Hope filled tributary's feeding fresh water to the polluted mainstream
DRAFT of 3 examples of “working” contemporary alternatives and their malcontent’s.
The Village Butty
A lovely project provided originally by a hard-working individual with small funding and continuing energy. The need, boaters need a warm dry open common place, if their unique contemporary “village” culture is to survive the long term slow and grinding pushing out of CRT and local councils, not to menturn the self inflicted internal sabotage of its own often mad dispoleing crews.
The village butty is a re-booting/rebrinding of the older james's butty for hiar, the early project had burned out then faded due to the the off balance of money making outreach and community value boater use. In the end it alienated both and with a waning of good will and no money coming in the butty was going to be sold. A new younger more energetic crew came in to save the day, with a real crowed funding outreach, boater community lead, the butty was saved.
But the is a denial/unknowing of the need to balance/manage community that is pushing this out of balance to the money making side (fair anufe the failer of this side of the balance was the resion for the need for the reboot). But if this understandable swing reaction is not brought back into balance then the good will of the community side of sustainability balance will be lost and with out this it becomes harder to keep a boat working on the water, aspesheraly in such a small place as London. The boater community provides the couler and direct practical support when needed, as well as its own headaches ;)
This needs a community hart-hart gathering to unblock the constipation that is currently blocking the shit from coming out, a bit of composting will need to be preprepared for this gathering for the resulting smell not to drive people away.
The London Hackspace
One of the few continuing/ongoing “secessess” of alt-DIY organising in the UK. It is not only a fantastic place full of interesting, competent and active people, its organised in a way/model for how grassroots could be expanded out to fill in more social spaces.
Was originally set-up and run by a competent invisible affinity group as the space grew this became an opaque affinity group, with suseass and increasing membership this opaque group became visibly dysfunctional due to dilution and burn out of the original core crew. Affinity organising, while still core, was submerged into bureaucracy, hard rules and angry trolls hitting each other with them filled the online spaces and left the real world space dulled and filled with low level broken.
The space continues and a big smoky flare up and resulting gathering helped to resolve the surface issues, but the underlining fractures have not been addressed to truly sustain the project, lets hope it survives the move to the next premisses and continues to grow and mutate.
The Hive Dalston
This one started well but fell into an ideological clash that became hidden in a smoke screen of personalty politics. The lack of any clear vision made it impossible to resolve as the underlining tensions were blocked from being spoken. One side pushed the other aside and took over sole running of the project, it became a ideologically driven shadow of what it needed to be, in this it moved to being part of the problem rather than part of the solution, making it hard to continue to support the project in any way.
This is not beyond rescue, and the balance between (selfish/stupid) evil and (open/growing) good is still in the air. One solution, a moment of evil, a bit of power politics would put this project back on track, light and dark need each other, some times the devil is right.
To move all these projects on we need to reknit the broken bones of the past.
A big socerty community center the Hive Dalston
The Hive Dalston - big society community centre a product of voluntarism and activist fashion with dose of hipster. Started out as an exciting project between radical (free party/activist) squatters and a more mainstream arts groups. The idea was to take up and use the Tory “big society” legalisation that had been pushed though at the start of the Cameroon government but has been lieing fallow since.
The is a incentive for the social use of empty property, that landlords could get local tax exceptions for their empty buildings if these buildings were put into local community use. As with most Tory ideas this was actually a direct attack on locale democracy, by starving it of the tax revenue and potently replacing its core social services with volunteers rather than paid professionals. Any use of this “legislation” would have to walk a tipe rope to stay within the system, to sustain the project, while not falling into the trap of pushing the Tory agenda of privatisation and NGO thinking that are core to the ideas of a “big society”.
The Hive soon failed this tightrope walk and fell into the direct Tory project, the fragile radicalism pushed aside and the space filled with wannabe “arts” and NGO spiritual fashion, it became a scruffy “community centre” on the cheap. If it survives and spreads its a viable model for replacing what’s left of the pail shades of the bureaucratic “pay your way” centres that are left over from the more rigid social justice/culture as social good of the 1970's heydays.
The resulting burn out and walk away has left the Hive project less than shiny, its make or brake for it to find the next space. Can projects like this walk a tipe rope to stay sustainable while remaining relevant is the question. And do people care unuf for this question. to actually matter is the root of the issue of this post.
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.