XR Godalming Update 16th June

The news over the past week has continued to be dominated by the anti-racism protests around the world. At the XR Godalming meeting on Wednesday those present had a lengthy check-in focusing on their thoughts about Black Lives Matter. The social media team wove these reflections into the wording of our social media statement. For those who have not seen it on Facebook or Twitter, the statement is as follows:

“We at XR Godalming stand in solidarity with protestors all over the US and around the world, who have been putting their bodies on the line to defend people of colour’s right to life in the face of police brutality, following the horrific murder of George Floyd.

“XR’s first demand is to “tell the truth”. The truth is we live in a toxic system, steeped as much in racism as in disrespect for the natural world.

“As (predominantly) white activists, whose privilege is built on a dark colonial past, we recognise the debt we owe to generations of non-white and indigenous front-line environmental protectors who have come before us.

We pledge to work harder for profound system change, with both social and climate justice at its heart. Let’s build a better world together.”

Linked to this, there is consideration within XR of adding a 4th demand as Duncan explains:

Various groups at various levels are discussing the idea of adopting a 4th demand for climate and social justice. As the issue of social justice is highlighted particularly strongly at the moment, with the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Belly Mujinga, and the ensuing protests, some UK local groups have already adopted this demand. XR in the US has, of course, been making the 4th demand for a while. Does our 3rd demand place enough emphasis on social justice, especially justice for currently and historically persecuted peoples who are also disproportionately bearing the brunt of the climate crisis? The wording would have to be carefully considered too. For food for thought, read Manthan Pathak’s article Extinction Rebellion, racism and the climate crisis.

The past few weeks are becoming increasingly busy with XR activity. Actions have started to take place, such as the World Naked Bike Ride. And actions are starting to be planned, which is the focus of this week’s newsletter.

WORLD NAKED BIKE RIDE

Last weekend the World Naked Bike Ride took place. Ben provided the following summary of the local action:

A small but determined group of rebels took to the Surrey roads on Sunday to mark the World Naked Bike Ride. Given current circumstances the main events in London and Brighton were cancelled so a local version was hastily arranged. The route took them from Guildford to Cranleigh and back and won them plenty of supportive shouts, hollers and applause from passing traffic – motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike. WNBR is “a peaceful, imaginative and fun protest against oil dependency and car culture. A celebration of the bicycle and also a celebration of the power and individuality of the human body. A symbol of vulnerability of the cyclist in traffic. The world’s biggest naked protest: 50 plus cities and thousands of riders participate worldwide, including 3,000 in the UK each year.” Here’s to getting more on WNBR from XR next year!

ACTION ON 25th JUNE

Chris has posted a shout out on Telegram for this action and has summarised it as follows:

There is now more information regarding the ‘save the date’ call out from the last newsletter. The proposed action is for demonstrations to take place at MPs’ offices on Thursday 25th June, calling on them to take more urgent action on the climate crisis. (The date corresponds with the release of an important report). The idea is for slow marches to MPs’ offices and creative means of delivering a letter. Given the geographic dispersal of our group between several different MP constituencies and the fact that South West Surrey’s MP has his office somewhat ‘out in the sticks’ this presents us with some logistical challenges. However, the action looks like it could be a good one if repeated around the country and it would be good to do our part. Conversations are going on with XR Farnham about joining forces and a general view has emerged that we are best to stick together and all to head for Mr Hunt’s office. There’s a chat group for those who would like to be involved, and contribute to the planning about how we could do this. We’ll post more information as soon as we have it on the main chat group and in next week’s newsletter. In the meantime, please keep the 25th free if you can.  

Use the ideas for disruptive letter delivery and guidance on how to slow march.

We need as many people as possible. Call your relatives, bring your friends, reach out to other local organisations and groups – invite them along. Use the 7 mobilisation methods to get new rebels involved.

