This year’s Coal Action Scotland Outdoor Skillshare event brought over 100 people to a gathering in rural South Lanarkshire to share skills, ideas and experiences about all aspects of life and activism, and to increase mutual capacity for effective action.
For four days, the Talamh housing co-operative became a hive of mini-projects, massive marquees, geodomes and inclusive participatory skillsharing.
The diversity of people was truly inspiring. People came to South Lanarkshire all the way from Spain and France, others hitchhiked from Denmark, Sweden and Germany. Large numbers also came from Scotland and the rest of the UK. Some represented campaign groups; others simply represented themselves and a desire to learn totally new skills.
The event was a huge success with a vast number of skills sessions and discussions providing much for participants to take back to their communities and continue the skillsharing ethos. This summer, Coal Action Scotland ran an info tour supporting the US-based Beehive Collective, as a way of raising awareness of plans for extending opencast in Scotland and the plight of the rural communities affected by this.
The info tour proved an innovative and engaging way of highlighting the issues around coal mining though looking at the example of mountain top removal mining in US Appalachians. This inspired “the Bees” to create a giant piece of artwork depicting the historical and contemporary struggles around coal and how the issue is intertwined with (neo)colonialism, war and poverty.
The Beehive tour buzzed its way around community centres, lecture theatres and cafés throughout Scotland, taking in Aberdeen, Hunterston, Glasgow, Douglas, Edinburgh and Stirling.
Recently, Scottish Coal have submitted the full application for an extension at Broken Cross mine in South Lanarkshire and another expansion of the St Ninians opencast mine in Fife which would involve the draining of a 170ha loch and mean a seven-and-a-half-year extension to a mine that is already 13 years old.
There are few signs that Scottish Coal are doing particularly well, given their massive worker lay-offs and inability to float on the stock exchange, but there are equally few signs that they are willing to change their current rates of reckless destruction throughout Scotland.
Coal Action Scotland have been involved in publicising the proposed mines, particularly those affecting areas in South Lanarkshire, through a series of community “roadshow” events. Stalls are held in community focal points, giving information and enabling discussions with passers-by about the plans for opencast; objection letters from local residents are collected.
These events will be ongoing throughout the autumn. The struggle continues for Coal Action Scotland!