Adopt-a-resident: A model for community engagement
"Adopt-a-resident partnered Plane Stupid activists with Heathrow residents to fight together in stopping the 3rd runway at Heathrow. Due to the massive success, the same scheme was launched at Hasty Lane where residents are facing losing their homes because of Manchester Airport's expansion plans."
How we did it - the timeline
The first step was to hold meetings with the residents that had been most vocal in fighting the 3rd runway. The No Third Runway Action Group (NOTRAG) were the local resident group that had been doing all the shouting on behalf of the three villages; Sipson, Harmondsworth and Harlington - the three villages which faced being completely wiped off the map or left right nextdoor to the new runway.
Finding common ground
The reason most residents were fighting the runway was the immediate threat of losing their homes and the community suffering that was being inflicted. Plane Stupid, an anti-aviation expansion group mainly based on environmental concerns, we had to open a dialogue with the residents so we were able to fully understand their concerns and they started to understand why the 3rd runway was a bad idea, regardless of whether they lost their homes or not. This was key to being able to work together to stop the 3rd runway and in the end, we were all fighting together for peoples homes, to stop the increased noise impacts, to end the community suffering and for the climate.
Around 70 activists and residents packed into St Mary's Church, Harmondsworth for the Adopt-a-resident launch. Activists and residents had their names picked out of a hat and they were teamed together to fight the runway. The event ended in the now famous photoshoot above.
Activists and residents got to know each other a little better as they dug in together to build illicit gardens with plants donated by the Chelsea Flower Show.
Adopt-a-resident had their own float at the Hayes Carnival - one of the biggest carnivals of the year in West London. This sent the message out to the wider community and to BAA that if the 3rd runway was to be built, activists from all over the country would be there to help defend people's homes. The bicycle sound system proved one of the most popular floats at the carnival and lots of people came to check out our stall and signed up to the campaign.
Transition Heathrow was born
6 of our activists went one step further in supporting the No 3rd runway campaign. They moved into a house in the area to help residents defend their homes and set up a long-term Transition Town project called Transition Heathrow. The project aimed at not only getting the 3rd runway dropped, but at creating a hub for residents and activists to come togethor to rebuild the broken communities.
Plane Stupid loves parties. A lot of our campaigning focuses on tackling the doom and gloom that is climate change but this night was not to be a bore. The ceilidh went on until the early hours of the morning and suddenly it felt like a big happy family had emerged.
Manchester launches Adopt-a-resident
Campaigners from across Manchester pledged to support residents of Hasty-Lane who are facing losing their homes if the freight terminal at Manchester Airport is expanded. At the same time, the village of Sipson in Heathrow was twinned over a video link as a show of solidarity between two places threatened by airport expansion. Tracy, from Sipson, made the trip up to Manchester for the day and gave an incredibly rousing speech.
3rd runway scrapped
We did it, we won! The new Tory-Lib Dem coalition government officially pledged that the 3rd runway was dead - as well as new runways at Gatwick and Stansted airports. Now this decision was definetely not just down to Plane Stupid. We certainly played our part but the coalition against the runway was massive. To name a few; Greenpeace, Climate Camp, HACAN, NOTRAG, John McDonnell MP. Celebrations all round!