Diary

1 December 2021Comment

Our Leeds co-operator senses history repeating itself

Does anyone else feel an increasing amount of history repeating?

A few months ago, in Brighton, I saw a gig poster for a triple bill of Eat Static, Banco de Gaia and Zion Train – had I fallen down a wormhole into 1995? I pinched myself.

But it is a fitting soundtrack for the year: just like 1995, there’s a Kill the Bill campaign to really bring back memories of the Freedom Network – past attempts to defend our freedoms against legislation increasing police powers, restricting…

1 October 2021Comment

Our Leeds cooperator finds herself enjoying a clash of consciousnesses

The Zapatistas are coming!

Oh no they’re not! Oh yes they are!

Activists around Europe have been planning since January to receive touring Zapatistas, on a ‘Journey of Life’, a field survey of Europe, trying to understand our social and political context and to find accomplices.

The news that they might arrive in a week is apparently surprising.

A chance conversation, being in the right place at the right time, means I’m suddenly involved in trying to find…

1 August 2021Comment

Our Leeds co-operator celebrates some of the joyous, proactive, determined and curious actions she's experienced recently

Today was weird. On whatever untrained basis, I ‘mediated’ two people from another housing co-op for six hours. A really overwhelming sentiment was the disappointment, disillusion and disengagement created by other people’s apathy.

It’s hard to hold a neutral space and encourage creative, open thinking when you’re hearing your own cynical and depressed thoughts repeated back to you.

So what I need now is to celebrate all the joyous, proactive, connected, determined, adventurous…

20 July 2021Comment

Our Leeds-cooperator turns her attention to money

Money is power, money is message, money makes the world go round. Time is money. Every little counts. It’s all about money.

Credo: I want to see a world without money, where people give according their ability and receive according to their needs, where power is collective and resources are shared.

In the meantime though….

As I go to sleep thinking about money for this article, Liza Minelli and Joel Grey* are shimmying, pouting and grimacing across my mental…

6 July 2021Comment

Our Leeds co-operator indulges in a spot of house-clearing

Photograph: my parents’ registry-office wedding in 1971, drinks with my dad’s family.

Photograph: my mother with all my dad’s female relatives, glamorous hair and flowing dresses and cigarettes, all laughing.

Photographs: one-year-old, two-year-old, three-year-old me with various other small children in various large gardens.

Odd/not odd – all white faces, well I suppose they would be. Even though they were living in a country with a white population around 20 percent.…

4 July 2021Comment

Is living in desperately bad material circumstances a pre-requisite for a revolutionary society?, wonders our Leeds cooperator

Unlearning racism. Surely, Cath, you can’t be questioning such an obviously good thing to do? No, no, honest to god, I’m glad, I wanted to be part of a white caucus doing this stuff years ago, but, excuses, excuses, didn’t prioritise it. 

And the housing co-op is an excellent ready-made group of people who know each other well – it is clear that most of us want to be held accountable and want the skills to hold each other accountable. Fab!

But I do feel a bit defeated and glum…

11 December 2020Comment

Our Leeds-based cooperator fears we’re more worried than ever about disagreeing

‘I can’t speak openly’. This phrase has become a motif for me in the last fortnight. I’ve heard it from people involved in a messy social club conflict, from both sides in a housing co-op divided in two, and from people feeling bullied in their own co-op.

I’ve had it confided to me by friends and heard it in my own head.

It’s so frustrating, this (often justified) fear, which contributes to a vicious circle of lost trust, lack of communication, (sometimes wilful)…

11 December 2020Comment

Our Leeds-based cooperator feels the tension between inspiration and reality.

Initially there was disappointment, frequently blended with relief, over cancelled events and the slowing down of social life.

Then came the realisation that space and time no longer matter when the only place you are is your bedroom desk at whatever time of day or night you choose.

It suddenly seemed not only sensible, but important to attend webinars, training, forums and socials all over the English-speaking world.

You came across more and more and more people doing…

9 December 2020Comment

Our Leeds-based co-operator savours the joys and frustrations of conducting 70 interviews in just 3 weeks

‘So… er… Rita, why do you want to live in our housing co-op?’. Eight down, three to go and I’m valiantly keeping hold of the differences between all the applicants.

The strange rituals of recruitment are pushing us to categorise, compare, assess this parade of complex, unique, incomparable, creative humans, whose hidden facets of darkness and lightness make a nonsense of the idea that we can judge who would best live with us.

It’s a process that requires us to acknowledge the…

8 December 2020Comment

Our Leeds-based cooperator questions her grasp on reality

As I started writing this diary yesterday, I found myself unable to focus on any particular thing, but just spewing cynicism, resignation, frustration and despair onto the page.

These have been my baseline emotions for several years now and the mainstream narrative of a ‘climate emergency’ isn’t helping.

People are a bit more concerned, some people are getting really quite active, but the majority are carrying on as normal – which is to say generally increasing their levels of…

1 December 2019Comment

Cath Bann is caught up in the maelstrom

I never made an actual decision to join XR Peace; I was caught up in the maelstrom that is Angie Zelter. One minute I was in a meeting about blockading DSEi, the next we were discussing the finer details of using Yorkshire CND’s mock Trident missile to block the MoD on the Embankment on 7 October.

I hadn’t previously been involved in Extinction Rebellion as I had little time and some misgivings. These stemmed from the fact that I broadly share Peace News’ critique of XR,…

1 October 2019Comment

Our Leeds-based cooperator steps outside her comfort zone

Last year, I travelled around Spain and North America, wanting to learn everything I could about the possibilities of creating an alternative economy outside capitalism.

I hung out in Love & Solidarity Housing Co-op and Riot Bayit Housing Co-op and Red Emma’s worker co-op anarchist bookshop.

I felt at home in Twin Oaks worker-owned egalitarian commune and now harbour plans for setting up a commune here.

I wondered what I would be doing when I got back – I…

1 August 2019Comment

Two recent deaths spur our Leeds-based cooperator to reflect on the importance of weaving the memories of lost friends and comrades into our movements

In the last three months, I have been to two funerals for Radical Routes activists, both in their early 50s.

Radical Routes (RR) is a network of co-operatives and for the last few years, Sean was a big presence at almost every quarterly gathering and a driving force in Catfish housing co-op, who just bought their first house in Huddersfield a few months ago.

Dave, on the other hand, a founding member of Zion Housing Co-op (aka Nutclough HC) in Hebden Bridge in 2001, hadn’t been…

1 June 2019Comment

Pre-dawn blockades and missing barristers

23 April. Trial day dawns in Reading. I’m hoping I’ll be convincing and not go blank. I’m nervous, wishing it was over and suddenly doubting the usefulness of the whole project.

In times of doubt like this, the solidarity of friends and fellow-activists is so necessary.

In court, we wait. Nothing happens.

When I think back to the morning of the action, what I remember most vividly is panic and a huge desire to get it right, to be part of an effective shutdown of that…

1 April 2019Comment

'Is it an anarchist utopia? Of course not, don't be silly.'

In the last issue, I declared my intention to achieve the impossible and set up a commune – a living, working, playing, caring community of about 100 people. I don’t really believe it’s possible, but I am going to talk about it a lot and am full of good intentions to give it a go, just as soon as I have some time, maybe after the conference-organising is over, maybe once I’m in the swing of my new part-time job, maybe once we’ve dealt with the moths, updated the book, organised the house…