This Saturday, information pills pill The Land Is Ours collective will occupy some disused land near Hammersmith. An eco-village will take root, viagra sale peacefully reclaiming land for a sustainable settlement, and getting in touch with the local community about its aims. In a year when nearly 13,000 Britons lost their homes to repossessions in the first three months, eco-villages point the way to a more down-to-earth lifestyle.
Back in May 1996, the same collective took over a spot on the banks of the Thames in Wandsworth, in a land rights action that grew up over five and a half months into the Pure Genius community, based on sustainable living and protesting the misuse of urban land. Here are some photos from that project.
The Land Is Ours channel the spirit of the Diggers , a group of 17-century radicals who picked out and dug over a patch of common land in St George’s Hill in Walton-upon-Thames back in the day. They were led by Gerard Winstanley, who thought any freedom must come from free access to the land.
Here’s a little more from ‘Gerard Winstanley’ about this weekend:
What’s the first thing you’ll do when you get there?
Have a meeting. One of the first priorities is to leaflet the local area in order to inform the local people of what we are doing. Another priority is the construction of compost toilets.
Do you have lots of plans for sheds, vegetable patches and compost toilets?
Yes. Due to the nature of the site (ex-industrial) we will likely be using raised beds to grow vegetables and buckets for potatoes. It being London, there should be a good supply of thrown away materials from building sites and in skips. Compost toilets are pretty essential.
?What kinds of people are you expecting to turn up?
All sorts. Hopefully a mixture of those keen to learn and those willing to teach. ??
?I read the Chapter 7 manifesto. Have you notified the council or planning authority of your plans, or are you keeping to the idea that once you’re there, with homes under construction, it’s difficult to evict?
We haven’t notified the council yet- but we have a liaison strategy in place for when we’re in.
On that note, how long do you hope to be there?
The longevity of the Eco-village depends on how committed its residences and just as crucially how the local urban populus respond to our presence. If we receive the support we need, the council will likely think twice before embarking on an unpopular eviction (at least that’s the theory!).
Could this realistically become a permanent residence, or is it more likely to be valuable simply as campaigning?
Hopefully it can be both. There is no reason why this site cannot sustain a core group of committed individuals and serve as a brilliant awareness raiser to the issue of disused urban land, lack of affordable housing and the a sustainable way of living that is friendly to people and planet and liberating.
?Can I come along?
Of course, we are meeting at Waterloo Station at 10AM this Saturday (underneath the clock).
What might I need to do?
Bring a tent, sleeping bag and some food and water. You may be interested to read an article written by a journalist from the Guardian concerning the eco-village.
So dig yourself out of bed this Saturday, and go discover the beginnings of London’s newest eco-village.
If the dark shades of under-duvet hideouts dominate the colour of your Sundays then you need to wake up and get greened. Arcola Theatre in East London hopes to be the first carbon neutral theatre in the world and has been appointed as the secretariat for the Mayor of London’s Green Theatre plan, this which aims to deliver 60 percent cuts in theatre carbon emissions by 2025.
Illustration by Faye Katirai
As part of this environmental drive, the first Sunday of every month is a Green Sunday at Arcola Theatre. June’s event is part of Love London, the biggest green festival in Europe and looks at ethical consumption, promising ‘entertainment and inspiration for the ecologically curious’. From 3pm there’s a swap shop market plus cakes and tea to take you through the evening of Senegalese percussion, cool short and feature-length films, starting from 4.30pm. As the afternoon turns to evening, there will be a discussion with Neil Boorman, author of Bonfire Of The Brands, an account of his journey from shopping and brand addiction to a life free from labels. As part of the project, Neil destroyed every branded product in his possession, incinerating over £20,000 worth of designer gear in protest of consumer culture. This will be chaired by Morgan Phillips.
Neil and Morgan will later be joined by Richard King from Oxfam to talk about their 4-a-week campaign- encouraging shoppers to do their bit for sustainability each week.
I spoke to the sustainability projects manager at Arcola Theatre, Anna Beech, to find out more about Arcola’s arts world-changing philosophies:
All at Arcola must be extremely proud that a theatre founded only 9 years ago – and on credit cards! – is well on the way to becoming the first carbon neutral theatre in the world. Can you tell us a bit about how and why you made the decision to lead the green theatre movement?
