Bike's First Big Day Out
Updated: Nov 11, 2021
Another year, another COP. The 26th one, this time up in Glasgow. Heads of state, NGO's, youth strikers, Indigenous leaders, Greta and over 500 fossil fuel lobbyists (!!?) gathering in and out of the Glaswegian rain to posture, PR and protest. November 6th was the global day of action, with streets and squares filling with citizens demanding more than just pretty words and tricky accounting.
Here in Waltham Forest, a local coalition led by XR Waltham Forest created a beautiful Climate Action Day at St John's Church in Leytonstone. There was music, cake, letter writing, seed bomb making, storytelling and talks on Regenerative Culture and Forest Gardens, Green New Deal and Local Activism with Transition Leytonstone. 16 stalls representing a beautiful eco-system of local groups including Transition Leytonstone, Mums 4 Lungs, Wren Conservation & Joy Riders, a super sweet organisation dedicated to encouraging women and girls from diverse backgrounds into cycling.
Amongst this lovely crew was the cargo bike and I, all dressed up for our first proper outing as hubRen, wheeled V1.1. Vibe, 'slightly cobbled together', and let's be honest, an aesthetic that will most likely stubbornly remain.
With my usual DIY-er dude up at COP, it was up to me to tackle the technical aspects of turning the cargo bike into the desired display space, by building a table-top into the opened box and a stand that would act as both an anti-lid-slamming device and a way to hang the beautiful #showyourstripes banner we collectively painted.
Everything has to pack down into the box for transport, so anything long and tall has to be dismantlable. I was quite proud of the 28 mm FSC dowel I sawed into 2 x 95cm lengths, then using an ancient draw knife and chisel to shave off a few mm from around the ends to be able to slot and bolt them into a short length of 28mm copper pipe, making a sturdy 1.9m pole. I then drilled a hole through the top to slip through a thinner dowel from which to hang the banner along with a macrame pot plant holder with kale seedlings as a counterbalance and dash of friendly greenery. The table was built very simply, a couple of batons screwed into the inside of the box, with two pieces of 9mm ply offcuts trimmed down to fit the aperture, they sit atop the batons and are easily lifted in and out. Thanks for the tip there Stig! Also very grateful to have access to a well stocked tool box and the space to drill and dither into the small hours.
For the interactive element I set up up a compost caddy to collect and process people's climate feelings. The idea to compost your emotions came from my lovely friend Hannah Leigh Mackie, for whom without the seeds of the hub would never have been planted or properly nurtured. The idea behind it is that uncomfortable feelings, our fears, worries or alarm should not be pushed away, hidden or disregarded, but acknowledged and used to help us move towards building the kind of world we need. Compost is beautiful, in a healthy ecosystem nothing is ever wasted, death and decay gets turned into the rich soil from which abundance springs forth.
Interestingly it was mainly young folk that did take the time to write their feelings and
thoughts down to compost, and there was also a funny moment when a young lad picked up the copy of the Paris Agreement and was openly blown away by the fact that it was only 17 pages long and written in not-impenetrable language. I am looking forward to having more resources available for young people.
I had some really lovely chats with different folk, both members of the public and representatives of some fantastic local groups, and so great to finally meet activist and permaculturist, Rakesh Rootsman Rak, in actual real life! Being able to step back and see how the hub looks out in the real world was very useful, see what's missing - better signage for starters! This was the softest of soft launches, into a space specifically set up for conversations and action around climate, it's going to be very interesting to see how the hub is received in other more public and open spaces.
All in all, a great day. Huge kudos to the organisers for bringing everyone together and for facilitating the writing of over 100 letters to local MP's and representatives! According to MP's, apparently receiving letters from their constituents actually does work in influencing how they vote and represent their communities. Diversity of tactics eh? Below are a few more pictures, a mixture from XR's collection and the very few I snapped on my phone when I wasn't setting up, chatting or packing up.