An interview with…..An Eco-Animator

For our lastest article in the ‘An Interview with….’ series we talked to eco animator Anita Sancha. Working from a small studio at her home in Herefordshire, Anita is creating short films dealing with “environment topics, planet earth, global warming and its effects on climate change, peak oil, and other issues like food, energy and transport.”

Heckler: How did you get into animation?

Anita: It’s a long story. I had a business where I was cutting up rare veneers for rich people, but I’ve got a big conscience so I sold the business and started doing animations. I made “home sweet home” and at that time I thought I was the only one around worried about climate change.

Heckler: How long ago was that?

Anita: Eight years ago.

Heckler: So what do you hope to achieve through your work?

Anita: I try to make animations with a message that will hopefully change people’s ideas and attitudes. The difficulty is getting my animations seen by a lot of people and getting shared on sites like Facebook and twitter. Therefore spreading the message. I try and make each animation non-verbal, so it crosses all language barriers and with the positive end.

Heckler: What sort of reach has your work had? Do you get feed back from all over the world?

Anita: I get some lovely feedback. I even had a fan club in a school in Brazil for a while. My animations are often shown in schools so teachers are usually the ones who write. They seem to spark off conversations about the various topics in class. But I never intended my animations to be used for education, but, as I said, they have no language and end positively that’s why I think they are shown more in schools than anywhere else. I also get invited to workshops and film and animation festivals, which is great because I meet loads of interesting people.

Heckler: Are you inspired by other artists?

Anita: I try not to see too many artists work, because I can feel more depressed and despondent as they are often so good. I am self trained and I suppose from that point to view I’ve tried hard to be as good as I can.

Heckler: Are there any specific environmental issues that inspired you to take the eco line with your animations?

Anita: I’ve got a book with about 50 ideas for animations and I just seem to take out of it the one that feals strongest at that time, but slowly I’m trying to cover all of them. However I did start off with global warming and air flight pollution with “home sweet home “.

Heckler: Can you say a bit about the methods you use in your work

Anita: I use stop motion and special effects software. I combine the two. For the stop motion I use plasticine mostly and props. Then photo the puppets frame by frame with the special effects software I then work in photoshop. I work in front of a computer for what seems hours and hours. Animations take time.

Heckler: And finally, how do you feel the green movement is doing in Herefordshire in raising awareness?

Anita: I think it’s moving on quite well. H energy week is certainly increasing in visitor numbers. I’m just hoping that the council will change and take on new green ideas.

A big thank you to Anita for taking the time to talk to us.

All of her work can be viewed via her website here.

 

 

 

 

An interview with…a Wobbly

The Heckler continues to find out about local and national campaigns and social-change groups, this time interviewing a member of the Bristol branch of the workers union, the Industrial Workers of the World (or Wobblies).

Heckler: Could you briefly explain what the Industrial Workers of the World is, what you aim to achieve and how you go about this?

Wow, that is a big question, which could take many a branch meeting to discuss.  The IWW is a workers union, which organises across all trades and industries, and is open to all workers and unemployed people. It is a member-led union, with the ethos of true democracy and solidarity at the heart of it. In my opinion, we are opposed to wage labour, and hope to build a new society in the structure of the old.  As a syndicalist union, we want to take control of the modes of production, and organise ourselves as workers.  We should enjoy the profits of our labour, whilst ensuring that nobody goes without.  It is a completely different way of thinking about how we live and work together.  Profit is a complete irrelevance to us, and we would work for the common good.  To be fair, we are miles away, and our main role at present is organising our class, mainly through workplace organising, fighting for workers rights and education.  One of the major positives of the IWW, is that it is ours as member, and up to us to do the work.  With that responsibility comes ownership, and we would decide collectively as to the best way forward.

Heckler: You say it’s the union for all workers, so it’s not just about factory workers as the name might suggest?

Good point comrade, the name is a bit disceptive.  We were formed in 1905, right in the middle of Fordism.  Most of our class worked in massive factories, or farms.  It was far easier to collectively organise, it could be argued.  Now, we have members in many different occupations, and the IWW, prides itself on helping those who do not normally get trade union support, like sex workers, charity callers, and cleaners.  This also includes those who work cash in hand.

Heckler: How is the IWW different from other mainstream unions?

We are different in many ways, but our organisation does not require paid officials.  As a dual carder (a member of a mainstream trade union) I find trade unions held back by paid officials.  Their interests are differnet from the rank and file members.  Also they “service” the membership.  The IWW encourages the membership to be active.  We all have ownership of our branch.  Also we have officers under instant recall, therefore if they do not work for members interests they can be removed. 

Heckler: Judging by a quick internet search, the IWW has a long and colourful history. Could you explain it’s roots and shed some light on some of the union’s past?

The roots stretch back to the USA.  Personally I am proud of the anarchist roots, some would disagree.  The IWW most recognisable catch phrase, if you like, is ‘an injury to one is an injury to all.’  Anyone who was not an employer could join.  This included black people, women and the unemployed.  As distasteful as this is, this was not the case in all trade unions, who at times progressed an open racist or sexist agenda, and membership. The IWW recognised early about the issues of our class, and gender etc are barriers constructed by those who wish to keep us apart.

