Number 67 - April 2000

"When technology fails, use 'cut and paste'"
Bill Gates

CONTENTS

News in Brief
Feature: Guerilla Gardening
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NEWS IN BRIEF

[ Contents ]

FEATURE: GUERRILLA GARDENING

Guerilla Gardening is not a form of protest, however like many forms of protest Guerilla Gardening can empower the individual to be resourceful and self-reliant and to become a conscious part of the solution to many problems which face us both locally and globally.

If we are to ever truly take control over our lives then learning to produce our own food (DiY food production and distribution) is essential. Shaping and nurturing our surrounding environment is among the most powerful of symbols for starting to break free of the cycle of supply and demand, liberating us from the role of passive consumers dependent on the biological and social monoculture of our urban spaces and alienated from a real understanding of the nature of the world around us and the most important aspects of our day to day survival.

Of course the first prerequisite for growing our own food is land, the acquisition of which is financially beyond the means of most of us. With a lack of control of the land one of the greatest things most people have lost is a feeling of place and rootedness. Land has been commodified with exclusive property rights, distancing communities from their spaces. Capitalist-consumer culture severely limits our connection with the world, transforming us into consumers with minimal involvement in the growing of food and the management of previously common land.

However there are always liberated spaces existing outside of state space in which we can experiment in and work with. By taking control of growing our food and gardening, alternative visions and solutions can be put in place which seek to reduce the discords, artificiality, pollution, parasitic nature and ugliness of the urban environment. This is not about living a utopian or reclusive lifestyle but about personal development, education, and emphasising the need to reclaim our food and land resources from unsustainable practices. However, Guerilla Gardening is more than a land reclamation project, it also makes use of under-used or unused land, resources and skills.

What is required is the application of a little vision to the land around you: railway embankments, golf courses, carparks, overgrown bits of land at the work place etc. Then give a little thought to the surreptitious sewing of seeds - the only limits are those of your imagination! Herbs thriving on poor soils could be grown among thistles, rose bay willow herbs and boodle on desolate sites, a little known hole in a fence could give access to the local rich bastard's grounds -sew your seeds here among the undergrowth or venture further and indulge in some scrumping. How about the flower beds that adorn your town centre? You could grow your crops right in the heart of the consumer landscape.

Such secret gardens could be maintained with the minimum amount of effort, small amounts of compost carried in bags and weeds could be largely left alone as they provide camouflage for your activities. A morning's tour of a few camouflaged crops could supply you with a week's worth of crops, especially if you take advantage of all the free food that grows wild - nettles, ramsoms (wild garlic), dandelions, chickweed, nuts and berries and some mushrooms and fungi.

With increasing concern over the safety of chemically saturated industrialised food and especially the health, environmental and economic effects of GM foods; a desire to decrease dependence on large-scale producers controlling our diets; an attempt to reduce food miles, and exploitative means of production; and in an act of personal responsibility, a desire for greater self-sufficiency and to create local 'growing spaces' within the city, what is stopping us all from becoming one of the many human colonists rooting in the cracks and crevices of the disintegrating city and digging for revolution?

May Day Plans...

This year on May Day, in London, Reclaim the Streets is planning a mass Guerilla Gardening action. Armed with trowels, seeds and imagination the plan is to set on board an urban adventure at the threshold of nature and culture and garden everywhere and anywhere.

Picture thousands of Guerilla Gardeners, they have come to take back what was once theirs, to transform, a symbol of capitalism, to return urban landscapes to their real usefulness - as provider of food, as public space where people meet face to face, discuss and participate directly in the remaking of their own city.

Come along and come prepared to get your hands dirty. Bring with you everything you need to make a Guerilla Garden: a sapling, vegetable seedlings, flowers, herbs, subvert the packaging of capital: turn designer trainers into plant pots, traffic cones into hanging baskets...

Start Sowing The Seeds Now!

If you've never done it before, here's how... Pop the seeds in some seed compost (not essential but helps - most good soil does the job for most seeds), water a little, give them loads of light, inside the home on a warm window sill if possible and wait for them to germinate. With some it helps to poop a piece of plastic over them with an elastic band to secure but take it off once they've germinated. If they're in small containers transfer them to bigger pots. Almost anything can be used as a pot as long as it has drainage holes. Then water them a little more, watch them grow and make sure they don't die before May Day. Happy planting.

You also need more seeds to give out before the action and on the day. Seeds are especially easy to liberate from places e.g. B&Q, Homebase, Woolworths, and some supermarkets.

RTS has a whole wish list of stuff they need for the action and various ways you can get involved. Contact: 0171 281 4621 or see http://www.reclaimthestreets.net/. For more details on guerilla gardening check websites http://www.primalseeds.

