Wednesday, 28 March 2007

choose life

I was just talking to a friend who is researching relationships between donors and government in Aceh, Indonesia, about jobs, and how to get them.

She came across this piece of advice from George Monbiot to choose life instead of other things.

how to doc

See How to use the blog

Protest disrupts slavery service

Toyin Agbetu, protester, with a police officer

Saw this on the BBC news website. Just thought I'd share it with you as an example of non-violent direct action.

Toyin Agbetu interrupted a commemorative service at Westminster Abbey marking the 200th anniversary of the act to abolish the slave trade.

The event, attended by the Queen and Tony Blair, was almost over when human rights campaigner Toyin Agbetu began shouting: "This is an insult to us."

He condemned African Christians for taking part and told them to walk out.

The service resumed minutes later after security guards led him outside. He was arrested and is being held in custody.

Toyin Agbetu is a campaigner for Ligali, an African-British human rights organisation.

He managed to get a lot of publicity by taking this action and has raised questions about slavery and its impact on us today. What we don't know is the preparation he took part in, his support network (if any) and whether he considered the likely impacts he might have.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

More nukes like fish need more ...

Been busy, but wanted to add this to Carl's entry post-Trident protest (14 March).

eostre events on

For full listings of activities in April from the day of the fool see the Network for Peace site.

Me and Z are off to Aldermaston, with some, but not all of the Slackers* on Easter Monday/Tuesday 10th. See Block the Builders and Trident Ploughshares for more info.

* Slackers are a non-violent choir. We might sing or we might not.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

every journey begins...

Dear reader, I am currently trying to write a step-by-step process for posting comments on this blog, that will, hopefully, be difficult to misunderstand. I writing this post to test whether the steps I'm drafting are easy to follow. I'll then ask you to try them out. If they are not clear to you, then I'll re-write them.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Helen Dymond

I hope I am connnected after various attempts... ...More and more does power reside with the computer-savvy. I wanted to say, I went to a presentation recently by one of the Peace Tax Seven (affiliated to 'Conscience') who are challenging the automatic allocation of part of our taxes to the arms industry, and want these monies ring-fenced for a Peace Fund to pay for "life-affirming activities such as health care, education and non-violent conflict resolution." They are taking their case back to the European Court of Human Rights under Article 9 of the European Convention. I have a DVD of their recent doings but they can be accessed on
all good wishesHelen Dymond

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Trident and untested

Up on Parliament Square yesterday to join the protest against the renewal of Trident.

Lots of good speeches; but I was particularly interested in the one from a woman from Block the Builders (anti-Aldermaston developments), who was involved in direct action at the camp. She said nine of them had earlier blocked the road and were now being held under SOCA - serious and organised crime legislation.

Then the fish on bikes turned up and there was a bit of argy-bargy with the Police. Made me think - why are a whole load more of us not organised to take part in mass blockades?

For further thought perhaps - getting people to break the law is fraught with all sorts of complications. In the meantime, it was good to see a healthy mid-week turn out - the struggle continues...

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

What is the Peace Process in Nepal Leading To?

A Discussion on the Challenges of Mainstreaming Maoists, Federalism and Madhesh Movement, presented by London Chhalphal & SOAS Nepali Society with Mr. Kunda Dixit Chief Editor and Publisher, Nepali Times.

17th March 2007, Saturday, 2:30 - 4pm

Venue: Room B104, Brunei Building, Russell Square Campus
School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
London, WC1H 0XG Nearest Tube Stations: Russell Square, Euston Square, Euston

Mr. Kunda Dixit is currently the chief editor and publisher of Nepali Times and the co-publisher of Himal Southasian magazine. He is a graduate of Columbia University, USA. He worked as news reporter for the BBC at UN Headquarters in New York from 1985-86, and then as Asia-Pacific director of Inter Press Service from 1987 to 1995. He returned to Nepal in 1996 to head Panos Institute South Asia. He is also author of the book, Dateline Earth: Journalism As If The Planet Mattered.

London Chhalphal is a Nepal-facing discussion and networking forum. The forum provides an opportunity for anyone interested in Nepal to share, learn and debate wide ranging issues from politics, development, people and society. London Chhalphal is an independent platform that neither endorses nor is affiliated with any political ideology or organisation. The views of the speakers are their own.

Saturday, 10 March 2007

Additional Non-violence Readings

Center for Teaching Peace -- course readings, and an invitation for further study

I was flipping through notebooks, bookmarks and my mind this morning thinking about today's homework and I re-encountered this page. I have found it to be a great resource for my own 'peace journey' as well as having drawn from the articles for workshops I've facilitated.

It is such a good resource, I sort of felt like I ran into an old friend.

