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Liverpool Diary: December 2012

Turkeys, progress & praxis

ImageShe said: What is history? And
he said History is an angel being
blown backwards into the future
He said: History is a pile of debris
And the angel wants to go back
and fix things To repair the things
that have been broken But there
is a storm blowing from Paradise
And the storm keeps blowing the
angel backwards into the future
And this storm, this storm is called
Progress

The Dream Before (for Walter Benjamin) Laurie Anderson

Monday November 19th

Chris and I up in the attic of Rose Howey (the huge house our co-op has just bought), clearing out the records of the Nursing Home. I open the record book from 1995 and am compelled by the rows of neat handwriting describing an unsettled night of an elderly resident.  The owners said to dispose of the files, they only need to keep them for six years, we are staring at the debris of the lives which they abandoned. They locked the doors and left.

The pile of debris is 100 years old, built by merchant seamen rich from cotton, sugar and slaves finally abandoned  to rot. And hypodermic needles. Rachel finds six hiding in the long grass of the back yard like the copperhead snakes at my sister’s farm.

I want to go back and fix things, to repair the things that have been broken, my father died in a nursing home like this.  Chris is a writer too and very wise.  Chris enters as the Storm of Progress with the words ‘don’t fetishise the past’ and the boxes are dropped from the second story landing onto two old mattresses on the ground floor the papers fly and we are being blown backwards into the future.

Wednesday November 21st

I am behind schedule.

Anstey (my fellow co-operator) and I are sitting in the former senior staff room, she needs to get an infection on her back incised and can’t get an appointment, the Suma order arrived as we are trying to remove every single floor covering, I have to be at the UK Border Agency office at 3 pm, my little girl Ella has a fever and the kettle isn’t working.

The reason we were able to buy a 41 bedroom former bail hostel is because they didn’t clean the leaves out of the gutters and just over a year ago the water started pouring in and down the walls.  What with the water damage and the asbestos, we are very lucky.

Thursday November 22, 2012

It is probably no surprise that I won’t be eating turkey today, I wanted to cook the first vegan Thanksgiving dinner at Rose Howey, but there still isn’t running water.  We can celebrate next year after we survive this first tough winter.

preguntando caminamos

Asking we walk. Rob is walking out the door and I ask what should I write about, he says it is about the journey, he says the capitalists were laughing at us, but we took a house out of capitalism. Does cooperative ownership mean that it is out of capitalism?

As part of Radical Routes, (a network of social change co-ops), Rose Howey is working to support a movement and I believe that by building a movement we create collective security rather than personal security. We are asking really complicated questions that we only began to understand when we started walking.

And at the end of week one, my biggest epiphany is that decisions don’t matter as long as the process is prefigurative. You may be wondering what prefigurative means, to quote Stuart Field of Radical Routes “It means creating working examples of the alternative society that you wish to see. It’s tied to the idea that an inch of praxis is worth a mile of theory”