Event report: Residents, artists unite to celebrate villages threatened by Heathrow

This report by one of the art activists at the Our Place weekend (11/12 August 2007):

Our Place

“An Airport is a non-place. This is Our Place.”

This weekend local residents of Harmondsworth and Sipson, villages both threatened by the proposed third runway at Heathrow, joined artists and climate change activists in a celebration of their homes and local history.

Held at the historic St. Mary’s Church Hall in Harmondsworth and in the street outside, local children made ‘Not For Sale to BAA’ signs for their houses and designed banners for the nearby Climate Camp, while others helped to build cardboard models of a house and a church to symbolise what they stand to lose if the runway goes ahead.

The organisers said, ‘The finished’ Our Place projects will be exhibited publicly, including at the Camp for Climate Action the following week. Climate change campaigners are concerned at the creation of climate refugees – people fleeing areas made uninhabitable by climate change. Christian Aid says this could make at least one billion people homeless by 2050. The Our Place project shows a common concern shared by environmentalists and local residents: the possible loss of the place we call home.’

One local resident, Mrs Francis, once Post Master with her husband in Sipson, brought a whole selection of old photographs of her home village, which stands to be entirely destroyed. ‘There’s a lot of anger,’ she said. These and other photographs will be displayed along with the cardboard structures at the Climate Camp. Other shared memories as part of an oral history project.

Songs of resistance (website) , including ‘Orchard vs Runway’ (Lyrics of the song Orchard vs Runway.pdf) inspired by the nearby grave of Mr Cox, originator of the Cox’s Orange Pippin apple variety, were sung through the day.

Local historian and author Philip Sherwood gave a talk on the history of Heathrow; he said he had first attended a meeting to oppose Third Runway proposals affecting villages North of the Bath Road (the A4) in 1946. He also showed how the proposed runway, said to be a ‘short’ runway, is actually logically to be extended in time to also destroy part of Harlington and create a five runway airport. ‘Where will it end?’ he asked.

Meanwhile ‘Mandy’ an erstwhile flight attendant handed out biscuits, including to the police forward intelligence unit that photographed and repeatedly visited the community art project throughout the Saturday.

Local women told off the police officers, saying they were violating peoples’ human rights. It was clear that residents were getting angry at the disruption with roads closed and many getting stopped and searched by police.

(Report above at http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/08/378076.html which includes photographs.

Report in Hillingdon Times ‘Camp hears community tales’ here: http://www.hillingdontimes.co.uk/news/localnews/display.var.1626943.0.camp_hears_community_tales.php

Also, post-event press release with event details here: press-release-ourplace-postevent.pdf)


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