Tuesday, 19 August 2008

The Camp of Hope

As usual, I report events about two weeks after they happen! It's a good thing I'm not a journalist.
I'm sure everyone read on the news about the group of climate activists who hoped to stop the dirty coal-fired power station Kingsnorth in Kent.
But getting those climate activits together is a lot more than just climbing fences, causing mischief or making it into the news for the number of arrests. It is also about hope.
This year, the camp seemed even more thriving than last year. Despite the annoying stop and search by the police - I was searched four times, the early wake up calls - 200 riot police pretending they were about to storm the camp combined with low-flying helicopters and countless others excesses on the uniformed boys part, camp life went on, as peaceful as ever, filling my mind with ideas, shaking my body into action and flooding my heart with hope.
I got two days off work (thanks, Mark) and made my way to a field in the Hoo Peninsula, about 3 miles from Kingsnorth. In this area there are three power stations, a BP oil storage unit, a harbour that makes roads crammed with freight lorries and much more, all in an area of special interest and nature reserves.

The idea of the camp is to leave the area in as good a state as we found it, so we got the sheep out and moved ourselves in, making sure the sheep could safely get back on. It is also a way to demonstrate how we can live a sustainable but fun life and especially how we can live with no leaders - using a fair decision-making process. The way we create the camp is not necessarily the way the people that attend are living their lives, but it is a way to show what is possible and most importantly, to show that we don't lose anything by going for a low carbon lifestyle. As I always say: gathering knowledge, cooking and eating good food, exercising, dancing, sleeping and having sex are all things easily done in a very low carbon way and that can keep you happy for a while. All of those things are available at the camp, except the last one as apparently there was a huge surplus of condoms!

So we pee in a bale of straw and take our poo to be composted. We eat seasonal and varied organic vegan food, even organic vegan cake! We do the dishes together and we set up a grey water treatment system with old bath tubes, hessian sacks and bales of straw. We make decisions by consensus and volunteer to do what's needed. We each do a little bit so that everyone can have everything. We use solar, wind and pedal power to supply us with the energy we need. We even have pedal-powered DJ nights (see picture), where you have to pedal if you want to dance. We share knowledge and we engage in meaningful and coherent discussions. We find the time to worry, but we also find the time to turn that into action. We find out about what everyone else is doing, discuss the science, the solutions, the challenges and the opportunities that these Climate Change times have to offer.

The transformation content of those days is incredible. The sense of urgency, as well. For me, it's a relief to find lots of people on the same wavelength, which also think that we need to to build a sustainable present before we can even think about the future.
It is also a place that exudes hope. It makes you think that maybe there are just about enough people to make the necessary social adjustments to pull us through. When peak oil, credit crunch and climate change come together, it is the drive, the knowledge, the cooperation and the creativity, offered in heaps at the Climate Camp, which will help us climb that huge wall and fall standing on our feet when we get to the other side. Or so I hope.