Climate Camp: the future

Friday, 24th August 2007 at 16:23 UTC 2 comments

Well, it seems inevitable that, as soon as a big activist mobilisation is over, and more likely, while its still going on, the crazed imaginations of those who like to think into the future begins to kick in.  This year’s Climate Camp seems no different. There’s been lots of ideas floated and I’d like to address a handful of them, both my own and other peoples.

The first area for which there is certainly an abundance proposals is that of future camps. The Australians have already fixed the date for theirs, and, while I don’t know it, or its practicability for UK activists (if its the same time as Glasto, Womad or the August Bank Holiday, forget it), I shall deal with the possibilities that this allows.

It would be exciting in a way for a movement started in Britain to be forced to accept a ‘lead’ from outside our self-centered isles, a breath of fresh air in comparison to Stop the War’s amusingly imperialistic approach to dictating dates and activities to the rest of the world’s anti-war groups. Date-synchronisation would be the absolute ideal: any camp organised anywhere should ideally match, or nearly match the dates or the Australian offering, and definitely match the Day of Action which they have selected.

Single camp or multi-camp seems the big question. Single camp includes various options, mostly acceptable proposals for individual camps. One of these is a legal site set up using and as a means of teaching perma-culture, probably meaning a camp beginning to appear 2-3 weeks before the event (a great advert, just in time for a few more people to get train tickets) and then opening as a public action camp for a week, before its either taken down or reduced to a sustainable level. Wonderful idea, but finding land legally might be costly and would probably be hampered by police interference.

Anyhow, the idea of a permanent camp gives me sensations of dread, mostly because the end of the initial burst could be a difficult time for handling those we affectionately refer to as “munters” or “the brew crew”. With the hard-working wage slaves back in their offices, accusations of benefit fraud and drunken life-wasting would probably be deafening in the face of any more meaningful message.

This might, of course, be different if the camp was in an area immediately threatened by development of some carbon-emitting monstrosity. Had we been at Heathrow next year, and the application already been successful, there would have been justification for maintaining the site, but if anyone is still there now, it could be rather a disaster. And if a camp were planned to be permanent, this might make things different for those involved in planning.

Another suggestion, which, like the perma-culture option, might be a possible component of the above camp, is the option of an urban camp, probably in the form of a large warehouse or two. This could make neigbourhoods interesting, but on the plus side, non-campers might feel more at home, and those living nearby could dip their toes in better (this happened at Heathrow, but I’m imagining somewhere with more locals). This would make some tasks lots easier, especially broadband Internet, which might actually be easier to connect to!

As to a multi-site option seems very preferable. This would cut the amount of carbon each attendee uses, and would ensure people had somewhere nearer. If this isn’t coordinated, however, this could be a really bad plan. I reckon, as do others, that 3-4 camps is about the right number, and that these should be targeted across a range of industries/culprits. This would mean one camp doing an airport, one doing a power-station and so forth. Media message: we must make cuts across the board, which to my mind appears a natural next step for the movement.

This does however raise some amazing opportunities for certain aspects of the process, such as site practicalities and media. Yes, that’s right, not nightmares, but challenges which we can over come. The combined size of four climate camps is unlikely to be more than 3000, which would be a similar step up from this year, but then, we’ve stepped up from last year too, and the step up the year before was also huge, seeing as we hadn’t previously had a camp, unless you count Stirling during the G8. Using the equipment we already have in the network, we have kitchens for up to 9 sites, IndyMedia gear for 2 sites, toilets for 5 sites (allowing only 1 block each) and marquees for more than one). This is a growing movement that succeeds when it stretches itself, and yet has a formula which feels like it can grow.

Would everyone go to their local camp? No, there’d be people traveling to the camp who’s target is their pet issue. Would each camp need a separate site group? Yes, and to do so would mean bringing in fresh blood, besides, how much fresh blood was needed for each of the last two, and don’t we want to start growing a bit faster?Would each site have 1500 attendees? No, but if 600 people attended each of four camps, we’d have grown impressively yet again, and have more manageable sites like the one at Drax. Would we have 9 neighbourhoods between the camps? No, we’d have maybe 15, representing another dividing of regions towards a better organisational process.

