Environmental activism in the 1980s and 1990s

Panel discussion

The present-day ecology movement emerged among the new social movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Its immediate influences were varied. They included the Aldermaston marches of the late 1950s and the impact of the ‘Earth Rise’ photograph taken during the Apollo 11 Moon landing of 1969. The ideas of writers such as Rachel Carson (Silent Spring,1962), E. F. Schumacher, Murray Bookchin and others were also inspirational. In 1972 the ecology movement found early political expression in the PEOPLE […]

Ecology from below

Resisting Enclosure in Rural Somerset and Dorset, 1780-1850

The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries witnessed widespread attempts to ‘privatise’ rural England. By enclosing common land and extinguishing customary rights, rural elites sought to physically reshape and culturally redefine the countryside. In counties such as Somerset and Dorset, labourers increasingly found themselves barred from entering the fields and woodland that had supported their families for generations. Meanwhile, those who attempted to voice their concerns regarding these changes […]

Black2Nature’s Mya-Rose Craig on the conservation sector: its foundations and its racism

Mya-Rose will talk about the foundations of the conservation sector and how racism was pervasive from the beginning and continues to this date. The nineteenth-century context will begin with Darwin and Wallace’s travels around the world. They collected (a euphemism for shooting) thousands of birds, sending the specimens back to the Natural History Museum, as birds “new to man”. Teddy Roosevelt, the US President, declared Native Americans the cause of the decline of animals (regularly shot by his […]

Green Romanticism

The roots of the ecology movement (1750-1900)

Stephen Hunt of the Bristol Radical History Group will start the day with an overview of the ecology movement’s roots in the Romantic era. Industrial capitalism emerged together with the mass exploitation of fossil fuels during the Eighteenth Century. Over the next century it became increasingly apparent that accelerating processes of expansion and extraction threatened many habitats, or even the whole planet. Green Romantic anti-capitalism was an outcome of such processes. The negative social […]

Reflections on Radical Technology in the 1970s

Peter Harper coined the term ‘Alternative Technology’ in 1972 and became Head of Innovation at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT). During the mid-1970s, he co-edited Radical Technology, a compendium of ideas for sustainable living. Many of these ideas were showcased at local Comtek (Community Technology) events in Bath, a pioneering national celebration of innovation rolled into lively 1970's pop festivals. "Technology and innovation bring many benefits. They also bring harms, risks and […]

Back to the land

Personal reflections on green and community politics in the 1970s

In 1973 Kath Holden helped found a small commune based on a 135-acre dairy farm in West Wales. She went on to become a smallholder in the same area and disputed her entitlement to common grazing with local farmers, recalling earlier struggles for common-land rights. Later in the decade she volunteered on a farm in the USA, which offered sanctuary for people with mental health difficulties recovering from being in hospital. Inspired by these experiences, she went on to work on one of the earliest […]

Make Rojava Green Again

Building an Ecological Society

By Internationalist Commune of Rojava
The ‘Make Rojava Green Again’ campaign of the Internationalist Commune of Rojava began in early 2018. I am pleased and impressed that they have now published this inspirational book. That such a text is being produced is in itself an expression of hope. It is a most promising development in some of the least promising circumstances. The Internationalist Commune of Rojava rightly states that ‘the ecological crisis has become the most urgent challenge of our time because it touches and impacts all […]

Graham Caine (1945-2018)

Sad news that Graham Caine of Street Farm and the Bristol Gnomes died on 19th September. As well as being the Street Farmer who designed and lived in the first ecological house, Graham was responsible for distinctive Bristolian 'Gnomework' such as St Werburghs City Farm Café and the 'Gnome House’ in Boiling Wells. Graham was a great representative of the 1968 generation and spoke passionately of how the events in Paris 1968 inspired him in England. Meeting fellow Street Farmers Peter Crump and […]

Kurdish ecology initiatives: screening of film about Hasankeyf and talk

Event before the Global Action Day for Hasankeyf

Screening of short film, ‘Water’s Date with Death’ (Directed by Ali Ergül, 2017) about the threat the construction of the Ilisu Dam poses to people, archaeological heritage and biodiversity at the site of the 12000 year old settlement at Hasankeyf in south-east Turkey/Bakûr (north Kurdistan). This will be followed by a short talk about the aspirations to implement ecological sustainability, a central principle of the Kurdish struggle in Bakûr and Rojava (Democratic Federation of Northern Syria). […]

Swords Into Ploughshares, Arms To Renewables

miscellaneous 2018 poster
“To inflame the imagination of others” – that is the way shop steward convenor Mike Cooley saw the Lucas Aerospace Alternative Plan. The Plan had arisen out of the threat of massive redundancies at Lucas Aerospace in 1976 where half of its output depended on military contracts. Why, asked its workers, can’t we use our skills in creating socially useful products instead of making killing machines? And wouldn’t it make more sense spending money on things that society needed rather than on […]