IWW also celebrate direct action, because it gets the goods.  The strikes that they organised and engaged with were member led, and the violence of the employers was matched.  Also I like the way they engage with issues that might not be seen as main stream trade union issues.  The free speech movement for example.  The IWW in Britain are just about to engage in the ‘right to march’ struggle in Scotland.  This is not work based, or determined by a single trade.  But if we cannot voice our opinion or march in solidarity, we are truly fucked.

IWW rally in New York, 1914

Heckler: How active is the IWW in this country, and what campaigns is the union involved in?

The IWW is growing daily, as people turn away for the main stream TU’s and political parties, who have let us down time and time again.  We support any campaign the membership builds.  A recent victory was the John Lewis cleaners in London.  These were low paid, without proper contractual status, many did not speak English.  Many main stream trade unions would not approach this group.  Not only did the IWW secure better terms and conditions, but we have influenced the whole attitude towards this work group, and many other cleaners are getting active, and standing up for themselves.  In Bristol, the IWW are active in the anti-cuts campaign, and have just supported the national Pizza Hut campaign, but we need focus.  The Pizza Hut campaign is another benefit of the IWW. This dispute started in Sheffield.  Within a month restaurants in a number of cities were picketed, and Sheffield members got their pay increase.  It was a freezing snowy winter day; and every time the picket was breeched, we got a whiff of pizza up our hungry noses.  But nobady said that the class struggle was easy.

IWW Cleaners’ Branch members on a recent strike at John Lewis’ store at Oxford Street, London

Heckler: Last but not least, who should join the IWW and why? (And if you want to, how do you go about it?)

All workers should join the IWW, and shout ‘an injury to one, is an injury to all.’  We need to start to thinking differently about our relationship with capitalism, and our communities.  This system has had it.  The Con-Dem government are in the process of dismantling the welfare state.  This will effect everyone.  Also we have the worst employment rights in Europe, and they are getting worse.  We create all the wealth, food, services etc etc.  We need to start organising how we do this, and for what purpose.  None of us need to be working 30+ hours a week.  That is stupid, we have far better things to be doing.  But this change is not going to happen in the very near future, and will take struggle.

However, whilst I have been in the IWW I have met some of the best comrades you could hope for.  They give me hope, a solid network of people willing to stand up for each other and organise for themselves in the workplace and beyond, and their comradeship makes me happy.  This is important, and is a start for building a new society in the shell of the old.

If you want to join, please see the links below.  If you live in or around Bristol, pop into the Hydra Bookshop at 34a Old Market.  We also have regular meetings at the shop.  If you look hard enough, you will find us.

For more information or to join the IWW you can visit:

Bristol IWW blog : http://bristoliww.org.uk

UK IWW website: http://iww.org.uk

International IWW website : http://iww.org

 

*The Heckler previously interviewed a Hunt Saboteur in our ‘An interview with…’ series.

**The views represented in this interview are those of the individual interviewed and not necessarily those of IWW as a whole.

An interview with… a hunt saboteur

In a new series of articles, the Heckler will be interviewing activists from a number of organisations and campaigns. In the first of the series, we are interviewing an anti-hunting activist from Bristol Hunt Saboteurs, who operate across the south west region, including Herefordshire.

Heckler: Could you explain in a couple of sentences what a hunt saboteur is and what you aim to achieve?

Saboteur: A hunt sab is, to put it simply, someone who sabotages hunting. The aim is to use direct action to save the hunted animal, usually a fox, from death at the hands of the hunt. Ideally we aim to stop the animal from being chased at all, but that can be a fair bit harder. It’s 2012 and unfortunately a small section of the population still takes pleasure in chasing and killing wild animals. We think it’s wrong that animals are killed to satisfy their blood lust, and we do what we do because very often it prevents this from happening.

Heckler: What tactics do you use to do this?

Sab:  I could talk about tactics for ages, but some of the main ones are using horn and voice calls – mimicking the huntsman – to encourage the hounds away from any scents or prevent them from picking one up, spraying a mixture of essential oils and water over any scent trails to cover them up, and cracking whips to stop the hounds when they are following an animal. Since the ban, there’s been the addition of filming. Although most hunts have enough money and ‘friends in high places’ to ignore the law, sometimes they will refrain from hunting as long as you are close by with a video camera.

Heckler: How is your group organised? Is there a national organisation that calls the shots?

Sab: There is a national organisation – the Hunt Saboteurs Association – but all our decisions are made as a local group, they mainly just do media stuff and funding. We try to avoid hierarchy in our organising, and although we don’t always succeed, we keep trying, and hope that members feel comfortable enough to participate equally and to point out any problems that they notice.

Heckler: Is there much of a history behind hunt sabotage?

