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.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

The Lost & Found of Activism...

Last night was a festive party put on by our local village hall for those who have been protecting the community in the fight to stop fracking here in Lancashire...

A superb night of laughter, dancing and joy.. followed by the thump of shite in the press that painted these beautiful people in an ugly way... got me thinking of what's been lost and what's been found. For me personally it has been the hardest of years, with more letting go of things I thought mattered too much to lose and it's hard... but it's also a year of glorious discoveries in the new hearts found along the way and a replenishing of spirit and resolve. This path is exhausting but always fascinating.
The Lost & Found of Activism...

What was LOST:
I miss the leisurely nights huddled beneath a mist of imagining where we schemed, my little family and I… of hopes and dreams that we’d weave into reality together.
I’ve lost the warm, comforting cloak of protection that was provided by blissful ignorance. That led me to imagine that ‘democracy’ or ‘justice’ meant something more than lip-service and that in the end we’d be ok because the safeness promised by these words, would kick-in.
I fail to know the truth of my life because in part it was written by a lying media that throughout the years, steered me to a false reality; where they scripted and painted the characters to be friend or foe, said what this or that was measured to be right or wrong and based things on statistics paid for and manipulated by those with vested interests to deceive.
I grieve for the loss of faith in what was and have had to say goodbye to too much and too many …because priorities no longer put my pleasure in the list.

What was FOUND:
I ACTIVELY Protect my (all) young and had to discover a well of strength and self-empowerment to do it. As awful as it is, I’m relieved to have caught onto the fact that unless I stand to protect – then the road is open for industry to run over our children’s futures and sicken them. Without the ugly reality… I would be a bystander helplessly witnessing.
I seize as much knowledge and truth as endless hours of research, conversations, meetings and debates can provide – because knowledge and truth are the mightiest of all weapons in any fight – as well as being on the list of things worth fighting for.
I’ve learned to recognise patterns, traits, cycles and rituals that betray the true intent behind the actions of people - to the point where the people in my life are no longer defined as work colleagues, family and friends – but instead are valued for purpose, intent and humanity – the genuine of the hearts. I am fortunate to find myself amidst circles of people who I choose because of respect and that makes for finer company.
I rejoice in reality – for all its ugly, sharp and vile bits – it IS at least not hidden under piles of bullshit and therefore more easily handled.
I’ve opened my arms and heart to so much of worth that I never knew existed because what’s at the top of my priority list… isn’t mine, it’s ours.

There is no alternative but to Protect and no matter what else is lost or found... this remains a truth 

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Prison Bag & Bright Hearts...

This time one year ago, I was looking at the bag I’d packed for my two-weeks in prison. Court was in the morning and unless I agreed to sign agreeing my financial situation and agree to pay Cuadrilla £55,000 (cost of an eviction that wasn’t a physical eviction – just on paper), then I would be ‘In Contempt’ and go to prison for the sentence. I had ended up in this situation because I refused to engage with this ab use of our court system, for UNjust reasons. This was Cuadrilla taking the piss… sending a message, making an example and using our courts, twisting our laws and abusing true justice, to do it. If the debt had been a single pound, my stance would have been the same. I felt strongly that my engagement would have legitimised this as a ‘case’ at all and would have taken me into their dirty world and its corrupted charades.

I’d pretty much accepted the fate of prison and reasoned that lots of people suffer far worse and that if I was in another part of the world standing against big industry, I probably wouldn’t be standing anymore. It was what it was and the beauty of our movement had cushioned me within a deep comforting cloud of warm humanity that is just indescribable. The support was everything and the rest of the world, the system and the threats – miniscule, meaningless and petty by comparison.

George had put up an event so that people could do court support and it mushroomed as masses of fellow activists saw the injustice and abuse of the system too and sent messages of support. A hashtag to show others related and felt what happened to me, would easily be them too came about - #IamTinaToo. Seeing it on a tree in Thailand, a T-shirt outside the White House and on the chests of those I am honoured to walk with in this movement – is the strangest of things to be part of. Attention is not easy to handle and not all crave it… it was at times overwhelming. It’s a paradox though that I became less me, the more of ‘me’ there was… hard to clarify but I was just one of many and for me the hashtag was #IamActivist

This part of the year has a happy ending…

The judge did not seem pleased with Cuadrilla (few who interact with them, find them reasonable or professional) and made clear to their reluctant lawyer that the amount of the costs seemed disproportionate. At the top of the Costs Information it says something like: “Costs may not be used to profit or punish…” and the amount of these costs was clearly going to achieve both.

