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Holly Spencer works for Stop Fuelling War, a Quaker organisation in Paris that highlights the extensive French arms trade.

Holly Spencer

1) What is Stop Fuelling War (SFW) all about, Holly?

Stop Fuelling War is a French association (also called Cessez d’Alimenter La Guerre) that was set up in 2017 to raise awareness of the arms trade in France and more specifically the arms fair Eurosatory.

It was also created to be a counter-voice to the pro-arms press, which is very prevalent in France, and to promote peacebuilding alternatives.

It builds on 20 years of Quaker witness outside the Eurosatory arms fair and is supported by a network of French and European pacifist or anti-militarist groups.

We like to use humour, graphics and cartoons as well as research, appealing to the eye and heart as well as the intellect.

Stop Fuelling War - Paris cartoon

  Continue reading Stop Fuelling War: an interview with Holly Spencer

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Ryan Sandford-Blackburn is the Permaculture Association’s strategic communications coordinator.

Here he talks to us about what permaculture has achieved worldwide, and the solutions it offers to a range of urgent contemporary problems.

Ryan Sandford-Blackburn

1) How would you describe permaculture to someone who was completely new to it?

Permaculture is much simpler than a lot of people believe. You can take courses and read dozens of books on the subject, and adding knowledge is always valuable, but you just need to grasp the basics.

Anyone who is working towards a more sustainable way of living is probably working within permaculture ethics without even realising it. There is benefit to conscious design, though.

It’s a practical approach to developing efficient systems in harmony with the natural world that can be used by everyone, wherever they happen to be in the world.

Permaculture encourages us to think carefully about how we use resources, while looking at how we can be as productive as possible for far less effort, which is something most of us would like to be better at!

It also encourages us to learn from nature and mimic how it deals with everything from water storage to diversity.

It began as a combination of the words ‘permanent’ and ‘agriculture’. But it’s a lot more than just food growing. Continue reading Designing to thrive: an interview with Ryan Sandford-Blackburn of the Permaculture Association

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Samantha Fletcher is a lecturer in criminology at Manchester Metropolitan University. Much of her research focuses on ‘crime, harm, and global justice’, and she has a particular interest in ‘new social movements that seek to challenge global inequalities and injustice’.

Samantha Fletcher

1) Please tell us, Sam, how you interpret the terms ‘crime’ and ‘harm’, with examples?

The discipline of criminology has a long history of overwhelmingly focusing on matters of crime, as defined by criminal law and the state.

In contrast, over the years, various scholars within criminology and beyond have sought to depart from this narrow conception of the ‘crime’ agenda.

They have instead sought to recognise that ‘crime’ as defined by laws and states severely limits the attempt to truly understand and adequately recognise all forms and wider conceptualisations of harms and violence.

Continue reading Crime, harm and the question of justice: an interview with Samantha Fletcher

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Paul Allen

1) How would you summarise the work you do, Paul?

Since its inception in 2007, the Zero Carbon Britain (ZCB) project has offered the hard data and confidence required for visualising a future where we have risen to the demands of climate science.

It has helped to reduce fear and misunderstanding and open new, positive, solution-focused conversations by showing that it is possible for the UK to rapidly transition to net-zero emissions with existing technologies.

My current work is to offer the most up-to-date support tools to citizens and councils who have declared a climate emergency, or are considering a declaration or action locally.

ZCB offers access to ambitious up-to-date modelling that shows that we can

  • provide a reliable energy supply for the UK with 100% renewable energy and flexible carbon-neutral backup
  • grow the vast majority of the food we need for a healthy, low-carbon diet, and manage our land to capture carbon, nurture biodiversity and increase the health and resilience of ecosystems
  • deliver a modern lifestyle, create employment, help reduce poverty, improve our well-being, and ensure that the future we leave for our children and generations to come is safe and sustainable.

Continue reading A climate emergency action plan: an interview with Paul Allen of the Centre for Alternative Technology

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Arthur Goodman is the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Liaison Officer of the organisation Jews for Justice for Palestinians. We asked him about JJP’s work and what inspires it.

1) On your website, you quote Rabbi Jeffrey Newman: ‘Without justice for Palestinians, there is no hope for Israel.’ Can you tell us why you agree with him, please?

Rabbi Newman has understood Zionism’s existential moral ambiguity. Yes, there was a just cause in the history of European persecution of Jews for Zionists to want a Jewish state, but the Zionists’ determination to have an exclusively Jewish state and to take over all of Palestine led them to expel as many of the indigenous Palestinian population as they could in 1948.

