My name is Finlay, i’m 28 and I just represented myself at trial on the 20th January. I was arrested when XR held Waterloo Bridge back in the Spring Uprising of April last year. Before this I never thought I'd see myself in court, but there I was, giving evidence. A totally unusual, fascinating and terrible thing to be doing, all at the same time.
By self-representing I got to speak for myself about what moves me in all of this. With no solicitor (or their fees) I instead spent my own time preparing how to say what matters to me in a court room context. Turns out that’s a long and educational process... On the day I did what I went to do in the way that I wanted to do it and I am grateful to have been granted the time to speak by my magistrate. I was ultimately found guilty of disobeying the S14 which was imposed during my arrest.
I’m putting my thankyou’s first will start by saying a massive thank you to those who have given me their time and attention over the last months. You’ve given me fresh perspectives, a listening ear, fed me and hosted me, written character references, let me bounce ideas off you, emailed me useful stuff and much more. Some of you even sat with my brave Mum at the back of the courtroom! Thank you!
I have been supported so well by friends, family and the network of XR teams that made sure I had what I needed all the way through. Now I am reaching out to you for support to meet my court fees which total £395. Anything over this amount will go to Allianza Arkana, an NGO who work with Shipibo indigenous people. Shipibo People are losing their ancestral land to logging, monoculture palm plantations and face threats from land traffickers often. This means their nature entwined wisdom and livelihood, let alone their home, is being taken from them and shunts them towards complex challenges as they meet city life. I worked with Alianza Arkana for 8 months in 2015 and perceive their work to be ethical. Find out more here http://alianzaarkana.org/
Often I find the enormity of the figures that the media and research papers present about the human impact on our climate and earth ecosystems are intangible. The scale, unimaginable. For me the cold data, facts and numbers only become real when I imagine how many of my favourite nature places I could fit inside, for example, an area of the Amazon rainforest that has been deforested. How many of your childhood woodlands, or favourite nature places could you fit in that place? It’s more than that though isn’t it? Can we continue to quantify what we love numerically? To lose just one of my local and loved forests would be a bereavement to me along with all the animals who call it home. Equally, as the overall resilience of a forest is destablised by the extinction of an inhabitant, a loss of an entire eco system destabilises other ecosystems which are interacting with it in complex ways.
As one person in the April Rebellion, I was one of many. With this my effect was amplified and I took the opportunity to communicate with our government as directly as I now know is possible; through peaceful protest. A functional part of democracy, peaceful protest is a means to remind the government who they serve, by whom they have been elected and whom they are to keep safe. Reevaluation of our collective course is critical at this time as we are collectively marching towards ecocide. The black rights and suffragettes civil rights movements mean that now, progressively, we’re living in world that’s a hell of a lot closer to being just and life respecting. It appears we too, now, are in another time of transition as our dominance and seperation model finds a way to self-terminate or evolve.
As one of the many who formed the giant spanner in the London works, I am deeply sorry to the people who’s days were disrupted. I intend that what disruption people have experienced is the bluntest side of a double edged sword. Business as usual and the economic model we are choosing necessitate perpetual growth. This literally means we need to increase how much nature we consume in ever increasing amounts; from food to each “product” we reform nature into. According to this study we are literally using up nature 1.7x faster than it can regenerate.
To say we all need to change assumes we are all ready and resourced to transition into a new relationship with nature and our world. Most people are still lacking the information, emotional support and financial back-up to make a courageous first step; to really see and feel our collective conundrum. I can also imagine that our busy and disoriented government folk must find it difficult and painful as the rest of us to see things as simply as they are. It’s a big step from total denial to cognitive understanding, a great leap further to emotional comprehension and many little steps into ground-level evolutionary action.
At home, I work at the grassroots level. Currently this means I am one piece in an organisation initiating the first (of many) tiny house communities in Bristol. At the heart of the project is the aim to match people that have a desire for affordable housing, cooperative living and land regeneration with the appropriate opportunities. What would it be like if the wave of existing and emerging projects like this, born to meet the diverse needs of people and nature, were to be endorsed by our leaders? How would it feel to have time and support to care for those you value most? To see your street enriched by your neighbours? And to hear the sound of More Life arriving into gardens and greenery because people are remembering the innate value of Life?
For me, firmly encouraging our leaders to align their actions with thriving Life on earth means we all get a participatory democracy, our government learns to know all nature as equal and people can find opportunities to care for their home area in a regenerative, purposeful and financially sustainable way. That is why I took time off work and participated in the XR Rebellion for 10 days. Is the government likely to meet my desires? I don’t need to know. Does any step in that direction, along with actualising grassroots projects, bring me learning and carry me a little closer to the more beautiful world I know is possible? Definitely yes.
Because of my set of circumstances I have been able to give a lot of time and energy to this task, however I am seeking the financial support to meet the court fees and help to contribute to a People and project that hold value.
Thank you and be well,