Skip to content or view screen version

Life at the Climate Camp - a personal perspective

Poppy | 30.08.2006 20:06 | Climate Camp 2006 | Climate Chaos | Ecology | Education | Free Spaces

I think it's important to get across to others not here, that this camp is a great example of people working together to create a vibrant living environment. It's probably been noted elsewhere in reports on Indymedia or other websites, but I've been really impressed with the whole set-up here - from disabled compost loos, to fab food served up three times a day without fail at each of the five camp neighbourhood kitchens, to impromptu singing sessions at night, to kids play and workshop areas, to an Indymedia field media centre complete with satellite link-up. And not to mention the impressive array of workshops about different aspects of climate change going on every day.

The toilets: for some of us, it's been a new experience! From Thursday onwards, teams of volunteers have constructed timber-frame compost toilets around the site. The seats are positioned above wheely bins, with buckets of sawdust to aid the composting process, and more volunteers cart the bins off when they're full and replace them with empty ones. There are thoughtfully and well constructed toilets onsite for the less abled, as well as a dedicated kids toilet block (the same, just in minature :) The basic principle is that the compost loos are poo only, with separate areas with straw bales for peeing on. For peeing, the gals have a set of strawbales with a wooden platform over for squatting on - modesty is preserved by means of a tarp screen. The girls have been joking about getting nicely tanned bums from all that exposure to the sun, but it's been a hoot chatting while peeing, with great views of the camp (not so good views of Drax too...). Again, volunteers are replacing the bales when needed, although to be honest none of the loos - bales or wheely bins - have been smelly at all.

Tea-tree oil and aloe vera handwash is at every tap, and waste water is captured in buckets and put through a grey water recycling system which was built on site. The kitchen waste water is also filtered and then distributed in pipes to soakaway areas to prevent the ground from getting boggy. Everyone is encouraged - and is adhering to - not wasting water, but using only as much as needed. Recycling bins are everywhere on the site, and you have to search hard to find a scrap of discarded litter.

The various neighbourhood kitchens have all been great too. Teams of kitchen volunteers must be working round the clock - and all managing to be friendly and helpful (the meals have been pretty much always on time too!). Special care has been taken to make sure the kitchens rotate allergy-free meals each day, so everyone can be sure to find meals that they can eat without fear of allergic reactions. Each kitchen has its own menu style - for example, Scotland stated quite clearly they would be having bacon 'n sausages! Most kitchens have been serving well-balanced vegan/veggie meals, all for donations to cover costs. Folks wash their own dishes etc. after eating, and this system seems to have been working pretty well.

Impromptu evening entertainment has been fun, sitting around a communal camp fire singing songs, while daytime has also offered practical play in terms of skill sharing on a variety of topics, beyond the more scientific or political sessions on the subject of climate change. In the kids area, there's lots of creative play going on (I think the adults are benefitting as much from this as the kids!).

The Indymedia Media Centre has been open everyday with twelve laptops facilitating people creating and uploading their own alternative media. Note that the whole laptop suite needs only around 480 watts (a normal desktop computer apparently uses that much energy alone) which just goes to show how much you can do with less than you might expect! Indymedia volunteers have been helping people to process and publish their text, audio, photos and video reports, and the Centre has been constantly full whilst open. Power is a limitation, but there's been enough to ensure that electric wheel chairs remain charged.

There's a lot more to be said I guess, but these are to me the more obvious things about the camp that others outside might not be aware of - the way people are working together and sharing time, skills and resources as they can, very successfully. The infrastructure and 'services' are well planned and carried out with loads of people just mucking in where needed. Indeed the camp has been run with this in mind, providing many opportunities for people to get involved in participatory decision making at morning neighbourhood meetings to learning new skills. It might not be exactly like living at the Hilton, but the camp set-up is pretty damn good :)



Hide the following comment

good luck......

30.08.2006 21:22

With the action tomorrow.

Sue De Nim