Since the 100 Days campaign began on 11 January, XR Oxford has held eight outreach stalls, hosted a film screening, organised a town-centre talk, called all 289 numbers in our Rebel Ringing campaign, had three pub socials, and held singing, art, drumming and outreach workshops. It’s all in aid of generating enthusiasm and signups for The Big One, XR’s grandest mass mobilisation effort, happening 21st-24th April at the Houses of Parliament.
how are we doing?
So far, 300 of XR Oxford have signed up to the ticker – this is great, but we think we should be able to bring many more. If you are intending to be there at all in April, please sign up here to let us, and the action planners, know. Signup is faster than an emissions-exacerbated flash flood.
What more can we do?
The single most important thing any of us can likely do is invite our family and friends to come. The event is designedly inclusive and facilitated by the police, so there is no risk of arrest. People are welcome to join on whichever day(s) suit them. For all who care about climate, this is an excellent opportunity to join with others and have their voice heard.
We have many leaflets advertising The Big One. If you have anywhere you could distribute some, or are interested in leafleting of cafes, museums, community centres etc, get in touch at email@example.com.
You can invite groups (allotment groups, green groups, theatre groups – any group you are part of that shares our values) to our Oxford Open Call on 21 March. Feel free to use this invitation template, and check which groups have already been invited here via this spreadsheet.
What’s going to happen?
We now know The Big One will have a 4-4-4 structure: four days of workshops and preparation (17-20 April), followed by four days of protest (21-24 April), ending in four days of reflection and future planning (25-28 April). The middle four days are currently the most well outlined. On the Friday and Monday, the protests will (peacefully and theatrically) target government departments located near the Houses of Parliament. On the Saturday – Earth Day – there will be a spectacular biodiversity procession and die-in (props and costumes very welcome). The Sunday action will centre on themes of participation and democracy, featuring a march in the evening. There is still an awful lot of work in progress while the action planners continue their fantastic efforts in navigating the tensions between inclusivity and impact.
How will I fit in?
Actionswanted Local groups are invited to choose the department they’d like to target for action on the Monday and Friday. XR Oxford Actions Circle will meet at 7.30pm Thursday 16th March to partly to discuss this. To join, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteers wanted Volunteers for support roles at The Big One are tremendously helpful and appreciated. Bringing in big numbers means a massive need for stewards – up to 1000! Even if you could only manage one or two shifts, it would make a huge difference. Full training is given. For more info, see here.
Accomodation provided XRUK is organising some camping and some indoor accommodation. If you’re interested in this, it is really important to let them know as soon as possible so that they can predict the demand. Links to sign up are in the rebel toolkit.
Transportprovided XR Oxford is organising a coach from Oxford to London and back on Friday 21st, and are hoping costs can be subsidised – more info to come. Otherwise, travel to The Big One from Oxford is possible via the Oxford Tube coach or the train (strikes permitting). Affinity groups might arrange to travel together.
Financial supportprovided As usual, we will have some funds to ensure no one is prevented from attending due to financial hardship. Details on how to claim will follow soon.
Donations wanted Big events like this do not come about through goodwill alone, and XRUK desperately needs funds to make this work. You can donate to The Big One here.
When we discovered that Oxford City Council, in spite of having declared a climate emergency, continues to bank with Barclays – Europe’s biggest funder of fossil fuels – we decided to take action.
Last autumn, rebels marched to Oxford Town Hall and handed over a letter asking the Council to move its account. In response, the Council laughably claimed that Barclays was the ‘most ethical’ of the banks who had tendered from the account. Not good enough, we decided, especially now that at least one competitor in the Local Authorities banking market (Lloyds) has since committed to ending new fossil fuel investment.
So, local rebel Jenny Stanton put forward a formal question to the City Council, which she then delivered in person at their meeting on 30th January. She requested that they put their account out to tender with the requirement of no direct investment in fossil fuels, and to let Barclays know that the reason for retendering their account is the bank’s extensive funding of fossil fuels.