It later led them to occupy and settle the remaining Palestinian land in 1967. Continue reading ‘That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow’: an interview with Arthur Goodman

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Artist and activist James Brady will be delivering the Commonweal Lecture for 2018 – Commonweal’s 60th anniversary.

His topic will be la ZAD, a bold experiment in common living in rural France.

We asked him to tell us about la ZAD and why it deserves us our attention right now.

Commonweal Lecture 23rd October 2018

James Brady

La ZAD isn’t as well-known as it could be among UK activists. Please tell us what it stands for (the name and also the place!).

ZAD means ‘Zone to Defend’ (Zone à Défendre in French). The place is a utopian experiment of collective common living on 4,000 acres of rural landscape in Western France (near the city of Nantes).

The territory was first liberated from the French State’s plans (in 1968) to build a new airport for the nearby city of Nantes (which already has a perfectly functioning airport). This was achieved through an occupation by farmers who opposed the plans.

In recent years, the zone has been opened up to welcome anyone willing to stand in solidarity. It’s a place of great social diversity, which is the key to its success so far.

Continue reading Improvising the commons: lessons from la ZAD

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RisingUp is an activist collective that’s seeding widespread action against ‘our ecocidal, unjust and corrupt system’ and inviting us all to explore and implement the alternatives.

We spoke to RisingUp’s Gail Bradbrook, one of the organisation’s founders.

Gail Bradbrook

 

1) How long has RisingUp existed? What is your mission?

RisingUp was established in 2016 after a dialogue between activists from Earth First!, Occupy, Plane Stupid and Reclaim the Power. We launched with an action to partially close down Heathrow Airport in November 2016.

Here’s a longer overview of ‘where we are coming from’, but our mission is this:

To spark and sustain a spirit of creative rebellion, which will enable much-needed changes in our political, economic and social landscape. We endeavour to mobilise and train organisers to skilfully open up space, so that communities can develop the tools they need to address Britain’s deeply rooted problems. We work to transform our society into one that is compassionate, inclusive, sustainable, equitable and connected.

Continue reading Hope dies, action begins: an interview with RisingUp’s Gail Bradbrook

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Michael Nagler is the founder and president of the Metta Center for Nonviolence, in Petaluma, California, which offers ‘Theory, Strategy, Support for a New Story’.

We asked Michael about the work of the Center and his own perspective on nonviolence. 

Michael Nagler

1) Is there a way to define nonviolence in a few words?

There are several, because nonviolence is a vast field and people tend to pick up one piece or another.

I like to define it as

the energy released when one overcomes a disruptive drive (primarily fear and anger).

Then I specify that by ‘overcome’ I don’t mean repress. Rather, as Martin Luther King Jr said, to ‘convert anger under discipline for maximum effect’.

Continue reading A new story for the 21st century: an interview with Michael Nagler

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Greta Zarro is Organizing Director at World BEYOND War, which works globally to counter the myth that war is unavoidable and to bring about a war-free world.

Greta Zarro

1) How would you summarise World BEYOND War’s mission and current activities?

Founded in 2014, World BEYOND War is a global, grassroots network of volunteers, chapters and affiliated organisations advocating for the abolition of the institution of war, and its replacement with a culture of peace.

Our work tackles the myths of war by demonstrating that war is NOT beneficialNOT necessary and NOT inevitable.

Over 500 organisations and 75,000 individuals from 173 countries have signed our declaration of peace. We follow a two-pronged approach employing both education and nonviolent direct action organising.

Our campaigns include the following: close military bases worldwidesupport global justice and the rule of lawdivest from weapons dealers, and opt out of military recruitment.

© World BEYOND War. Source: https://worldbeyondwar.org/billboardsproject/

©World BEYOND War. Source

Continue reading How can we live without war? An interview with Greta Zarro

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Mark Goldthorpe runs the ClimateCultures project, which showcases ‘contributions by artists, curators or researchers working on many aspects of environmental or climate change’.

Its strapline is ‘Creative conversations for the Anthropocene’ (the era when human influence dominates climate and environment), and we took the direct approach by starting a conversation with Mark himself about climate, culture, violence and imagination… 

Mark Goldthorpe ©Paul Musso 2017

Mark Goldthorpe ©Paul Musso 2017

1) In a nutshell, Mark, what do climate and culture (and activism) have to do with each other?

That’s a huge question, I think!

Continue reading If the Anthropocene is violence, what is nonviolence? An interview with Mark Goldthorpe

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