Category Archives: Affinity Group Stories

XR / Critical Mass demonstration in the City of Lancaster

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By Lawrence Freiesleben

The Time:  17.30 – or 5.30 p.m. if you prefer old time.

The Date:   Friday 26th April 2019

The Place:  Dalton Square, central point in the City of Lancaster.

The Aim:    To take temporary control of the City’s central one-way system.

At this point the Mass is not yet Critical. So far, all anyone might notice is a few eccentric cyclists and standers-about. For the present, sitting on the bench opposite a slight knot of people, knowing the plan and anxious to eat something long delayed from lunch, it’s inspiring to watch the numbers build.

By 17.45 a swelling crowd occupied much of the area around Queen Victoria’s Memorial and I don’t think that long-reigning monarch would have been amused – either by us or by where Empire inevitably leads.

It was time for me to change from observer to participant. Ditching a warm jacket (excellent North Shields charity purchase from some years back) for the home-sloganized, Extinction Rebellion T-Shirt, I joined the friendly throng and soon spotted a fellow member of the South Lakes XR Group, Liz Boothman.

Two other younger members, Bella Matarewicz and her sister Rosa, soon arrived to increase the enthusiastic assembly. Undaunted by being refused space for their bikes at Oxenholme railway station, they had come to join the equally important walking group, planning to march through the City’s pedestrianised areas. Meanwhile the cyclists would be orbiting the encircling one-way system as slowly as possible.

Organised by members of Morecambe and Lancaster XR groups in conjunction with the cyclist’s rights group Critical Mass, banners placards and signs were handed around – along with safety pins to attach them. After a general welcome, instructions about the routes, and a rousing send-off by Labour M.P. for Fleetwood and Lancaster, Cat Smith we were all ready. A call went out for any cyclists confident about breaking into the traffic to take the lead.

Halting the traffic and setting off, our clamouring company of cyclists were of all ages, from children to pensioners. A dedicated and enterprising boy of about thirteen scooted along and amongst us, zipping left and right to put flyers under the wipers of parked cars. Interested bystanders, and drinkers in wayside pubs, perhaps amused by our ragged procession, were keen to take leaflets, happy to investigate what we were about. What heartened me most about our repeated circumnavigation of the city’s centre was the amount of encouragement and support we received – even from drivers being held up. The fact of climate emergency is obviously getting through to everybody – with now the media joining in: “Climate Protestors are telling us the deadly Truth” ran the Financial Times last month. Only the government is still dragging its feet.

At points on our orbit there were several prolonged horn blasts which were not so friendly. These were soon counter-blasted by children and other riders with whistles and bicycle bells, as well as cyclists carrying those audible music devices on their bike racks . . . Sadly, it turns out (as anyone reading this probably knows) that these are just called ‘portable speakers’. I may be Luddite in my attitude to technology, but I still prefer gadgets to have an imaginative or catchy name.

None of my photos – many taken optimistically over my shoulder whilst cycling, turned out to be quite what I wanted. The images of a cheap camera are a poor substitute for memory and a sense of connection, but they serve well enough as record.

Dating back even to before my involvement with CND in the early 1980’s, I have long had a recurring dream about cloaked protestors on bicycles. The Climate Emergency behind this consciousness-raising demonstration may be just as dark as the threat of Thermonuclear War, but the event itself defied the black sense of despair or inevitability which the dream has always given – its sense of prophetic unease. This Critical Mass/XR event was contrastingly uplifting – and for a while on the southern section of our gyratory, the sun even briefly glimmered.

XR Machynlleth post-London healing debrief session

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By Beth Maiden, XR Machynlleth regenerative culture group

Almost everyone I talked to in the wake of April’s rebellion in London described taking part as ‘overwhelming’, even if they had a great time (which most had)! Actions like these are very intense and complex, and it’s hard work for most of us to participate. Hard work physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Suddenly, for days, a week, two, we are like a tiny pop-up nation, requiring systems for decision-making, communication, care and support, and more. Feelings run high as we co-create community, trying to respond collectively to a fluctuating, unpredictable environment that can change in an instant.

