Community engagement and the Stop Adani national day of action

Stop Adani Day of Action at Nobby’s Beach, Newcastle. (Photo: Ryan Jago)

Last weekend (7-8 October 2017), people around Australia put their bodies on the line to send a message about Adani’s plans for the Carmichael Mine in Queensland: one of the World’s largest coal mines. In over 45 locations in Australia, people spelt out “Stop Adani”.

My family and I were in Lismore visiting friends the week before so Cathy took photos of us creating letters with our bodies and then put the photos together to create our message.

My family and some friends spell out our message re the Carmichael Coal Mine (Photo: Cathy Stuart)

On Saturday we joined over 600 people in Newcastle to spell it out on the beach (we’re in the bottom of the T, with Cathy’s parents who are both in their 80s).

This type of community engagement event serves two main purposes:

  1. It as media event to try to raise awareness of the issue
  2. It is a fun way for people involved in long, hard-fought campaigns to have a bit of fun.

The Carmichael Coal Mine in Queensland being planned by Adani, is problematic for a number of reasons including

  1. As a recent Four Corners program showed, Adani has been “dogged by controversy, including allegations of environmental destruction, money laundering and bribery.”
  2. One of the main arguments for the mine is that it will bring 10,000 jobs to Queensland (see for example Adani’s promotional material and this newspaper report), this figure has been repeatedly shown to be grossly overestimated (see for example The Australian, Macro Business, and the Sydney Morning Herald).
  3. There are serious questions about the financial viability of the project, with 19 banks having refused to finance it. In fact Adani is asking for almost $1 billion in public money to support the project.
  4. It has been granted an unlimited water licence for 60 years.
  5. There are environmental concerns about building one of the World’s largest coal ports next to the Great Barrier Reef.

But the biggest issue is that we need to transition away from Coal.

I saw a great sign at the Newcastle rally:

The Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stone.

Yes coal and oil are cheap convenient sources of energy but that doesn’t make them OK. We need to cure ourselves of our addiction to fossil fuels. Major transitions are disruptive, and we need to make the transition to a low carbon future as quickly as possible. Yes there will be pain in the process but delaying it only makes things worse for future generations. We simply cannot afford to keep relying on coal and oil.

As long as we keep digging up coal, we will keep using it. When we stop digging up coal, we will be forced to find alternatives.

Stop Adani Day of Action in Townsville (Photo: Natasha Mulhall)

Mass days of action like last weekend, are one way to keep momentum. Bill Moyer identified four roles of social activism:

  1. The Rebel dramatically illustrates social issues and puts them on the social and political agenda through dramatic direct action.
  2. The Reformer works through existing social and political frameworks to have policies and alternatives incorporated in relevant laws and policies.
  3. The Change Agent focus on building large-scale public support for creating a new political and social consensus leading to a paradigm shift.
  4. The Citizen upholds a widely held vision of the democratic, good society and who demonstrate ordinary people support social change.

The Stop Adani action, organised by “Change Agents” provide “Citizens” with the opportunity to show their support and help raise social awareness. Clearly, community engagement actions like this will not prevent climate change, but they are an important part of the process.

Stop Adani Day of Action in Brisbane (Photo: Stuart Richards)

You can see more photos from the day here.

If you liked this post please follow my blog, and you might like to look at:

  1. Four roles of social activism
  2. The paradox of inconsequence
  3. 10 ways to reduce your consumption
  4. Climate change: we need to clean up after ourselves
  5. Is our love affair with fossil fuels an abusive relationship?
  6. Dear Future Generations: Sorry

If you find any problems with the blog, (e.g., broken links or typos) I’d love to hear about them. You can either add a comment below or contact me via the Contact page.

About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), environmentalist, Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace, sustainability.
This entry was posted in Environmental sustainability, Social change, Working with communities and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Community engagement and the Stop Adani national day of action

  1. Steve Reed says:

    Hey Graeme

    I have to say WOW, what an incredible sight. Good luck with the campaign, sincerely hope you are successful.

    I read this with interest when you mentioned Lismore, I’ve been there myself. I lived in Armidale NSW for 6 years before returning to the UK in 2010.

    I still keep an eye on the Australian political shenanigans, although our’s aren’t much better. When I lived in Australia I was impressed with some of the grants and funding that was available for sustainable energy etc, but it looks like the dirty fuel is not going away any time soon :-(

    Good luck with the campaign!

    Liked by 1 person

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