Westminster Rebellion in Action

XR Lewes and XR Mid Sussex reminding MPs that we need to focus on the Climate and Ecological Emergency on Wednesday. It was a busy day in Parliament Square with no less than eight different groups all making their point!

Active Listening Circle

We have just been through a big experience together. As we digest and process it all, we are each using the various resources that help us to do this. The Regen group would like to offer you an additional opportunity, an Active Listening Circle. The time, the listening and the acceptance can allow us to go deep, and allow to surface feelings and thoughts that lie beneath the surface. It’s not a place to analyse or find solutions, but to give ourselves nurture and insight through supporting and accepting each other. For some of us that is a vital part of staying fit for the struggle.

We are aiming for another outdoor Circle, this time in a garden in Lewes, on Sunday 27th September. We have set aside times for two circles, one from 11.00 to 1.00, and the other from 2.00 to 4.00. Please let us know on regen@xrlewes.org if you want to participate, and which time suits you, and giving an alternative if possible. We will get back to you with more details.

The Regen and Wellbeing Working Group, XR Lewes       September 2020

extinction rebellion vs murdoch

The night of Friday 4th September saw an audacious action, where XR activists in Broxbourne and Liverpool blockaded printers, stopping The Sun, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Times from reaching newsstands all over the country. It catapulted this rebellion to the forefront of the news for the first time. Bulletins featured the story prominently, and at one point it was trending at number 1 on Twitter. And then we saw the backlash. It was always going to come. And our actions were always going to be labelled as “an attack on the free press.”

Let’s be clear – it was nothing of the kind. This wasn’t targeted at the Fourth Estate per se. It was targeted at the Murdoch media empire. All we in XR have ever asked of the media is that it tells truth about the climate and ecological emergency. But the Murdoch machine has promoted climate denier Andrew Bolt in Australia. It constantly cast doubt on global heating playing a role in the recent wildfires in that country, instead pedalling spurious theories about arson. (Rupert Murdoch’s own son has gone on record criticising this.) In the UK, Murdoch papers have relentlessly backed fracking in the face of opposition from scientists and the public. And in the US, Fox News last year used 86% of its reports on climate change to promote climate denial. This is just a fraction of the fictions it has spun, the damage it has done. There are many, many more examples.

This is what we’re up against. This is at the heart of the battle. To get these hugely powerful vested interests to finally start telling the truth. In times as dark as these, we need a free press more than ever. Unfortunately we don’t have one.

Free The Truth.

Procession for the planet – a statement

We’ve seen quite a lot of comment on various social media platforms about Saturday’s Procession for the Planet in Lewes. While the overwhelming majority of the comments have been supportive, we felt it important to address a couple of issues.

Firstly, concerns about Saturday’s march being an illegal gathering. We’re pleased to confirm that this is definitely NOT the case – we’ve spoken with the local police and they have confirmed they do not view it as such, provided we observe social distancing. While we feel it’s essential to keep protesting even during these unprecedented times, due to continued government inaction on the climate and environmental emergency, we’re acutely aware of the need to do so in a responsible and safe manner.

Secondly, we’d like to explain why we’re staging a funeral-procession type event at a time when people are dying from a terrible disease, and relatives have been unable to attend funerals. Experts broadly agree that Covid-19 is likely to have spread from animals to people as a result of human activity, as agriculture, forestry, mining and oil push into previously unpopulated areas, destroying animals’ natural habitats and bringing them into proximity with us. If we don’t change our behaviour we’re very likely to see new – and potentially worse – pandemics in future. This march is a tribute to the millions who have lost their lives as a result of the Emergency – be that through disease, dirty air, wildfires, storms or some other event – the billions of other living creatures that have died (1bn animals in the recent Australian wildfires), and a lament for the Earth itself.

We were very pleased that the vast majority of commenters agreed with Extinction Rebellion’s aims. It’s our methods, specifically civil disobedience, that seem of concern to some. To those who disagree with our methods we say; none of us want to rebel. We’ve all voted, petitioned, lobbied and marched, and none of this has worked. The case for rebellion is stronger than ever. Despite fine words of building back better and greener, the UK Government’s post-Covid environmental spending pledges currently stand at £3bn. This is so inadequate it’s being challenged in the courts. Until we see the sort of concerted political action required to address the Emergency, we feel we have no choice but to continue.

Finally, we were delighted to see a lot of constructive comments and suggestions. Rest assured we’ll be reflecting on all of these. We’re far from perfect, because we’re only human; we’ve made mistakes and will continue to do so, but we want to ensure we learn from them, and we truly value input and criticism from people outside our movement. If anyone would like to contact us directly with thoughts, you’re very welcome to email them to us on xrlewes@gmail.com – if they’re constructive, informed and a genuine attempt to engage with us, we promise we’ll reply!

THe return of the Swarm

Join us and members of Cycle Lewes, for a second cycle swarm through Lewes, 11am Saturday 1 August. This forms part of our campaign to press ESCC to use government funding for infrastructure changes that encourage low carbon, non polluting alternatives to car travel within the town.

We will meet in the ESCC (east side) car park, gathering for an 11am departure. On the first pass we will cycle down the High Street, Little East Street, past Waitrose and the Premier Inn (see green route on map. The first group to arrive at the farmer’s market (in the car park behind Premier Inn), will pause there to allow later groups to join them before walking their bikes on to Cliffe Bridge. (It is important that we don’t obstruct the market or other pedestrians in this process.)

