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Guest Post: We have to learn together, say Extinction Rebellion Peterborough

The national press focuses on the edgier side of the environmental campaign group, but the truth is that it is made up of ordinary people who care, says local organiser Ana Brett
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Extinction Rebellion 1
A meeting supporting the environmental group was held at the Green Backyard in January

Extinction Rebellion Peterborough has been around for about a year, and we’ve been involved in some national actions; we’ve been involved in local actions like die ins, funeral procession - and we were involved politically with the council declaring a climate emergency. 

We have a number of action groups, so we’ve got the choir, the samba group and the Red Rebels; we have a number of regenerative culture events like XR yoga and we’ve got a book club going. So it’s growing.

I think the press often focuses on Extinction Rebellion and maybe they maybe look for the more ‘edgy’ actions, but actually what we need is that portrayal of the fact that we’re ordinary people and we care about a very important message.

We’re a self-organising system, not a hierarchical system, so the original idea of structure in terms of a pyramid where you’ve got your leaders at the top and then people acting according to those orders which is part of the system isn’t really the kind of view we’re looking at.

We’re looking at something a little bit more circular, little bit more collaborative, and really the question is what can we bring and what can we build and what feels right to us.

You may be able to look at the world we live in among three different stories. The first story that we live in is the current system that is business as usual. In the business as usual system we look at economic growth as something which is good, that shows that we’re doing really well as a country if we’re growing each fiscal quarter and we can measure GDP.

Ana BretAna Brett of Extinction Rebellion

But a lot of us are realising that probably that isn’t meeting the needs, and particularly when you look at the evolving climate and ecological crisis, you start to notice the second story which is the Great Unraveling.

There we can see that our systems are breaking down, and that we have problems with pollution in our air and our sea and in our lands and that we do face problems where we’ll have food shortages and multiple systems of collapse and how that’ll impact – and that’s really scary when you look at that, you know, that can just lead us to a place of hopelessness and make us feel despair and not empowered because it all seems a little bit too great.

The third way we can look at this is the great turning, and that’s people that are coming together and recognising that the model one, business as usual, isn’t working for us.

We have to be careful because we don’t know the answers, so the journey is complex and no one single group is right so we have a lot of talk about radical inclusivity.

We have to really hear what people’s needs are and we have to learn together and we will see what emerges through that, and that really does need every part of everyone.

Extinction Rebellion 2Peterborough's Rhythmic Rebels Samba Band did a workshop at the assembly

In that traditional hierarchical structure you have confident speakers and you have people who have grown up to be told that their voices are better than other people’s or they’re louder than other people or they have more right to speak or more right to understand what we need, and that’s really not true.

If we listen to each other more sometimes that wisdom and community can come out. 

We’re breaking down the division and we’re addressing issues of mental health and loneliness and problems. It feels better. And actually that feels like it could be a better world for us to exist in, so it’s definitely worth the journey whatever that outcome is going to be.

Ana Brett is an organiser for Extinction Rebellion in Peterborough, Stamford and Bourne





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