You may have noticed that our movement has been growing a lot. This document is both a consequence of that growth, and (hopefully) a means of keeping track of it. On that note, Stu has written a wonderful overview of where we’re at on a strategic, medium/long-term level. By comparison, the aim of this newsletter is to give more of a week-by-week, internal perspective: keeping people in different subgroups – who might never have met – all informed about what’s happening in other areas of XR, what we’ve got coming up, and reaffirming our culture and ideals. We hope you find it useful!
In the wake of Rebellion Days 1 and 2, and the many actions between and around these days, XR has launched into mainstream awareness and international relevance. We’ve been covered in everything from Vice to Vogue, holding interviews with the BBC, Sky and RT. More subtle but no less significant is how much of this coverage has referred to XR as “the social movement that pushes for radical change on climate issues”.
Partly through this sort of coverage, we’ve been growing on all fronts – as this community-made map majestically portrays. In the words of Annie, one of our international coordinators, “It’s incredibly exciting because we’re communicating with about 25 countries now… Many have working groups already set up, and have coordinated their own actions over the past few weeks, with more to come!”. Meanwhile, our Facebook following has ballooned by 1088%(!) since October, our posts reaching 881,000 people in the last week of November (more details further down). And it’s not just in breadth that we’re growing: our branches in both Bristol and Stroud are currently looking for dedicated office space, while the London branch is eyeing up a new office near Victoria.
This growth will bring its own structural challenges, especially if it continues as hoped. We’ve put a big exciting system-map on the wall of the London office (see below), which has already been a great help in making sense of who’s doing what.
It’s worth noting that the map is not (yet?) perfect: in a meeting on Tuesday 4th, for example, the legal team suggested that they be made slightly less peripheral given XR’s emphasis on (non-violent) law-breaking (see above, tiny bubble in bottom-left). The response given to this was a reminder of our holacratic nature: if you think the map is wrong, change it! Meetings such as Tuesday’s are evidence of the ongoing conversation around our systems development – a topic which, as you can see on the map, also has its own working group.
It’s still early days for XR, but we’re already seeing some political traction: last week, Farhana Yamin from our political group spoke in Parliament’s Rapid Transition Alliance meeting, and received loud applause upon mentioning our movement. Separately, Barry Gardiner MP (Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade) has invited us for discussions at Westminster.
General climate news:
COP24 is running from the 3rd to the 14th of December. Extinction Rebels are on the ground in Katowice: leading workshops, participating in talks, and forging worldwide links of solidarity. Elsewhere, the schools’ climate change strike has gathered pace worldwide, now involving thousands.
Action and Logistics:
Since the 24th the actions team has been seeking to decentralise and encourage autonomy in regional groups, and to establish a clearer organisational distinction between XR London and XR National (see structure-map, top left). Two London-based actions are planned for the next few weeks, along with a Regional Rebellion Day on the 15th. In other news, an XR Choir was unveiled at Thursday’s rally outside the London Assembly.
Last week, shortly after the beginning of the systems development mentioned above, the press side of the media and messaging team exercised its holocratic right to restructure itself according to the team’s understanding of its own needs. Meaner and leaner, the team is now working to build a national network of media representatives.
Meanwhile, the social media team has unveiled an analytics report described by coordinator, Iggy as “exponential, unbelievable, crazy”. Our Facebook page followers have grown 1088% in the month since October; video views have gone up 2724%, and in the last week of November our posts reached 881,000 people. Our Instagram went from 3,000 to 17,000 followers in a fortnight, and our Twitter following doubled in the two weeks of action.
Outreach and training:
The reactive team is (at the time of writing) up to date with Facebook and email inquiries, and is working on a rota system which will provide more consistent coverage, together with greater moderation. In integration, work is underway on a shiny new database, which should allow us to interact much more effectively with our tens of thousands of supporters, and the many more expected to join us.
To this end, our talks and NVDA trainings are also being updated and improved; there’s a long list of requests from around the country for help in hosting these talks, which is now being processed. Separately, we’re talking to GBC and Seeds for Change about holding specific legal and facilitation trainings early next year.
As mentioned above, our groups in both Bristol and Stroud are now looking for full-time office space from which to organise. In Bristol, turnouts of 60-70 at the weekly meetings have prompted a relocation from the Anarchist Cafe into the larger community centre nearby – this shift being indicative of rapid expansion across the whole of the South-West.
The legal team is liaising with other groups to ensure a more structured approach on future actions. Beyond this, they’re reading through Legal Observer notes from past actions to establish timelines in case of prosecution action by authorities. They’re also saying they need more people – contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to help!
Regen is now in the process of debriefing on and analysing all recent actions. The lessons learned by the team will be passed on through updates to the existing wellbeing, arrestee support toolkits and thorough reference strategy documents will then be issued to the regional regen teams, to be shared with other XR teams.
The regen team would like to recognise the contribution of Lizzie Orchard, who resigned from the post of co-cordinator in November, and to welcome in Claire Pardoe into this role.
- Media and messaging on-boarding meeting on Saturday 8th
- Psychedelic society social on Saturday 8th
- Brexit-related rally on Tuesday 11th
- Debrief (and party!) on Saturday 15th
- Regional Rebellion Day also on the 15th
- Reclaim the BBC on Friday the 21st
Briefing: ‘This is what democracy looks like’
Here at the internal newsletter we love truth for truth’s sake (etc.) – but we also love it because knowing the facts can help us to defend our cause in the face of tough questions, be this during a live TV interview or a Yuletide interrogation. From the plausibility of a carbon-neutral 2025 to the efficacy of roadblocks as protests, the Briefing will aim to work through the arguments one topic at a time. This time, Hannah Cousins discusses Participatory Democracy.
The principles of inclusivity and intersectionality are central to the ethos of Extinction Rebellion – it is therefore vital that the Rebellion strives for a democratic society. We feel that democracy is key to a progressive and effective system. However, it could be argued that the present elevation of industrial and elite interests over the needs of the many is directly related to our currently narrow conception of democracy.
The truth is that democracy comes in many forms. Democracy as we know it is called ‘representative’ (or ‘parliamentary’) democracy, meaning that individuals are elected to represent the wider public. It’s worth noting that this form of democracy was only popularised after the French and American Revolutions: the most famous pre-modern democracy, the city of Athens, would elect people (only male citizens, admittedly) by pulling lots. Ideally, representative democracy allows for people from all backgrounds to be elected to represent their communities; however in practice these systems often discriminate against and exclude communities of colour and women amongst others (see, for example, the House of Lords).
We believe that a participatory democracy would better reflect both intersectional and majority interests alike – in contrast to today’s shockingly out-of-touch system. Town halls are a well-known form of participatory democracy that already exists; other effective examples include protests and strikes, and the Swiss Cantons. However we might end up doing it – sortition or referenda, anarchism or blockchain – it’s clear that we need to reassess how we think about democracy.
Like many other things at the moment, this newsletter is a work in progress: we’re expecting that the format will change a bit, and we’re hoping that the distribution will – if you know anyone working in XR who should be receiving this, feel free to forward this on, and/or get them to contact email@example.com
Likewise, if you have any queries or suggestions, or would like to get more involved in any of the areas mentioned, please contact the same address.
Concluding quote of the week:
“We shall never learn what ‘is called’ swimming, for example, or what it ‘calls for,’ by reading a treatise on swimming. Only the leap into the river tells us what is called swimming.” Martin Heidegger