France: The Intergalactic Week of Zad

The quiet, wildlife-filled countryside just outside Notre-Dame-des-Landes, north of Nantes has been a point of massive contention between various French governments and the country’s environmental direct action movement since 2008, when permission was granted to build a €580 million airport serving as “the international gateway” to Western France.

Squats and camps sprung up on fields due for the rumble of the bulldozer in the early 2010s, and it came to be known as the Zone to Defend (zone à défendre, or Zad), inspiring dozens of other similar camps which have in some cases banded together into “back to the land” networks.

Next month will see a major gathering for the Zads in the form of a week-long camp at Nantes, the Intergalactic Week of Zad, building resources and establishing links between the disparate groups. Organisers said the programme would be relatively open with a few broad themes, and would offer ample opportunity to learn and work on DIY projects:

Mornings will be dedicated to collective working opportunities, including the building of Ambazada, the Intergalactic cabin as well as collective work on various sites of the Zad (e.g., barn construction, carpentry, helping with collective crops, fence maintenance, collecting wood for the bakery, basket making…). Participants are asked to bring a tent, sleeping bag and a leash if you have a dog.

Running from August 17th-24th, logistics for the week only allow for 300 or so people, so interested campers should contact [email protected] ahead of time. It was originally going to run earlier in the month, but has suffered under police pressure and threats of eviction resistance against Bure anti-nuclear waste campers in Lejuc Forest.

The anti-nuke campers have called a festival called “Bure’lescos” to thwart the State’s efforts on August 12th-13th, followed by a major rally on the 15th, forcing direct action groups to put off the gathering.

If you’re a French-speaker, or want a video impression of the Zad movement, try this from 2012:

The camp and festival comes just a few weeks after the huge success of Reclaim the Power’s Rolling Resistance, a month of direct action camps blocking the fracking of countryside just outside Blackpool. Freedom will be rounding up the month’s events at Preston New Road tomorrow.

Programme for the Intergalactic Week

Wednesday August 16th

Welcome evening: – Khan bogd (traditional music from Mongolia) + Badbad (electro) + lovataraxx (synthwave – grrenoble) + DJ’s electro + aerial show

August 17th

  • Morning /// Organise the week’s logistics and collective work
  • Afternoon /// Walk to share the history of the struggle and discover la Zad
  • Evening /// A look back at the seventh International Conference of Via Campesina (in the Basque Country, July 17th-24th). The network represents around 200 millions peasant farmers from around the world which aims to build a people’s food autonomy, fight the agro industry and land privatisation.

August 18th

  • Morning /// Organise the week’s logistics and collective work
  • Afternoon /// Presentation of Errekaleor, the Basque squatted neighbourhood in Vitoria-Gasteiz – what kind of exchanges might be possible between la Zad and Errekelaor? A general look at struggles in the Basque country.
  • Evening /// /// Looking back at the G20 in Hamburg and other stories…

August 19th

  • Morning /// Organise the week’s logistics and collective work
  • Afternoon /// Defend la Zad trainings – blockades, getting to know the lay of the land, groups, etc.
  • Evening /// Skills share around techniques and strategies of resistance used in struggles in various countries

Sunday August 20th

  • Morning /// Organise the week’s logistics and collective work
  • Afternoon /// Discussion about the situation of people in exile around the world, in France – presentation of the No Border network – strengthening the welcoming/hosting networks.
  • Evening /// Looking back at the Spring 2016 movement in France and the front opening up to face the labour laws reforms / exchanges with other European movements against the liberal offensive

August 21st

  • Morning /// Organise the week’s logistics and collective work
  • Afternoon /// A struggle against the destruction of one of the last primeval forests of Europe: Bialowieza Forest in Poland
  • Evening /// Discussion and experience sharing about sustaining and densifying autonomous zones in cities as well as in the countryside

August 22nd

  • Morning /// Organise the week’s logistics and collective work
  • Afternoon /// Presentation-discussion about the resistance by indigenous women from Chile to Mexico. Presentation of the Zapatista women’s revolutionary laws. Discussion about the strategy underlying the candidacy of an indigenous woman to the presidential elections in Mexico. /// Present situation of mMpuche’s struggles in Chile and Argentina.
  • Evening /// Presentation by Starhawk and Isabelle Stengers “On being sensitive: the role of spirit in activismâ€

August 23rd

  • Morning /// Organise the week’s logistics and collective work + Workshop with Starhawk (Please note that there will be a limited number of places for this!!) on resolving/disolving conflicts in groups + water rituals
  • Afternoon/evening /// Concluding discussions in 3 moments

- Reflexion on pursuing the connections for the defense of the Zad
- Various announcements and presentations of current struggles and future events coming up elsewhere
- Beyond: how does this gathering contribute to rethink networks and strategies for struggles

— August 24th

/// Tidying up and dismantling the camp

/// Dancing party in spatiotemporal fault