Earth First! Summer Gathering 2017

Don’t miss this year’s Earth First Summer Gathering that is happening just outside of London. Five days of skill sharing for grassroots ecological direct action – make links, share ideas and get involved in the struggles against fracking, new roads and more. There will be a prisoner support space and letter writing, as well as a workshop on toxic prisons. Plus a SoilHack workshop!

For full details visit: http://earthfirstgathering.org/

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Help me support Sam through her cancer treatment

I have launched a crowdfunder to help with the costs of supporting my best friend in prison during her cancer treatment.

You can donate here: https://gogetfunding.com/help-me-support-sam-through-her-cancer-treatment/

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About

My best friend Sam in prison has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. After 9 years of hell in the British prison system, she now faces her biggest challenge yet.

For the last 7 years I have supported Sam alone, spending most of my income on prison visits, phone credit and travel costs to help her survive and appeal her sentence. I have never asked for financial help before.

Right now I am fundraising to help with these costs:

– subletting a room in London so I can go to hospital with her each week day (circa £400-600)

– travelling to HMP Peterborough every weekend (circa £80 each weekend)

– extra phone credit for Sam to call me more as her main source of emotional support (circa £25 per week)

– sending money to Sam for extra food etc in the prison as prison sick pay is only £2.50 per week (circa £25 per week)

My needs exceed this fundraiser however I am so aware of how many people around the world need financial support. This fundraiser is aimed at friends who can afford it, please don’t contribute if you’re on a super low income and trying to simply survive yourself. Thank you for your care and solidarity, it means the world to me and Sam.

The First Announcement

“So 3 weeks after Charlie dying in prison, I’m sad to share my best friend Sam inside has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. They’ve told her she’s stage 3 and that she has a 50/50 chance of surviving. The last few days have been lost to fear, sadness, grief and rage. We are still waiting to learn how far it has spread.

I’ve supported friends historically to live through cancer, while being there for others while they died. But going through this while navigating the brutality of the prison system is too overwhelming for words.

I’m desperate to organise against the prison system, to support friends experiencing repression and to work with others to accelerate agroecology… But right now I need to let people know that supporting Sam is gonna take all my energy, love and strength.

I’ll be needing lots of TLC, lots of shoulders to cry on, and lots of patience while I figure out next steps and how this will affect us on different levels.

London friends expect me on your sofas! Thank you to my amazing friends that have helped me breathe in and out the last few days. I know I’m one of millions who have people they love experiencing the same distress, pain and uncertainty. We have to destroy this capitalist society and the prison system that kills us from the inside out. Our lives depend on it. #fuckhmp #freedomforsam”

For more info on how it has felt to undertake prisoner support work the last 12 years please read a post I wrote here: http://www.emptycagesdesign.org/overcoming-burnout-part-12-the-relentless-rollercoaster-of-prisoner-support/

Earth First! Winter Moot, February 2016

nocompromiseIf you live in the South West, in fact if you live in the UK, make sure you get down to this. It’s always inspiring & lots of fun:

EF! Winter Moot 2016

You are invited to attend the Earth First! Winter Moot, a gathering for people involved or wanting to know more about ecological campaigning and direct action in the UK.

Cost is £25/30 at the Centre for Science and Art, 13 Lansdown, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL5 1BB.  Stroud station is a 5 minute walk away.

Arrive Friday 5pm, leave Sunday 6pm. Friday 19th – Sunday 21st February.

Vegan meals and accommodation are provided.  Bring a sleeping bag and roll mat for the communal sleeping area.

Coming to an EF! gathering for the first time?

Those taking their first steps innto ecological campaigning are warmly welcomed.  There will be debates, discussions on campaign planning, updates, support and soldarity, tactics, strategies, community building, sustainable activism and networking including groups campaigning against:

fracking, incineration, new roads, GM (genetic engineering).

Earth First! is a banner for independent groups who share a common need to protect our ecological systems.  We believe in non-hierarchical direct action, to stop and reverse the forces responsbile for the destruction of the earth and its inhabitants.