Since 2007, Arcola has launched many high-profile green initiatives (including the pioneering use of LEDs and the on-site installation of a fuel cell to power bar and stage lighting). There are a number of reasons for this – because it contributes to reducing Arcola’s carbon emissions and resource use, because it makes financial sense – reducing energy bills; because it supports funding applications; because it integrates Arcola into the local community; allows Arcola to reach a wider audience and stakeholder base; and provides an effective platform upon which to publicise the name ‘Arcola’ – as a hub of creativity and sustainability.
Sustainability is part of Arcola’s core unique business model, alongside professional theatre and our youth and community programme.
Have you found that arts and science professionals are eager to integrate and come up with exciting ideas and actions or has it been difficult to bring the two fields together?
Arcola’s ArcolaEnergy has had considerable interest from technology companies and brokers, including the Carbon Trust. As a reocgnised innovator in sustainability in the arts, Arcola has been able to broker extremely advantageous relationships with private sector companies – who have provided the theatre with free green products, including LED lights – as well as other theatres and arts organisations (National Theatre, Arts Council, Live Nation, The Theatres Trust), and Government bodies like the DCMS and Mayor of London’s Office. Arcola’s reputation as a sustainable charity has created these partnerships and allowed them to grow and develop into mutually advantageous relationships. So this demonstrates that the arts and sustainability worlds can come together to form mutually advanteous relationships. However, there is plenty of work to be done.
So far, what has been the most successful pioneering energy practice you’ve introduced?
The installation of Arcola’s fuel cell in February 2008 made the venue the first theatre in the world to power its main house shows and bar/café on hydrogen. The Living Unknown Soldier gained reverence as London’s most ecologically sustainable show, with the lighting at a peak power consumption of 4.5kW, a reduction of 60 per cent on comparable theatre lighting installations.
Previous Green Sunday events at the Arcola Theatre
Arcola’s ‘greening’ goes from the stage to the box office. Among other things, we produce ‘green’ newsletters for staff, we recycle, we provide free tap water to audiences (to lessen use of bottled water), we serve fairtrade, organic and local produce wherever possible (including organic vodka and whiskey!), we host Transition Town meetings, we installed a cycle enclosure for staff in 2009 and try to incentivise both staff and audiences to use public transport more and their cars less.
How do you think the technical creativity of sustainability has significantly shaped any of the plays Arcola has produced?
One example of the ‘greening’ of Arcola’s shows and working closely with production companies took place during the pre-production and staging of ‘Living Unknown Soldier‘ in 2008. The production explored the use of more energy efficient lanterns, including LED moving heads and batons (see Fig. 1) florescent tubes and some other filament lanterns such as low wattage source 4′s and par 16s. The crew tried to travel by public transport wherever possible, use laptops rather than PCs, limit phone use, source sustainable materials and managed to keep energy requirements low in order to use Arcola’s fuel cell to power the show.
‘‘The idea is that once you expose people to this stuff and they know you for doing it, they’ll gravitate towards you. Ultimately we should end up with some really good art about sustainability and some really good ideas about how to do art sustainably.” – Ben Todd, Executive Director and Founder of Arcola Energy.
Illustration by David Elsley
Why do you think its particularly important for the arts to become more involved in green issues?
Because the arts have the power to influence behaviour change. Whilst the theatre industry itself has a relatively small carbon footprint (2% of total carbon emissions in London), and thus its capacity to deliver direct carbon emission reductions is relatively small; the power of theatre and the wider arts/cultural sectors to rapidly and effectively influence public behaviour and policy makers to drive significant indirect carbon emission reductions is very large (entertainment related activity accounts for up to 40% of travel emissions).
However, theatres and other arts venues must first address the ‘greening’ of their venues and practices in order to communicate climate change and environmental messages to audiences effectively and with impact.
Green Sundays is a great idea, how do you hope to see it develop in the future months?
We have a variety of themes in mind for future events, including a focus on the climate talks in Copenhagen in December, a water theme, ethical business, natural history and a Green Sunday programme tailored to children and young people.
So get over your hangover, get on your bike and cycle down to Dalston on Sunday to help spread the word about arts and sustainability coming together to communicate environmental messages to your local community.
