Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Spirit leveling… a bubble toss

“So you decided to become an Activist then?”
“But you’re an Activist!”
“Yes that bits right but I never ‘decided’, it wasn’t like there was any choice in the matter. Once I knew the danger coming for our children, I couldn’t UNknow it, couldn’t just walk away, go home, get back to everyday life and put my trust in the bloody system that brought the life-threatening industry to the doorstep... to keep us safe from it! There was no out-door, this is purely and simply an obligation I can’t escape. I’m an Activist because it’s essential… but I’d rather be dancing and finding joy.”

-When you’re watching the development of a literally life-threatening industry in your back yard and it’s legal… you question the justice of law.

-When the government tells you you’re getting the life-threatening industry and lies that it won’t hurt anything and the children are safe… you question the integrity of state.

-When the media throws out headlines implying that the person you stand beside, protecting your community is a dangerous ‘extremist’… you question the intent of this form of media.

-When the bosses of the life-threatening industry climb into bed with your Chambers of Commerce, educational institutes and some local Councillors… you question the point of democratic process or any bloody process.

-When enough local people and enough cause for concern finally means that the local Council sees sense and stops the life-threatening industry, only to have that decision overthrown by central government… you question the point or validity of our ‘democracy’.

And that’s the thing that we become… the ones who question everything.

We realise the ease with which we’ve been fed lies and react by disbelieving more than we should… mistrusting too much because we’ve lost faith in all the structures that once seemed in place. Even if we already had doubts and criticisms… nothing prepares you for the mess you uncover when you peel back the media-myth of ‘reality’ and start seeing just how ugly the truth can get.

There are lows that take the wind out of you… times when you just weep for what needs sorting and what it means if we don’t sort it all; what we bequeath our children if we fail. Not just fracking either - that’s just one particularly huge and obvious symptom – there’s all the realisations that come with opposing fracking: the lies of media, the abuses of our legal system to serve corporate control and profit , the corruption of our system of government that seems subordinate to corporate greed, the powerlessness of the citizen, the failure of the imagined safe-guards to live up to expectation, the use by state of police to protect the ‘bad guys’ rather than protect the community they’re supposed to keep safe, the prioritisation of ‘the economy’ over other considerations like healthy children and futures where they have safe air and water… and sadly, so much more.

There’s a lot to do and because we know it was possible for our children to be put directly in harm’s way by our government… we question what else has been done? What else has been passed or will come to pass? Facing what has become of the world around us, starts dark and heavy.

Activism is not for the faint-hearted – it tears apart all you believe and leaves you raw. We all have rage about this industry but as the bosses aren’t there in front of us to shout at, the rage can fly in the wrong directions. There have been harms along the way and losses, those who are broken by the fight or are affected mentally; becoming paranoid and quick to accuse. Trust suffers most I think, as we constantly look for the lies, look for the plants and spies, look for the truth so intently.. we miss it clouded in too much doubt.

Life keeps on happening to all of us at the roadside and beyond in this (and other) movement but we’re in no position to deal with it in the way we once did. Finding balance in life is difficult… the finding of time and place for when you can fit in family, work, friends, grief, joy, income-generation, self-care etc and as for future planning – that just doesn’t exist anymore as all is at the whim of this demanding fight. We all deal with the challenges differently.

Amidst the awful – it feels important to take time to see the gains, the good stuff and the wins along with the shiny bits: the way strangers can unite, the way self-empowerment makes people beautiful, the breaking down of social boundaries, the trashing of preconceived notions and judgements, the variety of amazing minds that come with the territory, the way some blossom with purpose after realising that they CAN do something and not just be a victim, the surprise of what you learn from the quietest voices you’d never have heard under any other circumstances…

...the beauty is in the faces of the ‘heroes’ and they don’t wear tights or have letters on their chests; they’re fighting in council chambers with words and wisdom, they’re on top of trucks with honour and bravery, they’re drafting legal challenges and positions so we can get better justice, they’re up night and day informing press so the story doesn’t die, they’re on shifts in the cold noting every move the life-threatening industry makes, they’re knocking on doors informing one person at a time or talking in halls to many… the only common denominator amongst us, is intent. We ALL intend on stopping fracking and that is our pact, our bond and our unifier.

I sometimes get accused of being too soft (other times of being too harsh lol!) and I do question whether I’m any good at being an activist when I find it so hard to hate anyone and keep finding reasons to smile amidst it all. Maybe love is the drug that wrecks the rage of activists? I think it’s all we need to begin the healing and as activism is voluntary and autonomous… I’m going to go on doing it this way for the sake of keeping my spirit level.


