Instead of running away to join the circus, I would join a protest camp: outdoor places of learning and purpose, infused with community spirit and love of the land, they give me hope.
I visited the Rising Up camp on Friday 13 February 2015.
The camp is protecting land and trees from a destructive and unnecessary road-and-bridge building scheme to create a bus route (Bristol needs more buses but not new roads).
The soil at stake is part of the Blue Finger with prime agricultural soil. It is irreplaceable. Soil takes centuries to form yet can be lost in no time.
Look at the timing: the destruction of these Bristol soils takes place in the year the United Nations has launched the International Year of Soils 2015 to alert the world to the destruction of a resource on which we depend for over 95% of our food.
Look at the timing: The University of Sheffield has found UK’s soils are so degraded, there may only be enough for 100 more harvests, it warned last autumn.
Look at the timing: the destruction of Bristol’s soils takes place in the year that Bristol is European Green Capital 2015.
In other words, one part of the system is aware of the importance of protecting our planet, while the other part of the system is intent on destroying it.
Here is the Metrobust 2015 calendar of city-wide destruction:
The Metrobus scheme received final planning approval on the 27 August 2014 from Bristol City Council planning committee, despite two years of protest.
The following are worth reading:
- The complaint from Alliance to Rethink Metrobus about this meeting records a shocking lack of even-handedness by its road-friendly chair, Councillor Peter Abraham, aided by an uninformed council officer.
- An intelligent and eloquent cross-party open letter sent early last week, including from Labour and Conservative MPs and several Green councillors, urging Bristol’s first Independent mayor, George Ferguson, to look at alternatives stating: “we have been frustrated by our inability to get answers from you and from your officers”.
- An excellent letter from a Stapleton allotment holder ” (added just after publishing post) saying: “West of England Partnership, who are behind Metrobus, are an unelected, unaccountable consortium of big businesses and vested interests.”
On Thursday 12 February 2015, Bristol City Council went to the High Court to evict the protesters and, surprise surprise, with the aid of top lawyers, Burges Salmon, (and supporters of Bristol Green Capital) won a court order. Above and below is a copy of the council’s possession order.
A man (who gave me permission to take his photo but would not say where he was from) handed over the order on Friday 13 December 2015.
The tree top protestors hope to halt the felling of these irreplaceable trees.
The trees are protected – read the notice!
At the edge of the protest camp, bailiffs set up flood lights last week which are kept on ALL NIGHT.
Which side of this steel fence would you rather be on?
Back in the protest camp, a beautiful village has sprung up including with a compost loo (above).
The field kitchen under canvas cooks healthy meals.
Leanna wields a packet of nutrition-laden red lentils.
Leanna shows me a cosmetically-imperfect but perfectly-healthy parsnip – the kind of produce that would be rejected by a supermarket.
Leanna who is studying nutrition tells me how she and Jack made the communal stew: Chopped onions and chilli coated in coconut oil and fried with spices to hand including turmeric and coriander spices, with water added to stew to cook the lentils and rice (providing all 8 essential amino acids) and parsnips and carrots (once muddy now scrubbed and cut), with fresh tomatoes and cauliflower and cabbage and fresh garlic added at the end.
Stew is served on a log table.
The Rising Up notice (above) says, this situation:
“reveals the crisis of our systems and our leadership. If our Mayor cannot call for the design to be altered, to stop the destruction (and he says he cannot) who has the power to bring the beast to heel?
Perhaps it is only us“.
This Rising up camp shows people of spirit and principle proclaim a stand against the might of a mindless system that turns a blind eye to its own destructiveness.
The brave protestors await the bailiffs to descend at any moment to remove them from the land and trees they are trying to protect.
– currently only 1,500 signatures away from 5,000!