A newly formed action group trying to keep coal-seam gas (CSG) mining out of the Northern Rivers altogether is urging people to take non-violent direct action (NVDA) against the controversial new industry.
To this end, Lismore law lecturer and author Aidan Ricketts will conduct a public workshop for the group in Lismore tonight to train people for activism.
‘We are currently seeing the start of a mass social movement against CSG. It is a mainstream social movement that involves mothers, fathers, environmentalists, farmers, shopkeepers and councillors,’ Mr Ricketts said.
‘I believe the underlying motivation is to protect water and food, and to prevent our magnificent rural landscape becoming an industrial mining area.’
The new CSG-Free Lismore action group wants to help ‘build capacity’ for local resistance to CSG mining and Mr Ricketts, who wrote The Activists Handbook, will conduct the workshop on strategic campaign planning. In coming weeks he will also offer workshops on non-violent direct action techniques.
Community activism is a special area of academic interest for Mr Ricketts, a lecturer in the School of Law at Southern Cross University, and that is why he wrote the newly released 250-page book, published in London and distributed globally.
He said community activism ‘is about having a thriving democracy’ and he aimed to teach communities the most effective ways to organise themselves and ensure protests were effective.
Spokesperson for the CSG-Free Lismore group, Simon Clough, said people in the Northern Rivers felt political leaders have failed them, so it was vital ‘to empower as many people as possible to make a stand for our community and for the environment’.
‘The CSG-Free movement has to be extremely well organised to defeat the corporations wanting to exploit our area such as Shell Oil (world’s fifth-largest corporation) and the Chinese government’, Mr Clough said.
The workshop, which will focus on techniques including conflict mapping and the development of strategic plans, will be held at the Lismore Workers Club at 6.30pm tonight.