Two weeks ago, I was one of the people who locked-on to a coal track in a protest against the building of a new coal-fired power station. I don’t break the law regularly. Don’t even have a speeding fine. Two days ago I sat on a coal track to stop the trains and refused police requests to move. Over the past seven years I have tried a variety of ways to participate in the growing climate change movement including:
- changing my light globes and lobbying my parents ; )
- local campaigning, lobbying and protest at Macquarie University and in the community with ASEN and Climate Action Newtown and at work,
- national lobbying of politicians and corporations, campaigning and creative actions with AYCC,
- international actions with Youth of the United Nations NGOs, and
- making activist climate music with The Lurkers
It is important that there is variety in the way we address an issue like climate change because it is an issue unlike any faced by the globe. I sincerely believe that all of these actions listed above help in small and large ways and congratulate you if you are doing any of them. On the weekend I took the further and less common step.
I did this because I reflected on what is effective. I don’t have cash to donate. I do climate unfriendly stuff like drive a car. I work and have fun. When I looked at what needs to happen in our community to get traction and what I can offer, this action fitted the spot. If you want to know more about Bayswater check out this site. As the UN negotiations to respond to climate change continue past their sixteenth year our planet continues to heat up due to coal burning and other fossil fuels. As our leaders talk about the difficult decisions without acting, the time to act is here.
In Copenhagen last year young people were asked by Kumi Naidoo from Greenpeace International to give their lives to solve climate change. He asked us to act, not out of desperation or fear but to act out of love for the world. Climate camp at Bayswater was overflowing with this love.
So that Friday, I went along to Climate Camp in the Hunter Valley and on Sunday I participated in civil disobediance with 130 other people. They were people from the local area including indigenous people, local farmers and city folk like me. I locked-on to seven other people making it impossible to be moved by the police while causing no property damage.
I was hooked up with carabeenas and rope to my old friend Erland as well as four sixteen year old girls from northern NSW. We had a huge amount of support and care from friends and activists who gave us sunscreen, water and food. We sat in the beating sun and heavy rain singing, dancing, telling stories and playing music for seven hours. There was even a radical marching band!
Police took us away in the paddy van and we sat in the holding cell for a few hours chatting and were out by 10:00pm. The under-age protestors got a lecture from the police and were let off without any charge! My court date is set for 21st February, 2011. Me and Erland will be heading back up to Muswellbrook on that Monday and might be let off the charge of ‘tresspass and remain’ and ‘ locking on’ with a Section 10 if we can show we are of ‘good character’.
The action was a coordinated, peaceful demonstration of the community’s frustration about expansion of coal-fired power stations in NSW. It was successful and positive. I feel proud to have been involved, even as someone who was not brought up to be politically active. Climate change is something that I think we can beat if we act in substantial ways now and continue to. I have not written this to convince you to lock-on but to explain my story.
When we were locked on we sang a lot of songs. One song by David Rovics resonated with lots of people. Here are the lyrics and here is a video of David singing it for some people arrested in the Copenhagen demonstrations.
So much gratitude to the Climate Camp organisers for creating such a wonderful event.
Weary H. and the lurkers