Thursday, 1 February 2018

United Resistance... Love & Defiance

The United Resistance covering 3-months of actions April-July is organised by various groups fighting fracking and will see different groups 'adopting' a week each in order to bring about maximum resistance to the fracking industry and growing gas field on Preston New Road in Lancashire; the first week has been adopted by the women of Nanashire as well as women from: the weekly Call for Calm, the local area, other groups and camps and we need you to please TAKE TIME OFF/BOOK HOLIDAYS/ARRANGE CARE in order to be available at Preston New Road to exercise OUR LAWFUL RIGHT to peaceful protest and non-violent action.
This year marks 100 years since (some) women got the vote and we still find ourselves struggling to be heard or have our wise demands heeded. Today we find our rights to keep our children safe, protect ourselves from toxins that harm our reproductive health, fetal development, newborn health and increase our risk of breast cancer are not honoured by a government intent on bringing toxic gasfields to our communities.
The first week of the United Resistance is dedicated to women throughout history who have fought to make change and all the more important to us here in Lancashire if we are to have a hope of stopping Cuadrilla ...before their threat to frack is carried out. The period between April-July is what is timetabled by the industry for fracking to start and we can't let that happen.
Full details of our full week of women's actions are below and further info on actions by other groups in the weeks that follow, will be shared (if possible) when the groups make them public.
Please move mountains to be available... we need vast numbers, more than ever at this crucial time.
FIRST WEEK of United Resistance... Love & Defiance
TUESDAY 3rd April - #100Women Gathering (event click: 100Women)
-Bring - yourself, a friend, a spare bra
-Make - a 'Sash' to wear with #100Women written on it and anything else you'd like to add
-Wear - the Sash you made and as we're working with Suffragette colours of White/Purple/Green, clothing along these lines would be great
-Event plan - gather at Maple Farm Community Hub FROM 8:30am but event is ALL DAY so arrive anytime you can and please plan to stay as late as possible - will end at 6pm. Actions on the day are mostly super-secret so we can't broadcast lol! BUT be assured that all is designed to be safe and lawful and there will be surprise guests you will be delighted to meet!
WEDNESDAY 4th April - 'Woolly Wednesday Yarn-On'
(Starts as always on a Wednesday with the Women's Call for Calm 10-12 noon then an hour break before we head back up to the gates for the next event.)
-Bring - yourself, a friend, wool, knitting and/or crotchet needles, crafting items, baskets and... enthusiasm, even if you can't knit as other roles available
-Make - a nuisance of yourself with wool lol!
-Wear - anything goes today but bright colours and wool are definitely a theme
-Event plan - gather at Cuadrilla site on Preston New Road FROM 1pm but event is ALL DAY so arrive anytime you can and please plan to stay as late as possible - will end at 6pm. Actions on the day are again super-secret so we can't broadcast lol! BUT be assured that all is designed to be woolly, safe and lawful.
THURSDAY 5th April - 'Toxic Thursday'
-Bring - yourself, a friend and another friend
-Make - *info on the day as a bit secret
-Wear - white overalls and white dust-masks (like hazard clothing - available cheap in DIY stores although we aim to have spares)
-Event plan - gather at Maple Farm Community Hub FROM 8:30am but event is ALL DAY so arrive anytime you can and please plan to stay as late as possible - will end at 6pm. Actions on the day are yet again mostly super-secret so we can't broadcast lol! BUT be assured that all is designed to be informative, safe and lawful.
FRIDAY 6th April - 'Funeral Friday Finale'
-Bring - yourself, a friend, flowers (preferably decaying or dead) ...and another friend
-Make - *info on the day as a bit secret but if you could bring a doll with you, it will all become clear
-Wear - funeral attire; everything from black veils to tears 
-Event plan - gather at Maple Farm Community Hub FROM 8:30am but event is ALL DAY so arrive anytime you can and please plan to stay as late as possible - will end at 6pm. Actions on the day are as you're now expecting to read... mostly super-secret so we can't broadcast lol! BUT be assured that all is designed to be impactful, safe and lawful.
If you need a place to stay during this and other weeks during the United Resistance... do get in touch as we have camping available as well as limited spare rooms/couches for those needing indoor accommodation. Food will be provided nightly at Maple Farm Community Hub (we are in need of volunteers if spare time or perhaps prefer this role rather than action at the roadside).
Key contacts for info on logistics like where to stay etc can be obtained through the United Resistance page or directly to Becky DanielsRuth Owens
Updates will come... but so hope this brief overview inspires the women of the movement to join together for one week in solidarity, determination, love and defiance - honouring 100 years of women working together to make change happen
*Please do share this post and future events as they are listed xxx

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Who did we harm?

