Newsletter 2020-06-22 — ‘Inaction = Death’ action (25th June)

Rebels blocking Worcester St, Oxford - calling for a Bus gate.
Bus Gates action in collaboration with the Oxford Green New Deal Campaign

Building Back Better!

As we move from strict lockdown to tentatively rejoining the world, the focus turns to building back better than we were before: cleaner, fairer, healthier.

And many of us in Extinction Rebellion Oxford have also been re-energised to be ‘building back’ again. By which we mean back ‘on the streets’ again! (Although we recognise the often invisible yet sterling work of those who are shielding and can’t yet join us – we hope to be reunited soon!).

This issue celebrates the recent and upcoming actions pushing for a green and just recovery…as well as our new announcement form, which any rebel can use to share news to XR Oxford across all channels, and our new Telegram channel!

Contents

  1. Upcoming Events
  2. What you can do to help Oxford #buildbackbetter
  3. Lockdown Letters #2: A just transition
  4. ‘Inaction = Death’ Action
  5. Rebel Trail – rise up against HS2
  6. A Fourth Demand for Climate Justice?
  7. Food and the Climate & Ecological Emergency
  8. Trees of Hope get radio news
  9. Black Lives Matter, bus gates and bike rides – a roundup of other actions

Upcoming Events

Monday 22nd June, 8pm – Lockdown Letters (for Robert Courts’ constituents), meeting link here | Meeting ID: 837 3575 3628 | Password: 140422

Tuesday 23rd June, 7.30 pm – Lockdown Letters #2

Thursday 25th June, various times: ‘Inaction=Death’ Day of Action

Friday 26th June, 6.30pm – June Bike Ride by Oxford Critical Mass

Saturday 27th June, 5.40-8pm – ‘2040’ Screening with XR Banbury (£1, online)

Saturday 20th – Saturday 27th June, HS2 Rebel Trail

Monday 29th June, 6.30-8.30pm – ‘‘A Fourth Demand for Climate Justice?’ – People’s Assembly

Thursday 9th July, 5-6.30 pm – Food and the Climate and Ecological Emergency, a talk by Vicki Hird and Miles King – RSVP

Best on Catchup

What you can do to help Oxford #buildbackbetter

  1. Right now: Sign and share the #buildbackbetter petition to demand that the county council helps to keep Oxford safe from a second wave of Covid-19 and to turn Oxford into the UK’s leading walking and cycling city, using their £3million grant from central government. 
  2. On your next walk or cycle: take a picture of yourself walking or cycling and post it online, tagging ‘@Oxfordshire County Council’ (on Facebook) or @OxfordshireCC (on Twitter) and using the hashtags #BuildOxfordBackBetter  #BuildBackBetter 

Share with your network and nominate 5 friends and family to do the same!

  1. On Monday 22nd June: Join our ‘Lockdown Letters’ session on Monday 22nd June, collectively writing letters for a just transition (see below)
  2. On Thursday 25th June: Join a national day of action to deliver or email these letters to our local MPs (see below for full details)

Lockdown Letters #2: A Just Transition

Tuesday 23rd June, 7:30 pm, on zoom. Meeting ID: 913 6787 3148; Password: 101455

Our second ‘lockdown letters’ action! Email or write to your MP to call on them to act now. Public pressure is growing for the government to use the recovery from the Covid crisis (which will require massive state intervention) to tackle both the Climate and Ecological Emergency and the inequality and injustice in our current system. Add your voice, and ask your MP to take urgent action.

Join the Zoom to find out more and discuss points we might all want to make. We will then write our letters sociably over Zoom. XR UK have made a template letter to adapt, or write your own from scratch. And if you prefer, you can download the briefing for this action and take action on your own or with your affinity group.

The more letters MPs receive, the more notice they will take of them. This action also helps build towards our on-the-street actions on 25th June…

‘Inaction = Death’ Action

Thursday 25th June, all day | See here for artwork ideas | Full action planning doc | Letters briefing

A nationwide day of action to remind our MPs of their responsibilities for a post-Covid future!

The Committee on Climate Change recently called for post-Covid recovery to be a just transition, “focused on green growth, social parity and improved resiliency”. Their latest report will be released on June 24th, and is likely to be very critical of government failure to act. To coincide with this report, we will take part in a coordinated national action to deliver a clear message to our MPs that they must force the government to take immediate preventative action to avoid climate collapse, by implementing a Covid recovery plan that achieves net zero carbon by 2025.

When and where are we in action locally?

