Time to reflect…

December is that time of the year where we can take a step back to reflect on where we’ve been this year and try to anticipate where we’re going. With the Alternative Estuary project, there’s a lot to reflect upon. So much in fact that we have been pausing at various points during the year to try and work out what should be happening with this project: Rethinking Alternative Estuary… – September 12, 2021 and: What are we trying to achieve with Alternative Estuary? – September 6, 2021.

This project was initially set up with the aim of trying to create an informal network of grassroots activists and groups across the south of Essex. The aim of the network would have been to share skills and experience, bounce ideas off each other and where needed, help each other out on our respective projects. Sadly, for reasons we don’t particularly want to go into now, that aim has not been fulfilled. To be brutally honest, it looks like it never will be. So, we are where we are and have to make the best of it.

One direction we’re going in is leading by example with practical projects that start to make a difference: Don’t buy it, grow it! – October 9, 2021. Another direction we’re heading in that’s reflected in this blog is looking at issues in greater depth: Is this really the future you want? – November 20, 2021 and: Whoever controls the food supply controls the population – November 2, 2021 and also: Prefigurative action – September 1, 2021. As we’ve pretty much dropped the pretence of being a fluffy, feel good project, we can get away with being more serious and also, a bit more spiky.

However, the core part of what we have done and will continue to do is advocate for radical change at the grassroots. The kind of radical change that not only makes life in a neighbourhood better but also empowers those involved in the project that brought that change about. Radical change is not something that’s done for people. Radical change is something that’s achieved by people working collectively with each other and in the process, creating something considerably greater than the sum of its parts.

We live in troubled times. The right to protest is being curtailed. If we want radical change, a strategy and tactics that keep us under the radar of the authorities is vital. Practical initiatives that meet the needs of a community while empowering those involved in them is one way of doing this. We’re talking about anything from community kitchens and food banks, through school uniform banks and skill shares and onto community food growing. When we can meet more of our own needs by collectively and co-operatively working with each other, there’s less need for us to rely on an increasingly oppressive state.

Obviously, the last thing a ruling elite that’s starting to feel the pressure want is a sense of unity at the grassroots as people work towards achieving autonomy from the state. They would much prefer it if we were divided and at each other’s throats. Which given the divisive rhetoric that’s increasingly a feature of these troubled times and a consequence of an intentional strategy of divide and rule, is something our rulers are achieving. We need to recognise what’s being done to keep us divided and resist that with everything we’ve got: Don’t let the divide and rule merchants win – August 4, 2021.


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