UK Newsletter #5: Speak up and be Heard

Dearest rebels, winter is almost upon us. The nights are drawing in, the frost is rising, and a general election is looming. To some, this is an exciting chance for change. To others it’s merely another sign of the chaos and state of flux of this country (and to a greater extent, the world.)

Scenes from an action outside Blackrock this afternoon.

As members of XR, our aim is not to focus on politics, or point-scoring, or who is – or is not – in power. Instead we must remember that there are more important questions in the balance. We stand as a siren to warn whoever leads government that the house over which they rule is burning. We seek to remind our leaders that everybody answers to somebody, and eventually we all answer to the earth.

Below you’ll find information on how to be involved with the election ‘XR style’: without creating unnecessary division, telling the truth, staying honest to yourself and others and acting now, as the voice of the people to speak for the world. We’ve got a whole range of resources to give advice and ideas for this election season: you’ll find many of these below, and also in our election Kit List.

The fire season in Australia is becoming more intense with every year. Credit: XR NSW

These last few weeks have seen dramatic changes in the way this country treats environmental concerns. From the nationwide halt on fracking to the overthrow of the Section 14 ban, there are signs everywhere that a positive transformation is underway. 

However, our work has only just begun. The October Rebellion brought clarity and inspiration, but many tears were shed among the cheers and chants. See below for our story on the reprehensible mistreatment of disabled rebels in London, plus an opportunity to be involved in finding the future direction of XR.

We are taking this moment to sit back and consider our actions – past, present and future. As we emerge slowly and healthily from our state of regen and debrief, it’s time to acknowledge our mistakes, celebrate our successes, and start getting ready for whatever comes next. 

If you’d like to help, please check out our guide and learn more about XR.

To connect to rebels in your local area, get in touch with your nearest XR group. If there’s no active group near you, you can start your own

If you’d like to see previous newsletter issues, you can find them here.

This Rebellion needs your support. If you can’t give time, consider giving money.

Annoucements

One election: three ways to help #whereisyourplan?

With voters now rating the climate and ecological emergency as equally important to crime and the economy, let’s make this the Ecological Election. We’re planning actions across the country – for more on these, see our election Kit List.

Here are three things you can do to help right now:

  1. Campaign for a televised election debate on the climate emergency
  2. Lobby candidates for a climate bill
  3. Compile a flyer comparing your candidates’ records on the climate

1. Campaign for a televised election debate on the climate emergency

More than 100,000 people have already signed a petition from Climate action charity Possible and the UK Student Climate Network. Organisations representing nearly 20 million people are calling for this too.

Labour, Liberal Democrats, SNP and the Greens have already agreed.

Please sign and share this petition.

2. Lobby candidates for a Climate Bill

This Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill has been drafted by XR working groups in consultation with Power for People

Since declaring a Climate Emergency, the government has failed to act. The bill contains XR’s three demands (declaration, emissions target and national citizens’ assembly). Our aim is to get as many cross party MPs as possible to introduce it in Parliament.

If you’re willing to contact your local constituency candidates, contact us for an information pack and training.

3. Compile a flyer comparing your candidates’ records on the climate

Use this Tell Voters The Truth Flyer Toolkit to develop resources and flyers, detailing neutral comparative analysis of local candidates and their records on climate issues.

For candidates with political experience, this might highlight voting records or dodgy campaign donors. For candidates without political experience, this might highlight their career backgrounds and what they have done to address the Climate Emergency. 

The goal of these flyers is NOT to endorse any candidate or party, but to tell voters the truth about local candidates and their records on climate issues.

Have your say – where next?

We want everyone to help decide XR UK’s future direction

During the October rebellion, over 1000 rebels gathered in Trafalgar Square for our largest People’s Assembly yet. They discussed how XR UK should respond to the silence of the government on the climate and ecological emergency. They convened in the face of the notorious Section 14, now thankfully ruled unlawful.

The top five proposals were:

  • Inclusivity – ethnic minorities, lower-income groups and the working class
  • Focus on actions that target the powerful
  • Lobby MPs and media outlets simultaneously
  • Focus on actions that keep the public on board
  • Ignore section 14 – go bigger; go louder

Other proposals include:

  • Focus on growing the movement and connecting with other groups
  • A long single-file march
  • Ask the radio to have a minute’s silence
  • Talk to family and friends about climate change
  • Organize into friendship hubs to spread our message
  • A massive die-in at Trafalgar Square
  • Organize a radically peaceful artistic and theatrical direct action
  • Don’t alienate MPs – lobby them

See the full proposals, and add your comments here.

