Councillor Jon Cousins, Green Mayor of Glastonbury, pays tribute to Denise Michell, Archdruidess, Elder Ovate and Bard, ‘Fairy Queen’, and twice Green Mayor of Glastonbury.
First published in ‘Green World’ magazine – Wednesday, 24th June 2020.
Denise Michell 11th August 1952 – 22nd June 2020
Denise Michell (née Price) was born on 11th August 1952, and spent her early years in Barkingside, Redbridge.
She came to live in Glastonbury in 1997 and was an Archdruidess of the Glastonbury Order of Druids from 1998 to 2007 – subsequently becoming a founding member, Elder Ovate and Bard of the Gorsedh Ynys Witrin, Glastonbury’s Bardic College.
In April 2007, Denise married the celebrated author John Michell (1933–2009) at a ceremony held in Glastonbury’s St Benedict’s Church. It was a long courtship – they had first met 34 years earlier, when she was 21 and he was 40.
Partly in response to the government’s proposal that Hinkley Point C in Somerset would be one of the eight newly commissioned Nuclear Power Stations, Denise joined Glastonbury’s Green Party branch in 2010, and became an active campaigner encouraging local people to register to vote.
As Archdruidess, her profile helped to build support, and the local branch experienced a ‘Green Surge’ in 2010/11, which resulted in four Greens being elected to Glastonbury Town Council in May 2011 – Denise being one of the ‘Green Four’.
During their first term, Glastonbury’s Green Councillors implemented a Glastonbury ‘Green’ Charter for the Environment, installed solar panels onto the roof of the Town Hall, declared Glastonbury a Frack Free Council, and resolved to oppose the building of Hinkley C Nuclear Power Station.
As Glastonbury’s Green surge continued, reflected by the national surge in membership from late 2014 onwards (turning Greens into the third largest party in England and Wales), Denise was re-elected in 2015 to become the 316th (and first ‘Green’) Worshipful Mayor of Glastonbury. Her first Mayoral resolution was to join the international anti-nuclear movement ‘Mayors For Peace’, a membership that all succeeding Mayors of Glastonbury have maintained.
As a councillor, Denise was a champion of Glastonbury’s ‘Beltane’ May Day festivities and the town’s annual Frost Fayre. Indeed, when she was first elected, she discovered that the 2011 Frost Fayre was in danger of being cancelled – and decided to take on the coordination of the event, helping to turn the Frost Fayre into a huge success, which has gone from strength to strength – so well attended and popular in 2019 that hundreds of would-be visitors were not even able to enter the town.
In their second term, Glastonbury Greens expanded to seven elected councillors, and took minority control of the town council. During this time, they banned the use of glyphosate on all public land – moving to a non-toxic weed control system, became the first council in Somerset to be ‘single-use plastic free’, and the first to declare a Climate Emergency – pledging to make council operations carbon-neutral by 2030.
In 2019, being returned as a town councillor for a third term (as part of nine Green town councillors – a majority!), Denise joined the small company of people who have been twice elected Mayor of Glastonbury.
During her second Mayoralty, she oversaw Glastonbury becoming the second ‘Earth Protector Town’ in the World – calling for an Amendment to The Rome Statute to include a Law against Ecocide.
When asked recently what it was like to be a councillor, Denise replied: “Working within the community I listen closely to what people would like to see happen in our town now and in the future, and – as a councillor – I can help bring change for the benefit of everyone in our community.”
Denise passed away in the early hours of Monday 22nd June 2020. News of her death was announced by her children Zig, Zoe, Rowan and Leah on social media: “It is with broken hearts that we must share with you that our mum has completed her journey here on Earth and is now on her way to join the ancestors in the stars. Thank you to each and every one of you who has been a part of our mum’s life adventures. We ask that you light a candle, say a prayer and send her on her way with love. Love and light. May there be peace in the sacred grove.”
Personally, I am devastated by the passing of my dear friend. Denny was an incredible person, who loved Glastonbury to the core of her being and did so much for our community. She will be greatly missed. On behalf of Glastonbury Council and the local Green Party, I send my deepest condolences to her family.
11 am to 3:30 pm on Saturday, 25th January at Glastonbury Town Hall.
Glastonbury Town Council’s Climate Emergency Working Group will hold a second People’s Assembly in the Town Hall. This is an opportunity for residents to collectively discuss the urgent situation created by climate change and ecological destruction and make decisions, so that all voices are heard and equally valued.