I see and hear how the fracking industry, its paid trolls and other pros - are virtually salivating at the hints of rage raised in my recent blog (…/the-other-black-frida… )... they have longed for any act of violence at Preston New Road Rolling Roadside Protestfor 364 days now and been left wanting. As I don't doubt they will continue to be.
Our movement is non-violent. We have used all 'lawful' means to defend our communities and when we ran out of those.. we grabbed our placards, our creativity and our unending sheer-determination - along with some incredibly peaceful non-violent direct actions that had people sitting peacefully with their arms in tubes - vulnerable, unable to cause harm and simply, incoveniently located  Truck-sitting too managed to peacefully achieve the delays to industry that we sought - without harming a single soul.
What about us... is dangerous to anyone/anything except this industry? What about our actions... is dangerous enough to warrant the brutal policing we have seen? The only thing that is being protected is the industry and that is a sickening reflection of what our government considers appropriate use of OUR police force.
Tomorrow will come and will unfold in whatever way it willl... we will be mostly wearing black and beyond that... it's every Protector's choice of action and there is no itinerary. I KNOW who I stand beside in this long campaign and I KNOW that there is not one who would willingly harm another... whatever colour clothes we're wearing.
I post my poem to share my heart's true feelings... I (and nor are any I know) am not a 'warrior' or a 'fighter' - I am a grandma PROTECTING my young, and NO-ONE will ever be able to stop me from doing this, it's a fact of my being 

Monday, 1 January 2018

The Other Black Friday...

So... about 'Black Friday':
On Friday we will realise a year at Preston New Road Rolling Roadside Protest and for many of us, this theft of time has been brutal and cruel... stealing from us our joy, time with family, jobs, income, relationships and more. There is a rage inside us at the injustice and cruelty of this industry and our government that forces it on us.People have lost precious moments with dying loved ones, had family break ups as a result of absence and lost so much that could have been ours if 2017 had been for ourselves.
There is both anticipation and concern about what this anniversary brings - understandably because this rage cannot be denied. On a personal level, I have spent this year trying not to be terrifying so that others would not be too scared to come join us... have found places of calm and peace within the chaos of it all, in which to heal and re-focus (the Women's Call is my haven) and importantly - put aside each week's anger and started over. BUT... deep within me where the image of my little granddaughter has been replaced with her towering over me and the bits in-between aren't there because I missed the growing... that bit is boiling.
We have spent this year trying our best to balance the needs of residents and road users... with the need to protect our children and along the way, faced challenge after challenge along with often terrifying scenes. We have been attacked in the old-world press for being NIMBYs, for being outsiders, for being hobbyists, for being anarchists, for being layabouts, for being wealthy, for being paid, for being unpaid... no matter what we do, those with an angle and a vested interest WILL find fault.
Preston New Road has been a place where if you're there enough - the pressure builds but on our side - there is still no violence - we don't attack, we protect and defend... through disruption and delay. There is a good reason to vent steam where there is pressure and THAT is what Black Friday will serve. We need a steam burst to stop us boiling over... an act that will seek to include all our elements and make clear that we mean what we say when WE SAID NO.
There is room for all types of action in this movement and I despise aggression but I am all for making a bold stand on a single day to let rage be let out. I believe shareholders, government and industry have grown too used to our beautiful humanity... that they cease to recognise the drive that puts us at the roadside in all weathers and away from our precious loved ones... THEY WILL HARM OUR CHILDREN with this industry and that is not a gentle fight. We will never make an event that pleases the many that we are... but diversity is the glory of us and I hope for the many to come x

Saturday, 30 December 2017

One Year Passing...

