Paris protest and mass participation

So far the state of emergency in France means that the government has forbidden public mass gatherings like the climate march, they no longer require warrants for searches, can forbid the movement of people and vehicles at certain times and places and can censor communications believed to facilitate terrorism. What might this mean for climate activists in Paris and what are some of the tools available to us? legogatheringOn the metro the other day I was passed by about thirty soldiers with guns walking in line and glaring sternly at everyone. Yesterday I had my backpack checked going into the supermarket. The people I meet have not been deterred by the threat of terrorism from living their lives as normal and we remain in a western country where protest is very low risk compared to much of the world. As legal restrictions increase there is a lot we can learn from protest strategy elsewhere in the world to allow the maximum number of people to participate.

Positive change can come from our constructive actions to create a new reality, but it also comes out of resolving conflict and stopping harm and abuse. Those with power who benefit from inaction on climate change are in conflict with those suffering because of climate change, and indeed the rest of life on earth. The behaviour of vested interests such as Esso has shown that they will not change unless forced to. These points of conflict can be worked on in a wide range of ways but some tactics are especially suited to mass participation in times of reduced public freedom.

Protesters brandishing shoes during a demonstration to demand the resignation of Tunisian Minister of Women's Affairs, Sihem Badi on March 29, 2013 in Tunis. Badi is highly criticized for months for her good relations with the Islamist ruling party Ennahda and recently for her support to a kindergarten where a three-year-old girl has been raped. AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID In a ‘virtual march’ shoes, pictures, footprints, banners and toys may be used to represent the dead or those not able to march. Those marching elsewhere can carry pictures in solidarity. When mass gatherings are forbidden a distributed action is one which happens simultaneously at a large number of locations.

If public spacescafe are forbidden, privates ones such as shops, cafes, theatres etc may be used. For those accepting of a greater level of risk, ‘forbidden’ actions are available. Civil disobedience is the deliberate non-compliance with a law believed to be unjust.

Where organised protest is forbidden, other signals can be used which are hard to classify as a protest. For example, gathering and all wearing a symbol, using a certain ringtone, making public noise at an arranged time… Humans are endlessly inventive in our communication and if the risks outweigh the benefits for one form, others may be devised.

There is of course also a huge range of disruptions which can be directly used for those causing harm. Over the next month hundreds of thousands of people are considering how they will make climate conflict visible and work to resolve it. Behind choices of tactics they will be considering who are the targets we want to change, and what are the levers we are seeking to influence to make that happen?

If you’d like further reading about strategic non-violence try Blueprint for Revolution and for tactics and strategy you might enjoy Beautiful Trouble.

Buzz Tour in Paris

I arrived in Paris on Friday evening but was inside for the night before the murders began. Over the next month Buzz Tour will be reporting from Paris, bringing you interviews and articles about the people gathering to work to reduce climate change, but in this first report can only express my condolences to all those injured and those who lost loved ones.

On Saturday I saw soldiers outside a synagogue and assumed it was because of the killings but my companion told me that Parisians have been living with soldiers outside some places of worship and schools since last January’s terrorist attack. I spent today walking from one side of Paris to the other today then catching the buses around. In the unseasonably hot, sunny weather people went about their Sunday business and the street cafes were busy. Tourists packed the areas around famous sites and families were using the many parks.

peaceOpposite the Porte Saint-Denis (built to celebrate Louis XIV’s war victories) a homemade banner call for “Paix Amour” – Peace Love – with the Eiffel Tower peace symbol. The Eiffel peace symbol was also showing on electronic screens in the spotlessly clean business district amongst the glass high-rise towers.  The number of homeless people living in poverty on the streets across the rest of the city is very high, most of them black.  Cardboard corrals and tent shanty areas pop up now and then anywhere, even next to the Commerce building.

Hundreds gathered in Place de la Republique for a peace vigil this evening. Looking out of my window I can see the Eiffel Tower in the distance,  tonight relit after being dark in mourning yesterday.


New stockists of Pollinating Change book

Wild-Honey-frontYou can now pick up your copy of Pollinating Change in Oxford or Norfolk. As well as buying direct from Miranda in Oxford you can go to the fantastic organic shop Wild Honey. Whilst at Cley Marshes in Norfolk you can get a copy in the Cley Norfolk Wildlife Trust visitors centre.

1-cley-marshesIt was wonderful during the Buzz Tour to see the popularity of their visitor’s centre, enabling around 108,000 visitors a year to learn about the rare marsh birds that the trust has encouraged back into the area.

What’s happening at the COP21?

Want to connect with the biggest climate meetings and demonstration of our time? The 21st UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP21) is a focal point for people from around the world to gather. The talks begin on the 30th of November and finish on the 11th of December but grassroots events are already happening and will continue after the talks. Here’s a look at what’s coming up.

On Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th in all major cities across the world are the climate marches. If you want to organise your own local demonstration a good place to start is

The Climate Games, the “world’s largest disobedient action adventure game” runs from the 30th of November to the 13th of December. Before that, teams need to anonymously register and pick a target. You can play anywhere in the world especially for the opening round on the 30th of November and teams will win points for their actions. Here is an excellent toolbox for disobedient actions to give you inspiration and more information.

In Paris you can find out more about the dozens of workshops, gatherings and talks on the website of Coalition Climat 21, the French-led coalition of over a hundred different groups. On the 5th and 6th of December the Peoples Climate Summit will have the largest concentration of events, just to the east of Paris in Montreuil. Between the 7th and 11th of December the Climate Action Zone will help people to form groups and to prepare to take actions against those worsening climate change.

climategamesAs well as the games, on the 12th of December in Paris there will be the largest European civil disobedience on climate change in history. This will include a ‘red lines’ action where streets will be blocked with inflatable red lines that represent the ecological ‘red lines’ that should not be crossed. After the summit groups will return home with their new skills and friendships to prepare for a actions in spring 2016 against major global warming gas emitters.

If you’d like to go to Paris you can arrange your own transport or Reclaim the Power have organised coaches. In Paris there will be free ‘crash space’ organised by Reclaim the Power for which you will need to bring a sleeping mat and bag. If you would like to arrange your own accommodation we suggest you are quick! If you would like to cycle there you can book your place (including accomodation) with Time to Cycle.

In the words of the Climate Games, get ready to make your move!

Cycling to the Climate Talks in Paris

Buzz Tour’s Sama explains how she’s preparing to cycle to Paris and invites you to join her with Time to Cycle.

We are five weeks away from the start of the COP21, the 21st climate talks held by the UN, and my heart is bubbling. Since the first of these conferences, CO2 emissions have gone up by 63% and we are further than we ever have been from protecting the species on this planet. But in these grim times, I feel excitement.IMG_5343
During our five-day mass ride to Paris, subgroups will cycle together an average of 40 miles a day and work together.  The ride in December will be physically and mentally challenging. Training and information about the mobilisations taking place in Paris will be shared during the ride and the cyclists will arrive in teams, ready to take part in a way that suits them. The negotiations end on the 11th December, but the human affinities, challenging experiences and shared stories remain.

To avoid the rising of temperatures, we must keep fossil fuels in the ground. The bicycle is a beautiful example of how we can do this. Affordable, healthy, enjoyable and cleaner, it is a way of slowing our lives down and appreciating what is around us without having a negative impact on others.

There are still places left on the ride and deposits need to be in by the 1st November. We are encouraging everyone to get sponsored and reach out to those who are unable to come but can have their messages taken to Paris through this ride.

Find out more on www.timetocycle.orgSS852204


Time to Cycle