Newsletter 25: History Corner

It is all too easy for we who call ourselves Environmentalists to get caught up in decidedly urban, human-centric, even virtual, disembodied ways of being on a day-to-day basis, just like everybody else in the dominant culture.

To fight against this alienating tendency, it’s important to get ‘out there’ and develop a real, intimate connection with the places and wildlife which are under threat. This helps avoid the condescension of saving what we think needs to be saved and, instead, builds a genuine inter-species solidarity. We must think more in terms of defending and protecting those we love, in a basically familial sense.

Green Tree Near Green Plants

‘A tree is the biggest living thing you’ll ever see. And, strange as it may seem, you can feel the life of it when you put your hand to its trunk. I didn’t think of this when I sat up in the mossy little branches of my tree; when it swayed when the wind gusted; when I lay on my belly and peered idly out of my treehouse at the stream below. But later, when I revisited Selar I would skip up my tree and a strange peace would descend upon me. Cosmic, huh? […]

I remember from that time being really dirty and really fit and really free. And feeling really mad all over my body. Physically fit from climbing, I think. […] That place, I think it had more magical energy than anywhere I’ve been… I get this feeling sometimes when I’m walking in places like that, like an exhilarating cold wind blows through you. It gives you loads of energy; it makes you jump about. Like an ancient feeling, cold and barren maybe, but not desolate.

I had a bit of my tree above my bed for a while and I had to move it, because every night I would dream myself back in my copse, the water trickling under the tree.’

This is an excerpt from ‘Copse’, a book by the cartoonist Kate Evans which describes the roads protest movement of the 1990s, detailing her experiences and those of many others involved in the kind of direct, protective activism which prevailed at the time.

Check out more excerpts on her website, especially the one describing the traumatic events of the Newbury Bypass protest.

File:Tot Hill eviction.jpg
(Eviction of Tot Hill camp, Newbury. Credit: Nick Woolley, image source)

While many of the camps sadly failed to prevent the road, mine or other construction project threat, it’s important to remember that the original government plans for building 600 new roads were subsequently reduced to around 100 and funding for the industry was substantially cut. This was largely because dealing with the frustration tactics of the protestors made it too costly for them to proceed.

‘Glorious defeats for us meant economic defeat for the Department of Transport’, as Earth First! ‘Pre-history’ put it in 2002. The whole thing is well worth reading for info on other campaigns over the last 30 years, as well as the proposals for general strategy in part 2.

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