Tea, Cakes and Solidarity

IssueMay 2009
Feature by Patrick Nicholson

The clever young things at Plane Stupid recently came up with a great idea for forging closer links between environmental activists and concerned residents threatened by the proposed third runway at Heathrow. The idea was to twin residents up with existing affinity groups, and for each affinity group to support their resident in their fight against the new runway, ultimately helping them defend their homes if necessary.

To get the campaign off the ground, an initial group of activists got together with residents at the church hall in Harmondsworth on 30 March. I went along representing my local climate action group, Rising Tide Hastings, rather unsure of what was going to happen at this unlikely mix of generations and cultures. As it turned out, there was nothing to worry about – lubricated by tea and an array of fantastic vegan cakes, the first part of the afternoon was a heady mix of 1950s street party, blind date, and political rally, and forty residents ended up being adopted. Having met “my” residents, Wendy and Jack from West Drayton, we went off on a tour of their church, St Mary’s in Harmondsworth and the nearby tithe barn, and they explained how it would be enveloped by the third runway development. Since the event we’ve exchanged postcards and are considering a fact-finding trip in the near future.

“Adopt a Resident” seems to offer a fresh take activists’ engagement with a community under threat, and it will be fascinating to see how it evolves.