Zero Waste Larder – Ethical business tour

I was delighted to be able to interview one of the brand new stockists of Fit Pit on just their fourth day open. Zero Waste Larder in Worthing is run by Jean and exists to give locals a way to get their goods without plastic or excessive packaging.

It’s wonderful to see a wave of new plastic-free businesses opening around the UK, and we wish Jean every success for her wonderful new rebirth of their family shop.

On trial as terrorists for a peaceful protest

The trial of the Stansted 15 for terrorism is drawing near to a verdict as the human rights protesters face prison for stopping a suspected unlawful deportation flight.

Many other groups have in the past peacefully prevented flights from taking off, whether because of environmental or human rights concerns. The usual charge for such an action has been ‘being air-side without permission’ or ‘aggravated trespass’, but for the first time the government is using terrorism laws designed for bombers against non-violent human rights protesters.

Amongst the defendants are our friends Mel Strickland who came on the Buzz Tour and Joe McGahan whose interview you can see on the website about hempcrete. Five other defendants are also well known to me, as kind and highly principled people who have done a great deal for equality and their communities.

A year and a half ago the Stansted 15 entered a remote part of Stansted runway wearing pink, with pink protest banners and locked on to a Titan Airways chartered flight to prevent the deportation of at least two people they knew whose lives would be at risk should they be deported – one a lesbian threatened with death by her ex-husband in Nigeria and one a man whose family had already been murdered. One of these refugees has since been granted asylum. The group Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants (LGSM) took the action after receiving information about the 15 asylum seekers who were being deported and believing that the Home Office was again acting illegally in it’s deportations.

During my observations in court I saw a video of the defendants walking calmly to the plane before any of the passengers had arrived, erecting a three-poled tripod and locking themselves to it and the front wheel of the plane. In another video police were seen laughing and joking with the group after they were locked on. Stories of violent treatment of asylum seekers were heard including handcuffing them to a bus after it caught fire and a man on another flight who was restrained to death. No charges were ever brought against the G4S employees for his killing.stansted protest

The trial opened with a solidarity protest of around 100 people at the start of October and has been observed throughout by Amnesty International because of their concerns of the use of terrorism laws to punish ‘human rights defenders’. All the prosecution and defence evidence has now been given so what follows will be around a week of legal argument before the jury delivers their verdict probably the week after.

You can find out more detail about the trial by reading the daily court blog of End Deportations Now. You will also find a template on their website to help you write to your MP and a rota if you would like to observe at Chelmsford Crown Court.

The dictionary definition of a terrorist is

someone who uses violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.

The UK anti-terrorism laws are frighteningly and intimidatingly powerful, people can be detained without charge for months and imprisoned for life if found guilty. You can be dragged through the court system for months or years at huge expense and stress, risking losing your job. Coming close on the heels of the imprisonment of anti-fracking protesters I think we should ask whether we trust our system to wield such power. As powerful laws are twisted into new purposes it is important to remember the meaning of our words and the power they hold. The non-violent actions of LGSM likely saved lives, and they do not deserve to be treated like terrorists for it.

The Wildcat – Ethical business tour

My final stop in Scotland was at vegan cafe and shop The Wildcat in Fort William.

It was beautiful to be reminded of the great difference between business’ doing social good because of self interest versus those who do it because of their own ethics. The difference between grudging changes because of customer pressure and businesses who lead the way with passion and heart, even in areas their customers will never see.

Making so many dishes from scratch really shows in the flavours of their organic food. The three part salad I tried looked like a beautiful plate of primarily beetroot and carrot but the flavours really blew me away, both in the salads and in the varied deeply flavoured dressings. The sandwich I had was an unusual vegetable filling mix and again it was really satisfying both in it’s rich savouriness and how filling it was.

I recommend trying as many unusual dishes as you can whilst you sip your ethically sourced coffee and browse the positive environmental books. Whether you normally eat vegan or not, if you are near the Scottish Highlands, make a beeline for The Wildcat and your taste buds will celebrate you for it.

 

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!

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.

