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|Brummies Build Boat in Bonn
On Friday the 20th of July, members of BirminghamFOE travelled to
Bonn for the COP6 climate negotiations.
We caught the train to London, and made our way to FOE headquarters at
Underwood Street. From here, three coaches set off, full of FOE
volunteers and staff from around the UK. Catching the ferry at Dover,
we arrived in France at about 6pm local time. Unfortunately I missed
both the food and the "duty free" shops, and so had a hungry and
thirsty journey across France, Belgium and Germany where we stopped at
services about 4 hours later.
We arrived in Bonn at about 1am, to find the "HomeBase" lively, with
good food available from RampenPlan - a dutch group who cater at
festivals and protests. After a couple of hours of socialising, off we
went to "bed" - sleeping on the floor of a gym.
On Saturday morning, we got up at between 7 and 8 then breakfasted on
great fresh bread, cheese, jam and coffee. Then we caught the tram
into the centre of Bonn (which seems to have a great public transport
The square in which the starting rally was held three giant skeletons
for the prow, centre and stern of the lifeboat which we were to
build. Some people set about painting planks with slogans and
attaching them to the boat, while many people painted blue designs on
their faces, or even their entire upper body. Many people were dressed
in blue, to form a "sea" for the boat, others wore fish heads. One
woman was dressed as "The Statue of Taking Liberties" whilest another
was a characture of a pro-nuclear lobbiest.
A group of American student got the crown shouting with their
cheerleading, and two samba bands also entertained people. Speeches
were given by FOE representatives from Europe, the US, Japan and
Africa, as well as by the dutch RisingTide group.
Everybody was having a great time, the weather was sunny and the
Once the lifeboat had been assembled from thousands of painted planks,
we set off for the conference centre where the talks were being
Unfortunately, the weight of our argument - or rather the weight of
the planks - was too much for the tyres of the "boat" - and the march
had to stop a number of times for them to be repaired or
replaced. Finally, the police came to the rescue by providing solid
Throughout, the march was peaceful, friendly and good natured. Music
was provided by various groups, including the fantabulous RinkyDink
cycle and solar powered sound system.
At one point I made my way to the front of the march, then watched
then entire procession pass. More than 4000 people had come from all
over Europe - and beyond. There was a carnival atmosphere with many
people wearing costumes and dancing to music. Even the motorists who
were delayed didn't seem to mind too much.
There was a slight delay before we were allowed access to the
conference centre - the police were worried that the march had been
inflitrated by "anarchists" who might cause trouble. Once we entered
the square, the lifeboat was manouvered into position and RinkyDink
entertained the crown again. There where speeches from FOE
international, and some of the delegates even came out and wandered
through the crowd.
We returned to "HomeBase" by U-Bahn (underground) and tram, where we
tried to grab 40 winks - unfortunately, a lone trumpeter was
practicing close to our sleeping quarters. Some of us now have the
trumpet versions of "By the Rivers of Babylon" and "The Lion Sleeps
Tonight" permenantly engraved on their consciousness.
RampenPlan provided more excellent food, after which we headed off to
the "Boat Builder's Party". A Bretton band from the march played,
filling the dance floor. This was followed by DJs who played a wide
variety of music - the finale was a version of "DownTown" (auf deutch).
Sunday morning we got up early - as our coaches left at 7am! We
stopped at a service station for breakfast, then on to Calais for a
booze stop and onto the Ferry. We were back in London about 5pm,
tired, but happy that an agreement had been reached on Kyoto by almost
every country in the world... except the USA.
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