A river that needs crossing political and tech blogs - On the political side, the is arrogance and ignorance, on the geek side the is naivety and over- complexity

My videos are on these two youtube channals visionontv 3,832,876 views and undercurrents 22,689,976 views

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Hamish Campbell
Posts: 347
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Date: 30/11/15
Richard Hering
Posts: 67
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Date: 08/09/15
Patrick Chalmers
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Date: 03/07/14
Matthew Paul Foster
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Date: 27/12/13
John Sinha
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Date: 22/10/13
Barrie Slipper
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Date: 22/10/13
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Date: 19/07/13
marc barto
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Date: 21/06/13
Glenn McMahon
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Date: 09/03/13
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Date: 19/02/13

This happens nearly every day at Balcombe - Snatch Arrest

This happens nearly every day at Balcombe. This film was shot and edited and uploaded in 1 hour at the camp media center all on solar power.

Greenham women talks about protest camp life

This is a message from my mum who was an original Greenham women - she is wrighting in reaction to what she is hearing going on at Balcombe Community Protection Camp.

"I was on the original women lead march from Cardiff to Greenham Common. 36 women and six men marched from Cardiff to USAF Greenham Common in September 1981 to protest at the arrival of first strike, Ground Launched nuclear cruise Missiles. There was no plan to stay but when our request for a debate on TV was ignored we decided to stay living in the open in all weathers for almost 20 years. it was a new way of life aa amazing experience but with with many difficulties. wonderful world wide support. but personalities, money, infiltration evictions all had to be resolved.

Money at Greenham.

Anarchy - Greenham was amazing despite difficulties , When the camp was set up who ever got to the postman first opened the letters and took the money. One women used it to pay her mortgage. We opened a women’s peace camp coop bank account with two signatures who allocated the money each day. With discussion, so everyone knew where the money was spent, otherwise everyone considered their need was greatest. The camp belongs to everyone.....never forget our experiences with the security service infiltrators..new recruits with MI5 and MI6 in practice missions.

Whilst Greenham Women were facing eviction in the 1980s Mrs Thatcher changed the law, Eviction notices did not have to be given to the person but could be fixed to the premises. At greenham this meant nailed to a tree like in the wildwest USA . We found out who owned of the land around the base. Some belonged to the local council, some to the ministry of transport, other land to the military and some was common land. When women were evicted They only had to move a few yards to land owned by another authority and the eviction process had to start all over again. often there were vague descriptions of women not even a name. when the polce carefully described what we were wearing we all the swopped clothes .The first evictions were in Newbury district court. and later in the high court. we just ignored our evictions.Many of us had a high court order banning us from as many as five counties which we ignored. There were so many of us from all over the UK and all parts of the world we could ignore the courts decisions some women did go to prison. WE WENT INTO THE COURTS IN SHORTS AND VESTS WITH BABIES WHO WERE BREAST FED AND HAD NAPPIES CHANGED IN THE COURT.. VERY DISTURBING FOR THE MALE LEGAL PROFESSION; jUDGES WIFES AT THE BACK OF THE COURT WERE ADVING THE WOMEN. The judge Jupp retreated so fast after evicting us..."

Thalia Campbell

If you would like a pack of post cards from Greenham (and some contempery ant-fracking ones) ask Thalia for her address and sender her a donation (:

How far is Balcombe camp a responsible alternative?

Its interesting to be in the middle of camp life doing something that is core to the camp functioning. Am one of the crew responsible for the tech tent, we run a solar power set-up that charges the camp phones, runs the laptops and provides shaky internet for legal, media and wider camp community. This is currently working pretty well but we have a number of issues that need addressing, lets briefly look at each one:

We are completely reliant on a single source of power – solar – this as anyone knows is unsubstantial as people are finding out on dark rainy days – as we move into the autumn/winter this will stop working in a meaningful way. The is a blindness and intolerance to addressing this issue that is worrying and the wider camp is not taking on the responsibility for this issue.

The majority of people while expressing green views treat camp infrastructure as if it was normal mainstream home infrastructure. The is a tendency to get angry if they can't plug their phone in when they wont to or use the internet after dark, or watch videos over our shaky internet connection. You can explain to them all you like but when you leave the tech tent to get a cup of tea often when you get back you will find 3 extra phones charging and the laptop left on with nobody using it etc.