Then, just as suddenly, we are home, coming down from it all. Trying to make sense of what just happened, how it felt, what worked, what didn’t. What was joyful, what was painful. The whole roller-By Beth Maiden, XR Machynlleth regenerative culture groupcoaster of feelings we’ve just ridden.

We’re often so focused on the ‘action’ part of activism that we forget that driving it all is emotion. We act because we feel something. And when we are acting, we keep on feeling – highs, lows, joy, grief, anger, love, hope, elation, and of course the comedown after.

And so we need space to process. Space to share all that comes up for us – the common ground, and the different experiences. Space to celebrate. Space to release grief and pain. Space to gather back in all of the parts of ourselves that are so easily lost in these big overwhelming actions and in the fight of everyday life. Space to be witnessed as whole, imperfect, feeling beings. Space to witness each other.

Regenerative space.

A regenerative culture is one that is committed to creating those spaces, so that we can process and heal and ultimately, stay in the movement and not burn out.

Here in Machynlleth, members our Regen group hosted a healing/debrief session for local folks who had gone down to London.

I’m sharing a simple template of what we did for other groups to use/copy/adapt if wanted:

We weren’t totally sure what the session would be like – we just knew that we wanted to hold space for activists to get together and share process all they had seen and felt and experienced in London and since returning.

We booked a community room in a local church for 3 1/2 hours. We advertised the session as a debrief specifically for folks who had been to London. We encouraged people to bring along food to share, cushions, blankets. We also invited people to bring a small object that represented how they feel or felt about the action, to create a temporary community altar.

We had three of us to hold the space – two who had taken part, and one who had not (to hold the space while and allow for the other two to participate).

  • We had time to grab a cuppa while we arrived and came to sit in a big circle. There were about 20 of us from the local area. We agreed that this was a safe, confidential space.
  • For the first hour we simply went around the group. Each person took a few minutes to introduce themselves, talk about what they did in London, sharing thoughts and feelings while the group listened.
  • Then we ate together. This was really special – some folks hadn’t seen each other since the action, whilst in London everyone had felt very close. It felt really powerful and important for activists to be back together again, revisiting the experience with others who ‘get it’ about what it was like. We also lit candles on the altar.
  • After food, we worked in pairs, taking turns to share and offer active listening. One person would talk for one or two minutes, whilst the other would listen closely, without interrupting or strongly reacting. Using a timer to ensure we all got the same amount of talking/listening time, we asked three questions: How did I feel at the action? How am I feeling now? and What are you hoping for going forward, what seeds have been planted?
  • Then we joined pairs, to make ‘pods’ of four. Again using a timer (five minutes each), each group took turns to talk and listen. This time, the question was ‘What do I need?‘. This might be what I need right now (touch, words, silence…), or what I need more generally – from my community, from XR, from my self – to feel supported and remain a part of this movement.
  • Lastly, we had a closing circle to once again move round the group and share reflections on the action as a whole. Each person took a few minutes to share ideas on what was great about the action and its aftermath, and what could be done better, and we wrote these up on flip-chart paper for future planning.

Feedback after the session was that
it was healing, nourishing and really necessary.
As it was a
dedicated space for people who had shard a very specific experience,
people generally felt safe to share a wide range of emotions, they knew
others would listen and understand. And whilst not everyone understood
the purpose of the session at the beginning, we found that everyone had a
lot to say once things opened up! There were tears and a lot of laughs,
and the whole thing felt very profound. We intend to host these kinds
of sessions after every action, to keep offering space for the
regeneration that is so important to the sustainability of XR.

My weekend with Extinction Rebellion

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Image Credit: Creative Commons: Julia Hawkins

By Tyrone Scott

This passing bank holiday weekend, I felt it was
important to attend the protests launched by Extinction Rebellion in the
name of preserving our planet and species. As a member of the Young
Greens Executive Committee, I am passionate about the environment and
was keen to get involved. I left my house early Friday morning to travel
to Parliament Square, little did I know I would still be on Waterloo
Bridge singing my heart out at 4AM Sunday morning!

