Citizens Assemble – Roving Interactive Hive Invites Public to Experience Deliberative Democracy

Westminster’s not working. But for many of us it’s hard to imagine anything beyond our current political system. And yet, as the climate and ecological emergency worsens, the need to upgrade our democracy becomes ever more acute. That’s why Extinction Rebellion is demanding that the UK Government create and be led by a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate and Ecological Justice.

From Wednesday, 2 to Friday, 4 September, XR rebels and dancers will be donning honeycomb masks and roving the September Rebellion with an interactive hive. Their aim is to give members of the public a sense of what a citizens’ assembly looks, feels and sounds like. Passers-by will be invited to hear testimonials from citizens’ assembly participants, listen to a bee-inspired soundscape and give their vision for a future democracy. Rebels want to reach beyond the boundaries of the Rebellion and engage with people who aren’t aware of the democratic solution XR is proposing. As they rove, the rebels will update the Citizens’ Assembly Working Group Twitter with their whereabouts – so keep an eye on @CitizensXR. The action runs from 10am to 2pm each day, and begins at St. James’ Park on the 2nd.

On Saturday, 5 September, at 1pm, the hive will arrive at Trafalgar Square for a programmed event entitled “Citizens Assemble!”. Rebels and members of the public are invited to take a deep dive into the connections between the democratic crisis and the climate and ecological emergency. Mask-clad and socially distanced, attendees will hear short sharp speeches from scientists, activists, democracy experts and a citizens’ assembly participant. They’ll then take part in a giant conversation in small groups about how we might upgrade our democracy. See below for a full list of speakers.

Why a citizens’ assembly?

Ordinary people can do extraordinary things. When you bring together people from all walks of life and give them in-depth information on an issue, they’ll make serious, informed choices on topics that politicians cannot or will not touch. A citizens’ assembly allows all voices to be heard, ensuring no one gets left behind. Politicians, on the other hand, toe party lines, put votes before social justice and plan for the short term. We need to go beyond party politics.

Climate Assembly UK

Climate Assembly UK was launched last year by six parliamentary select committees. And, of course, we hope that its recommendations, to be published on 10 September, will make small steps in the right direction. But whatever its outcomes, they will be severely inhibited by the assembly’s limited scope: its members were asked to consider policies within the context of the Government’s kamikaze net zero target of 2050. We need a Citizens’ Assembly with teeth. We are running out of time.

Speakers on 5 September

  • Alex Barker, Trust the People
  • Frances Foley, Compass
  • Charlie Gardner, Conservation Scientist, University of Kent
  • Cameron Joshi, Global Justice Rebellion
  • Marijn Van de Geer, XR Citizens’ Assembly Working Group
  • Liba Navindran, XR London Communities, Steering Group and Anti-Oppression Circle
  • Anna Pick, participant in Camden Climate Assembly

Quotes:

Liba Navindran, 28, XR London Communities, Steering Group and Anti-Oppression Circle: “The CEE affects marginalised and vulnerable people disproportionately. It creates further barriers to power and privilege and endangers livelihoods.”

Anna Pick, 24, member of the Camden Assembly on Climate: “The assembly was a major turning point for me. I started to look at the CEE more closely and not switch off. And also to imagine how the world could look differently.”

Anna again: “The pandemic has really brought home to me how precarious our existence is. And that really speaks to my privilege. But what I’ve realised is that you can’t face the future alone, you have to face it together. That’s where the citizens’ assembly comes in.”

Further information

For updates on the roving action from 2 to 4 September, follow @CitizensXR or join our telegram channel: https://t.me/citizensassemblies 

For more on Citizens Assemble! on 5 September, see the Facebook event page

Find out more about citizens’ assemblies on the XR Citizens’ Assembly Working Group website.

For press inquiries email: xr-citizensassembly@protonmail.com

Phone: Marijn (+44 7979 971209), Alex (+44 7412 051927)


Speakers bios: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Y-SktSyFPch2jg-jSnibkskZ6M58OVEnxFIluEr5QLY/edit

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