Sadly, the councillor who replied merely repeated the Council’s claim that Barclays scored joint highest among tendering banks in relation to social and ethical policies and insisted that the Council engages with Barclays on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) matters.
So, when the Lord Mayor attempted to move on to the next agenda item, several rebels in the gallery unfolded a familiar banner, and burst into singing; “We’re here to say, don’t bank with Barclays. Find a better bank and do it today.”
The Lord Mayor repeatedly asked us to stop, with a fervor better directed toward unfulfilled emergency declarations. We left on our own terms, still singing, and to applause from many of the councillors. On our way we met two security guards approaching from the other direction, presumably en route to throw us out.
Fortunately our action garnered an instant response from councillor Anna Railton, now cabinet member for Zero Carbon Oxford and Climate Justice, who is keen to move the Council’s account from Barclays and asked us for help researching alternatives. Unfortunately, it is true that not many banks offer accounts to local councils – and none of them are really ethical – but we hope we can persuade them there is a better option than Europe’s worst. In the meantime, we will be requesting the Council pressures Barclays to follow other big banks in moving away from fossil fuels.
On 28th January, as part of a national campaign, XR Oxford joined with many other groups across the county to highlight the government’s disgraceful inaction on sewage pollution in our waterways, unveiling ‘blue plaques’ commemorating the voting down in October 2021 of an amendment that would have required water companies to clean up their act. Many other Oxfordshire groups took part in the action, targeting specific MPs who had voted against the amendment.
A group gathers outside MP Robert Courts‘ Witney office.A new plaque commemorates Courts’ vote against reducing sewage pollution in British waterways.
In Oxford, we gathered at noon at the Wolvercote Mill Stream official bathing site, downstream of the Witney’s Sewage Treatment Works, and which has since been demonstrated as unsafe for swimming. After a performance of Trev Williams’ ‘Brown River’, speeches from councillors and campaigners, and an arresting appearance from the Red Rebels, a new plaque was unveiled.
Because feelings on this issue run high, interest in the action was strong: there was a very good turnout, and we made links with a lot of groups we had not connected with much before, particularly wild swimmers and water pollution campaigners, who were glad to see us keeping up the pressure on the government. We took the opportunity to invite them to join us in holding the government to account, on this issue and so many others, in London in April.
Importantly, this is just the first of the Dirty Water ‘waves’. Wave Two, focusing on the water companies themselves, will be coming in mid-March, and we will build then on the connections we’ve made for an even bigger and bolder action.
Written by April Jones, edited by Tyson Jones, with photos by Kim, C S and Kitkat
Cop27 was meant to be the African Cop, but the needs of African people have been obstructed throughout. Loss and damage in vulnerable countries is now unignorable, but some developed countries here in Egypt have decided to ignore our suffering. Young people were not able to have their voice heard at Cop27 because of restrictions on protest, but our movement is growing and ordinary citizens in every country are starting to hold their governments accountable on the climate crisis.
Despite progress on loss and damage, fossil fuel interests continued to hold massive influence over proceedings at COP27. XR Oxford was out in force to keep the spotlight on the polluters. We have also been out doorknocking in the rain and shine to grow our numbers ahead of The Big One in April.
Dates for your diary
Saturday 26th November: Walk for Wildlife POSTPONED – sadly this will not be happening until next spring.
Saturday 26th November, 11am-4pm: Oxford Indie Book fair, where we will have a stall (Wesley Memorial Hall, New Inn Hall Street, OX1 2DH)
Tuesday 29th November: The Oil Machine film screening, with guest speakers (Phoenix Picturehouse)
Kate Raworth – Author of Doughnut Economics
Christian Silk – Ex Formula 1 engineer, now an MSc student at the Centre for Alternative Technology
Chris Goodall – writer and gusiness person working on the energy transition
Dr Rabhya Dewshi – Clinical psychologist and Extinction Rebellion activist
Friday 2nd December, 7:30-9pm: All Rebels Meeting + Social (St Columba’s URC hall, Alfred Street, Oxford OX1 4EH)
Saturday 3rd December, 10:30am-4:30pm: Green Fair (Oxford Town Hall)
The Green Fair on 3rd December is an Oxford institution and a great way for us to meet, talk to, and possibly sign up like-minded people. We have a stall booked where we’ll have some handmade XR merchandise, as well as information to give to browsers. And we need staff! If you can spare an hour or two to be on the stall, it would be tremendously appreciated if you could sign up for a shift on this rota.