Sab: Well, my dad was a hunt sab, and I’ve met a lot of sabs who’ve been in the field for decades, so it’s been going on for a long time… the H.S.A started in 1963, so it’s about to have its 50th anniversary. Things such as tactics have changed greatly over the years, but the principle has remained the same and we’ve saved huge numbers of lives in that time. I’ve heard a few tales from times gone, of long tensions resulting in weekly brawls at certain hunts, but I don’t know how much is true.

Heckler: What areas do you operate in? Your Facebook page indicates that you’ve visited a number of hunts in and around the Herefordshire area in the past.

Sab: We have been up in your area many a time, as well as Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds, because the hunts we go to most frequently hunt in that area. We sometimes team up with other groups, which means we also go to Worcestershire, areas of Wales and even as far as the Isle of Wight, wherever we’re needed really!

Heckler: A number of pro-hunting sources claim that you receive support from the Labour Party and other political groups. Is this true, and how does your group receive it’s funding?

Sab: Is it fuck. We have to do all the work ourselves! We organise benefit gigs for a large portion of our funding, and we get money from donations and from the H.S.A, as well as sabs paying out of their own pocket of course. Apparently, Linda McCartney pays us…but we’ve never seen any of this money, so I think the hunts might have got their information mixed up. Much like their favourite story of us getting paid with a packed lunch and £20 for going out sabbing.

Heckler: What about the accusation that by wearing masks you are going out intending to cause trouble? Does violence play a part in your activities?

Sab: Of course violence comes into it, but that’s because we’re dealing with violent people. They take pleasure of out chasing and killing a wild animal, and they don’t know how to deal with people telling them no and so they lash out. This has lead to some pretty serious injuries, and even a couple of deaths in the past. We don’t encounter violence that often. When we do, we’re not just going to sit there and take it, of course we’re going to defend ourselves, but we don’t go out starting things because that’s not what we’re there for. It just gives the hunt chance to fuck off and kill wildlife while we’re held up with their “boys.”

Likewise with the masks – we’re dealing with violent people. It’s not unheard of that hunts and their support seek revenge for us disrupting their ‘fun’ and they’ve targeted anti-hunting activists with violence and intimidation in the past. It’s simply a case of protecting our identities, especially if some of our sabs are from rural communities.

Heckler: What’s your relationship like with the police? Are they generally on side because you are out to stop an illegal activity or do they target you in the way they have targeted other animal rights groups?

Sab: In honesty, it varies from cop to cop. Some are reasonable, some make stupid arrests for nothing. This season there was actually a case of a hunt master being arrested for racially abusing a sab who was out with us. That was the Ross Harriers actually, so it’s in your area. I know some sab groups like to work with the police, but we kind of have a policy of avoiding dealing with them as much as possible. If I had a choice I’d not deal with them at all, but I don’t really like police in general…

Heckler: Many people believe that the Hunting Act of 2005 put an end to hunting with dogs, but it would appear that you continue to operate in the same way you did before the ban. How effective do you think the ban has been, and how has your role changed since then?

Sab: Hunts are still hunting, and we are still sabbing. I said before that the video camera has become a useful tool for us, but other than this the ban hasn’t changed an awful lot. Hunts are more or less immune from the law, and very few prosecutions have been made under the act, so it’s a bit of a joke really. But I guess that’s what you get when you put your faith in parliamentary politics…

Heckler: David Cameron has indicated that he intends to overturn the ban. How likely do you think this is and how will it change things for you and for the wildlife of this country?

Sab: I would hope it’s not that likely, but nothing would surprise me from him. It won’t change a lot for us, we’ll keep on as ever, maybe we’ll get arrested a bit more often, but you just have to weigh up if a foxes life is worth more than a few hours in a police cell – I’d say it is, so the risk’s worth it. For the wildlife it won’t change much, because the ban didn’t change anything in the first place.

Heckler: So do you see hunt sabotage continuing for another 50 years?

Sab: Well hopefully hunting is dead and buried long before then, but we’ll keep on doing what we do as long as hunts are killing animals.

Heckler: Finally, how can people get involved or help out? Are there things that they can do if they don’t want to go out into the field with you?

Sab: It would be great to get some new people out sabbing, all of us start somewhere and we’re welcoming to newcomers! If anybody wants to then contact us at our email address (bristolhuntsabs@hotmail.co.uk) or visit the H.S.A website. We always need help with other things too, so if people can’t come out they could do some fundraising, help with info stalls, help with equipment and so on. All of it is helping to stop animals getting killed and it’s all really appreciated.

-There are plenty of websites online relating to hunt sabbing. Here are some relevant links.

Bristol Hunt Saboteurs – hunt saboteurs group operating across counties in the south west of England, including Herefordshire.

Three Counties Hunt Saboteurs – a newly formed hunt saboteurs group in Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.

Hunt Saboteurs Association – the national hunt saboteurs website. Including news, contacts, resources and information on hunting and hunt sabbing.

Real Countryside Alliance – a website with news and archives of the bad behaviour and violence of the pro-hunting lobby group, the Countryside Alliance, and hunts across the country.

*The views represented in this interview are those of the individual interviewed and not necessarily those of Bristol Hunt Saboteurs as a whole.*