XR Chelmsford celebrates its first birthday! 🎉 Saying thanks and welcoming new Local Co-ordinators!

February 19, 2020

We’ve come a long way since 4 curious rebels met at The Plough on a dark February night last year. This month we turn 1! 🎉 So to mark the occasion we are throwing a birthday party for ourselves – and all rebels are invited. Scroll right to the bottom for details ⬇️

We’re also taking the opportunity to reflect back on the year that has passed and what 2020 has in store for XR Chelmsford. We say a big thank you to our outgoing local co-ordinators Kam and Miriam – and we welcome our new co-ordinators Naomi, Carmel and Kelli!

We followed up with Colin, Sarah, Kam and Miriam one year on.


Why did you turn up to that first XR meeting?

I had watched Gail’s XR talk on climate change in late October and that changed everything for me. I was heart broken for the future of my children and at the same time in disbelief why the science was not being taken seriously

I read the XR principles and the fact they mentioned system change really attracted me to want to learn more,  I then saw the local XR group pop up in the New Year which Sarah created and went to the first meeting to check it out. 

How do you feel about how much XRC has grown in the last 12 months?

Unbelievable, it’s amazing, it warms my heart that Chelmsford which I view very much as a commuter town, has so many people who care and are willing to stand up for our planet. It’s also been wonderful meeting so many amazing people who I would not otherwise have known.

One picture that sums it all up for you:

I still love this picture, it’s honest and to the point

What have you learnt in the last 12 months? How do you feel about the climate crisis after a year of action?

Last year has been life changing; I used to take life and my future for granted, now I stand up for the planet and demand system change!

You’re stepping down as local co-ordinator – why? And how will you be staying involved? 

It took a lot of energy and time setting up the Chelmsford group and it’s now time to let go, a bit like a child leaving home. We are now in a great position with loads of amazing coordinators in all our working groups so it’s a lot easier for someone new to learn the ropes. We are also getting lots of affinity group coordinators coming forward as well which is amazing as it spreads the decision making.

Yes I will still be around; I have moved over to the tech working group.


Why did you turn up to that first XR meeting?

I was in the middle of reading Naomi Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’ at the time, and had got to the point where I just felt an overwhelming urge to ‘do’ something. I almost didn’t go though: I remember thinking, ‘this is ridiculous that I’m going to this; I don’t have time to cram anything more into my life’ – it’s amazing how quickly priorities can change!!

How do you feel about how much XRC has grown in the last 12 months?

It’s staggering – I never envisioned that it would look like this after such a short time!  It’s very heartening, and I’m so grateful to everyone who has been involved. The most exciting thing was when things started happening autonomously, without any input from the handful of people who were doing the bulk of the ‘organising’ at that point.  That was the moment when I knew the group could be sustainable long term.

One picture that sums it all up for you:

At the risk of sounding sentimental, I’d quite like to pick that photo of Sophia and Ellie just before they were arrested. I think for me it encapsulates so many things about the year, and the movement as a whole. I’m finding it really hard to put into words, but it’s something to do with the fact that 12 months earlier none of us had heard of XR and none of us knew each other – so to go from that, to the motivation, courage and community displayed during the rebellion feels quite miraculous.

What have you learnt in the last 12 months?

So much – it’s hard to answer succinctly!  I think one of the biggest things has been realising the extent to which our general culture prevents people from taking action, due to a fear of failure/criticism, or feeling like you’re not knowledgeable/skilled enough, and just how much people can achieve when they’re empowered to act within a supportive culture that encourages people to be brave and have a go.

How do you feel about the climate crisis after a year of action? 

Having practical stuff to do is really helpful for me to not get despondent, but sometimes to the other extreme where I sometimes have to take some time away from the admin and allow myself to *feel* it, to remind myself of why I’m doing it. I feel like there have been significant changes in the past year – certainly in public awareness and general conversation, and – in some places – some concrete actions as well.  This is encouraging in one sense, but I do get nervous that this bit (getting people to talk about it and make token gestures) is the low hanging fruit and that things are going to get more difficult from here: once the more entrenched power systems start getting challenged. That said, I do feel like there’s a real hunger out there for a different way of living and relating to each other – so I hope that we can sell a positive vision of the future.

