On the ground: Reimagining community protection of the ecosphere in the Northern Rivers

Yvonne Hartman, Sandy Darab


It would appear that the effects of sustained overuse of the planet’s resources is straining the natural world to its limits. The consequences of staying on this path may be catastrophic for both planet and humankind. At this time, when the ecosphere which sustains us all is so fragile, it seems imperative that we address the nature of the fundamental relationship between humans and their environment. Hence, we should perhaps undertake to reimagine our relationship with nature, with place and with each other if we are to counteract such malign influences. This paper will argue that localised, direct democratic action offers us one way in which we may begin to redeem these relationships by providing an account of the way in which an assortment of subcultures in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales united to successfully oppose mining for coal seam gas. The Northern Rivers is renowned for its natural endowments and a community which boasts great diversity. A variety of motivations led to an array of groups exerting their collective power and unity at grassroots level to defeat the attempt to introduce unconventional methods of gas extraction. In this process, a sense of place emerged as an important factor for many of those resisting the mining. The movement as it unfolded ‘on the ground’ proposes an alternative way of being and belonging, developed through a different relationship to place, community and the ecosphere.


sense of place; democracy; coal seam gas

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1344/co201824&25308-321


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