My Christmas Letter
And so it is, a few days later than planned, that I sit down to write a Christmas Letter to you all. I haven’t received many this year, but I shall be finding the time to read the ones I did, and those my parents have received, over the next couple of days. Holding down a full time job, even with so-called “social hours” can get pretty unsociable it seems!
Before I get into the long details of the year, and half of you (metaphorically!) stop reading, I’d like to wish you and those around you a very Happy, Peaceful Christmas and New Year; hope to those of you who are down, and continued joy to those who are on the up. More than ever I appreciate the very many people who keep me going, keep me sane, and keep reminding me that humanity, despite its ability to do great evil, is still capable, and often already doing, many great things.
I’m currently living in York, in a house with 3 students, though one is leaving to be replaced by an old friend. I’ll be here till June at least, and possibly till the June after. Whilst working as a Drawing Control Administrator (posh term for office dogsbody), I’m also enjoying life inside the student bubble here at York, which is both refreshingly and annoyingly different, whilst enjoyably familiar. My membership of People & Planet is keeping my activism ticking over, and I’m also a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy society and DougSoc, two excellent collections of geeks.
My involvement in St Barnabas has almost ended, partly because I now live the other side of York. I continue to be involved with Visions and Transcendence, our monthly service in the Minster, in which we create a unique blend of traditional high church worship with modern music (read, ambient electronica), lighting and visuals. You really all should see it (2nd Sunday most months). We’ve had over 100 people some months, and continue to make waves, with academics and church leaders visiting to see what the fuss is about.
And so the round up of the year. Just before last Christmas, I arrived back here somewhat abruptly. I very quickly found 5 weeks temp work, followed immediately by 6 weeks in a similar role elsewhere. This took me into March, during which I returned to Bradford briefly to help people campaign for Union positions. Whilst my parents were away on their 3 month world tour, I flat-sitted for them; nice, but a little lonely at times. It was at about this time that work began on my big project of the summer; a cafe run by Christians at Climate Camp.
After a month’s break from paid work, in which I seemed to work full time on activism, I was offered ongoing temp work at Shepherd Engineering Services where I worked until July 18th. July 19th I arrived in London. July 20th I caught an early train to Strood and went to a local church on the peninsular. July 21st I set up the Climate Camp Office in London. It was all go from there, answering phones and emails and generally making the finishing touches to the camp and cafe organising, though finding just enough time to meet up with over a dozen friends of mine, many of whom have settled there recently. How long before I get dragged to the shining city (sic) myself?
The camp was, despite the efforts of the police, a success, with more people, much direct action, and a huge range of workshops. When we arrived, we had several important pieces of cafe kit removed from us by the police; a running theme of the camp. Everything from piping and kitchen carpeting (a health and safety requirement) to board games and poster paint was taken off people and the policing was roundly criticised by a plethora of politicians and other notable people.
The cafe was a definite success: we served tea and coffee to hundreds of people, and each night we gathered, with other Christians from across the site, to pray and worship. On the Tuesday, I had the bizarre pleasure of welcoming my parents to the camp! Mum did a communion service that night, and it was nice to show them the camp, which they describe in their Christmas letter as “people living sustainably and participating in well-organised, high quality workshops, etc.”.
After a couple of recovery weeks, during which I headed to Soul Survivor (for those who don’t know, a large Christian sort-of-festival), I visited Copenhagen where I took part in an International Climate Gathering, followed by the European Social Forum in Malmo, Sweden, just 10 miles (and a very long bridge) away. In 2009, Copenhagen will be the venue of the most critical round of negotiations for a global climate change deal. Work is well under way now, with a major march on either the 5th or 12th December for which there’ll be transport from across Europe, including the UK, so start saving now! The whole summit will be marked by civil society forums and a range of different events.
Then, one Monday, sitting at my desk at home, worried work might not be forthcoming, my phone rang. It was my former agency offering me my SES job back again. When asked how soon I could start, I replied “Give me an hour”! It was all very sudden. But I then needed the next day off because of the court case taking place in York for the 29 activists who blockaded a coal train in July. I shall be doing more on this next year, no doubt.
December saw the Climate March in London once again, and once again I organised a bus down from York. My Mum and Sister took the train, and I played with Samba York during the march, before having a picnic with Mum and my sister who’d come by train. Apart from the Climate March, I’ve been on an activism break since November, but hope to return for whatever 2009 may bring. We’re expecting some kind of Climate Camp remixed, probably urbanised, this summer, and Copenhagen in the winter, and I look forwards to both, as well as whatever else 2009 brings.
In closing I want to wish you all happy festivities and a good year in 2009, no matter what ups and downs it brings.