My brief respite in Edinburgh and the luxuries of staying in a flat are now over and it's back to campsites and warehouse floors. I left on tuesday having avoided the violence there on monday, only to encounter more 'riots' when I reached Stirling. Most of this violence is of course heavily provoked by police and blown out of proportion by the media, but a majority of protesters I spoke to, still condemn those who spoil the party by throwing their toys out of the pram... (Even if they are only throwing them through the windows of the outlets of multinationals, it still doesn't make sense to trash the town that's hosting you and give the police more reason to be heavy handed...) Anyway, if you do want to see a perspective on the protests from a source unsullied by the vested interests of mainstream media, check out Indymedia or Schnews, both excellent sites of 'honest' reporting...
For the last few days I've been staying at the rural convergence space in Stirling, a huge tented village organised into neighbourhoods or 'barrios' responsible for cooking, cleaning, caring for and entertaining its inhabitants. The place is mostly (but not entirely) run off biodiesel generators and wind turbines, has medical tents, an independent media centre and even a solar powered cinema! I was really amazed by it all and was sorry to leave the convivial community atmosphere created there.
The first day of the summit saw a load of our bike posse (excluding me unfortunately) get right to the gates of Gleneagles, holding up all the press and workers in the process and creating a lot of media attention. I spent the day riding around trying to give support to those blockading the road, and then running away from the police as they took exception to us holding up both lanes of the A9 back to Stirling! All good honest fun...
And then Thursday morning came, with the news that riot cops had arrived in the night and penned us in at camp and that several explosions had occurred on the London transport system. Needless to say the mood was very sombre, despite the radiant sunshine, and we struggled to maintain the active optimism and triumphant feeling of the previous day. Then Tony (who built our sound system) and I decided to hold a kid's party, as there were a few birthdays on site. We wheeled the system around the camp with a band of musicians and had soon gathered a pied-piperesque stream of kids and parents to the tune of teddy bears picnic and winnie the pooh. We partied all afternoon, with pass the parcel, musical statues and face painting and in the circumstances it was about the best thing we could have done.
In the evening we held a midnight candlelit vigil, silently seated at the feet of the police as we mourned for those lost in London, and all the others around the world who lost their lives that day as a result of terrorism, be it autonomous, state sponsored, environmental or economic. It was one of the most powerful moments of my journey so far, punctured only slightly by a really bad rendition of 'Imagine'!
So now I'm in Glasgow, having come here yesterday for a fun but vaguely ineffectual protest against the M74 extension, but followed by a good party in the park and an amazing ride back to our crash space, half cut, tunes blaring and accompanied by fireworks!
I'm about to start on the next stage of my journey, leaving my new friends and heading off to cross the Cairngorm mountains up to Forres near Inverness to visit the Findhorn Foundation and Eco-Village community. It'll be sad leaving such an amazing bunch of people who've been my family for the last couple of weeks, but I'm ready to strike off on my own now, and have just about got the bugs out of my system in preparation... Next news from the other side of some big ole mountains!
And to all in London or with friends or family there, my thoughts are with you and I hope you are holding up. God bless.