FEED-BACK – one woman’s impression, on one festive day.

Sunday. Tube to train, 2 hours, and am there. 
Balcombe station, 2 police chat over rail bridge, ignoring me. Climb up from platform… Looking right – and left, across wide, empty road. Where is everyone? Hardly a house! 

Ah a sign: 
I turn right, down curving tree-lined road. a very quiet road, occasional very fast car, ow!  Careful here,keep to side, on grass trampled by many camp-going feet; me swinging along, back-pack, from train. A guitar on his back, another walker swings past. Hey there!
Beautiful woods dappled with sun light; it’s growing hot. Ah. Peaceful. Sweet air. Am out of London’s stink.
Ten minutes on and cars, tents, line up, neatly along wide green verges, both sides. 

Signs appear:
FIRST is the private LAND OWNER’S SIGN – on dark blue… 
                                       RISK FACTOR SOLUTIONS
                                       business IT solutions

and this is under a pie-chart dial… ticking the last few minutes up to midnight … how apt.

On the other side, our placards begin w a positive:
‘Please excuse the inconvenience: We’re Saving This Planet !!

Many more angry placards say FRACK OFF FRACKERS!
Angry and sorrowful, pleading and despairing SIGNAGE, talking toxicity, destruction. 
MOST CARS TOOT TOOT TOOT their approval and support.
This drilling (on private land) still has to be illegal: GCSE-LEVEL certification to supervisors of chemical and radio-active use: ungovernable damage, … seismic disturbance, water-table + river contamination. Impossible … no consultation? Short-term profit, wild-life disaster irreversible. Who’s mandate? Big business.
Write CAMERON and local MP a paper letter, everyone. but be clear… make a good case.

   JAMAICAN g’mother saying: 


I feel PARANOIA and heavy invective give negativity more power, easily becoming THEM & US yet again. 
We must show we understand the wider picture, and can talk sensitively, listen well, take on board another’s fear/feeling/wish/unmet longings (NVC – I recommend!).  We do not have to agree… but if we are clear about our ask, we may request…
Could we, rather, reach out with what we would (practically and eco-positively) put out there, in place of the business and government attitude: 
‘We’re DRILLING FOR PROFIT NOW, no matter how destructive’  
or even  “we’re just feeding YOUR  addiction to fast living, or dumbing-down gadgets and FAST cars!” 
“takes numbers off the dole” ??

Bringing more locals alongside, and reaching out further… THIS CAMP IS ABOUT solution-led concordia, they are open to discussion. Finding practical, harmonious equilibrium. Way to go!  
Good example.
Unlike most easily-led, cunning governments, many buying into total nuclear/fracking,cutting investment in renewables, ignoring european law, ignoring majority, no consulting, few safe-guards, no mandate. Info has it that just GCSE-level certificates are given, to those handling chemicals (no details given as vary from site to site!) and even radio-active materials. Let alone pumping huge quantities of water along miles deep in the earth. forcing rocks to split…. eh.

But we do know, nothing is as simple as we would like, not anymore.  Pressure is on… for energy. 
Recognising their responsibility, CAUDRILLO have just SENT IN WATER, this weekend, for the local population, after complaints that tap-water is already contaminated with oily red or green mess. Elders and children getting sick.  
Please: Watch over water: it’s the next gold-rush, already. Save and protect it. Be aware: put love in, not bleach, acid, oil. Put your gold back in! THANK Water, for what it does for us. 

JAMAICAN SAYING from grandmother: 
” BRING BACK THE BIRDS TO BALCOMBE ”      remember Silent Spring?
CHILLING NEWS:  Dawn chorus fell silent when drilling began. 

The hum is constant, seeming louder at night. Area around this drill is flooded in bright lights, every night, several football pitches in extent.  
And a lot more… Local people are suffering illness, mental stress, shaking homes, children with sudden asthma attacks, and more severe sickness, even deaths, I gather. Pollution in water, in earth, in air. Livestock lost, farms inoperable. Homes falling apart.
Cheerful greetings. Tents calmly pitched along wide green verges. Tree- shaded. All along the road, there is no off-road encampment.  Some very fast traffic, in spurts.  Many folks have been there three weeks… like Kim and her partner, who lift tent flaps to greet me. They are thinking of going home, to get some peaceful nights‘ SLEEP, just for a bit.  Kim walks with me. Shows me Kitchen tent and crosses to Meeting tent. No leaders, here, everyone pitches in, collects cups, helps with kids… look after each other. Do what needs doing.
The camp is calm, lively, happy and helpful. dogs on leads, kids all over. 
Busy road… very fast… cars hoot in support, 4 out of 5.
Lovely set-up with brilliant peaceful kitchen… full-on catering free to all, donations and food brought in.  Met many faces I knew! Raga, Nicola, Linda, Cordelia, Luke, Alasdair (guitarist, tall Andy, R, Paulo, Claudio, Julia…  Met new ones, warmly. 
There’s the kids’ area, pretty messy, lively, bunting and canopies. Cans of spray paint, toxic, left there… dodgy for kids… and us, too. But loads to occupy kids, otherwise. 
I could facepaint! Read books with them. next time… Need puppets!

