Why do we still listen to the rentier impostors?

“The first man who enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying ‘This is mine’, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not anyone have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows, ‘Beware of listening to this impostor, you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

280,000 people in Scotland living in the private rented sector live in poverty. (in a so called welfare state) And how many are children and how many are malnourished, living in fear of the next exploitative bill, how many will be physiologically impacted; become a statistic of the criminal justice system, turn to mood altering drugs and alcohol, be isolated from their families and the wider society. Shelter is a primal need for survival, like air, like water. That is why housing is a basic human right and we fail as human beings unless we recognise this. And we fail as citizens by not demanding it. Money may insulate us from poverty but it can not protect us from the conflicts of our own humanity, nor the threat of changing circumstances that may affect anyone in any given time in a precarious world.

Rent is the most insidious weapon in the neoliberal project, it seeps into and controls everything, it sanitises our communities to the zero sum game of afford, it isolates people, creates fear of the future, destroys creativity and innovation and ultimately violates and criminalises the poor.

280,000 people living in poverty. Is that the legacy  we want to leave our kids, our grand kids? Or do we need to listen to something different?

Living Rent

Living Rent, Scotland’s tenants’ union, fighting for decent and affordable housing for all.

Living Rent Facebook

From LA to Glasgow (Event)

A book launch for City of Segregation

100 Years of Struggle for Housing in Los Angeles

“We must fight these racist ideologies for a different vision of housing, and justice at the soul of our cities.”

https://www.facebook.com/events/357230075175177/

From LA to Glasgow A book launch for City of Segregation

Los Angeles may seem a long way from Glasgow, but with a century of vibrant civil rights struggle against exclusionary housing policies and recent attempts to displace communities for boutique hotels and lofts, its current patterns of development may seem all too familiar. We would like to invite you to a launch of City of Segregation: 100 Years of Struggle for Housing in Los Angeles, where author Andrea Gibbons will explore some of the rich lessons from LA’s social movements and housing justice struggles against changing forms of exclusion, privatisation and gentrification. The talk will explore how race and class have historically come to underpin property values and definitions of community in the US, and how this continues to inform the intensifying efforts of business interests to push people from the city centre – yet LA’s residents refuse to move. This is a story of state-supported segregation, violent grassroots defense of white neighborhoods, police oppression, and growing political and economic inequalities. We must fight these racist ideologies for a different vision of housing, and justice at the soul of our cities.

The book is a product of both research and her seven year’s experience working as a tenant organizer in Central and South Central LA. Mike Davis has called City of Segregation ‘A Landmark Study’, and Junot Diaz calls it ‘Astute, passionate, radical, and utterly invaluable’. We hope you will join us for a discussion bringing it all back to Glasgow.

Mon 19 August 2019

6:30pm, Free (unticketed), Clubroom
All ages
0141 352 4900

http://www.cca-glasgow.com/programme/from-la-to-glasgow-a-book-launch-for-city-of-segregation

https://www.facebook.com/events/357230075175177/

From Glasgow to LA. In the struggle for decent housing.

Capitalist money making factories like Govanhill generating wealth at the cost of the health of tenants who have a single focus of paying rent to keep a roof over their head at the cost of disengagement from public life and sustainability of their own lives.

These are the abstractions people are living within. There can be no creativity, innovation, sense of agency nor vision of a happy future when being forced to live under the yoke of indentured neoliberal policy. These processes under the neoliberal project become international.

The combined legacy of Reagan and Thatcher has a counter weight in the struggle of those who have been fighting the effects of their  “special relationship” for a long time. The same ‘special relationship” we see in Trump and May. Maybe time to renew our own special relationships with our brothers and sisters abroad in the Struggle for A Just Economy and in creating a wider solidarity.

Andrea Gibbons is a writer, academic and activist, Who has spent many years of activism in Los Angeles, London, Manchester and for a time in Glasgow, around housing campaigns and racism.

As well as her written work she is a full time activist, and has much to say about strategy and organising to win things. What has Glasgow to learn from L.A? Come along and find out. We will have the pleasure of her company and experience in a talk/workshop

‘I lived in Glasgow for a year. I was thinking a focus on the civil rights campaigns and housing struggle would be most useful, drawing out lessons for the UK.”

Kinning Park on Friday May the 3rd at 7:00 – 9:00 Free

The need for an alternative, alternative media

So the idea here is while we are being bombarded with junk news, fake news, propaganda or whatever we choses to call it, you would imagine all sorts of alternative media springing up all over the place. Well, there is. I look at it every day to see what is happening in the world. Unfortunately most of it is aimed at obsessives like myself, groups, activists, students, academics and such like. 

But most ordinary people still rely on the tabloids, TV, and sites that are more orientated to what is wrong in the world and little about ideas to try to put it right.

So the proposition here is how do we engage communities in Glasgow to produce their own news outlet. An educational or learning process of mentoring and sharing of skills. Setting up a working class journalistic institution, built on the pragmatic questions that really need addressing, such as. How do we encourage more people to become engaged in activism and public life. 

