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Eco Hero: Dave Hampton

Matilda Lee | 09.06.11

Dave Hampton is the Carbon Coach, who with much wit and charm inspires individuals, businesses and communities to adopt low-carbon living. He is passionate about what he does, living and breathing green issues - as a family man, a business man and a community man. Carbon Dave's Diary, his blog about a carbon-based lifeform in distress, is guaranteed to make you smile 

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by wit, humour and other ‘h’ words like humanity, humility, honesty. People that care and people that believe in justice and fairness also inspire me. I am a sports person, (I rowed for GB in the 80’s) and the idea of a ‘level playing field’ is fundamental to my psyche. I’m all for competition, but with proper referees to come down hard on cheating and without a hidden agenda. And I’m not just talking sport of course.

What makes you angry?

I can get obscenely angry about injustice, whether it’s a dodgy ref, an offical who’s been bought, or a corrupt MP. It makes me particularly angry when it’s covered up. When someone is making out to be fair and doing the right thing but underneath the surface they are ‘fixing’ the ‘game’. Or politicians who deceive the people.

If you were Prime Minister, what would be the first thing you'd change?

Ha! I’d probably resign; it’s too big a job. There is a bit of me that would love to be Prime Minister but actually I prefer to lead from within my community, encouraging people to take self-responsibility and support activism. I want people to stop demanding the Prime Minister do something sensible, and just do it!

I’d give a shock exit speech that said don’t believe a word you hear from any PM or the cabinet or anyone in Whitehall. Make up your own minds and stop looking for answers from the state - cause we ain’t got any for you.

Can individuals really make a difference?

Yes, I’d go further and say that it’s only individuals who can ever make a difference. Sounds cheesy – but all my life I’ve been confused when people don’t see that. I think that it is kind of human nature to look outside of us for solutions. Putting the blame and responsibility on others is very common. We can see lots of bad stuff out there, but most of it is a reflection of the bad stuff that’s within us. We need to pacify the terrorist within for example. It’s all about the inner game. Individuals are the only thing that can make a difference. Only we can change ourselves.

What’s more urgent: changing things from the inside or starting a revolution on the outside?

For the last 5 years or so I’d have said that changing things from the inside was more urgent. Although now I’m attracted to the idea of starting a revolution as well. Changing things from the inside is vital, but maybe isn’t working fast enough. If I could change the question, I’d say what’s more important is changing things from the inside,

but what’s more urgent in the meantime is starting some smart revolutions, peaceful revolutions and intelligent revolutions - where you’ve thought through what the political response will be. As an example, I’d point to Tamsin Omond of Climate Rush or Marina Pepper, characters from the upcoming film Just Do It. They are to die for, they’re just brilliant. Actually, to go back to question one, they are people who inspire me.

What is the best meal you’ve had in your life? Cooked by whom? Eaten with whom?

The best meal/s are the ‘picnic’ assortments Jan, my wife of 26 years, gathered together for evenings out together walking riverside (Southbank) during ‘courting’ days in 1983 with a budget bottle of Lambrusco!

Can you describe a typical work day?

Meetings with all the different departments in my company – I’ve got an HR department not very happy when I’m off sick, the managing director is a bit of a pain – but they are all me because I work for myself.

My days are incredibly varied. I’ve blurred the edges between working and living probably further than is comfortable or sensible. One of the things that made me think people needed a Carbon Coach was this idea that people can have two personas. I would chat to people who say, ‘Oh yeah, I agree with you privately, but I can’t possibly agree with you publicly as the chairman of blah, blah.’ I always thought to myself – well no, you are one person. I’ve tried to meld work rest and play into one bundle and to live in integrity with myself.

The last 12 months, there has been less demand for public speaking on climate etc. A couple of years ago I was doing well on the circuit, but much of this dried up, maybe people got fed up with the subject after ‘climate gate’ and all the stupid grandstanding and denial. Now I’m doing more carbon coaching – getting out locally, probably about once a week. The rest of the time, behind a computer screen spending too much time on Twitter and Facebook – I’m still not sure whether that is work or not - but it can unite inspire and connect people – and maybe build movements?

How do you define success?

Being able to look at myself in the mirror and liking what I see.

What’s the best advice anyone’s ever given you?

When my oldest son Tom was born 20 years ago, my boss at the time said ‘you’ll be given lots of advice on how to be a father and a parent. Listen to all of it - and ignore all of it.’ I think that was good advice. The only good advice you are going to get is from your heart.

What’s your favourite book or film of late?

I’ll plump for the works of dear departed Douglas N. Adams - The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy ‘trilogy’ but more especially Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul. As for films, I’d go for It’s a Wonderful Life, Field of Dreams, Gladiator, and ‘Up’ perhaps. Although I actually think down is the new up.


Further information:

Carbon Coach website

Dave Hampton on Facebook

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