entitled ‘One Earth, One Humanity, One Future’, the festival – held in partnership with Oxfam, UPLIFT, Network of Wellbeing and the Tedworth Trust – will bring together 50 plus international speakers and performers to share ideas and inspiration for building a healthier, more equitable and united world. And echoing a core theme of the festival, Satish’s pilgrimage – to be joined by 50 walkers for the last 30 miles – will make a stand for the environment.
Satish Kumar explains: “Throughout the pilgrimage we will appeal for humanity to reflect on how we’re affecting our planet’s four core natural elements of earth, fire, air and water. Despite all our developments in science and technology in the pursuit of progress, we have critically overlooked the need to protect these elements on which we depend to maintain life. We will pledge to keep these elements uncontaminated and celebrate 50 years of Resurgence magazine. And our anniversary festival will also celebrate the diversity of cultures, colours and faiths, calling for us to transform our divisions into diversity so we can harmoniously share one earth, one humanity and one future.”
Born in India in 1936, Satish Kumar renounced the world when he was nine-years-old, joining the wandering brotherhood of Jain monks. Aged 18, he became a campaigner for land reform, working to turn Gandhi’s vision of a renewed India and a peaceful world into reality. He was 26 when he undertook his legendary peace pilgrimage from India to the USA, delivering ‘peace tea’ to the leaders of the world’s nuclear powers in Moscow, Paris, London and Washington. Travelling to England in 1969, he co-founded The London School of Non Violence, and in 1973 was invited to become editor of Resurgence and bring the values of the Gandhian movement to the West.
Inspired by the ideals of ecological farming, Satish moved Resurgence to rural Wales, ultimately relocating to Devon in 1979, where to this day the magazine is produced from Satish’s home in Hartland. The magazine has survived, without corporate support, to become the “spiritual and artistic flagship of the green movement”, as the Guardian described it. Contributors and supporters have included the Prince of Wales, the Dalai Lama, Paul McCartney, Joanna Lumley, Annie Lennox, broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby and gardener Monty Don.
Turning 50 this year, Resurgence has come of age – having started life as a small fringe journal voicing the radical ideas of Sixties idealists – from environmental causes, nuclear disarmament and human rights to animal welfare, decentralisation and localism – today these ideas have become widespread global issues.
Satish has been the guiding spirit behind a number of other educational ventures, including the pioneering ‘human scale’ Small School in Hartland; Schumacher College, an international centre for ecological and holistic studies (of which he is a Visiting Fellow); and the Bija Vidyapeeth international college for sustainable living in north India. Satish’s autobiography No Destination has sold over 50,000 copies and his many other books include The Buddha and the Terrorist and Soil Soul Society. In 2008, Satish presented his BBC TV Earth Pilgrim documentary, introducing the sights and wildlife of Dartmoor; and this summer, a new documentary series, Being an Earth Pilgrim, chronicles and celebrates his life and work.
Following his 80th birthday on 9th August, Satish will step down as Editor-in-Chief of Resurgence & Ecologist and its two websites, yet will continue to work for The Resurgence Trust, the educational charity which publishes the magazine (and its websites), under a new title, Editor Emeritus. He will also continue his role as Manager of the Trust. Greg Neale, Editor of Resurgence & Ecologist for the last two years, will succeed Satish as Editor-in-Chief of The Resurgence Trust’s titles after 9th August.
James Sainsbury, Chairman of The Resurgence Trust, says: “Satish Kumar’s towering achievement in sustaining Resurgence during these last 43 years is already the stuff of legend, and will be widely cherished and recognised for years to come. And it is incredibly heartening that Resurgence has existed in service to the environment and humanity for half a century. It has always punched far above its weight, providing a focus for whole green movement, and being much more than the sum of its parts. The ideas it has long supported and promoted have moved from the extreme fringe to the mainstream.”
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