DISCUSSION * Big tent over on other verge, under shade of trees, is where I stop to listen to discussion. “Reports of sickness already, from local population. And of noise affecting sleep, children suffering, and old folk… this is serious.” “Other contaminations, destruction, injuries.”

THIS CAMP HAS A NO DRUGS, NO ALCOHOL POLICY and wishes this to be honoured.  Bravo!  Hope that stays, with new influx of protesters arriving this week… we shall see. Really important it stays, or locals and government can go off on one, rightly.  For now, there’s all good stuff:
Massage, yoga, song, poetry, writing down thoughts, exercise groups… candle lit,  all in this tent. 

THE MEETING TENT.   Here I sat and listened. fifteen people sat, co-ordinated to-the-point talk.
‘Have we a set-up to test the water, properly?’  “Yes, our university scientists are doing this… for us. WE can supply water, properly labelled… in their bottles.” Or “can we compost on site?’  “Rats… we would get closed down – health and safety.” ‘Not if we bin-liner it, and take to local allotments, or…”  “Local opinion, garner more to come on board.” Or… ‘we must clean up kids’ area, at least”  “Local company supplying toilets… in support, for free”… etc  “Another van comes to take recycling…”  “Take our thoughts to local gatherings, at church, etc, town hall…”  more to be done.

The campers stay off the road. Next to the kitchen pagoda, a few police line up, peacefully, at the gate to the private field where drill hums, day and night, in flood-light.  Ah. they protect the drilling site… typical that, illegal as it is, (to my thinking), government and big business always have money to pay army/police to keep polluting big business going ahead, and green-thinking people at bay. Present profit versus future earth.
The police stood there, all day, keeping quiet, peaceful. Didn’t take tea from me, had their flasks! Did talk a little. 
But then, for a while, the road became a closed area… no cars came through. 
Firstly, Simon (poet. storyteller. mc) spoke up, told us his many thoughts, and poems! Drum, double bass, keyboards backing with energetic beats. The camp filled the road, chatting, looking around with joy in their eyes, at everyone, ‘family’.
At last,  a dynamic american choir-leader woman took the platform as we took over the whole road; she led us in singing! Massed voices raised to satelite above  “WE ARE HERE!” and sang soft then loud… baa-ing, mooing, tweeting bird calls, and song. Whilst we sang, in rounds, through the excited audience, dancing began, we greeted and hugged, milling on the road. Much needed, this was a breath of fresh air/energy, to renew spirits. There were 70 or so locals, amongst the 300 camp folk and visitors that day. All felt warm, caring, open as one family. Loved that. All walks of life, not just us ‘hippies’! Suits, fine clothes, u know: gossamer shawls in bright zingy colours casually thrown round bronzed Lanzarote shoulders! 
During the singing, list after list was read out, of the HARMED or INJURED or SICK from drilling ‘exploration’ even thus far. The list went on and on: sickness, deaths, injuries, accidents, ruined livestock, soil, water… 
 Singing died away.  Simon got up again, with another longer poem!!! Many wanted to say something.  
****  Lovely willowy, tall blonde lass got the camp rolling, early days, with Mike Grenville… ? and others. 
She talked well, how and why.  What was her name? Been there, all along, a valued founder member of camp.
But again, I wanted to hear calm, assertively green suggestions, based on practical solutions, based on recognising our OWN addiction to oil, gas, electric gadgetry etc. And how we might all simplify our lives, back some thirty years is all, to live more happily within NATURE’S REMIT.

***** I wanted to share my slogan: BRING BACK THE BIRDS TO BALCOMBE WOODS. 
Since drilling began, dawn chorus ceased. 
And wished to speak to being positive in our vision for the planet. We are one family. We can be happier, fulfilled, living simply, within a clean remit for the earth. We are just animals, a particularly potent animal but less fitted than the insects, birds or trees to exist here! And we are the only creatures to destroy our own nests.

We turn to talk with one another, new friends in this family. Dancing wildly together! Sharing food and water. Children and dogs mingling.
Recognised Claire from Alaska, just met, and she with Nicola R, of course, who fought for the Amazon peoples against the oil magnates’ polluting rivers and jungle. Claire (fresh in from Alaska, lives in a community in Spain), also active in protecting the wilderness. Alaska is a people surviving (even if the land suffers) on edge of the oil business. The whole area is about oil drilling. Gas pipelines. That’s how people grow up, surrounded by this stinking business. Literally. And the rest of the world uses it… not much room for pure Nature.’
Just two fantastic women; one working within Alaska’s frozen oil-rich wilderness, the other in steaming jungle. against oil-spilling toxic drilling rigs.  (SEE Nicola’s film, BLOOD AMAZON)

We must speak out, for Nature has no voice,and now she’s getting vicious in her pain. Generations will suffer. 
We had it good. Too good~ Time ran out?  Oh, and it only took us a few short years to destroy PARADISE.
WE are so lucky in this country, still to have a voice… and AVAAZ!  But it’s not to take for-granted. Others have genocide, fratricide, infanticide, mutilation, tribalism in its worst aspects. We have obesity, sexualisation of children, terrified juveniles, porn, rape, beatings, racism still … and generosity, multi-culturism, arts, music, dance, ‘free’ speech, sometimes heard! Times, it’s overheard. 

