An activist group has formed in Surrey, England called The Diggers 2012. Their similarities to Eco Brooklyn are apparent with their slogan, “To make the Waste Land Grow.”
As a NYC green builder, Eco Brooklyn strives to make the concrete filled city more ecologically diverse and thus balanced. The concrete jungle can be thought of as an ecological wasteland, and the “jungle“ is pure irony. Through our green roof, living wall, soil remediation, and planting services we work to make this wasteland grow into something natural and functional.
Thus we were very interested when we heard about The Diggers 2012. To understand their mission and the true history behind this group one must know that the English Civil War of the mid-17th Century incited various rebellions and the formation of nonconformist dissenting groups.
One of these groups was the original Diggers, or more formally, The True Levelers. They believed God gave the land to all people, not just the wealthy who took control of the land. As is stated in “The True Levelers Common Advance” when the earth becomes,
“A Common Treasury again, as it must, for all the Prophesies of Scriptures and Reason are Circled here in this Community, and mankind must have the Law of Righteousness once more writ in his heart, and all must be made of one heart, and one mind.”
There have been groups to follow in The Diggers’ footsteps. One organization to work in this realm was called The Land is Ours, started by English writer George Monbiot in the 1990s. They were able to start 2 Eco Villages, one on land owned by Guinness, the other on land owned by Property Developers near St. George Hill. They were each evicted in under a year.
With the energy of youth this new group, Diggers 2012, has renewed the cause. Before embarking on their mission to occupy unused land they started a blog at diggers2012.wordpress.com where they state:
“We have one call: every person in this country and the world should have the right to live on the disused land, to grow food and to build a shelter. This right should apply whether you have money or not. We say that no country can be considered free, until this right is available to all.”
On their committee poster they state that 0.65% of the UK population owns 68.3% of the land, only 7.5% of UK land is currently settled on, and land is deliberately kept unused to maintain an artificial land shortage to inflate home prices. To fight this system they propose to, “go and cultivate the disused land of this island; to build dwellings and live together in common by the sweat of our brows.”
The land that the Diggers 2012 have settled on used to be part of the Brunel University Runnymede Campus. This campus has been disused since it was sold to private property developers in 2007. The developers have explained to the diggers that they will be building 600 homes in the area starting in August.
The Diggers 2012 promise to willingly vacate the land as soon as its owner see fit to put it to good use, but until they see the land being developed they believe that it’s their right as English citizens to responsibly use the land. They have been continually pestered and displaced by the police and court orders, but they continue to attempt to live by their beliefs on a picturesque green hill in the Surrey Countryside.
At Eco Brooklyn we are concerned with the land, not land as property owned by somebody but the actual soil. Over the soil is where we build and renovate homes where people live, we build gardens for animals and people, and we create water features.
It seems to us that The Diggers, although appearing hopelessly idealistic from a developer‘s point of view, are simply asking for an opportunity to work with the soil. This is such an ancient practice and yet so many people don’t have access to space to do this. Diggers 2012, we wish you strength in your structures, health in your produce, and luck in your movement.