Announcing International Extinction Rebellion week – April 2019
Time to breathe out: let go and rest. Time to breathe in: regrow, regenerate.
At the beginning of November 2018 Extinction Rebellion (XR) in the UK was only known to a few hundred people. The Declaration of Rebellion (our launch event) was originally planned as a symbolic action – with perhaps thirty participants – to demand the UK government act in accordance with the climate and ecological emergency we all face. Instead, on 31st October around 1,500 people turned up and took part in spontaneous mass civil disobedience. The energy was contagious!
The next few weeks were a whirlwind. People super-glued themselves to the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, spray-painted the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, dropped huge ‘irreverent and direct’ banners from Westminster Bridge and threw paint over the Brazilian Embassy and disrupted a City Hall ‘disaster planning meeting’. Thousands converged on the Thames and blocked five major bridges in central London. We planted trees in the middle of Parliament Square, dug a hole there to bury a coffin representing ‘Our future’ and super glued ourselves to the gates of Buckingham Palace.
Out of many hundreds willing to risk prison by engaging in peaceful nonviolent civil disobedience, we had more than 150 people arrested. We stand in solidarity with them.
As this generated huge national and even international publicity, news of XR began to spread and with it, our ideas connected with thousands of people. Local groups came together and organised autonomously to take action: roadblocks occurred in many towns and cities, including Bristol, Manchester and Edinburgh. A “Funeral for the Future” took place in Sheffield. The tactic of Swarming Road-blocks was trialled in London and caused a lot of red to show up on the traffic maps. The potential for economic disruption was established.
And the movement is still spreading. With the first ever Extinction Rebellion solidarity event taking place in Ghana in Africa, dozens of countries now have groups springing up, from the Solomon Islands to Australia, from Spain to South Africa, the US to India.
That’s a lot more than expected, in a very short space of time!
We want to send huge, sincere thanks to everyone involved, everyone who has tweeted, posted, had a conversation with friends and family (or anyone else), and especially to those who have put their bodies on the line or come out in the cold to make a stand. We thank you. We love you. We want you to know that we are significantly challenging the narrative that we should sit back and do nothing. It is clear that we have all been part of something which has implications for global change. Thank you.
So what’s next?
XR is an emergence. It comes from the people. We form as we grow. We work with the concepts of iterations and fractals.
Iterations are self-similar repetitions. We do something we agree is ‘good enough’, then reflect on what has been done, review it, learn from it, and then do another iteration – hopefully performing the next iteration with more power and grace.
Fractals are self-similar patterns. Like a fern, we are unfolding XR’s existence. The patterns we create in the smallest parts of our relationships are reflected in the largest. Some of those patterns are beautiful, powerful, exciting; some of those patterns are of separation, disconnection, pain.
Here in the UK, we’re taking the time to look at the fractal patterns that permeate XR, and we’re refining them. We’re looking at ourselves deeply, carefully. We are taking the time to consolidate, reflect, review, restructure, regenerate, renew. Our focus is on building strong foundations and organisational systems to help the movement grow, improve transparency and decentralisation. It is time to give space and make room for the thousands of people across the UK and around the world who are eager to get involved and co-create the next stage.
To avoid the many pitfalls, we need to do so with care. When we’re ready (enough), the next iteration of our part of XR will emerge.
As such we are making time for celebration, debrief, reflection and review in London. This does not mean XR is having a break, it means that some are taking time to pause and reflect, while others pick up the baton.
If you can’t be in London, do get together with people and think about what has happened so far and next steps, or join one of the groups (see below for more details on how to get involved and what’s coming up). The climate emergency is very real and we need to build resilience and courage if we are to face what is to come. We invite you to join us and help us build this movement.
Disrupting the complex systems of human civilisation isn’t easy. Our societal processes have a lot of momentum, and the current directions often point to our extinction. Nation states and banks; markets and militaries; fossil-fuels and tech-giants – there’s a lot invested in the current system. Yet we know that this system will kill us.
Creating a species-level shift of consciousness – transforming our relationships to each other and the world we are part of – will not be easy. Yet it’s what is required of us, if we are to avoid extinction.
Many movements before us have tried. We look to them for inspiration, lessons learnt and advice for joined up campaigning to tackle injustice and inequality everywhere. We have seen that some movements burn themselves out by trying to do too much too quickly. We are heeding that warning. We know that if we only push forward then this movement that you’ve helped to create could risk burning out, and we don’t want that to happen.
We just gave birth to something beautiful. Now it is time to give it some space to breathe and adjust.
In the short term it’s time to get local and global:
- Extinction Rebellion activists are currently in Poland for COP24, do get in contact with them if you want to meet up (insert COP24 in the subject line)
- Tuesday 11th December @ 8am – No Brexit on a Dead Planet Protest
- Saturday 15th December sees regional actions with local XR groups in the UK and Ireland, including Edinburgh, Cambridge and Carmarthen, planning protest actions to push their local authorities to declare a climate emergency – as has already been declared in Bristol and Stroud
- Saturday 15th December in London there is an opportunity for celebration, debrief, reflection and review
- Tuesday 18th December – Music fundraiser with eco-band BESUREIS, Queen V and Tokyo Taboo
- 10am Friday 21st December – Reclaim the BBC – We are standing up to call our media to account, and we will be heard! The day’s events will include a vigil for all those that have tragically lost their lives as a result of climate change – please bring candles. We are also inviting all those who have been arrested in XR actions during the past few weeks to join us, and tell their stories. Meet at the steps of All Souls, Langham Place, with a rally and civil disobedience to follow. Bring drums, pot and pans
- In the UK, come to one of our events, join the Rebellion Network and let us know how you can help out
- Start a group where you are – locally in the UK or in your country around the world
- Find your local group:
- Check out the International XR website, with links to the French, German, Italian and UK websites
- We’ll be holding Collaborative Leadership Calls to help coach people to improve their leadership skills and capacities
- And while your time and energy at the most important things, if you are financially able to donate money, see our Fundrazr crowdfunder
Get ready for 2019
Make sure to put the week starting on 15th April 2019 for International Extinction Rebellion Week in your diaries and to book time off work/free up your time.
There will be much news, actions, talks and events to come in the meantime, don’t expect things to go dark.
And lastly a task: What we’d like you to think about is – what is your resolution for 2019? Will you rebel for life? For the planet? For our children’s children’s futures?
There is much work to be done.
We are the change, we are the ones we’ve been waiting for!
With love and compassionate rage,
Extinction Rebellion UK
Photo: Thomas Katan