XR Godalming Update 9th June

Since last week, the news has been dominated by the anti-racism protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in America. At the XR Godalming coordinators’ meeting last week we discussed how we should respond to both the injustice of George Floyd’s death, and to the injustice of racism. We felt it important to express our solidarity with protestors who put their bodies on the line to defend people of colour’s right to life in the face of police racism and brutality. A secure route to follow to determine how to respond is given by 350.org, an international organisation that campaigns for fossil free energy. They have written an article which sets out clearly why dismantling white supremacy is critical to building a climate movement that is rooted in justice. They have an emphatic statement ‘in defense of black lives’:

No justice, no peace: Dozens of cities across the United States have seen historic protests over the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, at the hands of police in Minneapolis. It’s sparked a crucial global moment, with solidarity protests planned in cities across the world this weekend. Organisers are urging attendees to take precautions against coronavirus.

350.org is in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives and struggles for racial justice across the world. There is no just recovery for people and the climate, without addressing the systemic extraction, harm and violence towards Black communities. In order to tackle the climate crisis fairly, we’ve got to address the systemic racism that fuels it. See our statement here and check out these resources on what we must do to dismantle white supremacy. Consider supporting the Black-led organisations and bail out funds we’ve recommended.

LAST WEEK’S MEETING

Last week’s meeting was devoted to arrestee support. Louisa has provided the following summary:

The arrestee support session was a good opportunity for our October defendants to share their experiences of making their way through the legal system and to ask advice from a few April veterans. Due to Covid-19, the Magistrates’ courts are currently closed, with plea hearings originally set for May yet to take place, so this is set to be a long process for those planning to plead ‘not guilty’. Nationally, only about half those arrested have been charged, and it seems there is still potential for cases to be dropped should the CPS decide they need to focus on dealing with more credible criminal offences as the courts clog up. Defendants will be able to apply to XRUK and our own local crowdfunder for help with their costs. Over the coming weeks, we will be checking in with arrestees unable to attend this meeting to ensure that they too are adequately supported.

Anyone interested in helping to support should contact Sue.

MATT’S COLUMN

Matt’s latest column for the Haslemere Herald is on a subject close to his heart – poor verge management.

The UK’s road verges total an incredible 238,000 hectares – more than all national nature reserves in the country combined – and harbour 45% of all native plant species. What an amazing opportunity to nurture habitat for wildlife. Sadly, they are all too often mismanaged. Thankfully, the charity Plantlife is doing excellent work producing guidelines for local authorities on best practice for mowing these. Beyond minimal trimming of sight lines and around signs, they should only be fully mowed once in late summer once all the wildlife that depends on them have carried out their life cycles, and the cuttings taken away to improve wildflower diversity. What is absolutely not necessary is to destroy huge swathes of wild flowers in spring and early summer, at a time when our pollinators need them more than ever.

When abroad I’ve been impressed by other countries’ respect for their native flora. In South Africa, for example, thousands of people travel to see the spectacular spring flower displays up the West Coast, with just delicate footpaths meandering through the swathes of colour, and our wildflowers are no less impressive – just less valued.

We are currently living through the hottest, driest spring on record – undoubtedly a ‘new normal’ as climate breakdown gains momentum – and regularly cutting verges in these conditions simply turns lush wildlife havens into lifeless brown carpets. Is that really what we want to see?

As we ease out of lockdown there will be some wishing to see a hasty return to ‘business as usual’, but if we’re serious about tackling the climate crisis we need to look at all aspects of life, from how we generate our electricity to how we care for the land and give wildlife a much-needed boost. Changing how we care for our verges would be a great place to start.

If you haven’t already done so, please do add your support to Plantlife’s road verge campaign using this link – https://plantlife.love-wildflowers.org.uk/roadvergecampaign

CALLOUT – INDUSTRIAL HEMP CAMPAIGN

Those on Telegram will be familiar with this, but to ensure everyone is aware, this is Marco’s callout about the hemp campaign:

Many of the challenges of balancing the environment with our economic and industrial needs can readily be met by one plant – HEMP. For thousands of years civilisations have literally been built and relied upon this plant right up until its illegalization at the beginning of the last century, and even beyond; during times of war and crisis governments continue to turn to hemp given the abundance resources it offers. Humanity has an amazing 10,000 year history of utilising hemp, if you’re not already familiar the links below give a great overview of it uses, benefits and versatility and reasons for prohibition.

