Dave Brown, a founder member of DorsetCAN, has tips on planning a holiday in 2021 and inspiration for anyone who can no longer bear to stand idly by... He writes:
This is a crucial year for life on our planet. That’s no exaggeration; if anything it is a colossal understatement. The decisions we make as a species this decade will determine the scale of catastrophe faced by us, our youth and the next generation. We knew that before Covid-19. This year we need to resist the temptation of relapsing into the short-term thinking that the pandemic forced us from. Otherwise we are collectively doomed.
With this in mind, my wife and I wonder what on earth a holiday looks like against such a depressing backdrop. Flying for pleasure seems suicidal, ungrateful for this island’s natural beauty and as unlikely to bring pleasure as a glass of wine with an extinguished cigarette floating in it. I am 100% behind tests, quarantines and last-minute cancellations but that does not make them fun.
Two events loom large on our shared calendar: the G7 Summit and COP26. We're tired of hearing about critical events like these on the news and accepting the disappointment that nothing has changed afterwards. We want to show up, to make our interest and attention visible. To signal to friends and relatives that it has come to this, and that this is something they can do too. And that it’s fun!
The G7 summit is a no-brainer. It’s in Cornwall in the summer and neither of us has explored there much before. We both take time off work, pass a lateral flow test and set off for St Ives. We stop off on the way to break up the journey and to share our mission with the people we care about – for us this is parents, an uncle, and a school friend who I haven’t seen in 10 years. Excellent times all round. (continued below...)
After a lot of trial and error, my wife and I agree that for us to make an impact we need our efforts to be sustainable. We're not natural campers. We don't fit neatly into any image of eco-radicals. To succeed, we believe the climate movement must be a Mass Movement, which means that it’s members must be more dissimilar than alike. Believing that “The unfair systems we have now are killing our planet and we need to change that.” is all the unity we will need. We pocket our anxiety that we might not be ‘green’ enough for the other activists there, and take Extinction Rebellion at their word that they “avoid blaming and shaming individuals”. We decide to show up and join on our own terms.
We stay in an Airbnb which it turns out is run by a famous climate activist so that’s a reassuring coincidence. We walk to the XR muster point in St Ives, where we accept banners offered to us to carry as well as bust cards in case of arrest. After a brief intro we join the parade through St Ives, marching to the sounds of some joyous Samba drumming. I'm not trying to diminish the efforts of protest and action organisers here, far from it. But this weekend highlights how much room there is for people to just show up and join in. We're thrilled to see locals spontaneously joining the parade and many more cheering from homes and businesses we pass.
Did we actually have any impact on the G7 world leaders? I would love to think our peaceful protest could stop the juggernaut of capitalism in its tracks and redirect it. Clearly that did not happen, but we cannot know what the world would be like without our protest. Aside from the protest we had a great time shopping and eating locally. I am now convinced that an action-centred holiday can effectively combine the benefits of protest and recuperation, and we will be at COP26 if we are able to get there responsibly in terms of the pandemic. The message that sticks with me after the G7 summit weekend, was printed on a jacket worn by a rebel, and reads “Despair Ends / Tactics Begin”.