On December 21st 2016 a special prayer ceremony was held on the Eastbourne Downs, near Butts Brow, to help people connect deeply with the Earth at the winter solstice. It was also the occasion for some inspiring words about why we should oppose the sale by Eastbourne Borough Council of 75% of the downland estate owned by the town since 1929. As the campaign to Keep Our Downs Public reaches a climax, these words seem appropriate to repeat at this time:
This land is your land. This land is my land. This land is our land. This land was made for you and me. This land is our land, not just because we own this land. This land is our land because the people of Eastbourne made a vow in 1926, a solemn pledge, a covenant with future generations, to care for this land and pass it on to us as our land, for us to care for and pass on to our children and their children, and their childrens’ children, and so on, in perpetuity.
This land is our land, not only because we own it, but because this is sacred land, the land where our forebears are buried in the barrows we see across this land. This land is the land of our ancestors, and we would not be here, not be the people we are today, without them. Just as we honour our ancestors today in this ceremony that reconnects us with them and with the land they cared for, so we honour our ancestors by fulfulling the sacred trust placed in us by the people of Eastbourne in 1926 to care for this land.
And care for it we must, because, as the Standing Rock Sioux have shown by their shining example, we have to stand up as the Water Protectors of our time, in this place, on this, our land, because this land is also our source of water. This land is the aquifer that supplies our drinking water and makes it safe enough to drink. As the Standing Rock Sioux say so well, Water is Life. Without Water, there is no Life.
So we own this land because we deserve to own this land, and we deserve to own this land because we are willing to care for this land, to protect it for all the wildlife here and for all the people of Eastbourne, and for all the people around this world who recognise with us how special, unique, and important this land is. We own this land because we belong to this land just as much as this land belongs to us.