Rebelling against extinction

Extinction Rebellion Waltham Forest campaigning to save mature trees from being chopped down in Walthamstow Town Square
Extinction Rebellion Waltham Forest campaigning to save mature trees from being chopped down in Walthamstow Town Square

In just a few short months dozens of concerned residents have come together to tackle the climate emergency, writes Sue Wheat

Waltham Forest has long been home to people that care about the world around them. Moved by the phenomenal energy of the new Extinction Rebellion (XR) movement, local residents have now taken their campaigning to a whole new level.

April’s protests demanded that the government ‘Tell the Truth’ about the severity of climate change, take immediate action to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gases to net zero by 2025. People from all walks of life joined the peaceful protests and within a few days the government had declared a ‘climate emergency’.

In Waltham Forest we’ve followed this successful style of campaigning. With the help of incredible local artists, our protests have been fun and colourful – we’ve done art blocking, banners and music programmes – while putting out hard-hitting messages.

Art is a big part of what Extinction Rebellion Waltham Forest (XRWF) does, helping to make campaigning fun and positive for kids. Lucie Brown co-ordinates the families group. “Our big and beautiful families group campaigns in a safe and fun way with little ones,” she says. “But we also support each other and our children as we adapt to the crisis.”

With 70 families signed up, ours is one of the biggest XR families groups in the country. We are already seeing results, with Waltham Forest Council declaring a climate emergency in the borough.

Current XRWF campaigns include stopping the construction of a new Edmonton incinerator and chopping down of the beautiful avenue of 100-year-old lime trees in Walthamstow Town Square and Gardens. Sarah Eastwood, XRWF’s action and logistics co-ordinator, said: “Both of these developments are crazy for the council to be going ahead with in the light of declaring a climate emergency.

“The Stop the Edmonton Incinerator Now campaign aims to show why incinerators are not fit for the 21st Century. There are better ways of dealing with our waste than burning it.”

Sarah also points out that the plans to cut down town square trees are something XRWF campaigners will not let pass without a fight: “Every child can tell you that ancient trees must be protected as they are invaluable at absorbing carbon – which is exactly what has to happen to halt the climate emergency.”

Organising locally is essential, according to group co-ordinator Andy Thomson. “Local action can make a real difference,” he says. “Plus, working together with your neighbours is a positive way to live!”

For more information sign up to the Extinction Rebellion e-newsletter:
Visit rebellion.earth/act-now/join-us

XRWF hosts regular monthly meetings. To get involved:
Facebook facebook.com/groups/WFRebels
Tweet @xrwalthamforest
Visit xrwf.wordpress.com