A Letter from Greg

Greg Minday

February 22, 2019

Greg Minday is one of five defendants in the January 22 case on the ZAD. He has been released from prison, and is currently awaiting trial. 

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Friends, comrades,

A few days ago, I received the letters, cards and drawings that were intended to reach me in prison. Since I cannot respond to everyone, this is an opportunity for me to thank all of you: those I have not yet seen since my release, and those who, out of modesty, have not heard my gratitude.

If I had not been released, I would have hung the postcards, poems, nursery drawings, testimonies of support, press releases and photos of our collective worksites alongside the photos of my children on the wall of my cell.

These words and images have comforted my loved ones, and allowed us to remain united and feel confident in the face of these obscure and hostile legal proceedings.

Now that I’m free, I will hold on to these gestures, which will help to steer us through the coming difficult times.

Whether from here or further away, we have defended this small piece of land collectively, for years, as if it were our garden. By that I mean, by feeling responsible for what would happen to it. It has not been without difficulties, and we’ve been through a lot, made many mistakes. Even when it was others who made them, we still felt responsible for them, as they all concern us: this is the delicate and demanding nature of collective struggle and its outcome. The way we have dealt with conflicts and hardships, whatever their origin, is part of that heritage, one which we who continue to cherish this garden cannot simply hand over to the arbitration of a court or denounce with a stroke of the pen. The gestures of support during my incarceration proved to me that there are many who still feel moved by such responsibility.

These acts remind me of my responsibility to you.

It seems fair to me to recall here what this commitment is all about.

A year and a half ago, before the airport was abandoned, I applied to become the official agent of certain plots of land the movement had taken over. By having the administration recognize my work as part of the Grand Troupeau Communal collective, and the ‘cow working group’ at Bellevue, I sought to obtain a status that would allow me to avoid an already-superfluous incarceration associated with an anti-airport demonstration. In front of an assembly of peasants defending these lands, I sealed a moral contract, which is to say, we said things to each other, we looked at each other, and they told me that I was trusted. Trust is no small thing; personally, in my life, I have mostly been told that I am a piece of shit, and not that “we trust you.” To have this said to you has infinitely more weight than any official letterhead in the world.

I have therefore committed myself to ensuring that these lands—with which my name is associated in certain obscure administrative files somewhere—continue to remain in common. The responsibility this entails goes beyond what the terms of any written contract could identify, in the sense that for me, all the other actors in the movement are witnesses to it. At a moment when our future was on the line, taking it on implied that my name might later be erased and replaced by someone else’s, or that these few plots might be merged into a common fund, over which the authorities would have as little control as possible. Today, while I have signed a precarious occupation agreement, soon to be transformed into a lease, my pledge implies that the agricultural use of the land attached to me remains subject to the decision of the producers gathered in an assembly, in just the same way that the use of our buildings — the crucible of our activity — remains subject to the collectives of farmers who use them.

Beyond these existing functions, there is also a deeper responsibility, for us who have the daily charge and enjoyment of this piece of land, to serve a common greater than ourselves. The perseverance and selfless loyalty of all those who continue to mobilize for the future of the former ZAD is here to remind us of this.

We have a responsibility to this territory, to participate in the strengthening of solidarities, the sharing of tools, to build new facilities that continue our struggle, and to ensure that this land is not sold off for the sole benefit of enriching a few opportunistic farms, or to enable other destructive projects.

We have a responsibility to nurture, in our own way, the projects of social transformation that emerge in the heat of other struggles, just as past and present resistance has nourished us with other tools and stories.

We have a responsibility towards the other living beings with whom we share this land, whether it be the buzzard or the toad whom we have befriended, or the oaks that surround our fields.

We must find ways of organizing life and work that bring us joy. It’s a way of being true to ourselves, which our children growing up here serve to remind us.

I could write pages on what is being done or planned in each these four different areas in concrete terms. The period of semi-autonomy of the zone to be defended opened many avenues, and also closed some others. In my opinion, the end of the airport project has allowed us to deepen the exercise of our responsibilities. We are still at the beginning of the road, so before we head back out onto it, let me pause briefly to say, once again: thank you.

-Greg Minday

Saint-Jean-du-Tertre

Translated by Ill Will Editions. Original French version here.