Counselling for social change

We all need a little emotional help from time to time, and for activists the temptation can be to put their cause before their own well-being. In the UK we have an organisation called Counselling for Social Change which offers low cost counselling and retreats to help support activists in their work. This vital work is able to be offered at low cost because of donations that are made, and you can support them by giving to their crowdfunding appeal which has 15 days left.

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I spoke with Emily one of the trustees of the charity about why she got involved.

“I have been an activist and campaigner most of my life. As a result of my involvement, I have had two breakdowns, the most recent one in 2011 as a direct result of my activism. In my case it was due to being targeted and harassed by the police, arbitrary arrests and assaults, and knowing some of the undercover cops and corporate spies who have infiltrated our movements. I should have sought help sooner, but I fell into the trap that so many of us do, in thinking that the work was too important to stop and look after my own mental health.” You can read more about Emily’s shocking experiences on Open Democracy, including her 75 arrests.
“I was lucky as I had money from police compensation to fund my own counselling, and also, living in Cornwall, was able to benefit from sea and endless skies and the power of nature in my recovery. My partner had just finished a counselling course and we decided to set up Counselling for Social Change both to provide free counselling over phone and Skype, but also to organise retreats where people could come and receive intensive counselling, and benefit from being in nature. We have a shepherd’s hut on an acre of land on a permaculture site and it is an amazing place to get away from everything.”
“It is becoming harder and harder to access long term therapeutic support on the NHS. Even when you are lucky enough to be able to do so, there is no guarantee you will see someone who has a political understanding of what you are doing, or how that affects you. For example, I saw a psychotherapist who said I was “raging against the state” because of issues with my father. Furthermore, with issues such as undercover policing, although it’s far more in the public domain now, many mental health professionals can treat you as if you’re paranoid if you start talking about undercovers or police harassment.”
We want to be part of the world we want to create – and creating that world has to take mental health seriously and offer proper support. This will enable us to be stronger, build stronger movements and help in our aim of achieving effective change.
“Activists are very good at looking after others, and not very good at looking after themselves. This project hopes to change this attitude. Due to generous donations and our last crowdfunding campaign, we were able to set up the retreat space and offer free counselling. This round of fundraising is to enable us to continue this work. We hope that people will continue to donate and support this work as it is vital to protect our mental health – and we need to be healthy for the massive battles we need to win if the planet is to have any future.”

Support the Heathrow 13

Last month I sat expectantly in the courtroom and silently sent love and gestures of support to my friends as they sat in the dock. In a shock turnaround, the judge in the trial of the Heathrow 13 did not send them all to prison but instead gave a suspended prison sentence to all the defendants. However they also gave £10,000 costs and 120-150 hours each of community service. Over the next year the 13 will be doing their community service and whilst we can’t help them with that, we can help with costs. So if you would like to, you can donate to the crowdfunder and make things a little easier for them.

During the trial, the defendants were described variously as caring, talented, highly committed, passionate, selfless, with integrity and honesty, and even as ‘a shining light’. The many skills and achievements recounted left those in court with the lasting impression of an incredible collection of people. Sitting in the dock the defendants had been nervously joking and laughing together with excited smiles, some of them wearing Plane Stupid t-shirts with an air plane motif made to look like prison shirts. As the community service sentence was read out one voice in the public gallery was heard to quip “Well they do that already!”
The relief was clearly deeply felt by the parents, friends and families of the 13 as they left court. Despite warnings from court officials to leave quietly the 13 emerged to raucous cheering from the crowd. In a speech given outside, one of the defendants mothers spoke of her pride at the actions of her son and the inspiration she took from all of them. One of the defendants then urged those gathered to take direct action and help stop airport expansion. The 13 first celebrated their freedom with around 50 family and well wishers at a nearby pub, cheering the news reports as they appeared on the pub television.
In the months after a trial support can die down but we can support Heathrow 13 and show them we are in it for the long haul.

Donate to the crowdfunder

 

Five languages of love

Valentines hearts are everywhere, yet love is understood very differently throughout our culture. It’s not even just the fact that love is used as a verb, a noun AND an adjective. People understand love differently when it’s given. Whatever relationship you want to nurture, these five ideas could help.