The Main Hall will be open from 11 am to 3:30 pm and will accommodate more people than the October People’s Assembly, when the small hall was filled to capacity. Presentations will take place between 11 am and 12 noon. The Assembly is scheduled from 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm.
Presentations – 11 am to 12 noon:
- Robert Macbeth (Glastonbury Growers Group)
- Anna Francis (Frome Resilience Officer)
- Sonya Bedford (Avalon Community Energy)
- Jon Cousins (Green Deputy Mayor, Town and District Councillor)
People’s Assembly – 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm:
The next step toward building a resilient community.
Following our successful People’s Assembly in October, we will continue the discussion on these topics: Transport, Food, and the Local Environment. The Assembly will be facilitated by Extinction Rebellion’s Indra Donfrancesco.
This is an on-going process. In the short-term we need to have local strategies and actions for living with a reduced environmental impact. In the longer term we may even find ourselves having to provide basic services from our own community resources. Future assemblies will discuss other areas that need addressing: e.g. energy, health care, waste-disposal, education.
Please come to ensure your voice is heard!
Following a unanimous vote at the September meeting of the Town Council, Glastonbury has become the second Town Council in the world to become an Earth Protector Town and is now part of the programme which will be completed next year on World Earth Day, producing a framework which will then be rolled out globally.
This radical step means that the town undertakes to collaborate and cooperate with all to put the Earth First and support the realignment of Law, pledging to the moral code of: ‘first do no harm’.
It may sound like an impossible dream, given the precarious nature of systems in the World at the moment, but the Earth Protectors movement to Stop Ecocide has organised a Global Crowd Trust fund to provide legal support to small island states to go to the International Criminal Court and seek an Amendment to The Rome Statute to include a Law against Ecocide. Together we have the power to change the World, literally.
There are already four Crimes against Peace:
- The Crime of Genocide
- War Crimes
- Crimes against Humanity
- Crimes of Aggression.
The Crime of Ecocide was originally to be included in The Rome Statute, but was dropped at the last moment from undue pressure by four wealthy nations, including the UK.
From the moment an Application to Stop Ecocide is accepted by the ICC, there will be an immediate effect on multinationals’ and governments’ behaviour, as insurers and banks will gradually withdraw their support from any industrial activity that is related to ecocide.
From the moment Ecocide becomes a crIminal offence and not a civil offence, CEOs and Government Officials will risk going to jail, and insurers and bankers will cease to support their activities altogether. At present CEOs highest legal responsibility is to their shareholders to make a profit. This will come to an end.
The Earth Protectors movement Stop Ecocide continues to steadily gain ground, attracting support from a range of notable people and barristers, from Deepak Chopra to Dame Janet Goodall, from the late Michael Meacher to David Hart QC and Michael Stewart QC. Other towns are on the road to becoming Earth Protector towns such as Totnes, and Frome. There are also towns in Greece and Portugal moving towards pledging themselves.
In line with declaring itself an Earth Protector Town (working from the bottom at local level), Glastonbury has also passed a motion to support the passing of an Ecocide law at the Highest Judicial Court in the World recognised by the United Nations (working from the top down). It is envisaged that these two interlinked movements will pay a large part in the reshaping of the world in response to the current Ecological Social, and Economic climate, and will give our children hope for the future as we undergo a paradigm shift in order to survive.
There will be a short Ceremony marking the Pledge for Glastonbury to become an Earth Protector town during the Second Climate Emergency Event and People’s Assembly at the Town Hall on Saturday, 26th October. The entire community will be very welcome to attend on what the Council hopes will be a very special occasion.
For more information about Earth Protector Towns and Stop Ecocide, please click HERE.
Glastonbury’s Green Deputy Mayor, Cllr. Jon Cousins, will compère this special Climate Emergency Day event, which focuses on “Lifestyle Choices and Sustainable Future for Our Community”; open from 10 am until 4 pm on Saturday, 21st September 2019, at Glastonbury Town Hall.
Featuring key-note speaker Anita Van Rossum of Stop Ecocide, giving a talk on the urgent importance of ecocide being recognised as a crime and the Earth Protector Town initiative.
“We are facing an emergency and communities countrywide are trying to find ways to lessen its impact”.
This is a free event is organised by Glastonbury Town Council, Somerset Waste Partnership, local community food growers, Extinction Rebellion, Plastic Free Glastonbury, Friends of the Earth, and Earth Protectors.
There will be guest speakers, films, and stalls with information and advice on sourcing local food produce and growing your own; switching to renewable energy; how to reduce consumption; reducing plastic use; recycling; composting; and gardening for wildlife.
For more information please click HERE.