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commonweal project

Don't Frack... the Commonweal. 2017.

Common Weal by Jazz Cousins on Sketchfab

To see this 3D virtual model of 'Don't Frack the Commonweal', click play, click and drag to rotate, and scroll to zoom in or out


The Presentation of the 'Don't Frack... the Commonweal' wheel to peers at Westminster film, I min.

In which representatives from 8 different anti fracking camps and gatherings who helped make the wheel present it to Baronesses Jan Royall, Jenny Jones and Lord Grantchester.


The making of the 'Don't Frack the Commonweal', 6 minute film, for more info scroll on down

Westminster has lost its way. It was forged by the concept of the 'Commonweal', an idea that power should be vested in the people, not the crown. But now Westminster doesn't serve the people, it serves the interests of the fossil fuel industry, global finance, and the oligarchy.

So it seems good to use a forgotten vernacular craft (bodging), to create an icon representing an archaic idea (the Commonweal), to present to the ancient institution it created (Westminster), to remind it of its intended purpose.

18/5/17. Protectors at Maple Farm near New Hope Community Protection Camp, Lancs, having made the first spoke. This is the fracking front line in 2017, fracking was suspended here after causing earthquakes in 2012. Now they're back, do frackers care about causing earthquakes under Blackpool Tower? Apparently not.

The 'Don't Frack the Commonweal' icon will be an 8-spoked wheel.


To this end I am touring the England's protection groups, camps, and direct action frontlines. 19/5/17. Kirby Misperton Community Protection Camp, Ryedale, N. Yorks. with the second spoke they'd made, where drills are anticipated arriving soon.

7/6/17. At a screening of the excellent Australian anti fracking victory film the Bentley Effect, hosted by Frack Free Exmoor Quantoks and Sedgemoor, Frack Free North Somerset, Frack Free Yeovil and Surrounding Areas, and Frack Free Somerset, at Clevedon Community Centre, a handful of people made the third spoke. Fracking imminent in these areas, including remarkably close to Hinkley Point C! Do these frackers give a xxxx? I think not.

9/7/17. The 4th spoke was made in the Forest of Dean at '800 Years and Counting' an event celebrating 800 years of defending the Forest Charter, and the Forest from enclosures, sale and fracking. A dozen people worked on the spoke including Verderer Rich Daniels. Fracking licences have been returned to the govt after a 13 month resistance campaign by Frack Off Our Forest. They could be taken up again at anytime, but I'll eat my hat if they get a drill in the ground here.

commonweal billinghurst

15/8/17. The 5th spoke was made at the West Sussex Broadford Bridge drilling site. It was made from a thick vine strangling an oak on the road side. It got finished just in time to block a lorry trying to leave the site. It's a conventional oil well site, but they just started drilling a fracking well without planning permission, do frackers care about local government regulations - hell no.

commonweal isle of wight

18/8/17. Spoke 6 was made by Frack Free Isle of Wight at the Garlic Farm. It was made from found maple wood. Shaped with the help of visiting tourists from all over the UK, at this time of year the IoW is rammed with tourists, do the frackers care about local tourist industries? Erm, no, not at all.

27/8/17. Spoke 7 was made by a dozen people at the Leith Hill Protection camp opposite the secured drill site in Surrey. The protecters fortress defending the prospective site was obliterated a month before I arrived, but the new camp is beautiful, roll up campers, this is one beautiful part of England. It is also commuter belt London, is there no where these frackers dare not tread? Ha, NO.

5/9/17. Spoke 8 was made at the Marriotts of Fire Protection Camp at Clay Cross Derbyshire, from roadside pear tree.

Marriot Drilling Group are assembling many of the drilling and gas rigs to be used round the country. They are the same big ugly rigs you can google operating in the US and Australia, its coming here. For maxing profits frackers want 10 of these rigs per sq mile.

Their logo says it all, are they remotely aware of concepts like sustainable development or global warming? Clearly not a hint of a clue.


Bodging or green woodwork is the peasent craft of making what you want from a log using hand tools, it develops your relationship with your habitat. Coppicing wood also enhances the bio diversity and usefulness of your environment. So it is not only a contemporary craft of the commonweal, it is also in contrast to fracking which is concerned with profit at the expense of the viability of our environment to sustain us.

You could think of this project as 'community conceptual woodwork', but I call it 'environmental issue based art'.

don't frack the commonweal

On the 20 Nov 2017 protectors came from the 8 camps and gatherings to Westminster to present the 'Don't Frack the Commonweal' wheel to pro-democracy, anti-fracking supporting peers, Baronnesses Jan Royall (Labour), Jenny Jones (Green), and Lord John Grantchester (Labour Energy spokesperson) to remind Westminster of its intended purpose. 

The wheel was hung from a well used bodged hay rake, partly for ease of presentation, but also to represent peasants going to London and our close relationship with the land. Its a long time since anyone tried taking a hay rake through Westminster security.

Arise Commonwealists, we did it once, we can do it again, its time to revive 21st Century Commonwealism, Power to the People not Crown nor Corporation.

This project is actively supported and enabled by  Frack Off Our Forest.



Frack Free North West, Lancs https://www.facebook.com/FrackFreeNorthWest/?hc_ref=ARSluy52d3S5MVvzy9KSvVIkr3hnW-kDT-Yinp8431aTLQ6ct4sKB4X0bx80sqoL4A4

 Kirby Misperton Protection Camp, North Yorkshire https://www.facebook.com/groups/573619286143264/?ref=br_rs

 Frack Free Exmoor Quantocks and Sedgemore https://www.facebook.com/FrackFreeEQS/?ref=br_rs

 Frack Off Our Forest, Forest of Dean https://www.facebook.com/Frack-off-our-Forest-802500636514169/

Broadford Bridge Protection Camp West Sussex https://www.facebook.com/Broadford-Bridge-Protection-Camp-229225000914104/?hc_ref=ART6jEjOf_h4sezpFcrpyHgbfDze4Rhga9-bXtPJvsVAlKyVi2TnxMEpcpCV9POP900

 Frack Free Isle of Wight https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=588568071193611&ref=br_rs

 Leith Hill Protection Camp Surrey https://www.facebook.com/groups/LeithHillCamp/?ref=br_rs

Marriotts of Fire Protection Camp, Derbyshire https://www.facebook.com/groups/1726094950738820/permalink/1727859547229027/


'Twin Town Bodged Commonweal'

By a gathering of Forest of Dean Bodgers. At the Rewild Project's green wood workshop at the Dean Heritage Centre, 21 Aug 2016.


FoD Bodgers Mike May, Tom Cousins, Scott Baine, Wren and Nicola Goff present Coleford Mayor Paul Kay with our commonweal to give take to our new twin town, St Hilaire-de-Riez.


  commonweal by FoD BodgersI was looking for something a gathering of bodgers could make in a day for the public good, and came up with the idea of a symbolic 'commonweal'. Although the concept of the 'commonweal' is derived from wealth not wheel, a wheel is a perfect image for it's representation. If we share out the wealth, hold our position and take the strain society can really roll, if someone gets too long in the spoke or slacks off then no one is going anywhere fast. To my surprise I could find no wheels to illustrate the commonweal, which was a popular idea in the English Civil War, American War of Independence, and the Roman Republic. So this is the first of a series of 'commonweals' we aim to make, it seems appropriate for a revival craft to revive an archaic philosophy.

8 of us made a spoke and a slat, each signed the hub, and I wrote round the rim a description of the production event.  Mayor Paul Kay drove it to Coleford's new French town St Hilaire-de-Riez where it is hanging in the town art gallery/information centre.

Follows is the text sent to St Hilaire with the 'commonweal'

The Coleford / St Hilaire-de-Riez Commonweal

Made by a gathering of bodgers, Sept 2016.


The commonweal was a popular idea around the time of the English Civil War in the 1640�s. The idea of the commonweal was that there is such a thing as the common well-being, or public good, and that it is best served if power is vested in the people. The Roman Republic had a similar concept  "Res publica". The commonweal was also popular with the republicans of the American War of Independence in the 1770�s. In 1947 the idea and word commonweal were repurposed in London to arrive at the name/idea of the British Commonwealth.  Although the commonweal is now hidden in the shadows of history and few people know what it means, it seemed a robust and durable idea perfect to revive and put into physical form to inspire our new twin town relationship, an exchange relationship organised by the form of government closest to the people. Let�s roll.

Bodging or green wood work, is also having something of a revival in the Forest of Dean and throughout the UK. �Bodgers� flourished in the time of hand tools, when transporting tree trunks was a drag. Whenever possible logs were fashioned in the woodland, part seasoned, and then the products transported. The last chair making bodgers died out in the 1950�s, but some of the other  bodger�s crafts like charcoal burning, hazel and chestnut fencing never quite went away, and are now back on the rise. Bodged chair making is back, partly because they look fantastic, and also because hanging out in the woods cutting down a tree and turning the trunk into a chair, spatulas or a commonweal with hand tools is huge fun. Somehow to bodge something very unkindly became the verb to do something quickly and badly. In reality it is a wonderful educational craft requiring manual dexterity and observation of the qualities of every piece of wood and how it can be worked for least effort and best effect.    

This wheel representing our twin town commonweal was made at the Dean Heritage Centre, in a new green wood workshop set up by the Rewild Project. Eight bodgers turned out for making the commonweal, each making a spoke so they are all stylistically different, but we like that. It shows our commonweal was made by a collection of individuals where everyone�s efforts are equally crucial. The rim is made of 8 steam bent ash slats, the hub carved sycamore, and the spokes are ash and sycamore shaped by drawknife and pole lathe. We (the gathering of Forest of Dean bodgers) are so pleased with the result and the idea of a revival craft giving form to a revived idea that we aim to make this the first in a series of commonweals to be presented where we feel they are most needed.

For more information

The Association of Pole Lathe Turners https://www.bodgers.org.uk/

The Dean Heritage Centre http://www.deanheritagecentre.com/

The Rewild Project www.therewildproject.com