Social movements evolve to meet the conditions they are facing. Over the past three years, the world has watched the growth of the Climate Camp movement. From its origins in England as direct action protests at coal plants and airports, the Climate Camps are proving to be an exciting new development in the global strategy of climate action. And its spreading! In the last three years Climate Camps have popped up all over the world, and are growing in size and scope each year. This particular blend of activism combines elements of direct action and non-violent civil disobedience, with education and experiments in alternative forms of community development.
What does all this amount to in the real world? It means 1,000 people living in tents for a week, attending workshops on diverse subjects from how to build bicycle "pedal-power" generators and home compost systems, to how to blockade an airport. It means eating from communal kitchens with pots of couscous for 300, and it means engaging in conscious decision making, and helping to plan the future actions of the movement.
One overarching philosophy at Climate Camp, is the idea that urgent and immediate action is needed to slow the pace of climate change. Participants engaged in creative protests and blockades throughout the week, targeting such "climate criminals" as BP, Shell, and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
These actions reflected a growing transition in climate action: We are making our movement as beautiful as the things that we are fighting to save. The actions throughout the week were filled with jovial creativity – from naked protestors exposing the "naked truth" of Edelman PR’s greenwashing campaign, to protesters with cardboard saws and wrenches declaring an "Ethical Renovation in Progress" at Royal Bank of Scotland’s headquarters. Creative theatrics are a powerful tool and are proving that grassroots actions can use a little creativity, some colorful banners and some face-paint to compete with snarky million-dollar advertising campaigns. We have beauty on our side, all the birds and trees are rooting for us – so lets remember to keep things positive, and when in doubt – dance!
The Camp at Blackheath isn’t all these British activist are cooking up. This October 17th, just one week before the International Day of Climate Action, The Great Climate Swoop will descend upon RatCliffe-on-Soar coal power station. This "swoop" intends to shut down the coal plant and to raise awareness about the harmful effects of coal. Many of these activists will then return to their communities on October 24th and talk about what they did, and why they believe urgent action is necessary.
There are many ways to take action for climate justice. And while chaining yourself to a group of friends and blockading doors isn’t for everyone, there are ways for everyone to participate in climate action on October 24th. From tea parties to dance parties, we need all types of actions to make our unified voice heard loud and clear. Register your creative action today!