Monthly Archives: May 2006

Solidarity volunteers stuck in Chiapas

Because of the Red Alert, following the event in Atenco on the 3rd of May, foreign internationals are not allowed to enter Zapatista areas. Most of the 200 + civilians are still said to be detained, beatings and (sexual) abuse of the arrestees has been reported, too, as well as raids of homes and a boy of 14 has been killed by gun wounds.
Because of the Red Alert human rights observers and other sympathetic visitors are stuck from going and visiting or helping out.

The Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity Campaign, one of the most active and practical groups in Edinburgh’s libertarian Left, is running a stall next weekend at a fair, and also organises a social get together with a report and a screening of a self-made video about the twinned community. I think it is on the 12th of june in the Quaker Meeting House at 8pm.
Meanwhile there are considerations to make a little exhibition or (in my case a picture album) for our twinned community 16th of february, to send over and show them a bit in pictures what has happened here in Scotland in the last years politically.

David Graeber talk in Edinburgh

David Graeber, anarchist former lecturer at Yale Uni in the US, came to Edinburgh yesterday to talk about the G8. Well, that was the plan. In the end it was just Q&A and an extensive break. AK Press hosted the event, which was a good get together, but a bit disappointing as David hadn’t prepared a talk, and is in my opinion not a particularly good speaker as he did not manage to keep the attention of people. He did answer the questions very generally and seemed to be more keen to have a general discussion and hang out with people, which is fair enough. Also, there are a lot of “Aehms” and a bit of nasal tone in his voice. Unfortunately, he did not go into details about why he was fired/unemployed from the university. AK Press asked a good question, drawing the connections to the recent case of Ward Churchill getting fired from his university job, asking if there would be a recent purge of anarchist and radical libertarian academics from teaching jobs.
J., the moderator asked for a 15 minute silent contemplation at the start of the event, as we were meeting in the Quaker Meeting House, but luckily it could be avoided last minute.
Also one of our shamanic local activist with a crossover politics of stalinism/ trotzkyism/environmentalism made an appearance and for a change, asked relevant and helpfull questions, and did not talk off about the tram system in the Soviet Union as usual.

Is gardening political?

Allotment, end of May 2006 Whilst working in the garden, there is lot of time to think. So, I can’t help comparing my life at the moment to my life last year in May, when the preperation for the anti-G8 mobilisation were running high. Working in the garden is actually quite destressing, and it is nice to see at the end of the day what has been achieved. It is also satisfying to eat your own, self-grown, organic vegetables and fruits.
Also, it makes me happy to share my products, such as rhubarb, and to exchange seeds and seedlings. The other day, an allotment neighbour offered me some mint and lemon balm plants, and I have already planted them in. They looked yesterday a bit sad to have lost their original location, but I hope they recover well. But I was quite happy to give away some pumpkin and courgette plants to another allotment neighbour. The engineer is happy for me to use lots of his collected rainwater, and someone else borrowed me their lawnmower, whilst as the other day a borrowed wheelbarrow came in really helpfull.
The other thing I noticed, is that nearly everbody working in their allotment, has got a helpfull, hands-on, practical approach, and seems to be quite nice and friendly.

So I was wondering if gardening is political as such, or in which circumstances. What about guerilla gardening [1 | 2] ? And the community gardens? What about the Cre8 Garden at the G8? And the communes which are based around self-sufficiency and permaculture?
But then gardening isn’t a revolutionary concept or tactic. But then – with genetically modified food around us, soya plants now destroying the rainforest as animal food (and to be mean: also for vegetarians meat/milk substitutes..), and Monsanto trying to outlaw rasing new plants from their seeds, patenting/trying to patent plants such as rice; gardening even could be.

But then, gardening as such is quite traditional.
Also, I heard somewhere, that the balance has recently tipped from the amount of food produced being sufficient enough for all people on this earth (theoretically). Meaning the number of people has increased so much, that even in theory not everybody would have to eat enough. Not sure how they actually calculated it. Don’t think allotment would impact much on this statistics though it is a good supply of food.
The other things worth considering is the ecological impact of allotments on wildlife, recreation, environment.
And people’s health: not only being encouraged to eat more nutritous veg and fruit, but also the recreational and psychological value. And there is usually not much weed- and bugkiller and other chemical residues on the food because it is not grown in a monoculture.

Scotland to support Trinidad and Tobago in the Football World Cup

Apparantly a leading politician has called for Scotland to back Trinidad and Tobago in the forthcoming Football/Soccer World Cup in Germany, instead of neighbouring England. Of course, there has been a mild outcry by the shocked rest of the British Islands, mainly London, that Scotland would dare to support anybody else but England, and anti-english sentiments are blamed for it. Most of the mainstream media is based in London and often focuses on news in England, with the British Parliament based there as well. Because of the history of oppression, many Scottish people seem to tease nowadays some Southerners with weird results of the devolution.
First, I was quite happy to hear the news: “How nice that Scotland is always sympathetic and supportive to the Underdog”, I thought. “Maybe this Scottish politician just went through the list of participating countries and picked the smallest one with the least chance of winning. ”
But hah, how naive of me! The reason of why the call was made, one of my fellow students explained, “is that actually most foreign players in Scottish teams are from Trinidad and Tobago than from any other country.”

Freecycle – Network

Freecycle Logo We have here in Edinburgh a vibrant community of Freecyclers. Freecycle is a loose network of email groups, running on Yahoo (unfortunately), with the aim to reduce landfill. Basically people just announce when they want to get rid of something (furniture, pets, … kids…- just joking- ) and then anybody who wants to, can reply and try to persuade the person to give it to him or her.

Whilst it works sometimes really brilliantly, and I got a lot of stuff from it, particularly for the G8, it can be sometimes a bit frustrating. For the G8 we got computer(s), monitors, sofabeds, minidisk recorder, video recorders, dictionary, office chairs and desks and so much other stuff for free, it was really helpful. In Edinburgh, the group has 5789 members, and there about 50 messages coming through daily. Just yesterday I was given a compost bin for my allotment by one of the group members.
The biggest group seems to be in London with over 27 000 members. There are subgroups forming up, such like Hackney and Islington, but still, it doesn’t seem to reduce the numbers of the main group. New York has also over 20 000 members, and Melbourne around 10 000.
However, there are some minus points with this hugely popular group, too. Basically, you never really get what you really need at the time when you need it most. For example I was really, really keen on the offered Garden Equipment Tool Box, but unfortunately it went to someone else, who was quicker. Most of the articles are given away on a first come, first served basis.

So, if you are not subscribed and willing to wade through about 50 other, to you irrelevant emails, your chances of being the first person are slim. And you need to be at the computer right at the time when the email messages comes through and reply imediatedly.
Also the offered festival marquee was given not to us/me, but to another charity.
And you have a clear advantage, if you are good at DIY. As the alternative is often the rubbish heap, many items have loose ends or a damaged in some way. Otherwise, if they are of distinctive value, they are much more often advertisied in the weekly second hand paper.

The main problem of Freecycle though is, that there are many more people willing to take stuff than to offer. So, although it is said at the beginning that you should offer stuff equally than wanting and taking, the balance is a bit more tipped to the receiving end. The only thing I could really offer to people is rhubarb. At so much other stuff, which I give away first usually goes to neighbours and friends, especially as I live in a rather poor community anyways.

Freecycle seems to be really good for baby and children stuff, though. And not everywhere you get such a vibrant email give-away community, in my sister’s city, there are only about 300 members and about 2 messages a day.
Anyways, there are groups worldwide, and though all political things will be eliminated by the moderator, it is a good nice practical forum for everyday people to make a difference, so I would recommend to all activists to get involved and start freecycling, too, especially if skipping is your second hobby, both spare-time activities are very compatible.