The arrogance of Cuadrilla though won the day, as numerous phone calls between their lawyer and them, brought back stubborn answers to an equally stubborn judge. The judge concluded that the amount could not be demanded from me (though the debt still exists) unless I came into a “lottery win or large inheritance”… I still wasn’t happy as I would still not pay them even if I did have millions. He pointed out that should this occur, it would first have to come through court and I could do what I was doing all over again. He then asked if I’d agree my financial situation but again I did not want to sign and so he simply asked “Is everything you told me the truth?” and I replied “Yes.” (at various points I had said I was without assets and without income or benefits).

And case concluded.

That I walked out of the front door of the court house, rather than the back… meant I fell into a sea of elation and rode on waves of shared relief …rather than falling into a police van and riding on roads of dread. There was a tangible 'Whoosh!' as the doors opened and I thought about being a sieve and letting it wash through,rather than stick with me; it was everyone's happy, for everyone. The rest of the day was again indescribable but the sense that activism won was what I took away – that at least today, justice wasn’t used as a weapon to attack us with. 

Winning is not something we get a great deal of and it was good.

The joy of every morning waking up for 14 days, in a bed of my choosing, with freedom to make decisions and feet that could walk where they wandered… is something worth experiencing to truly appreciate moments.

To all who share this memory... thank you for making it sheer brilliance – human hearts shine bright 

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Stubbornly Busy Times...

Coming up at Preston New Road Rolling Roadside Protest (unless stated otherwise, most of these events will start at Maple Farm community hub but can be joined at the fracking site entrance (just 10 minutes up the road arounf PR4 3PE) :

FRIDAY 8 December - Dalai Lama's Gyuto Monks at Preston New Rd Fracking site
…amazing gift of a blessing for earth and water Protectors, all are welcome.

SATURDAY 9 December –Solidarity Saturday at Maple Farm community hub
…every Saturday and open invitation to anyone who’d like to find out more, pop in for a cuppa and a chat, pick up information or just to lend support.

MONDAY 11 December - Green Mondays at Preston New Road anti-fracking site with guests Si├ón Berry & Jamie Peters
…an open invitation every Monday for those looking to greener futures through activism, energy, politics, divestment etc.

WEDNESDAY 13 December - Women's Call 21 (with a xmas twist) last one of 2017 although the following week is a ‘Christmas Special’
…an open invitation to all to join this unique event each Wednesday when the Women Call for Calm in this place of hostility. We wear white and hold a silent vigil around 11am at the site entrance. The fabulous Eve Nortley and her guitar buddy, will be performing some festive songs too.

PLUS the notorious - PNR Car Honking Protest Convoy  will be joining us (you can join them too in your vehicle - check event link for details)

THURSDAY 14 December – Pop Up Protest Prestonat Lancashire County Council during FULL Council meeting
…asking for as many as possible to come to Lancs Council (across the road from the train station) to ensure they are clear that when it comes to fracking, WE SAID NO! and are not stopping our actions, till the frackers are gone.

MONDAY 18 December – Green Monday (with a xmas twist) last one of 2017
…bring your Green tinsel, re-written carols and passion.

WEDNESDAY 20 December - Women's Call 'Christmas Special
…an all-singing, all lovely, all calm and bright get together for the Women in White and friends. Bringing carols, food and joy.

FRIDAY 22 December – Candlelit Vigil & Carols at the site
…one of the last set events of the year to bring together residents, Protectors, groups, camps, pets, families and supporters in a gathering at the gates. Encouraging those who can adapt carols to do so and print words etc. Nanas offering a warm welcome at Maple Hub afterwards to those who want to stay and socialise

Looking ahead to 2018 (so bloody wish we didn’t have to):

FRIDAY 5 January - Black Friday (One Year at PNR)
SATURDAY 6 January - Anniversary Day of Offerings

Please be aware that this list is only the events I am aware of and that others may well be happening... also really important, there are Protectors at Camps and the Gates 24 hours of every day who could do with your warm company and support whenever possible 


Call out from residents in Lancashire: PLEASE come be with us: "Cuadrilla the frackers have a new plan and it's t...