Eco activism – why I got myself arrested

By Klaudia van Gool

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Superglued to a bathtub in the middle of a crossroad

Last month I joined the Extinction Rebellion actions in Bristol and got myself arrested for willingly obstructing a highway. I’m not one for putting myself into the public eye, other than when teaching/facilitating, nor upsetting people, but this is so much bigger than any of that. It has been part of my life’s work to find the most effective tools to support us living in balance with the Earth. It brought me to permaculture, deep nature connection, regenerative culture, healing, grief tending and ceremony. And still the carbon emissions have been going up. We need a big shift in attention and action by all of us.

It was deeply uncomfortable to be in front of people and creating inconvenience, stress and suffering and I am deeply sorry for the people whose lives were affected by this action. And yet I stand strongly by my actions and choices, because the urgency of the issue is too great. For too long we’ve been expecting the problems to be solved before they got too bad, now we have reached the point where there may be no return if we don’t act fast. And I want to leave a thriving world for my children, grandchildren, and all other living beings today and yet to come.

Extinction rebellion (XR) has brought a strategy, based on studies of how peaceful civil disobedience movements have changed society, like the suffragettes and Gandhi. It has brought a realistic plan to effect change, and it’s working. From Bristol being the first in November last year, by the 18th July 2019, 822 authorities in 16 countries have declared a climate emergency, including New York City and the Pope, and in the UK roughly 64 per cent of the population lives in areas that have declared a climate emergency.

What is needed is for us to face the reality of the state of the environment and to engage with it, through our hearts and our actions. The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is higher right now than will be safe for us and many other species to live, as the impacts start to take effect. As a result of this and the way we have been treating this Earth as a commodity, many species are becoming extinct. In fact we are finding ourselves in the 6th mass extinction. We need to face these facts so that together we can make some radical changes. Business as usual is not an option anymore.

So, as I got more involved with XR, attending meetings, joining with funeral marches, die-ins and giving talks about the state of the world, I found myself wanting to do more, have a bigger impact, make more people aware of the urgency of the situation. Consequently, although I have never been arrested before, I stepped forward when the opportunity came last month, because it presented an opportunity to raise the profile and bring these issues to more people, through media and the courts.

My key area of involvement within XR so far has been regenerative culture, and I love the way XR has embraced this as a core principle, but that’s a whole other story…

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