This article by David Taylor appeared in the final issue of the Green Collective Mailing, No.21 of winter 1988/89. Reprinted here as a summation of the work and achievements of the Collective from the viewpoint of midwinter 1988.
It's a long time since I first stood up at an Ecology Party conference in April 1980 to call the first meeting that was to launch the Green Collective. I had proposed that the Party abandon its Spring Policy Conference in favour of a Summer Camp that would allow participation from people outside the Party and generally establish an atmosphere where we could exchange more than policy papers. The vote, unfortunately, was lost; but despite this a group met immediately after that session, to begin planning the first ‘Ecology Party Summer Gathering'.
It had always seemed strange to me that the hippy/alternative festival people were not more closely linked with the ecologists. I felt as if the two groups belonged together. In a sense I was trying to unite my two personal worlds — of Ecology Party meetings and actions on the one hand, and of a cultural ‘hippy revolution‘ on the other. The creative and sometimes antagonistic tension between these forces have characterised the Gatherings ever since.
Still, the Glastonbury Green Gatherings certainly stirred things up; on one occasion provoking a hostile editorial in the Guardian, on another stimulating a Sun photographer into rushing down from London in search of 900 naked hippies marching on Shepton Mallet police station!
From the start, our political objective was to develop the concept of a 'Green Movement', as opposed to the more limited idea of a ‘Political Party'. We wanted change on all fronts, and above all in the way in which we actually lived; a revolution that truly did begin in our own lives. In that objective I can't help feeling that we've opened the bottle on a genie that will never go back inside. Ecological politics has become green politics, and there are now many more thousand greens outside the 'Green Party' than inside it.
It's impossible to even begin to count the changes in people, the coming together of new groups and businesses, that began through the Green Gatherings. In that way I think our achievement has been a subtle one, unnoticed except by those who were directly involved.
We have had a catalytic role in helping start 'green gatherings‘ of many kinds and in many places, both here and abroad.
For me personally, I can honestly say that the Green Collective revolutionised my life. I am a different person because of it, and I'm sure many others will echo these thoughts. How many Green Collective members moved into tipis, buses or communal houses ? How many changed their diets, felt inspired to take radical direct action, or experienced a spiritual rebirth ? No wonder the government is trying to stamp out festivals !
I will always remember the Molesworth Green Gathering as the most successful piece of direct action I‘ve participated in. When we set up a legal Gathering on private land near Glastonbury, the press and the police hounded us constantly. At Molesworth, where we squatted the US. government‘s next cruise missile base, the police gave us no trouble at all and the local TV couldn't have
been more sympathetic. The Green Gathering became a Green Village, which in turn became the Rainbow Village and stayed there for six months; finally provoking (deliberately and carefully) the most ridiculous over-reaction anyone could have imagined: three thousand soldiers and police, the biggest Royal Engineers‘ operation since the crossing of the Rhine, and MichaelHeseltine himself parading around in a combat jacket... .
At that point the Green Collective had reached quite a high point in its development: the Green Roadshow was visiting fairs and festivals throughout the country spreading the message, the Green Field was establishing its reputation as the best place to be at the CND festival, and Sunflowers had developed a big turnover of stickers and other publicity items. Ideas and plans were getting big; but ironically this was also the turning point for the Collective.
The Molesworth event was the last national Green Gathering. Without the Gathering the cohesiveness of the group gradually dissipated, until it was finally wound up at the Samhain meeting last year.
The time may not be right at the moment for a national Green Gathering, but I feel certain it will return. At the moment the Land Fund is still our best hope. The Gathering will never be secure unless we actually buy our own site. The Green Gathering might be temporarily lost in the mists of Avalon, but if enough of us will it, the mists will clear. Back in I982, at the first actual 'Green' gathering, a new collective soul was born.
Wild man Jonathon was everywhere, hugging and kissing, celebrating the BIRTH. That baby is a young child now, in need of all the nourishment we can give it. Celebrate your birthday !