For this event meet 11am 1/5/2000 Parliament Square, London.

If you're not into the idea of Guerilla Gardening after all that... The idea for Mayday is that lots of autonomous actions will happen all over the country, and in London there will be lots of autonomous actions going on all day elsewhere throughout the day.

There are numerous possibilities for autonomous actions including land, housing and squatting issues, various Capitalist enterprises, women's issues, animal rights, prisons, asylum seekers etc...

So far stuff is happening in Brighton (contact local group), Bristol (contact bristolmayday@angelfire.com or PO Box 13, 82 Colston St, Bristol BS1 5BB). Also in Sheffield, Manchester and Southampton and others too (contact local groups for details)! In London there's a Critical Mass cycle ride on Friday (6pm Southbank) and on Sat-Sun 29-30 April there's a conference with bookfair, film, workshops and discussions on everything from war to sexuality, prehistory to the internet (10-6pm Resource Centre 356 Holloway Road, London N7, nearest tube Holloway Road). Sunday 30th April there's the A30 'event' in opposition to the Terrorism Bill (this is not an action.) A "Class of 2000" photo will be taken-come dressed for direct action (2pm Highbury Fields nearest tube Highbury & Islington, London, 0161 226 6814). On Mayday in London there's also a solidarity action for the Italian revolutionaries who have been framed (meet at 11am Bond Street Tube Station).

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RESISTANCE IS FERTILE

Huge numbers of different events are planned all over the world in the 'Resistance is Fertile' week of action from 1st - 10th April. Events are happening in Canada, France, New Zealand, Netherlands, Russia, Belarus, USA and even the UK. Website http://www.resistanceisfertile.com.

If you would like to join in the international resistance, perhaps you could stage a protest at one of the sites listed below. Despite the attempts of some local councils to stop their tenant farmers from growing GM crops, the next round of GM farm scale trials are going into the ground now. Here are the grid references...

Forage maize

NameLocationGrid reference
HarpendenHertfordshireTL 118 130
WinfarthingNorfolkTM 100 879
Boothby GraffoeLincolnshireSK 971 586
Spital-in-the-streetLincolnshireSK 979 907
East NewtonHumbersideTA 263 382

Oil seed rape

NameLocationGrid reference
KempleyGloucestershireS0 675 313
LavertonWorcestershireSP 069 360
Chipping CampdenGloucestershireSP 154 403
AlderminsterWarwickshireSP 241 486
Upper TysoeWarwickshireSP 327 437
Piccots EndHertfordshireTL 068 115
St Osyth/SeawickEssexTM 119 138
Brockford GreenSuffolkTM 125 650
HorningtoftNorfolkTF 932 243
Boothby GraffoeLincolnshireSK 959 592
North KelseyLincolnshireTA 012 006
East NewtonHumbersideTA 265 382
Hutton MagnaNorth YorkshireNZ 137 115

Sugar Beet

NameLocationGrid reference
East BradenhamNorfolkTF 946 087
Ramsey MeresideCambridgeshireTL 308 902
Abbots RiptonCambridgeshireTL 221 773
Coney WestonSuffolkTL 964 785
HorningtoftNorfolkTF 932 238
TittleshallNorfolkTF 896 208
Stow BedonNorfolkTL 964 965
Friskney ToftsLincolnshireTF 506 542
BurstonNorfolkTM 128 828

Fodder Beet

NameLocationGrid reference
KerseySuffolkTL 986 424
UlleskelfYorkshireSE 522 389
NawtonYorkshireSE 649 841

Already, at least two farmers have pulled out of the Farm Scale Trials - one at Ulleskelf in Yorkshire and another at Friskney Tofts in Lincolnshire.

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CROP FLOPS

The Genetically Modified oilseed rape crop at Hemel Hempstead has failed. The majority of the plants failed to grow. The Hemel Hempstead GM Action Group campaign was to culminate in a major event at the GM site on Sunday 9th April. However, now that there is hardly any crop to see they are planning an informal celebration in Gaddesden Row near the field, entitled the "Crops A Flop Party". Web site http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/MartinHumphrey

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ROADS ROUND ESSEX

At the end of February, the protest site at Hockley was evicted. The Campaign Against Silly Homes (CASH) had camped at the site since July 1999 to stop sixty luxury homes being built on 11 acres of wood, scrub and common land. Contractors built extra fences around the camp, (having already tried to starve camp residents out by cutting off food supplies) and began felling trees, despite a legal agreement that they wouldn't. One protester was arrested after he was cut down from a tree, another was arrested under the Trade Union Act for 'stopping a man from using his tools' (throwing herself in front of the chainsaws), but has now had the charge dropped. Ironically, an appeal pending came up in March and the judge decreed that the contractors didn't own the land when they tried to evict protestors last October, which meant that the contractors had to pay court and legal costs for that appeal.

Gorse Wood protest camp has been evicted after protestors spent a record 40 days and 40 nights in tunnels underground, delaying road building and costing Countryroute plc (a consortium of road-builders Laing) large amounts of money. The A130 6-lane link road being built there will destroy meadow, woodland and an environmentally sensitive area.

Recently another protest camp has been set up in Essex. This time it is against Wilcon Homes (Eastern Limited). They want to build an urban development, in a rural area, of 73 houses at Golden Cross Road in Ashingdon near Southend. The local residents have objected to the problems it will cause, flooding, traffic congestion, the likely effects on wildlife etc. The residents have registered the site under the Commons Registration Act 1965 there is now an inquiry into this and the local Council has the plans for the public to inspect. Despite this, the developers wanted to clear the site so protesters have occupied the site to save the trees. The developers have spent a lot of money boarding up a bungalow, but it has been occupied anyway as there was a spare key in the garage! Contact the protest camp on 07833191951 or Golden Cross Road Action Group on 01702 541267.

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INVASION OF THE DAILY MAIL

Lesbian and gay activists invaded the London offices of the Daily Mail this month. The paper supports the retention of some of the most viciously homophobic legislation in Europe, the infamous "Section 28", which forbids the "promotion of homosexuality" by local authorities.

Two activists chained themselves to the paper's main newsroom, while three others took over the main atrium of the building, displaying banners and sounding horns in the presence of hundreds of office workers from the Mail and the London Evening Standard. On of them chained herself to a railing and had to be cut free. Outside, a third group of 20 protesters organised an impromptu queer street festival. http://bak.spc.org/bigotbusters.

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THE ULTIMATE CHALLENGE?

Refugees from Fairmile and Newbury have been spotted putting up treehouses in Boorara forest near Northcliffe SW Australia in the magnificent old growth karri trees. Bunnings/Sodico LTD of Perth, Australia are clearfelling 46 hectares a day of virgin karri/jarrah and marri trees. Most of these are converted to woodchips and exported to Japan to be turned into cardboard boxes to house consumer goods. Some of the timber is also exported to the UK (especially railway sleepers for Railtrack). Please boycott any timber coming from Western Australia.

Help is needed over here. Homes and modest financial support are available for experienced tree protesters (esp riggers) and tunnel experts. These are the second tallest trees on the planet and the latest platforms are 45 metres (130 feet) high up. This is the ultimate challenge for adrenaline starved tree people who fancy doing some hardcore protesting in pristine wilderness areas. Contact: mmclemen@hotmail.com.

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ENJOYMENT ZONE

Bristol Benefits Action Group turned their local Labour Party offices into an 'Enjoyment Zone' to protest about the introduction of Employment Zones, the cutting of benefits to asylum seekers, the extension of New Deal and to have some fun! Bemused workers were offered the chance to join in the fun as activists played party games. The occupation lasted half and hour, and the group went off to leaflet the local job centre to explain the action to claimants. Contact:jobsfight@onelist.com

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REFUGEES ARE NOT CRIMINALS!

Seven activists from ARROW were arrested at Oakington Detention Centre near Cambridge, on its first day of operation (20th March), after blockading the entrance to prevent asylum seekers from being interned there. The seven were arrested for highway obstruction after sitting in the gateway to the site. The Detention Centre - situated on an old army base - is designed to hold 400 asylum seekers and will increase by 50% Britain's capacity for detaining asylum seekers. It is envisaged that claimants will be held only for about seven days while their claims are considered, but asylum figures show that in 45% of claims an initial decision takes six months or longer.

Oakington is described as a "reception centre" for asylum seekers by the Home Office. However, according to Amnesty International, "Oakington's principal aim is - by means of summary refusals, inadequate access to legal advice and the threat of longer-term detention elsewhere pending any appeal - to expel asylum seekers within days of arrival." One of those arrested said "Asylum seekers should be offered compassion and support. Instead, Britain offers imprisonment and a swift refusal of asylum claims. This is fundamentally unjust and we are committed to opposing this policy."

Since the opening, 6 asylum seekers have escaped. Police said they are not looking for them as they haven't committed any crime. Perhaps the police could pass that information on to Jack Straw.

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RECRUITING FOR DEATH

A national engineering recruitment fair held in Birmingham recently was host to many leading UK arms organisations, including British Aerospace, GKN, Lucas and DERA. 12 activists dressed smartly and entered the heavily policed fair to hand out leaflets, hold up banners and chat to people attending the fair. Two people climbed onto the roof and unfurled a banner saying "Recruiting Today... The UK Death Trade". One person was arrested for holding a bottle of fake blood, but was later released without charge. The demonstration continued outside and the next day, with a die-in outside the main entrance and an alternative careers stall. The response from people attending was on the whole very positive. The next engineering recruitment fair is in Bristol on the 7th and 8th of April. For more information contact: recruitmentinfo@yahoo.co.uk.

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EDINBURGH

The proposed 'upgrading' of the A701 is in fact an entirely new road which will destroy miles of green belt to the south of Edinburgh. The plan is opposed by many communities including locals fighting under the name NAAG (No Alignment Action Group).

The 2.5 mile dual carriageway will have several massive roundabouts, some with flyovers, and will cut through small communities changing their way of life forever. It will also destroy an SSSI as well as the fragile habitats of protected species and local wildlife. It breaks dozens of local and national policies on roadbuilding, green belt use, environment, transport policy, out of town developments and wildlife protection.

Contact Joan on 01968 675 109 or get the full story with illustrations of the road from the NAAG website http://www.spokes.org.uk/naag/.

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STOP THE STAR WARS!

Around 500 people attended a demonstration at Menwith Hill American Spy Base in the Yorkshire Dales. Menwith Hill is the largest US spy base in the world, from which the US top-secret intelligence service can eavesdrop on all of the telecommunications in the Northern Hemisphere, including e-mail, telephones etc without the knowledge of the user.

The demo had a Star Wars theme to highlight the militaristic future planned by the 'evil empire', also known as the USA. Menwith Hill is expanding to become a relay station for the US National Defence System which will intercept and shoot down missiles. This is in breach of international treaties and will lead to an escalation of the arms race.

Protestors, some dressed as Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Jedi knights and other characters from the T.V programme Star Wars, heard speeches by comedian Mark Thomas and the local mayor (!?), then marched around the whole perimeter of the base. Many broke the illegal byelaws by walking across land owned by the base. Regular demonstrations are held at the base. For more information about how Big Brother listens to you, contact Yorkshire CND on 01274 730795.

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STOP ARMS INVESTMENTS!

Students occupied the roof of Liverpool University for an hour in protest against the university's direct investment in GEC and GNR arms companies. Attempts to occupy a meeting taking place inside the university to discuss ' university business' where thwarted by security and police who prevented the demonstrators from entering. The students have demanded that the Liverpool's University investment in the arms trade should be withdrawn and placed on the agenda for discussion.

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MUMIA MUST LIVE!

Demonstrations took place all over the world on International Day of Action for Mumia Abu-Jamal, a journalist and activist who has spent over 17 years on Death Row in the USA for a crime he didn't commit.

Huge international protests have delayed his execution in the past, but now he is threatened again. A stay of execution is due to run out between the end of March and the start of April. This is Mumia's last chance for justice, and the international campaign is increasing pressure on the American state to prevent his execution.

In Britain, just under 1000 people took part in the march and rally at Trafalgar Square, London.

150 activists and human rights campaigners marched through the Broadmead shopping in Bristol. Protests took place outside of two McDonald's restaurants, the Disney Shop and in one of the shopping centre's main meeting points. Music was provided by a local samba band and flyers and information were distributed to the public.

In Newcastle, one person was arrested after a rally at which an American flag was burnt as a symbol of oppression and of institutionalized racism within the penal system in the USA. The ashes of the flag were went to the American Embassy, along with letters calling for the release of Mumia. Around 50 people then marched to Benetton who recently launched an advertising campaign using Death Row prisoners.

Demonstrations also took place in Birmingham, Coventry, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield.

For more infor, tel: 020 7538 5821 or see www.mumia.org.

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TERRORISTS?

Events and actions are taking place all over in opposition to the Terrorism Bill which had its third reading on the 15th March, and is due to get its royal assent very soon.

In Brighton, a squatted community centre was opened for two weeks. Upstairs, there was a stage for various performances, including 'Genetically Modified Children' for kids. Downstairs were a sitting area, leaflet display, exhibition space, kitchen, kid's play area and a video room where action vids were shown. Various events took place each day, including discussions, slideshows, a direct action conference, theatre, bands, D.Js, cabaret, and 'Terrorist Blind Date'. Free tea, coffee and a 'terrorist' dish of the day were available, and the atmosphere inside the centre was really good.

In Manchester, an April Fool's Day Parade is happening to make a mockery of the Terrorism Bil.

In Newcastle, 20 people did a 15 mile march from the grave of north east Suffragette Emily Davison to a statue of Joseph Cowen ( champion of workers rights at home and revolution abroad ), to celebrate the radical history of the north east, and highlight the people who could have been and will be criminalized by the Terrorism Bill. Protesters who were dressed as Suffragettes, GM protesters, ANC supporters, striking workers etc. included former miner Dave Douglass, human rights campaigners, direct actioneers, Trident Ploughshares and others.

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FANCY PROTESTING IN IRELAND?

The Glen of the Downs Nature Reserve Vigil (in it's third year) continues. Glen Guardians were told by Duchas (the Government Heritage Department) that the camp building would be soon pulled down. The campaign continues in every way possible, and the Glen needs a new generation! Many activists have been forced to the sideline with injunctions hanging over their heads, so new faces are needed to go to the Glen for a day or two, or as long as you want. At the end of February, five female and eight male protesters were ordered to attend the High Court to answer allegations of breaching an Injunction not to interfere with the work of Wicklow County Council and not to trespass on Council land.

The Council asked the Judge for a new form of Undertaking, requiring an oath to not interfere with works, not trespass on Council land, and not "to enter any of the adjoining lands occupied by Duchas comprising a nature reserve which is now closed to the public". Despite protests by their Counsel, the Judge insisted that they either swear to that Undertaking, or be sent to prison. They unanimously refused, and were jailed. Some later signed the undertaking and were released, but 4 remain in prison. Please write to Tony Baird, Dominic Woolf and Hugh MacLochlainn who are all in Cloverhill Prison, Clondalkin, Dublin 22, Ireland, and Diana Peuker (a German national) who is in Mountjoy Women's Prison, North Circular Road, Dublin, Ireland.

For info or directions to the camp, contact glenofthedowns@ireland.com.

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FIDELITY INVESTMENTS - SHARES IN GENOCIDE

Activists from Manchester Earth First! have taken action in support of the U'wa people who are fighting against Oxy oil drilling on their sacred lands in Columbia. On Friday 17th March, eight people called round on the UK northern regional offices of Fidelity Investments (a major shareholder of Oxy), with a few choice words to put forward about the situation in Colombia. Staff at the office were caught completely by surprise as suited up crusties randomly wandered the office, locking on to delicate computer equipment and reorganising a few filing systems. For some reason the office manager called the Police who sped around en masse, arriving within five to ten minutes. Four police vans parked up outside the innocuous-looking building and 16 TAG officers jumped out onto King's Street in the centre of Manchester's financial district, attracting a lot of attention. Other activists held up a banner outside the building denouncing Fidelity, and handed out Rainforest Action Network leaflets, along with some home made Fidelity shares in grief, pain, suicide, war, U'wa land, rainforest and genocide. The protestors were finally ejected from the building after about an hour and a half, with one arrest (for hiding in a stationary cupboard and wedging a rubber stop under the door) and leaving behind a dismantled computer monitor and stand. Website http://www.snet.co.uk/ef/.

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SOLIDARIOS CON ITOITZ

For the last 15 years thousands of local people have fought against the Itoiz dam, in the Basque Country. The dam is destructive to nature, a danger to public safety, socially and culturally destructive, and surrounded by a web of governmental corruption. The local people brought the case to the Supreme Court of Spain, which ruled that the dam was illegal. However, the construction of the dam continues to this day.

Members of the Solidarios con Itoiz are touring Europe protesting against the dam. They recently scaled the dome of St Peter's in the Vatican. Also, the opening ceremony of the World Water Forum, in The Hague was completely disrupted half an hour after its beginning. Two members of Solidarios con Itoiz jumped on to the stage where Abu-Zeid, Chairman of the World Water Council was giving his inaugural speech. The two protestors, who were wearing only painted slogans handcuffed themselves to each other while shouting slogans against the Itoiz Dam and the Water privatisation. Security guards removed them violently, while Abu Zeid tried to carry on as if nothing was happening!

A 3rd protester chained herself to a chair, while a fourth person hung from the balcony of the hall showing a banner that said: NO TO WATER PRIVATIZATION. Another naked protestor emerged from the audience and yet another climbed a wall to hang a banner reading 'SOS ITOIZ'.

Six members of the group were arrested, and have now been released. Neither the politician's speeches or the performing ladies managed to attract the audience's attention away from the Solidarios Con Itoiz, and their message was heard loud and clear.

Website: http://www.s-o-s-itoiz.org.uk.

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The editors of the Earth First! Action Update do not intend to encourage people to carry out any illegal action. The Action Update is for information purposes only.
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