I've never sysmatically worked down through the readings though, and I wonder would anyone out there be interested in complementing our TTT training by reading a lesson each each month, and sticking around for an hour afterward to discuss them? Or perhaps a different set-up, another night, another channel?

Friday, 9 March 2007

Fish on Bicycles mass cycle against Trident

Open your eyes, and move those legs! Alternatively start your engines for a mass one-set-of-eyes car-car! ;-)

14 March 2007, LONDON. "Fish on Bicycles mass cycle ride"
Meet at 6.30pm under Waterloo Bridge for a mass cycle ride around central London. Inspired by Steve Bell's cartoon depicting Tony Blair calling for a replacement to Trident, next to a fish demanding a new bicycle, the cycle ride will demonstrate just how pointless and ridiculous the government's plans to build a new generation of nuclear weapons really are. Bring anti-Trident messages, and dress as a fish or other non-cycling amphibian to highlight the pure stupidity of replacing Trident. (Dressing as a fish is optional!) Download a specially-made "fish on bicycles" race cards displaying Steve Bell's cartoon (to be attached to the front of bicycles) from <>
Please note that arrests, although unlikely, are a possibility. For more information the events and actions taking place on Trident Vote Day, please visit:

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Iran film

Check this out

NVDA meme spreads

In today's Guardian G2, there's an article on the spread of NVDA. A piece on how organisations like Seeds of Change are offering workshops to activists on direct action - bit like TTT I think.

Made me think about how we spread the method beyond the usual suspects. The more we spread these ideas to different interest groups and communities the more powerful the tool becomes. While TTT is clearly linked into many campaigning organisations, we need to think through how we get to those that are either unaligned or those that are in organisations but have no idea about NVDA. Given that two of the highest profile NVDA campaigns in the 20th century were for national liberation (India) and civil rights (USA), and were not for or about white people, we should perhaps also think through why these methods have little current resonance with people from black or minority ethnic communities?

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

can theatre change the course of history?

We missed this at the Almeida Gallery:

We asked the Almeida's artist collaborators and the students whether theatre can change the course of history. Their response came about as part of a theatre laboratory - a practical and artistic investigation of the strength and importance of ideas and the power of the collective to effect change.

But they have kindly given us instructions on how to devise revolutionary theatre

the many doors to our activism

Turning the Tide held its Resource Person gathering at Bilberry Hill Centre near Birmingham over the weekend. The programme, ably put together by Bob, Denise and Sophie, focussed (I think) on 'the roots of our activism'. The weekend was, for me, strangely unexpectedly intense, cohering and exhausting. The venue provided more doors than seems possible for a youth centre, and a splendid place to view the moon as it went orange and threatened to drop out of the sky.

through the hatch

We were a mix of older RPs (both in terms of length of involvement in TTT and in years age, it seemed) and several of us newbies (though interestingly we newbies facilitated several of the sessions). And we delved inside ourselves... at least that's how it seemed to me. Carl's session using an exercise from neuro-lingustic programming (NLP) took us up and down a 'ladder' of our activism: our environments, behaviours, capabilities, beliefs/values, identities and spirituality/vision, both in the present and how we would like to see them in the future. It shook and scared me, strangely: connecting parts of me, internal and external, trying to figure out how I and my activism fit together, and how I would like them to. I think it was also incredibly productive.. but I'm still digesting.

many doors lead to many chairs

We had two sessions that made little waves, like nails catching on nylon: 'spirituality and our activism', run by Helen D, and 'class and activism', by Amanda. Both stirred (some of us) up, me included, and I'm still not sure why: partly making me (or us? I don't think I can speak for anyone else though) confront things I feel uncomfortable about, define my acts and thoughts in terms that I don't feel right using. And of course these led to good discussions, and overhanging thoughts that seeped into lunch and dinner.

Sophie and Rachel have a Sunday

Chris and Amanda get classy

And what lunch and dinner they were! Jenny and Rachel seemed to create big pots of goodness out of nowhere and in no time. We ate around a big table, something between a school canteen and Busaba Eathai communal tables, with food passed through the hatch from the cavernous kitchen.

deep debate by the fridges - Chris, Allison, Helen and Carl

Ally and Denise through the hatch

And there was energiser fun... never has a gym been as fun as went 10 of us ran around doing car-car, one eye-closed, the other driving them, making suitable noises on top of giggles. It led on to more discussion about why this stuff works, carnivals and fools, SOMA from Brazil (see Carl's comment below, and Rachel, please tell us more!). And of course the songs, led by Rachel, drawn from SLACKERS: South London Activist Singers. Encore.

Sophie gave us an overview of who's who in the TTT world, and talked through what TTT is doing at the moment, and where she and Steve would appreciate some help. If any of the words below make sense and call to you, call to her.