The solution being pushed is HUGE increase in battery’s and solar panels and tech so you can treat natural resources power as if it was home power. This is a surprising and shocking unthinking indictment of our culture, its why fracking/dangerous energy is happening in the first place. It seems people are un-willing to move closer to nature (even though they are living on a road verge in the rain) rather they unthinkingly continue to use technology to bend nature to there convenience.

We still have individuals who are ripping apart working camp set-ups see my last post for motivations for this LINK The camp is not taking collective responsibility over damaging individuals and there actions, the camp meetings are dysfunctional and fractures, the only way most things are decided is be mob rule or attrition through boredom. Consensus is failing through a lack of trust in the shifting camp crew.

If you wont to challenge fracking and dangerous energy extraction in general you need to be at least able to offer and outline of a working alternative. How can you build a green/alternative with out looking at this issues/mind set in our own camp.

Balcombe Protection Camp has a working solar power station

While summer lasts we aspire to camp electrics being completely powered by solar power. Currently the kitchen, massage/meeting tent and the media/tech tent are working. We have LED lighting and can power 3 laptops and charge around 30-40 phones each day. Other structures have LED lighting running from fixed battery’s.

Hamish looking tired in the Balcombe  tech tent at the end of the day (photo Dik Ng)

Today’s observation is the tech tent has become quite boring last few days – the issue is that it simply works, the are no blown fuses, sparking wires or smocking components. The is just working laptops, phone charging and mostly working internet. This is a good thing of course, but I still have to spend my time in the space to stop people dismantling this working set-up. Here are some example bad energy's that make this necessary:

* I would do this better, rip appart and plug to gather in a way which is likely not better and then leave everything broken and burned out

* I need this now for this very important – screening – music event – personal project – ripaprt and leave key parts missing/broken.

* Pilfering, I wont this component, its an open space, I will take it, lots of adapters and cables go missing every week.

* External saboteurs, its well documented now that most successful radical campaigns have had paid corporate spy’s, agent provocaturs and undercover police/police informers and that these roles often ambiguously overlap.

* Internal Sabotage, I hate you because you told me in public not to do something I wonted to do so, I will make something you are doing fail. Some people think these overlap with the external saboteurs...

This last one is more prevalent than you would imagine and I don’t think many people doing it actually understand that they are.

Back to a positive note, we have a working tech tent, YEHA!!! and a good crew (would like to name them here but have to ask first), Sean Peatfield

Camp tech needs for Balcombe

Currently we have half the solar panels we ordered working to power core camp phone, laptops and tech tent (250w) – with limited public phone charging. And a second 40w solar powered laptop, music and phone charging point in the large massage tent. In the kitchen we now have a permanent lighting set-up with 27w solar panel. The tolits also have battery lighting but no panels to trickle charge the battery.

(DRAFT) This is a list to build on what we have in our low power solar driven 12v tech tent (and wider powered spaces) at Balcombe anti-fracking camp.

3x small cheap laptops (Thinkpad X60-61) these can be sourced ex-corporate and are strongly built, only use 14-24w of power – less than a 3ed of a normal laptop)

3xcheap usb mouse for the laptops.

Big 2TB external hardrive (legal and camp media off site backup)

Small 1TB USB hardrive (on-site backup)

4 x universal 12v laptop chargers (these can be used to power most small electronics, we use them for the audio and LED projector for screenings)

Wifi booster x2

2 x solar panels 100w semi flexible for tech tent roof + charge controllers, so we can move the huge panel to camp events charging which is what its needed, configured and bought for.

4x cheap 5-10w solar panels to trickle charge the distributed lighting set-ups, they are small so we don’t need the cost and complexity of charge controllers. (NEED TO WORK OUT THE MATH TO SEE IF THIS WILL WORK WELL ANUF)

20m cable heavy duty

Box of mixed 12v electrical connectors

Cheap mobile phone/mifi to use as permanent hotspot (Sim has to be 3 network as this is the only one that works reliably, PASG data package)

6x Phone charging USB 5v adapters (these keep going missing)

20 x micro USB charging cables (these keep going missing)

5 x iphone usb charging cables (these keep going missing)