The power of love

I have been involved in many protests in my young
life, but I have rarely seen anything so well organised, so effective
and so purely wholesome as this. From the first moment I stepped onto
Parliament Square to the second I left Marble Arch the resounding
feeling I felt was love. Love for our planet. Love for my fellow
demonstrators. But most importantly, love for every human being on this

Whether that be the few counter-protesters or the
police trying to break us up, the important theme was that we showed
love to everyone who approached us. With this approach, you avoid the
pitfalls of isolating people who are not yet on board, and nothing is
achieved if a significant portion of society feels isolated, and
Extinction Rebellion identified and managed this to perfection.

Preventing shut down

I saw hundreds of arrests, from activists braver than
I, yet the chants “We love the police” and “Who’s police, Our police!”
continued to ring out until the moment I left the protest. What
Extinction Rebellion understands is that the police are not the problem
in this scenario, even if they are the facilitators for the will of the

What else Extinction Rebellion expertly did was make
all zones alcohol and drug free. Whilst some people in attendance quite
rightly fancied an ice cold can of beer in the blazing heat, everyone
understood that we did not need to give the police, the right-wing press
or anybody else an excuse. An excuse to shut us down. An excuse to
demonise us. Or an excuse to not take us seriously.

The clear out

I spent Saturday daytime with the remaining activists
on Oxford Circus, many of whom were arrested as the police scrambled to
clear the junction. I watched in awe as the police used a vast array of
power tools to try and free the activists who had managed to completely
secure themselves to the concrete floor. The smell rising through the
air of burnt tarmac. Sparks flying off the ground as they saw through
the locks. Dozens of police surrounding each peaceful activist secured
to the floor. This felt absolutely surreal against the backdrop of
thousands of shoppers, giant brands and luxury cars. It was incredible.

Eventually, the police cleared the square however not
without igniting the wrath of the protesters with some unashamedly
non-environmentally friendly decisions. A large rubbish truck enters the
Oxford Circus junction and all of the sleeping bags, duvets, cardboard
boxes and everything else was unceremoniously discarded without a
moments thought as to what could be recycled. If you could choose one
crowd you would not want to watch that, it would be a large crowd of
environmental activists.

As the sun went down, I moved to Waterloo Bridge for
one of the most powerful evenings I have had the privilege to
experience. With knowledge the police were looking to reclaim the
bridge, hundreds of activists descended for an evening of music, talks
and togetherness. A candlelit vigil was held whilst talented musicians
played beautiful music on a wide range of interesting instruments
against a backdrop of dozens of Police.

As the skatepark was dismantled, fairy lights taken
down, trees torn up, we sang. As the fire brigade came to sturdy up the
truck, so the police can cut protesters down to carry them away, we
sang. No matter what negativity they tried to throw our way, to dampen
our spirits, we simply sang.

It was clear by the end of the night the police did
not expect this sheer determination and resilience from and it was
evident the bridge was not being cleared tonight. Victory, for now. And
yes, the bridge was cleared the following day, but not without a fight.

The morning after

Sunday brought more magic as hundreds marched from
Parliament Square through to Marble Arch. A funeral procession with
activists dressed in black, brass band in tow, led the rebellion forward
as we marched past Buckingham Palace right into Marble Arch where Greta
Thunberg delivered her rousing and inspirational speech. After days of
activism, much walking and losing my voice completely, I thought I would
take Sunday night to myself. Of course, my favourite band Massive
Attack played a impromptu show, of which I then missed, so we are not
going to talk about that.

Extinction Rebellion Tie-in Die-in, Kendal

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By Lawrence Freiesleben

On Wednesday 17th April, members of Extinction Rebellion South Lakes staged a Die-in around Kendal market place. The weather was beautiful and who is ever going to complain about that? Unfortunately, far too many people still seem to share demagogue Donald Trump’s delusion that all global warming amounts to is lucky people in temperate zones getting more sun. As a recent casualty of increasingly unstable weather systems, the population of Kendal and villages nearby must be uneasy about this. Yet it’s always been amazing, how sunny weather and the onset of spring is apt to ameliorate or dim our fears – as if us and our beautiful landscapes with their trees in blossom and the cheer of daffodils will be here forever. Despite the broken bridges that remain broken, left behind by Storm Desmond, we are all too easily reassured. The body is simple in its reaction to warmth and light and the attractions of market day.