This week of stopping has been so lovely in part (except for the bit where along with others, I feel a bit poorly)… so full of gratefulness too to those who aren’t taking time out, aren’t wallowing in family warmth or able to stop because they agreed to rotas at gate camp or providing food, wood and kindness and fulfilling other essential roles. Gratitude is too small a word for the honourable people who ‘hold the fort’.
It’s been a heck of a year that’s forced polar-opposites to find middle-ground, brought together people who would never have cause to meet under any other circumstances and created surprising friendships that will never end… and some rifts that will likely never heal. I find that those I thought I’d have trouble forming bonds with – have become those I have the utmost respect for …and in contrast, a very few that I thought genuinely cared too about the shared end-goal – turned out to have other issues, priorities or agendas that set us apart. It’s a messy mish-mash of types that we are and each with our own back-story that means we interpret differently, read signals to mean different things and have different ways of reacting and communicating… but for all the different that we are and all the challenges that we face… we’re still here, we’re still caring for each other and still turning up to oppose this… because it’s impossible to walk away from a direct threat to the children. We have had to find ways to either get on or at least stand side-by-side on the same side… and for the most part, this works and even when it doesn’t… we still turn up anyway and just accept the additional discomfort.
For me it became clear really quickly (probably about Day 2 at the PNR roadside) that this wasn’t going to be just about stopping trucks and disrupting Cuadrilla …but more importantly, ensuring freshly-joined residents and newcomers weren’t more scared of us – than fracking. Numbers were and remain vital and we only get these, by others recognising what we’re doing and seeing themselves able to join us. The message that we are each just residents of this country and require safe water & clean air in order to survive and leave as a legacy for our children… is our story and the single thing we all agree on.
Each new day has brought and continues to bring new people coming to the realisation of what fracking will do to our communities and with the old-world media still holding an audience we can’t reach – we have had to hold ourselves and our actions to a ridiculously high moral standard and even when we do… when despite brutal treatment by security guards and police, we DON’T retaliate with violence… we are still painted as ‘the bad guys’ by some.
The power of industry over our government is obvious (the overturning of our council’s planning objection just one example along with the passing of the Infrastructure Bill into law) but the power over old-world/mainstream (is it still mainstream when so many now get a variety of news from a variety of sources?) media has been a huge challenge. When you boil it down, Conservative voters (more than 70% of voting age didn’t vote them in) put this pro-fracking party in place and the right-wing press, champion and cheerlead the ‘all out for shale’ cry of the Conservatives… so essentially it is a tiny percentage of people keeping this going… but with our unrepresentative ‘First Past the Post’ voting system and sold-out journalism, that’s all it takes.
2018 approaches and Protectors across the country, in all our counties… cannot rest, We always need to grow our movement but if 2017 is anything to go by, I am hugely confident. What I remember most about this year will be the individuals who showed what we are made of; watching as some in deep grief and pain and suffering in their own lives, still show up… others who risk reputations, jobs and community standing, prioritise this instead and stand in the glare of opinion … and most movingly, seeing the shy, the private and the soft-spoken - arrive, join in, and freshly shout out from a place of self-empowerment, regardless of personal circumstance… we are made up of people of strength, honour and compassion who have a stubborn determination that means this isn’t over till we succeed.
Whatever the future brings… so far, it’s been a heck of a ride in the most outstanding company and although I wish it over, I will never wish it hadn’t happened because I would rather know the truths than live the lies. Onward 
Busy times ahead and I’m hoping to be back to normal in time for the first week of 2018 (thankfully Christmas bought warm snuggly boots and rainwear yay!)… Wednesday sees the first 'Call for Calm' of the year - Women's Call 22 - and then on Friday 5th Jan –the anniversary, 365 days that Protectors have been at this site and we’re marking the date with Black Friday (One Year at PNR)… if you can only make one date, please make this the one so we start as we mean to go on... full on  There's a solidarity bus from Manchester - MCR joins Black Friday (One Year at PNR)
The next day is the first ‘Solidarity Saturday’ of 2018 and we’re planning an Anniversary Day of Offerings - Solidarity Saturday... to tidy our space outside the Cuadrilla site, with new ribbons, toys, trinkets and banners for the hedge as well as warm company, cuppas and cakes down at Maple Farm.
I'll update as more comes in... but certainly 'Green Mondays', 'White Wednesdays' & 'Black Fridays' are weekly and ongoing.
Final thought as I was playing 'Ode to Joy' whilst writing...
We're like an unfinished by one the elements of the orchestra arrive to add individual notes to a piece that becomes a masterpiece only by its diversity of voice and instrument. We each started individually… came with our different ways and means, different approaches… tried, failed, tried, succeeded… it is in the ‘trying’ though that we found our truer selves and the truth in each other. Maybe the realisation that all effort, matters and helps over time to increase our tolerance of our differences… maybe too, the witnessing of the trying, brings respect. There will always be those stuck in their solos - unable to realise the beauty of diversity and sheer joy of shared music… but even then, they too are still trying in their own ways.