This Saturday, East London will explode to a unique social and socially inspired event. ‘Fracking Hell’, organised by Dame Vivienne Westwood and social activist and designer son Joe Corré, has called upon a veritable carnival of fashion and music industry supporters from the Handsome Club Night and beyond to dance till dawn in support of the protest against fracking.
If you don’t know what fracking is – hello? It’s the controversial gas extraction process that is big in the States – and, potentially, coming the UK to a spot near you. Earthquakes and water contamination are just some of the issues that have come up through similar operations in the US. So far, the government is licensing it to cover 65 per cent of the UK land mass.
So yes, London style icon Princess Julia is hosting Fracking Hell; Dame Viv will be talking about her campaigning; a ‘Trashion Show’ from East London’s alternative drag scene will take place, showcasing sustainable creations made from recycled materials – but this is a do with a message.
‘It’s the most pressing issue at the moment,’ Corré tells me on the eve of the event. ‘We’re at the Last Chance Saloon in terms of climate change. We now know from the IPCC that 80 per cent of known fossil fuels has got to stay in the ground in order to avoid catastrophic climate change. So the whole notion of looking for more fossil fuel is just a giant leap into the abyss.’
‘It’s something that’s going to affect everybody,’ he continues. ‘The government has no democratic mandate in putting it through and they don’t have a social license either, in terms of people wanting it. The biggest support is coming from businesses that pay no tax here. You can pay people money in compensation but you can’t get anywhere near the kind of value you’re going to potentially destroy.’
But he’s hopeful – kind of. There’s a tidal wave of anger and awareness moving through the country. ’This is something that has the power to unify everybody,’ says Joe. ‘We’ve got dyed in the wool Conservatives up in arms in Sussex, for example. Twelve months ago, there were three or four anti-cracking local groups. Today, there’s 250. People are waking up to the fact that this is going to be happening on their doorstep, where their children play.’
He’s also a big believer in the power of the individual. ‘We make choices every day. How we travel to work, what we eat, what we dispose of, what we read, where we choose to spend our money. People have a lot of power. There are things everybody can do. Companies only start worrying about things when they start losing money.’
Social consciousness is a rich seam running through his family, from Vivienne through half-brother Ben and Joe. ‘When I grew up, my father was an art student, my mother was a school teacher. They were 1960s people,’ remembers Joe. ‘Then punk rock happened and we became public enemy number one, in many ways. From that point, I was always aware of what was going on in the world. I’ve grown up with a healthy mistrust of government and that’s served me well.
Advice to the individual? ‘Inform yourself; a good place to start is our website Humanade and there are the videos around the net. A year ago, I didn’t know anything about fracking and I looked into it and became more and more shocked. And change your energy supplier. Renewal energy companies like EcoTricity and Good Energy are actually the cheapest suppliers because they don’t weight their charges with connection fees.’
And finally, come to the party. October 4th, 9pm to 6am, at iCan Studios in East London. See you there.
Fracking Hell takes place October 4th from 9pm at iCan Studios, Monier Road, in East London. Buy tickets at www.humanade.org.uk #TALKFRACKING!