Setting up signs and banners in three different parts of the square, chiefly outside the low chains protecting the war memorial, at first, we passed unnoticed – the colourful signs and lettered flags taken for a precursor of carnival? Careful not to conceal any information already present on the windows of two untenanted shops, our own placards were propped or masking-taped to the glass. When we left, the only real sign of our presence would be the chalked lines around the fallen bodies, including those of children who spontaneously joined in. The only damage that occurred was caused by an officious security guard to whose initial crocodile smile we had granted a charitable benefit of the doubt. Taking advantage, while we were dying elsewhere in the square, he ripped down Wendi’s banner, also throwing her treasured bicycle to the ground – all part of the job, only doing his duty . . .

By contrast the community police officer who chatted with us a while, cheerfully agreed we were doing nothing he considered illegal: the disused shop was ‘a civil matter’.

With various members of the South Lakes group away for the duration of the main Extinction Rebellion event in London, our numbers were limited. Arrest however, seemed unlikely and the greatest block in many of our minds may have been embarrassment – that classic British trait?

Never underestimate the effect of embarrassment. If it wasn’t for crippling embarrassment, you never know, I might have taken up ballroom dancing, or any type of dancing. Or learned languages freely.

A Cornish friend of mine ,an eco-activist since the 70’s – who held secret midnight discussions with Swampy in the 1990’s and was an invited guest at C40’s 2011 conference in Sao Paulo – was adamant that action needs to be taken at every level, from every possible angle.

The thought that the Home Front is just as crucial as the Front Line, was one I kept in my mind to deflect disappointment at not being able to get to London – a regret of other members too. But if some considered Kendal a soft option, others were not convinced.

One interested office worker, who soon became a member, said she’d been down in London and felt quite comfortable joining the throng: the largeness of the company making her feel safe. In Kendal our group fluctuated at around 16. Crowd support and back-up were, to say the least, limited. That, she felt, would have made her think twice.

By contrast, a lady who died there and then, wished she’d known in advance that an expensive trek to London wasn’t necessary – nor incurring the irony of extra carbon to get to an event protesting against it!

Though I admire all those resolute, tireless, folk who walked to London, my ideal would have been to cycle. And maybe next time, if things don’t change fast, there will huge columns of cyclists all across the country, legally blocking routes everywhere – a wheeled echo of the Jarrow marchers. With enough warning there need be no idling engines. Everyone will know to put their cars and lorries away and stay at home.

In provincial towns, many of the public appear to know little or nothing about Extinction Rebellion. To them, it’s just a story on the news about some “pesky protesters” far away, “down in London”. Seeing Kendal residents they recognise – many of them pensioners with no experience of making a spectacle of themselves or braving abuse, determined for the sake of their grandchildren to make their point and explain what XR is about – really opens their eyes. It becomes personal rather than a fleeting headline. Our purpose in Kendal was not to disrupt ,but to try to publicise and explain, and although we had two or three hysterical people railing against us, generally, there was interest and support. Even the stallholders trying to make a living, were not all hostile.

Not wanting to disadvantage any of the stallholders in particular, after an hour we altered one of the locations of our dying. I asked the trader on the vegetable stall if he minded us dying nearby and he said not. Taking a leaflet to read at home, he only cautioned us against the shifting shade.

Undoubtedly, there is a vulnerability felt in lying on the pavement. With eyes shut, all the passing comments of support or scorn, impatience or contempt, become magnified. Yet talking was harder for me . . . at least at first. Others went through this same transition. My partner, who tends to be reserved in interactions with strangers, quickly warmed to the task. By the end she felt empowered. At last she was doing something instead of just worrying – and if things turned nasty we had a plan to ensure at least one of us would be free to pick the children up from school.

I’m not sure I felt empowered, but I did eventually manage to engage a few sceptics – who hopefully walked on with at least some idea of the crisis we are in.

“When you lot can do something about over-population let me know!” One woman challenged, and it was tempting to emphasise how wars, plagues and famines linked to climate change are already common and will only get worse. It’s always difficult to avoid the temptation towards fatalism that underlies the go-for-broke mentality so prevalent all over the world.

