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The Big One: A Recap from the Network

Going to the Big One in London was daunting but for me it was so important that I gave my voice and support for our planet. Even if that meant catching a 5 am bus and getting back home for 1

1pm. I am so glad I went, as being with other people who felt the same way was so empowering. Being there for the speeches and the pickets I felt included in the event. This was especially true when I spotted and joined in singing with some complete strangers. However the most important part of the day was being able to finally meet some fantastic and inspiring Mums, from all over the UK, face to face. That was truly special.

By Paula, Mothers CAN Cardiff (below right)

I am a mum of two young boys and I live in Newcastle upon Tyne. I am involved with my local Extinction Rebellion group and with Mothers CAN so when the opportunity came to join the organisers for The Big One I jumped at the chance. The Big One was a collaboration over a long weekend of over 200 organisations concerned about the various crises we face. It was Earth Day on Saturday the 21st of April which was to be marked by a March for Biodiversity to honour all we have, all we have lost and what we need to protect.

Zoom meetings were attended by representatives from XR Families, Parents For Future, Mothers CAN and Mothers Rise Up. We also liaised with XR Grandparents and Elders. We discussed the plan for the families hub at The Big One. An area to help make the event inclusive for families attending with children. So that the kids had something to do while the grown ups participated. To make space for those that we are fighting for! So that they were seen and their voice not lost.

Largely this involved thinking up great activities to do. We came up with a schedule of activities which was full to the brim. We made plans to have our voices heard on the main stage. Engaging graphics were created for social media to advertise our presence and to help families with what to bring (suncream, waterproofs, woolly hat and lots of snacks!). While it was tricky juggling work, childcare and zoom meetings, it was a joy to be part of the organising.

On the Friday it rained! But it didn’t stop the gazebo going up and the Lego being played with. Hats off to Hannah and Julie from XR Families who were largely responsible for putting up the gazebo, manning it all day and bringing the Lego!

It was a personal joy for me to meet (in the flesh!) other mums from Mothers CAN that I had got to know on zoom. Nothing better than a hug with someone who shares the pain I feel about the state of our world.

I had my two year old with me so I missed the mums talking on the main stage and I had to leave early because he had had enough. Such is mum life.

On the Saturday it didn’t rain! The families hub was in a great location by the Abraham Lincoln statue and we took over every inch of grass to play, sing and create. The Lego and duplo was back, we were next to the art blockers, there were stories from XR Grandparents and Elders. In prep for the biodiversity march Parents For Future brought an ocean of wind turbines which the kids built and decorated. Mothers Rise Up brought beautiful kites. The families bloc of the march was therefore a spectacle. I had a swallow printed on the back of my denim jacket by the art blockers and a wonderful conversation with them about how change will come through art. Katie from Mothers CAN brought nature crafts and making bumblebees out of pine cones was very popular - particularly with the adult kids!

The families bloc was at the back of the March for Biodiversity and because they had such a good turnout (60,000 people) the front of the march had finished before we started! My two year old was appeased with peppa pig stickers and singing old MacDonald. We made it most of the way round but I was having my hair pulled out (literally!) so had to leave the march before the end. I did stumble across the regenerative culture area when I left the march and other families were also taking a break so we let off some steam running on the grass.

My Mothers CAN friends participated in the die in at the end of the March. They lay on the ground to mark the loss of species. A solemn end to mark the biodiversity we have lost and to show our grief. I was grateful to those who participated when I could not.

On the Sunday I had to travel back to Newcastle. I was delighted to follow remotely the families hub cheering on the marathon and Katie did a Stories By Moonlight session to close the day. A campaign for bedtime stories outdoors. This was just one of the many exciting collaborations we had across the four days.

It was a joyous, exhausting and emotional experience for me. I cannot wait for the next one…

by Karen Taylor from the Mothers CAN Network

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