Community Solidarity Day
XR Youth Oxford are holding a community solidarity day on Saturday 26th November, at Ark-T, 242b Barns Rd, OX4 3RQ (wheelchair accessible).
2-5PM Swap Our Clothes & Give Each Other Gifts
Bring any clothes in good condition, especially things like warm clothes for the winter and out-grown school uniform. Bring new or nearly new presents that people could give to their friends and family this winter. You can come bring something, take something, or both. Everything is free! We are looking for volunteers for the clothes and gift swap, as well as for prepping the meal. Email if you can help out.
6-8PM Fundraiser meal
The fundraiser meal will be served shortly after 6pm and will be vegan, halal, and gluten-free. Please sign up here so we can estimate numbers for the food! The funds will be for local striking workers who are suffering financial hardship because of their strike action. Please contact us if you need to inform us of any allergies. Please bring desserts to share with the ingredients listed!
Our outreachers have been doing an amazing job gathering contact details, but we need people to type up the paper forms. If you can spare an occasional hour to do some typing, contact email@example.com.
All Rebels Meeting – FRIDAY 2nd December, 7:30PM
Venue: St Columba’s URC hall, Alfred Street, Oxford OX1 4EH
It’s been a while since we got all of XR Oxford together. This will be a meeting of two parts: first, a chance for rebels old and new to find out about the exciting plans for next year – the 100 Days project, and what we in Oxford can do towards it. And then it will be a social! We’ve worked really hard lately, and seen some fantastic results, with great actions and strong mobilisation work. Please join us to celebrate our progress and wind down a bit as we head into a winter pause. Bring food and drink to share – mince pies (vegan if possible) very welcome!
During the two weeks of our world leaders making expectedly disappointing climate commitments at COP27, Oxford was abuzz with targeted outrage. From the 6th November, Rebels spent their lunchtimes on Cornmarket St, defying the rain with eye-catching mood boards, and growing Extinction Rebellion Oxford’s numbers to 170. After two days of leafleting and sign ups, day three was led by XR Trades Unions and focused on connections between the climate and cost of living crises.
Then came the Global Day of Action on Climate Change, on Saturday 12th November. Demonstrations marched through cities worldwide, including 40 towns and cities in the UK alone. XR Oxford lead a song and samba event through the streets of Oxford, circling from Cornmarket St through to Broad St and the Radcliffe Camera. By the return to Cornmarket, a peak crowd of around 150 had joined in solidarity. Inspired by the captivating Samba chorus, Hazel Dawe is now organising an XR singers group; to be involved, reach out at Hazeldawe5@gmail.com.
Monday 14th November was the National Day of Barclays Actions which draws attention to Barclays’ appalling record of unsustainable investment as Europe’s largest fossil fuel funder. Mirroring efforts across the country, XR Oxford camped out front and inside the Barclays branch on Cornmarket St, armed with leaflets and defiant banners.
A short walk away was the Oxford City Council, whose accounts are held with Barclays, and who was next to be occupied. Filling the stairs of the Town Hall, XR Oxford delivered four powerful speeches (amplified by the foyer’s impressive acoustics) and demanded the council cease banking with Barclays. As no council official was prepared to meet, Clive Gillam delivered a letter to reception, compelling the council to respect the climate emergency they themselves declared three years prior. A request from a hall official that XR activists be removed by the police was meanwhile refused on the grounds that no obstruction was being caused.