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Relationship Counsellor Gary Chapman identified five love languages that people express love with:

  • Quality Time
  • Gifts
  • Words of Affirmation
  • Physical
  • Acts of Service

Depending upon your experience of receiving love you will have certain behaviours that you understand to be loving.

So let’s say for example you communicate primarily with gifts and acts of service but your partner is physical and quality time. Problems are likely to start to appear as soon as you have pressures on the relationship. You buy them flowers and presents and you do the cleaning and cooking for them. You do all this but they don’t seem to care. They complain that you don’t spend enough time together and your physical relationship isn’t what it used to be. To avoid feeling defensive a useful tool is to understand that they are asking for love in the way that they understand. You can buy all the gifts you want, but to them, that’s not love.

Learning to love in different languages can feel awkward at first, maybe giving lots of praise feels unnatural, but practice makes perfect, and the more you do it the more natural it will become. We’ve all come from different places and experienced love differently, but surely learning new ways to love and improving our relationships is one of the most beautiful things we can learn in life.

The Elderflower Project

A wonderful woman called Pat gave me a lift to the Green Gathering last summer and during the festival she came to one of my workshops. Afterwards, she was overflowing with suggestions for involving the older generations. I said “I think they’re all fantastic ideas, but I think you should do them.” Tomorrow, at age 66 Pat Smith will embark on The Elderflower Project, an eight month cycle ride round the British Isles to gather tales of wisdom and insight from older people she meets.

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Pat aims to travel around 8,000 miles, pedalling from the Shetlands to the Isles of Scilly, the Dingle Peninsula of Southern Ireland to Lowestoft in East Anglia, starting tomorrow in Ireland.

It’s the best way to travel. I have thermals and waterproofs so I’m prepared for most things. You go slowly enough to meet people – in my case, very slowly!

Two years ago Pat cycled the scenic route home from southern France, a journey of 1,000 miles. Her first long-distance cycle ride was through Romania in 1990, the year after the dictator Ceausescu was overthrown by the people. “Temperatures often soared to a hundred degrees and at times roads would simply disappear but the countryside was beautiful,” said Pat.

Pat has an extra ambition on this journey.  “Wherever I go I want to ask our elders to share a piece of wisdom and a story about why it matters. Older people can be sidelined in society but they have so much experience of life. I’d particularly like to visit people living in eco-friendly ways who want to make a difference to the way we see the world. They are actually doing what so many people simply talk about.”

You can follow Pat’s adventures on her blog and add your own stories. We will feature stories during her journey as well as supporting with an Elderflower Project facebook page. If you’d like to get in touch you can email Pat on pat2africa@yahoo.co.uk.

The Buzz Tour would not have been possible without all the kindness along the way so if Pat passes your way please do give her your support and love to help make the Elderflower Project a beautiful life changing journey.

 

Sama: I invited my mum to a protest

by Sama

As I look back on 2015, human connections and growth are the two elements that come to my mind. I feel that we are riding a new wave of positive change and this wave is getting bigger and stronger, pulling more and more water into it. It is happening across cultures, across struggles and even across generations.

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While I had been fed information about what life should be and how I should fit in it when I was a child, I then went through the turbulence of vomiting it all out as an adolescent, to finally find in my young adult years that I also had the possibility to feed.

Last spring, I revisited Palestine in solidarity with the population resisting the illegal Israeli occupation. This scared the people who loved me because the media bombards us with information that is selected and distorted. It dehumanizes populations and gives us the sense of being powerless to situations. It is always the unknown (or the “misknown”) and the feeling of powerlessness that respectively scares and prevents us from acting. So I asked if my mum would like to come and join me.

Sama suggested I join her in Palestine  – I thought of course I can’t – then 10 days later I was there! It was an extraordinary experience being in a country which I have only thought I would read about and being able to spend time with Sama following what she does. Roles were reversed and my daughter planned and directed the trip inspiring confidence and opening up to me a world of like minded people who are doing the things they believe in – fighting for equality.