Perhaps we can focus on our vision of Future Free Earth: The World the Way She Wants to Work… to balance out negativity with positive workable solutions? Maybe more pro-green signs needed, before alienating more who may come on side?  Some pro-action seasoned protesters coming in, this week, to gear up this quiet, orderly, gentle protest. 

HOMEWARD via Hove, and Linda.  
So, I left feeling I MUST go back… and paint signs to counter the angry ones, a bit. 
I am an elder and I must be HEARD.  Speak out for calm assertiveness, when the more pro-action protesters arrive from midland actions (I forget which they are protesting at –  know that they are coming this week; told by A and R, who arrived as I wandered back to Balcombe station, with Nicola, around 6pm) They’re great friends with Nicola.

Got back, to hear that CAMERON has given carte-blanche for FRACKING to go-ahead, across the country. 
This has to be illegal, GCSE-LEVEL certification to supervisors of chemical and radio-active use: ungovernable damage, … seismic disturbance, water-table river contamination. Impossible … no consultation. Short-term profit, wild-life disaster irreversible. Who’s mandate? Big business.
Write him a paper letter, everyone.
But keep it balanced, reasoned and knowledge-led with green solutions. The government, business defined, will ask – what’s the alternative? We need the oil, the gas, can’t make an omelette…
So.  Define the mandate: real solutions green renewables and quickly de-tox the air we breathe.

Get us out of our cars, take diesel and petrol off road, kill engines when stopped (to text, eat, answer ph. or just waiting.) Cut all emissions: showers chuck 5 cubic meters CO2 into our atmosphere, daily, each one. 

Buses and taxis go agri waste or hydro fuel. Chip oil!  (NICOLA’s little car runs on chip oil, she says she has used only 5 litres petrol in as many years. Cheap and runs well).  Convert, everyone, if you can’t be cycling/walking!
Take trucks off roads, go canal?

Encourage biker-safe manners, pathways, walkways… bring back tree-lined verges. Bike-trams, pedalled by those who can, for those who can’t!!  Can see the old folk moving their legs pedalling, not pushing. getting fitter. Full of kids, elders, free transport! Bikers on each corner.
will draw this for you!

Reduce our use of gas and oil and electricity – it’s possible! 
Stop producing plastics. We can’t recycle all the nappies, let alone plastic beer rings, bags, packaging.
Turn off all un-needed night time electricity usage: office or public building/ street/ flood lights/ & machine use. Timers. Turn off stand-by, esp wi-fi computers, phones, radios etc.  Toxic – harms our immune system, disturbs sleep, creates a web that seriously harms bees, butterflies, birds, insects. Prevents clear head, sleep, affects our skin… increase of asthma attacks in kids exposed to micro-waves.
Let go gadgets.

Come together for the earth. Love it for all it’s worth…
Tis the line we now draw, in oil-rich lands, ere earth is destroyed by our very own hands. 

…maybe I begin a song? Will you carry it on?!  

Let the bees alone, take no more from them. Place less burden on all insects and the earth… Replace pesticides. insecticides. herbicides and fertilizers… farm permaculturally.  Clothing, furniture, plastic manufacturing run-offs killing oceans, too. Organic is nothing new: farmers were all of this mind, til recently. Now we pay more!  Some of our shit is gold: manure.  70% of the planet’s peoples are still fed from small holdings and small farms… 70%. Think before buying into GM, lock, stock and two smoking barrels full.
Bless the air we breathe together with all of Nature; trees breathe twice a day – out once at night, in once in daytime. Water is the next gold-rush. So pour love into the waters of the world, for the love is shared through our veins, rivers, seas…  and the trees. Return gold to the rivers, for we took it away in greed…it’s water’s need.  You may find this strange, but I really feel it is an electrolite, or somesuch; that all of earth’s deposits were meant to benefit us from within the rocks, earth, waters… not to be dug out, sucked away.

Get kids out of house, away from game-consoles (huh! consoling what lack?),  off our into woods. Learning survival techniques, bender making, woods preservation and carving.
Down to Balcombe.

Need to take face paints etc for kids’ area. Need to make that tidier – blowing huge sheets of paper across the road… and take away the toxic spray paints… kids were using these just to play with! PUPPETS WOULD BE GREAT. There’s one puppeteer… near start of camping, but not at Kids’ area. Funky.

Take medical kit, remedies, especially sage tea for sore throats, rescue remedy, sun-protection, 
music bits and percussion stuff. 
green life-solutions, to counter greed pollutions.   
take Water.
basic foods: pulses, oats, pasta. Tatties? Herbs.  Luxuries: Salsa verde… etc
hand and washing up soap. scrubs. SUNTAN lotion fit for kids.

And loving calm, thinking straight and practically, from the heart.

Love to all of you!   Annalou      artworks     fb Annalouise Oakland

Photo: Helen Moore


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