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.
Looking back, looking foward, Village Hall or Church Hall
Am writing this for people who are actively leave the mainstream 9-5 society and move into disrepute subcultures to live their lifes.
Issues of group organisation crop up reugally and are generally badly resolved leading to a consistent life sapping churning of bad will and trails of failed groups.
For most people directly in these subcultures this is not an important issue as the majority just dip in and out of this shifting social soup for them the mainstream is a easy fall-back. They are less likely to notice and by the time they do notice the churning of growth and decay, they are ready to leave back to the (dulling) safety of the mainstream. Rinse and repeat is a apt description of the passing of each short generation, and the a causation of alt-culture haveing a bad reputation in the mainstream.
Over the next few posts am hoping to have a look at a few different groups am involved in that are at different stages of “crises”. Lets look at two concepts from the 19-20th century first:
Small groups of a less radical nature tend to use one of these organising structures for their spaces (the wikipedia links need filling out)
A village hall, is a non commercial space for community events that is a open space for for all the social/political/cultural activity a community holds in common. Its a “neutral” space for groups to build community cohesion. It will generally be run by a elected community of members of an active and open local group.
A church hall will share many of the same uses and structures but will have a tendency to be more narrowly focused in the areas the church has negative attitude. Ie. a Catholic church would probably not host a meeting of groups supporting abortion issues, more conservative churches would not host the young socialists or the anerakist black flag legal support etc they may have issues with other religions usesing the space. In general the would be “moralistic and idealogical” restrictions on the open use of the community space that would highlight some parts of the commnerty and disadvantage others. The final arbiter would probably be a the head of the local management committy reporting to the vicar would would be sacturned by the church hiracky.
The recsion we have overlapping Village Halls and Church Halls in most villages should be obvious for these two short paragraphs. In the 20th century both of these older institutions were supplemented by a third more modern institution that directly replaced the church focus and expanded on the role of the village hall in larger urban arrears.
The community centres grow out of the spread of ideas about social justice and the value of couture in the middle of the 20th century.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_centre (this link is more filled out and worth a read)
In the late 20th century these areas were then degraded by commercialisation, their community empowerment focus becoming lost (must pay way).
They also suffered from the suffocation of bureaucratisation with was a produced of mid 20th century thinking and organising.
We have 3 of the more traditinal mainstream approaches to a “space for the community” with the “romanisations of the past” thinking we are currently rebooting older ideas, the idea of a village hall is coming back (and in more conservative circles church halls are being re-introduced). Its good to think for a moment that they were products of their time and place and will need rebooting in a form that is appropriate for the different 21st century thinking/society we live in today.
THE VILLAGE BUTTY
Boaters are a vibrant minority culture living a parallel life in the heart of our cities and countryside. They are currently under threat from Insidious gentrification. The Village Hall Butty will give them a space to gather and celebrate their community. The aim is to create a floating village hall for boaters, local residents and the myriad of people who visit the towpath every year. Through social events, skill sharing workshops, regular clubs and other activities – they aim to create a vital hub for information and advice with a focus on promoting sustainable living, integrating communities and protecting and enjoying the waterways.
To make this communal space on the London waterway a reality we need to raise the Crowdfunder target of £5000 in a few days time. We have raised more than half of our target now and funds are being sought via www.crowdfunder.co.uk/the-village-butty
The brainchild of Alice Cade, Ian Horrocks and James Bentley, seasoned boaters who have lived on the canals and rivers for many years, the event aims to bring together the boating and land based community to enjoy and celebrate the waterways and the variety of people who use them.
Please help keep the village hall afloat for the local community to enjoy for years to come. Find us on Facebook www.facebook.com/thevillagebutty or Crowdfunder www.crowdfunder.co.uk/the-village-butty
One of the regular "jam on the butty sessions" the butty providing a space for local acoustic music
The Village Butty Project
They have raised just over half the funding and the is still 11 days to go (appeal ending 15th July 2015)
Events on all week, big day https://www.facebook.com/events/1680993855468109/
Please support this project by directly donating or sharing this post with your friends and relatives.
The longest and friendliest village in the UK is actually the London Canal Network. Its a tight-knit community of eccentrics and iconoclasts, mums and kids, working people and retires, a cross section of life live in a continuously roving/changing mix.
For the last 3 years or so James (and the Butty) have been providing a floating gathering place for this community, while trying to make a living as a events space. He was becoming exorsted and the sums went adding up so he decided to sell the Butty a few months ago, the was a uproar from the community of boaters who had been relying on this resources, a couple Alice and Ian decided to take on the project and grow it into a not for profit company – the Village Butty Project was born.
For this to become sustainable and independent the Butty needs a companion boat to move it, provide catering, light and working space. The is now a fund raise going on to make this happen. The boat has been sourced, the money is need to renovate into being the companion space to make the village hall Butty a self standing project. To keep this invaluable resource working on the “cut”.
You can help, clink on the links to find out more and directly support the project:
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.