People at the peaceful community action at a Helensburgh coal mine this weekend had a message for Kevin Rudd: “Don’t Kev the climate!”

Some 300 people stopped trains and trucks running from the mine on Sunday, with 50 peacefully blockading the road leading to the mine. Four others shut down operations at the nearby Dendrobium coal mine by locking themselves to the conveyor belt.

They were protesting against the recently approved expansion of Metropolitan mine in Helensburgh, which will double the amount of dirty greenhouse gases it spews into the atmosphere every year.

Despite heckling from some Helensburgh locals, the vibe was calm and the crowd was diverse, ranging from babies to 90 year-olds. Speakers reminded everyone that the protest was peaceful and demanded a clean and sustainable future for Helensburgh, with a transition to green jobs and a renewable energy industry. It became an opportunity to start conversations, where protesters explained why they were there, and heard local perspectives too.

More protests and conversations like this, in the heart of coal communities, are essential for starting to challenge the deep-rooted attitudes about coal that exist among the wider public. It was great to be a part of planting such a seed this weekend.