Would we need national gatherings? Yes, but only 2 or 3, because the tasks involved would mostly be deciding which camps get which existing stuff and bulk ordering of stuff to share around, and those tasks listed under ‘networking’, such as the Glastonbury publicity offensive, and the main website. As to the media team, its definitely important to have something vaguely central, possibly even a building-based media center to handle national and international press.

Other national based stuff, there’s been several attempts at a proposal for a national gathering. This needn’t be a camp-organising gathering, more of a coordinating gathering. Fixing a Day of Action beyond the Rising Tide 15th October DOA on Royal Bank of Scotland would be an essential task, as would deciding the future of various working groups, as would development of new and smaller regions and sub-regions, and the organisational aspects of the Network for Climate Action..

Regional stuff that has been suggested includes replications of the “Spring into Action” weekend in Nottingham last year. I think this is a wonderful idea, and perhaps the best solution would be to say “lets have a month of springing into action throughout March, and let each region/city pick a weekend which suits it within that month”. National publicity, especially through the NGO links would then be able to take place. This doesn’t mean that everyone need organise a weekend, but it does mean that there’s a little more impetus. This needs to be on the agenda of the next national gathering I suppose, assuming there is one.

And so that brings me to the proposal to simply forget the national dimension and do everything at such a regional level as to be impossible to coordinate. This is in some ways a pipe dream: Britain has always been a place where success has come through working together, unlike bigger places, such as America, where individual cities have faired better alone.

This is also, perhaps paradoxically, a recipe for killing truly local action, in favour of a few big cities having something on the go. England has 53 towns/cities with a population bigger than 100,000 and I don’t think its acceptable to focus on a tiny handful of those at the expense of the rest. Sadly, I’ve heard this term ‘regional’ used a lot, and I’m not sure that’s what people are talking about. Regional doesn’t mean only Leeds, or only Cardiff and Bristol, or only Brighton; that’s local and its the cliquishness that has killed so many movements before.

Regional is Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield, Wakefield, York, Sheffield, Doncaster, Hull, Scarborough, and Rotherham and anywhere else on the list of 53 that can claim to be in Yorkshire. A Yorkshire regional camp would hopefully have a West Yorkshire neighbourhood and a South Yorkshire neighbourhood and maybe even a separate Leeds neighbourhood. By the way, its not that I don’t like Leeds or the people in it, I think they’re great, but I’m aware that by getting involved in what they’re up to, I’m just adding to the sense that Yorkshire is a one, or two if you count Sheffield, city Region.

Anyhow, I think thats probably enough suggestions to occupy 2000 people for a year, and so I’m going to stop there. Whatever happens, having regional (i.e. neighbourhood-gone-back-home) meetings is vital, as is trying to do ring rounds of anyone who might have attended the camp who won’t know because email lists weren’t taken, or of people who would have attended but couldn’t and need including in the future of the movement. Beyond that, lets have a national gathering to decide where we go from here; it needn’t be huge, but it does need people from each region, maybe 5-6, and it needs to be advertised far and wide to ensure as many of those not locally connected are brought in.


Entry filed under: Activism, Climate Change, Environment, Politics.

Climate Camp: an early reflection Reassessing the ‘Munter’ factor

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kaerast  |  Friday, 24th August 2007 at 20:46 UTC

    From an Indymedia perspective, I’d support a short-term single-site camp over long-term or multi-site. There’s just no way we’d be able to provide the same coverage if it was any longer or spread across multiple locations – you appear to consider Climate Camp to be the main action of the year, where as for Indymedia it’s just another major action with DSEi and No Borders Gatwick both coming up in the London region very soon and a network gathering straight afterwards.

    If you can actually use the Australian camp then it would make sense to do so, but this year there was very little mention of the American camps happening just before the UK one. Far better then to have the Australian one six months before the UK one, spreading coverage across the calendar. That would also mean, given the voip and sms technology we introduced this year, that Indymedia could easily cover the Australian one from the UK – or rather, people in the UK could help with it.

  • 2. Greg  |  Monday, 3rd September 2007 at 11:18 UTC

    I’d also support a short term mass action far more than a small, permanent thing. Firstly, ongoing things aren’t newsworthy and after a time they become far too easy for everyone to ignore as being part of the scenery. Additionally, after a while events lose focus, and become less about a specific issue, more about existing for the sake of existing, and for the sake of their own subculture.


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