Rachel Deacon

Recommended reading: http://practicalaction.org

Posts by Rachel

  • Glastonbury madness!

    July 5th, 2007



    Well, it didn’t just rain – it absolutely poured. My first ever Glastonbury experience was a wet one, but a great one all the same.

    Having been back for over a week now I think that I have just about managed to get the mud off EVERYTHING that I took with me, including myself! Several showers later and few nights of comfortable sleep I have finally had a chance to look back on the whole crazy experience …

    Like I said, this was my first ever Glastonbury and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I had obviously seen TV coverage and many of my friends had been, but I don’t think anything quite prepares you for the enormity of the site and the variety of all that it holds. As we queued to get into the site it became clear that there was much more to this festival than just the Pyramid stage and the headline acts.

    Having finally got inside we found our pitch which we were sharing with the Centre for Alternative Technology and the Henry Doubleday Research Association in the Green Futures Field. This field is dedicated to exploring ways for a sustainable future. Wind turbines, solar panels and permaculture gardens are all a feature of this little haven. A brilliant spot for us.

    Despite the three organisations in the tent all being distinctly different we were all linked in some way and it was a great opportunity to work together and share ideas. It took a day to set up the stand including assisting CAT to get their wind turbine rigged up, but come Thursday morning the stand looked great and we were ready to do some serious campaigning.

    Festivals is something new for Practical Action so every event is a learning curve, but I think we were all pleasantly surprised by the response that we got, with all three of us being kept busy talking and answering questions for most of each day.

    Overall 500 people signed a Practical Action postcard to the Prime Minister demanding action on addressing climate injustice. With so much climate change talk in the press, and at the festival, it was great to be one of the few organisations there making the link to the impacts on development and highlighting global climate injustice.

    Many people wanted to know more about Practical Action and where we worked, while others wanted to know what they could do in their own lives to cut down on their emissions. For me, it was great to see so many people who had not thought before about the impact their lives were having elsewhere begin to realise the reality of the situation. I remember one girl who after reading the display walked straight up to the table and just said ‘What can I do?’.

    I couldn’t help feeling though, sometimes, slightly unsure. A lot of those who ventured up to the Green Fields already had an interest in climate change. They probably already used energy saving light bulbs and used public transport when they could.

    But what about the masses who never made it up past the Jazz World stage? For those who didn’t realise that there was more to Glastonbury than just the headliners? Who spent their time in endless queues?

    Sometimes the rain was great, because people always need some where to shelter, and when they did we were ready! However, I am sure there were still many who just didn’t know that we existed.

    I am sure that ourselves, and I-count, did reach many who previously hadn’t thought much about climate change. I-count did manage to collect 70,000 signatures calling for action by the UK government which is undoubtedly a great base on which we can build.

    But building is what we really need to do. As we were leaving the site on Monday afternoon (relatively easy compared to some poor folk – only two tractor tows required) it was impossible not to notice the amount of ‘stuff’ that people had just left behind. Chairs, litter, tables, gazebos, were all just abandoned. Simply bought for the occasion and then deemed to be unfit for further use. I truly believe that there were enough tents left in those fields to house a rural community somewhere in the developing world that has been displaced due to flooding. Is this the mentality of people who are ready and willing to undertake the changes that are going to be required to stop climate chaos?

    I don’t want to come across as being too negative. There is no doubt in my mind that many people will have left Glastonbury more informed about the problem that we are facing globally than when they arrived. And I do believe that events such as Glastonbury can have a potentially enormous role in helping to raise awareness and tackling climate change. I guess that sometimes when you work in an environment where everyone is on the same page you forget how many people aren’t there yet …

    Later that afternoon as we drove back to Rugby through the beautiful and peaceful landscape of Somerset Glastonbury seemed like a dream. ‘What was that?’ somebody suddenly asked.

    To be honest – I’m not entirely sure! But I’m sure I will be back next year to find out …

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  • No time to rest!

    June 19th, 2007


    After the G8 it is clear that, although what was (or rather wasn’t agreed) in Germany is disheartening, some small steps have been taken. What we need now is to keep the pressure on and show the government that they need to act and that they need to act now.

    That is why the campaigns team have been busy preparing for a summer of action with a whole host of events planned to gather more support for the Stop Climate Injustice Campaign.

    It started well last weekend with Leamington Spa Peace Festival. It must be admitted that the rain on the previous days had led to a little apprehension, but, with just a few little bursts we were just about able to remain dry!!

    The focus of the stall was informing people of the injustice of climate change and getting them to add their voices to our campaign. It also included demonstrations of our climate change work – a highlight being the willow donkey which attracted both young and adults alike. The floating garden was also a big hit with many people wanting to know how it worked.

