By Hal Rhoades
On the 29th of May I was delighted to represent London Mining Network and network member The Gaia Foundation at this year’s Reclaim the Power gathering.
In the shadow of Didcot power station and the tilting silhouettes of red kites, LMN shared a workshop entitled ‘International Mining’ with Ilona, a German anti-coal (Lignite) campaigner and one of the organisers of this summer’s Rhineland climate camp, Ende Gelande.
Asked to present on mineral supply chains, and given the mixed knowledge of the group (hardened campaigners to relative newcomers, all perched on hay bales in a big-top tent), I decided to take the opportunity to explore the structure of a hypothetical supply chain, drawing out a key theme of LMN and Gaia’s work- solidarity.
Through a number of participatory exercises and The Gaia Foundation’s Wake Up Call animation, the workshop helped the audience to locate themselves in international mining supply chains and perceive their direct and often negative connections to mining affected communities and workers.
After establishing our connectedness, I suggested to the group that what is most critical is not simply realising that mining and mineral flows connect us in unjust ways, but how we respond to that fact. This prompted discussion of the importance of solidarity, its crucial features and how it can connect struggles positively and proactively along supply chains, acting as a tonic to consumer apathy and guilt.
Though there was little time to delve into the issue in great depth, the group agreed that solidarity is critical for presenting a ‘joined-up’ and just response to the ills of the extractive industries, as it creates spaces to listen and learn from those whose voices are often most suppressed.
The workshop ended with a discussion of existing solidarity pathways, giving me the opportunity to outline LMN’s key goals, how the network fosters solidarity and the importance of London as a centre for mining finance and effective campaigning. I invited the group to become involved in LMN’s work and a good number have now signed up to receive LMN’s mailings which hopefully means we’ll be seeing them come AGM season!
My thanks go to Coal Action Network and the Reclaim the Power organisers for giving us a space to contribute to what was a vibrant weekend that fostered 18 direct actions UK-wide to challenge the fossil fuel industry. See more on the no dash for gas website.