So we are putting the question up there. Is this already happening and we don’t know about it? So what are the possibilities of collaboration and interests on this?  Interested? Some ideas for structure

An evening with Michael Albert Wednesday 10 Oct 2018 6:30 PM 8:30 Pearce Institute.

 If ever there was a figure dedicated to changing the world it is Michael Albert. And other folk on the left doing the same thing would need to wonder what they are doing if they have never heard of him. My own political development has been greatly influenced by Albert’s work. Along with people like Chomsky, Michael Albert has been a go-to when inspiration is low and are great connectors to others doing important and inspirational work. Albert lives for the movement and proves it not just by words but continually doing things. By trying things by developing ideas and if they don’t work trying something else.

His honesty through these endeavours, their effectiveness, trials, errors, successes, failures is the most important part of his contribution to the movement for change. You can almost think you know him because so much of what he speaks about resonates through the experiences that those engaged in grass roots struggle come up against constantly. He does not shy away from failure but uses it to drive coherent points that will strengthen the next part of the struggle. Continue reading

Failure is one of the most important parts of an activist life. We do not advance very far riding on highs, clutching to our successes. These things are important to have, but what gets us through failures and lifts us up when we are down is the knowledge that failure brings, knowledge that can be used and shaped into new and effective ideas. We do not do Michael Albert’s work a disservice to go on about failure because that is precisely where our strength lies. In learning what we need to do next.

So what do we do next. Do we continue along the same lines to see if something different happens? Continually protest till the government changes? Participatory Economics (Parecon) is part of Michael Albert’s lifework. A challenge to the present economic system. An attempt not to just alter it, to change it, but to replace it.

It would seem like an opportunity in the long term aims of the various struggles  around the place to maybe look at some alternative economic ideas. At the end of the day what keeps many of us in constant defence mode no matter what we struggle against is constantly fighting the economic system we struggle under. Albert is one of the few working on economics within grass roots struggle that looks to making real economic change for ordinary people. Read the book, Check him on You tube, Z Mag. Some good listening explaining Parecon here: http://citystrolls.com/parecon-listen/ 

Another aspect of left activism which Albert speaks to which should interest us all is the lack of vision and hope in many of where we are going collectively.

“I happen to see as part of my daily activity a large proportion of what is written by social change seekers, at least in English. If I actually read it all, every day, I would wind up in an asylum or an early grave. Too much negativity to endure. Too little aspiration to bear. Too little agenda to adopt.” 

So much of left energy is used up in mobilisation, speaking truth to power and describing how bad the war is, there is little left for organising, little left for vision. And particularly in taking these ideas into working class communities. 

“So what is a society? In the view we are slowly elaborating, a society is the immensely rich and varied combination of a “human center,” which is us with our consciousnesses, capacities, and agendas, plus an “institutional boundary” in the form of the roles that we must fulfill or avoid as a means to gaining various ends in society. Taken this way society is like an incredible mosaic with each multifaceted part affecting and even defining all the other multifaceted parts. And how do we judge a society? We decide on the broad kinds of outcomes and relations that we desire and appreciate, and we then ask: Does society’s human base and institutional boundary, or the base and boundary in each of its social spheres, further those preferred values or violate them? Given these simple insights, a reasonable next step for becoming better able to understand societies is to refine our means for understanding each of the four social spheres as a basis for saying more about how their aspects interrelate and about change and history.” From Practical Utopia: Strategies for a Desired Society. 

So what are the social spheres, what are our desires for society. What ideas do we have to share with each other? Join the discussion.

This visit Michael will be talking about his new book Practical Utopia: Strategies for a Desired Society (preface by Noam Chomsky and published by PM Press) and connecting it with what is going on in Scotland.

Tickets https://m.bpt.me/event/3620056 (It’s a pay what you want event or free)

The Billiard Room, Pearce Institute, 1st Floor Rear Staircase Wednesday 10 Oct 2018 6:30 PM 8:30

Book: https://secure.pmpress.org/index.php?l=product_detail&p=861

Michael Albert is an organiser, publisher, teacher, and author of over twenty books and hundreds of articles. He co-founded South End Press, Z Magazine, the Z Media Institute, ZNet, and various other projects, and works full time for Z Communications. He is the author, with Robin Hahnel, of the economic vision named Participatory Economics.

Event Hosted by Centre for Human Ecology

Listen To Albert on Parecon here

The value and life of a park – Public discussion on our parks

Kelvingrove barriers

Every so often we are, if you even know about it, consulted by Glasgow City Council, about what we want in our public parks. At the last consultation I don’t remember the public agreeing that we should have much more in the way of lock-out festivals and expensive, ticketed, gigs, taking up great swathes of our park space over the summer period when we need the park most. The problem with these consultations is is that they just seem like exercises in get consensus to allow more commercialisation of the park.

The problem is as we see it is. The public do not just need consulted in these matters, we need to be involved in the discussion that leads to decisions. And to be involved in the discussion we need also to be aware of all of the facts relating to not only to the decisions made in our behalf, but also the longer term impact that these decisions will have on our green space.

