On a March weekend as Britain was battered by the tail end of Storm Gareth, in a warehouse on an industrial estate in Bristol, Extinction Rebellion threw a Spring Uprising Festival to train thousands in civil disobedience while inspiring festival goers to take action to change their lives and the world in response to current climate and biodiversity crises.
The Green Gathering was invited to curate a Solution Zone, an oasis of hope and practical solutions in the heart of the festival.
Extinction Rebellion (XR) aims to balance urgency and grief with positive action and a regenerative culture. The festival’s Rebel Hall was focused on preparations for a week of International Rebellion against inactive governments and culpable corporations, due to begin April 15. The Solution Zone showcased sustainable projects, techniques and technologies that, upscaled, could create resilient communities, reduce poverty and inequality, cut carbon emissions, improve air quality, halt the plastic scourge, restore our physical environment and put a brake on biodiversity loss.
Festival goers soaked up skills, experiences, knowledge and ideas while visiting the Solution Zone’s interactive stalls, installations and micro-communities. There were hands-on workshops in woodwork, pottery, soap making, bicycle maintenance, spinning, hand-powered sewing machines, and repair culture. Solar and pedal power, solar ovens, energy generating gym equipment, living wall and living roof technology were demonstrated. Discussion spaces hosted co-operative development consultants, permaculture practitioners, tree planters, land justice and migrant justice campaigners, low impact home designers, mental health workers and zero waste groups. A People’s Assembly was held as an introduction to grassroots democracy.
Solution Zone TV linked those present with XR groups nationally and internationally. STIR to Action donated magazines packed with information about circular and solidarity economies. A miniature cinema transported the audience into a parallel reality with the short film What If?, produced by Franny Armstrong to mark the 10 year anniversary of the groundbreaking climate wake-up film Age of Stupid.
Green Gathering festival director Em Weirdigan said:
"I'm massively excited to be part of a movement that's about rebellion, about civil disobedience ... and about seeking practical answers alongside people who've been working on solutions to climate change and community breakdown for years. By rebelling, we can catapult both the severity of the crisis and the fact that there are solutions into the spotlight. Just like The Green Gathering, this Spring Uprising is a festival beyond hedonism - it's about gathering together to save the planet."
The Solution Zone was a marketplace of ideas, a micro Green Gathering in an urban setting. A feeling of the fields was brought into the stark, warehouse venue with straw bales, woven rugs, hand-stitched bunting, a nursery of saplings, some living roof panels, a bunch of daffodils, a bottle of birch sap and a bucket of clay. The offering was down to earth and packed with visions of a brighter future.
• Alex Lawrie (co-op development consultant)
• Alice Ferguson (Playing Out movement)
• Anarres Housing Co-op
• BearCat Collective
• Bimble Solar
• Bristol Anarchist Federation
• Bristol Bikes
• Campaign For Real Events
• Catfish Housing Co-op
• Community Power Cornwall
• Co-operative Assistance Network
• Dirty Girls of Lesvos Island
• Ecological Land Co-operative
• Em Weirdigan (Solution Zone curator and Green Gathering director)
• Emma and Phil Tomkins (Green Gathering Craft Co-ordinators)
• Faith & Betty (chemical-free body care)
• Fuel Poverty Action
• Great Outdoor Gym Company
• Green Gathering
• Grow Your Own Home
• Jamie Kelsey Fry (contributing editor New Internationalist)
• Josie Holt (XR co-ordinator, North Devon)
• Kenny, Sas and Iain (volunteers)
• Land Justice Network
• Mike Feingold (permaculture teacher and practitioner)
• Mission LifeForce
• Natalie Fee (City To Sea)
• One Planet Council
• Radical Routes
• Reclaim The Power
• ReWild Project
• Cllr Shane Collins (Green Party and Green Gathering director)
• SLiCK Solar Stoves
• Solution Zone TV
• Somerset Co-op Services
• STIR To Action
• West Coast Makers
• Zoe Young (#Spycops enquiry core participant)