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.

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