Throwing leaflets straight in the bin or refusing eye-contact were probably less common than the polite statement “I’m O.K. thanks” to proffered leaflets – a reaction which riled some of my comrades – struggling perhaps to resist the retort of “Not for long!”

The dilemma of how forceful we should be – purely verbally – stays with me. Long arguments with bitter opponents absorb valuable time, as does preaching to the converted. The background hope is that some people between these extremes, will later usefully reflect on a few points gently made.

The role of chief hysteric went to a woman ranting about our lack of respect for the war memorial. This, we stayed outside and fixed nothing to. We merely lay down nearby. Personally, I saw this more as a homage. What was the point of all those soldiers dying, only for us to trash the world they died for?

The war against extinction, against apathy over climate change and our own careless consumerism, is more urgent even than the fight seventy years ago, against the Axis powers.
(Photos by Kirsten Freiesleben April 17th 2019)

From XR Die-in, Seattle

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By Rob Lewis

I am lying on sunlit bricks before the Henry M. Jackson Federal Building. I have died, and now look up at a twisted rectangle of sky framed by glass-sided buildings. A single branch waves overhead, reaching from a tree rising from a square of trucked-in soil. About twenty people have also died around me, and lay in the positions they fell in. We will stay dead for about twelve minutes.

That’s how many years we have to prevent climate hell on
earth, at least according to the last fleet of studies.  Twelve years is not a lot of time. Perhaps I
should have better things to do with mine. But then I realize, arms splayed
out, looking slantwise up at the diamond-pointed sun, I’m doing precisely the thing
I should be doing and want to be doing. I am dying into the truth of my time. I
am dying into the dying. And it feels strangely restorative

The sea is near. I can smell it. And I begin thinking of orcas,
in particular, one named Tahlequah. Last August, with her dead calf draped
across her nostrum, she heralded her calf through the sea for seventeen days
and nights? She made us look. She made us see what life is like behind the word
extinction. It’s hunger, loss, attrition. Extinction lowered its mask of data and
revealed a broken-hearted mother, grieving on a scale beyond our ken, a grief
as big as the ocean. I am thinking I am lucky to be able to lie here and grieve
for her, and for all of creation, really. I am thinking of how long I have
needed to do this.

Those who can’t lie down join in standing-death. I can’t see anyone though, just this strange, powder-blue fragment of sky. On this chilly April morning the bricks are surprisingly warm, laying a deep bed of deep quiet amidst the clanging jack-hammers, staccato horns, rhythmic sirens. The city thrums on and I realize we are the lucky ones. We at least have found an off-ramp, a brief side exit from the techno-industrial race to ruin.

Though we appear to be sleeping, we are actually waking. We are shaking off an industrial drowse, grieving for a distracted humanity. There’s a feeling of honour to it, a solemnity. This is necessary work. It helps that the sun warms our faces. It helps that we decided to just do this, as awkward as it might have felt at first.

And now here we are, dying into something beyond ourselves,
into orcas, snow geese, yellow tanagers, glacier-fed streams, snow-fed
glaciers, salmon and seasons. Climate refugees, hurricane victims; we die for them
too. By our bodies we have cleared and planted a small plot of human atonement,
and inhabit it with a mood akin to prayer. A cloud’s view would see a city
swirling around a spot of stillness. Is it a wound or a flower?

It is surely both.

A Non-Violent Direct-Action, Training Day in Cumbria

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By Lawrence Freiesleben

“Leave it to me, Sunshine!” may never have actually been spoken by Jack Reagan of the Sweeney, before he proceeded to kick down some miscreant’s door; but for anyone with a memory of such scenes, the words can hardly be mistaken for the gentle endorsements of a solar panel salesman. Rather they’ve become – if time-tempered by humour – a prelude to violence: violence against doors if not against people.

differently each of us perceives violence, was one of the early
questions asked last Sunday in Kendal, where the South Lakes
Extinction Rebellion Group, hosted a Non-Violent, Direct-Action,
training day.

turnout was good, the age-range wide – from students to pensioners:
though I’d guess the majority were between 50 and 60?

