"Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." So said the well-known cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead.
Directed by brothers Ben and Dan Tubby, Climate Rush: Deeds Not Words is an inspirational, low-budget documentary that proves the timelessness of Mead’s hopeful dictum.
In September 2008 the then 23-year old climate activist Tamsin Omond happened upon an account of the Suffragette’s rush on Parliament on 13 October 1908, one of the first large-scale protests in their campaign for the women’s vote. Six weeks later – and exactly 100 years after the Suffragettes protest – Omond led a rush on Parliament to pressure the Government to act on the defining issue of this generation – climate change. Chanting the Suffragette slogan ‘Deeds Not Words!’, those who rushed Parliament wore Edwardian dress with red sashes displaying their three demands: ‘No new coal’, ‘No airport expansion’ and ‘Reform climate policy‘.
Working with three cameras, the Tubby brothers follow Omond and a small band of young women from their first organising meeting in a pub, right through to the action itself. Watching these activists bake cakes, make banners and publicise the event by leafleting around Soho in central London, it is clear the emergence of a new type of activism is being witnessed – one that is women-friendly, creative and, shock horror, great fun.
Throughout the 25-minute documentary there is a keen sense of history being made, from the direct comparison made between the law-breaking of the Suffragettes and Omond’s arrest, to the spine-tingling speech given by Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MEP. "100 years ago Emily Pankhurst said that there is a time for words and that there is a time for action. Friends, the time for words is over, the time for action is right now, right here!", Lucas tells the 1,000 strong crowd before the rush on Parliament.
Aptly soundtracked by the mesmerizing piano of Philip Glass’s ‘Mad Rush’, and interspersed with interviews with the activists themselves and social historian Sheila Rowbotham, Climate Rush: Deeds Not Words is a fantastic illustration of the power of media-savvy, non-violent direct action. As Omond sums up at the film’s close: "Do we want to be the last generation that did absolutely nothing to stop climate change, or do we want to be the first generation to change the world? It is only by acting together that we can really push for the change that we so much need".
Whatever happened to the apathetic and apolitical youth of today?
The next public showing of Climate Rush: Deeds Not Words will be at 18:30 on Sunday 6 December at Cinematters at Passing Clouds in Dalston, east London, UK. For more information about the film visit www.tubbybrother.co.uk/climaterush
*Ian Sinclair is a freelance writer based in London, UK. [email protected].