Freed

It is with great delight I can update that the Frack Free three were freed (anyone want to make that a song?) from prison on Wednesday after a successful appeal.

The appeal judge ruled the custodial sentence to be ‘excessive’ and they were freed on a two year conditional discharge. Thank you and well done to everyone who supported them and the campaign during this difficult time. The judge who originally sentenced them case has a family connection with the fracking industry which is being investigated. There is a lot more work to stop fracking and in the words of the campaigners:

UNTIL WE WIN!

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Our friends just went to prison for protesting fracking

During my work with Reclaim the Power I had the pleasure of working with Richard, Rich and Roscoe, friendly, kind and dedicated campaigners who now as part of the Frack Free Four have shockingly become the first anti-fracking protesters to be sent to prison… for 15 months.  And who need support, both personally to keep their spirits up and to keep the campaign going.

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Last July they helped blockade a site in Preston where the company Cuadrilla is trying to fracture the land (fracking) in order to extract fossil fuel gas. The process generates large amounts of released greenhouse gases as well as generating toxic chemical waste water which usually gets put back in the ground (because it is too toxic to go to a sewage works). The blockade was part of the Rolling Resistance month of action with Reclaim the Power.

During their trial they were not allowed to use the reasons for their actions (stopping fracking) as a defense. So their actions were reduced to ‘sitting on trucks for several days’ and they were convicted of public nuisance. The difficult and courageous work of protecting our communities and country from fracking is about as far from a public nuisance as it gets.

At this very moment people are gathered in Preston for a ‘Free the Three’ demonstration, but if you can’t be there there are still many ways you can help.

Here’s how you can support them:

1. Writing letters to the prisoners. This really means a lot to people inside. 
Information on how you can write and prison numbers are here
:

http://frackfreefoursupporters.org/write-to-them/

2. Please sign and share the petition to the Joint Committee on Human Rights about the declining space for civil society to meaningfully oppose the fracking industry:
https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/hold-an-inquiry-into-the-declining-space-for-civil-society-to-oppose-the-uk-fracking-industry-1

3. Financial donations to the campaign support fund:
https://chuffed.org/project/free-the-three

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4. Hold an event to spread the word


5. Join the Week of Action against Permitted Development from 8th – 14th October:
The Conservative government are proposing to make exploratory drilling for fracking a ‘permitted development’ – which would bypass the need to submit planning applications to local councils and remove the right of communities to raise objections. This represents a huge attack on local democracy. Find or create an action near you: https://gofossilfree.org/uk/let-communities-decide/

Richard is a piano tuner from London, Roscoe is a soil scientist from Sheffield and Rich is a teacher from Devon. Imagine the impact on your life if you were suddenly in prison for months. It took a lot of courage and commitment to do what they did. Let’s get them out of prison and back where they belong – out in the world making it better.

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Buddhafield Festival

Eve visited Buddhafield festival for the first time this July to give two climate change related workshops. The festival near Taunton is a alcohol and drug free, celebrating community and connection with the land through music, dance, crafts, yoga and meditation. There are Buddhist teachings and ritual open to everyone.

Buddhafield 2017

Buddhafield 2017 Photo Tara Green

The two workshops Eve gave were Overcoming Fear and Change the Culture not the Climate.

Overcoming Fear in the Wetheuncivilized lodge. Looking at the nature of fear and techniques so that it doesn’t hold us back. The process can be applied to many areas of our lives but the examples in this workshop were drawn from climate activism.

Change the Culture not the Climate in the Social Change Area. Drawing on many of the experiences of the Buzz Tour we be looked at the types of social change to protect the environment and how we might create system change.

It was the first time I’ve returned from a festival feeling rejuvenated!

The Buddhafield program was packed with workshops, talks, meditation, music and so many options on the giant notice boards that you have to relax into the certainty that you can only do a small number of the activities available. The sound system was turned off at 11pm and I made frequent use of the sauna area so I actually could relax and sleep well. My friends from Hempen hemp farm were there with their CBD food stall as were the Peasants Kitchen with intense seabuckthorn berry drinks.  Seabuckthorn grows in coastal areas and the bright orange juice has extremely high amounts of vitamins including vitamin C. A diet of raw chocolate CBD flapjacks, with apple juice and seabuckthorn to wash it down had me glowing by the time I left the festival.

Happy New Leaf!

When we have the time to reflect on our lives, we can make a choice. We’ve explored a lot of tactics and ideas in the Buzz Tour, and for New Year I’d like to bring them together to look at an overview. turn-over-a-new-leaf

It could be that you’re seeking inspiration on what work to give your purpose to, or it could be that your work has begun to take, rather than give, you energy. A change is as good as a rest, so I hope this summary is a useful tool for your reflections.

