Saturday Nov 17th 10-15am : Shutting down Waterloo Bridge 10-15 am
We had been told on social media to walk up and down the bridge until the signal was given, at which point we were to follow instructions from the stewards in white sashes. I was slightly apprehensive. I couldn’t imagine how we were going to be able to intercept the non-stop flow of traffic.
Then, suddenly a man just in front of me stepped over the barrier and sat down in the middle of the road in the path of buses which slowed and stopped.
I called, ”Do you want us to join you?”(silly question)
“If you like” he replied. We clambered over the crash barriers and in 5 minutes a couple of hundred people had blocked the bridge.
The Police were very polite, warning us that we could be arrested, and that it wouldn’t look good on our CV’s. However, nobody near me was.
We were asked by a young woman on an improvised soap box to share food and talk with someone else about why we had come. My conversation partner told me that she believes we have left it too late to stop runaway climate change but felt she must come anyway. Another, a civil servant from Bath, had never done anything like this before, but felt compelled to witness by her presence.
We were reminded all the time that this is a non violent action and it is out of desperation at the way the government is not taking the seriously the need for urgent action on climate change. For example, it allowed fracking to re start in the same week that the latest IPCC Report came out stressing the urgency of taking action to cut carbon emissions
So how does the Extinction Rebellion connect to Transition Towns?
The Transition Movement began in 2002 with just 2 towns, Kinsale and Totnes. The groups were people who wanted their towns to “transition “ from being places which depended on fossil fuels to communities which flourish, where healthy food is grown and sold, wildlife is given space and respected, the local economy thrives with small businesses set up to meet needs, renewable energy is produced and used, where people re-learn the old skills of repairing, mending and reusing possessions. It has now grown to a movement of … groups. Our little group in Ilford is one of those.
It defines itself as,
“A movement of communities coming together to reimagine and rebuild our world” The Transition website is full of inspiring stories about what people all over the world are doing in their own communities. https://transitionnetwork.org/
Transition works at community level to imagine what a different kind of society could be like, and to demonstrate that well being is increased, not decreased, by living within the limits of the natural systems of the earth. It encourage people to acknowledge and express their hopelessness, despair and pessimism in the face of all the ways we, as humans, are exploiting and destroying the earth, the air and the sea.
The protests on Saturday also came out of the raw grief about the failure of our political and economic systems to respond to this. In our society we live within a “story” of how things are in the world which seems incapable of imagining a different future, and there is a deep desire for many to break out of that. The Transition Movement is able to help us to picture what that future might look like and then start to make it happen in the places where we live.