Activists deliver an important message to an uncomfortable council
Though rain dampened intended efforts on Tuesday 15th, spirits were high (and dry) by Friday with Nellie the White Elephant marching down Cornmarket Street. Affinity groups helped to vary our activities, with Wallingford XR, Geese, Canaries and the Meditators all leading different days.
Our actions attracted a lot of media coverage; interviews with BBC Radio Kent and That’s TV Oxfordshire, twoarticles in the Oxford Mail, and a lot of photography and video clips distributed via Facebook and Twitter.
Nellie spies injustice
Special thanks to the sign up team: April J, Jules, Sarah SB and Ingrid W and to the photographers Feng Ho and Suzanne Williams.
Story by Steve Dawe and April Jones
Project 3.5 visits Headington
On a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 is the most serious, how worried are you about the climate crisis?
So goes the first question in the script for Project 3.5 door knocking. The 3.5 campaign is based on a simple idea: to build a movement that’s too big for the government and the fossil fuel industry to ignore, and to do it one door at a time. The first step is to invite people to a talk at a local venue by calling on them at home and listening to their concerns and thoughts about the climate crisis. Over a week in late October and early November, an intrepid group from XR Oxford knocked on a grand total of 1698 doors in Headington and had nearly 600 conversations. Ringing a stranger’s door bell for the first time is daunting, but many people were happy to talk to us and it was a great way to step outside our bubble. Raising the profile of the climate crisis and starting a conversation is crucial if we’re going to reach our goal of 100,000 on the streets in April.
I met some interesting people along the way: a doctor concerned about the effect of climate on her patients and the NHS, someone from Pakistan whose family had been affected by the flooding, a young woman from Italy who had been affected by drought, and an elderly woman who feared for the future of her grandchildren. And the answer to that question – nearly everyone we spoke to said that they would rate the seriousness of the climate crisis as either a 4 or a 5. Most people felt that the government are not doing nearly enough to tackle the situation (1 or 2s) and many of them said that they agreed with XR’s aims but not necessarily with all of our tactics. We were delighted that 23 people attended the talk and many of them said they would join us on the streets in April.
London has been buzzing with energetic climate activists throughout the month of October, with conversation around the climate emergency again gathering steam. Despite the unfortunate cancellation of the ‘Festival of Resistance’ scheduled in September due to the passing of the monarch, Extinction Rebellion was back with new plans for continuing action in October. Activists from around the country gathered in London for a ‘Weekend of Resistance’ from 14th to 16th of October, joined by a number of Oxford Rebels.
Trafalgar Square was humming with demonstrators on the 14th, who then marched to Downing Street for a sit-in protest. The government at the helm was crumbling away, but in stark contrast, the people gathered outside Number 10 were in steadfast solidarity and commitment to the cause. Several rebels defiantly burnt their energy bills, underscoring the connection between the cost of living crisis and the climate crisis.
Teresa, an Oxford Rebel, in her passionate appeal to the crowd said, “We are facing the collapse of all nature and humanity, and I can’t be a bystander to that. Every person here needs to step up and take it beyond here to all our friends and everyone we know. We want people to be on these streets again on the 21st of April, 2023”. The day ended with people’s assemblies to deliberate on how we can stay resilient as we gather in huge numbers throughout April in London.
The next stop was the Tate Modern on the 15th, where crowds gathered to hear from journalists, poets, organisers from a diverse range of movements, musicians, and a variety of performers. There were colourful outreach tents that distributed reading materials, pamphlets and stickers, and where many of the public flocked to engage rebels in conversations around the climate crisis and XR’s plans for April 2023. Meanwhile the samba band travelled through the area and energised the ambience.
“Seeing so many different people in the larger ecosystem of the climate movement was very encouraging. Especially when the goals of the climate action as well as the particular goals of XR for the April rebellion are so audacious, it requires a constant renewal of energy to keep going. Events like this really give a boost of fresh energy to the people”, said Abhi, an Oxford Rebel participating in the day’s events.
