Tales from the Extinction Rebellion Chill Zone

Extinction Rebellion climate emergency protest in Perth. Photo: Simon Stevens

Community activist Amy Warne was arrested while blockading the construction of the Roe 8 freeway in 2017. Since then she has spoken at community forums organised by Extinction Rebellion WA (XRWA), calling on people to take action. Here she outlines the different role she played at XRWA’s August 15 Declaration Day protest and explains its importance. 

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XRWA declared an open rebellion against the state government on August 15 due to its lack of action on the climate emergency.

I was one of the main organisers of the “cuppa tea” stand at the declaration. Along with my fellow tea-loving rebels, I took this task very seriously. We had dozens of thermos, colouring in for kids, chairs, mats, information and a First Aid kit.

It was part of the Chill Zone that was set up as a place for people to take a breather and have a chat.

I was really happy to be a part of the Chill Zone because, somehow, I just did not want to be in the middle of the action.

This rebellion welcomes everyone, so we need to make a space for everyone.

Arrests, and the publicity they attract, are a central tactic for XRWA. Those arrested on the day included young people, mothers, fathers and older people from various walks of life.

Given that arrests are a little intimidating for some, it is important to stress inclusivity and non-violence. If someone behaves violently, they are, by definition, not acting for XRWA.

Non-violence means that the rebellion is not just for young men with an appetite for risk: everyone can feel safe at our events and valued within the movement.

My friend who has a two-month-old baby was keen to attend Declaration Day but was a little worried about getting caught up in the push and shove. The Chill Zone gave her confidence it would be a wholesome day out for her and her new bub.

I chatted to an older couple who were at Declaration Day: “Our generation caused this disaster, the least we can do is try to fix it”.

We bandaged up a protester’s ankle after they slipped on the stairs. We minded a couple of toddlers and fed them watermelon. We took it in turns to wander over to hear speeches.

As songs and chants drifted over the Chill Zone, conversations quietly wandered around topics such as our kids’ schools, beekeeping and the loss of ice in Alaskan waters for the first time since records began.

This is a movement that asks people to push beyond their comfort zones; to realise that riding a bike and signing petitions is not going to be enough.

But it is a movement that cares for each other, nurtures each other.

We ask people to push, but we won’t allow people to break.

For some of us, giving up a day of work to attend Declaration Day, giving up time to do XRWA social media work, or speaking in public is a challenge — just as getting arrested is a challege for others.

We salute all rebels and are fairly sure we will all be stronger with a cup of hot(ish) thermos tea.

[The Chill Zone is one task of XRWA’s Regenerative Culture Action Group. For more information visit XRWA on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ausrebellionwa/.] 

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