You’re stepping down as local co-ordinator – why?  And how will you be staying involved?

One of our key principles is about ensuring that power remains distributed and doesn’t end up accumulating with a small number of people – so it’s important that people in key positions change regularly. It’s also valuable to get some different perspectives and ideas coming through – and I know that the new coordinators coming in have plenty of those! 🙂  After almost a year, I was also looking forward to having a bit of a break, but I’m moving into a role in our Community working group, which I’m really excited about, so I have a feeling I’m going to give myself more work, rather than less! However, I will try to have some down time as well – really important for our regenerative culture! 

A huge thank you to Kam and Miriam for their hours, their energy and their organisation. 

Kam helped build the infrastructure, particularly digital, that meant XR Chelmsford could grow and Miriam with her dedication kept us looped in with regional and national activities, facilitated many of our meetings, and all that goes into making those run smoothly. Ever the calm diplomat, Miriam has played a crucial role in ensuring the group is always welcoming. Both put accessibility up front and centre. 

We would also like to thank other co-ordinators who are stepping down, for all their hard work; Indra and Laura G.
And while we’re here – a shout out to all the other co-ordinators (new and old timers alike): Andy, Kara, Brian, Ellie, Laura K, Laura D, Les, Lynne, Chris, Andy, Nick, Peter and Sophia!

Thanking you in the most appropriate way we could think of! A GIF.


Now let’s hear from Sarah and Colin who were also at that original meeting.


Why did you turn up to that first XR meeting? 

Having been part of the national XR UK team in London, I was conscious that I needed to meet like-minded people closer to home. Going through the journey of acceptance of this crisis takes an emotional toll, it can pull you away from others who are not ready to face it, and you need new support around you to get through the bad days when you feel hopeless and stuck. That first meeting was the stepping stone to pulling in a diverse crowd of people who care for one another and mother nature.

How do you feel about how much XRC has grown in the last 12 months? 

XRC is now a regular in the city centre bringing in more interest and people each time. We’ve worked closely with the Council to support climate action bringing real change. And there is a wonderful array of humans in the local group, with a range of skills and motivations. It’s a lovely group; the actions that we do together bring us closer and make life way more fun.

What have you learnt in the last 12 months? How do you feel about the climate crisis after a year of action? 

I still fear that not enough people are prioritising this emergency and worry that change is not possible. But that is not reason enough not to keep trying. I’ve learnt how many various ways there are to raise awareness and push for a better future; there really is something for everyone in activism.


Why did you turn up to that first XR meeting?

The first meet was just four of us in the Plough. It wasn’t long after the launch of XR, which I’d travelled into London for. I ended up helping hold up the loudspeakers, me and some other lads hoisting them onto our shoulders so the crowd could hear. That was the original Declaration of Rebellion, as well as a speech from Greta Thunberg, right alongside us on that little wall on Parliament Square. It’s very strange thinking back to that now!

Sarah had publicised an XR gathering in Chelmsford, I can’t remember how I got in touch but I wanted to support it. We talked about affinity groups, oil extraction and how local authorities failed to enforce green commitments made in planning applications. Sarah tried to get Stephen Robinson to join us, but he had Liberal drinks to be at in Old Moulsham.

How do you feel about how much XRC has grown in the last 12 months?

The transformation since then is just unbelievable – the energy, creativity and bravery I’ve seen in XRC’s actions on Chelmsford High Street and Horseguards Road is an inspiration, far beyond my contribution and beyond anything any of us could have accomplished by ourselves. A lot of that is down to months of patient and encouraging coordination from Miriam, Kam and others – I think they deserve huge credit for the foundation that’s been laid.

And what a year it has been!

Here’s just a tiny smattering of what we’ve been up to: 

We’ve made ourselves visible in Chelmsford, creating local actions, leafleting on the High Street, getting in the local press, bringing new members in with talks, that have now sprung up in Maldon, Brentwood and South Woodham Ferrers, we’ve teamed up with XR Colchester, XR Southend and even as far as XR Cambridge, made connections with XR Havering and XR Thurrock. We have 3 affinity groups, a Samba group, a meditation group and more! And more than 60 Chelmsford rebels showed up to the October Rebellion in some way, shape or form! Now that’s the kinda growth we love!

