Image Description: A large sea of young people in an urban area, all protesting. They all have stern faces, some with a sense of anger. A few signs are held containing words such as “We know we are missing school but we want the planet to live!” and “Stop the heat! Let’s keep our cool”.
By Aden Curran
Aden Curran recently sat down with Tamara, an organising member of Extinction Rebellion Western Australia (XRWA). Here’s what she had to say about Extinction Rebellion’s recent activity in Perth.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Aden Curran: Why did you join XR?
Tamara: I was lucky to experience Extinction Rebellion in London last year during the October Rebellion event. It felt like there was a definite ‘waking-up moment’ to the climate crisis. Being involved with small groups of people, acting on the climate emergency, noticing just how important it is to be building regenerative communities—that’s really where my heart lies at the moment. It’s being in community with people that are not only empathetic, compassionate, and concerned about future generations, but also about the broader planet, and the things that people can be doing together to build more resilient communities.
Extinction Rebellion has been, personally, a big community of people that have similar values to me—having fun, being creative, enjoying life, and expressing ourselves through different mediums. There’s so many elements to the movement and there is a place in it for everyone, no matter their skill set or background. It’s a truly experimental place to be.
AC: It seems like the idea of community is quite important to you. Could tell me a little bit more about what community means to you?
T: One thing you can often feel, experiencing climate injustice or grief, is the level of isolation it can bring into your life. I think living in community with people in a space like a protest, or a procession, or a reading, reminds us that being connected to each other is really what the purpose of life is—that for me makes it all worthwhile, and looking after the planet, and looking after humanity.
It can become isolating if you’re not in community. You receive a lot from others.
AC: One recent XR Event was 1.5 Degrees Live, held at Perth Fringe World’s Pleasure Gardens. Could you explain a little about the event?
T: 1.5 Degrees Live was created by activists as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year. They took the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Report (IPCC Report) and read it out over the span of about fifty hours, using a variety of different actors to help them create the event. They also read a ten-hour abridged version at the Scottish Parliament in August last year. That’s what we’ve been doing at the Fringe Festival in Perth this year—we’ve done the abridged, ten-hour reading.
AC: What is so significant about this particular IPCC Report?
T: The IPCC Report is about lowering our global temperatures below 1.5 degrees and putting strategies in place on the societal, community, and governmental level. The Report is believed to be the most accurate, rigorous, and thoroughly researched paper on climate change, because of the number of citations and peer-reviewed elements which feature in the Report. It was produced by the United Nations and has had wide media coverage since its release, receiving momentous mentions in the press and government as well.
It’s also a document that not many citizens would have had a chance to read, had it not been for an event like 1.5 Degrees, due to the language and certain ecological implications being quite hard to understand. Now it’s more accessible and more interesting because 1.5 Degrees Live is an event situated around bringing performers and artists into a stage where they can perform, read, and make it as engaging as possible for viewers that are just wondering past us at the Perth Fringe World’s Pleasure Garden. So, it really is quite an amazing event!
It’s quite interesting to see how performance can be used to change people’s entire understanding of the systems that we are currently, unfortunately, living within…it’s been amazing.
AC: What was your role in bringing 1.5 Degrees Live over here to Perth?
T: I coordinated the action. I don’t like to think of my role in it as anything other than just another part of the crew. We’ve had a big team of people come together around the event over the last month or so. I guess you could call me ‘Action Coordinator’ with myself and Leila. Leila’s one of the key members of XRWA, and it’s been quite a team of great women and a couple of great chaps been involved. And you’ve also got parents, fathers, teachers, and young activists all working together to make this event. We’re a pretty diverse group of people.
AC: I managed to make it to one of the readings myself and I found it really engaging and interesting. It was good to have a discussion at the end of it, so that people could clear up any questions that they had.
T: Well it’s great you came down. For me that’s been something that I’ve wanted to see us approach some more: engaging with people and incorporating more of an element of workshopping, facilitation, and discussion, which I think can be quite a difficult stage to create for people—to feel like they can engage with the readers and the speakers and remove that divide between performer and audience.
There’s space in the future to get the readings to a place where people can drop in to a safer environment and share their feelings, share their grief, share their emotions, even their questions around the science! I think that’s something I’d really like to see possibly develop in the future.
This interview has been split into two sections; you can find part two here.
Image courtesy of XR.