SURREY COUNTY COUNCIL

Kirsty and Chris had a meeting with the Surrey County Council Leader Tim Oliver on 10th June on behalf of XR Surrey, for which Chris has provided the following update.

The meeting had been scheduled to take place in March but was postponed due to the covid crisis. The Leader was accompanied by Natalie Bramhall who is the new Environment and Climate Change portfolio holder. We felt it was a positive meeting; useful to maintain an open channel of direct communication and to build relationships, and encouraging as the Council seems determined to sustain its commitment of resources to its climate change strategy. It sees opportunities in the covid crisis to accelerate in some areas. We made clear in the meeting that while we recognise the Council’s work and serious intentions, we want them to move faster and be more active in pressing the government to change polices where necessary (e.g. on the planning policy framework). We agreed that we’d continue our lobbying through this channel and direct to officers working on the Climate Change Strategy. For what it’s worth, the Leader said that he felt XR’s protest actions at County Hall had made the Council move with more speed and urgency than it would have done otherwise. Personally I think this is true, especially as this view is supported by opposition Councillors. Tim Oliver said to us that “the green agenda will run through everything we do.” It’s almost a year since we first turned up at County Hall and sang ‘We’ll be watching you’ to the Councillors from the balcony. I think we’ve been true to our word and we’ll keep pushing them every way we can to make sure they are too. We have some more detailed notes from the meeting and can share them as a PDF to anyone who’d like to know a bit more – contact Kirsty or Chris or email xrgodalming@gmail.com.

LAST WEEK’S MEETING

Part of the meeting was devoted to working on some questions from the ‘XR Rebellion Weavers’ group, who had asked for feedback from local groups in order to get a picture of feelings around the country about when XR groups might feel ready for another large rebellion, including where and how. There’s a lot to consider in such a complicated situation. In the meeting we split into several small groups, each of which produced some written feedback. An impressive amount of focused work was done in a short time and the various views were woven together into a response. We didn’t really have a consensus. We are pretty much all looking forward to being able to get back into active protest, and there is a continued feeling of urgency. However, there is also a general recognition that we need to be very flexible, thoughtful and creative in order to plan actions which are safe enough and can be adapted to shifting circumstances. Though some of our number are very keen to get back to London as soon as possible we know that this is much less feasible for many other regions. It seems likely we’ll need to accept that there won’t be a rebellion this year in the style of the 2019 rebellions. Judging from the conversation in the South East Actions Circle meeting this Sunday, most other local groups in our region are feeling resigned to this too. However, there is also a lot of desire for aligned regional actions. An upside of the covid crisis is that it’s given us a lot of time to organise and build relationships with the region; which should bring benefits when we finally can get together on the streets.

THINK TANK

Duncan has provided the following update on the Think Tank:

On Monday there was a brief Think Tank meeting with three members, where we reviewed the current status of the Think Tank. Once the discussions on the three questions have been drafted, hopefully by 22nd June, they will be circulated within the group for comments, after which the next step can be decided.

ONGOING CAMPAIGNS AND ACTIVITIES

Carol posted information on Telegram about The Climate Coalition, which is calling for a virtual lobby on the 30th June. Seems like a good idea and one we might as individuals want to back.

The Rebel Trail is an XR action in opposition to HS2. On the morning of June 20th, Extinction Rebellion with communities and groups which stand for people and planet will depart Birmingham Curzon Street and walk to London along the route of High Speed 2. 125 miles in 7 days.

Our response to the Waverley Borough Council Climate Emergency Action Plan is ongoing. Please contact Joyce if you wish to contribute.

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.

Let’s keep making progress with the Godalming banner. Contact Louisa for details.

Last week we highlighted Marco’s callout for support with the Hemp campaign. Join the chats via these links: Hempirical – Discussion. Hempirical – Broadcast.

THIS WEEK’S MEETING

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

To attend this event please make sure you sign up.

This event is 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!

FUTURE EVENTS

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, SEE ABOVE

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