Bicycology arrived at Climate Camp Cymru on Thursday afternoon. I wasn’t there till Friday afternoon, so what happened on Thursday will have to get covered by someone else, but I had a great time when I was there.
We took a train that took a little over 3 hours (and two changes), but involved meeting two people we knew for chats about all things bike and climate related (and lots else besides).
When we arrived we jumped straight into the Environment Awareness Day the locals had organised in the shopping centre in the middle of town. Bicycology already had a ‘Free Bike Fixin’ presence, and we hooked up our new pedal-powered green traffic light and set up some sounds – only to discover that music was banned due to the lack of a licence, and the microphone was picking up noise from the generator.
Free Bike Fixin
A few trips to the charity shops later and we were playing a children’s story tape and some sound effects (unfortunately unhealthily loud coal mining noise was not on the list of 80 sounds), and wearing a brand new second hand Bicycology Green jumper…
After fixing up a few gears and the usual chatting about pedal-generators and cycling tips we set off up the mountain (no kidding) for the camp.
A little bit of sweating and lifting later we arrived at the snugly situated camp, less than 100 metres from a black as hell hole in the ground, and sandwiched between a main road and a dual carriageway…. in a nice way!
There were a fair number of structures, and we sort of set up in the Tat Shop, with a leaflet stash, bunting and bike fixing banner.
The plenary featured a Bicycologist (masquerading as a Stupid Planer) talking about adopting residents, and residents talking about adopting Climate Campers (and a Smash EDOer, Rossporter and Mainshiller talking about well, I think you can guess…)
Anyway, twas all quite inspiring thinking about such locally supported campaigns and the future scope for camps and action and all that…
Afterward we hung up a charity shop sheet and screened ‘Green Machine’ (pedal-washing machine), the G8Bikeride film, Bungeeboy’s Heathrow film, and some other shorts, before bed.
I ended up doing gate duty till 3am, listening to a flautist and warming wet legs on a rocket stove fire.
Saturday focussed on a walk out of the camp, a tour led by Residents Against Ffos-Y-Fran (see photos). The mine is insanely hideous, as you would imagine, and epic in scale – even from what little you could see from the limited area the police allowed us to roam on (common land, since you ask). A few people got a bit of hassle from attempting to walk down a road the police decided wasn’t acceptable to walk down, including one guy who was bitten by a police dog and arrested – I didn’t see any of this though.
Walking Near the Mine
Viewing the Devastation
Clowns and Horses
I did have a chat with a copper about why accidentally killing an innocent non-protestor is pretty unforgiveable and a sign that police tactics and training and attitude are, well, wrong, rather than… just a mishap, which went pretty well actually, especially given that he was holding his alsation on a leash, and it may well have been the one that bit the bloke earlier (I didn’t hear about that till later). The alsations were lovely but went bloody mad when I waved goodbye to the two doghandlers, god knows what they do to them to turn them so nasty…
In the morning a couple of us attended the DIY Wind Turbine workshop given by a guy from V3 Power, which was very inspiring. Then I gave a workshop on Pedal Generators and basic 12 Volt to answer some people’s bemusement from the first workshop (both were attended by over 30 people).
Pedal Generator Workshop
Saturday evening we put on an open air cinema spectacular – showing ‘Wild Horses’ (there were lovely ponies up by the mine, and the mist rolled in and out of the camp a few times), ‘Duck and Cover’ (a hilarious but sadly real American Civil Defence educational film about preparing for imminent Nuclear Attack), ‘The Humble Magnificent’ (to now standard guffawing in all the right places and applause at the end), ‘Cyclists Day Out’ to amusement and joy, bits from ‘Return of the Scorcher’ (amazement at the loads carried by bikes, and loads of bikes, in China and Holland) and the first half hour of ‘Fourth World War’ (covering mainly Argentina after economic collapse in 2001, and Palestine intifada).
Sunday involved dancing the hokey-kokey and playing Goldenballs’ new consensus-sound game as the conclusion to Molly Scott Cato’s thought-provoking and exciting economics workshop attended by 50 plus people at the end (words that *really shouldn’t* go together I think you’ll agree). After that I had a great chat about Transition and its limitations with some random dinner queue folk, then there was a closing plenary that involved lots of insanely quick consensus decision making and fine facilitation. Then we played some tunes as the Tat Down tatted away marvelously, before loading up and riding down the mountain (more fun than going up, of course) and enjoying a train journey back where the Climate Camp essentially took over the train.
Soul not Coal!
Climate Camp Cymru
Residents Against Ffos-y-Fran
Wikipedia entry about Ffos-y-Fran
Earth First! Action Report
Monbiot on Merthyr
South Wales Police Report
Ahem, of course, the Open Cast Coal Mine is not (according to Miller Argent) a horrific blot on the landscape and threat to the climate and future existence of life on earth, but on the contrary, “will create a better and safer environment for the local community for the benefit of future generations”.