30th October 2020

Celebrating Black History Month At Octopus

Ruby Mitchell, Kraken Tech Operations Manager

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Black History Month 2020 comes on the heels of an intense year with widespread Black Lives Matter protests following the brutal killing of George Floyd; a global pandemic; and the looming threat of climate change.

In the midst of these crises and revolutions, activists and everyday people across the globe have joined forces to tackle racial and environmental injustice.

Our company was created to fight climate change by transforming the energy system to one that's green and fair for everyone. We’re determined to be a part of creating a more equal, just society for all and so we stand in solidarity with all those working tirelessly to create a better world for generations to come.

To us, it's clear that there can be no climate justice without racial justice – countless studies show that black and brown communities worldwide are those most disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change, and yet the environmental sector is one of the least diverse workforces in the UK.

We're introducing a brand new project: Black Science Matters, a series of talks to amplify the voices of black leaders in the fight against climate change.

We’ve also created a digital version of our internal Black History Month magazine, featuring profiles from some of the brilliant people at Octopus working to make the world greener, as well as fascinating articles from black writers and activists covering race and environmentalism.

There are huge challenges ahead, but by standing side by side, we can work together to create a fair world and a healthy planet for all.

HAPPY BLACK HISTORY MONTH

and as always,

BLACK LIVES MATTER ❤️

Samsam

Samsam

Digital Operations Specialist

Introducing Black Science Matters

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Dreamed up and led by our brilliant energy specialist Xander, Black Science Matters is a new series of guest talks hosted at Octo HQ. We'll be recording them so everyone can get involved virtually.

With the help of Climate Reframe (a national project to amplify BAME voices in the UK climate movement), we're seeking out experts who do critical work in energy and beyond to drive sustainable change in the fight for the planet – from field scientists, technologists and engineers to activists, writers and academics.

I wanted to create Black Science Matters talks as a way to raise awareness of the work of scientists, researchers and environmentalists who are black and of colour.

They have often overcome a great deal of adversity in achieving their potential, and I hope that their voices and stories not only educate, but inspire others to do the same.

Xander Font Freide, Energy Specialist

Miranda Lowe, Natural History Museum Principal Curator

We hosted our first Black Science Matters talk at Octopus HQ during Black History Month. We're so excited to welcome Miranda Lowe, Principal Curator and museum scientist at the Natural History Museum, to share her experiences and expertise on pivotal barnacle and coral collections (including some collected by Charles Darwin) with the team.

Miranda has over two decades worth of collections management and curatorial skills. She cares for a wide range of historically important specimens from both the HMS Challenger and RRS Discovery oceanic expeditions.

An image of Miranda Lowe

She's incredibly passionate about the role museum exhibitions play in our understanding of the natural world and her research interests lie in Ecology, Zoology and Marine Biology.

Find out more about Miranda via Climate Reframe.

Listen to Miranda's Black Science Matters talk here:

Meet some of the brilliant people working to make the world greener at Octopus

The move to a green energy system will be the biggest societal revolution since the internet, and yet currently, energy and sustainability are some of the least diverse sectors in the UK. We're fighting for the future of the planet – which means our industry and our society will suffer if we don't have diverse perspectives to represent all voices in our community to build a future that truly serves everyone.

Find out a bit more about some of our team, their experiences, and the important work they're doing...

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Raye, Onboarding Specialist

Click here to hear from Raye

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I tick the ‘Black British’ box on your average application, but what does that actually mean? I grew up in east London, perhaps the most multicultural area I’ve lived in. My family and I then moved to a predominantly white area in the midlands, during primary school - this is when I realised that racism existed. From a plethora of the most degrading, derogatory insults to the disfavour and utter nonchalance from the teachers when discrimination was mentioned, I soon realised that being the only black girl in school (something I’d never really noticed before) was not the ‘cool’ thing to be, ever. I remember praying every night that I would wake up white, with blonde hair and blue eyes, rather than my wide nose and Afro. Maybe then, the other kids would let me play too, right? Luckily, that era of self-loathing and validation seeking is well and truly over!

Now that I’m in my 20’s, I couldn’t be more proud of who I am, how I look and where I come from. I’m Nigerian and bilingual. My culture has the most amazing music, food, fashion, art and community spirit you could imagine. It’s such a privilege to understand two languages and appreciate two different cultures. I grew up watching Eastenders and eating Sunday roasts, but I’d also watch Nollywood and eat Jollof rice. It’s so important to me that I pass all of these values I have inherited to my children. Everyone is beautiful, black is beautiful - HAPPY BLACK HISTORY MONTH!

