So after many months going through the process of approaching publishers, I have decided to launch a crowdfunder for the book I wrote about here earlier this year. I intend to launch the campaign early next year and will be providing more updates closer to the time.
The new book was always partly intended as a means to break out of an apparent cast set by my previous writing, not least ‘Nine Miles’; my account of the British roads protest movement of the ‘nineties. That does not negate the value of those times but as anyone who has read the book will know, those protests took their toll on many and for my part I have carried those scars a long time. However much I hold true to what happened all those years ago, however much I believe in the power of protest, however much I believe that the spirit of those times can inform anyone acting on behalf of the environment and society at every level, it was always difficult, in some respects for me, to continue to – in any explicit or inadvertent way – advocate a particular means of action I am no longer in a position to engage with myself. I can’t expect or encourage anyone to do something I am not able to myself and so some kind of change of tac has been in order for some time.
The new book is a product of that desire for change and that of several years of writing and research. We all know the seriousness of the times we are in regarding the climate. For my part, in so far as I have the space and capacity to do so, I have chosen to put my shoulder to the wheel of civic engagement: protest is nothing without the role of civic society. The latter to my mind offers the best way ahead as we move forward to collectively tackle the crisis. Protest and civil disobedience can certainly serve to up the anti and help stir us out of our slumber. It is understandable that so many people may choose to engage in them. But equally the message has got through to every level of society by now about the immediacy of the climate crisis. We do not need, and it may well be counter-productive, to seek to set the way ahead by constant disruption, however understandable the wish to continue to do so may be. And to my mind, defacing irreplaceable art really does not serve the cause. At times like these, communication and clarity counts for a lot. We should be realistic about that which we face just as a better sense of direction is always helpful. But ultimately the need for mutual survival should inform us all.
Given the pace of change needed we need good catalysts. For my part, to some extent, I always felt that that with Nine Miles I was preaching to the choir. The new book is an attempt to help broaden the message and not continue to be defined solely by those things I took part in a long time ago. I believe there is still time to turn this ship around but only if we can act with sufficient alacrity and pace. Efforts like that of ‘Zero Hour’ – the cross-party campaign behind the Climate and Ecology Bill – hold great potential. The campaign is one we can all easily play a part in, whether that part is sharing a link, setting up a local group or actively lobbying your MP.
Such are my thoughts in these times. But – as figures like Greta Thunberg and others are quick to point out – it is not, and never has been, for one person alone to help carry these things forward. We can all play our part, bolstered by the best elements of our collective history. There may be a long way to go but, as I hope my new book – which after all recounts a tale of pilgrimage – can help show, we can meet those miles with pace and will and some kind of sure determination. It falls to us – to all of us – to now do what we can, without a sense of any guarantee but bolstered by the moral need to do our best. When all is told it’s always been that way, only now we can all see it all the clearer.