Dave – the editor
We had a good day out yesterday (Saturday 21.9) at the Know Your Roots Eco-Fest which is taking place this weekend at the Berkeley Farm project near Hainault in Essex. While the location is not far from the edge of the East London suburbs, once we got to the fields where the festival was being held, it felt like we could be in the middle of nowhere:)
Our ‘stall’ was a couple of groundsheets on the grass with our propaganda laid out in sections across them. With that and the sound of roots/dub reggae in the back ground, the festival had a bit of an old school 90s vibe to it. The 90s being the last decade when activists used paper propaganda to spread their ideas and talked face to face about actually getting stuff done rather than bickering on the Internet!
We didn’t shift masses of propaganda like we’d normally do on a demo but the day wasn’t really about that anyway. The perfect weather yesterday and the nice, chilled atmosphere was more conducive to having longer, meaningful conversations with people. The kind of conversations you can’t have on a demo because everyone is in a hurry or at a bookfair where it’s often too crowded, noisy and sometimes, just a bit too tense for comfort…
Apart from a few of the organisers and one of the stallholders that we know, it was all new faces yesterday. Unlike the climate change gathering in London Friday when I was handing out various papers to a young but largely white, middle class crowd, this weekend’s gathering at Hainault had noticeably more in the way of class, ethnic and cultural diversity. Which made for an interesting range of conversations…
A diverse range of conversations but all had a recurring theme of people seeking change in ways that start to produce results in the here and now. Basically, it was about building the new world we want in the decaying, dystopian shell of the one we currently endure. So, we talked about guerilla gardening, community gardens, building neighbourhood solidarity and how to start linking up a range of grassroots initiatives so they become something considerably greater than the sum of their parts.
People who know us will be aware that there have been a few times over the last couple of years when we’ve seriously considered jacking it in. After each conversation we had yesterday, it was clear people were supportive of what we were doing and encouraged us to keep going. That applied in particular to this Alternative Estuary project which we will be paying more attention to in the future. Yesterday was the morale booster we needed as we enter a challenging and volatile period. At long last, it feels like we can start moving forwards again:)