For info or offers of help, contact us on:
southwest.earthfirst@riseup.net
earthfirstgathering.org

Interview on Transition Network

Nicole Vosper on seeing prisons as “one massive creative design opportunity”

When I went to the recent 2015 International Permaculture Convergence, one workshop I really wanted to go to was about permaculture and prisons.  I couldn’t go though, as I had to be somewhere else. So I subsequently got in touch with Nicole Vosper, who led that workshop, and interviewed her instead!  Nicole lives in Somerset, and runs a website called emptycagesdesign.org.  As an ex-prisoner who is actively involved in permaculture, her work focuses on the bridge between the two.  I started out by asking her why she feels that the prison system needs a rethink:

“I did a 3 ½ year prison sentence when I was 21. Twenty one months was in a private prison in Middlesex. That was in a backdrop of long-term organising for different social justice projects and campaigns and struggles.

My perspective on the prison system is that it’s inherently violent. Even with bigger cells or more adequate healthcare or more visits, or more education and training, or gardens in prisons, all these things that people throw around; even with all of those reforms I believe it’s inherently violent, because I believe that act of caging a human being is violent. Prison abolition, which is something I organise for, is about looking at what other solutions are there to the social and economic problems that the prison system is allegedly meant to be solving.

In what ways does the prison system, in your opinion, have unfairness designed into it fundamentally? Is it a fundamentally unfair design?

Nicole VosperAs a design, the prison system is incredibly effective in the sense of who it’s serving. It’s serving the State, and it’s also serving the hierarchies that exist in our society. Anyone who is engaged in any sort of social change work will probably see prison or repression as a limiting factor or a fear to overcome to push for more change.  Prisons are fundamental to maintaining this social order in our society and they’re really essential to maintaining this class-based system that we have, especially in the UK.

There’s an author called Karlene Faith who wrote a book called ‘Unruly Women’ about women in prison, and she describes prisons as places “where all the injustices converge”; so prisons perpetuate inequalities in the sense of race. People of colour are highly criminalised, have totally disproportionate sentences, especially foreign nationals and this new wave of – well it’s not new – racism towards immigrants. Immigrants are increasingly becoming criminalised and filling up our prison system. That’s no accident.

Prisons harm disproportionately queer, gay communities, the homeless, generally just the working class. The war on drugs and all these other things that the state holds as keeping us safe, the ‘us’ being this privileged minority, is actually false, and I feel that prisons are definitely perpetuating more harm than they are preventing or solving.

It’s quite a step from that to the idea of abolishing prisons altogether. Is there not an argument that actually prison keeps most people safe from some really violent, unpleasant characters; that there are some people for whom prison is a necessary thing?

I understand that prison abolition is a challenging perspective, especially if people are new to these issues. When I facilitate workshops around this field, I always ask people “what makes you feel safe?” “What keeps you safe, or your community safe?” The things that come out of those workshops, and these are workshops with all sorts of people: ex-prisoners, different community groups, even permaculture people at these conferences, the same pattern has come up again and again.

Access to healthcare, accountability if someone has experienced harm… If someone has experienced rape or abuse, or murder or violence then they need to feel some level of accountability with the perpetrator of that harm. Indigenous communities all over the world have managed to function without the use of huge state-run prisons. It’s a fallacy that we couldn’t organise our society without them.

I always bring it back to what keeps you safe, and most people say if they’ve experienced harm that they want a supportive group of friends around them. They want to have that communication with the perpetrator eventually. They want to feel immediately safe in their environment. So for me, the link between prisons and permaculture is actually redesigning our society and building communities that can really meet people’s needs so you don’t have people having to commit crime, using that discourse of crime to actually meet their own needs.

Most people in prison are there for economic reasons, or because their communities are criminalised. The criminalised communities that are in prison are the ones that are experiencing the most harm. So you chat to anyone in jail and they’re the ones that have experienced being mugged, being burgled, sexual and financial abuse, everything. It’s not really working for anyone. The people who experience the harm the most are the ones that are filling up our prisons.