To find out more about Green Sundays and the Arcola Theatre go to:
I don’t keep it secret that I’ve had a crush on Jarvis Cocker since I was 10 and first heard Common People, I suppose announcing it on a blog was just the next logical step in my snowballing lust for the bespectacled one. Imagine my delight when I saw he was headlining as a solo outfit at this year’s Green Man Festival.
Green Man 2006
All the other festivals will be green with envy over Green Man’s line-up, one of the most exciting and diverse of the summer. Alongside Jarv, Animal Collective will also be headlining and having seen them a couple of times over the past few years they are really not to be missed live, their shows can only be described as being in an underwater topsy-turvy world where you can feel the rhythm wash over you in waves.
Green Man is in no short supply of indie darlings and big names, with Wilco, Bon Iver, Gang Gang Dance, the delicious Beach House and Grizzly Bear; who I’m gagging to see live after finally getting a copy of their amazing second album Veckatimest. Not to be transatlantically out down; Green Man boasts an impressive array of home-grown talent- including Four-Tet, national treasures British Sea Power, and to woo the romantic in you; Camera Obscura.
Ex- member of my favourites Gorky’s Zygotic Mynki Euros Childs, Andrew Bird, 6 Day Riot and James Yuill also stand out as bands (as well as the above mentioned) not to be missed.
Whilst Green Man has managed to pull in such an awesome line-up, it has a reputation for a boutique-y intimacy and a friendly atmosphere. Green Man is most definitely a festival for music lovers, and one that I won’t be missing!
Green Man Festival 2007
Green Man Festival takes place amidst the Breacon Beacons from 21st to 23rd August. Click here for ticket information.
Thumbnail by Roisin Conway
Some people have the knack for discovering those amazing pieces in charity shops – it’s generally the preserve of both the patient and the fashion-savvy who are content to rummage away until they emerge with some designer find that leaves you flapping your arms and wondering why it wasn’t you.
Now ten minutes in Topshop – that’s a quick fix. Why bother buying something old when you can buy something new? If last week’s Style Wars was only a half-formed idea, generic intent to float and suggest a concept, but not to follow through, TRAID (Textile Recycling for Aid and International Development) has articulated the remaking and reselling of used clothes as an ethical necessity. Citing the whopping £46 billion spent on clothes and accessories every year, TRAID highlights the colossal wastage resultant of constantly changing trends that are both cheap and easily available. The ease of shopping on the high street seems to problematise the feeling that the act of recycling is an almost paradoxical idea for an industry that is by name and nature grounded in an obsession with the new and the innovative.
Here lies the problem in normal charity shop shopping. The dowdy and stale image affixed to them is arguably (however unfortunately) justifiable, and TRAID has been taking the steps to rebrand the public perception of recycled clothing by actually joining the dots between the environment, recycling and fashion itself. Charity and fashion are practically mutually alienating concepts in most people’s minds. In short, charity shops aren’t trendy, so how do you turn that around? Chief Executive Maria TRAID recognises the problem and goes straight to the heart of it, saying “we have worked incredibly hard to change the face of charity retail by ensuring that our shops are stylish and affordable”, two words you might associate with the high street.
TRAID has 900 textile recycling banks across the UK, and the company take the donations and sort by quality and style to then sell in one of their charity shops – clothes that are stained or torn are deconstructed and redesigned into a bespoke garment by the company’s own fashion label TRAIDremade.
In a way it’s an absolute no-brainer: to take things people don’t want and make them something they do, especially as they follow high street trends, crafting sexy asymmetric dresses, bags cut from old leathers, signature hand printed tees and flirty dresses.
Two weeks ago TRAID opened their tenth shop in their tenth year in Camden, which as well as being an area that’s a promising resource in terms of fashionable finds, is a landmark for a really inspirational company. To date TRAID has donated £1.4 million to help fight global poverty, supporting charities by funding projects in Malawi and Kenya amongst others. TRAID has ten shops located across London and Brighton, and TRAIDremade is available on getethical.co.uk.
Monday 8th June
Opens today, check your local cinema for screenings.
Lambeth Green Communities Open Evening
Organised in partnership with Transition Town Brixton, Hyde Farm CAN and ASSA CAN, this is a chance to celebrate Lambeth’s Green Communities and be inspired to reduce your community’s environmental impact.
