Liverpool Diary

IssueMarch 2013
Comment by Jennifer Verson

29 January Johan Galtung lecture

I walked in and there was a formula on the projection screen

peace=equity x harmony/trauma x conflict

and a handout that said:

There are two factors in the Numerator: the more the better. There are two factors in the denominator leading to direct and structural violence: the less the better.

Constructing Equity: cooperation for mutual and equal benefit

Constructing Harmony: emotional resonance, in the daoist sense of enjoying the joy and suffering the suffering of Other

Reconciling Past Trauma: clearing the past, acknowledging wrongs, wishing them undone, dialogues about how and a future together

Resolving Present Conflict: making incompatible, contradictory goals more compatible, softening negative attitudes and behaviours.

I have to write about what I think the root causes of the anti-immigration policies are in the UK for a grant application. I am obsessed with professor Galtung. It seems so obvious how post-colonial social policy has created our current situation and that most current activisms focus on conflict completely ignoring the three other factors.

Are we doing enough to actively construct harmony or deal with past traumas? Do our methods actually promote divisions? We thought about it in the clown army at the beginning, not positioning the police as our ‘enemy’, rather trying to build a joint understanding through humour that the real enemy was capitalism.

6 February

Shovelling rubble is existential by nature. A friend came from another Radical Routes co-operative to visit and help out. The basement of our housing co-op building is a challenge; the rubble is dusty and heavy to move and the lath needs to be taken out because it can be recycled. The ceiling in the dining room needed to come down quickly to keep the ballroom floor from rotting, but the removal of the rubble is the really big job and we have been shovelling away at it for a month.

I hate asking friends to help do horrible jobs, but the dining room was looming and G was fresh. Some people approach the rubble from the ‘what a great workout’ point of view, but we shifted the pace into ant mode, slow and steady cooperation, and tried to make the process more enjoyable. G held the bags open, picked out the wood bits, I shovelled and we talked like it was a cup of tea or a pint at the pub, and it went on and on. We said we would take a break after seven sacks but by then we saw that it could be finished and we just kept going.

8 February

Anne, Fatoumata, Penny, Baby E and I met at Blackburn House for breakfast. I like to do one thing on my birthday that will serve as a metaphor for the year and all I really needed was a veggie sausage buttie and to talk strategy, as Fatoumata has been summoned to appear at the Gambian high commission with her daughter to begin the papers necessary for her deportation. We have a plan: get the petition to our MP Luciana Berger (see end of article) and get some more help from Women Asylum Seekers Together in Manchester.

21 February

Today I filled out the social audit form that Radical Routes is undertaking, and one question particularly stuck in my head ‘does living in a housing cooperative support your work for social change?’.

At the end of month two of living in Rose Howey, ranking this on a scale of ‘strongly agree to strongly disagree’ seems wholly inadequate.

25 February

This column is dedicated to the memory of Reverend Keith Gilley, a man who spent his life working to construct equity, harmony and peace.

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