You mentioned that you were in a private prison. One of the things that a lot of people listening to this might not be aware of is the extent to which the prison service is now a private commercial operation. Could you say a little bit about that and how that affects who prison serves and what the experience is for people on the inside?

This term the ‘Prison Industrial Complex’ has emerged in the last couple of decades to describe the more complex web of relationships that underpin the prison system. It’s never just been the state that runs prisons, but increasingly it is private companies that are running institutions. For example, all of the immigration detention centres in the UK are run for profit by private companies. What’s problematic about this isn’t just the ethics involved, actually profiting and serving your shareholders through caging certain groups of people; it’s also that the private prison industry have a lot of power and lobbying power so they can actually change our whole criminal justice system because they can put pressure to change different sentences and make reforms and stuff, so it changes the whole landscape of our criminal justice system.

Image: oneway2day.wordpress.comImage: oneway2day.wordpress.com

In terms of private prisons, I’m not pro-state prison by any means at all, but there are definitely some differences and patterns. For example, of the top five prisons in the UK with the highest rates of self-harm last year, four of them were private prisons. You have this effect where companies are trying to cut corners because that’s their business interest and that obviously is going to affect prisoners, so that will reduce staffing ratios, making prisoners a lot more generally unsafe, higher levels of abuse between staff.  In the prison I was in, 4 or 5 different officers had been sacked after I left for sleeping with women in the prison.

This level of abuse is rife in UK jails. There are obviously contracts with private companies that are directly profiting from the labour of prisoners, companies like Virgin or DHL, they are all making money by paying prisoners a maximum of £25 a week, and that’s a job that could have gone to someone on the outside for minimum wage or more. It’s completely shocking that they’ve created this system to profit from something that is so exploitative and harmful, and it is destroying communities by removing people from those communities.  We’ve had horrific things of capitalist exploitation, war, everything else, but I do think there is something really screwed up about making money from actually caging people.

What, for you, would prison abolition look like? If people were guilty of violent crimes or whatever, what would be the ideal way of managing that, or treating that?

The most important thing is that there’s no one solution to anything. What would work for me or maybe my community wouldn’t necessarily work for another. So it’s about having this constellation of alternative strategies to respond to harm, just like indigenous cultures have got all variety of tools and community processes to respond to harm in their communities. We’d have to do that work and that design work and that practice and that development to actually be able to respond to these issues.

Credit: Jenna Peters-GoldenCredit: Jenna Peters-GoldenA lot of those tools already exist, especially in more anarchist subcultures. We have things like ‘safe spaces agreements’ and accountability processes. There’s a model that has come out of North America called ‘Transformative Justice’ which emerged due to the needs of survivors of sexual violence wanting to not endanger the perpetrators of that violence and subject them to the criminal justice system but actually to look at alternatives and to support them to transform their behaviour, so everyone is transformed by that process; it’s not just a case of restorative justice where you’re restoring the same power imbalances that perpetuate the harm.

For me, prison abolition is one massive creative design opportunity of how can we keep our community safe, and what tools and processes can we imagine to respond to harm in a way that doesn’t give power to the state or lock people behind bars. In terms of this violent minority that we’re meant to really fear, that’s a big cultural myth that perpetuates this idea that prisons are natural, normal and necessary. I know there’s a book where the guy had spent time in Broadmoor as a psychiatrist working with five of the top serial killers in the UK. He said not a single one of them hadn’t had the most brutal, traumatic childhood.

So for me in terms of actually dealing with people that have perpetuated that level of harm, I think it needs to look more like a care model. I used to work with autistic adults, for example, that were quite violent and aggressive and it would be about what meets their needs. So I could imagine smaller systems where we actually treat individuals as needing care and support rather than needing more violence inflicted upon them.

Could you say a bit about where the permaculture comes in? Some people would think permaculture and prisons just means making gardens in prisons, but I get a sense from your work that you see it as a much deeper thing than just planting a few apple trees in the yard in the prison.