The 16th was the day of the Youth March, set in motion with regenerative activities. Though such events can often get sidelined in the rush to plan and implement actions, they are felt to be immensely valuable. The march proceeded through beautiful, leafy parks with flags shining in the sun, children and young people leading, and with many families throughout the crowd. The festive atmosphere was carried through to the central parks at Westminster, where young rebels planted an oak sapling in the middle of Parliament Square, and protected it the sapling for many hours. Even though the sapling was not allowed to grow on that spot, it symbolised the vision of the protest.
Ines said, “Having so many young people and children in the march made it more tangible to see why it is so important to continue demanding the end of fossil fuels and more drastic changes. I was very impressed by the composure and confidence with which the youth spoke and acted, considering how much more they stand to lose than us older people if action on the climate emergency continues to be so inadequate”.
The words of XR Oxford’s Cathy Allen ring true; “Global solidarity makes sense for everyone. For us in the global north, we feel the strength and passion of those fighting at ground zero of extractivism and climate impacts. For our sisters and brothers in the global south, we in the north can take their voices to the centres of the system – the companies, the financial institution, the governments. And for all of us fighting the system wherever we are, solidarity makes us less lonely and our fight more meaningful.”
Written by Abha Jeurkar, edited by Tyson Jones, with photos by Suzanne Williams
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.
Photos by Suzanne Williams and XR Photography
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.
Photo by XR Photography
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.
In Oxford, the Extinction Rebellion Art Group have taken over the Old Fire Station with a gallery of stirring artwork used in previous rebellions and actions. The exhibition opened on the September 24th and will conclude in a week, on the 15th October.
Art has played a pivotal role in movements around the world and XR has been no exception. The hand-printed colourful satin flags, banners and props give XR its distinct look. In Oxford too, Nellie the White Elephant has been a consistent protest companion, drawing large crowds as it brings attention to the misdeeds of the biggest polluters and CO2 emitters. The exhibition showcases many such exemplary pieces of protest art as well as powerful testimonials of rebels around Oxford. It also presents inspiring video montages of Oxford rebels in action – including XR Arts members and the iconic Red Rebels.
The exhibition’s opening ceremony on the 23rd of September saw a line-up of diverse speakers share their deliberations on the climate movement and the role of art therein.
Julia Mignè, the director of the charity Conservation Optimism, emphasized the necessity of creating and maintaining the conditions to sustain a thriving, diverse ecosystem. As she lamented the species already lost to climate disaster, symbolized in the exhibition’s Tombstones of species piece, she also shared some success stories of efforts which have positively impacted the status of several endangered species. She invited everyone – experts and laypersons alike – to join conservation efforts underway in Oxford.
Wednesday, an internal coordinator of XR Youth, shared the group’s analysis on the role of extreme capitalism in not only fueling the climate crisis, but also creating barriers in the way of building a mass climate action movement. They invited everyone to join a march through Oxford held on the 1st of October, in solidarity with countrywide protests against the cost of living and the climate crisis.
Protesters march through the streets of Oxford (top) and London (bottom), drumming up attention to the climate and cost of living crises.
Meanwhile at the exhibit, Abha Jeurkar, a new rebel from Oxford, shared her insights on how the climate crisis is already impacting marginalized communities in South Asia and highlighted the need to act now.
Alistair Morris, Parish Councillor from Old Marston, shared strategies that communities must adopt to resist as well as adapt to the changing climate. He underscored the need for “getting political” and the necessity of continuous mass mobilization efforts like XR. He also emphasised the importance of building resilient local communities, through efforts such as community gardens.
Rupert Read, one of the founding members and former spokespersons of XR and an author of books such as ‘Why Climate Breakdown Matters‘, shared the scientific community’s sobering prediction that limiting global heating to 1.5 degree Celsius has become an impossible goal. Yet, he also injected a renewed sense of resolve into the audience by underlining the urgency of pushing for drastic climate action.
The Old Fire Station will remain adorned with the rousing visual protests of the Art Group until Saturday 15th October. Stop by for some artistic inspiration, to meet like-minded people, or to learn about practical ways in which you can get involved with Extinction Rebellion.