There are many things we need in these times, including to pull together and build resilient communities, but also to laugh and dream together and stay positive so, without further ado, here are the answers to your questions. Also it took me so long to finish this post that my brain is just like ‘what even is writing any more?? What even is thinking??’ *keels over* *realises that Keeling over is a sailing reference and starts squealing*
What do you think your alter ego would be like?
I….I have no idea how to answer this (As you can see, I am off to a fabulous start here) Okay so for most of my life I was convinced that I was Nancy Blackett (hahaha who am I kidding, I’m still totally convinced). For those poor deprived souls who don’t know who Nancy Blackett is, READ SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS. Ahem, Nancy Blackett is everything any self respecting female pirate should be. She was originally called Ruth, but obviously had to change that to Nancy because all pirates are Ruthless™. She also may or may not have almost blown up her Uncles ship with a firework, led an expedition into the Himalayas, been captured by a rival pirate queen in China (but came to a friendly agreement – kinda- because queens supporting queens, amirite?) and have iconic catchphrases such as ‘jibooms and bobstays’ and ‘barbequed billygoats’. So yeah, Nancy Blackett is officially my alter ego.
What is one experience that has changed you for better or worse?
Obviously the whole journey of our challenge – learning firsthand about both the severity and tragedy of the issues our society faces and the incredibly strong power of human connection and ordinary people standing up for what they believe in, building their communities and transforming, and often saving, lives.
One particular experience that stands out is the time that I’ve spent with refugees and asylum seekers on this journey. To many of us, refugees are just sad statistics on the news, numbers and figures with no faces, nothing we’ve ever really encountered before and a concept far removed from our own lives, but then suddenly that all changes. I turn up at a BBQ in Glasgow that aims to bring the local and refugee communities together or a centre in South Wales and these people become human, they make you laugh, they tell you their stories, they cut your little brothers hair, share their traditions and customs, teach you how to cook their amazing food, play cards with you, speak from the heart even though they barely know your language. Then you hear of all the desperate, tragic, inhuman things they’ve suffered, the danger they’ve faced to get here and all you want to do is protect them and offer them a loving, safe home here. Then you’re told how your people have treated them, these ordinary people who come here desperate and fleeing for their lives with their families, how we turn them away, treat them as less than human, spread lies and meet them with hostility and you think….why? How can we do this?
This is an experience that taught me about humanity, hope and resilience and prejudice and I hope that by sharing my experiences, I’ll help make others think a little differently about how we view and treat our fellow human beings.
Do you have visions of your future self and what are they doing?
*takes deep breath* So you might regret asking me this because I have a literal list buuuut I want to be an advocate for building community and empowering young people throughout my whole life and I aim to work in sail training as I see the huge impact it has on my generation and I’m passionate about sailing, but then I also want to be a revolutionary renaissance style poet who lives in a barricade somewhere in Paris, a fisherwoman from a tiny village in Greece or Cornwall who wakes up at the crack of dawn and rides the waves all day before going home to her tight knit community of fellow fisherpeople, a social and political activist who marches through the streets calling for change, a free spirited traveller who goes wherever she feels like and touches people’s lives in spontaneous and meaningful ways and I also want to sail around the entire world meeting people and making a difference, maybe as part of a race, I’m not sure.
Anyway, whatever happens, I’ll almost definitely be living on a boat, writing, writing some more, yelling at people about the importance of hUmAn ConNeCtiOn and trying to start a revolution. Note to future Gracie – if I’m wrong don’t @ me.
If you could have one of your blog posts read by the entire world what one would you choose?
Ahhh, this is a tough one. Probably this one or this one. Yes I do not understand the word ‘one’ and yes you are going to have to click on them to find out which posts are hidden behind these links. Oh wait, I have one more…..hahaha.
How are you at this moment in time?
Thank you for asking! I’m okay. The world is insane and uncertain right now and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t overwhelm me, but I’m trying to focus on the fact that maybe this will show us the necessity of the connections we make with others. If anyone wants to vent or talk about anything, you can always hit me up. This is a scary time for us all, but we’re in it together.
Have y’all settled back down completely after your big trip??
