Extinction Rebellion: NVDA
I went to the Extinction Rebellion training event in London on Sunday. XR rented a town hall, held talks and ran activities. All this was in preparation for this week's rebellion (12th to the 17th) with other arrestable activities happening next week.
My first impression was positive – the lady on the door was very nice, and welcomed me inside. Upstairs there were over 100 people training, learning and socialising. And this number represents only a small fraction of the total involved – those attending on Saturday were not present on the Sunday, and other NVDA training events are happening around the country. This is big, bigger than I (in my admittedly pessimistic mindset) had expected. An excellent turnout for such important issues.
Many of those attending were prepared to be arrested, and there were a number of support roles for those who wish to avoid being arrested. Even if you have no official role, more bodies on the streets is always a good thing. I expect the turnout for this week's rebellion to be in the thousands.
The atmosphere was friendly and positive, and I quickly made connections despite knowing very few people there. I was struck by the organisation of the leaders from XR – they were able to run through many aspects of the training, from dealing with angry drivers during a roadblock to knowing your rights and the law during arrests. While what we are attempting is radical and many attending feel strongly about the issues we face, there was at all times a level of respect and human kindness woven into the training. When we block roads and create traffic queues, we will distribute food and water to the drivers and explain the situation, because we care about them. It's not at all about the individual drivers – we are looking very much to the bigger picture, the overarching effect that blocking traffic causes. And it's not just about stopping cars: there are many other things planned.
While all of this is very positive and gives me hope for the future, it also drove home just what this will require from those who participate. I have never attended a demonstration of this scale, and expect to find activism like this challenging. There will be conflict, there will be arrests, and there will be upset. It's a part of this movement and it won't go away until we are accepted and our views are listened to. This may take time, so as with other large historical movements, we are currently in the difficult stage. Once talks with the government begin, there will be a whole different set of problems regarding how we implement our demands, but right now we need to be heard. We need to cause enough nuisance that the government complies, and enters negotiations with us.
I look forward to the realisation of my views, the response of the people when faced with the enormity of the problems of our time. I look forward to participating in the unfolding of the rebellion. Will you be there?
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