Don’t Frack with Sussex by Janey Moffatt
Janey Moffatt describes the recent funeral for fossil fuels
As Dad to two small children, my husband Mike has become increasingly anxious about the ever-escalating roller coaster towards climate destruction. What IS going to happen to our planet in the future? What kind of legacy are we leaving for our children? Will they live in a world of scarcity – not enough clean water to wash every day – or worse, not enough water to sustain life?
Forever the pragmatist, Mike decided to ‘just do something about it’ and struck up a relationship with local art activist Beccy McCray. McCray comes from a background of staging art events, so she seemed like the ideal person to co-create some exciting and captivating spectacles that might fire the imagination of local residents.
‘Don’t Frack with Sussex’ was born and its maiden activity was a large banner unfurled on the Long Man of Wilmington bearing the words ‘Frack Off’. It made national news and was seen by thousands of commuters. The aim of DFWS is to increase awareness of the damage that fracking can do to our countryside and our health, and to promote the end of reliance on fossil fuels, with a view to moving towards greener, cleaner and more sustainable energy sources.
Since then the actions have continued to grow in creativity and scale, and include a Mad Scientist protest aimed at Barclays (who were investing in fracking) and a ‘Don’t Be Shortsighted’ campaign which involved a trip to London and a brief meeting with Jeremy Corbyn.
However, these ventures were overshadowed last Saturday (13 May) when over 30 campaigners staged a carnivalesque, New Orleans-style jazz band funeral parade for fossil fuels in Hastings Old Town. The event, complete with CO2 wreath, coffin, sashes and decorated umbrellas aimed to highlight the role of companies in driving the climate crisis and delaying action on climate change. It also urged East Sussex County Council to stop investing local people’s pensions in these damaging and financially risky fuels.
The mourners, dressed in full New Orleans jazz funeral regalia, assembled at Butlers Gap, George Street in Hastings Old Town. The well attended parade was led by local music legend, Blair MacKichan who got the crowds of onlookers going with numbers such as ‘Hit the Road FRACK!”.
The work that went into to the project was huge. I couldn’t imagine where Mike, who is a stressed-out Dad, full time worker and Hastings-London commuter, could possibly dredge up the energy needed to make a life-sized coffin, rally troops, and spend his much needed Saturday of rest pounding the streets in a procession. Somehow he did, and as I sat at home making some tiny effort to help with the social media of the event and looking after two boisterous young boys, I was touched by the images from the procession: the many young children taking part, the girls on roller skates handing out leaflets, and the spectacle of so many lovingly decorated black umbrellas and brightly coloured sashes. People had turned up, turned out and showed up for life, without knowing how much difference they might ultimately make. But they knew they had to try.
I am convinced that every little bit does help, and when we put our actions together with the small actions of thousands of others, there can be a sea change. A tipping point. Into something better. And I know that no matter how exhausted he might be, Mike will keep trying. And I will be proud of him and everyone else like him just for this.