Most likely your cat walked on the keyboard and the random keys it pressed spelled out this URL (aka the infinite monkey theorem), but if you’re in the minority who came here looking for Mark Pershin, then it is I, and this is the story of why I now call myself Igor Voronkov.
I was born Igor Pershin in St Petersburg, Russia (or Leningrad, USSR as it was called back in 1985) and after migrating to Australia when I was 6, I was mercilessly teased and bullied during both my primary and high school years – kids really can be cruel. I got the “Igor… yes master” quote from Frankenstein constantly, not to mention countless racist comments I’d rather not repeat. This was a constant source of trauma for me leading to shyness which had taken the rest of my life to [mostly] recover from.
When my parents finally divorced in my senior year of high school, I moved in with my mum, changed schools and went for a clean break from my name, choosing the far more conservative and common Mark (ok, truth be told – it was either Mark or Travis since I was a massive Blink 182 fan at the time!). This way I was able to slip right into St Helena College largely unnoticed without causing too much of a fuss which is exactly what I wanted as I already had enough on my plate to deal with. It worked well and had made it super easy for me to meet people ever since (although high school reunions proved to be a little tricky but then again, they proved to be mostly a waste of time – subject for another post!).
I have since come a long way on my personal journey and through a lot of challenging work, pushing myself outside of my comfort zone in my late teens and early 20s through things like studying abroad, travel and reading a lot of self-help books (yes, I went through that phase too!), I have developed a decent level of self-confidence. to drop my dad’s surname in solidarity with my mum as he was (and still is) a constant destructive force in our lives – we have both adopted mum’s maiden name of Voronkov. I also have dropped by middle name since it is my dad’s first name – it feels so liberating.
I was also thinking that I might as well revert to my birth name while I’m at it – Igor. I tried it out at Bestival last year for the first time since the name change 16 years ago on all the new people I met, and it fit like a glove. I owned it and did not feel nervous introducing myself as Igor. As a result, the reactions s from people were very positive. Many people commented on it being a strong name which feels great to hear.
It is, however, a profoundly massive change. All my friends, family, volunteers and everyone who has anything to do with my non-profit Less Meat Less Heat know me as Mark Pershin. Furthermore, since Russia is being vilified in the media again my change of name may lead to some racism further down the track, but I am ok with this since I don’t want anything to do with such people in the first place. In fact, I think it will save me time by acting like a sieve, filtering out the people I don’t gnat anything to do with leaving progressive, open-minded loving people who accept me for who I am.
Until next time, much love,
UPDATE – 14th July 2018:
Firstly, I’d like to update you all on the fact that after much paperwork and nitpicking, the name change is officially complete, however my final name now is Igor Pershin. I’ve still decided to drop my dad’s first name from my middle name for the aforementioned reasons, however after much reflection and deliberation I have decided to keep my surname – Pershin. One of the strongest messages from my Ayahuesca retreat that I promise I will soon write about was that ‘Family is bigger than the parents’. This mantra was so powerful that I vividly recall sitting up in the middle of the first ceremony and chanting it out loud several times before scribbling it repeatedly in my notebook. I have since interpreted this to mean that my family is bigger than the breakdown of relationship between my father and I, and that changing my surname would actually alienate my brother and sister, which is the last thing I want to do.
Cool buddy, takes guts to be yourself. Go with that gut and live the life you can be proud of.
Thanks Josh, it really does take courage, but there’s no match for the feeling you get when you do. I hope you are well.
Good for you Igor! Good to see a man take a stand for himself and against a destructive patriarchal figure in the family network. We need a whole lot more of that this century, be happy on the vanguard of that movement too.
Thank you, the way I see it we must be responsible for our own happiness and wellbeing since no one else is nor will they be ultimately. My dad is a psychopath and will stop at nothing. He is now out of my life and this is the final symbolic yet powerful gesture that will keep things that way. 🙂
Good luck Igor and thanks for your hard work, organising prowess and dedication on the Climate and Ag issues.
A very early influence on my thinking was someone who practically invented modern systems-thinking: Bucky Fuller. “Critical Path” was a sort of technical/political history of mankind infused with Bucky’s inventions and systems level analysis and solutions. So I hear what you are saying, Igor (hell yes)!
I’m reading a book called “The SIMPOL Solution: which puts the emphasis on the facts as they see it that nation state governments have no real power to resist what they call Global Destructive Competition and all the deleterious effects of GDC. They make the argument that a shift to global governance structures are the only hope of resisting corporate power which is obliged to destroy the earth in order to “create” shareholder value.
They argue that one of the great failings of what they refer to as the Global Justice Movement is not recognising that GDC is the root driver of all the climate, environmental and social justice and problems, and not getting it together focusing efforts on addressing the governance deficit is ultimately to the deficit of each and every individual cause. Small incremental wins are celebrated while massive losses continue to pile up overwhelming the wins in terms of net impact as they explain it. They dive into the academic roots (post-structuralism/post-modernism) of this impossibility at this time of the GJM uniting around single solutions. It’s interesting material and hard to refute. Haven’t got to the chapters detailing their proposed solution(s)yet but I recommend reading.
Hi Alastair, you are truly a rare breed of systems thinkers I am lucky enough to call both my colleague and my friend. Thank you for your kind words of support and I really hope we can work on a systems change project together at some stage in the future. I have read the synopsis of The SIMPOL Solution and it sounds quite captivating. As you correctly have assessed – they too understand the root structural causes of the environmental and social symptoms the global progressive movement are fighting on a symptomatic-only basis without addressing the root cause of corporate governance and legislated hence obligatory fiduciary duty to grow profit at all costs. Unfortunately I don’t think I will be able to read this book due to my dyslexia and the nonavailability of an audiobook version at this point. I have added it to my list however (created a new list of systems change books I will prioritise over the next 3-6 months). Have you read The New Human Rights Movement? If not, I think you would love it for the same reasons. I have heard a lot about Bucky Fuller, especially back from my time in The Zeitgeist Movement many years back, however I have not read his books for the same reason (nonavailability of audiobook versions). I did find one though – ‘You belong to the universe’, which I have added to my list and will read soon. Let’s keep in touch brother! 🙂
Thanks for this excellent blog. I’m interested in following your search for a way to change for humanity and the rest of the world.
Thanks for your support. I’ll do my best to get into the habit of posting regularly.
Congratulations Igor! Nothing better than being who you are. There’s not good or bad. Our heart always knows so go for it!
Only you are yourself, and that is your power 🙂
Hey Paula! Miss you!
You’re right, we must always listen to our heart since it knows best. How are you doing in the world? Send me a Facebook message or email – would be lovely to catch up.
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Mate, what a cool story, One of the most interesting and optimistic people I have ever meet in my life. From every thing you have been through dude and to get alopecia as well, I think it is great you are always positive. Give us a buz when you are in Brisbane next always welcome to stay:)
Thanks for the kind words brother. It’s actually one of the reasons I got alopecia – stress and trauma so kind of comes with the territory (or at least a risk of it). I’m actually going to be in Sydney then Cairns for the next few weeks but unfortunately no stops in Brisbane this time. Do you have any plans of dropping by Melbourne? I have a centrally located pad right in the city and a comfy sofa bed you’re welcome to crash on – would love to see you bro!