XR not always what you expect!

15 October 2019

I’ve never really thought of myself as much of a rebel, so why on earth did I find myself, dressed in my best suit after a meeting in the City, sitting in the middle of the road at Trafalgar Square?

That was also the question a TV crew put to me. I answered to the camera after only the briefest moment of reflection; we have done more damage to nature in knowledge of all the facts over the past 30 years, than ever we did in ignorance over the centuries before. Which tells me that facts alone won’t suffice. We have to engage in new ways to change hearts and minds, which is what Extinction Rebellion is all about.

Walking around Trafalgar Square or any other Extinction Rebellion site, and you quickly see their core philosophy of Non-Violent Direct Action being played out. Even though the message and resolve are deadly serious, the atmosphere is welcoming, creative, peaceful, sometimes playful.

All around me, I see extraordinary people from all walks of life putting themselves on the line and standing up (or sitting down) for what they believe in, come rain or shine. Among the crowd, a few big names too – I was very happy to chat to both George Monbiot and Mike Berners-Lee during my visits last week.

So what does the movement add up to? To my mind their greatest strength is their clarity of focus on their 3 core demands, coupled with a de-centralised structure that enables rapid, organic growth. And whether you love or loathe their tactics, they are undoubtedly shifting the debate up the agenda. The call for Citizens Assemblies represents a powerful new way of problem solving and a truly democratic way of working. This has implications for our parliament, for our institutions and for our organisations – we can approach this seemingly intractable problem together and find a shared solution. To hear from XR direct about the proposed Parliamentary Bill and about Citizens Assemblies catch them in conversation with Planet Pod.

Stephen Farrant

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