Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Stockport Stones...

Each meeting I go to, people express a wish to show solidarity with Protectors at Preston New Road Rolling Roadside Protest and a sadness that they cannot be with us when they so support all that is being done - but life, work, children, mortgages, bills, responsibilities, health etc. make it impossible to realistically expect all who wish they could - to somehow find a way to join us....

Recently on a #CallForCalm Wednesday, the women brought small stones with messages on that were placed at the verges to the side of the site entrance - at one point when I was being arrested. I looked down at my feet and there they were... it was strangely comforting and calming; a sense of all of us who come and do what we can. The image here is of this evening's 'Stockport Stones'... each with a name or message.

They're to be taken to PNR and placed with the others, to represent those who would be with us if they could. Think we could encourage others to get there little stones to us and we can begin to see a mountain grow - certainly I'll be asking each time I do meetings now 

It was a wonderful warm welcome at the Stockport Green Party meeting this evening - many thanks to all who came and especially to organiser Camilla Luff who went above and beyond the call by not only getting me back and forth from station and organising stones into a jar... but provided a delicious meal and hospitality too (I may self-invite to a future date lol!) 

*Big grrrrr though to awful rail travel - just 2 coaches on one train that should have been six, we were all so close we merged into one blob of passenger... a cancellation of another train that meant hanging around an extra hour late at night... and finally a bus replacement service - we really need more civilised public transport 

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Tonight... Stockport x

Delighted to be heading off to this later...... huge thanks to Camilla Luff and all at Stockport Green Party for the generous invitation 
We'll be talking about communities and how we face up to threats together. Overcoming our differences to stand united is not always easy but is essential if we are to keep our families safe from the risks brought by industrialisation, fracking, loss of local democracy and more. Becoming 'active' brings up all sorts of issues… including women's rights, media bias, our own social judgements and what is this thing we call ‘democracy’ in reality. I genuinely believe though that we all end beautifully because I have seen the power of neighbours becoming a community that stands together. Activism is often tough and can be soul-destroying - but the gains, are immeasurably greater than the losses. 

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Sunday's Tale... The Dis-embrace

What did you do in the great war mummy?

Ah I worried and worried my love
Feared for what would come if the attack was not stopped
But you were so young
You needed me near and so
…I stayed close
Closed the doors
Locked out the sound of alarm
And ensured that we… came to no harm.
In that time when we were lost
Separated from truth by chosen ignorance
It would knock, shout at the windows, try to come in through the cables and webs

Ah but I was too good at weaving our space my love...wrapping you in a warm embrace of what felt like normal, what seemed like home – what was our only-known way. Beyond the door lurked certain danger, certain harm, certain ugly reality that would ensure an uncertain future – and I was so scared. All I wanted was to keep you safe but the attack was all too soon, on all sides.

It was when your asthma could no longer be managed at home and the hospital visits became all too frequent; when bottled water doubled in price and became invaluable; when George’s farm went bankrupt because his herd were too close to the poisons that were seeping into our air, our water and our soil… that we could no longer hide.

That’s when we rose my love to face truths and see the world for what it had become at the hands of the industries that pillaged it, spilled toxins carelessly into it and cut corners and mountain tops to get every last bit of it - under the sleepy eye of weakened, impotent regulators who whispered only gentle concern or when things went bad… something about ‘lessons learned’

Those who claimed ‘authority’ were exposed to be the despicable, callous, inhumane, uncaring swine-at-a-trough that they’d become – none with power in those houses of ‘academics, law and state’ were fit for offices where they’d contemplate the value of economic growth versus the insurance claims on the dead. Pontificating on how to mitigate fallout from increased miscarriages and grief, that would otherwise bleed profit from shareholders; hemorrhaging their precious hopes and dreams of bigger, better, brighter, bolder, more Porsche-infested futures.

I’d see news and even knew some, who’d grabbed truth by the hand and walked with it sooner – the ‘activists’.  I’d feared them almost as much as the industries that were surrounding us and pounding the land night and day till there was no rest in us… those uniformed for ‘law’ had roughly handled many into vans and through court systems, imposing fines and sentences, tarnishing reputations and painting a picture of ‘crimes’. Our minds had been set to perceive the good and the bad, the cowboy black hats or white and the disconnect – was hard to handle. 

If the people with the truth were in courts, prisons and police hands then what measure, what value, what worth was being given to ‘truth’ and how do we define 'criminal behaviour'? The papers too used words to make shapes that seemed black and white and yet there were seepages of footage from industrialised places that were grey. I wondered if any of the black and white history of my life had ever been real anyway… friends, enemies, good, bad, healthy, unhealthy, right, wrong, right, left – did the papers ever tell truth’s side of the story? Truth seemed to have been outcast from this pillar too.

When we came to be with the ‘activists’ it was as if walls literally came crumbling down – divides between us, separators that kept us apart; the marks of our positions, colours of our robes and skins…. prioritised down to nothing as we stood arm in arm with truth and divined – the only way through this was to be kind and if we could not do this one thing - we would fail our children and gift them the uncertainty by which we were now defined.

The great war was no war at all really my love… it was a great re-shuffle, a sorting and a time of great revelations that brought forth the emergence of truth in all its naked, raw, flawed, powerful, unfinished beauty – when we faced that – then we could face each other and the road ahead...

Saturday, 2 September 2017

To Get to the Other Side...

1st September 2017:
The police chose to unlawfully limit our movements at the entrance area of the Cuadrilla fracking site (under development since January) on Preston New Road (A583 between Kirkham & Blackpool) - preventing anyone from stepping onto the traffic island or crossing the road to the verge. There were no actions taking place and no clear answer was given when we asked 'Why?'. This has not happened before and as we've been gathering at this place since 5th January 2017 - it was clearly an escalation and abuse of power by the police.

