XR Oxford Newsletter – February 2022

Announcements

Dates for your diary

  • Saturday 26 February 12-2pm: Elephant in the Room: the energy bill crisis and government climate inaction. Outreach on Cornmarket, to engage with people on a very current issue, and start publicising the engagement talks in early March. Please come along if you’re free.
  • Wednesday 2 March 7-9pm: Change is Now. For all new rebels: We know the gravity of the climate and ecological emergency, and we all want to do something about it. Come and talk to other local people who feel the same, and want to act in 2022 to turn things around. New Road Baptist Church, Bonn Square, Oxford, OX1 1LQ
  • Sunday 6 March 3-5pm: Change is Now. Alternative date for anyone who can’t attend the previous session. St Columba’s United Reformed Church, Alfred Street, Oxford, OX1 4EH
  • Tuesday 8 March: On International Women’s Day of Action, take part in the Women’s Climate Strike.
  • Saturday 12 March 12pm: Oxford4Nature March. Demand that Oxford’s Economic Strategy follows the Doughnut Economics model.
  • Saturday 12 March 2-5pm: Outreach Workshop: come and hone your outreach skills and confidence. Details and tickets here – places limited.
  • Saturday 19 March: UN Anti-Racism Day. Oxford is going to the National March Against Racism in London. Book your coach ticket here.

Volunteers Needed

  • Write for this newsletter! If you like writing and regularly attend XR actions, it would be great if we could add you to a pool of reporters who write events up for this newsletter. Contact xroxfordcomms@gmail.com if you’d like to help.
  • Coordination help needed for the Arts group. Email xroxfordcoordinator@gmail.com to find out more.
  • If you have experience with Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, and would like to join the social media team, please email xroxfordcomms@gmail.com.
  • Rebel Ringers: people needed to phone new and dormant rebels. See article below.

News

Strategy Update

At the Monthly Gathering on 9th February, members of XR Oxford met to discuss the new national strategy. After listening to short presentations on the four elements of the strategy (Story, Growth, Action and Strength), we broke into small groups to mull it over and compare reactions. A summary of our responses follows.

  • Story: there was a feeling that the fine-tuning of the story we tell about ourselves was a real strength. People liked the clarity and focus of the new Immediate Demand (an immediate end to fossil fuel extraction and exploration), the reaffirming of our commitment to transparency and accountability in our actions, and the incorporation of climate justice as a theme throughout the strategy. 
  • Growth: a recommitment to pursuing mass mobilisation was felt to be the heart of the new strategy, and people seemed really excited to be following this direction.  We need to work with other movements where we can, and be as broad church as possible, welcoming and appealing to a range of people. We need to support our rebels to do effective outreach, with training and workshops. There was talk of how we need to rehabilitate the way we’re seen – to present the human face of XR, with its commitment to care, to counter negative media representations.
  • Action: there was a general feeling that local action, at the moment, is going to be primarily a tool for movement growth – we need to be able to give new rebels something to do, so that they feel part of our movement straight away and are more likely to stay with us.
  • Strength: our strength comes from our commitment to ‘human flourishing and loving kindness’, as one rebel eloquently put it, or regenerative cultures, as we also call this nurturing spirit. We need to keep this in view; meeting in person again will definitely help.

We’re already working on some of this! The new Talks, Training and Engagement group are throwing themselves into a plan to grow the movement in advance of Rebellion on 9th April. The centrepiece of this is a new talk for potential rebels, to be given on 2nd and 6th March. Help publicising this will be much needed. Posters are being made – when they arrive, please spread them around your neighbourhood! If your AG can manage a local outreach stall in February, that would be great – Mary Gill is coordinating, please get in touch with her (marygill@f2s.com).

We’ll also, over the next two months, be taking part in the South East region’s Paint the Symbol initiative, trying to make the XR symbol unmissable throughout Oxford in the runup to Rebellion. Stickers, posters, stencils and even bus stop posters will be coming our way very soon. 

And we’re working on an Oxford Strategy. To help us really focus on the most effective things we can do as a local group, the coordinators will be meeting to soon to workshop an Oxford Strategy, which our MG discussions will feed into. Watch this space.

Rebel Ringers

Through Extinction Rebellion we have created the largest movement of civil disobedience in the UK since the Suffragettes – one that has spread around the world with unprecedented speed. A key part of our strategy, as we prepare for the next Rebellion, is to grow the movement and mobilise as many people as possible to take part on April 9th and beyond.

We are facing an unprecedented global emergency and the time to act is now.

Rebel Ringers are a key part of this mobilisation. We  are the Phone Bank wing of XR! We contact Rebels on our XR database to inform and engage as many of them as we can.

Rebel Ringers is a real way to build the movement through human, caring connections and conversations. This isn’t cold calling. People have all given their numbers and said it’s OK to be contacted.  Even if people can’t always talk on the phone, they are always pleased with the contact and for many, it’s the spur to take the next step to action.

As we build up to the Rebellion, we hope that Rebels in Oxford will join the Rebel Ringers. It’s not a scary thing to do – there is plenty of support – and it’s very rewarding. It’s a flexible way to play your part and you can do it alongside others, or from the comfort of your own home.

Please join us. We are all crew.  Contact: xroxfordrebelringers@gmail.com

Kill The Bill – 15th January

A woman with a bike lock around her neck wears a placard which says
I could be arrested for carrying my bike lock
#killthebill

On 15th January, two days before the Lords were due to vote on the Police, Crime Courts and Sentencing Bill, XR Oxford held a protest in Cornmarket against its draconian proposals to suffocate protest and civil engagement in this country.

We weren’t the only ones worried. We were joined by other groups, and the level of engagement from the public was high, with many positive conversations being had. Hundreds signed our big ‘petition’ board and took leaflets (we had to have an emergency reprint mid-protest!).

A man holds a petition poster board. It reads:
Almost all protest will soon be illegal. We are very concerned.
#killthebill
#StopThePoliceStateBill

The fantastic Samba, as well as singing and impromptu mic checks, made the point wonderfully that noise and disruption are essential to effective protest.

And it all worked! Or something did anyway – quite possibly the absolutely fantastic campaign for contacting the Lords run by Digital Rebellion. In an unprecedented rebuke to the government, the Lords voted against most of its proposed amendments to the original bill, meaning that some of the worst measures are off the table – for now. They also voted for new amendments, toning down some of the original bill’s worst excesses.

Of course, much of the nastiness still remains, and the government will be able to vote down the Lords’ amendments in the Commons. There is more work to be done, and we can’t afford to lose sight of this issue. But a result worth celebrating, nonetheless.

In love and rage,

The XR Oxford Crew