When we get together we need to share and learn from each other. We also need to go away with things to work on, ideas to try that can help to build resilience, resistance and solidarity in the struggle for change. If you have any interest in the following topics or ideas for building workshops around them let us know
Margaret Whitley says “Rather than worry about critical mass, our work is to foster critical connections”
If this is so, how do we make them? How do we get all of these community projects, campaigns, across the city, country, to talk, communicate and organise with each other? What do we have in common? What can we share? Is there any common goals? Are we serious about what we are doing? Are we in it for the long run? Can we forget petty slights and get on with things? What are our common goals? There can be no doubt if we are to organise a determined mass movement in out communities, we can not do it on our own, maybe finding and making the critical connections should be the first thing we do?
The Language We Use.
It is often mistaken when folk communicate with officialdom that they are not being understood. But in actual fact they are coming over loud and clear, it is authority that chooses not to listen. The system of communication by business and authority is used to filter out any rational discussion to be had on peoples problems. Activism and those in the know can inadvertently fall into this category to, when we are supposed to be doing the opposite. How we communicate, network and articulate ideas is one thing, how we make them relevant to peoples lives and in a language they can understand is just as important. Folk do not have the time to sit down the library and study the ins and outs of neoliberalism, they need information they can use.
Self publishing. We have now the technology to design and produce our own books. A single book can be published for £10 or less. A copy of the same book can be ordered on line, one, or one hundred, fully bound just looking like any other book. Why are we not producing our own reports, history, manuals and such like? Should we be waiting for professionals to write our history, tell our story, compile our reports, surveys and statements on our behalf, when we have the tools at out disposal to do it ourselves?
How do we make important information available to people. Sure we can use facebook. What happens when facebook needs to be challenged for tax evasion? privacy conflict, complicity with authoritarian demands, selling information, etc. which is only the tip of the iceberg of how intrusive facebook is. Facebook is for sending pictures to your aunty in Australia, but should it be used for political work? No one media should be relied on as a conduit for information, particularly one that consists mainly of trivia and the adverts of the corporations we are trying to make a stand against. The herd mentality of facebook coupled with the ignorance of the constant attacks on independent networks and servers is something that needs more attention?
So many of us shy away from microphones and cameras, instead of learning how to use them. Vanity and shyness needs to be put aside, the media is an important tool in spreading ideas, but you need to learn how to use it, or it will use you. How do we use what is available to us, local radio, newspapers, newsletters, mail lists, the internet. Getting our story together, how to use the media, who are we speaking to and getting them to listen. dealing with circular arguments, finding space to plant ideas, creating a hook, are only a few things to think about.
Keep the cameras rolling. Creating archives, media, news. Flooding the situation with information is a guard against the propaganda of the dysfunctional. Reshuffle media workshop.
We live in a city (Glasgow) with a population of 580,000 with a student population: 45,000. We do not have an independent book shop, a social centre, or places we can go to learn independently from what the state or main stream education offers. The Clydebank Independent Resource Centre, started in the 1970s is practically all we have to an established independent institution and is in constant struggle to survive and maintain its independence.
New Institutions From The Old
All around us the building remnants of a visual history that’s only chance to be revived is by the inspiration of the developer, or what is deemed valuable by the historical gate keepers. What value to the local residents is ignored and treated surplus to requirements. When we lose our old buildings we also lose purpose, place, geography, history, stability.
Our built environment consists of layers of historical detail of where we have been, just like any other kind of history. Disrespecting our buildings is a disrespect for history and to the people who were part of that history. We are expected to live in the rabbit hutches that line the pockets of the wealthy whilst they use the shells our civic institutions as luxury apartments.
The need to reclaim these institutions becomes critical in rebuilding and re establishing the history of our common good, a new economic and educational transformation is needed for this. A transformation that might include the teaching of architecture as a civic value as well as an professional one. We spend most of our lives inside buildings and lack the knowledge that could help us assess the economic value of the built environment and its social and environmental impact. Our only involvement as tax payers is footing the bill for the cock-ups.
In the built environment we can find many analogies useful in thinking about these things. The practicalities and aesthetics of good design skills are as adaptable in our day to day life as the permaculture we perform in our garden, because these things rely on common sense which is adaptable. Common sense knowledge is found at the root of a good idea for a project, a development, at the locality of where it is happening, not usually in the spreadsheet of the accountant, nor the architects master plan.
We ourselves need to become the planners and architects of our future and our environment.
Global Warming is irrelevant to most people and lots of “anti” groups, they often feel are threatening. Unless these things can be made more relevant and part of peoples day to day education, life, experience, why should these attitudes change? We are in desperate need of creating such institutions that can help to transpose this kind of information and the language used to express global issues to local understanding?
Protecting our social and cultural gains requires institutional change. But at first we need to separate the obtainable from the unobtainable and concentrate first on what we can win. Institutional change, that is changing the structure at the top is created through slow and dedicated work. A recent study (see links) shows we have a long way to go in gaining local democracy but we would be bigger fools to think, proof of the disparity of democracy will do much to create more of it. At best the wheels of state turn at the rate that is best for the state, not by the urgency of spreading democracy to its people. The lack of democracy for people in Scotland is the failure of the state system and its subservience to landlords, corporations and the complete lack of imagination in understanding the dynamic potential of the country, to do something different, to be original,
We do not need reports and studies to tell us this, as our history has laid it out on many occasions
Not the history of the monarch of the glen the symbol of landlordism, but that of John Muir and Patrick Geddes who understood the value of the land and environment. Not the history of the nobles and lawyers who stole our land, but that of Thomas Muir, banished to Botany Bay for exposing them. The Scottish Enlightenment the philosophy of common sense and the 500 year old history of the common good fund, is the history that we should invoke when creating a vision for a decent society. Not the history of the tartan biscuit tin and the illusions of royalty and the landed gentry, that maintains three quarters of our country in the hands of eighty one families.
From the past and to the modern day struggles of ordinary people we are famous for our democratic principals. We need to ask. In a country the size and uniqueness of Scotland why we are not presenting a template for civil society, rather than being subservient to maintaining the governments stand as the lackey of neoliberal folly?