Ebuyer torch (AA bats) x4 (529074) £88

Ebuyer USB micro cable x20 (242264) £19

Ebuyer Apple connector x4 (451003) £12.60

Ebuyer single 5 volt USB adapter x6 (394741) £18.00

Ebuyer external HD 1TB x1 (396739) £55.00

Ebuyer external HD 2TB x1 (384253) £84.52


Solar shower bags 3 off £21

rechargeable AA battery 16 £20

8 cell battery re-charger 1 £20

3 network data sim card 10gb a month 6 months £90

wifi booster antenna x2 £70

small 10w solar panels + cables x4 £100


transport fund £500

big tarps x10 £180

cast iran Clark Victoria wood burning stove x1 £574

cheap RF bugging detector x1 £20


Parrot AR drone power addition x1 £320

Kitchen water filter + 5 filters x1 £80


phone mic in spliters x10 £40

Cheap small low power laptops think pad (X60) x3 £420

laptop 12v universal power supply’s x3 £90


100w solar panels semi flexible x2 £320

charge controllers PWM5 x2 £36

Heavy duty 12v cable 20m £20

solar cable connectors 10 £25

box of electrical connectors x2 £40

padlock combination x3 £60


Hiring of winter tent £500


Total £3802

Snatch, Snatch, Snatch!

3 videos of police snatch's from Balcome Protection Camp this morning. Already there have been 4 arrests today. Action began with with Nicky, a local resident, locking herself on to the gate to prevent deliveries to the fracking site. Then they started on the people slowing the trucks.


Balcombe - power use

I have been at Balcombe anti-fracking camp for two weeks now (DRAFT)

Broken inverter box of shame

We have come a long way in the tech tent in helping to change the mindset of the camp to be more environmental. The camp is moving more slowly towards being in tune with the wider natural rhythms of the seasons. Our next challenge in this is to get the camp to recognise that there are seasons and that autumn is coming. As a natural shift, power generation will start to move from sun to wind and other more experimental energy generating.

What have we achieved:

We moved peoples' perception on to be aware that where power comes from affects when you have it. The current power is solar and it comes from the sun so any power we have is available when the sun is brightest and strongest – so we have power between 11-4 o’clock to use laptops and charge phones. Before and after this only core and emergency use is available.

We managed the transition from inefficient inverters powering 240v AC hungry household appliances to native 12v DV low powered equipment. This is a basic green issue of energy use: use less and use it better. The inverting is costing more then 40% of the power coming in when you take into account battery efficiency.

WHY? It's about the efficiency of the battery/wire/voltage converter technology. Storing the power then retrieving it has a cost. We decide not to pay this cost. We use the power as much as possible directly from the sun. The batteries are used as floats, they buffer/moderate the power. If you use the batteries as floats and buffers you can use this power with little loss. As soon as you shift use of the power to other times you have the energy cost of charging, storing and retrieving the power – this can be as much as 40% of the total coming in. When you add to this the inverting (DC-AC-DC) of power which we were doing at the start this makes no sense at all unless you are connected to a coal or nuclear power station. The reality was that the batteries in the camp were shipped out by car each day, charged on the grid then shipped back by car, drain and repeat.

We are still working on the respect and longevity of the environmentally damaging batteries that we use and are donated. 6 have been destroyed so far and most of the rest damaged/degraded. This is a ecological cost in polluting with dangerous lead and acid. It's a mission that we will have more time for after the basic set-up is in place.

We cleared the tech space of the mad rip-it-apart-every-night energy and replaced this with more clear and safe sorted people (well, as sorted as you get at protest camps). This led to semi-permanent working set-ups rather than the draining of energy of having to re-build everything from scratch each day. It's interesting that it's hard to move people beyond the black and white thinking of solving problems to the more holistic thinking of respect for diversity of strategies. This mad creative/destructive energy has a space in the camp – and we have to nurture a space for it, rather than try and use a lot of energy failing to exclude it.

We face the basic green issue of energy use, use less and use it better in the case of batteries. The core space is now working, the next challenge in power is diversity of sources. Can we move investment away from solar as the summer comes to an end and the daylight hours shorten and fade.

For any power you take out in the evening about twice as much power has to be put back in the morning, so it's a bad way of borrowing shifting use times. It's an education building a power station at a protest camp.

Balcombe - one man stops a fracking truck for an afternoon

Today we had a classic bit of direct action, stop a work truck and lock your self to it which stopped lorry movement for the afternoon. Very affective illustration of what a tiny number of people can do. This will lead to much heaver policing as they will have to escort the trucks out of the site as well as in. Its good that this basic direct action has finely happened, brings a feeling that the camp might move beyond the stale tactic of slowing the trucks down for a 10 min on the way in to site.