The value of parks needs to be equated by more than the shallow monetary value put on them and the superficial business orientated consultations which add up to the same thing. The city administration and public need to start taking these thing seriously and understand the real value that is attached to our city parks.

When somebody tells you “Nobody uses it” “The parks have to pay for themselves”  along with the sometimes pathetic excuses used to allow building on green space by developers and city administrators alike. We need to, (particularly our young who have most to lose,) be able to give them a cost benefit analysis on our green space and on how parks more than pay for themselves by:

Continue reading

Detoxing the environment

The production of oxygen

The removal of carbon dioxide and other toxins

Creates water drainage and anti-flooding

Wild life habitats.

Solar energy

Benefits for mental health.

The vistas and sense of space as a release from manic traffic.

A space to exist as a family unit. Reduces friction, stress and family break-ups.

Escape from city stress that leads to crime and violence.   

Building block for a sense of community

Autonomous space equality for everybody.

No commerce.

Safe for bikes, safe for football, amateur sports, productions, events, physical space 

Freedom of speech Speakers Corner. Tradition of protest, Rally’s

Last bastion of space for the poorest in our communities.

The countryside in the city

An excellent recipe for childhood education, physics and science in nature

Stagnant ponds could be rejuvenated by solar power fountains. And introducing the person on the street to science…

The park belongs to no one and to everyone.

Look at just one element of our parks, trees.

Evergreen trees can be used to reduce wind speed (and usefully, loss of heat from your home in the winter by as much as 10 to 50 percent.)

Trees absorb and block noise and reduce glare. A well placed tree can reduce noise by as much as 40 percent.

Fallen tree leaves can reduce soil temperature and soil moisture loss. Decaying leaves promote soil microorganism and provide nutrients for tree growth.

Trees help settle out and trap dust, pollen and smoke from the air. The dust level in the air can be as much as 75 percent lower on the sheltered side of the tree compared to the windward side.

Trees create an ecosystem to provide habitat and food for birds and other animals.

Trees absorb carbon dioxide and potentially harmful gasses, such as sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, from the air and release oxygen.

One large tree can supply a day’s supply of oxygen for four people.

A healthy tree can store 13 pounds of carbon each year – for an acre of trees that equals to 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide.

Each gallon of gasoline burned produces almost 20 pounds of carbon dioxide.

For every 10,000 miles you drive, it takes 7 trees to remove the amount of carbon dioxide produce if your car gets 40 miles per gallon (mpg); it will take 10 trees at 30 mpg; 15 trees at 20 mpg; 20 trees at 15 mpg; and 25 trees at 12 mpg)

Trees help reduce surface water run-off from storms, thus decreasing soil erosion and the accumulation of sediments in streams. They increase ground water recharge and reduce the number of potentially harmful chemicals transported to our streams.

An acre of trees absorb enough carbon dioxide in a year to equal the amount produced when you drive a car 26,000 miles.

Readers of City Strolls will have been listening to this over the last ten years. “The parks are in the process of being privatised” The problem is what citizens are unaware of the business developments that have been been happening over that time, untill they see the barriers going up around their park.

Recently Edinburgh city council deemed the hoardings closing off the view of Princess street gardens for a concert as being inappropriate. The hoardings in question were removed within an hour of the councils edict.

Maybe the start of resistance to the kind of  pay per view being enforced on the access of public spaces. Something we have seen increasingly across Glasgow parks and common spaces. With little or no objections that we are hearing about, from the administrators of our commons, parks and particularly in the lack of stewardship of our Common Good Fund.

So the thinking here is that most park users have a general idea of what the park is there for. Because what people use the park for hasn’t changed much over the last hundred years? Why do we need to be convinced “that the parks need to be fixed before they are broken” (Quote from a council parks survey) “The parks need to pay for themselves, and we are helping in this” (From events organiser with vested interests.)

Why are we constantly asked in consultations. “What do we need in our parks?” Most would answer “Access to our culture and heritage, toilets and a few parkies” But the questions are really designed by each preceding city administration to fulfil their own need through our parks. i.e. the quickest way to emptying our wallets to generate commercial profits.

So what we want to look at here is an event that looks at the cause and effect of the commercial developments being rolled out in our parks. How can we better understand how to challenge the inappropriate use of our parks

And Strategies for better stewardship of parks and green spaces to reverse the commercial decline. How to work towards a long term vision for our green space that serves users and can supersede decisions on park use made by short term administrations who may not have the public’s and park users best interests at heart.

This article relates to an event to be held in Kinning Park Complex at “Parks for people” How to become involved in the discussion and understanding the importance of green space in our lives, economically, physiologically, health wise, environmentally, politically, historically and creatively.

Join us for a debate  at Kinning Park Complex on what our parks are for. (dates will be poster soon)

Times and Speakers to be confirmed. If you want to help out contact or join list.

 

Radical Imagination/Common Good Awareness Project/Tardis