Join the conversations from all the People’s Assemblies here.

To properly address the climate and ecological emergency, XR is calling for a transformation in our democracy. To explore what this will look like in more detail, visit our Future Democracy Hub.

Global Hunger Strike

On November 18th the Extinction Rebellion Global Hunger Strike will officially launch to demand that governments act on the climate and ecological emergency that threatens the extinction of a million species, the collapse of civilizations and the death of billions of humans. For more on this, see here.

Regeneration on the Moor

15 – 17 Nov | Exmoor

Reflect and regenerate in the mystical moorland of Exmoor, Somerset, from Friday 15 to Sunday 17 November.  

Come and share grief-tending, practices for reflection and embodiment, song, visioning circles, breath-work, relaxation, nature connection, shamanic dreaming circles, creativity, crafts, storytelling and a weekend immersed in the great outdoors  

To reserve your place, please donate via the Paypal pool.

Find out more on Facebook or contact Christabel@advayainitiative.com 

Documentary: Open Rebellion

For the past year, we have been filming a documentary about Extinction Rebellion that puts you right in the middle of our movement. It follows long-term members, from their first public meetings of October 2018, all the way to the groundbreaking rebellion of April 2019.  

We want to share this journey to as many people as possible, to show the story of how a small group of ordinary folk brought London to a standstill, and got the government to take notice.

As we begin editing, we ask you to help us raise funds so that we can finish the film, and get it into cinemas across the globe. Anything you can give is massively appreciated.

If you can’t help with funding, you can still support us by sharing this link

Thank you! We look forward to being on your screens soon.

Writing for Rebellion

Our international working group is looking for experienced and/or enthusiastic writers and editors. We’re looking to spread our vital message across as many channels, forms and audiences as possible. Whether you write poetry or analytical articles, fiction or fact, or (best of all!) are just willing to help with some admin, we’d love to work with you.

As long as you’ve got an internet connection you can join us from anywhere! This group is also a great entry-point to working on similar teams, including the newsletter (!)

If you think you can help, please fill in this short form and we’ll invite you to an online meeting.

Letters to the Earth: Writing to a Planet in Crisis is out! 

The largest creative response to the climate and ecological crisis to date, Letters to the Earth weaves together the voices of parents and children; politicians and poets; actors and activists; songwriters and scientists; in a response to the climate and ecological emergency.

It is a book containing letters of Love, Loss, Hope and Action to a planet in crisis.

With an introduction by Emma Thompson, authors include children and artists as well as prominent figures of the ecological movement.

There are launch events taking place this week in Solva, Huddersfield and London with various authors performing, from actors Simon McBurney and Freya Mavor, to writer Rob Cowen and illustrator Jackie Morris.

£10 hardback / ebook / audiobook. Buy your copy now at your local bookstore or here. 

Love Letters to the Earth

Still loving the letters? Have a look at these beautiful love letters from Satya, a Buddhist priest, to the earth, where she shares her daily appreciation. And join her free 28 day email course that supports rebels new and old, alike, through their process of grief and encourages them to look at their blocks to making individual changes and contribute to systemic change. 

Stories of the week

Clear Skies aviation action takes off…

17 Oct & 09 Nov | Gatwick Airport

Back in the middle of the October Rebellion, 50 rebels at Gatwick airport leafleted passengers and their friends to encourage them to cut down on flying. There was music, singing and a mini die-in.

We got a positive response from most, many thanking us and saying they understood the reasons to cut back. We soon ran out of leaflets.

On 9th November we were back! This time with actions at four airports: Gatwick, City Airport, Southampton and Cardiff.

While government action is essential, time is running out and we need to mobilise public support and awareness. We hope actions like these will bring about the much needed changes in public attitude towards flying.

Future actions are being planned. Join the Clear Skies Telegram channel  or Facebook group to get involved. 

“Equal Access to Protest: How People with Disabilities were Discriminated Against During the XR October Rebellion”

31 OCT | London

“Imagine coming to the Rebellion as a disabled person, thinking all of your access and wellbeing needs had been taken care of… And then the police impound it all…” Rebels with disabilities have been at the heart of XR civil disobedience and disruptions since its beginning. But their right and possibility to participate was drastically undermined during the XR October Rebellion.

We know that on October 4, just hours before the XR October Rebellion was set to start, police arrested ten people and confiscated XR equipment. But it was not just any equipment. Police took away vital kit that would enable the safe and inclusive participation of disabled rebels in non-violent protests

This included ramps, wheelchairs, accessible toilets, noise cancelling headphones for protesters in the spectrum, camp beds for those unable to sleep on the floor, and solar-powered charging equipment for wheelchairs and scooters.

As a result, plans for a disability hub in St. James’s Park, which was meant to provide a regen place for disabled people, had to be abandoned. Many disabled people were effectively stopped from taking part in Extinction Rebellion protests. Even the Metropolitan police’s own Disability Independent Advisory Group lodged a complaint over police ‘discrimination’ during XR protests in October.

We know that disabled rebels displayed extraordinary strength, courage and resilience.

Rebel Paralympian James Brown showed incredible courage when climbing on an airplane at London City Airport on October 10.

Nick Hodgkinson, 57-year-old man from Leeds, travelled to central London to participate in the protests. He blocked the highway with his wheelchair in Millbank, central London, during a protest on Monday for four hours. He left, when his breathing ventilator was almost out of power.

What we don’t know are the stories of disabled rebels throughout the world, especially in the Global South, that participated – or tried to participate – in peaceful protests during the XR October Rebellion. This, despite the fact that the impact of the climate and ecological crisis will disproportionately affect people with disabilities.

People with disabilities are often in situations of social, economic, and political exclusion and disadvantage. Often people with disabilities feel the health impacts of climate change more severely due to pre-existing health conditions. Many are at particular risk during instances of migration or disasters due to physical, communication, and other barriers, as well as disrupted support networks.

Accessibility issues and lack of inclusion in protest and debate don’t just come from police. As the rebellion grows, we all need to ensure that disabled rebels throughout the world are able to fully participate in peaceful protests.

Not Guilty!

An XR rebel has been found not guilty of criminal damage in a court judgement described as a “wake up call to the judiciary”.

Angela Ditchfield was arrested after spray-painting two XR symbols onto a council headquarters.  She argued that she had a legal excuse as she believed there was an immediate threat to her property from climate disaster – a defence that can be used in minor cases of criminal damage.

Picture: Mike Scialom

She said she had tried to persuade local councils to act for many years through standing for the Green Party and arranging meetings, petitions and letters, but their business plan still contained not a single reference to the climate, and they continued to promote unsustainable economic growth and highly destructive policies. Ms Ditchfield spoke of the immediate damage already being suffered as a result of negligent council policies – flooding, crop failures, etc.

The verdict from Cambridge magistrates stated, “We find that you have a very strong and honestly held belief that we are facing a climate emergency, and that you acted on the spur of moment to protect land and homes under threat from climate change, believing that immediate protection was necessary, and the action could be said to have been taken to protect property, and that you believed action chosen was reasonable in all circumstances. We applied the four-part test in Jones’ decision and we find you not guilty.”

Solicitor Raj Chada, said, “This is a wake up call to the judiciary as a whole”.

The Lancet Countdown

Published on the 13th of Oct, new scientific research from 35 global institutions adds further urgency to the global crisis situation. The report focuses on the impact of climate breakdown on worldwide population of children and adolescents. Authors call for health impact of climate breakdown to be at the forefront of the agenda at the UN Climate Conference (COP25), which is being held in Madrid from the 2nd -13th December, 2019.

The full report is available for free here (free registration required).

Or for a brief summary of findings, see here.

Humans of XR

Coco Reed, 30 years old, London via New Zealand

“I made the decision to get arrested to hopefully invoke some change. It seemed like a direct action that might cause people to stop consuming for an evening. I hope that awareness around climate change has grown.”

We are receiving amazing human stories and we want to know yours. To read more – or to write your own – join our Facebook group.

Thank You

Thank you for reading. There’s so much exciting stuff going on in the movement that we barely have time to write this sign-off. Keep up the good work! If you have any questions or queries, please get in touch at xr-newsletter@protonmail.com

As we enter this crucial phase in human history, our Rebellion will need money to make sure our message is heard. Anything you can give is appreciated. 

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