5 Jan 2017

Re-directions, solidarity and support

or... Re: Directions, Solidarity and Support - at the turning of the year

I posted a variant of these words on a water forum, but am inclined now to repost here - as a prompt (mainly to self) to reflect on the topic of the myriad of water-related conflicts and rumblings-of-conflicts emerging around this globe.

The link below is now old, but is given a new lease of life by a very current, acute situation,
namely the cutting off (apparently due to actions of the Western/Gulf-supported mercenaries) of the main water supply to Damascus. 

I feel that this issue of geopolitics+water+power is crucial for any future-oriented thinking by any would-be 'hydro-citizens' ? [this term refers to the original posting location i.e. www.hydrocitizens.com ]

Solidarity and Support (re-directions)?

I'm interested in what avenues there may exist to provide meaningful solidarity and support to distant communities and/or individuals who - out of vital necessity and principle - place themselves in opposition to destructive, disrespectful and deceitful manipulations of water resources (and/or threats to water ecologies). The current case of the Standing Rock/Dakota Access Pipeline comes to mind, but this is of course one of very many.
Beyond twittering, facebook-ing or face-palming, is there anything of any real substance we can pursue?
"Thinking globally; acting locally" is maybe a pertinent response? Our own local surrounds and communities are also caught up in the mesh of water-inequities and divisive manipulations. Actually getting out and applying oneself to doing something practical feels increasingly very necessary. Throughout 2016, this has been frequently re-inforced for me through my encounters (in the course of documentary film-making) with a local project called WILD (Water and Integrated Local Delivery) www.ccri.ac.uk/wild/

"The concept of [W]ILD is that each community could be inspired and enabled to look after its piece of the global jigsaw to deliver multi-strategy objectives at a local level"

Such local partnerships and participation schemes, addressing social and environmental well-being, are worthy and inspiring models. But...returning to this topic of 'solidarity and support', I'll suggest that every local project of this nature could have a water-twin elsewhere? Not necessarily similar (perhaps not even watery?), but sharing some essence, energy or spiritedness? Despite a certain jadedness having seeped into the now decades-old 'town-twinning' practices, I'm a believer in the latent activist potential for alternative geographical inflections, or redirections, of twinning. In recent years there has been, for instance, a creativity-based pilot project to set up a coastal twinning between the Severn Estuary coast and the Wadden Sea coast of the Netherlands. (this has yet to bear real fruit, and is in need of a new boost).


Severn Bridge - traffic cam
There are probably many such twinning experiments in operation, but I feel this is an area ripe for attention and expansion. It enables an extended temporal connection, and messages of support - in contrast to the instant-hit, keyboard-click 'support' opportunities provided in a stream by social media platforms and email petitions etc.

In addressing resistance and solidarity, of longer pedigree - and of a very different flavour - is the non-violent practice of boycott. The original boycott (at least in name), emerging from Irish land-activism in the 1880s, was soon followed by an Iranian tobacco boycott in 1890, and many more since. In terms of water-related boycotts, one example I know of is/was the India-based boycott of Coca Cola due to its bottling plants reportedly causing water shortages for farmers, from over-abstraction in areas of scarce groundwater resources.

The opposite of boycott is intentional sourcing of food supplies as a means of expressing solidarity and providing some economic support. In a fairly diffuse way, the global fairtrade movement enables this, but there are also instances where more focussed - and overtly politically motivated - purchasing is enabled. I'm thinking of say of the Zaytoun range of produce or even the maybe more nuanced resistance of the Feral Trade project.

more soon on these topics, plus counter-mapping, shadows, social sculpture, cinematic meditations...