What TTT does

And in the middle of all this, the clouds cleared, the sun went behind the earth and the moon went orange.

Monday, 5 March 2007

Post-conflict Truth and Reconciliation in Peru

An evening of reflection and music on the 1980-2000 conflict in Peru, and discussion of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's final report.

Organised by Movement for the Abolition of War and the Peru Support Group in association with St Ethelburga's Centre for Reconciliation and Peace.

We will remember those who lost their lives as a result of the conflict between Peruvian state forces and the Maoist group Sendero Luminoso ('Shining Path'). The final report of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which took evidence from relatives who lost loved ones, or who were themselves subjected to violence during the 20-year conflict, will be reviewed.

A 3x2-metre, collective quilt produced by women from the Ayacucho region of Peru - and first exhibited in May 2002 to the TRC - will be displayed and its production and meaning discussed. Music from the Peruvian tradition complemented by British songs of peace and reconciliation will provide a background to the evening.

Speakers and performers include:
- Roberta Bacic (Chilean human rights lecturer, researcher and activist)
- John Crabtree (Latin America Centre, St Anthony's College, Oxford)
- The Andean music group, Sangre Andina
- Sue Gilmurray (singer-songwriter)
- Fernando Cari (Peruvian painter)

At 6 pm on 12th March 2007 at St Ethelburga's Centre for Reconciliation and
, Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AG
Nearest tube: Liverpool Street
Location: Just south of the junction between Bishopsgate and Camomile St.
For futher information contact MAW on 01908 510642 or Peru Support Group (020 7354 9825)

Saturday, 3 March 2007

occupation of carbon neutral company

Dear tide-turners,

I thought the description of occupying the carbon neutral company's offices was highly interesting...playing the blues on the harmonica? messing around with stressballs? what on earth did they think they were doing? The fact that the employees didn't seem to get the point that a protest was going on, and then the police turned up and left without even bothering to evict them indicates to me that they were not protesting effectively: they might have done better to go and make some cogent and cutting-edge points about the uselessness of carbon offsetting at the house of commons after all.

On Feb 10th I had interesting discussions about what non-violent protest actually achieves: some are cynical. I am not cynical and I continue to go on demos and support various protests because I think at the very least there is a healthy, spirited, communal support-building and consensus-building function to public demonstrations. They build common strength of feeling and conviction among those of us who participate, and this is useful in the strengthening effects it has on the rest of our lives and the conversations we have with others and the way we can change our lives. If they pass vital messages about public opinion to policy-makers, then that's great, but it's probably marginal and secondary.

So, to what extent might the three harmonica-players who occupied the carbon neutral company have strengthened consensus and support among others? the other two of them, perhaps. Did they influence policy-makers? not a sausage, I suspect. Did they make a valid point? Yes, perhaps, via indymedia and email lists. To those who already agree, such as myself.

Tideturners, your thoughts? Are they brilliant political satirists? Useless funsters? Is their protest still a protest because they reckon it was, while others clearly didn't give a toss? Is the internet replacing the need for 'real' direct action on the grounds that news travels better on the internet and makes more people think?

I can think of a better protest: send a polite jiffy bag full of coal to the next person who tells you proudly that they offset their weekend break in wherever...


Friday, 2 March 2007

Activists occupy Carbon Neutral Company

‘Six Go Searching for the Heart of the Carbon Neutral Con’ – what happened when a small group of intrepid aficionados of climate justice occupied the Carbon Neutral Company offices, London, 21.2.07

A good day was had by those three of us who walked into the Carbon Neutral Company (CNC) at 9.30am, deciding to dispense with duplicity and say we were from London Rising Tide. Having signed in, we decided one of the two boardrooms in the spanky new ‘King’s Cross is very up-and-coming-don’t you-know’ offices would do the trick, and quickly barricaded ourselves inside with the boardroom table and chairs. Actually it took a while for them to work out what we were actually doing – they might have wondered why we had moved the table and were drawing big words in felt pen on the flip chart paper, but that didn’t automatically spell out the words ‘office occupation’ to them. ‘Weird kindergarten types’ maybe, but ‘protest’, no.

The words eventually spelt out the slogan ‘Carbon “offset” = climate upset’, which we stuck to the windows facing down on the insanely busy street below, where our three friends below had a banner fiendishly bearing the exact same slogan, and were busy symbolically sweeping coal under carpet for a Swedish TV crew and anyone else who was intrigued.