As I've done many many times in these past 8 months, I chose to cross the road at various points and get onto the safe verge - no risk, no harm, no issues - yet each time, I was confronted by strong, wide police officers barricading, pushing, lifting, placing, manipulating and controlling my movements.

That brute force would win the day is a serious assault on our rights, our safety and freedom - and sets a dangerous precedent that cannot be tolerated. IF this went unchallenged... it would appear to be our acceptance and could allow the scene to be repeated on Monday morning and beyond... and then what? Further limitations and restrictions 'for our safety'? We are being effectively kettled/penned into a space of the police's choosing and that is a police state of affairs..

After my arrest and charge with 'willfully obstruction a police officer', I was offered the opportunity to accept a 'caution' but as that would involve lying (ie: I would have to say I was guilty of something) - I opted instead for truth and will attend a brief court appearance to make a plea of 'NOT guilty' on 10th October.

The honourable Protectors I have the privilege to spend my days with ...will NOT be tolerating these restrictions and I look forward to being 'on the other side' on Monday morning... join me? x

Tina Rothery fracking interview

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Day 139 in the Cuadrilla House...

Day 139 in the Cuadrilla House… and the good people ride the waves of empowerment and hope and fall victim to the tides of violence and anguish in varying measures. We’re tossed between disbelief that THIS is actually the state of democracy and the awareness that we can’t fail or so much crumbles with us… safe air and water, good agricultural land, a community identity, the health of our people, the respect of our children, a voice in our lives and so much more. This is a stand for sanity to win out over ‘the economy’ and for us to make our system of government face up to its recklessness. Day 138 was a thing of beauty and wisdom, where the genuine TRUTH of our movement shone bright… day 139 was an abomination of our rights, an assault on our persons and proof positive that we really are now in no-man’s land, down a rabbit hole, up a creek and yet somehow, through all this… becoming a kaleidoscopic mass of beauty by diversity and stubborn determination.

So it is that we face our days never knowing what they will bring, only the certainty that at 6:30pm there will be a meal at the Community Hub, that we will find each other more often now in kindness and empathy and that no-one can ever really go home for good but that little breaks matter. Some days are pure hell with nothing but aggressive policing, snarling security and uncertainty over what new toxins are emerging from the growing monstrosity of the forming frack site… other days (currently Mondays & Wednesdays), we feel what it would be like to live in wiser times… where the community can come together to oppose the obvious risks of this industry and not be assaulted for doing so.

Day 138 was the Anti-Fracking - Second 'Green Monday'! - where green/enviro/eco groups come to the roadside at Preston New Road to speak their reasons and make voices heard. The event was beautiful and after speeches, inadvertently ended up with what was set to be a group photo… resulting in at least 60 of us sitting down within the entrance-way to the site (completely off the road) and holding the space till the end of day at 6:30pm. We did this purely peacefully; singing, chatting and feeling the effect of non-violent direct action in practice. Work stopped and we remained without road closure due to our activities and without incident – our single aim (to stop work at the site) was met and it was a day that was good to be part of. The police behaved professionally and no action by them was required as no crimes were being committed.

Today I woke to an entirely different scene… 

...the police gathered outside the entrance to the Community Hub at Maple Farm to hold us in place as a convoy passed – they always do this to ensure no-one tries to exercise articles 10 & 11 of the Human Rights Act and use non violent direct action to protest. This morning was particularly aggressive one small woman apparently approached a delivery vehicle and I witnessed the police chase her into the entrance of Maple Farm. They caught her and threw her to the stony-gravel ground with the weight of the officers on her tiny back pressing her down. Naturally those around her rushed in defense – NONE applying violence, only shouts; stronger male Protectors were tousled with by the large number of police. The scene was ugly, disproportionate and a complete mess of policing – no control, no order, no attempt at dialogue – just out and out brutality and tragically, a vile sense of pleasure in some of the police faces.

This contrast I try to weigh up… the way GREEN MONDAY went and how today went. We also have events on Wednesdays – the one in the morning is our 5th and we call them the ‘Women’s Call For Calm’ – we dress in white and form a silent vigil for 15 minutes at the police line before each telling our story of why we’re here. This too is a good day where newcomers feel safer to join us and policing so far has been as it should be – reasonable, respectful, professional and facilitating both peaceful protest and the safety of all involved in the area from road users to workers and Protectors… the differences that mark these ‘set days’ as opposed to days without plan are: numbers – we have at least 70+ on Mondays and Wednesdays which makes policing us more challenging… and the other difference (and I think it’s maybe the key one) is demographic… our police do not so easily lunge to violence when the people before them are the retired midwives, professors, choir masters, teachers, Councillors and business people of the community. This fact shows bias and is an awful reality that results in countless injuries and needless cruel arrests of wonderful people who have given their all to stop this industry.

I don’t know how we fix any of this… only that we must. Fracking is an ugly symptom of far greater problems but in tackling it… we expose them; the corruption in government that serves industry at the expense of people’s health and wellbeing – media lies/disinformation and arrogant disregard of the very real news we experience but never get to see on TV – the myth of local government as we see it exposed as impotent in the face of Westminster commands – the abuse of our public services including the police who we see used as an extension of industry security team and with an agenda that puts daily quotas of work at a frack site, above and beyond the safety of the people who oppose it.

This ugly business is draining but thankfully these beautiful Protectors are sustaining. See you at the roadside? 

Women's Call 5
 — with Rebecca Fitton.