  • Oxford West (Layla Moran): XR Canaries will be in Bonn Square, Oxford (location here) with large versions of their letters and placards at 3pm. They will probably do a slow march of the surrounding area, and will be wearing a combination of green and black. Anyone from Layla’s constituency is welcome to join. Email canariescoordinator@gmail.com for any further details.
  • Abingdon (Layla Moran): XR Abingdon will be meeting at Abingdon market place at 12pm, walking to Layla Moran’s office on Barton Lane to deliver a letter and take some photos (location here), finishing by 1pm. See the Facebook event for updates or email xrabingdon@gmail.com 
  • Oxford East (Anneliese Dodds): Headington Fringe will be writing letters to Anneliese Dodds, and organising a presentation of a letter at her constituency office in Cowley (location here) at 4.30pm. We welcome all rebels in the Oxford East constituency to join us in the letter-writing and/or presentation action. Please contact Mark and Marion at headingtonfringecoordinator@gmail.com and we will send you our briefing notes and any updates.
  • Witney (Robert Courts): XR Witney and XR Oxford Swallows will be meeting 11am-12noon outside Courts’ Witney office (58-60 High Street, Witney, OX28 6HJ) with our printed letters. If bringing one, try for a wide array of colours and styles, not just a standard letter. We will be hosting a letter-writing Zoom on Monday 22nd June at 8pm on Zoom (meeting link here | Meeting ID: 837 3575 3628 | Password: 140422)

Alok Sharma is Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, tasked with “ensuring that the country has secure energy supplies that are reliable, affordable and clean” and “tackling climate change”. He will be in charge of COP26 in 2021. XR will be marching a short distance to Alok’s office (location here) with manure and the message “Action – not horseshit!”.

Safety

As with all in-present XR actions at the moment, please:

  • Observe social distancing guidelines
  • Wear a mask
  • Bring hand sanitiser
  • Do not come if you have any symptoms of Covid-19
  • If you cannot attend in person because you are shielding, email your MP instead, and take a photo with your letter at home and share it online!
Oxford rebels Jessica and Xanthe starting the Rebel Trail

Walk the Rebel Trail – rise up against HS2

Saturday 20th June – Saturday 27th June | Full briefing and route | ‘Get involved form’ | Action Design pack

Along with non-rebel communities, XR is walking the HS2 route from Birmingham to London: 125 miles in 7 days. We will carry symbols of the woodland and species being destroyed to the heart of London. This action aims to raise awareness for the HS2 campaign and bring us together as a community. Join us along the way, or run your own woodland walks in your local area, make banners, spread the word, or take part in any way you’d like to!

If you’re going from Oxfordshire, join this WhatsApp group to help find other people going on the same day, share lifts and support!

Why are we rising up against HS2?

  • The estimated cost is already 400% over-budget, two decades before it is due to be completed
  • The plans include three special stations linked to privately owned airports which have each filed for permission to expand. 
  • Communities in the North of England were never asked what they needed. The UK government is spending their taxes on a new, high-speed link to London, when key rail links between Northern cities are poorly maintained and already unaffordable for most.
  • Right now, 63 Ancient Woodlands are being wholly or partly destroyed by HS2 Ltd. Countless species are being decimated that were already under threat due to habitat loss.
  • HS2 will not be carbon neutral in this century by the contractors’ admission. Join the WhatsApp group to keep in touch. Drivers and help with logistics are needed!

A new way to publicise your news

We want to help all rebels publicise their news so that it reaches as many people as it can. We’ve recently put some work into making this much more possible!

📬 1. New Announcements Form

If you have a piece of news, a request for help or a new project to share, you can now use our new announcements form, found here: www.xroxford.org/announcement (bookmark this link if you use it a lot).

Once you fill it in, your announcement will just be given a very quick look over by the Comms team to check all the details are there. Then it will be sent out to all three of our main channels (the new Telegram channel, the Announcements email list and the Facebook page) automatically. You can choose all three or filter which one you’d like to send it out to. No more logging in to cross-post across multiple places! Please leave up to about a day for your post to go out.

📢 2. Join our new Telegram channel and/or group!

We have a new Telegram channel up and running! https://t.me/xroxford If you like the headline news and announcements from across XR Oxford, without the chat, this channel is for you.

Attached to this is our new Telegram community group: https://t.me/xroxfordcommunity for wider discussion around issues important to XR both locally and nationally. You can read the guidelines for our community group here: http://tiny.cc/xrgroupguide

To access these groups you will need to first download Telegram on your phone: https://telegram.org/apps

📝 3. What this means for the Announcements email list:

An important update is that sending updates to the Announcements email list can only now be done via the announcements form, not through email or on the online forum. Do not email the announcements list from now on if you want to advertise something – it won’t work.

🙋 We want your feedback!

If you have any feedback on how to improve this system, please do share it with us at xroxfordcomms@gmail.com and we’ll see what we can do!

Food and the Climate & Ecological Emergency

Thursday 9 July, 5pm-6.30 pm | Online talk |  RSVP

Join us to hear Vicki Hird and Miles King discuss what’s wrong with the current food system and explore some of the solutions. Vick Hird is an award-winning author working with Sustain, The Alliance for Better Food & Farming, and is Campaign Coordinator for Sustainable Farming. Vicki will talk about what a sustainable food and farming system could look like in the UK, and discuss what is blocking change.