Back upstairs, we spent the day drawing more big slogans (‘Carbon Neutral Con’ being one), ringing the press, playing the blues on the harmonica, throwing executive stressballs at eacho ther, talking over the issues, sleeping, and chatting to the CNC CEO who subsequently told employees that we had refused to talk to him, when in fact he had declined our invitation
of a reasoned discourse, albeit through the glass of our barricaded door.

Why is it that people like that always seem to think that the offer of a meeting in the boardroom where we get to sit with the grown-ups and maybe even eat some of their biscuits while outlining our concerns is going to result in anything other than yet more prevarication and empty greasy promises of a fruitful working relationship to come in the future? And why
would the world outside have any interest whatsoever in the news that yet another campaigning group has been coaxed in from the icy streets to join together in mutually beneficial partnership with another bunch of bemusing-statistic-spouting besuited lunatics who claim that markets are going to dig us out of the climate crisis. Phew. Short version: watch out if you get invited into the cosy offices of the dark forces, boys and girls, unless you want to end up on the boss’s knee.

When the police arrived, one asked with dark jocularity if the one of us who was locked on by the neck to the door-blockading-table had any life insurance. But then they went away having said it was unlawful but not illegal and that it was a civil matter, leaving us to enjoy the tranquil drowse-making summer sunshine until we decided to make a move at 4.15pm,
while the All Party Parliamentary Committee on Climate Change, run by the CNC, to which we had declined the opportunity to make a presentation, was still in session, with the Women’s Institute taking our place alongside Friends of the Earth and Stop Climate Chaos. (*)

We had been harbouring a stray piece of coal all day, and so, once we had tidied up after ourselves and pulled the table from the door, we presented it to the (extremely helpful) receptionist along with a note reading ‘Offset this (please)’. Actually, on reflection I think it should have read ‘Offset this (cannot be done)’ or somesuch similar. But never mind, we were free, or free at least after I had scampered to the open plan office and said to the underwhelmed assembled ‘Goodbye…and by the way, please find a better way to save the planet, because this method ain’t working’. At least I hope that’s what I said.

We'd been discussing through the day about what effect our action might have been having on the employees working in their open-pan office behind one of our boardroom walls. The indications that we could glean were that we had upset them mightily, and who wouldn't be upset by a group of outsiders wandering in with a message that what the company is doing is doing the opposite of helping the climate heal. We tried to make it clear that our critique was
of the company - not to mention capitalism itself - but still it can't be a hundred laughs to have us lot saying that the morality of offsetting is deeply flawed.

And then, with an apology to the man at the desk who we signed in with, (he seemed relaxed about it, fortunately,) we really were free. Free to enjoy the bourgeois delights of this teeming metropolis, free to accept a free lobotomy (sorry, I mean ‘London Lite’) from an overworked giver-outer chasing a quota, free to enjoy a rush-inspiring throwaway-cupped smoothie
in a caff down the street, free to trundle home to a warm house and immediate access to the wonders of the www. Yes, free to acknowledge how bedded-in we are to this system built on exploitation and injustice, topped off with a wholesome-looking but totally toxic layer of bullshit and greenwash. Hypocrites? Probably. In that case, how about ‘hypocrites who helped strip away that toxic layer just for a millisecond and let some real daylight flood into the debate’? Definitely. And I feel really good about that.

(* This was our response: ‘We're declining the invitation to address the
meeting, since we believe in the creation of mass movements striving for
systemic social and ecological change. Engaging with the committee would
be a distraction from that, as it's not in the interests of either
Parliament or private companies to call for - or work for - such change.
Also, we are deeply sceptical about the apparent privatisation of the
committee process, especially when the company concerned is profiting
handsomely from the sale to the public of the phony solution that is the
carbon offset.’)

The Coalman

London Rising Tide,
c/o 62 Fieldgate Street, London E1 1ES; Tel: 07708 794665
Shell is the new sponsor of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award.
Send your photos and artworks in to our 'Shell's Wild Lie'
counter-exhibition: &

See also the Camp for Climate Action site:
as well as Climate Indymedia:

Thursday, 1 March 2007

books of games for facilitators and trainers

House of Games - Chris Johnston, Nick Hern Books. ISBN 1854599054. From the perspective of theatre and impro.

The Gamesters handbook 1,2&3 - Donna Brandes and John Norris, Stanley Thomas Publisher. ISBN 074873506. Lots of games - cooperative, about learning, about community etc

Games for actors and non-actors - Augusto Boal, Routledge. ISBN 0415267080. Brazilian founder of Forum Theatre. Many many activities and a practice philosophy in one book.

Theatre games for the classroom - Viola Spolin, Northwestern University Press. ISBN 0810140047. What it says on the label. And how to connect/sequence them.

Participatory Workshops - Robert Chambers, Earthscan. ISBN 1853838632. Activities across the spectrum of a participative process and some games.