For sure. For me, permaculture and prisons have always been quite linked. I learnt about permaculture inside – I got a Distance Learning course when I was in prison and studied permaculture in there, worked in the gardens and encouraged the garden officer to let us grow veg rather than just weeding rose bushes. I’ve always seen that they do go together quite well in the sense that I see permaculture as being a way to completely redesign our society that meets human needs while increasing ecosystem health.

I get a lot of emails from people that want to do projects with prisons and plant gardens, but this isn’t really the work that I’m doing, or the work that I’m overly interested in. Being in the gardens in jail really kept me sane and really nourished me while I was there, but it’s a very cosmetic intervention. I feel that the power of permaculture gives us a lot more ability to transform society than we imagine at the moment.

So for me, it’s more about totally redesigning our societies from the ground up, which is obviously what people engaged with the Transition movement are doing and that’s super inspiring.

But I’m not dismissive of projects with prisoners. There are some really inspiring examples, especially in North America. People leaving prison really need support. They really need access to create a new way of life, because most people coming out of jail are landing straight in the same situation: poverty, benefits, drugs, violence, the same sort of patriarchal culture. So creating opportunities for prisoners to come out of jail and actually access land and build livelihoods, to find purpose and meaning, and actually be able to feed themselves, would be super inspiring and necessary.

I’ve met people who have been in and out of prison who actually will often get sent back to prison because it’s some stability. It’s regular meals, you’re warm, and I wonder what does that tell us about how crap stuff is once you get out and how little support there is when you get out, that going in and out and in and out just becomes a pattern for people. How do we break that pattern?

Nicole leading a workshop on permaculture and prisons. Nicole leading a workshop on permaculture and prisons. Without a doubt. Something like 65% of offenders – I don’t like the word offender – but of prisoners return within 6 or 12 months. So most people in prison are people that have been there before. There’s a design tool in permaculture, this idea of “a spiral of erosion”, identifying where that erosion is happening and where the leaks are. I feel like we can intervene in that system by looking at why people are returning to prison.

The main reason is getting kicked out of jail with a £46 discharge grant hasn’t changed in the last 4 years. Then you have to wait a month maybe to get your benefits sorted, and the grants from the state like the emergency fund from the Job Centre aren’t available any more. The Salvation Army is completely over-subscribed. You can’t get on the housing register and it’s literally no surprise that people return to prison. No surprise at all.

I could really see the change in the just-under 2 years that I was there, with all the government austerity measures, and how that was really harming people because all the services inside the prison were just getting stripped left, right and centre. The housing team lost their jobs, the group that worked with foreign national women lost their funding and then people were getting out and were completely unable to access support from charities or other bodies that used to exist. So prisons really link with this national impact of the state, and it’s basically class war on working class people in the UK.

Could you paint us a picture of what your vision would be of a fair, just, justice system? If you were to leap forward 20 years and this had happened, could you paint a picture of it for us? What might it be like?

For me, fairness is actual real social justice and a real egalitarian society, and I don’t feel that’s possible in our economic system and I don’t feel that’s possible when we have the existence of the state which is going to protect the people at the top of the hierarchy. So to have fairness would be to totally transform all our social relations and make our society less stratified and less hierarchical. Ideally, in my fantasy head, an anarchist society where we’re addressing our power relationships left, right and centre, where the minority don’t have a monopoly on violence over the majority.

In terms of a more positive, creative vision  – it would be communities actually being less atomised and having relationships with each other, and people actually paying attention to things like sexism, racism, so that there aren’t such endemic levels of domestic violence or drug abuse. Most substance abuse comes from people being sexually abused when they were kids so if we actually had a revolutionarily different society that kind of harm hopefully wouldn’t happen, or at least in definitely wouldn’t happen at the levels that we have now.

So I can imagine a constellation of alternatives in communities developing different tools and when we don’t have the haves and the have-nots I’m sure that would definitely stop a lot of the crime as we know it happening.