A report commissioned by COP25 named Miles King as a key journalist influencer on the Climate and Ecological Emergency. Miles is a conservation ecologist with specialist knowledge of grassland and agricultural habitats and an interest in the relationship between nature and people. He has worked at the conservation charities Plantlife, The Grasslands Trust and Buglife. He will be discussing how we might change land use to tackle climate chaos as well as issues around waste, animal farming and bioenergy from crops.

Trees of Hope on Radio Oxford

Last month, XR Headington Fringe created their own Tree of Hope, adorning a cherry tree in Bury Knowles park with their hopeful and inspiring messages. The colourful paper leaves contained messages written by local people and rebels about what they are most looking forward to when lockdown measures ease. One of the messages said: “I hope to hug you soon.” Rebels wrapped a beautiful banner adorned with flowers, birds and leaves around the trunk. It said: “With hope and respect for nature, let’s build a better world”.

Mark, another Headington Fringe rebel commented: “so many people say they’ve heard more birds singing this spring than ever before. We can learn from our experience during the pandemic about what really matters to us, not just to help us get through this but also to encourage our community and city to look at what can be done in the longer term to make Headington – and Oxford – a better place to live and work in. These leaves express what we think is important.”

Listen to local rebel Marion discussing the project on Radio Oxford (starts 14:05 | Read the Oxford Mail article

XR Rebel Ride - Rebels cycling in Oxford.
Credit to Zoe Broughton

Biking through clear streets…

On a beautiful day in late May, Oxford rebels got on their bikes for a socially-distanced ride through Oxford: not just for the exercise, but also to show support for Oxfordshire County Council’s proposals to encourage walking and cycling, and reduce car traffic and air pollution.

Rebels from the Marsh Harriers affinity group took the chance to chalk beautiful messages on an empty Broad Street, one of the streets which the Council has suggested it will pedestrianise.

It’s impossible to say whether our actions had a direct impact on local residents’ views, but it’s heartening to see the public consensus on a healthier, more sustainable Covid-recovery in Oxford. In a recent Oxford City Council survey:

  • 80.9% back removing all car parking from Broad Street and replacing it with socialisation space “to a large extent” or “to a moderate extent”
  • 89.2% back expanding and segregating cycle lanes from vehicular traffic in the city centre “to a large extent” or “to a moderate extent”
  • 80.0% back more space at park and ride sites allocated to secure bicycle parking in order to encourage ‘Park & Pedal’ journeys into the city “to a large extent” or “to a moderate extent”

Watch this beautiful video of the action | Missed it first time round? Critical Mass Oxford are hosting another one this Friday

Massages chalked onto pavements, including "BIKE LANES", and the Extinction Symbol inside a heart symbol above the word "HOPE"
Chalking our wishlist for a wider, more people-friendly Broad Street

Rebels blocking Worcester St, Oxford, with signs including "Clean Buildings", "Speedy travel", "Clean Sweet Air", and a banner with the Extinction Symbol and "Bus Gate Here".

Introducing Bus Gates

Do you know what a bus gate is? Not many do. But they are a key helping #BuildOxfordBackBetter – and will make our city a walking and cycling paradise. They are essentially just CCTV cameras which let buses and bikes through, and fine cars and motorbikes. In typical XR-singing-dancing-flag-waving style, on Saturday 13th June we marked six of the seven sites in Oxford where bus gates are proposed. The key purpose was to show the public where bus gates will go and raise awareness of them and their benefits.

The Oxford plans (i.e. ‘Connecting Oxford Plus’) have been inspired by Ghent, which is very similar to Oxford in population and age. In 2017 Ghent introduced bus gates and since then they have seen:

– 12% less rush hour traffic and 40% fewer cars on the main cycle routes

– 25% more people on bicycles and 28% higher public transport use

– 18% improvement in air quality

– a record electoral win for the politician who delivered it

– a more beautiful, liveable city, a better local economy and more people using local business

See the one-pager for more facts on bus gates that also debunks some myths…

Rebels with signs and chalkings, including "#BlackLivesMatter" and "Climate ustice = Social Justice"
Above: XR support BLM in Eynsham. Below: Chalk markings in Oxford by XR

Rebels support Black Lives Matter

It’s heartening to see rebels across the county supporting the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. As well as attending BLM protests in Oxford, Witney, Abingdon and no doubt elsewhere, the Swallows affinity group held their own mini-event in Eynsham. On a beautiful Sunday morning, socially distanced protesters, some accompanied by their children, gently shared their messages as local people queued for, or drank, their morning coffee in Eynsham Square. Thumbs up and nods from passers by created moments of silent solidarity with black people everywhere.

Where can I find more information?