Faslane Peace Camp is now 29 years old. It is a humble collection of caravans and communal spaces by the side of the road near Faslane naval base where the British nuclear weapons and nuclear-powered submarines are stationed.
Many hundreds of people have lived at the camp over the years. They didn’t choose to live here for comfort or style, but because they wanted to be part of the constant vigil and direct action campaign against a morally-corrupt world with nuclear weapons.
Since the first tents were pitched the camp has grown into a colourful oasis of gardens, artwork, caravans and outhouses built from reclaimed materials, a stark contrast to the naval base, a razor-wire-clad monstrosity that dominates and pollutes the surrounding countryside. There are five people living here full-time, most arrived last year knowing that the camp was in desperate need of repairs, organisation and a renewed wave of activism.
We want to recreate a community that is inclusive, positive and open while being a thorn in the side of the British nuclear weapons programme. Our rejuvenation project has gained momentum over the last eight months, helped by visitors and old friends.
We have held weekend events to choreograph essential work, such as our gardening weekend in April and a mural-painting weekend in May. The repairs have now paid off and the camp is once more a functional facility for groups who may wish to use the space for relevant events or direct action.
Consensus for action
Our heating and hot water system is provided by wood-burning stoves, so we collect and cut wood daily. We also eat communal meals and aim to contribute fairly to the chores. There is no hierarchy or work rota at the camp; our individual expectations and obligations are clearly defined. Weekly meetings are held to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to voice opinions and take part in decision-making by consensus. These practices are in place to keep the peace camp a family-friendly and inclusive space for everyone to enjoy.
In June, we celebrated the camp’s 29th birthday by holding an alcohol-free skill-share rather than a party. About 50 people came over five days and attended various workshops including kayak safety training, nonviolent direct action and tree-climbing.
Groups like Free Palestine also hosted discussions on their campaigns. We felt that it was essential for this celebration to be workshop-orientated to bring the focus of the camp back to being a centre for direct action, education and the ongoing impact of nuclear weapons and technology.
Faslane Peace Camp has had a formidable reputation as a centre for direct action against nuclear weapons. While this hasn’t been the case for many years, we are intent on renewing some of the past dedication and vigour that the camp was once famous for by involving a new generation of young people to make their voices heard. We believe that this is a crucial time given the potential for the newly-elected Scottish government to stay true to their convictions against nuclear weapons, which have the backing of the majority of the people they represent.
We took our first step toward this last month, when we blockaded both gates to the naval base in collaboration with Trident Ploughshares (see PN 2534).
This successful blockade illuminated just how big an undertaking such an action could be with so few people living at the camp.
We were lucky to have so much support from friends, members of Trident Ploughshares and ex-Peace Camp residents who made the blockade possible. But we now need further support to keep the momentum going.
The transient character of Faslane Peace Camp’s community makes for diverse cultural input, learning opportunities and refreshing new ideas from different people. It is a positive and inspiring way to live, and the Camp is dependent on the drive and enthusiasm of its residents, who come and go. This results in a series of peaks and troughs in activity and of the general upkeep of the camp depending on who happens to be living there at the time. There have been spells of inactivity that have put the camp’s existence in question.
Appeal for support
But now we appeal to the wider community who support the cause to help us ensure this does not happen again. If there is still enthusiasm for the continuation of direct action at Faslane Peace Camp we are now asking for people to make their feelings known by involving themselves on whatever level they can.
In short, we need more people to be involved if we are to return the camp to the forefront of activism against nuclear weapons. Here we call out to anyone who wants to see a world without nuclear weapons to come to Peace Camp and take action. Faslane Peace Camp needs you!