We expect to be met on Cliffe Bridge by people representing Lewes Living Streets They will be on foot and carrying banners. They will then lead us in a socially distanced, single file, procession through Cliffe High Street, the intention being to demonstrate the solidarity between pedestrians and cyclists in our campaign.

We will then return to the ESCC car park via School Hill (see red route on map) as on the first swarm.

Once we have all regathered in the car park, we will start our second round of the town following our first route as far as the Premier Inn but then continue along Friar’s Walk and Landsdowne Place before riding up Station Street, along Fisher Street and then descend again to Phoenix Causeway (see blue dotted line on the map) to finally gather on Malling Playing Fields. (Again, when cycling along the shared walk and cycle route past Tesco’s it is important that we indicate our solidarity with pedestrians by giving them priority wherever we meet them.)

For anyone who doesn’t feel confident about tackling the Station Street route, the alternative is to join the shared walk and cycle path that runs from Cliffe High Street past Tesco’s onto Malling Playing Fields.

Our first Cycle Swarm, 11 July

The first outing of Lewes Rebel Riders was on 11 July. We organised the ride as part of the “no going back” campaign, seeking to put pressure on the County Council to use government funding to promote low-carbon alternatives to car travel.

Over 100 people joined us, including several children and young people, riding as a colourful, bee-themed “cycle swarm”. The swarm was led Rebel Riders and supported by members of CycleLewes, Lewes Living Streets and the Green Party. The ride was carefully designed to be open to all ages and levels of confidence to highlight the appetite for cycling and the need to make it safer for everyone.

We gathered outside County Hall (ESCC are the council that manages roads) before cycling slowly, in a socially distanced swarm through the town, along key roads (the High Street, Little East Street, Friars Walk, Phoenix Causeway and School Hill) that need to be modified to favour cycling and walking over cars and vans and other fossil fuel dependent travel.

Join our LEWES Cycle SWARM on Sat July 11

Join us on a socially distanced cycle procession through Lewes on Saturday 11 July to help bring pressure on East Sussex County Council to act to encourage cycling in the town and beyond. We want them to take advantage of the current government offer of funding available to councils who present ambitious plans to enhance walking and cycling as alternatives to car use.

We are meeting at 11am outside the East Sussex County Council offices. We will then ride together down through the town to the Linklater Pavilion. From there we will split into two groups one of which will follow the easier Green Route whilst the other follows the Red Route as depicted in the maps below.

GREEN route

Easier route

Red route

Harder route

Contact cycleswarm@xrlewes.org if you would like to find out more.

A plea for thought!

Dear friend,

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a thinker.  One of the things you think about is the damage we’re wreaking on the world we inhabit. Perhaps you’ve been actively involved with Extinction Rebellion, in Lewes or London or somewhere else. Perhaps you’ve been supporting us in other ways. Perhaps you’ve been thinking about getting involved, or you’re just visiting our website out of curiosity.

At a time like this there’s so much more to think about. The dreadful death count. The fear for your loved ones. The sheer, unprecedented scale of it. The huge, deeply unsettling uncertainties. The changes in your own life, and in society; the way the disease has laid bare the systemic shortcomings and inequalities and injustices. And the positives. Communities coming together.  People supporting one another. Less traffic. Fewer planes. The spring unfolding around us. Nature having a breather. What to make of it all?

It’s hard to know what to think – and yet at such a time thinking becomes even more important. And so this is a plea for thought. We’ve been inspired by the wonderful art gallery our Creative team has put together by sourcing art from our members – if you haven’t seen it, visit http://xrlewes.org/art-gallery/ – and we’d like to do something similar on our website for the written word. So, please share your thoughts with us! They can be in any form you choose – a poem, or an essay, a piece of creative writing, a lockdown diary or an idea for an action or an idea for societal change or a joke. We aren’t being proscriptive!

For surely now, sharing our thoughts with one another is one of the best things we can do. As a way of therapy, of helping each other to deal with the terrible stress of it all, and also so that new ideas might emerge – ideas that may just help us to build something positive, so that out of this tragedy we might create a better world, with climate justice at the heart of it.

Please email us at xrlewes@gmail.com

Love and hope,
XR Lewes Central

No Going Back

No Going Back

There’s a new national action starting called ‘There’s No Going Back Sundays’. Around the country Central XR are encouraging people to stand with a handmade placard highlighting the need for change as we come out of the lockdown. It’s suggested we stand 2 metres apart, wear masks and the photos are posted on social media.

On Sunday 17th May several Rebels set out from Lewes either on bicycles or by foot as runners to join up with those on the seafront in Seaford. They gathered on Cliffe Bridge where one of our Creatives had stencilled a bike symbol to highlight the need for more cycle ways.

Meanwhile, the Seaford rebels were either standing silently holding placards or engaging with interested passers by. The messages were generally welcomed and there was a really good atmosphere along the seafront.

Further along the seafront some mischievous magic was appearing on the grey pillars. Another of our creative rebels had started drawing a fabulous series of figures. Passers by loved the playful characters and the photos have now been shared widely on Facebook.

The action is every Sunday at 10am and you can join in alone or together. Just make a placard and post the photos: