One of the blogs I posted this week was all about Extinction Rebellion, who are currently undertaking two weeks of civil disobedience to protest the lack of action around climate change. While I am a keen supporter of environmental activism overall, I have a lot of reservations about XR, as do many other people. However, I wrote that blog as the start of a conversation, not the end of one. I think that XR will continue to be a mainstream environmental group for the coming years and I know that they have a lot of high-profile champions, including Greta Thunberg and Caroline Lucas. I also want to believe that XR, like all of us, has the capacity to respond to constructive criticism positively and change, and I don’t want to always judge them by their first iteration should they meaningfully address some of the world’s widespread concerns.
I’m saying that I wanted to keep learning, and that, figuratively, that blog ended with an ellipsis, not a full stop. To that end, I headed down to Trafalgar Square this week to see the protests for myself.
I’ll admit that being there did soften me up to XR a little. It’s easy to demonise a group when you’re only looking from the outside, but the good intentions are hard to deny. I stand by everything I said in that blog but I also believe that motivation matters, and I levied those criticisms with an understanding that any missteps around intersectionality seem to come from ignorance, not malice.
Of course, while I partly went to see the movement in action for myself, I also went in order to take some photos, hence why this week’s Get Snappy has started with more XR commentary. I took a few photos of the general scene, including Nelson’s Column draped in flames and the various signs and banners that adorn any protest. My favourite installation had to be the Red Brigade, who I first saw at the Trump Protest in June. The first time I saw these performers, there must have been twelve or so people, whereas this time there were at least fifty, if not more. They circled the main protest base before launching into some other performance pieces. Everyone was very open to photography, with many of the individual red members stopping to angle themselves toward me, an unspoken acceptance of my camera. The Red Brigade is so striking and I’m sad that I didn’t have long to capture them before I had to leave the protest.
I also forgot to share last week that the KCWA, the conservation group which runs the protected marine area in Vipingo, were shown my blog by one of our guides. Apparently they loved it! I had a number of visitors to that blog post as it was shared by the project’s social media, but the real joy was knowing that my words and photos had been enjoyed and well-received by the people and place that they concern. While I write about many places and ideas, I rarely get feedback, let alone from those responsible for my blog inspiration. It was a privilege to visit this pioneering conservation project and I’m so glad that the KWCA felt that I’d accurately captured their work. I think those underwater photos are some of my best, and it’s the icing on the cake that Katana and the other KCWA employees felt so too!