How might we start to move towards what you’re talking about?  We’re so far away from it at the moment.

We need to be investing time and energy into developing ways to respond to harm. Things like Transformative Justice are a lot more common in the US, but we need to really build up those tools and those ways of existing so that we can actually meet our own needs without the state. So I feel like that’s something that if people are interested in People Care or Zone 00 work or Inner Transition, then they could be actually really addressing some of the different forms of oppression that we have in our society like racism, sexism, able-ism and even just thinking about things like class within the Transition movement and the permaculture movement.

Artists impression of new super-size 'Titan' jail being built near Wrexham. Artists impression of new super-size ‘Titan’ jail being built near Wrexham.

To me these feel like huge elephants in the room that we don’t discuss enough, so really looking at design interventions around them. Practical projects with ex-prisoners, I think is super important. If every permaculture project or community garden in the UK could support a couple of apprentice ex-prisoners, I think we’d definitely make some sort of dent.

But more than anything, it’s this idea of  “are we making gardens in this battlefield?” I do feel like we need to politically engage with this and if people are really passionate about permaculture then applying design to grassroots campaigns. They’re building Europe’s second biggest prison right now in North Wales. Six days ago they announced a new prison they want to build in Jamaica funded by the British state. These are all things that are happening right now and I don’t feel like we can be neutral and I don’t feel like we can be passive. We need to organise and we need to resist the growth of the expansion of the prison system while simultaneously developing alternatives and doing more one-to-one work with ex-prisoners.

More information on Nicole’s work linking these issues here.  She also suggested, for those interested in learning more, the following links:

Empty Cages Collective resources section 

Community Action on Prison Expansion 

Bristol Anarchist Black Cross 

Critical Resistance (North America) 

Reclaim the Fields International Action Camp 2015: Towards a world without prisons

IMG_1201From the 28th August to the 2nd September 2015, the Reclaim the Fields International Action Camp drew over 130 people to Wrexham, North Wales, to resist the ‘North Wales Prison Project,’ the construction of Europe’s second largest prison. Held at Borras Community Protection Camp, a site camp established to oppose fracking in the area, the gathering sought to link land struggles with resistance to the prison industrial complex(1) and ongoing mechanisms of state violence and dispossession.

Connecting the dots

From Saturday to Monday, a comprehensive programme of workshops, discussions and practical activities took place. People connected the dots between struggles around the prison system, food sovereignty, borders, and other aspects of the world post-enclosures. Several workshops explored the brutality of the prison system, introducing the P.I.C., ongoing struggles around IPP prisoners, nonhuman prisons and how prisons relate to gender and queer struggles, and over the course of the weekend a permaculture design was developed for the camp and people began work on a herb garden, biochar system and solar panels for the site.

Never alone, Never forgotten

Throughout the camp several actions took place. In the evenings, folk took sound systems, megaphones, and other noise making instruments to local prisons determined to show prisoners they are not forgotten and not alone. HMP Stoke Heath, HMP Drake Hall and HMP Altcourse were all visited, with many prisoners shouting back and banging their doors. Chants like “If you hate the screws, clap your hands” rang out under a full moon.
As part of the International Week of Solidarity for Anarchist Prisoners, children at the camp made a banner for UK anarchist prisoner, Emma Sheppard. Letters were written and prisoner stories shared. Banners were also made for comrades on tag and repressive bail conditions who couldn’t make the physical gathering.

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In the Streets

There were also highstreet actions, with folk leafleting Wrexham about the prison and how they can get involved in fighting it. On Monday a protest was staged at P&A Landscaping. They are the prison’s landscapers and have supplied several fences and materials to the jail. In response their public garden centre was visited and customers were informed about their role in prison expansion.

