Not Just Pie in the Sky – Why Anarchists Should Help ‘Reclaim the Earth Centre!’
We’re bunched together eating a delicious home-made apple pie surrounded by some of the most cutting edge sustainable technology anywhere in Europe. The apples are windfalls which, if the local Doncaster bureaucrats had their way, would be left to rot along with the millions of pounds worth of incredible buildings and technology which make up the now abandoned ‘Earth Centre’.
Originally conceived in 1989 as a response to the World Commission on Environment and Development’s call for ‘vast campaigns of education, debate and public participation’ concerning sustainable development, the Earth Centre began to take shape on the site of the old Denaby Main/Cadeby collieries during the 1990s. Initially there was immense local interest and a lot of people from nearby Conisbrough and Denaby were building their own small-scale projects on the site – at one time we thought that we might have our very own Centre for Alternative Technology. Unfortunately – as the money started to roll in – the idea behind the Earth Centre went from ‘an exhibition of sustainable development practices and an international centre for related research and education’ to being a rather crappy theme park.
Following what the Guardian called “a roller coaster ride of false starts, wild hopes and dashed plans.” (and what locals called “cock ups”) the Earth Centre closed it’s doors for the last time in 2004.This wasn’t a surprise for Doncaster residents. The Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council (DMBC) is like any other bureaucracy; when your give a bunch of people a large sum of other people’s money and allow them to spend it without any form of accountability the inevitable consequence is RMS – Reverse Midas Syndrome. In other words everything they touch turns to shit! The bureaucrats milked the scheme for all it was worth and then abandoned it, even though visitor numbers were increasing throughout the last year that it was open.
The site is presently being used by a wargames company (ex-military teaching corporate types how to be ‘real men’) and as a film set for ITV’s post apocalypse TV series, ‘Survivors’. Not ideal uses for a facility which has ultra-quiet wind turbines, a solar canopy, advanced ‘living machine’ biological sanitation and water purification systems, immense underground galleries, extensive allotments, forest gardens and fishing lakes, and a dormitory to sleep over 100 people.
But back to the apple pie – did I mention that it was delicious?
While chatting we realised that we were quite a diverse bunch and that saving the Earth Centre is an important project for [people of all political persuasions]. There are the obvious environmental connotations surrounding one of the most ecologically sustainable developments in the world. But this is also a real opportunity to create something positive in the heart of one of England’s most economically deprived regions. Like most of Doncaster’s ex-mining towns the local community has been decimated; first by the miner’s strike, then by the subsequent pit closures and years of economic decline – here of course they had the added pressure of being shafted by the bureaucrats who were responsible for killing off the Earth Centre project. The Pixies who set Reclaim the Earth Centre! in motion have worked closely with the residents of Conisbrough and Denaby and have received almost 100% support locally; the only negative response was from a guy who said ‘it was a nice idea, but it would never happen’ – it’s up to you to prove him wrong!
The Earth Centre is next to Conisbrough train station which is on a direct rail line between Doncaster and Sheffield; it’s easily accessible for anarchists (and anyone else…) from all over Yorkshire (and beyond). Being an ex-industrial site its easy to reach by road too – if you’re into that kind of thing . The group meets at 1:30pm every Sunday – come along and get a free welcome hug!
If you would like to visit the Earth Centre please email Molly Mosschops on thereismore2lifefolks [at] yahoo.co.uk