XR were out and about again today to remind everyone that the G7 summit in Cornwall is pivotal for our future. What happens at Carbis Bay this weekend (June 12th/13th) will have a direct impact on the outcome of COP 26 later this year. We are calling for an immediate ban on fossil fuel investment; a doubling of climate finance for developing countries and a commitment to a just transition to a sustainable global economy with global justice at its core.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org – if they’re constructive, informed and a genuine attempt to engage with us, we promise we’ll reply!
Saturday 29th August
A funeral march that transforms. A Jazz band. Black-clad mourners,
marching in sombre mood, to mark the death and destruction wrought by
humans on our natural world. And then it changes (you’ll have to wait and see….) to celebrate joyously the beauty and power of nature.
This will be an inspiring action with a big presence in the
town, that will remind people about resisting climate change and hopefully get them interested in joining the actions in London.
We’ll keep safe – masks (black) and 2 metres apart
Turn up on the day
Come at 11.00 to Westgate Street on Saturday 29th August
Setting off at 11.30. Formal funeral attire is requested. With an umbrella or a parasol. But you can also just come as you are. Bring placards.
The marchers will gather in Westgate Street at 11.00. We will set off at 11.30, two abreast, all distanced at 2 metres and wearing masks. We will head down the High Street past the War Memorial, and down School Hill towards Cliffe precinct.
At the entrance to the precinct will be a Marshall, who will ensure everyone is still marching only two abreast, and safely distanced. If it is particularly crowded on that Saturday, they may even ask us to process in single file. However, if we are able to proceed two abreast, we will keep to the centre of the precinct, and leave the red pavement to the shoppers. Over Cliffe Bridge and down Cliffe High Street, then turning left into Malling Street.
At Phoenix Causeway, we will turn back into the town. Over Phoenix Bridge, left at Eastgate Street, and once more through the precinct. This time we turn down Railway Lane and head on to the Linklater Pavilion, our final destination.
There will be a short socially distanced closing event at the Linklater, more details nearer the time.
Preparing so you can join the leading group
We have been busy painting umbrellas to look like giant flowers (for regrowth). To paint your own umbrella at home we recommend acrylic art paint mixed with Chromacryl textile medium, ironed afterwards to fix. For more information contact Creatives@xrlewes.org.
Marshalls and outreach
We also need marshalls for the traffic, and people to talk to the public
about XR as we go. Let us know if you can help.
See you there!
Sunday 29th August
As part of Extinction Rebellion’s Faith Vigil for the Earth, we invite you to join us for a prayer and meditation walk in Lewes. People of all faiths and none, come together to silently focus their will and energy towards healing for our planet.
The end of the walk will mark the beginning of a week long vigil. Keeping watch together with those maintaining a continuous prayer and meditation presence in Parliament Square, London, as well as those taking part through a zoom vigil space.
Meet 2pm at St Thomas A Becket Church, Cliffe High St, Lewes
You will need to wear a face mask and we will be observing 2m distancing.
There will be 3 stops in which a few words will be spoken and a simple service at the end.
You are invited to dress in a single colour of your choice and make yourself a sandwich board style sign to wear. (A piece of cardboard front and back with string over the shoulders, one side saying your own message or prayer intention the other saying “we want to live”).
For further information contact: email@example.com
Friday 28th August Cycle Swarm
Bike swarm in Brighton, have fun on the streets. Meet at the Level, Brighton at 6pm.
OR ride there together, meet 5pm at the bus stop opposite Lewes prison.
Saturday 29th August – Procession for the Planet
A funeral march with New Orleans style Jazz band. Meet 11am Westgate Street Lewes. Formal funeral attire or come as you are. Bring umbrellas and placards.
We will observe 2m social distancing, please wear a mask.
Sunday 30th August – Vigil for the Earth
People of all faiths and none, a silent walk to focus on healing for our planet. Dress in a single colour of your choice and make yourself a sign to wear. Meet 2pm at St Thomas A Becket Church, Cliffe High St, Lewes. We will observe 2m social distancing, please wear a mask. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tues 1 Sept onwards – London rebellion
We want to live! The Rebellion returns to Parliament on 1 September amidst warnings of a 4°C world. The first day is carnival themed, family friendly with a short march to Parliament Square, and all agreed with the police. Be there on day one!
Talks, trainings and more
Be informed, stay safe and connect with other rebels, get ready for London action. See what’s on the events calendar here:
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.
HOPE IN THE DARK
BY REBECCA SOLNIT
The idea to read Rebecca Solnit’s work came through a recommendation from Caroline Lucas, Brighton’s Green MP
We really enjoyed this book. It’s packed full of thought-provoking stories and ideas. The hope that Rebecca Solnit offers is based on a recognition that the human spirit in adversity often displays great strength and generosity and that in facing up to the massive challenges of climate and ecological breakdown we may well see these qualities come to the fore.
She also has an important message for us environmental activists, which is: don’t expect either victory or defeat, but realise that the change we want to see will happen slowly and incrementally as a result of all our hard work in all the things we do.
If you like to spend time with a writer who thinks outside the box, challenges assumptions and makes you think about things in a different way, you’ll love Rebecca Solnit’s work. She’s an activist’s activist, knowledgeable, gut-wrenchingly honest and, above all, inspirational.
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 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.
Contact email@example.com if you would like to find out more.