We’re at home in the South East of England at the moment, we actually only planned on being here for a few weeks before heading off travelling again to promote the importance of community and create events to bring people together, as well as our give our TEDx talk and for me to volunteer with several sail training charities, but with what’s happening in the world at the moment, we’re going to have to stay home for the foreseeable future. After being off travelling for so long though, I’m kind of enjoying being a farm girl again.
How’s the tedx speech coming along??
I started again eleven times, but have now finally finished apart from a few tweaks! I’m not giving anything away but it’s about the power of human connection and how a changing value system gives us all hope for the future. Anyone interested in a post about the writing process at some point?
Have you seen your community come together well to deal with the virus?
We’re getting there! At the moment, we’re growing veggies, we’ve just got hens for eggs and we’re cooking extra dinner every night to make sure that, as long as we’ve got food, our neighbours do too. We’re taking precautions and keeping safe, but also helping each other out where we can and trying to make our community stronger. Even though I’m usually like ‘No I dOn’T Do GaRdEniNg, I wRiTe ImPoRtAnt PoStS aBouT soCiAl ChanGe’ but it turns out digging and sawing and building fences is pretty cool 🙂
What is one of your biggest inspirations?
Ordinary people who stand up for what’s right, but don’t get a ton of recognition, who build their communities and shine like beacons of hope in the darkness, people driven by a desire and desperation to make this world a better place for all of us, people who aren’t always strong or powerful, but are passionate and dedicated.
What would you tell your past self if you could?
Funnily enough, I’ve never even thought about this before. Maybe just to always have hope for the future? I feel like if we have something to be hopeful about, we’ll be okay. Also YOU’RE RIGHT, YOU ARE TOTALLY NANCY BLACKETT and btw, you’re gonna go on a ten month journey in a fifty year old campervan with all your family living on a tenner a day and it’s gonna change your life. Yeah, don’t ask me what that’s all about and yes, avocados do become your favourite food. No, they don’t taste like soap, they are my LIFE and don’t you even dare-
What is something you wish you did but did not do?
Learn Italian? I was trying for ages a few years back because I really wanted to go and volunteer at a drug rehab centre based around the Italian culture of food and family (it’s incredible and successful and I still really wanna be part of helping out there), but I never really got into it. I used to go to this ladies house and we’d make fresh pasta and speak only in Italian and so I know how to throw up my hands and exclaim ‘apron’ and ‘WaSh YouR hAndS’ but that’s about it.
How did you react when your parents announced you’d be travelling around in a camper van for a few months?
So it was my idea?? Kinda??? It was a joint idea I guess. Me and my brother and sister all wanted to make a difference, so we all did loads of brainstorming and SOMEHOW this is what we came up with. Don’t ask me how. To this day, I’m honestly not sure.
Were there any parts of the journey where you wished to just be at home?
I don’t think so. I have A Thing against giving up on pretty much anything so yes there were times when I found it a challenge, but I just reminded myself why I was doing it and that I am an extremely stubborn, determined person who most definitely. Does. Not. Give. Up.
Also it quickly became just like daily life to me so it was just a chapter of our life and not really something I could just go home from. Mo (our van) was home, for all we were concerned.
How do GCSEs work in the homeschool system?
Being homeschooled, GCSEs are actually optional. You can do them, but you are under no obligation to. For me, I have nothing against exams and recognise that most people have no alternative, but I am currently focused on other things like helping build a system where 👏 our 👏 lives 👏 are 👏 not 👏 determined 👏 by 👏 how 👏 well 👏 we 👏 do 👏 in 👏 standardized 👏 tests 👏 lol
where are you in awae?
You better believe I spent the entirety of the two nights I had access to Netflix binge watching season three and ohmygosh no words no words apart from this series is so SO important and HUMAN RIGHTS and can everyone please watch this now and it’s so beautiful and Shirbert is goals and sorry Anne but Gilbert is 😍 and Cole is my BABY and Ka’kwet’s story is so necessary and just wow how does something so perfect even exist but I’m so glad it does.
recent favorite song?
Kind of obsessed with 70s/80s music right now so probably Town Called Malice by The Jam, Ride A White Swan by T Rex, Big Brother by Hazel O Connor or If The Kids Are United by Sham 69. I also love Of Monsters And Men at the moment, their songs Wolves Without Teeth and Your Bones are beautiful.
opinion on oversized sweatshirts?
do you play an instrument and if so what kind?
Sadly not :((
who would you have over for dinner?
Tracy Edwards (skippered the first all female crew to compete in a round the world sailing race and PROVED EVERYONE WHO SAID THEY WOULDN’T SURVIVE WRONG by actually winning several legs), Anne Shirley Cuthbert from aogg/awae, Sephy Hadley from Noughts And Crosses, Callum McGregor from Noughts And Crosses, August Boatwright from The Secret Life Of Bees, Jo March from Little Women, Enjolras from Les Miserables, Mr Keating from Dead Poets Society (why are all of these fictional oops?), Steve Biko (anti apartheid activist in the 60s), also people throughout history who have made a huge impact, but don’t get their stories shared in history classes or . And I know I’ll think of an absolute ton more as soon as I publish this.
thoughts on religion/faith?
So I feel like this is 100% something I need to write a whole long post about because I have A LOT of thoughts (interested/not interested?), but I’ll do my best to summarise here.
Religion/faith and my parents have a long, complicated and unique past and it’s a huge part of who they are today and so although none of my family belong to a certain faith and I have not been raised religiously, I have been brought up with some of the principles of faith and stories about this crazy carpenter who turned the world upside down and it’s definitely had an impact on the person I am today.
We all need something to believe in – personally I believe in God/the universe/a higher power/whatever you want to call it and the power of humanity. I have faith that there is something guiding all of us, but that the actions and choices we make are our own. I believe there is good in people and that there are aspects of good in all religions and faiths.
If I’m being honest, I don’t entirely know yet, but then again do any of us really know? I’m learning about myself and the world around me though, step by step.
what’s something the world needs right now?
COMMUNITY AND CONNECTION. WE NEED EACH OTHER, PEOPLE. What is so complicated about that?! If we invest in building our communities now, it gives us young people hope for the future and people around us to support us even when things are tough.
how does someone apply to do a tedx talk?
Jo please do a TEDx talk I beg you. Firstly you need an idea with sharing. There are TEDx events all over the world so find one near you online and then find out when applications open, write them a letter/fill out a form to tell them all about you and why you should share your idea with the world and ta da you have appliedddd!!
are there any legal hoops you and your family have to jump through to be able to do what you do?
Ummm. I don’t think so? I mean this is just normal to me so idk, but imma say no?
What’s your dream pet?
Please don’t come at me animal lovers, but I’m not really a big animal person? *hides* I do love goats though. Myself and my friend Aqsa often obsess over goat memes and baby goats and goat socks and yeah I should probably stop there-
Where would you like to travel to one day?
I never ever want to be a tourist if I go anywhere, I just want to wander and explore and immerse myself in the culture, I want to live my life there in that moment if that makes sense. I’m absolutely determined to sail around the world one day so there’s that, but I also love the idea of…
- Greece and Italy
- Central America
- The Middle East
I can’t really explain why, I just have this picture of the culture and people and atmosphere in my mind and I want to experience it for myself.
What did you do for fun while on your journey?
One of my favourite things to do for fun was swim in the sea since we were by the coast pretty much every day and I love the ocean.
What was your favorite moment on your journey?
You ask the impossible of me, my friend. So many. So so many.
What’s your favorite kind of tea?
Ahhh I love tea. I mean, I’m British so I feel it’s pretty much my patriotic duty to say just normal English Breakfast tea/Builders Tea which is pretty great, but Echinacea & Elderberry is also really nice and so is Liquorice. ALSO CHAI CHAI CHAI ALL THE WAY.
What is your biggest fear?
I’m not scared of many things, like I actually love water and heights and the dark, but sometimes I can become afraid of the future. I see so much pain and negatives and suffering in the world and amongst people close to me, and then I see so much apathy and ignorance as well, but I can always find something to be hopeful about because there is so much good and warmth and beauty and strength in this world too and we need to be part of it. Yay for me spilling all this on the internet by the way. Enjoy my incoherent ramblings y’all.
What is the silliest thing you have heard people say about you?
Well sometimes we’re sitting in our van Mo, which is quite old and rusty (just part of its character) and people walk past not realising we’re inside and go ‘wowww this will look so nice when the paint job is finished’ and we’re just like ‘excuse me….?!?’ Technically about Mo not me, but hey we all know Gracie is terrible at sticking to the rules.
is there anything you miss about your life before the challenge?