Our environmental crisis exists in the absence of hemp and it will be difficult to move forward with any of the economic and environmental challenges currently faced without considering hemp an effective ecological alternative for OIL, PLASTIC, FUEL, FABRICS, CONCRETE, FOOD and obviously MEDICINE to list a few. As such we have begun working on a campaign to:

  • Raise public and commercial awareness
  • Accelerate de-regulation
  • Push for appropriate government classification and licensing for hemp farming
  • Apply scientific and societal evidence to law/s

This might seem ambitious for anybody outside of XR but with our help I honestly believe we can bring hemp back into production. If this is something you have already been or would like to be involved with please join the newly formed Telegram groups below for further information (ideally with brief introduction and area of expertise/WG). Time is increasingly short but we are perfectly placed to launch a comprehensive and effective campaign, all that is missing is YOU!

Hempirical – Discussion (https://t.me/joinchat/KrzetkWSbsH64u7oNi4mFA)

Hempirical – Broadcast (https://t.me/joinchat/Krzetk7REllROBgniT_spw)

Hope to catch up soon.

ONGOING CAMPAIGNS AND ACTIVITIES

A couple of weeks ago Chris provided information about responding to the Waverley Borough Council Climate Emergency Action Plan. It’s not too late to join in with contributing to our submission to Waverley. Please contact Joyce if you wish to do so.

Roland, Tim and Chris attended an informal Godalming town councillors’ meeting last week to discuss plans being developed with the input of Godalming Cycle Campaign. This included how the government money allocated for improved cycling and walking should be used in our area. Suggestions include accelerating existing long-term ideas such as the Godalming to Guildford Cycle Path and a proper route up Bridge Road and into/around Godalming. It’s not clear exactly how this will develop but the Council is definitely keen to promote cycling and one idea mooted was a ‘cycling action day’ or similar, to get as many cyclist as possible out on the streets together. This seems a likely area of action for us in the near future.

UKOG continue in their efforts to spoil and pollute the countryside and to increase carbon emissions by creating oil wells across the south east. The next point of focus for this is the delayed planning hearing at Surrey County County Council now scheduled for June 29th. Anyone interested in helping to oppose this development should contact Kirsty or Chris.

Several of the Surrey Pension Act Now group will be attending the Surrey Pension Fund meeting virtually this Friday to continue taking them to task about divestment.

The Godalming patchwork banner is coming along, below is what Jackie has been up to. If anyone else would like to get involved or could donate some nice coloured fabric, please let Louisa know!

In the meantime, Chris and Aly have been doing some guerrilla gardening. If anyone else has been active and has photos to share, please send them to xrgodalming@gmail.com.

THIS WEEK’S MEETING

On Wednesday 10 June we have a regular meeting at 7.30, via Zoom.

We will consider further our response to the anti-racism protests. A central agenda item is on ‘Rebellion Weavers’ which is about planning and readiness for future national actions. We will discuss this with the aim of providing our view via SEAC.

FUTURE EVENTS

Monday 15 June – Think Tank session.

Wednesday 17 June from 7.30pm to 9.00pm – we will host a talk on land use entitled This land is our land: community-scale farming and food security

This is being organised by Alain and Louisa and is promoted by them as follows:

The UK’s food system is broken. While Covid-19 has revealed our island nation’s vulnerability to food shortages – being heavily reliant on imported goods and labour – the average farmer’s age is 59, with new entrants facing an uphill struggle due to extortionate land prices and a lack of start-up funding. The chemical-intensive farming techniques are killing off our living soil and biodiversity. Climate change is bringing even more uncertainty to the farming calendar.

What can we do as individuals and communities to counter these worrying trends, increase our own health and feed ourselves sustainably now and in the future?

Join XR Godalming in conversation with Edwin Brooks, founder of Ed’s Veg market garden in Liphook, Hampshire, Page Dykstra, coordinator for Community Supported Agriculture UK and Katie Forman, farm coordinator at Farnham Community Farm, Surrey to discover how people across the UK are using small-scale, ecologically minded farming to benefit people and planet.

There will be ample time for questions: maybe you’ll be inspired to grab a broadfork and play your part in the agroecological revolution!

Wednesday 24 June – we have a meeting which will have two main agenda items. The first is planning for action on 25 June (see below). The second is an introduction to rebel ringing, which is a way to help grow and strengthen our movement.

THURSDAY 25 JUNE – KEEP FREE FOR NATIONAL ACTION, DETAILS TO FOLLOW

Wednesday 1 July – Heading for Extinction talk. Carol and Sean have updated this to take account of recent developments, in particular Covid-19.

Wednesday 8 July – regular meeting.

Wednesday 15 July – we are going to screen the film 2040 via Zoom. The film envisages what the planet might be like in 2040 if currently available solutions to improve it are implemented.

Wednesday 22 July – regular meeting,

Some of the agenda items for us to discuss at regular meetings include UKOG at Dunsfold, responses to Surrey County Council and Waverley Borough Council, improving cycling locally and the hemp project.

Look forward to seeing you on Wednesday or soon.

With hope and determination.

XR Godalming