Group cycles from London to Jerusalem to promote social and ecological justice

A group of 18 artists, food growers and community activists are cycling from London to Jerusalem to unite communities working for social and ecological justice

Having left the UK on 21 March 2011, the ‘bicycle caravan’ is due to arrive in Jerusalem in July and is stopping at farms, social centres and schools along the way to take part in workshops and debates. Travelling under the name Pedal, the group is using video, photography, audio and theatre projects to compile a cultural document tracking the stories, experiences and ideas it encounters en route.

“It is the beginning of a story of learning, sharing and mutual inspiration from London to Jerusalem and many sites between,” says Pedal member Adam Payne.

“As we move seamlessly from forested mountains to cactus-speckled coastlines, we experience intertwining stories of oppression and creation. The journey dispels the illusion of isolated struggles.”

The initiative has three main aims; the first is to link stories of struggle. “We believe that the power of social and ecological movements comes from the integrity of personal relationships and the diversity of ideas they share,” says Adam. “By carrying experiences between communities, we gather momentum behind movements for social change. We’re travelling through sun and rain, saddle sores and rushing energy, strengthening networks of living, breathing solidarity.”

The second aim of the group is to focus on issues of access to land, seed and water, linking the struggles of agriculturalists, migrants and oppressed communities for equal access to the Earth’s resources. “Ecologically sensitive food growing is an important foundation for sustainable and resilient communities everywhere,” says Adam. “In Palestine people are deprived of land, seed and water by the Israeli military occupation and illegal settlements,” he claims.

So far, Pedal has taken part in actions against corporate control of seeds, it has swapped seeds through its own seed bank and shared experiences with both rural and urban food growers.

The third aim of Pedal is to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. “BDS is an international grassroots movement that challenges the institutions and companies that profit from and normalise the occupation of Palestine,” explains Pedal member Rachel Blake. “It was called for in July 2005 by 170 organisations representing Palestinian civil society and stems from a model which became critical in ending apartheid in South Africa.”

Pedal, which uses consensus organisation to ensure democratic decision making, decided that going by bicycle was the obvious choice for such a journey. “It allows us to travel and visit communities while interacting with the landscape and cultures we flow between,” explains Rachel. “Furthermore, it allows us to move long distances while minimising our reliance on destructive forms of consumption.