One Man Stop from You and I Films

The disruption of the policing and the shaking of the supply chin into the site will lead to costs and disruptions that will actually affect the outcome of the campaign. This needs to happen more if we are to win.

Balcombe - the missing solar Panels

I have been at Balcombe camp for nearly 2 weeks working in the tech tent. The campaign is a positive experience and the issue is very winnable. But the internals of the campaign and the camp that is now at its centre is like many in the past dysfunctional anufe to help undermine this likely victory. The are a lot of hidden agenda’s amongst the #Balcombe anti-fracking which can make a very dysfunctional campaigning space. I am sitting this morning in such a situation.

If my solar equipment isn’t here (which at the moment it isuant, as I though the new 450w had arrived) the camp has one 27w solar panel which on a sunny day can power a small laptop or charge 4-5 phones. This has been going on for a month or more. For a time I brought extra panels and got us up to charging 20-50 phones a day including all the legal and core camp phones. Was a happy time that was crowned by a offer of local funding and a morning on the pub wifi, £600 ordered 450w of solar panels and controllers. See post (LINK)

It was going to take 3-4 days for the gear to arrive so I left the camp with a working basic solar phone charging set-up for core camp phone's for a few days to do some work in London. Keeping an eye on social media I noted that the process of installing the solar panels had got stuck somehow so decided to come back to the camp to finish the install.

Arriving back to a poisonous soup of clashing agenda’s the panels were stuck in a locals house and are still there now 4 days latter.

The is a sorted tech crew, but no consensus on how to move on from here. So days are spent rasherioning power and argueing over fantasy plans which are beyond the power we have and beyond the 450w of power we will have at some point.

Its interesting to experience the internal dynamics inside the tech team -

On one hand we have pragmatic realists – who recognise the lack of control, creative and destructive power at camps. They deal with this by:

  • Building set-up's to include clear separation of different systems so if one fails the other continues.

  • Put in simple work flow to minimise the competing needs on scares resources the different groups will demand.

  • Separate the different user groups into core camp, legal, media and events so that they do not compete for the same pools of limited resources

Of course the is nothing to stop the different working groups co-operating and helping each other, what this avoids is the competition and ego-flaring that envehrtably happens in the highly stressed camp life.

On the other hand we have obdurate realists who while right in what they are saying are ignoring the circumstances of where they saying it. I can give you an example: in the last 24 hours the solar phone charging I set-up has been ripped apart and scattered, then re-built 3 times. To keep this working today I sat in the tent all day this is not a sustaining way of running a key camp technology.

This is the reality of camp life with no working consensus.

Balcombe - working in the tech tent

Its been an interesting and educational experience working in the tech tent at the anti-fracking protest camp. 

When I arived, in the first 3 days none of the solar panles were pluged into the batterys, they were just on dispaly. 

I set out to build a working system from the bits there, I managed to beg and borrow the pieces I needed to put together and had a working 12v solar phone charging station by the evening ready to run the next day.

The problem was in the night a drunk person came and ripped it apparent and took away core parts of this. I then spend a very frustrating morning recovering the bits, but it dosent work as the battery had been some how destroyed in the night. This was the end of getting anything working for a few days, the core problem of tech space was obviously social rather than technical.

Soughting through the donated equipment, most of it was broken soon after it arrived due to "enthusiastic" use in late night party’s and events, misswiring blown fuses and then bodged fixes.

Almost all the equipment in the camp tech tent was broken, so to start things off whent home for a few days and then came back bringing my own solar panels and equipment. Here it is on the roof of the tent ready to charge phones.

Day 2 of "new tech tent order" we charged 20 phones, setup and powered a live radio station and made 2 short video reports. Here we are repairing one of the broken solar panels.

We had a priority of charging the legal observers and core camp phones. 

What I learned form this is that tech spaces at camps are chaos and one way to tame this “destructive madness” is to bring in sorted equipment and set-up a working part of the space – this then gives you influence to settle the madness in the rest of the space. If you cant make something work and keep it working you are just one mad voice in the many. And if you dont have your own equipment you can't keep it working as some one else with equal "voice" and “need' will pull it apart when you go to sleep or for a cup of tea.

We have a social problem to solve as part of the tecnical building of protest camp tech.

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