We’ve engaged local politicians, pressuring the City Council to declare a Climate Emergency, attending pre-election hustings to witness environmental pledges. We’ve demonstrated outside Essex County Council to demand firmer environmental resolutions. 

But probably most importantly

Friendships have been made, tears have been shed and shared, nights spent in tents, but also cakes baked, teas made, meeting rooms opened up and shut again, community commitments made (and one more here) lifts given, regen debrief sessions facilitated, songs sung, poetry published and difficult emotions wrestled with. We’ve supported each other, we’ve asked for help. We’ve all grown a little bit, finding courage in community.

Thank you to everyone who has shown up, donated their time, their energy, their money. We didn’t always get everything right. But we’re listening and we’re learning. 

Now we fast forward into 2020 and looking ahead and welcome our incoming local co-ordinators. If you haven’t met them already – but you probably have – introducing Naomi, Carmel and Kelli!


What was your first experience with XRC?

I picked up an XR leaflet from Nourish. a vegan cafe in Colchester. I was happy to find that there was an XR Chelmsford group, then I saw XR on the news about the April rebellion and I was gutted I couldn’t go up there and support! I went to an induction at the Plough after the Rebellion which was packed. I felt really excited and hopeful that we can be the change.

What motivates you to step as a Local Co-ordinator?

I feel that being an activist is the best thing anyone can do for the world. I wasn’t sure about the local coordinator role at first as it is quite daunting. One of my favourite XR principles is that there is no hierarchy; I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not leading the group, but serving the group.

How would you sum up the XRC community?

There’s so many different personalities and different types of people in XRC which I love, and it shows how inclusive we are too. When different people come together and talk, we open our minds to new perspectives and out of it comes something beautiful ❤️

I’ve never done anything like this before and I’m going to be honest and tell people what I need. That’s my plan for staying sane 😆

What can we expect to see from you as a Local Co-ordinator?

I want XRC to connect with other communities in Chelmsford, like the phrase ‘movement of movements’, as we are stronger together.


What motivates you to step as a Local Co-ordinator?

Myself and the two other new Local Co-ordinators were actually a little reluctant to step up first of all. I personally did, at first, because I knew someone had to to keep things running smoothly (or as smoothly as possible 😉)

The other local coordinators had reached the end of their term, and were very supportive in helping us to get to grips with our new roles.

Before long I was very motivated to learn more and reach out to our wider XR community.

How would you sum up the XRC community?

Caring, freethinking, creative, supportive.

What can we expect to see from you as a Local Co-ordinator? 

I am very passionate about regeneration and the arts 😊 I hope to offer lots of opportunities to reconnect with the natural environment and provide spaces to creatively express our thoughts and feelings, to better get to know one another.

And finally I’d really like to help make some of our internal XR communications a little more understandable, using images to connect people, and poetry to simplify and condense large and complex forms of information.


What motivates you to step as a Local Co-ordinator?

I stepped up as local co-coordinator so that I could really encourage as many people as possible to speak up about the climate crisis. I want to incorporate poetry with activism, and spread the education of the earth.

What can we expect to see from you as a Local Co-ordinator?

You can expect to see, or shall I say hear, a lot of my thoughts on why it is so important for this system to change. By doing that, I will be speaking to the PEOPLE, through poetry.

Details of our first birthday party

Friday 28th February 7.30pm

Sandon Village Hall

Facebook event

Join us to celebrate the anniversary of the formation of XR Chelmsford! We’ve come a long way from our first meeting of four people in the pub – we now have 600+ people following our page, 400+ in our supporters group and around 60 regularly active members at meetings/events etc. It’s taken the work of a lot of dedicated people to get this far, and we’ve got a long way to go yet! So let’s take the opportunity to relax and celebrate, before getting on with some more work 😊

Existing and new members very welcome – if you’ve been deliberating about getting involved for a while then this will be a lovely low key opportunity to hang out and chat with existing members.

Please bring your own (veggie/vegan) food and (soft/alcoholic) drinks.

Children are very welcome if accompanied by a responsible adult.

The venue is wheelchair accessible and has an accessible toilet. Please let us know if you have any other access needs.

There is a car park at the hall – please comment in the event to request/offer lifts.

We look forward to seeing you there! xx


Browse By CatEgory: