The Republic of Newtonia Day #11 – “linking that hypocrisy, you know, the rhetoric and the reality.”

(Almost) every day from Friday 11th to Thursday 24th February, a post (sometimes two) will appear on this site, to celebrate the Republic of Newtonia – a brief occupation of a site in Hulme in defence of Abbey Pond (near the Old Abbey Taphouse). In 1994, local people and environmental activists tried to stop the Council and the Science Park from filling in the much-loved pond. If you were there, and want to share your memories (and any photos or other material) please do get in touch via mcmonthly@manchesterclimatemonthly or on Twitter – @mcr_climate

Also, on Thurs 24th, the 28th anniversary of the Pond’s destruction, there is an online meeting, from 7.30pm, bringing together people who were at the Republic of Newtonia with campaigners defending green spaces now. You can book here (it’s free).

Yesterday I had the pleasure of interviewing someone who was at the camp, as a student (the pond was within walking distance – even for idle students – of the University of Manchester Students’ Union). The interview will appear in longer form soonish, but for now, just this excerpt, about Isaac Newt and his appearance at the Friends Meeting House, on 15 February 1994.

“I remember helping make the newt. Yeah, I mean, such a long time ago and such much has happened… But yeah, I mean that that was kind of important to us that whole kind of linking the two things [the defence of the Pond and the soaring rhetoric being deployed by the Council about the upcoming ‘Global Forum’]. And I think like for this event, about lessons and stuff, linking that hypocrisy, you know, the rhetoric and the reality. I mean, even then, for us, it was like, “What the fuck? You know, if you can’t get this right, then what are you going to get right?” …. I think with the camp, it was like, it was so chilled. And like, there’s like, there’s quite a lot of creativity. And now like people were, and it was really light hearted. And, yeah, there was also like, always, like, “what prop can we make next? How can we embarrass these fuckers?” “

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The Republic of Newtonia Day #09- what is to be learnt?


Every day from Friday 11th to Thursday 24th February, a post (sometimes two) will appear on this site, to celebrate the Republic of Newtonia – a brief occupation of a site in Hulme in defence of Abbey Pond (near the Old Abbey Taphouse). In 1994, local people and environmental activists tried to stop the Council and the Science Park from filling in the much-loved pond. If you were there, and want to share your memories (and any photos or other material) please do get in touch via mcmonthly@manchesterclimatemonthly or on Twitter – @mcr_climate

Also, on Thurs 24th, the 28th anniversary of the Pond’s destruction, there is an online meeting, from 7.30pm, bringing together people who were at the Republic of Newtonia with campaigners defending green spaces now. You can book here (it’s free).



I hope if you’re reading this you’re thinking about what we can learn, beyond “the Council have been lying about their concern for the environment from day one.” Here’s what one of the participants in the campaign to save the pond said when asked what there was to learn…

“Get to know the people who are most affected. And that’s the people who live there,, doesn’t matter what class they are. Understand them. Let them do the talking,. As far as you can empower them as much as possible; not just for your own ends, but because it’s worth doing (doesn’t happen enough in this country). Use your brain. Use the science , stay rational, even when you want to scream and shout. And if you’re going to do a stunt, then do a good one.”

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The Republic of Newtonia Day #08 – A day in court

Every day from Friday 11th to Thursday 24th February, a post (sometimes two) will appear on this site, to celebrate the Republic of Newtonia – a brief occupation of a site in Hulme in defence of Abbey Pond (near the Old Abbey Taphouse). In 1994, local people and environmental activists tried to stop the Council and the Science Park from filling in the much-loved pond. If you were there, and want to share your memories (and any photos or other material) please do get in touch via mcmonthly@manchesterclimatemonthly or on Twitter – @mcr_climate

Also, on Thurs 24th, the 28th anniversary of the Pond’s destruction, there is an online meeting, from 7.30pm, bringing together people who were at the Republic of Newtonia with campaigners defending green spaces now. You can book here (it’s free).

On Monday a court summons had been prepared. On Friday, the judge heard the case. Unity Stack recalls –

“We got to know the Under-sheriff very well indeed with his bowler hat. So he came and served the summons. We then had a date for a court appearance, which was expedited, we were a little bit worried about our assets being confiscated, those who had any. So we nominated my daughter who was 18 and had no assets whatsoever to be named spokesperson in the court hearing even though she was busy doing her exams, at very academic school at the time.”

And – no spoiler alert needed, the defenders lost. It’s almost as if

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose off the common
But leaves the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from the goose.

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The Republic of Newtonia – on the nature of memory

Here’s an astonishing quote from Crista Wolf, who grew up under the Nazis and spent most of her life under the East German regime. She got to know a thing or two about how power works…

Apparently the approval and support of imagination is something we need in our lives. In other words, we need to be able to play with the possibilities left open. But at the same time something else is going on in us every day, every hour – a creeping, inevitable process of hardening petrification habit. Its particular target is memory.

Everyone carries around a collection of coloured medallions bearing captions, which are partly funny, partly gruesome. On occasion, we take them out and show them to people because we need them to confirm the reassuringly unambiguous feelings that we have that the past events they commemorate.were beautiful, or ugly, good or evil. These medallions are to memory, what ossified lung tissue is to a tubercular patient or prejudices are to morality: once there was life, there, activity, but now they are encapsulated, shut down. Once you were afraid to touch them, you burned your fingers on them. Now they are cool and smooth. Some have been skillfully polished; some especially valuable pieces have cost years of work. Because there is a lot you have to forget, a lot you have to rethink and reinterpret before you can present yourself to advantage on each and every occasion. That’s what we need medallions for. I expect you know what I mean.

Memory is the name we commonly use when we take out these prettily-made craft items and pass them off to people as the genuine article so that we can learn their market value. compare them to what is currently on offer – and assuming they match it – Hear them pronounced the real thing.

It’s from an essay called “Reading and Writing”, in a collection called “The Author’s Dilemma”.

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The Republic of Newtonia Day #07 – the day before the Day in Court

Every day from Friday 11th to Thursday 24th February, a post (sometimes two) will appear on this site, to celebrate the Republic of Newtonia – a brief occupation of a site in Hulme in defence of Abbey Pond (near the Old Abbey Taphouse). In 1994, local people and environmental activists tried to stop the Council and the Science Park from filling in the much-loved pond. If you were there, and want to share your memories (and any photos or other material) please do get in touch via mcmonthly@manchesterclimatemonthly or on Twitter – @mcr_climate

Also, on Thurs 24th, the 28th anniversary of the Pond’s destruction, there is an online meeting, from 7.30pm, bringing together people who were at the Republic of Newtonia with campaigners defending green spaces now. You can book here (it’s free).

While the camp continued

there were efforts to get public support ahead of the court appearance…

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The Republic of Newtonia Day #06 – Carrington Moss @friendsmoss

1994 was a long time ago. If everything was better now, if those making the decisions now gave a damn about “sustainability,” this would all be of minor historical interest.

News flash – we are hurtling towards oblivion and our “leaders” are spouting vague nonsense about their “values” while persisting with (and accelerating) the suicidal ecocidal nonsense.

So, one goal of this project is to get us all thinking about today’s campaigns and what they can learn. And it’s about further raising the profile of these campaigns.

Emails have been sent to various defend-nature campaigns in Greater Manchester. The only one to reply so far is Friends of Carrington Moss. Here’s some info.

A summary presentation about Carrington Moss and the group’s fight to save it from Trafford’s plans to massively over-develop the area.  You will see in the presentation that there are other threats too.  

Their biggest issue is the lack of community involvement and consultation.  

They need some affordable (if not free) legal advice.

“In terms of events, we host a monthly public meeting, which are currently being held online, but we also arrange community events and activities, such as walks on the Moss.  We also arrange visits for schools and other groups, at which we have appropriate experts attending.”

Lots of additional information on our website, including my latest blog, https://friendsofcarringtonmoss.com/.

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/CarringtonMoss

Twitter feed @friendsmoss

Every day from Friday 11th to Thursday 24th February, a post (sometimes two) will appear on this site, to celebrate the Republic of Newtonia – a brief occupation of a site in Hulme in defence of Abbey Pond (near the Old Abbey Taphouse). In 1994, local people and environmental activists tried to stop the Council and the Science Park from filling in the much-loved pond. If you were there, and want to share your memories (and any photos or other material) please do get in touch via mcmonthly@manchesterclimatemonthly or on Twitter – @mcr_climate

Also, on Thurs 24th, the 28th anniversary of the Pond’s destruction, there is an online meeting, from 7.30pm, bringing together people who were at the Republic of Newtonia with campaigners defending green spaces now. You can book here (it’s free).

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Isaac Newt versus the Global Forum – (The Republic of Newtonia Day #05) #Manchester

Picture the scene. In a few months Manchester was supposed to host a major international environmental event. But amidst budget cuts and cost blowouts the organisation in charge had just lost its second head honcho in six months.

Meanwhile, the Council was embroiled in a high profile physical battle with well-connected, brave and intelligent people trying to protect a site of nature within spitting distance of the city centre (Abbey Pond).

In retrospect, the first (and only) public meeting of the “Manchester Global Forum board was always going to be hard to pull off.

Here’s one witness’s take of the scene

It was in the run up to Global Forum. It’s just beginning to get off the ground. We were quite deeply cynical about this, but they did genuinely try to involve the community, so this was an open meeting to discuss the aims and objectives of Global Forum. 

So that was Councillor Spencer,  the figurehead for the Council and other people  named in that press cutting. 

Now the enterprising Earth First!ers, and lovely students, were  very creative. They  made papier mache in, buckets, they got some wire, they made a framework. then covered it in black bean bags and made a face and it took 4 people to carry it,  wasn’t heavy, but quite long. And it was our mascot and they christened him Isaac Newt.  He was finished just in time for this open meeting and xxx organised so they could hear it from the newts.  Our pallbearers, just let it all get settled sort of kept in the shadows and then very slowly marched in with Isaac Newt. 

No shouting, in silence, marched straight down the central aisle. Up to the dais and plonked very gently  in front of all the speakers and just sat back and enjoyed  the effect 

And here’s a newspaper account the following day.

