I am eternally grateful for the assault on all my senses, the attack on my beliefs, the realisation of my mistaken assumptions and the revelation of life more raw, less pasteurised.
October 15th 2011 was the start... prompted to action after watching with awe as the Arab Spring emerged from seemingly nowhere, into my clear comprehension of what they were feeling; then the glimpses of the powerful Indignados of Spain as they gathered and gathered and gathered in Madrid and finally, Occupy Wall St. as it tried to start, stalled and was in-part energised by the fulfillment of a tragic death sentence of another young American.
A call was reverberating through the maturing social networks (that were finally beginning to find a more divine purpose)... the call to 'Occupy the London Stock Exchange' was on my altering wavelength and I answered.
Like first term at pre-school, my tiny inner-activist was coaxed out and given space to shape itself - nourished by people from completely different lives.. long-term activists, the homeless, anarchists, students, professors, music teachers, dancers, alcoholics, reformed alcoholics, emerging alcoholics, academics, creatives, drug reformers, carers, those with Aspergers... the 'types' could not be any more diverse as were represented on that little campsite between the 'Neighbours from Heaven' and the 'Neighbours from Hell'.
Once done... I got home to Blackpool to encounter a brochure about a thing called 'fracking' and I recognised the tell-tale signs of lobbyist-influence on our supposed democracy (a big part of what Occupy was revealing) - it was pretty clear that this wasn't going to be good for 'we the people' but it would be great for shareholders somewhere. The tale from that day to this, is packed full; too full for a mere blog entry and more worthy of a trilogy or more to incorporate all the characters, places, camps, groups, Protectors and escapades!
Tomorrow though is why I came to the Blog tonight...
A tour is starting for the campaign 'WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT FRACKING' and I am joining it as it starts in Glasgow, moves to Nottingham, then to Manchester, on to Swansea and finishes in London with Channel 4 News' Jon Snow chairing the final event.
Crafted to be a DEBATE, it has proved ridiculously challenging for those behind #talkfracking to get any PRO-frackers to come anywhere near the questions of the residents of this country; some though are willing to brave it for the London gig as this is higher profile and they would be shamed and questioned if they did not at least participate in this one. The campaign involves people I trust and respect, so when asked if I'd join the panel I said yes with ease. I don't say no to much really - as far as I see it, all who have recognised the truth of the risks of fracking (and other unconventional energy techniques), share simple truths and valid questions - so what situation should we fear?
This IS the honourable fight... this is the fight for the stuff of life
...for this and all generations to come.
So not only did I say yes... I now type with excitement at my fingertips; I can't wait for tomorrow :) I am going to be on a tour bus (for as long as I can remember, I have wanted a home that would travel with me!) and I'll be sharing it with others like Elizabeth Arnold who knows first hand what it is to live with this industry. I am going to meet up with Prof David Smythe - a mind I have long admired for the knowledge of geology and Jeremy Leggett who contains the reason for hope in the future; he is Solar Century and along with the lovely Sunny Money, changing the world one sunbeam at a time... then there's John Ashton who came to Blackpool and took the time to hear our concerns before sharing them with Lancashire County Council. The fabulous Vivienne Westwood may be about I hope too; met her a few times now and struck by her earnest determination. Her son Joe Corre is becoming a strong voice in the stand against fracking too and is involved in #talkfracking.
This feels like a perfectly natural next-step in the learning and I am eager to pick all these minds and challenge my ability to serve this better. So tomorrow Glasgow, Nottingham Tuesday, Manchester Wednesday, Swansea Thursday and London the coming Monday.
Following the last regional stop at Swansea on Thursday... but before the final night in London on the Monday... is a true treasure of a thing. After a dash back on Friday, I will join my granddaughter, sister, brother-in-law, great niece and great nephew for the happiest weekend in my entire calender at Basecamp with Friends of the Earth in Derbyshire. Went last year to collect the award for Campaign of the Year for our group Residents' Action on Fylde Fracking and couldn't have enjoyed it more. This year I know the little ones will be just as delighted. From the inspiring company of amazing people to the brilliant food, workshops and events, it is a superbly planned annual gathering of caring people.
I feel so blessed - mostly by the people I now know and also for the way in which life has opened up from a rather too-influenced thing... to a kaleidoscope of unknowns just waiting to be explored. The corrupted system of government, the overwhelming influence of lobbyists and the whole dirty fracking business... are bitter, ugly research subjects, but you do get to keep the finest company and live more :)