Photographing the local, global climate strike

Here are a few photos from my local Climate Strike event, in Aviemore, 20th September 2019. I wondered if maybe the best way for me to make a contribution to the local effort was to ‘work’ through the strike with my camera, but I will let you be the judge of that.

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Over two hundred people attended the Aviemore march, across the generations. It was an empowering and inspiring thing to be a small part of. A banner building gathering beforehand was a further means of fostering community. I think it is a sort of magic to make these things happen. For me, the organisers are magicians in a very real sense.

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There are some critics, of course. A trendy neoliberal focus on individual carbon footprints swerves the point. Friends of the Earth point out that 15% of the UK population take 70% of the flights - the fact that I choose to use a bamboo toothbrush won’t change the fact that in a finite world, a small number of us spend while the rest pay. It doesn’t address corporate culpability, institutional inequality or endless growth. A realisation that social justice is also environmental justice prompted me to change the focus of my own work from community education to environmental conservation. The climate movement has grown up this year to include issues of social equity and biodiversity loss, and both poverty and immigration are becoming considered environmental issues. Equity - the redistribution of abundance - is the radicalism now at the heart of this new environmental movement, and why it’s so intimidating to the old guard.

There’s another, similarly flattering strand of thought that without government leadership, youth now have to lead. But the community always leads, leaders always follow. It’s always been this way. They won’t lift a finger without all of us telling them to. The cynical say it won’t make any difference and nothing ever changes, but they are not paying attention. Justice is never given, it is always fought for and taken; see the labour and civil rights movements. People died for the rights some of us now casually discard; the ultimate sense of entitlement. Those that lament a loss of community cohesion are the same people that dismiss any effort to reclaim the commons as childish naivety.

So be visible, dig where you stand, and never mind the naysayers. Better to signal virtue than indifference.

The photos were gifted to the good folk of Aviemore. A small fee for use in the local paper was also gifted to a local community group. The full set is on facebook, here.