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Hello everyone,

Thank you so much for coming along on Sunday - it was really helpful to hear your thoughts on the plan. Your comments were hugely valuable in thinking about next steps and taking this forward. Some important points you raised are addressed below: 

XR doesn't have capacity - this isn't an XR specific campaign. It aims to get all areas of our communities involved, and whilst XR members are likely to be heavily involved, it will be community organising which includes some XR members, not an explicit XR campaign. This project is not to replace anything that XR is currently doing. The workflows for starting a Climate Emergency Centre and this project overlap considerably - both require alliances with other community groups. Voter turn out is so low that some councillors can walk into seats hardly putting any effort in at all. The traffic light strategy (grading candidates according to whether they'll push for radical climate policy or not) will ensure our efforts are focussed strategically. 

Does this risk splitting votes and keeping the current council in power? - No, in fact the intention of this programme is much more collaborative than any traditional campaign. In an ideal scenario, we would aim that only 1 candidate contests the seat, providing a choice between either a failing status quo, or a collaborative, reformative campaign aimed at putting our communities above national party politics. 

We shouldn't be political - XR is not party political. By the nature of us pushing for policy reform on the CEE, we are political. There is a huge difference between aligning behind parties or candidates, or aligning behind a set of shared values which are designed to put the CEE and our communities at the top of the political agenda. 

We should focus nationally and locally, and ignore the middle  - 46% of Surrey's emissions come from the transport sector. SCC Highways department has direct control over infrastructure and spending for all transport, including walking and cycling infrastructure. To ignore this level of government would be to simply write off tackling nearly half of Surrey's emissions. What's more, SCC is mandated to make planning decisions affecting oil & gas drilling. National policy - NPFP - no longer pre-supposes a preference for onshore oil extraction, yet SCC keep granting drilling licenses because they are working from the Surrey Mineral's Plan which was designed before Paris, before SCC declared a climate emergency. The current council is not willing to reform this plan. Changing the council is the most effective way to achieve a revised minerals policy, namely one that rules out all planning proposals that don't conform to Paris. 

We should be focusing on the big polluters -  Expecting the likes of Shell and BP to change their entire business model unless they are suffering financially. Direct action on these companies is one strategy, but undermining the investment potential of these companies is an equally valid means of targeting them. SCC invests £150m of constituents money directly into BP and Shell through the Surrey Pension Fund, who insist on a policy of 'engagement'. This strategy has a 0% success rate. The pulling of fossil fuel investments by public bodies is a critical step in achieving the social tipping points which will drive radical and swift action on climate breakdown.

Imagine what our county could look like in 13 months time with the connections we'll have made... Whether we end up winning seats or not, in partnership with other groups we'll be able to start building the society that we know is possible. This project will highlight the problems with the status quo and will help more people understand why our strategy of NVCD is so necessary. The potential for synergy between XR activity and wherever this project leads is exciting. It is an extension of the ways that we apply pressure to those who hold power. By working to reclaim our county we pave the way for others to do the same. 

So next steps:
- The most important thing is to bring other community groups on board. Are you connected to another community group? Would you consider reaching out to them? What about the rest of your local group? If this is something you'd like to discuss please reply to this email and we can arrange a chat. Conversations with mutual aid groups and local political organisations are already underway. Let's build a strong alliance that is representative of our whole county.

- Would you like to join a peer support network of community organisers to support you to build community in your neighbourhood? Join the Community Transformers Programme. More info here

- Find out more about Flatpack. See Peter MacFadyen on Radio 4 this week sharing highlights from his experience of reclaiming Frome council and a short animation too 

- If you would are interested in joining the working group for this project, or want to reply to anything else in this message, please do get in touch by emailing us at localdemocracy_se@protonmail.com

Love and Solidarity
Ben, Peter and MagsPS To send you this email, we've added your email address to our XR Future Democracy Mailchimp database. If you sign up to our Community Transformers Programme your name and other details will be added anyway. If you don't want to receive further emails and would like to be removed from our database, click here.
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