18.30-21.00 drop-in to Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton
Contact – Susan Sheehan, Ssheehan (at) lambeth.gov.uk
Tuesday 9th June
The Great British Refurb
Housing for a low carbon energy future – a talk at the The Royal Society
A talk by Professor Tadj Oreszczyn, chaired by Professor Chris Rapley. Theoretical carbon reductions have often been slow to materialise, new buildings can use up to twice the energy predicted, and energy use can actually go up when efficiency increases. This lecture will look at the possibilities for new building, and whether technology can solve our energy use problems. Tadj Oreszczyn is Professor of Energy and Environment and Director of the Energy Institute at UCL.
This lecture is free – no ticket or booking required. Doors open at 5.45pm and seats are first-come first-served. Lecture starts at 6.30pm, The Royal Society
Wednesday 10th June
Illustration by Kerry Lemon
GM Crops and the Global Food Crisis
Dominic Glover, Erik Millstone, Peter Newell talk about possible solutions to the encroaching global food crisis – how will GM crops fit in to the struggle to raise yields, and could they be part of a truly sustainable answer?
6pm, Committee Room 10, Palace of Westminster.
Contact – c.matthews (at) ids.ac.uk
Thursday 11th June
Walking on the Edge of the City
Join a popular walking group on a stroll around this fascinating part of London. There’s no charge and no need to book. Do get there ten minutes before the start time, wear comfortable shoes and bring a small bottle of water.
11am – 12.15pm, meeting at St Luke’s Centre, 90 Central Street, London, EC1V
Clothes Swap at Inc Space
Daisy Green Magazine and ethical stylist Lupe Castro have teamed up to host what is hoped to be the UK’s biggest ever clothes swap. Nicola Alexander, founder of daisygreenmagazine.co.uk, said, “It’s like a fashion treasure hunt!”
The evening will kick off at 6.30 and, as well as the swish (apparently the ‘scene’ word for a clothes swap), it will feature an ethical styling demonstration by Lupe Castro, music from top green band, The Phoenix Rose, burlesque dancing and shopping opportunities from ethical fashion brands including Bochica, Makepiece, Bourgeois Boheme, and natural beauty company, Green People.
Tickets are £10 in advance and £15 on the door.
More information can be found on our facebook page
From 18:30 at INC Space in Grape Street, London WC2
Illustration by David Elsley.
Friday 12th June
Compost Clinic and Recycling Roadshow
Redbridge Recycling Group are running a friendly information stand all day. Want to bin the bags and green your shopping habits? Fancy making your own compost or confused about packaging labels? Pop along any time of day to have your questions answered and find out how to make the future waste free.
11am – 4pm, Ilford High Road, opposite the Town Hall/Harrison Gibson
Saturday 13th June
Taking place all over the country, all over the world, the World Naked Bike Ride protests against oil dependency and car culture, celebrating the power of our bikes and bodies. Every June, more than a thousand cyclists gather in London to take part. The easy 10 km route passes through London’s busiest and best known streets. Bring your bike and body (decorate both of these ahead of time)
Assemble from 3pm in Hyde Park (South East section, near Hyde Park Tube) – east of the Broad Walk, south of the Fountain of Joy, and north of the Achilles Statue.
Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th June
Celebrate the Love London, Love Your Planet Festival 2009 at the London Wetland Centre this weekend. Check out TFL’s new hybrid bus, see the Richmond shire horses and get a load of green tips and tricks. There will also be face painting for the kids, the Richmond cycling campaign and other environmentally friendly organisations.
11am-4pm, Saturday and Sunday
WWT London Wetland Centre, SW13 9WT
Maaaan, pilule those bloomers are HOT!
My morning started bright and early on Monday 1st June: called upon as I was to document a Climate Rush action at Chatham House just as the E.ON sponsored conference began: Coal: An Answer to Energy Security? (like, drug duh… NO!)