Day-long Blockade of the Prison

fire to the prisonsOn Tuesday 1st September, around 20 people blockaded the three access gates to the Wrexham Mega-Prison’s construction site. This simple action was easy to co-ordinate, and with confused and unprepared police and site staff, had a big effect with very little effort. A queue of trucks were prevented from entering and exiting the site, including a huge cement delivery which had to be turned away before it spoiled. Simon Caron, Project Director for Lend Lease, begged protesters to let it in saying, “We’ve been reasonable letting you protest, please just allow this one to get through”. No one budged and vehicles delivering materials failed to enter. Read about the action in the local newspaper here and here.

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Suppliers targeted regionally

As camp participants networked and bonded, regional groups formed to take actions against local targets in their own areas. (Find a list of suppliers in your area here). One group visited the Gloucestershire offices of Precast Erections Ltd, the company supplying concrete blocks used to build the prison. More actions are planned. Contact your local group to find out how you can get involved in Community Action on Prison Expansion

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Solidarity Protest at the Court

On Wednesday 2nd, people from Reclaim the Fields supported a local woman, Vanda Gillett who had been charged with assault during the Barton Moss Community Blockade. Following a guilty verdict, anger erupted in her defence. The court was occupied and ‘scuffles’ with the police took place outside. Four people were arrested and people moved to demonstrate at the police stations where they were being held. See a video and mainstream media article on the day here.

Due to the arrests and priority of station support, further actions in Manchester were postponed, however local people motivated by the anti-prison struggle are keen to continue to target local companies and delay the construction of this super prison.

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Reclaiming the Fields, Reclaiming our Lives

Reclaim the Fields is a constellation of people and collective projects willing to go back to the land and reassume the control over food production. We are determined to create alternatives to capitalism through cooperative, collective, autonomous, real needs oriented small scale production and initiatives, putting theory into practice and linking local practical action with global political struggles.

IMG_1175This camp is one part of our story (read the UK history here). We are not a ‘campaign’ or ‘coalition’ or a ‘mass movement’. We are diverse people, projects and struggles converging and diverging all over Europe. The manifold of ways in which capitalist economics comes to dominate the land (whether that be through the construction of prisons, drilling for gas or the exploitation of industrial agriculture) implicates and connects us all. While gatherings and action camps can be politically limited, they are not the be-all or end-all of our work. They are points of encounter, a chance for comrades to meet and critically reflect on how these struggles shape our lives. Read more about how RTF organises in our latest bulletin.

IMG_1171The gathering came alive through the work of an incredible group of people working collectively and horizontally. Numerous ex-prisoners and people who have supported loved ones through jail were present and moved by the experience. The passion and the hate for the prison system was very present and very visible. As was the desire for something more, for growing food, reclaiming land and living differently.

We will continue our work to reclaim our lives from the state, from our capitalist economic system and oppressive prison society. Until All Are Free!

– Reclaim the Fields, September 2015

(1)  Defined here as the overlapping interests of government and industry that use surveillance, policing and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social and political problems.

Reclaim the Fields Action Camp is moving!

From Reclaim the Fields:

We are very excited to announce that 10 days after announcing the camp, the access license which would have enabled drilling, has lapsed. The Dudleston Community Protection Camp is being dismantled and local campaign group FrackFreeDudleston have made the following announcement below.

The camp will now be moving to Borras Community Protection Camp which is closer to the prison and needs and welcomes community support. For more information on their local struggle visit: http://www.frackfreewrexham.org.uk/the-camp/

With a change in location, there are a few practical alterations. Please make sure you read all of the pages & information about the camp: http://www.reclaimthefields.org.uk/reclaim-the-fields-international-action-camp-2015/

We are extremely grateful to Borras Community Protection Camp for their offer to host (no small task!) and are very excited about the gathering.

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Press release from FrackFreeDudleston:

FrackFreeDudleston, along with the Dudleston Community Protection Camp, would like to make the following announcement. The proposed CBM test drilling will not now happen because the Access Licence with Mr Hickson, the landowner, has lapsed. When Dart Energy started the process of applying for permission to drill in spring 2014 they thought that the actual drilling would take place that autumn. The residents of the Dudleston area looked into the proposals with an open mind and then almost unanimously concluded that it was seriously bad news for the community and the environment and would not provide a meaningful source of energy for the country. Since then Defra have been forced to publish their own research showing that communities will indeed suffer. The modest amounts of money being promised to local councils as a softener for granting permission will do nothing to mitigate the impact on the people who live nearby.

