An Invitation to a Campfire

“Hopes and dreams are empty joys if we’re prepared to lose them..” – Peggy Seeger, Tomorrow

We started this project in the midst of the pandemic. Sheltering from danger, protecting each other, committing to action in the face of the overwhelming pressure to just wait it out. It wouldn’t be long…

Throughout the last three years, the voices of Greenham Women have been woven through my life as I have woven their stories into these Campfires.

Around each fire sit several Greenham Women, and you. You choose the questions to ask, your responses to their replies. You move the conversation forward. And you choose to carry the stories home with you, perhaps. The big actions, the moments of connection, the challenges, the change. 

I’ve seen my job here as being to get the frack out of the way, to make space, to lift these stories to be accessible in a very simple and uncomplicated new way. You can pick them up on your phone on your commute, on your computer in the office on your tablet on the sofa. In silence, with a screen-reader, alone or with others.

The interface is simple. Touch the words you want to say.

Usually, I’m a writer. In this project, I’m a reader. I read the transcripts of conversations with women about their time at Greenham, and the ongoing resonances and impacts of that time. And as I am reading, I am weaving them into the software for you. Very gentle, a bit at a time. I do about half an hour a day, sometimes a bit more or less.

So, for me, it’s been 3 years of these stories drip, drip, dripping into my life like rain. And we are natural systems, so these words have slowly, fiercely, gently and unflinchingly changed me. I have taken them in like rain, to be part of my earth.

Working on this project has changed how I think, how I write, how I choose to live. And I welcome that so damn hard.

This steady beat of women speaking and acting for peace, and the intricacies and challenges of what that really means, has carried such resonance even as the times we are living in have spiralled so far from the early hope of 2020.

Hope to rebuild a better world, hope to treat each other better, hope to commit to health and to peace. Hope not matched, in the main, by action as we staggered into this new phase of the pandemic. As we collapsed weakly back into our worst practices, as we abandoned our vulnerable for short-term convenience, doubled-down on infighting, and absently handed power upon power to those who would do us all harm. As we fumbled, distracted, years of progress into chilling regressions of all our rights. As we tripped over our own complacency and debris into right-here, right-now, actual war. Explosives are being lobbed around nuclear facilities, and talk on the radio has turned once again to the threat of nuclear missiles.

As this new year begins, the Doomsday clock has shaved off another ten seconds. We don’t have to accept this. Not any of it.

The stories in these campfires are not distant stories of the past, they are maps of disaster successfully averted for a time. Maps we need to follow now, for all our futures. And not simple maps of repeatable actions, places or aesthetics either.

Maps of applied intent, carried through mucky reality to actual change. Terrifying, hilarious, challenging, and solid learns.  Maps of collaborative tenacity. Rare as all heck.

The interface is simple. Touch the words you want to say. Come sit by the fire and gather yourself for tomorrow. Destruction is not inevitable, but waiting it out sure ain’t gonna cut it this time either.

What now?

LH Trevail, Jan 2023

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