A few months later, my mum joined a five-day cycle ride that I had co-organised. Heading to the climate negotiations in Paris, 125 of us were building a movement together to take action against climate injustice. On one of the days, we all took part in a mass consensus meeting to discuss how to react to the French state of emergency. On another, we were kettled on the Champs Elysée by riot cops. On the last day, we swarmed the streets of Paris with our bikes, surrounded by anti-capitalist chants and then danced under the Eiffel Tower.

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I am so encouraged by grass roots activism and proud of Sama for her involvement.

Activism is a form of global breathing. If we are not active we are letting everything around us die. The more we are to breath, to be active, the more we are keeping this planet alive and staying connected on human level. Our identity in activism is defined by what we chose to focus on and the methods we use to go forward. For this reason, it is crucial for me to share it with the people around me, and most importantly, those who brought me into this world.

It has been an honour to have my mum come on board with some projects I was involved with. Not only did I feel understood and notice a balancing out of our relationship, but also felt I had built an ally in my fights.

None of the learning-teaching stages ever actually end. I am still learning from the elders, still battling to define what my own beliefs are and will still have something to offer back. It is this realization, which happened through practice, of the importance of intergenerational cooperation that has been one of my biggest learnings and joys of 2015. It may not be as simple and beautiful as it was for me to invite your mum to your next protest, but you don’t ask, you don’t get. Balancing out our family relationships can only help grow our solidarity in the world.

Deciding how to decide

The format of how a group makes a decision has an effect on the decision that is made with different methods being more suitable for different situations. So what are a few of the different approaches we could use?

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Factors which influence the choice of decision making include: urgency, importance, future lifespan of the group, personalities in the group, group size and expertise. In any group some people will have more personal power than others and this can be beneficial or harmful. It can be managed with a facilitator or by having leaders with the consent of the group.

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Useful for urgent but not instant decisions. A leader has been appointed and the rest of the group give their ideas and proposals and the leader makes the final decision.

Simply picking a leader does not give them authority on the ground. If the group is not disciplined or practised in following that person’s authority, when it comes to the crunch they may simply make their own choice or follow someone else. This was seem on the D12 Paris demonstration when people followed someone they knew or someone highly visible rather than the person that had been designated.

Hand score voting

Useful where urgent consent is wanted from all in a small group (less than ten). A few proposals are stated, then for each proposal on the count of three, everyone votes with their fingers. They vote on a scale from 0-5 – five fingers for agree completely, none for blocking the proposal. People feel pressurised to agree which can help get a quick decision but the bias is that the most dominant person will speak first with their proposal, so this is likely to be adopted. This is why it is important that several proposals are heard first, so that people know what their options are. The group decides in advance how many fingers is the minimum for consent depending upon the risks – three, four or five.

Majority rule

Used in democratic voting so most people are familiar with this. Suitable when less broad consent is needed because decisions do not infringe greatly on the minority. How you prepare and decide which proposals to vote on will determine a lot of the outcome.

Working groups

Creation is most effective as individuals or small groups. Working groups are a useful model where a small number of people are given authority by the group to come up with proposals. These are then questioned and altered by the main group. The choice of people for the working group is obviously very important for their expertise and breadth of opinion. It is not advisable that everyone in a group should be ‘an expert’ as they will have a similar narrow worldview on the topic that could make the decision less robust.

Consensus

For long term decisions as the process is time consuming. Can be used for large groups as long as the group has a shared purpose and a level of trust. Proposals best prepared by smaller working groups. Useful when decisions affect everyone and the power and personal choice of all people needs to be respected. Proposals are discussed and then voted on. Skilled facilitation is required to ensure that different voices are heard. Points are not repeated, if others agree with points raised, then they wave their hands/fingers. If anyone in the group feels the proposal is against the ethics of the group or would cause them to leave the group, they can ‘block’ it. If someone does not wish to be part of the proposal but is willing for it to happen, they can ‘stand aside’. If there are significant stand asides then the proposal should be discussed further.