I use three categories when thinking about change work: System Change, Inner Change and Protection & Restoration. They overlap and we need all three types of work. Different people and at different times in their life will act through different methods. System Change involves changing the system and the choices we live within, Inner Change is about changing the way that we and others think and feel, Protection and Restoration is drawing a line to protect earth’s remaining resources and bringing them back. These categories are similar to Joanna Macey’s three dimensions of the Great Turning.
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A great deal of the environmental work that we are familiar with would come under Protect and Restore – traditional environmental ‘conservation’ as well as protest/protection for specific places. With the devastating collapse in biodiversity and life around the planet it is essential that life be protected if we are to have anything left by the time we succeed in changing our culture’s direction. However, Protection and Restoration work only slows the erosion of the planet – there are too few of us to defend everything, all the time.dandelionspiral_

Inner Change would include facing and processing our thoughts and emotions so that we can work more effectively and make better choices in our lives. We could change a system to one less harmful, but if we do not change ourselves, we will eventually change it back and repeat our mistakes. Joanna Macy’s Active Hope or the courses at Embercombe are work of this kind – to assist people to change themselves. If a group of people experience an inner change leading to shared behavioural change, we effectively see a cultural change in that group. However, Inner change is usually slow. We can not expect the majority of people on the planet to have a change of heart in time to save us.

System Change work is harder to pin down. Most of what we do in our lives is predetermined by the system of choices we are presented with. The emotionally connected planning officer who agrees with the protectors and doesn’t want to see a ‘development’ will still approve it, if that is what the remit of her job and rules dictate. So what does it take to change a system?

The power to change a system is dispersed amongst different roles and people who make up the system. Usually each member of the system believes the power to change it sits with someone else. Believing you have power, and using it, is the first step.

Let’s say that our planning officer speaks up to other officers around the country and they agree the planning system is wrong. They coordinate and within their councils, internally call for the system to change…but nothing happens. Then they publicly call for it to be changed…and are disciplined, bringing members of the public onto their side and involving trade unions. Then they publicly resign in protest, leaving councils in turmoil, making news and leading to sympathy strikes. The escalating public pressure leads to a change in development legislation.

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will…If there is no struggle there is no progress… I am aware that the insurrectionary movements of the slaves were held by many to be prejudicial to their cause. This is said now of such movements at the South. The answer is that abolition followed close on the heels of insurrection in the West Indies, and Virginia was never nearer emancipation than when General Turner kindled the fires of insurrection at Southampton.

Frederick Douglass from his “West India Emancipation” speech, 1857.

 

We all believe we are powerless on certain issues we care about. But it is a lie. However much others may use the threat of power to contain us we always have some measure of choice and power. How can you use your power with others to change our future?

MPs may believe they are powerless to change the law without large public pressure against the pressure from developers. In the story of our planning officer, she doesn’t make law yet she takes the power to change it.  If we want to change a system, we must believe that we can. If we want change, we must reclaim and use our power to get it. Standing together, we must step out of silent acceptance and into the future that we create.

I wish us all a happy new leaf.

The house that hemp built

I’ve recently been spending a lot of time on an organic hemp farm, and although I knew that hemp was an amazing plant, I knew it in an abstract sort of way. But let me show you just one of the twenty thousand odd uses for this wonder plant – hempcrete to build and insulate our houses.

Wet the hemp stalks, break out the white fiber inside and break it into small peices. Then mix with lime and pack into a frame in the wall. When it dries it will insulate and moderate the temperature and moisture of the building! The hempcrete is not load bearing, so if you aren’t putting it onto an existing wall, your timber or other building frame is the load bearing part. Because the hemp is a plant, you will be locking up carbon out of the atmosphere, so you can sequester carbon whilst improving your home.

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If you’d like to learn more about hempcrete check out UKHempcrete.

Living in a collective

A collective is a group of people motivated by the same issue or working together for a purpose. It’s a little different from a commune in that with a commune you don’t necessarily have a common issue. Why might people choose to live together in a collective? Around the land of La ZAD in France there are many different collectives. I spoke to members of the collective at La Rolandiere about what it was like to live there together.

Time to Cycle to La ZAD

After a six day ride from Grow Heathrow in London, the Time to Cycle crew arrived at La ZAD to share and hear stories about the resistance of airport expansion.

I caught up with some of the cyclists to find out why they had decided to undertake the journey and how it had gone.

Part of the aim of the ride was to build solidarity between the community in Grow Heathrow and that in La ZAD and one of their activities was to deliver letters from residents at Grow Heathrow to ZAD residents. Many residents are shy of cameras and video, having had terrible experiences with media and also the risk of being singled out by police so few were keen to be filmed. The bemused expressions on many of their faces as we in broken French explained that we were delivering a letter I hope will turn to smiles once they are translated.

There are a great deal of differences between the UK and French anti-aviation occupation cultures with, for example, the French being much broader based and not as climate change orientated. On one of the evenings some of the cyclists gave a presentation about the UK aviation resistance and throughout the week of their stay the cyclists were learning about the zone. If you want to find out what’s going on on the ground, a great way to do it is to just get on your bike and go find out!

If you’d like to find out more about future Time to Cycle rides you can sign up for updates on their website.