The planning application was contested by the whole community and is continuing its slow and tortuous passage through the planning appeal process. Now that the Access Licence with Mr Hickson has lapsed, it is technically possible for Dart to win the appeal and end up with a permission that they have no ability to utilise. FrackFreeDudleston, on behalf of the community, are confident that that won’t happen and are working with Shropshire Council to present a thoroughly robust case that should establish a national precedent for an unconventional gas application being refused planning permission at appeal.

In July 2014, the Dudleston Community Protection Camp arrived at the site with the aim of physically preventing any drilling from taking place, as had happened in other areas around the UK. In Chester the planning permission was granted over a year ago and has still not been implemented because a similar community protection camp was established on the site and remains there today. That is happily no longer going to be necessary here and we would like to thank Yellow and his colleagues on behalf of the community for their dedication to the cause.

An important question is whether the threat of drilling to find gas has gone away from this area for good. There are no certainties, however we have established that this area is geologically unsuitable. We have also established that we have a very united community, willing to stand up for itself in defence of the rural way of life that we enjoy. Almost all landowners in the area now understand the harm that would be inflicted by even just test drilling for gas and they know that they would be letting everyone else down if they were to sign up. Provided we remain united, the threat has pretty much gone away.

Permaculture & Prisons – Talk at the Permaculture Picturehouse

I will be talking at the Permaculture Picturehouse in London next week. Check out the event link & directions here: http://permaculturepicturehouse.co.uk/4th-august-permaculture-in-prisons/

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4th August – Permaculture & Prisons

Ex-prisoner Nicole Vosper explores the links between permaculture and working for a world without prisons. She introduces the prison industrial complex in the UK and how the current system fails and harms communities. The workshop will explore how we can use permaculture to design and build communities that meet human needs without resorting to cages or state violence.

Failing to meet the needs of survivors of harm, criminalising and brutalising the working class, prisons serve no one but those at the top. For Nicole, essential links are to be made for all those that believe we can re-design our social and economic systems. Nicole sees organising for prison abolition as a creative act. It is the unstoppable desire for self-determination, social justice and ecological living that the permaculture movement is rooted in.

For more info on her work visit: www.emptycagesdesign.org |www.prisonabolition.org

Doors open at 6:45pm. A small charge to cover costs is asked for on the door. The bar is open late.

 

Reclaim the Fields International Action Camp 2015

RTF Camp 2015 Small

About the camp

Reclaim the Fields (or RTF) UK was born in 2011, as a star in a wider constellation of food and land struggles that reaches around the globe. Since 2011, camps and other RTF gatherings have helped support local communities in struggle, share skills, developed networks, and strengthened the resistance to exploitation, in Bristol, west London, Gloucestershire, Nottingham and Fife among other locations.

Every two years there is also an international camp, where people from around Europe and beyond meet together to support a local struggle (from gold mining in Romania to open cast coal mining in Germany, for example). People share share stories and ideas about resistance and reclaiming our food system beyond national borders. This year, an international gathering will be held in the UK, in Dudleston, Shropshire, on the Welsh/English border.

The aims of the camp are:

  • To support local communities in the west and north west of England, and the north of Wales with their struggles against fracking
  • To increase participation in Reclaim the Fields
  • To demonstrate visible, active opposition to prison construction
  • To support Dudleston Community Protection Camp build a garden and infrastructure to become more self-reliant
  • To demonstrate the interconnection between these struggles
  • To inspire and radicalise everyone involved

What’s taking place?

