Land in which to dance, grow and live
Conflicts with Coal
“If you follow the coal leaving your region, Cesar, it first heads north on the train to Santa Marta on the Atlantic coast of Colombia. It gets loaded on to ships and exported. Some of it eventually arrives in a place called Avonmouth, at the port of Bristol. It gets loaded back on to trains, and these trains pass through my neighbourhood, just 200m from my house, on route to a power station called Didcot. We are not such strangers. The impact of the mines on your communities is part of our story too. People in the UK want to learn from you.”
Young people faces light up with curiosity and interest as I introduced the UK Coal Action Network and explained the intention of my short visit – how might we create solidarity between each other. Older and younger people generously and passionately shared so much with me, and with us.
They told stories of their childhood and previous generations, we shared food and they told me about the importance of food in their culture, we visited allotments and their collective lands and picked curious shaped sun filled fruits, I was invited by the kids of the house I was staying at to go to their drumming and dancing practice, we went to early morning meetings at the college to take part in debates on the future of agriculture and mining in their region, we went to late night council meetings to get organised, and to all night music festivals filled with foam and water.
Across these rich hot days, my senses picked up the vital importance of land to peoples wellbeing, and I understood that coal mining doesn’t just impact health and the local and global environment but that it is in conflict with peoples whole and only possible way of life. As part of the landless people in the UK who lost most of our common land two hundred years ago, their stories also gives insight in to our own histories and present day issues. “Displaced and scratching food from the dust on the edge of the cities is not life” says Nubia, from La Sierra Community Community Council.
Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing some of the stories people wanted to tell to those people in Inglaterra, to complement the stories that representatives of Communities displaced by mining in La Guajira, Colombia, will be sharing across the UK as part of the Dirty Coal Tour.