As I was sitting in the very pleasant St James Square to avoid undue police annoyance (there were vehicles parked right outside the entrance) I found my eyes drawn to the undergrowth in the thicket of vegetation at the edge of the park. I should have been looking for activity outside the venue, but instead I found myself engaged in a dance between two Robins. I always thought Robins were solitary birds, but a quick google ascertains my reasoning that this pair must have been mates, although I’m fairly sure Robins don’t scavenge at ground level. There was also a young Blackbird, happily scrabbling around in the undergrowth for some nice tasty worms (I’m guessing… but that sounds like the perfect breakfast for a Blackbird) As I sat there wondering what was to pass in the street beyond I felt my heart sing. Here, even in the centre of our grubby and concreted capital city – nature finds a way. This is what I’m fighting for, I thought! The sheer joy of the natural world.
a Blackbird in the undergrowth
And then, I noticed two coppers striding towards me. Would they find my Climate Rush badges? And pre-emptively arrest me for possible crimes against cotton with a badge pin? Asking why I was acting suspiciously by peering into the bushes I replied, “why, I’m taking photos of the birds” and showed the officers the photos on my camera playback. But they weren’t having it, and asked for my ID, which I refused. It’s not illegal to refuse to show your ID, but they took this as admission of guilt – a typical ploy of the police and one which I must check up on the legality of. They then searched me “because you must have something to hide if you don’t want to give us your name Angela Gregory” Ah!!! Clever officer! He’s been reading his little FIT watch spotter card and cribbing up on Climate Rush central. Only the trouble is, I’m not Angela Gregory – clever but not so clever officer. I’d love to see what they use as my mugshot – I hope it’s flattering.
When I questionned the validity of their reason to search me, one officer told me that “you are believed to be a member of a group called Climate Action, no that’s not it… Climate Rush, and they have committed criminal damage on buildings.” Wrong again Mr. Officer! Our parliament gluers have been bailed away to return to charges of possible criminal damage, for one drop of glue that fell on the statue in parliament. Glue that washes away with one dab of a damp cloth. Like that’s got a rat’s chance in hell of standing up in court.
Still – they got my name right after a cursory search of my camera bag, which revealed an old business card that had been lurking in a side pocket for at least three years. But they didn’t find the badges, even though they were rattling like bastards. I knew they wouldn’t, the MET not being the brightest cookies in the biscuit jar. Oh, I will be in trouble the next time we meet! Woops! If they had discovered the badge stash they would have found not only climate rush badges but also E.ON F.OFF ones from the Climate Camp campaign – that would have got them very excited no doubt, given the sponsor of said Coal Conference.
As usual I’ve gone off on a tangent… not long after the police accosted me there was a loud commotion the other side of the St James nature reserve, and the police and I were off like a flash to find out what was going on. Across the road a bunch of white clad people were trying to hold onto a bike sculpture, as the police tried to tussle it off them. Within moments the police had gained the upper hand, and instead the eleven protesters were trying to pull sashes from Deeds Not Words bags, and unfurl a lovely red banner reading No New Coal, before the police frogmarched them across the road and threw them into the “pen”.
I dashed off home in the hopes of getting some images into the London papers – alas my speed was not rewarded with any success, but our actions did reach the attendees of the conference – one academic at the conference apparently spoke with a protester, and agreed that direct action was pushing matters in the right direction (he was a specialist in CCS, but held out little hope for it’s implementation, given the probable massive costs) Score one massive point to us! I hope that E.ON and their cronies were suitably rattled, even if the press didn’t feel see fit to publicise the action. In the end five activists were arrested but most were released within hours. One brave Climate Rusher was refused bail after glueing herself onto the Chatham House railings (you go girl!) and the judge at her hearing the next morning allegedly told her that our protest had been pointless, since it had not garnered any press – before slapping a massive 40 hours community service on her for aggravated trespass. We think not…
the bike sculpture lies forlorn on the pavement
In recent weeks we’ve attracted a lot of interest from film makers, and by the time I arrived at Tamsin’s house to get ready for the Bike Rush that afternoon (and to hastily knock up one more pair of bloomers) there were cameras everywhere I turned. It’s not a sensation I particularly like, and have thus far managed to stay out of the current crop of films – leaving it to the more exhibitionist members of Climate Rush to hog the limelight. I worry that it is easy to manipulate our actions in the editing suite, and portray us in a way with which we will ultimately be unhappy and out of our control. But I guess it’s a situation that I need to grow used to – many of our sort – as well as being involved with an undoubtedly exciting group – are very attractive, garrulous and media savvy – an irresistable combination to a film maker. Me? I much prefer to stay behind the lens…
finishing off the flags
As soon as the drawstring was threaded into the last pair of bloomers it was time to hit the high roads of Kilburn – seven of us on various bikes, none of which, I noted disappointingly, were even vaguely Edwardian-esque. Instead we had Geeky Rushette on a fold-out Brompton with a helmet. And we had Virgin Rushette with wispy blonde locks and billowing white damel-in-distress dress over her bloomers, and Not-Very-Good-on-a-Bike-in-London Rushette on a crappy mountain bike with a rusty chain that nearly fell off before we even set off.