Taking a step back and looking at how we make our decisions is essential for us to understand their influence on the outcome and to work with others. As the environment movement joins with equality movements we need to make group decisions with people who have different decision making cultures. Great social shifts are preceded by a coming together of previously unrelated social movements and now is one of those times in history. So when you’re in yet another meeting, with a room full of frustrated people struggling to work together, remember to decide how you decide, and to appreciate the wonder that these passionate people from diverse movements are finally coming together.

Climate Games continue!

FIRST WE HAVE THE LAST WORD, THEN WE HAVE THE LAST DANCE

Attending the climate games award ceremony in Paris was not your standard awards do. What it was however, was undeniably cool. The awards were laser-cut stencils and spray paint, many of the award winners had to disguise themselves or send a delegate to collect the award. The hip band Filistine brought their wireless instruments down into the crowd. And throughout the night the crowd would break into chant. “Ah-A! Anti, anticapitalist-ah-A! Anti, anticapitalist-ah-A!” “What do we want? CLIMATE JUSTICE! When do we want it? NOW!”

Over 120 teams registered their actions in the climate games and the incredible array of team actions made it feel like a historic night to be a part of. Rather than individually acting to the mainstream media we played with each other and to the crowd. Hacking into the FM broadcaster on the Eiffel tower, replacing hundreds of advertising boards, storming a VW showroom dressed as animals, were all great winners. A highlight amongst the runner ups was the group that had the IPCC report printed onto 150 rolls of toilet paper and smuggled into the COP21 so that as delegates formed the inadequate agreement they were literally shitting on the science of the IPCC.

And it’s not all over yet… The Climate Games website will continue in 2016 for groups to enter their actions. Whether you’re planning and action or just want to cheer up your day you can visit the Climate Games website to see what others around the world have been up to.

We are not fighting for nature. We are nature defending itself.

 

 

 

 

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Solidarity with the UK’s first climate prisoners

This week the 13 people who blocked Heathrow’s northern runway last July were found guilty of aggravated trespass and being airside without permission and the judge told them all to expect to receive prison sentences. Amongst those facing up to three months in prison are Buzz Tour’s Mel and Kara.

verdict

As their trial began last week, a solidarity demonstration of over 60 people including Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, was held outside Willesden court. With banners, giant inflatable cobble stones and solidarity songs we created “the best atmosphere at a court demo I’ve ever seen” according to one participant. The 30 seat public gallery at the court could not hold all those who wanted to observe. And as the guilty verdict was given on Monday people again gathered to show their support. But why am I telling you all this? Why does solidarity matter?

Building up your capabilities and overcoming your fears to take action is sometimes just the beginning. To know that your work is supported and that people will stand by you will make everything that comes next easier. After their arrest, the 13 have travelled back and forth to court, prepared their defence, been through the court system and been cross examined. If they are imprisoned they will become the UK’s first climate prisoners. But there will be many more over the coming years. With climate changing emissions still rising, direct action from the public (for example Groundswell) is also on the up, with increased numbers of people risking prison sentences.

If imprisoned for more than a few weeks you may be unable to maintain payments on your accommodation or fulfil your obligations to your job. As a result many people lose their home and job when they go to prison. Amongst the Heathrow 13 are a lawyer, a environmental scientist and an atmospheric physicist, who all risked their jobs to defend our future and life on this planet. Whether you send an email of support, write a letter to your newspaper, attend court, bake cake, donate money or offer work to those who lose jobs, the support of the environment movement is essential and deserved by those who take risks for the sake of us all.

The defence case was based on the premise that the 13 were defending life with their actions. The judge however refused to allow them to call expert witnesses on climate change, saying that she accepted the threat of climate change but that she did not accept that their actions were to save lives, and were instead symbolic.

As she gave her guilty verdict, the judge called the 13 “principled people”. History is made by principled people taking action. All it will take for a collapse of the ecosystems of this planet is for good people to do nothing. We live in an unprecedented generation of information and choice, where we can no longer avoid responsibility. Although the system we live within makes denial easy and action hard, we can take inspiration from those who do act, and we can give them our full support and solidarity when they do.