Radical Living

1 June 2017Comment

Ali Tamlit gets up close and personal with the things that hurt the most

On 28 March, I was part of the ‘End Deportations – Stop Charter Flights’ action by Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants and Plane Stupid at Stansted airport, which successfully prevented a mass deportation to Nigeria and Ghana.

We took this action in solidarity with the 57 people on board the flight who were being forcefully removed from the UK. We were in touch with some of these people and knew their stories and knew the potential fates that awaited them if they were deported.…

1 April 2017Comment

It's good to talk ...

Men talk in a cafe in Tigre, near Buenos Aires, Argentina. April 2003. Photo by Adam Jones adamjones.freeservers.com

After I shared a cartoon on Facebook recently, I had an angry response (several hundred words long) from ‘John’, someone I haven’t heard from in years. The cartoon, by New Zealand-based illustrator Toby Morris, shows two people, equally intelligent and hard-working, growing up in different circumstances, and ending up in very different situations in adult life. The…

1 April 2017Feature

Finding common threads in different lives, different organisations

Caroline Kempster (left, behind vegetables) and two fellow members of Trinity Wholefoods in the shop. Photo: Trinity Wholefoods

In the summer of 2005, Rebecca Dale had three young children, Nik (3), Ben (2) and Katherine (six months old). She had been working as a research fellow at Warwick University, increasing co-operation between industry and the academy, especially within the automation industry.

Now she needed a new job that could fit in with her commitment to her…

1 October 2016Comment

Two members of the Pacifist Youth Action Group, hitch-hiking to India to spend a period at a Gandhian project, stopped en route to join an international workcamp undertaking post-war reconstruction in Italy. Then, as now, such work both deals with some of the legacy of war and also – by its international co-operative nature – helps to undermine the causes of future wars. They sent back a report to Peace News.

Construction – not destruction – is the battle-cry in Affile.

Service Civil International has invaded Affile, 80km from Rome, but this is an invasion with a difference. Affile, which was once a battlefield, is now being assaulted with bricks and shovels, sledgehammers and barrows. Construction not destruction is the new battle-cry as young people from many nations set forth with heavy boots and light hearts.

The founder of SCI was Pierre Ceresole of Switzerland, who…

1 February 2016Comment

In line with its counter-cultural aims when moving its editorial office out of London for some years, PN gave regular space to ‘Woody’, who called for a commitment to alternative ways of living, rather than oppositional politics. He provoked much debate from correspondents.

Woody says, ‘the basic or primary condition of existing society is that we are all living against each other... mutual hostility’. But this hostility is often about something – like quarrels over the distribution of resources. Rather than backing the poor against the rich, for Woody, ‘a radical situation arises only when a section of the would-be stampeders holds back’. The poor must hold back!

Woody seems to be reacting... against Marxism and the…

1 October 2015Comment

'Who would have thought three months ago that an anti-war MP might become leader of the Labour party?'

Autumn is upon us, a time of year I associate it with change and loss. The holidays are over, the days are cooling, the leaves will soon fall. I love the warmth and joy of the summer and I often find myself a little mournful when the kids go back to school.

In the past week, l’ve been feeling a little more mournful than usual. In part, that’s due to having helped pack up my mother’s house before it passed on to its new owners. After 26 years, my very happy home-from-home is no more;…

1 August 2015Comment

'I'm sick of protesting this shit'  

I’m suffering from end-of-termitis. Which is normal for July. Everyone in the family is tired and grumpy; everything feels a little too much. I thought I’d escaped it at the beginning of May when I still had my post-marathon bounce, but as the weeks have progressed exhaustion has been creeping up on me.

This year, it’s not just the usual juggle of work and family that’s tiring me. Part of my weariness stems from feeling a bit overwhelmed by the state of the world, thanks to May’s…

1 June 2015Comment

Why anniversaries matter

The last few weeks have all been about significant anniversaries. Several have been personal: Chris and I have been remembering our wedding (18 years), our fathers (25 years since his Dad died, 20 years since mine) and my mother (who died a year ago). Two have been political: 100 years since the beginning of the Armenian genocide, 70 since VE Day. All of which has got me thinking about such occasions, why they matter, and how they are best marked.

Anniversaries matter because they…

31 March 2015Comment

Virginia Moffatt looks to her running heroes for inspiration

This morning I woke to the news that Benjamin Netanyahu has won Israel’s general election. My heart sank, because, with such a military hawk in power, prospects for peace in Israel-Palestine look further away then ever. It is easy when faced with such news to fall into despair. To believe the vision of a just society for both Palestinians and Israeli citizens is impossible. Sometimes, it is feels easier to admit defeat.

When I’m feeling in this frame of mind, I’m always grateful for…

1 February 2015Review

OR Books, 2014; 193pp; £11

‘If you set aside the whole protesting and getting arrested and going to jail and talking about one’s faith all the time stuff they were basically normal’, notes Frida Berrigan in this compelling reflection on her upbringing in a resistance community in Baltimore, and her current role as radical parent.

The ‘they’ are her parents, renowned Catholic peace activists Philip Berrigan and Elizabeth McAllister.

Quoting American poet Wendell Berry’s injunction to ‘be…

1 February 2015Feature

A response to Leslie Barson’s critique in the last issue

Rhubarb-chopping at Findhorn ecovillage. Photo: Jenny Pickerill

All too often eco-villages are romanticised and celebrated, rather than analysed and critiqued. Their limitations, failings and contradictions are well known to their members, but even academics like Karen Litfin [1] present a rosy picture of alternative harmony. It was refreshing, then, to read Leslie Barson’s experiences at Sieben Linden (PN 2576–2577) and her conclusion that there are three problems with eco-…

1 February 2015Comment

Our new diarist approaches a significant milestone

I’m going to be 50 this year. What once seemed an impossibility will become a reality in July. In the next 10 years, I will experience the menopause, watch our children leave home, begin to feel the impact of ageing on my body. This is the decade which will force me to admit I am no longer young. Such life events always put me in a ruminating mood, and this week I’ve been thinking a lot about what turning 50 means for my activism.

In some ways things have changed very little since…

1 February 2015Review

Tangent Books, 2014; 256pp; £12

Featuring a tractor ploughing up the tarmac road of a terraced street, the cover gives you the impression you’re opening a book for the next ‘back to the land’ generation. Not so.

Instead we are offered something far more encompassing: a comprehensive account of the revolutionary politics of Street Farm (SF), a collective founded by three British architect friends (Graham Caine, Peter Crump and Bruce Haggart) in the 1970s.

A visionary ensemble strongly…

25 November 2014Feature

PN interviews a British radical educator from the London CommunityHousing Co-op who visited an idyll in Northern Germany

Sieben Linden ecovillage in winter. Photo: Herbst77regen

‘I was a bit worried about the project of self- sufficiency, and how few differences there were between them and mainstream society’, said Leslie Barson, describing her recent stay at a prominent eco-village in Germany.

Barson spent a month taking a course at Sieben Linden, an eco-village formed in the late ’90s that is aiming to find a more sustainable and self-sufficient way of life. During her stay there, Barson…

25 November 2014Comment

Our Leeds-based cooperator mulls the politics of exclusion

Last year, my friend was thrown out of an eco-action gathering. I can still taste the anger I felt when I heard the news. The organisers were in their early 20s. My friend is retired and has been centrally involved in these gatherings (and in eco-defence) for nearly 20 years. My lips still set in a hard line and my jaw clenches as I think about it. I freely admit I jumped to several conclusions – I bet he behaved like an idiot. I bet they didn’t care who he was or what his history is. I bet…