I was dressed in a simple black dress in the hope that my vintage hat from Hebden Bridge would be enough of a distraction and provide the right elegant touch – which was exciting as it tipped over both my eyes and my camera. We made a right merry site gunning down the bus lane towards Marble Arch, flags flapping behind as people turned to gawp at us. After taking a short cut through Green Park we traversed the Mall and came to a screeching halt at our destination, where we were seriously outnumbered by police. But blimey did we look good!
gathered in Green Park as we approach!
As we pulled sashes and t-shirts and badges and stickers from our panniers people began to arrive in their droves. The sun shone down as the cyclists spilled from the pen into the road and the police did little to resist.
Tim cranked up Pedals, the bike sound system, and I chatted to people – it was great to discover that people had come from afar on the strength of joining our facebook group – ah, I do love to feel vindicated on the subject of social networking. I was also very pleased to see lots of children along for the ride, suitably togged up with sashes and of course helmets.
maybe our youngest Rusher?
And a lot more customisation of sashes, which have suddenly found new lives as headbands on hats, ties around bike baskets, cumberbund style belts and a whole host more. Marina just opted to pile a whole load on, and looked a treat for it.
a basket full of skipped flowers gets the sash treatment
my fabulous vintage visor-meets-pie hat!
Then the Hare Krishnas arrived with a mighty noise that had the whole gathering swivelling their heads; a whole band seated in two trailers behind bicycles. I was astonished to see that a drum kit could indeed be transported this way (plus a rather large drummer).
Once several hundred people had gathered in place there were a few false starts before it was time to take off for a ceremonial circuit of the square, wooping all the way before we stopped off at our first destination, just yards from the starting point – BP’s head offices – they of the infamous byline “Beyond Petroleum“. And fact fans, you’ll no doubt be interested to hear that BP have in fact spent more on the whole Beyond Petroleum (as if!) advertising campaign than they have in fact spent on alternative energy. Brilliant! Why pour money into researching renewables when you can instead rape and pillage the earth for a fraction of the cost? And spend any extra cash on greenwashing instead. Fabulous plan; congratulations BP.
With that it was onwards on a winding route up to Piccadilly Circus, and from there up Charing Cross Road to Oxford Street, that grand bastion of consumerism -one of the biggest drivers of Climate Change. Tim gave a running commentary from the backseat of his tandem as we hollered our way down London’s flagship shopping street, before coming to a grand halt in the late evening sunshine smack bang in the middle of Oxford Circus. What a grand feeling! Many people seemed amused and even happy to see us, a grand diversion from the glittering goods in the windows.
stopped in the centre of Oxford Circus
As we sailed downhill along Regent Street I spotted a Lush store, still with our Trains Not Planes banner proudly displayed in the window. A bike-bound copper looked on worriedly as someone went closer to take a look. Duh! They’re our friends – just take a look at the Evening Standard-alike banner outside the shop. We love Lush. We’re not about to do anything naughty!
hmmm, the Queen’s residence ahead in the late evening sun…
On our second stop at Piccadilly Circus Tim cheekily waited until the lights went red “cos us cyclists always run red lights” before leading us across the main junction and down towards the Mall, where we sallied into the sunshine up to Buckingham Palace. I met the naked cyclists, who I’d been promised were attending. The girls had bikinis on and they all wore lots of paint, the better to cover up with, but they still looked rather fetching, if slightly less than wholely naked. And despite rumours to the contrary they were happy to sport a sash to protect their modesty as well.
