Yesterday, I had the privilege and pleasure of holding an impromptu sustainable building workshop, whilst arrested in a police van at the foot of Big Ben, in London!
Beat that for an opening sentence on a Facebook posting, fellow eco-warriors !! lol.
It happened on the launch day in Parliament Square of the crucial #ExtinctionRebellion staged as a call to global peaceful non-violent direct action to get humanity to cut our carbon emissions to zero by 2025.
I confess to being moved to tears even before the event started, that despite no major environmental NGO backing the rebellion yet, that so many people had turned up from across the country.
I was incredibly honoured to be invited to be one of the speakers at the rebellion rally.
And I was again moved to tears as in my speech, I spoke of my heartbreak, that in my sixtieth year, we are marking the destruction by my generation of 60% of all of nature, we inherited on the planet when I was born.
My voice broke, as I spoke of my rage and sorrow that at the rate we are going, less than 10% will be left by the time I die, if radical deep unprecedented societal changing action is not taken.
But built on that grief, were many inspirational speeches, poetry, music and actions during the day. And amazingly, spiritual contributions poured in from all the faiths and none, Jew, Muslim, Christian and including those who spiritually revere Mother Earth & nature. Many of these included contributions from powerful empowered women. We have to heal and remove the toxic destructive patriarchal oligarchies, who are globally leading this destruction of our climate and social justice.
After a budget when the chancellor gave billions of our tax-payers money to the fossil fuel industry and continues to trash most of the renewable energy industries, when the BBC & the Guardian shockingly did not mention the climate crisis once in their Budget coverage, it is clear that nothing less than a #ExtinctionRebellion can help save humanity.
Gail Bradbrook, who along with the amazing Roger Hallam, is one of the key organisers of the #ExtinctionRebellion, beautifully led the crowd after the speeches, out onto the road to block the entrance to Parliament.
There for two hours we sang, danced and listened to various women and men who were moved to speak in the moment, including the Guardian journalist George Monbiot.
The police kept pressing us to leave. And eventually after the decision was taken by most of the crowd to move back into the square, I invited some to stay and sit in an act of peaceful direct action.
15 of us did so, including 5 who had already bravely staged a lock-on behind the crowd on the road.
We were then arrested. The proud first arrests of the peaceful #ExtinctionRebellion. These have to be the first of hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands across the world, if our kids are not to end up spending their lives on a planet being ravaged by wild-fires, droughts, floods, famines, civil-breakdown, mass violent migrations and the destruction of the 40% of nature left, that we have not destroyed.
But as we stood waiting to be taken away to the police vans, they penned some of us behind a metal barrier in front of Parliament’s very gates, where despite being handcuffed I was able to tell the passing crowds, why I was willing to be arrested, to highlight the need for urgent climate action, to save their kids.
And then a lovely thing happened.
The police initially argued we were causing more pollution by blocking the road. I argued we were not blocking the road, but making it car-free as the Mayor of London had promised to do.
I then managed to move the conversation onto congestion in central London and how most of the traffic they were arresting us for “blocking”, was actually a tiny 1% of richer people in cabs.
They ended up agreeing that it would be a good idea to apply the congestion charge to all cab-users.
Then when we were moved into the police-van, whilst we were waiting, it amazingly turned out that my arresting officer, had done a degree in sustainable building at Bournemouth University. They then started asking about my carbon negative home and it turned out one of the other officers was building a new eco-home in Morden! So, I then launched into a discussion about the measures which had worked and had not worked in my 1840’s retro eco-terraced home in Camberwell.
By the time, we were released my fellow arrestees and I had become friends with these decent men trying to keep London safe from violence and crime. We recognise that it is their job to arrest us on such occasions, on behalf of our fossil-fuel drenched government. But we also recognise that our protests are for them and their families also.
The #ExtinctionRebellion has to be built on love, or it will not succeed.
Love for those who oppress us, tackling the oppression.
Love for those destroying our planet, ending the destruction.
Love for those arresting us, banishing the hatred.
And most of all, love for ourselves and those taking action to tackle the climate emergency.
I would like to send my love to Gail Bradbrook Roger Hallam Robin Boardman Simon Be and all those who helped in so many ways, banner making, organising singing, stewarding, press-work, arrestee support etc etc
It was an amazing team effort.
Yes You Did.
Yes We Can!!
The next big event for the #ExtinctionRebellion is on November 17th, with many other training days, talks etc being staged all over the UK. Check their website for details.
Finally, can I say a huge thanks to my friend Caspar Hughes who bravely stood by me through all of this and ended up being arrested for the first time, standing up to ensure his daughter grows up on a habitable planet!
PS if anybody would like a free ebook version of my book The Prostitute State – How Britain’s Democracy Has Been Bought , which explains in depth how the corrupt capture of our democracy got us into this mess, email firstname.lastname@example.org .