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28>31-8-20 Local actions preceding XR national rebellion

We wish the best to all those Extinction Rebels who will be taking in action in London, Cardiff and Manchester over the next two weeks. For our part, as a group we have focussed our efforts on the call to local action preceding this. For us this was mainly concentrated on Friday 28th, when we joined with a national incentive to get banners seen on roadways and Monday 31st, when we highlighted the role of our major banks in funding continuing fossil fuel extraction.

We have by now a series of beautiful Planet Shaftesbury/XR banners, hand-painted by Phyllis Wolff. If you’ve not seen them during some of our previous outings, check out some of the blogs below or the PS and XR Facebook pages. Two of them were set up on the Ivy Cross roundabout, and three more down the A350 at Royal Chase, watched over by a rota of volunteers. Our thanks to all who turned up for a socially distanced stint of this, even through the flash mid afternoon thunder storm. From occasional honks and thumbs-up signs it seems there was a fair bit of support for our efforts. Later in the morning, Phyllis joined us herself, with two more banners for the Royal Chase – one highlighting the renewed attempts by Dorset Council to remove trees at Dinah’s Hollow (see forum posts).

Over the weekend there were lives to be got on with, but Sunday saw things moving again, first with a spot of ‘regen’ at a gathering on Wincombe Recreation Ground, where we attempted with mixed success to get some kites up into the air, with a few planet-related messages felt tipped upon them. Later continuing with a rehearsal and a little outing for our first, local, small phalanx of ‘Red Rebels’ – in preparation for Monday’s banks action. An idea that blossomed from this initiative was (and is) to make a video which we hope to complete over the two weeks of Rebellion. So the Rebels paraded silently onto Castle Green, for film and photo-shoots, and to get used to the newly assembled costumes.

Monday saw the Red Rebels ascending Gold Hill slowly and silently, aiming to reach the front of the Town Hall at midday. There they met with supporters carrying banners and leaflets (containing information about the banks’ role in massive post-Paris agreement financial support for the fossil fuel industry, mainly sourced from the Rainforest Action Network’s 2020 ‘Banking on Climate Change’ report - ). For the next hour or so the supporters were kept pretty busy answering questions from bemused bystanders as the Rebels made their silent protest tableaux outside Barclays, NatWest, HSBC, Lloyds and Santander, before heading back down Gold Hill and disappearing to wherever they came from.

From comments and social media exchanges subsequent to the event, it’s clear that it caused quite a stir and hopefully did something to raise the level of awareness as regards the banks’ role in climate crime. Watch out for the video when it comes!

Photos: Ed Bersey, Richard Foreman, Keri Jones

Richard’s recommended reading: next blog below this one is well worth four minutes of your time. A treat of a piece on swifts by Catharine Simmonds.

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