Friday, August 13, 2010

Mainshill - Stories from the Woods

(Apologies for the crap picture, I am currently without scanner.)

By loads of people

I’m back! I returned to the grey skies, cold nights, and wet days of England yesterday. I also arrived back to a pile of mail and a number of requests from people who wanted to trade zines with me (do you want to? Let me know!), so it’s time to get reviewing!

This is perhaps a good place to restart as it is a zine that is, at times, about being cold and wet in England. It is about a protest site set up in Mainshill Wood in Scotland in response to developers wanting to cut down the forest and then dig a big coal mine. My first thought upon reading this was “Really? A coal mine? People are still building those in first world countries?” I was kind of shocked, because for some odd reason I had optimistically (and foolishly) thought that people didn’t do stuff like that anymore. Sigh.

The zine takes a pretty neat way of talking about the months long camp and actions that happened, giving a page or two to lots of different people that participated in one way or another and allowing them to talk about what they want. This means that you get lots and lots of different view points and information about the protest.

There are drawings, maps (yay!), comics, timelines, stories, advice for running your own protests, faqs (how do you capitalize that word? Hell, how am I supposed to spell ‘capitalize’?) that explain what a bender is and how you stay dry while living in a tree house, songs, pictures of dinosaurs and horrible tentacled monsters, recipes, definitions (“Primativist, n. People who live in trees, reading Derek Jenson by the light of their iPhones (just kidding!)”), and lots of other stuff.

This zine is really packed full of things, and it’s a good and interesting read. Taken individually each piece doesn’t actually tell you very much about the camp as a whole, but the combination really gives you a view into the camp: how it was run, what it was like to live there, what the people who lived there were like, and how they dealt with the seemingly inevitable police visits. Sure there was stuff I wanted to know more about (tunnels! I want more information about the tunnels, and maybe general tree house construction techniques), but at the end I felt I had a pretty good grasp of what went on during the months that the camp was in existence.

I really wondered what it would be like to live at a camp like this for an extended period of time. Would I have the commitment to deal with living in a place like this? Could I interact with many other people I didn’t know every day? Would I be able to lock myself onto a tree for hours so that the authorities had to climb up and get me down safely? I’m still interested in visiting one of these camps, but I haven’t managed to yet. I guess I’m kind of afraid of going by myself.

I’m not sure if this zine leaves me optimistic that there are people out there who are willing to fight for the environment and a better society, or that (in this instance) they failed. I’ll have to think about it.

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