Blogs

Frontline street

This post is a mediation on the street as a revolutionary front line. The capacity of taking to the street to confront the State directly. The horizon of the political possibilities available to us has certainly changed with the Arab spring and the realisation that austerity Europe can not carry on as it is. Something has to give. The street beckons. However when it comes to the street as a 'revolutionary front line’, our imagination wanders back to May 68 as a sort of auto political default. A critical question thus would be to ask how relevant is 68 to our current day struggles?

Hi-density Food Chain [ 1.2 ]

Experiments with local food supply in 2 hi-density urban estates
Maison Radieuse, Rezé, Nantes and Broadwater Farm, Tottenham, London

In this continued post I look at two initiatives at the downstream end of the food chain, the consumer end, through the different approaches in two projects I have engaged with in the past few years (2006-2009). Both are in high density public sector housing, one at Maison Radieuse in Nantes, one of Le Corbusier’s celebrated Unité D’Habitation buildings and the other at Broadwater Farm, the sprawling prefabricated 60s Modernist housing estate in Tottenham, London N17

Hi-density Food Chain [ 1 ]

Experiments with local food supply in 2 hi-density urban estates
Maison Radieuse, Rezé, Nantes and Broadwater Farm, Tottenham, London

The past 20 years have seen massive increases in the corporate share at both ends of our food chain – downstream at the supply end with a few supermarkets and upstream the domination of food production by agribusiness cartels. Thus today just five companies control over three quarters of the world market in cereals with one, Cargill, controlling more than than 60%; three companies control 85% of the world’s tea market; three in cocoa have 84%; and with agrochemicals, the top 10 companies own 90% of the market. So why this wholesale takeover at a time of relentless environmental campaigning and anti-capitalist activism; is it down to the power imbalances of neoliberalism, or the lack of protective legislation, or subsidies  skewed heavily in favour of the large, or do the progressive messages have no effect on consumer culture?

Netroots UK

Netroots UK: day of workshops at TUC Congress House London 8 January 2011

There is an assumption that political consciousness is no longer being shaped by the traditional media or institutional politics but by self-produced social media and the blogosphere. Whilst political valorisation of new media is not new, how can we really assess how the two things, electoral politics and e-activism on social media interact with each other? Behind all the presumptions and opinions, what are the actual convergences? An opportunity to ask these questions came with the Labour party’s netroots UK conference. Billed with the slogan ‘building the progressive grassroots online’  Netroots brought hundreds of e-activists to spend a day indoors with the Labour Party.

Domestic footprint

Workshops on reducing household energy footprint led by ecoteams at Hackney Town Hall, Mare Street, London   4 December 2010

Anyone whose work involves connecting the lives of ordinary urban communities with ecological awareness, knows the problems – questioning private habits, or critically engaging the space of anyone’s home invariably implies a measure of invasion of who they are. A previous generation of environmental artists and cultural activists saw the connection between ecology and culture as a way to move the present conditions of society to another beyond capitalism, debt, consumerism and individualism. But it has been a double-edged process, with phrases such as ‘ecofascist’ becoming part of our language.

Prinzessinnengarten 2010

Workshop on Urban Farming and Local Empowerment
led by Nomadisch Grün

at Prinzessinnengarten, Kreuzberg, Berlin    
24 to 30 September 2010

These workshops for Urban growers take place at Prinzessinnengarten just off the busy traffic hub of Moritzplatz in Kreutzberg, below the drone of cranes engaged in new build. This is Berlin’s real estate land alright. By its looks, Prinzessinnengarten is certainly strange; there is an enormous amount of formal aesthetic innovation in this ‘urban garden’ which combines an economic pragmatism with a rampant grow in any way and every way you can approach:  white vinyl bags strewn around with vegetables growing out, herbs popping out of tetrapacks, stackable red plastic containers, a ‘grow or be damned’ attitude. The colours combinations aren’t too bad either, red, white, then the clean minimal lines of the café and kitchen in shipping containers. Everything here is mobile; if push comes to shove this community garden or farm can pack and go, all of which contradicts conventional notions of both community and food growing. So what brings about a phenomenon such as Prinzessinnengarten?

 

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