Follow the Yellow Triangle
Northern New South Wales is an epicentre of community activism and social consciousness. From logging to developments, the community has a strong voice regarding what it will and won’t allow to happen on their watch. We have been up here since 2013, writing the book and connecting with some interesting people and events. Since before our arrival here, one could spot the yellow triangles now synonymous with the Lock The Gate anti Coal Seam Gas mining campaign all over properties and homes in the region. And since before it hit the news, a community has been waging a war of intellect and politics with Metgasco, who have been eyeing off the farming town of Bentley to set up drills and mine for gas. It has all been underpinned by a philosophy of non-violent direct action.
Many ask, “Well, don’t you all use gas? Where are they supposed to drill?” This logic fails to address one very important factor; the community have spoken and they don’t want it.
The local community and the Northern Rivers community in general is overwhelmingly opposed to gasfield industrialisation at Bentley. In a community run survey, 84.5% of Bentley locals voted to have their lands and roads Gasfield Free. In a council poll in 2012, 87% of Lismore residents voted “NO’ to CSG.
I won’t go into the pros and cons, there are plenty of insightful and informative studies out there if you take the time. What has been inspiring to watch from our little patch of the world has been how the community has gathered, strengthened and supported one another to ultimately stand by their beliefs.
Protectors Not Protestors
There have been so many layers of action and activism at work, to ensure the success of this Bentley Blockade. From the simmo’s who literally lock on to the site, the other Protectors camping out, volunteers, the Knitting Nannas against Gas, councillors, local businesses and the broader community alike, there has been a highly organised and creative approach to making this campaign work for the long haul. Behind the scenes there have been farmers, academics, health professionals lending their expertise. Locals and transient visitors have dropped by food and other donations to keep the Protectors going, and people have worked in shifts to lock on, cook, serve and care for all who are on the all important front lines.
Artists such as John Butler Trio, Nahko and Medicine for the People, Xavier Rudd and more showed up and as they did the story spread. These artists are no strangers to lending a voice to social consciousness. This is another layer of activism which inspires us, and I recall the Concert For the Kimberley spreading a strong message though music and voice back in 2012, with JBT and Clare Bowditch at the helm.
Artist as Family hit Bentley
We visited the site at Bentley a couple of weeks ago, to show our support, offer a bit of food and to visit our favourite travelling activists, Artist as Family. They have been cycling up the east coast from Daylesford, Victoria, and decided to spend some time camping and protecting at Bentley. We dropped by one blustery Sunday afternoon with food for the communal offering. Local and organic veggies, oats, Belinda’s homemade herbed bread with homegrown herbs, and an incredible Dahl soup… Hope that sustained a few bodies for a little while!
Meg, Patrick, Woody and Zero the pooch looked relaxed and cycle fit, and it was great to chat with them about their experience of camping and cycling on often hostile roads, as well as generosity and kindness. Their trip continues beyond Bentley, and as one of the couples in our book we will be keeping you updated on their journey.
CO_ is celebrating Community success today as the news got out early this morning that Metgasco has had their licence suspended and is now being referred to the corruption inquiry ICAC. This is community activism in action. Congratulations to all and we recognise that Protectors will stay on site, awaiting further developments. Might have to make another delivery. If you want to join us, just holler.
2014 CO_The Creative Couples Project