of the potential chaos of XR’s non-authoritative ethos,
impressively, our training day, as well as practical role-playing
exercises, managed to incorporate numerous digressions into moral and
legal issues as well as a delicious cooked lunch, yet still ran to
time. Not an easy task in a crowded hall hampered by poor acoustics.

by Joel and Kyle, young, enthusiastic, national representatives of
XR, the day began by reminding us – lest there was any chance of
forgetting – why we were here: the disastrous situation; the
negative facts and figures escalating. Not nearly enough is being
done – that much is frustratingly obvious. Even without the folly
of Brexit (rather
than heads-in-the-sand isolation, surely, we need all the connection
we can get?)
, most
of the media would still be wallowing in celebrity scandal, sport or
trivia. Meanwhile our current ‘government’, always a poor joke in
bad taste, stumbles on like a maudlin, terminal, drug addict. Someone
needs to commandeer all their single-malt for redistribution. Though
preferably not
Jack Reagan.

it may already be too late for humanity, was a fear many people
visibly shared that overcast Sunday. When, at a later point in the
afternoon, we indicated our agreement with the anxieties of
individuals, by moving from the large circle of our chairs towards
their imaginary axle point, the voicing of this particular worry,
created a tight knot in the centre of the room.

knot that contradicted the result of our first exercise:

to introduce about forty people, many of whom had never met before,
groups of eight or so were asked to form circles – randomly taking
hold of two other hands or wrists. Without letting go, we had to see
if this knot could be untangled. Ours looked impossible. But to our
amazement, despite aged, aching limbs or heavy walking boots, by
patient mutual persistence it was, eventually, untangled. Not that
anyone took too much encouragement from this – despite the humour
that one member of the circle, Liz, was somehow facing outwards. The
crisis of climate emergency and the blithely suicidal tendency of
humanity is far more twisted; our consumerist habits, a matted
confusion of selfish carelessness. Our world is a mess, and our
controls set for destruction – the auto-pilot resistant to every
striving influence. That Ring a Ring o’ Roses may only connect with
bubonic plague in urban legend, didn’t stop me feeling when we
stood in a ring at the end, some doom-laden overlap with the current
global situation.

was the more experienced of the speakers and obviously used to
dealing with varied groups of XR volunteers. His softly spoken
colleague Kyle was acting as back-up for the very first time and
visibly gained confidence as the day went on, despite being
interrupted and being asked to speak “LOUDER

by several members keen not to miss a word. The situation of Joel and
Kyle was not one I envied – all the more so after another exercise
amply displayed how easy it is, even in moments of simulated
stress, to literally forget everything useful in your head.

was during one of the exercises in which the group divided into two
lines to represent peaceful demonstrators versus, a) an irate public,
and b) the police.

don’t know if the ‘opponent’ opposite me, was an actor famed
for local or national dramatics, but his angry desire to get to an
imaginary job and later his pathetic pleas to be allowed to gain
access to his ailing hospitalised wife, were so convincing that I
couldn’t help but laugh. Attempting (badly) to fulfil my role as
activist, I tried to take refuge in gently explaining the
demonstration’s purpose – that we were protesting “for the sake
of everyone. For the future. For our children,” and so on – all
very easy theoretically while able to access the facts and figures .
. . In practice, most of these arguments went out of my head and
though some friends might think of me as a talker with a tendency to
dominate conversations, I literally couldn’t remember what to say.

more effective was the woman opposite me, when next I became a police
officer: However much I “Please
she just smiled and beamed. Again, it was hard not to laugh.

next became a demonstrator to show how much harder it is for the
police to move those who can manage to remain floppy rather than
becoming rigid. Naturally enough, it’s harder still to move
protestors whose arms are linked. I asked if he knew of any instances
of the police tickling people to get them to desist. He laughed, and
we assumed such levity would be beneath both protocol or dignity.

