UK Newsletter #11: Self-isolating? Welcome back to the community!
March 20, 2020 by Extinction Rebellion
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As Covid-19 spreads and we all slow down to support our communities and NHS, our movement is taking stock. There can be no doubt that this pandemic will mean major change for all of us.
We share and support the world’s priority for public health. We encourage all rebels to get very familiar with the official advice from the NHS and model it as best you can. Be aware that we don’t know how long coronavirus is going to be with us, so we need to act in a way we can maintain over a period of time.
As we begin to self-isolate and limit in-person contact, it’s vital to stay connected. Now is the time to reach out to your neighbour (NOT literally), support the vulnerable, and practise depending on each other.
We have an opportunity to bring our rebellious and compassionate hearts to this crisis. We may be house-bound but there is still plenty to do! Join a Covid-19 local mutual aid group. One rebel has put together this colourful ‘Unofficial how-to guide to community organising during the Covid-19 outbreak’.
See here for an overview of online spaces you can join in: community action workshops, sharing spaces, trainings, and more! Join the Covid-19 Telegram Broadcast here. And here’s a message from some of XR’s doctors.
Since an in-person May Rebellion is no longer an option, we will be brainstorming creative ideas for how to rebel in the time of Coronavirus.
Photo: Ruth Davey
But even as we come to terms with this new emergency, our ecological predicament remains as grave as ever.
Whatever happens next, Coronavirus has already shown how seriously vulnerable our society is. To take on both these crises – and any others we may face – it’s clearer than ever that we need a strong, resilient, adaptable community.
So this week, we want to celebrate that community.
As the world changes, we will need to adapt how we organise and stay connected. XR gatherings and even protests have successfully moved online, like XR Faith Bridge’s 40 day vigil and XR Youth’s COP ‘cyberstorm’. Find out how to move your group online!
Every one of us has our own unique rebel story, a story of how and why we chose to rebel.
To honour the people who will always make this movement what it is, we dedicate this issue to getting to know the rebels behind the action. We’ll find out what drew them to our movement, what initially kept them at bay, and what keeps them going through it all.
As Covid-19 restricts us to our homes, let’s remember what brings us together.
Photo: Sarah Cresswell
If you’d like to see previous newsletter issues, you can find them here.
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Action Highlights Back to top
The Ladies’ Bridge
8 MAR | London
Photo: Gareth Morris
On International Women’s Day, 31 brave women rebels took to Waterloo Bridge in solidarity with women across the world who are disproportionately
affected by the climate and ecological emergency, and on the frontlines
facing climate violence.
They called on all of us to recognise that the climate crisis will
soon be a reality faced by everyone if decisive action is not taken.
Waterloo Bridge is nicknamed the Ladies’ Bridge as it was built by women during the Second World War. However, no official record exists of this, and their contribution was written out of history until very recently.
Emma, Ecologist and Wildlife Conservationist, was one of the women who took part
“There was discomfort standing for 2 hours on a bridge in the freezing cold and rain, … being naked in public, facing arrest. But it was not as uncomfortable as the knowledge that right now women and girls are being displaced from their homes; starving … raped and killed as the climate and ecological crisis worsens.
Not as uncomfortable as having that knowledge and doing nothing.
Being part of XR has given me strength in the knowledge that I am no longer alone. Activism has given me hope where I felt despair.”
Into the Woods with Boris
15 MAR | Warwickshire
Borises spotted in the wild causing an ecological disaster. Photo: ReThinkHS2
Rebels and StopHS2 took to the woods of Warwickshire to urge the Prime Minister to Rethink HS2! They were confronted with the alarming sight of Boris Johnsons performing ecocide everywhere.
Matt Bishop of Save Cubbington Woods explained: “I challenged Boris when he gave the green light to HS2 destroying these beautiful ancient woodlands that he should be prepared to come himself in person and fell the first tree.
I never dreamt in my worst nightmares that ten of him would show up.”
Borises stand up for the trees in Warwickshire. Photo: ReThinkHS2
Climate Justice 101
9-13 MAR | London, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool
First day of occupation at Imperial College London. Photo: @taltakingpics, Talia Woodin
This week, students took part in an international occupation by XR Universities. Rebels demanded that universities divest fully from the fossil fuel industries to address our ongoing ecological crisis.
At Imperial College London, rebel students took part in several different actions over 5 days of occupation. They called for the University to divest the £12 million it invests annually in fossil fuels and arms companies.
Photo: @taltakingpics, Talia Woodin
As ever, students took a creative approach, drinking fake oil out of wine glasses at the private reception whilst addressing the guests on megaphones.
At Liverpool University, rebels occupied several university buildings over 4 nights. On one of those nights they staged a new class, ‘Climate Justice 101’. The University has offered to meet rebels to discuss their demands.
Meanwhile in Glasgow, students camped out in their University cloisters, protesting the fact that, despite committing to full divestment from fossil fuels in 2014, Glasgow University has backtracked significantly and has only reduced its investments by 25%.
Sara from Columbia took part in the occupation of Imperial College
“For me, the climate crisis is the symptom of the wider and far more insane illness of dominance: over nature, over women, over others.
The climate crisis allows me to engage with feminist solidarity, decoloniality, and especially justice for the communities that have suffered the longest under our current system and that are still fighting tirelessly, spiritually and physically.”
