This autumn, three Rebellion Buses have been touring local communities throughout England, spreading the word about the climate emergency and what ordinary people can do about it.
One such bus paraded Oxford through 11th-12th October, and stationed on Catte St by the town centre’s famous Radcliffe Camera. It also visited Manzil Way and the Blackbird Leys Community Centre before returning to London in preparation for the Weekend of Rebellion.
Each stop had a different vibe. The session in Catte St began with enthusiastic speeches from Councillors Susanna Pressel and Imogen Thomas, and from Pat Carmody from Unite, who drew links between the climate and cost of living crises. A member of the bus crew also spoke movingly about his experiences on the tour and why it is so important to listen to people’s concerns. The bus brought with it leaflets, a survey board, and block-printing kit – the bus crew and Oxford rebels used these to interact with passers by, starting conversations and getting new mailing-list sign-ups.
In Manzil Way, the lively presence of the Samba band drew a steady stream of interest, and many thought that was our most successful stop.
At Blackbird Leys, the response to the bus was more muted. Our focus in our outreach there was on the cost of living crisis – but it was often difficult to draw out its connection to the climate crisis. Our visit coincided with a community larder; as one rebel reflected, “we were all acutely conscious that it was not appropriate to leaflet or accost people queuing”. But it is important to try to reach outside our normal audience, and we hope to be able to build on some of the connections formed as part of this experience.
One of the great highlights of the bus tour’s visit was watching some really masterful outreachers at work. The bus crew showed how deep, active listening can generate profound and productive conversations with members of the public. The approach is time-consuming, but such meaningful conversations really seemed like they could be changing hearts and minds.
Written by April Jones