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Natasha, Office Manager

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Hi, I’m Natasha, I am 45. My ethnic background is half Guyanese, half Nigerian. My mother is (and grandmother from Guyana was) Rastafari from the start of the movement in the mid 1930’s. My mum is one of 10 children that we know of. My mum was baptised and given her Rasta name by the former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie which makes her proper blessed! My mum and grandmother experienced racism far more than I in the 50’s and 60’s as when they came over with dreadlocks this was even worse than just being black. Black with dreadlocks was seen as something almost demonic back then. My mum has started to grow hers back so we’re full circle now and no-one cares of course. Some people still have this view of Rastafari people as, I don’t know, just pot heads who hate, or are violent Yardies. Not in my experience, ever. Words that spring to mind from the Rastafari Empresses & Kings I know are: Jah, Peace loving, Spiritual, Harmony, Health, Strength, Wealth, & Blessings. They’re the least prejudiced people I know they have a lot of prejudice and judgement foisted upon them. I come from a multi-cultural, multi-faith family. I’m just an angelic being of light. I couldn’t choose. My mum married my adoptive dad, who happened to be white, when I was born. So he was the only Dad I ever knew. Crouch End was a fairly middle class inclusive village at the time so I never felt any racial separation or judgement and my mum was a big part of the community. She had many kids, looked after others children, took in waifs and strays. If anything when I was really young in the 70’s my white Dad received a couple of comments as to why he had a black child/children but he always handled it with tolerance and humour and honesty.

We rented out spare rooms to students so I met people of all persuasions and I loved it. They used to hang around the house all the time with me and my brothers and sisters (i’m one of 7 from my Mum & Dad), so I grew up being open and tolerant of everyone, no matter what. I used to spend a lot of time with Dad going to the Buddhist society and meditating with monks from about age 3 or 4. That was our Saturday when I was small up to my mid 20’s, meditating and then going to see Spurs play. Anyway a lot of it rubbed off on me, so when I hear stories of racial abuses, they never resonated except on a genuine empathetic level, as I was taught that racism is the racists problem. So racism weirdly seemed like an alien concept to me. And that’s the conditioning I had.

My dad being Buddhist and a martial artist, also had very strong spiritual beliefs that if you go out angry about anything (including racial injustice) or fearful or live in expectation of anything negative, in fact, it will find you. It’s like a call to the universe: this is what I want, as the universe doesn’t recognise whether you want it or not, just that you feel it and think it so of course the Universe brings you what you fear, drawing in experiences of what you feel and think. So with that consciousness of not believing in racism at a spiritual level (as spirit is truth, racism is not truth). I thankfully have only ever had one experience my whole life having been told to ‘go back to where you came from’ which I couldn’t even be bothered to get angry about. I just laughed at him. And told him I was from the place I came from, London. However it was further South and started giving him directions. It literally made no sense so treated it for the idiotic comment that it was. And he was silenced. Does that mean I don’t stand up for people? No, not a chance. The Stephen Lawrence case disturbed me greatly as we were the same age. The behaviour of the establishment and media really opened my eyes then. I think every generation has that moment. Governments may not care, but people do. I hope the BLM movement does effect lasting change. My take on it is that as long as they keep going, don’t give up. What happens is that these racist events will still happen, but what is evolving is more and more people against it. I live in hope. These days, I haven’t really changed. I still meditate, but on my own.

To me love is all that matters. It’s the only thing that is real. The picture above is me with one of my nephews, who is my soulmate who I spend as much time with as possible with. I have a huge multi-racial family, both from bloodlines and in-laws. I think there’s hundreds of us all around the world from England to Nigeria, Guyana, St Lucia, Grenada, New York, San Fran, Cork/Ireland, Wales, Somalia, Sweden, Scotland, Georgia (the country) and France. So I just say i’m basically related to everyone. None of us see any colour. Only love. I wish BLM had used Love is all that Matters instead. No-one can argue with that. Not as catchy though is it. Shalom. Amen. Jah Bless. Om. Shanti. Salam. Peace. Love, Natasha

An image of our colleague Natasha

Ruby, Kraken Tech Operations Manager

Fancy joining our team?

The UK is on the cusp of a green energy revolution, and our team is constantly growing. We're always looking for fantastic new people – check out careers at Octopus.

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Ruby Mitchell

Kraken Tech Operations Manager

Hey I'm Constantine, welcome to Octopus Energy!

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