Attention Conservation Notice: I found some sentences about a November 2010 national Climate Camp meeting I went to the first hour or so of. They’d been sitting in a file on my desktop. I have fleshed ’em out, and here they are. Of interest to nobody, not even me.
In Jan 2006 I attended the first big public meeting of Climate Camp, at MERCi, in Manchester. (And so I moved from document-wallets full of newspaper clippings about the pending ecological debacle to “action.” I have not yet retreated, but that day will come.) I remember saying to someone on that Saturday (Sunday?) all those years ago that it (the attempt at a social movement) would all end badly. She asked me why I was going to be involved then. I said I didn’t really have a choice.
In July 2007 I was in the room yet again (there’d been other meetings in that space in the meantime, including a wretched wretched one in October 2006). I watched from position of increasing emotional and physical distance and distaste. I facilitated a meeting of 60 people where the same 8 hands were always up, talking over the passive throngs. My attempts to make it genuinely participatory were, of course, blocked.
Finally, years later, I took myself along to a “what next” meeting of Climate Camp. In the same space. This was November 2010. Thre were some people I recognised, surprised to see me. Perhaps one or two of them were happy to see me. I was happy to see one or two of them. The rest – no.
The meeting was shit from the outset. The facilitation ‘team’ declared they were going to have open space, but this seemed thin cover for ‘we didn’t have enough people’ to sort out an agenda. Maybe it was going to work, but it was coming from position of weakness rather than strength.
Most everyone under forty. Pretty white. Bet they most had a university degree or two.
Then, no attempt at any innovation in finding out who was in the room (just a name-go-round and self-introduction. With 30 people. Yeah. Right.) Or what they thought. Or what they needed. Or anything.
“Theatrical interactions with the public” – one of them actually said that! Un-self-consciously. Let’s all put on our pith helmets, eh?
If the foreplay is that inept, who sticks around to see how badly they will be screwed? I left (I’d not expected to stay the whole course, or even till lunchtime. The point had been to say “goodbye to all that”. I just ended up leaving even quicker than I’d thought I would have to.
Addendum: There was another week-long (!) bunch of arsehole searching early the following year. Then they packed it in. “For 2011”. But, mercifully, no such farce has returned in 2012, not even a whisper.
Still, from recent interactions, I see that the same clowns are still around, still itching for the glory days, still unable to distinguish between what they want and what is needed. Still unable to understand that other people might have a better handle on the tawdry realities of intra-movement power than they do, and have the guts to walk away. But go ahead, label them how you need to… Whatever you need to keep the guru-love flowing.