Video traning at anti fracking camps
Training videos so far are about inviting people for tea. This is outreach to "normal" people to get involved in the camps.
Activisttech.org at work at Daneshill protection camp
Cooking dinner at daneshill protection 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
Attempted Putsch at Balcombe
The camp has to move after the drilling stops every one agrees with this, I do, the only useful question/decision is when and were to next. What am documenting here is one groups decision and action that happen this weekend at the camp. Read this with a smile (or you might cry) Its been interesting to be in the middle of a attempted Putsch at #balcombe anti-fracking site.
I have been oncamp for more than 3 weeks, On Friday in the morning I got up early to go off site to get the main battery bank charged otherwise the camp would have no power for the next 3-4 days. After I got back the camp was quirt I got some tea mosed around said hi to the people I met, everything was working fine on the temporary power in the tech tent. By the late afternoon it was time for a sester in my tent, on waking I found a strange decision had been made. The same thing happened to a number of people for example Marina Pepper was doing legal support for the court case and was constantly phoning up people at the camp, this decision making was not mentioned, Prajna was off site doing arrest support he was not informed etc.
A decision was made to close the camp down in front of the fracking site and move all the infrastructure and tents 5-10-15 miles away (the location was not revealed) This visible wrong agenda was pushed though a exhausting 8 hour meeting by majority vote of the people left in the meeting after 8 hours.
* You can never get a good decision after an 8 hour meeting!
* That we would be evicted on Monday – actually the court process starts on Monday and as many experienced people pointed out this will be a long process with many delays. It should be possible to stay till the drill is removed in 2 weeks and then leave as we wont to not forced by a court process.
* The main argument was if the whole camp left before the court case they could turn up at court and say “what camp” and the injunction would not happen. This is a fantasy in that we would have had to evict the half of the camp that refuses to go to meetings and would reject this imposing of a nonsense agender by a meeting they ignore. Even if this could be done this would not have stopped the injunction as they would have argued that the camp would have just returned so they would need the injunction to stop this happening.
* Then the was the very understandable argument for the mental health and physical health of the core camp crew here since the beginning – the call to support the “family”. This is the only valid argument, but when looked at it is thin and self inflicted. The camp has collectively allowed a tiny minority of people to continuously hold stressful roles for month's with out rest, this could have been mediated by the offered respite in locales homes or sharing roles with the large number of competent people at the site. The separate camp is going ahead anyway with out the camp moving for people who need time out this is a good thing and solves this issue if people take the time out they need.
The next day the was a very violent/bad tempered meeting where it was repeatedly coherently argued that the day before decision was damaging and wrong headed. Each point was refuted – the answer was imposed that we should STILL DO IT AS IT WAS DECIDED this wasted the whole morning till a tea break helped to clear the air. During the tea break the people arguing strongly for the camp to be taken down actually started to take down structures. This angry energy faded as the majority of people ignored them and didn’t take part in this.
The afternoon meeting was much calmer, apart form a part were the original decision was tried to be re-imposed by violent argument by a minority. The issue now (Sunday morning) is that online the original decision/agenda rolls on and locals with cars are turning up to take things, and owners of structures are reclaiming them still thinking the eviction is happening on Monday.
This ill timed and wrongly argued ripping apart of the camp might make it hard to move forward on a tactical agreement to leave when the time comes. This is the problem we have created and now face.
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 - 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.
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.
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 - 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.