It’s amazing that the blog baton has actually reached me - although I've worked for Greenpeace for over 14 years, I am only in the UK office once a month - I work from home in Manchester (England’s greatest city!)
I have one of the best jobs in the world. I'm the Network Developer for the North, one of five staff in the Active Supporters Unit. Active Supporters are the people who support Greenpeace with their own precious time and energy, taking the campaign messages to the public on the streets and at local events in their stylish green tabards, going to visit their MPs, giving talks, taking risks on direct actions. They are inspiring and brilliant people, often working full-time in demanding jobs, then giving their weekends and evenings to Greenpeace.
My job is building and developing networks of active supporters in Northern Ireland, Scotland, the north of England and the East Midlands. I use email and phone a great deal, advising, problem solving, planning events, explaining the ins and outs of a campaign strategy. I travel around too - in January I took the coach and ferry to Belfast for a special meeting to inspire new people to get more involved and a couple of years ago I took the bus to Portrush on the stunningly beautiful north coast of Northern Ireland to meet a fantastic new volunteer. I also have an extensive knowledge of the railway network in the UK, meeting up with active supporters in Dundee, Nottingham, Preston or Lincoln.
At the moment I'm working with the Merseyside Coordinator, Liz, on a 'skillshare' in Liverpool for all active supporters in northwest England and also helping plan aspects of the coal campaign. I'll be in London next week for meetings – colleagues in the office give me spare beds or sofas to sleep on when I'm there!
I work in the downstairs back room of a redbrick Edwardian terrace house with stained glass windows and solar photovoltaic panels (generating electricity) and solar thermal evacuated glass tubes (for hot water) on the south facing roofs. Yes, even in Manchester solar micro-generation works – every home should have some! I feel really frustrated when I see huge empty roofs gleaming in the bright sun, even in winter, missing the chance to produce electricity which could be fed into the grid and help to reduce our dependence on archaic carbon based fuels or nuclear power stations. All the technology is there, ready and waiting – just the will is lacking.
I got involved with Greenpeace in 1985 when the Rainbow Warrior was sunk by a bomb planted by French secret service agents and the photographer Fernando Pereira was drowned. I was so angry – here was a peaceful non-violent group opposing the development and testing of nuclear weapons by sailing into the testing zone, bearing witness to the effects of radioactive fallout, standing up for peace and social justice - and being violently attacked for doing so. I donated money instantly and a few years later started donating time, organising other supporters and activities in Manchester.
It's the core value of non-violence that really inspired me then, and does now – the idea we can change the world and the way we do things, we can confront destruction of biodiversity and huge threats to the earth's existence without violence. So the part of my job which is really important to me and I feel privileged to do is the non-violent direct action training. I work with our Actions Unit to organise the programme, to support the trainers (who are all volunteers) and assist at training days. It's the absolute heart of what Greenpeace is for me and reflects who I am.