Worthwhile grassroots “openspace” projects
The are two current worthwhile grassroots “openspace” projects am involved with. Both have a lot of potential but both are more likely to fail for obverses and avoidable reasons. Lets look at both in turn:
The Hive Dalston is an interesting hybrid project crossing the activist and corporate divide. Its a legal social centre using temporally empty buildings to build community projects. It came out of a long history of doing the same thing by squatting the same sought of buildings.
The Village Butty is a the shifting of an existing boater infrastructure from an individual to the wider community to make it sustainable. Its a village hall for the longest/friendlies village in the world, the London canals.
Why are the both more likely fail on their current course?
The Hive is a balances between the top down of the corporate worlds and the bottom up of the activist/community world. This could/needs to be healthy, currently it is not, the corporate world view is pushing over the community, thus pushing the community out of the space... currently its an echoing shallow space. With out the community having “ownership” in all its messiness the space will/is drifting into barren NGO land. And in the medium/long term NGO's need funding to subsist, with out funding burn out and failer is not far away.
The Village Butty is initially a more hopeful project. The issue it faces is the libertarian nature of the boater community, its hard to bring and hold boaters together to make anything permanent, its by its nature a shifting/money poor community. The nice couple who have take on on this task and starting to show the strain, lots of talk of support and mostly transient action is a course for burn out. In their crowed funding they are reaching out to the boaters themselves, were instead they need to reach out the wider mainstream community who “romanticizes” boaters. This “outside” demographic easily has the money to support the project were the cash poor boaters them selves do not.
So to recap my thoughts, both projects could/can save themselves from “burn out” by shifting structure/outreach. I will go and have a chat to them both and see what happens.
Balcombe Protection Camp has a working solar power station
While summer lasts we aspire to camp electrics being completely powered by solar power. Currently the kitchen, massage/meeting tent and the media/tech tent are working. We have LED lighting and can power 3 laptops and charge around 30-40 phones each day. Other structures have LED lighting running from fixed battery’s.
Hamish looking tired in the Balcombe tech tent at the end of the day (photo Dik Ng)
Today’s observation is the tech tent has become quite boring last few days – the issue is that it simply works, the are no blown fuses, sparking wires or smocking components. The is just working laptops, phone charging and mostly working internet. This is a good thing of course, but I still have to spend my time in the space to stop people dismantling this working set-up. Here are some example bad energy's that make this necessary:
* I would do this better, rip appart and plug to gather in a way which is likely not better and then leave everything broken and burned out
* I need this now for this very important – screening – music event – personal project – ripaprt and leave key parts missing/broken.
* Pilfering, I wont this component, its an open space, I will take it, lots of adapters and cables go missing every week.
* External saboteurs, its well documented now that most successful radical campaigns have had paid corporate spy’s, agent provocaturs and undercover police/police informers and that these roles often ambiguously overlap.
* Internal Sabotage, I hate you because you told me in public not to do something I wonted to do so, I will make something you are doing fail. Some people think these overlap with the external saboteurs...
This last one is more prevalent than you would imagine and I don’t think many people doing it actually understand that they are.
Back to a positive note, we have a working tech tent, YEHA!!! and a good crew (would like to name them here but have to ask first), Sean Peatfield