The practice of a theory of change
Read a story about the Leard Blockade from Edwina Landale, published in Woroni in early 2016.
The Maules Creek mine was subject to a two-year blockade prior to construction. Hundreds of people were arrested trying to protect the 544 hectares of critically endangered forest, home to variety of threatened species. Five years on, Whitehaven Coal has still not secured the biodiversity offsets they required as a condition of the mine’s approval.
Why do I do it? I guess I do it because I think that the world needs to change a lot and so far, putting our bodies directly on the line seems to be one of the only ways to really get our message across. Or to have any kind of impact, because other avenues that I’ve explored have been less effective. Or… I don’t know. Maybe they are all effective in together. But my theory of change really revolves around both trying to create the alternatives that I want to see in the world as well as really challenging the things that I think are wrong. And so that means doing direct action.
I have thought of myself as an activist or someone trying to make change for about 6 years. I moved to Sydney when I was 19, and I started to get involved in politics and activism. I went to my first blockade – the Leard Blockade in 2014 and it was really such an eye opening experience. I met a lot of great people that are still some of my closest friends today. But also it was really radicalising for me, to be on the front lines.
I lived in the city and I grew up in a rural area, but it was not affected in the same way as the Hunter Valley is affected by coal. So, to see the front lines, to see and meet people, to hear their stories about corruption, injustice, what the coal mines had meant to their lives, why they wanted to protect the places that they did, meeting traditional owners, hearing about the process that they’d been through in trying to protect their sacred sites and how ineffective that had been…. seeing the cops behaving so badly just really made me realise and really opened my eyes in a way that living in the city as a young, privileged white person just never would have.
There is so much injustice and corruption. It’s not just a matter of this particular mine; the whole system was not geared towards helping these people that I was meeting. And to realise that was, I guess, something that I’d thought about before, but I had never really encountered.