XR member with a friend in the police force, passed on this friend’s
insider view of how frightening it can be to suddenly be called on to
‘police’ a demonstration.

few of the police nowadays, resemble those I remember from
demonstrations in the 70’s and early eighties. Very few are like
the notorious SPGi
using unauthorized weapons to disperse protesters. In fact, almost
every policeman I have personally encountered in the last thirty
years has been respectful and friendly. Which is the whole point
about XR and non-violence. XR is trying to speak for all of us, and
doesn’t wish to make enemies of anyone. To quote a recent report on
the traffic block in Sheffield (19th
March), in Newsletter
#17 – Paint the Streets
Police were marvellous, supportive and protective.” 

the other hand, Joel’s experience of arrest (it’s happened to him
three times) was more sobering to a claustrophobic, than other
first-hand accounts I’ve heard. XR generally advise giving only
your name and date of birth, although a new law now states that you
must disclose your nationality – an insidious development perhaps
connected to Brexit and all the threats we’ve been hearing about
martial law? Not that one can blame the police for the follies of the

As with the military, a sense
of unity or invincibility has long been a principle of more extreme
forms of policing – an appearance of being inhuman or robotic,
their ideal. One wonders how society might have developed if all this
warring, macho, colonial bullying type stuff could have been avoided.
Whether the human race could have gone in an entirely better
direction? Yet no doubt cavemen practised cruder versions of similar
intimidation, and only the most mindless guard dog is not checked if
you suddenly appear to double in size by opening your coat. In a
sense, XR is saying that all such tactics need to be defused and
resisted. It is us as a race, of whatever colour or creed, that XR
seeks to preserve. The question I can’t help asking is: do we
deserve another chance?

in January, the inauguration of the South Lakes XR group, felt like a
great day, felt like the beginning of this chance, but was sadly
marred a few weeks later when one of its prime movers, Andy Mason,
died. I only knew him for a few hours during and after that first
meeting, yet already thought of him as a friend. When the steering of
my 55-year-old car broke as I was setting off for home, Andy, was as
helpful to me as if we’d known each since childhood. When it was
obvious that the car was beyond safe temporary repair, he and his
wife of more than 46 years, Maggie, took me back to their home while
I awaited a tow truck. Later he insisted on standing with me by the
car to be sure I would not somehow be abandoned at the roadside. More
than the act of a good Samaritan, his reassuring presence was
something I’ll never forget. Key to so many local progressive
causes, Andy’s burning desire was to see a fairer world and a more
sustainable society.

to see Maggie at the training day, tentatively I asked how she’d
been. Her reply was: “When
you’re fighting a war you don’t stop just because the comrade
next to you falls. You have to keep going.”

Which is the best tribute I can think of to both of them.

Freiesleben, March 2019

This morning, near the end of writing this report, a friend in York
drew my attention to George Monbiot’s article in today’s
(see links below) honouring Polly Higgins – a campaigning lawyer
who reminds any of us who have become cynical about the misuse of law
by powerful corporations, of the better purposes to which it can be
comprehensively put. For many years her aim has been to make Ecocide
a crime. If you have the time, read the article and watch her talk –
to which the article provides a link.

still, join the Rebellion in London on the 15th
of Apriliv.





destruction of the Earth is a crime. It should be prosecuted |
George Monbiot


XR Information

Welcome Pack for New Affinity Groups – XR Doc

Action Consensus

Participatory Decision Making – People & Planet

Regenerative Culture & Preventing Burnout – XR Doc

Extinction Rebellion Handbook

NVDA Literature

Specific Affinity Group Roles

Legal Support Team Handout – XR Doc

Wellbeing Bundle for AG Wellbeing Coordinators – XR Doc


the legal side, you might want to find out what it might mean for
you, personally, to get arrested/convicted. You need to decide what
is the right course for you, bearing in mind what is at stake for
our planet; also remember that many actions carry a low risk of
arrest and that there are many other ways to make your contribution.

Legal Briefing & Likely Charges – XR Doc

Legal advice/support for activists, bust cards – Green & Black Cross

Criminal records, DBS-checks, travel, employers – Unlock

Likely sentencing guidelines

Sign up with Mission Life Force ASAP – Mission Life Force

Conscientious Protector / Self-Representing in Court – Mission Life Force

Prison Workshop Video

Briefing on Prison – XR Doc

Legal are also here for support –


links to many more documents, including ‘action templates’ with lots
of ideas for different types of action.

Beautiful Trouble