    I was lucky enough to be allowed to address the crowds on the bandstand late on the second afternoon. This was a great opportunity to make people aware of the injustice of climate change and draw attention to our campaign stall. Although there had been other climate change talks previously the uniqueness of our message and the experience of Practical Action as an organisation meant that we received a great response.

    So now we are off to Glastonbury – it doesn’t get much bigger! With there being such an emphasis on climate change at this years festival it promises to be a great opportunity to bring climate injustice to the fore. Look out for us on the TV – when everything floods we will be the ones floating on a garden!

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  • Media frenzy!

    June 5th, 2007

    Well it is day three in Germany – what have we been up to?

    Yesterday we attended the press conference and got a general feel of how things work. Having never attended an event like this before, and certainly never been working at one, it is fascinating to see what goes on behind the scenes. With some journalists clamouring for interviews, others running around waving papers in the air and some who are permanently attached to their mobile phone, it is hard to leave without being infected by the buzz and excitement of the place.

    Later in the afternoon Tinashe did an interview with an Italian journalist who he spoke to about the work of Practical Action and also the role of the World Bank and the funding of fossil fuel projects.

    Today is the launch of the alternative summit. Organised by a large coalition of NGOs the summit aims to provide a forum in which ideas about alternative solutions to problems facing the world can be discussed. There is a whole host of workshops planned on a wide range of topics, three of which Tinashe will be speaking at tomorrow.

    The launch event for the summit will be this evening and includes speeches by a number of high profile guests, such as Jean Ziegler, who is the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. It promises to be an evening of lively debate and one which we hope will include the issue of climate change.

    But for now it is back to work!!

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  • And so it begins…..

    June 4th, 2007

    Friday night as I was packing to leave for Germany my housemate asked me if I wanted a lift to the airport. I replied that I was getting the train to which is response was “So you are flying from Birmingham”. Again I said that I was getting the train and again his presumption was that I was flying, “Oh, your getting the train to Heathrow”. When he finally seemed to grasp that I meant that I was getting the train all the way to Germany a look of horror crossed his face! “Why?” seemed to be the only response that he could muster.

    Despite the fact that living with me means having to deal with me following him around turning off all the lights, changing all his light bulbs and giving disapproving looks when he drives to Sainsburys this just appeared to be just one step too far. He just couldn’t grasp why I would choose to get the train rather than fly. To me this was just a timely reminder of how far we still have to go in tackling climate change. It is one think talking, but distinctly another acting.

    Rachel leading the workshop at the World Can't Wait event in London on June 2nd

    And it was with all these thoughts in my head that I left Leamington very early on Saturday morning with Emily and Tinashe to head to Germany for the G8 meeting, via London where we gave a short workshop at the World Can’t Wait rally that was being held at Archbishops Park. It was a great opportunity to bring the Climate justice message to a more development oriented crowd. Many were interested in the issues and keen to support the campaign.

    Unfortunately we were unable to stay long at the rally as we headed straight to Waterloo to jump on the Eurostar to Brussels. After a couple of hours in Brussels it was back on the train to Cologne and then on to the overnight train to Rostock, arriving around 8:00am.

    Having been woken up on the train at 4:00am by a text message from my sister telling me of the violence the previous evening it was no surprise to find a huge police presence waiting for us. However, after a quick glance at the papers it was straight to the hotel to drop off bags and then back into town to start work! Presentation number one for Tinashe was speaking on on the panel at the Climate Forum organised by Campaign Against Climate Change and BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany).

    The event, attended by around 60 people, included speakers from the Green and Left Parties in Germany and also a Professor from a local University. Tinashe did great speaking passionately about the impact that climate change is already having in Southern Africa and the need for urgent action. After the panel it was straight on to an interview with Indymedia which allowed Tinashe to stress again why he was in Germany and the need for action to tackle both climate change and poverty.

    Back at the hotel we were able to check in and have a well deserved and distinctly blissful rest – but not for long! With press work lined up for Tinashe this week we managed to squeeze in an hour of preparation before heading out for something to eat – in itself a challenge as between us we have little German. However, with a bit of guess work we managed to order and took great pleasure in getting back to the hotel in time for a reasonably early night.

    In terms of policy there is little to report so far. Much of the media is dominated by the events of Saturday evening. However there are lots of peaceful protests and events planned for the rest of the week as different groups try to bring their messages to the fore – hopefully we will be one of them.

    We will let you know how we get on!

     

    Tinashe (second from right) on the panel at the Climate Forum

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