I mean….avocadossssss and a tenner a day budget don’t really mix, but then again lots of kind and thoughtful people have given me an avocado as a present so yay. Anyway, no, not really. It’s a journey that has changed my entire life forever and determined the course of my life. I can’t go back now after what I’ve learnt and discovered and I don’t want to.
what are some small ways for people to make a difference?
Live what you believe in, every day. Stand up for what’s right. Be a human being. Connect with other human beings. Take the time to see something from someone else’s perspective. Put someone else before yourself. Talk to your neighbours. If you see the opportunity to be kind, take it. Get involved in your community in whatever way you can. Make an effort. Step outside your comfort zone and talk to that person who looks lonely.
any secret projects?😌
Most of my time at the moment is taken up by digging in the veggie patch, building fences and looking after chickens (Coronavirus really has gone and turned me into a gardener haha), but I’m also starting a school project about social and political history and all the things that make us human beings, the complexities of social issues and the fight for human rights. I want to understand other groups of people as best I can – their history and their culture. I believe most discrimination begins with ignorance and that when it comes down to it, none of us are all that different and have no reason to hate or oppress one another. I want to learn about the world so I change it more effectively. So I’m very excited about that.
I’m also about to start a series of live interviews with ordinary people making a difference in their communities on our social media this week so head on over to check those out (were called One Life Share It) – hopefully they’ll be a ray of hope and light in these times, plus provide some practical tips for what you can do to help others.
what’s the name of that super hot friend of yours? i think her name starts with an a then d then r then i then a? but i’m not sure???
Anyone else know who she’s on about??!!
Jk jk – meet my slightly chaotic, but very cool best friend everyone 🙄😇
what’s your favourite and least-favourite thing about the challenge?
I think the best thing was getting to see the strength and dedication of normal people rising up to support others and tackle the issues our society faces and getting to be part of a movement for change, but the worst thing was seeing firsthand the reality of the effects these issues are having on people’s lives. Things like meeting communities hugely affected by suicide, meeting parents who have lost their kids to it, people living in total poverty and teenagers who’s entire families have been killed and then have fled their homelands, is shocking, Still it’s motivating and eye-opening and once you see and hear it for yourself, you can’t ignore it, you have to join the fight.
what’s the most empowering book you’ve ever read?
My favourite book of all time is Noughts And Crosses by Mallorie Blackman. It blew my mind. I literally spent days after finishing it totally stunned, just thinking it over in my head and making sense of it. It weaves every single relevant issue in our society today into an incredible story of strong, desperate, overwhelming love. It’s complex and twisted and beautiful and ugly, but Mallorie Blackman is a GENIUS and one of the greatest storytellers of all time. I have no words to tell you how much this book means to me, except that I honestly believe it should be compulsory reading for everyone in the world as it’s so so important and I truly think it would make everyone think differently about others and make the world a better place.
what’s the wisest piece of advice someone’s ever given you?
I really had to think long and hard about this, but my parents have always lived their lives by the principle that ‘what you sow, you reap’ and they’ve passed that on to me. We’ve done a lot of crazy things based on this because we believe that if we care about others now, we’re helping create a world where we all care about one another.
what’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
I once stood up in front of my entire scout troop and told them I personally didn’t want to go to laser tag as I didn’t think the kids whose parents had been shot would find playing a shooting game ‘fun’, but that they could go if they wanted. In the end, they all ended up coming to my house to cook on a campfire and play in the woods 🤷♀️
what’s a song that best describes you and your personality?
Probably Lost Stars from Begin Again. There are so many songs I love with all my heart, but I just connect to the lyrics of this one so strongly.
MCR OR FOB? (My Chemical Romance or Fall Out Boy for those who don’t have the same taste in music as us)
I actually can’t believe you’d do this to me Sarah 😂😭 As soon as I think I’ve made up my mind, I change it again. I love mcr because of the way their songs make me feel and because of the passion and emotion in their voices plus they’re such legends, but Fall Out Boy have so so many amazing tracks that are so empowering and I have so many nostalgic memories of dancing round to their songs so I don’t knowwww. I love them both, but if I had to choose…..mcr, I think??? Patrick Stump please don’t haunt me.
So that’s a wrap?! Thank you so much to everyone who asked me questions. Stay safe and strong. Share your thoughts in the comments along with any other questions you may have! Sending love xx