Last weekend curiosity took me to a festival called “Uncivilisation” held at the beautiful Hampshire Sustainability Centre. It was organised by a group of writers and artists under the banner “The Dark Mountain Project”.
All very mysterious, but they turned out to be wonderful people with an interesting perspective on our world. You can read their manifesto and look at their writings here http://dark-mountain.net/ . Their “usp” (that’s the wrong term I know) is their sober conclusion that climate change will not be solved by technical or even political processes (though these are not irrelevant) but is a product of a failed narrative – to change as a society we need to tell ourselves better stories. They then explore some of our older, wilderness inspired stories which we have neglected, they like their sagas and tales. As they say it is storied not facts that change people.
Many of the group, such as writers like Paul Kingsnorth and the wonderful Jay Griffiths, were activised by the road protests in the 1980s which were probably the high water mark of national effective protest. Although many battles were lost road building itself simply became uneconomic and there was a dramatic cut in the programme even before Labour came to office in the 1990s. The interesting thing here was how powerful humour can be. Back then the police learnt how to deal with anger and protest and they have got better since, but when a pantomime cow burst through the police ranks and mounted a digger it was a little harder to respond. As a lovely aside the person at the back of the cow could not be charged as s/he simply claimed they did not know where they were going!
So I’ve come away what man new friend and a passion to mix a bit of “mythos” that is art, stories, fables and humour into the inevitable “logos” or canvassing, attending Council meetings and writing emails. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Duncan Kerr (Green Party Councillor)