SUE JACKSON Therapist | Writer | Photographer | Activist

An avid blogger for the last fifteen years, I believe in the power of the word to change the world. I have participated in, and reported on, a range of protests during this period, including the successful East-West Link campaign and, more recently, our wonderful, home-grown Extinction Rebellion (XR). If you believe, like I do, that it is time for ordinary people to rise up in defence of the planet, I encourage you to explore this blog, share it with your networks, and – of course – take action.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

XR's Umbrella Unit at Gertrude Street Projection Festival

XR's Umbrella Unit heading out (Click image for greater clarity)

In the 12 years Fitzroy's beloved Gertrude Street Projection Festival (GSPF) has been running it has attracted some unusual revellers. Of course everyone comes to see the shifting lights over the unique streetscape, the art works and the live performances. But some of last night's guests were there for something extra. The famous light festival proved irresistible as the inaugural outing for Extinction Rebellion's Umbrella Unit. They visited to strut their stuff while mingling with the crowd to spread the XR message. Here they are getting ready:

Last minute touches to umbrellas (Click image for greater clarity)
Knotting a tie is a 2 person job! (Click image for greater clarity)
Rehearsing those umbrella moves (Click image for greater clarity)

Last night was the perfect inaugural venue for the Umbrella Unit, as the festival's aims and those of XR are so aligned. As the GSPF program suggests the theme of this year's event is: 'Resist. Persist. Shift'.  Artists explore themes of desire, disruption and subversion, and urge us to seek to forge alliances and encourage us to persist.'

Last night was a night of questions for the 'Jolly Brolliers', like 'What exactly is Extinction Rebellion'? Many people have heard of XR by now, but lots have misapprehensions or don't know what it is.

The answer is: Extinction Rebellion is an international apolitical network using non-violent direct action to persuade governments to act on the Climate and Ecological Emergency. And non-violent direct action was exactly what was on offer last night.

Strutting  (Click image for greater clarity)

Another question on some peoples' lips was: 'Why do we need Extinction Rebellion now?' No offence Jolly Brolliers, but nobody answers that key question as eloquently as the eminent Swedish school striker Greta Thunberg. (2.42 minutes):

As I watched the Umbrella Unit hand our pamphlets and engage with the crowds I felt my own hopefulness grow. Especially when I recalled that it is estimated by the renowned American political scientist, Erica Chenoweth, (author of Why civil resistance works), that a mere 3.5% of the population engaging in non-violent resistance can triumph, even in the face of what appears to be impossible odds.

Mingling (Click image for greater clarity)

Last night the aims of the Umbrella Unit's action were 3-fold. The activists wanted to promote the positive look and feel of XR.  They hoped to encourage others to join their ranks. And they wanted to have fun themselves. They obviously did brilliantly on all counts.