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[ mediums for activism ]

Blockading

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Blockades are occurring all around the globe as you read this. Both positive and negative blockades.

Why? For issues relating to forestry, land rights, war-torn areas, world trade, abortion, and many others.

A blockade usually consists of the human body being used as a means of prevention and sometimes force. For example, politicians getting to a meeting, logging trucks getting to a coupe, destruction of people's homes, preventing the use of a facility, movement of supplies and information, protection of a person or object. Sometimes alternatives may be used such as objects (cars, bicycles, etc) or structural installations (tree houses, wire, cement, etc) to assist prevention.

Blockading can be very dangerous, illegal and can easily turn violent.

Sometimes blockading is for negative intentions as well - we see this often in war-torn areas. Many people seek alternatives than using this medium.

My experiences with blockading

It's funny you know. I hear the word blockade and it triggers a reaction in my body and I think I don't like that. However, upon deeper reflection I have come to realise how some of the things that I involve myself in are a form of blockade. For example, protest marches as they prevent the flow of traffic in some areas.

The only other form of blockading I have participated in was Critical Mass. The aim of Critical Mass is to ride bicycles around as a large group in peak hour traffic to raise awareness of bicycles as traffic, promote sustainable transport and bicycles as alternative transport to cars. Even though I resonated with all the aims, the practice did not really sit well with me. Even though it was fun to ride around on the road in a group I found that it aggravated and upset drivers who were slowed down by our statement. This I felt had a counter-productive effect in raising respect for cyclists and cycling as a means of transport. I stopped participating in Critical Mass for these discomforting reasons.

Another example of a blockade was last year in Melbourne when hundreds of people in wheelchairs blocked a main street in the city to make a statement about transport accessibility. This statement proved successful in raising consciousness and promoting changes. Transport in Melbourne has definitely improved in its awareness and user-friendliness for disabled people.

Other forms of blockading do not always resonate with me. I do not like the physical aspect of it nor the potential for physical and legal harm to occur. Although I do not personally agree with some blockading (such as human chains to prevent access to a building), I can see the role that it plays. Blockading, for example, had a significant influence on the Franklin River campaign. In Australia, it is commonly used to prevent old-growth forests from being logged. I personally choose other mediums of action to work towards change.