It was then but a short hop down to Victoria, where we paused to consider the headquarters of BAA – boooooooo. And then on past BERR, where, funnily enough, Neil “the weasel” FIT photographer was waiting for us. We all waved “hi” to him as he lowered his massive equipment and smiled slightly sheepishly at us. You know who we are Neil, and we all know who you are too. Why don’t you just get a better job? One in which you are helping to protect a better world for all, not just the interests of the few? Still, I have to commend the actions of the police who came along for the ride – for once they really did seem to be protecting the rights of protesters – having cross words with impatient drivers revving their engines and generally preventing overly aggressive behaviour from motorists.
wave to Neil everyone!
Oh god, this has turned into a bit of an opus as usual, and I haven’t even mentioned all of our stopping off points! The fact is that unless you were right down the front near the sound system it was pretty impossible to hear the guided tour. And anyway, everyone was just so happy to be commandeering the streets of London – there’s nothing like reclaiming our public highways to feel empowered – that it didn’t matter if our tour was a little haphazard in the end (and we left our notes at home anyway, so it was a bit of an ad-lib).
solidarity with the Tamils
And then we were at Parliament Square – the police momentarily blocked our entrance onto the roundabout, but then decided better as we filtered around them anyway. Soon we were level with the Tamils, who seemed somewhat bemused by our peace signs in solidarity. But oh what an inspiration they have been! Such tenacity. And then onwards to Westminster Bridge, where we turned in a big loop near the junction on the north side and stopped. Perhaps this would be an opportune place for that picnic we promised? A statement of our intent right next to the very seat of power that is failing us? The suggestion was met with amusement as it dawned on our riders that this was what we had in mind.
that bike sign on the road has gotta mean “stop” right?
Some clearly were not expecting it, but almost everyone was soon dropping their bikes to the road and pulling out their picnic blankets and food. As the sunset on Big Ben above us we raised our bikes aloft in joy, unfurled banners aplenty, and stood our ground. The police didn’t know what to do – FIT finally made it down from BERR, and climbed on top of a barrier right above where I’d left my bike. Weirdly the bamboo pole holding up my lovely Climate Rush flag was latter found snapped in two shortly afterwards. I hate to make accusations but…
what a marvelous family!
As a bendy bus made an awkward 360 degree turn on the bridge passersby continued to stream past, snapping away and generally beaming at our audacity. A string of brightly coloured bunting cordoned off our blockade.
fun with a bendy bus!
The soundsystem was commandeered by a variety of eloquent speakers and Mark played us a tune or two. Sadly the promised celidh didn’t happen – our erstwhile fiddler had failed to materialise yet again and I was too busy running around like a headless chicken (taking photos) to figure out an alternative. I do apologise – multitasking got the better of me again.
gawping at their nerve
And then three Rushettes mounted the huge emblematic Boudicca statue in their stripey bloomers! One climbed right up to place a sash around Boudicca’s neck, before returning to sit astride one of the great beasts in a gesture of defiant victory. The first attempt to fly a flag from the horses’ hooves failed, but no matter, we’d been prolific in our banner making and another one was soon unfurled. Deeds Not Words. I think that powerful queen would have approved.
on a tandem
Shortly before 9pm the police approached us politely and charmingly (someone must have had words with them in recent weeks) to say that they would eventually have to move us on. We decided that it would be best to go out on a high and declared our intentions to the crowd, with an accompanying recommendation to come join us in a nice pub on The Cut by Waterloo. As we cycled off across the bridge I was amused to find tourists sitting in the middle of the road – thrilled with the lack of cars and the unexpected reclamation for bipedal human use.
enjoying the reclaimed bridge
At the pub we laid out our picnic blankets again and enjoyed the warm balmy night in the company of many new friends. I was particularly thrilled to speak with new Rushers and especially to those who had not expected our final destination to be quite so spikey, but who had welcomed the unexpected turn of events with open arms. Inspiring mass direct action – it’s what we do best… so join us on our next action against the dirty palm oil biofuel business; responsible for massive environmental degradation, huge contributions of CO2 to the atmosphere, and the loss of 90% of the orangutans since the Suffragettes first walked this land. Don’t let those in power decide the future of our planet!
- Climate Rush Bike Rush
- Climate Rush does the UK No New Coal Awards
- Climate Rush Goes To The Bank!
- Climate Rush gets chained to Parliament
- Climate Rush: Decorating Statues with Sashes