A ghost in the machine

I’ve saved this interview until last in order to annonimise it, and for the same reason there is no video or context to how I met this woman. Last but certainly not least I’d like to tell you the story of, we’ll call her, Anna, and her work as a ghost in the machine.

Some years ago Anna found herself working for an unethical corporation, due to her skill set and the lack of available work. She became increasingly appalled at the activities of this corporation but rather than quit, or accept her own complicity in their crimes against the environment, she resolved to find ways to undermine them. Over the course of a couple of years she was able to cost the corporation a significant amount of money and slow down one of their major projects.

She found the work at times more stressful than other forms of environmental work because of it’s covert solitary nature and she has since moved on to other work, yet remains pleased with¬†the large impact she was able to have and sees¬†it as a very effective tactic. The work required her to be her own moral compass and motivator without receiving encouragement from other environmentalists. I remain very grateful to her for sharing this¬†story.


A well met architect

Walking along to a remote country road ¬†junction I arrive at the same time as a man pushing a bike. We start to chat and it turns out that he teaches architecture at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) in Wales and is building his own eco-home. Having got a puncture a few miles back after a day cycling around environmental buildings he’s walking to his home village of Belford, where I’m also headed. Well met indeed.

Duncan Roberts and his partner Mary Kelly are both architects and have been slowly building their own wooden home without credit by saving as they go. It’s been a long process of learning and development, and they share their learning with others.

Changes in Ashington

Ashington used to be a coal mining town and the large sudden scale loss of work left a deep scar in the population, just as the coal mines left scars in the land. Where a mine used to be there is now a nature area, pond and several wind turbines. Rebuilding the community is taking longer, with many people feeling a lack of hope. I met the new cafe owners at The Bistro who’ve been making a success of their new venture for the last 6 months.

Morpeth and Deeds not words

When you go through Morpeth you must visit Emily Wilding Davisons grave.

I was amazed when I was told that I would be walking right past where a suffragette was buried. The only suffragette in fact to die because of¬†the struggle for the vote. Emily was a militant activist who disrupted meetings, burned buildings¬†and threw stones at politicians who were against women having the vote. During her nine jail terms she was force fed. She died trying to pin a suffrage banner to the kings horse at the Epsom Derby in 1913. Emily was a member of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) that employed a range of militant tactics to get women the vote.

Morpeth itself is a beautiful town with a park containing a castle, mound, river and the most bizarrely homey public toilet you’ll ever see.

Winding from Morpeth to Ashington is a quiet tree-lined stream valley.