  • Two days of Action – Tuesday 1st & Wednesday 2nd September – demonstrations & actions against companies involved in the construction of the North Wales prison, as well as local fracking-related targets.
  • Workshops & Skillshares – Over the bank holiday weekend there will be abundant opportunities to learn, share, discuss and connect with other people.
  • Building & Growing on the site – Be part of installing gardens & low impact infrastructure at the community protection camp. Learn about permaculture, agroecology, forest gardening, mushroom growing, pallet construction, compost toilet making, off-grid electrics and more.

Why this camp? Why now?

  • This camp has been organised to support the local community in Dudleston to resist fracking in their area (as well as working with other local anti-fracking groups & protection camps in the North West who have been resisting extreme energy developments for a number of years). To find out more about their struggle visit: http://frack-off.org.uk/blockade/dudleston-community-protection-camp/

Practical Information about the Camp

Click on the links below to find more practical information about the camp and how to get involved:

Getting involved

This is a DIY camp and everyone is needed to get stuck in to make it happen. People are needed to:

  • Support with publicity before the event – sharing the gathering online, putting posters up, encouraging your local group to get involved. People are also needed to help design the programme, respond to emails & plan facilitation.
  • Helping with site set up & building infrastructure (planning this in advance & being on site a few days before the gathering)
  • Signing up to a shift over the weekend to help with cooking, site set up & safety, being on the welcome tent & so forth
  • Supporting local groups to organise actions

If you can help with any of these tasks please email info@reclaimthefields.noflag.org.uk

Who are Reclaim the Fields?

We are a group of peasants, landless and prospective peasants, as well as people who are taking back control over food production.

We understand “peasants” as people who produce food on a small scale, for themselves or for the community, possibly selling a part of it. This also includes agricultural workers.

We support and encourage people to stay on the land and go back to the countryside. We promote food sovereignty (as defined in the Nyéléni declaration) and peasant agriculture, particularly among young people and urban dwellers, as well as alternative ways of life. In Europe, the concept ‘food sovereignty’ is not very common and could be clarified with ideas such as ‘food autonomy’ and control over food systems by inclusive communities, not only nations or states. We are determined to create alternatives to capitalism through cooperative, collective, autonomous, real-needs-oriented, small-scale production and initiatives. We are putting theory into practice and linking local practical action with global political struggles.

In order to achieve this, we participate in local actions through activist groups and cooperate with existing initiatives. This is why we choose not to be a homogeneous group, but to open up to the diversity of actors fighting the capitalist food production model. We address the issues of access to land, collective farming, seed rights and seed exchange. We strengthen the impact of our work through cooperation with activists who focus on different tasks but who share the same vision.

Nevertheless, our openness has some limits. We are determined to take back control over our lives and refuse any form of authoritarianism and hierarchy. We respect nature and living beings, but will neither accept nor tolerate any form of discrimination, be it based on race, religion, gender, nationality, sexual orientation or social status. We refuse and will actively oppose every form of exploitation of other people. With the same force and energy, we act with kindness and conviviality, making solidarity a concrete practice of our daily life.

We support the struggles and visions of la Via Campesina, and work to strengthen them. We wish to share the knowledge and the experience from years of struggle and peasant life and enrich it with the perspectives and strength of those of us who are not peasants, or not yet peasants. We all suffer the consequences of the same policies, and are all part of the same fight.

Read this in: French, German, Spanish

Earth First Summer Gathering

Don’t miss this year’s Earth First Summer Gathering in the UK. Five days of skill sharing for grassroots ecological direct action – make links, share ideas and get involved in the struggles against fracking, new roads and more.

For full details visit: http://earthfirstgathering.org/

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New Zine – Repression & Solidarity in Bristol: A collection of writings from anarchist prisoner Emma Sheppard & others

em-zine-coverA new publication has been produced with writings from anarchist prisoner, Emma Sheppard. There are also articles from local groups such as Bristol Defendant Solidarity, communicating recent police attempts at repressing anarchist and other communities in Bristol.

To download a readable version click here: Emma Zine

To download a pages version to print click here: Emma Zine Pages

For paper copies please email: bristol_abc@riseup.net