As Unity Stack observes, it ticked all the boxes for a classic stunt:

  • Image says more than words ever could – controversial in all the right ways and left field, but conveyed simple message, save the newts, had impact
  • Non violent and time limited, the retreat was almost as impactful as the unexpected entry
  • Had the chuckle factor, even if the high table didn’t think so at the time, embarrassment factor just right
  • The perpetrators remained in control of the situation, so stayed in charge of the message, not hijacked by police or security actions.

Every day from Friday 11th to Thursday 24th February, a post (sometimes two) will appear on this site, to celebrate the Republic of Newtonia – a brief occupation of a site in Hulme in defence of Abbey Pond (near the Old Abbey Taphouse). In 1994, local people and environmental activists tried to stop the Council and the Science Park from filling in the much-loved pond. If you were there, and want to share your memories (and any photos or other material) please do get in touch via mcmonthly@manchesterclimatemonthly or on Twitter – @mcr_climate

Also, on Thurs 24th, the 28th anniversary of the Pond’s destruction, there is an online meeting, from 7.30pm, bringing together people who were at the Republic of Newtonia with campaigners defending green spaces now. You can book here (it’s free).

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From the book of Roger

So, Private Eye does an “Old Testament ” gimmick that I thought I could steaadapt.

The Book of Roger, Chapter 22, verses 2 -12

And the Hallamites sayeth unto the Sofa-ites and the Apathites “Surely ye shall perish in a fiery flood or flame – we’re not quite sure which – if you do not repent and join with us in displays of authenticity and merit.” And the Sofa-ites sayeth back unto the Hallamites “meh.” 

And unto the movement cameth the commuters, and there was great smiting and rending of cloth.

And surely, after a suitable repose, the Hallamites did returneth unto the fray. And the Sofa-ites, comfortable on their sofas, found that the Hallamites had in their time in the wilderness, come to doubleth down on their fire and their brimstone.

And the Hallamites proclaimed. “Look, we really mean it this time. And, behold, we hath a new analogy of the most enormous tendentiousness to fling in front of you.”

And a mightily exhausted prophet, neither a Sofa-ite nor an Apathite, came to the mountain top with the intent, more in sadness than in wrath, of heckling. And he sayeth back to them that were easily young enough to have been begat by him, except he had as a younger man sought out the hand of Vasec to stop up his loins. “Yeah, look, if this is another cherry-picked and selfeth-serving moment from the Authentic Black Civil Rights movement, well, ye can planteth thine lips on my ample hindquarters.”

And the Hallamites then interrupteth the insolent wretch and sayeth unto him. “Firstly, We find your lack of faith disturbing. Secondly, look, we proclaimeth ourselves to be the children of the children of the Freedom Riders, ‘kay?”

And the mightily exhausted prophet went from the scene, and sobbethed into his hands.

And the fire and brimstone predicted by the Hallam-ites did in fact arrive, but not quite on the timescale and in the manner to which they had prosyletised.

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The Republic of Newtonia Day #04 – because nothing says we love you/biodiversity like… a court summons…

Every day from Friday 11th to Thursday 24th February, a post (sometimes two) will appear on this site, to celebrate the Republic of Newtonia – a brief occupation of a site in Hulme in defence of Abbey Pond (near the Old Abbey Taphouse). In 1994, local people and environmental activists tried to stop the Council and the Science Park from filling in the much-loved pond. If you were there, and want to share your memories (and any photos or other material) please do get in touch via mcmonthly@manchesterclimatemonthly or on Twitter – @mcr_climate

Also, on Thurs 24th, the 28th anniversary of the Pond’s destruction, there is an online meeting, from 7.30pm, bringing together people who were at the Republic of Newtonia with campaigners defending green spaces now. You can book here (it’s free).

The bulldozers had been supposed to move in on Friday 11th. They were stopped by non-violent Direct Action. But of course, the Council and the Science Park folks instructed lawyers – Panone, since you ask – and on Monday 14th, along came the expected summons…

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The Republic of Newtonia Day #03 – The Mad Planner’s Tea Party

Every day from Friday 11th to Thursday 24th February, a post (sometimes two) will appear on this site, to celebrate the Republic of Newtonia – a brief occupation of a site in Hulme in defence of Abbey Pond (near the Old Abbey Taphouse). In 1994, local people and environmental activists tried to stop the Council and the Science Park from filling in the much-loved pond. If you were there, and want to share your memories (and any photos or other material) please do get in touch via mcmonthly@manchesterclimatemonthly or on Twitter – @mcr_climate

Also, on Thurs 24th, the 28th anniversary of the Pond’s destruction, there is an online meeting, from 7.30pm, bringing together people who were at the Republic of Newtonia with campaigners defending green spaces now. You can book here (it’s free).

By the third day of the camp there’d already been a flotilla of paper boats and a candelit vigil.

The Council – its planners and councillors – were invited to a “Mad Planner’s Tea Party” (as per The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in Alice through the Looking Glass).

Surprise surprise, they didn’t show up to the party, or to the Republic at all during its short brave life. The Republic had to go to them – as we will see on February 15th.

Here’s a couple of (undated) photos from the Republic…

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