We are not a campaigning organisation, & our primary form of activism has always been to create & look after green spaces.
But times are such that we feel obliged – as an organisation, not just as individuals – to advocate & act in order to create political change.
I feel totally lost, trying to write something original & meaningful, when so many better-informed & more eloquent people have come before me – try George Monbiot or Greta Thunberg. Which is why, although I (the founder) am supposed to be writing on behalf of my team, representing Urban Growth as an organisation, all I can do is to write something from my personal experience.
Ever since the march against the Iraq War – the “largest in history” etc. – and its failure to stop the tragedy that unfolded (and continues to, under the radar of most news organisations or ourselves in the general public), I have felt deeply despondent & cynical about politics. I vote (Green every time & everywhere), but I haven’t protested since 2003.
That’s changed now. And it has changed thanks to Netflix…
Well, thanks to a particular documentary that is on Netflix at the moment, which reminded me of just how much small things can add up to make a massive change.
Fahrenheit 11/9 is Michael Moore’s latest documentary and, like all his other work, it’s really very special. But it was the example of those children from Florida (where I grew up) – protesting against gun laws, after becoming yet another group of victims of the senseless violence which could be addressed with legislation – which really stirred me to action.
I’ve always believed that every nectar-rich flower we plant provides food for struggling bees, & every tree we plant soaks up carbon & contributes, infinitesimally perhaps, to a reduction in greenhouse gases & the wellbeing of the environment.
And now too, I can again see that every person who marches, who walks out of lessons or the office, who talks about it down the pub, or wears a badge that people see on the Tube – every one of those actions matters, not just because of how it makes the activist feel, but because of their granular & cumulative impact on the collective conscience of the society in which they live.
It is impossible to trace perfectly all the causes that lead to political decision-making. My previous belief – that my slow, trudging presence over many miles in a multi-coloured crowd of chanting optimists, cannot possibly lead to the political outcome I really want – is invalid. We cannot predict the myriad outcomes of small actions as their effects ripple out over the years that lie ahead. But we ought to act with brave optimism, & take every chance we can to speak out, spread the word & change the world so that we & all other ecosystems can survive in some sort of recognisable form.
My team have all got their own reasons, & I hope they have the opportunity to discuss them with you while planting a tree or training a climber up a wall. Or maybe you’ll bump into us on September 20th, in London, when we march together to save the planet from ourselves. See you there.