Budget Puts Planet on Backburner
11 MAR | Westminster, London
Courtesy of UKSCN & GND UK
The UK government was widely condemned by environmental groups after delivering a budget that yet again does not properly address the climate and ecological crisis.
A promised nationwide net-zero infrastructure plan was delayed at the last minute, huge sums were allocated to building new roads, and the hypocrisy of taxing renewables while subsidies for fossil fuels remain intact for another year.
On budget day, XR Faith Bridge’s 40 day vigil outside Parliament was visited by Rowan Williams. The former Archbishop of Canterbury called on the government to have the courage and wisdom to deliver climate justice.
Rowan Williams joins XR Faith Vigil outside Parliament
This budget is incompatible with the Paris Agreement to keep global warming below 2°C and the government’s own modest target to be net-zero by 2050.
Despite hosting the COP26 later this year, our government is setting a terrible example to the world by not taking its own carbon emission pledges seriously.
On Monday, XR Faith Bridge’s continuous 40 day vigil went online because of the outbreak.
Sue is a Quaker who has taken part in the vigil both at Westminster and online
“I committed to XR on the Day of Declaration. Sitting in the road beside Parliament that day, I knew mass civil disobedience was necessary, and could be beautiful. Since then, I’ve been on many actions in many places and outgrown fears of all kinds, including arrest.
The Westminster vigil was safe and very calm, and taking part at home has been just as regenerative and energising. I love that it’s interfaith.
Even alone, I feel deeply connected.”
Share some Love this Mother’s Day
20-22 MAR | Online
Don’t forget mother’s day this weekend! Write a personal expression of love for those who have mothered us, for ourselves and for future mothers and grandmothers.
Take part in this easy online action:
- Take a photo of: an item of special meaning to you or your children and post your image to social media and tag #xrfamilies #futuremothers
- Send your picture to Alok Sharma at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) email@example.com along with a message about the joint crises we face. Invite him to be brave and act for our present, our children, and our great, great grandchildren.
Miranda from XR Families on why she got involved: “I was sick of feeling frustrated and alone, and worried about the future. I don’t worry as much now because I put my energy into action. I act for those already affected by the climate emergency, my children’s future and the future of this planet.”
20 MAR | Online
Kick polluters out of COP. Fossil fuel companies should not take part in climate policy discussions, as they consistently put profits before the planet and people.
A global youth movement has united with scientists to challenge the influence of fossil fuel companies. Join XR Youth, UKSCN and Polluters Out, in creating a cyber storm of calls and messages to disrupt major polluters’ comms channels for a day! Find out how you can get involved here.
Citizens Assemblies Webinar
30 MAR | 6.30pm | Online
Want to know more about why we need a Citizens’ Assembly and how it can help fix our broken democracy?
Join this online seminar to learn the good (best practice) and the bad (common pitfalls), or join the Citizens’ Assembly Ambassador Network (CAAN) and we will provide you all the training and materials you need to support your local group. Contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to help with making decisions on actions? We are setting up a Council of rebels to democratise our internal decision making. 30 rebels will be trained, briefed and asked to deliberate on proposals from the Action Circle.
The selection for the Council will be carried out by members of the Citizens’ Assembly Working Group usingsortition to ensure it is diverse and representative.
Sign up here to get involved.
Rebel Ringers to the Rescue
Want to support rebels in your area? Want to connect them to a local volunteer network, or help them get online?
Rebel Book Club
With everyone stuck indoors, now is a great time to get through that tower of unread books. Looking for some company or suggestions on where to start? Join Rebel Bookclub, a new series by XR Podcasts and Writers Rebel, looking at iconic books about the climate and ecological emergency.
We’re starting off with a review of The Great Derangement by Amitav Ghosh, which questions the cultural silence around the emergency and looks at issues of colonialism. Listen here.
Next month’s book will be: David Wallace-Wells’ The Uninhabitable Earth.
- ‘I’m profoundly sad, I feel guilty’: scientists reveal personal fears about the climate crisis
- ‘We need to be heard’: the BAME climate activists who won’t be ignored
- Support this family’s campaign to call for an independent inquiry into the death of their 7-year-old son during the floods
- ‘We Would Break the Law to Save the Planet’: Gail Bradbrook speaks at Oxford Union debate.
- Survey: got 4 minutes to spare? Fill in this survey and help us learn more about all of you
Felix | A rebel-alchemist of the April Rebellion
Felix, lie-in at Parliament Square October 2018
In today’s Unsung Heroes, we meet Felix, a long-time environmental activist, boater and rewilder. Felix has been involved in XR since the very first action, making himself available whenever needed and whatever the task.
During the two exhilarating weeks of the April Rebellion, almost a year ago now, Felix was overall coordinator for sanitation and site coordinator for sanitation at Marble Arch. He helped ensure rebels had access to untainted water, showers and bins; he created compostable toilets on site and arranged for the waste to be removed and suitably disposed of.
Unsung as he may be, we are in no doubt that without his involvement, the two weeks that transformed public discourse on the climate and ecological emergency would simply not have been the same. Read on to find out more.
If you know an unsung hero or heroine of XR and you’d like to nominate them for this feature, please get in touch by emailing us at email@example.com
Thank you for reading. Even as we self-isolate, there’s so much exciting stuff going on in the movement that we barely have time to write this sign-off. Keep up the good work! If you have any questions or queries, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are in a crucial phase of human history, and our Rebellion needs money to make sure our message is heard. Anything you can give is appreciated.