Report: Mission to London - SATB Partnership Preparation Meeting September 2017 The first border crossing mission in this new transnational partnership was for project cooordinator Coost (John Moulden) to travel to London and meet with Step Across the Border partners True North Health, to touch base and discuss about our upcoming programme of activities, as well as generally promote SATB and seek out potential new friends and allies.
I found True North Health organiser, Caroline Smart, occupied with graphic design for the latest in a series of 6 "Interval Oracle" workshops, a project involving up to nine people and part of an ongoing programme of activities under the title "Pleasure is Medicine" a new initiative / component of the True North Health organisation. I was introduced for the first time to "Prezi"(prezi.com), an effective and simple to navigate multi media presentation software .The basic version is free but to enable sound and video components requires payment.
In the light of these turbulent times whereby Trumps' America signalizes a significant roll back of decades of hard won civil rights, our conversation covered such themes as human rights activist Angela Davis (see the film "Black Power Mixtape") as well as the questionable facts and figures relating to 17th century "witch hunts" whereby, it is now contended, that the amount of innocent women killed, enormously exceeds official state and church figures. Suggested reading: Caliban & the Witch" by Sylvia Federici and "Witches & Pagans" by Max Dashu. We also touched on the phenomena of de-colonisation of music (https://nmbx.newmusicusa.org/decolonizing-our-music/)
London is perhaps the most culturally diverse city in Europe with some of the most radically colourfull and progressive organisations therein. Due to UK Governmental “austerity“ measures, (supposedly, money saving measures to aid financial recovery after the banking collapse of 2007) there has been a systematic reduction of funding for the National Health Service (once described as "the envy of Europe") and other social services, such as disability payments. Food banks are the new norm and it is voluntary or privately funded organisations as well as religious organisations that are left to deal with the fallout from these various developments and cut backs. Thanks to the indispensible facilitation from Tad, an old friend and Hackney social networker, i was able to visit a local mosque and a local church, both of which have interesting and ground breaking socio-cultural agendas.
Egg @ Shacklewell lane Mosque / St Pauls Church West Hackney / Tad: Culture Activist
From witch hunts to pro active support for LGBTQ+ shows the radically changed face and function of some Christian churches today. A case in point is the pioneering and dynamic work being done at St Paul's West Hackney on Stoke Newington Rd. I had the chance to speak to administrator and Frenchman Cyril Abel. Cyril is enthusiastic and, despite his busy schedule and my being unannounced, talked with me for a half hour on the different activities at the church. As well as church services, there are a wide range of other community activities taking place here, including information and health and safety care events for vulnerable women (Open Doors Experience Project) as well as work with the homeless (The Slaughterhouse Club) and the events for the aged (Posh Club) . These activities are organised by the Duckie club " Duckie create good nights out and culture clubs that bring communities together"
"ground-breaking arts group who describe themselves as Purveyors of Progressive Working Class Entertainment. This avant-garde club of tea, cake and cabaret (Posh Club), is for the glamorous golden girls, swanky senior citizens and elegant elders of the parish. With the church used for worship, the hall is quickly turned over to create a drop-in centre for the North London Action on Homeless, while in the meeting room there is the Open Doors Experience Project, working with vulnerable women from the local community."(full article here: https://www.london.anglican.org/articles/a-day-in-the-life-of-st-pauls-west-hackney/)
Posh Club: putting on the style for Hackneys old folks, run by volunteers from Londons Duckie Club
Check out these two very interesting videos demonstrating some of their work.
Posh Club: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPDjpE6pgNA
The Slaughterhouse Club: https://youtu.be/JSxTKSgz3p8
I recognised that a great deal of the flyers on display at St Pauls were centered on support and psychological councelling for the volunteers and carers themselves. Less state support means an increase in their workload which can lead to "burn out".
Next i visited the Turkish Islamic Trust & Mosque on Shacklewell lane , also in the Hackney area. I talked with its organiser Egg and also briefly met his sister and co-organiser Mel. We talked about the Mosque activities which, as well as funeral services, includes music and arts events, a community flea market and cafe. Once again, i found Eggs enthusiasm and openness very inspiring. The mosque was converted from a Rothschild-built synagogue in 1977 and before being a location for funerals and social activities and was a prolific recording studio for ethnic music recordings for London’s Turkish communities : http://www.travbuddy.com/The-UK-Turkish-Islamic-Trust-and-Mosque-v834175
Next I visited Hackney community organiser Alicia, at her homebase Reel Rebel Radio “your local global community radio station offering diversity in music, documentaries and radio plays” (http://reelrebelsradio.com/) We had a lively conversation on diverse topics including the story of “the Windrush”.
HMT Empire Windrush originally MV Monte Rosa, was a German passenger liner and cruise ship acquired from Germany after WWII by the United Kingdom as a prize of war and renamed Empire Windrush and is best remembered for bringing one of the first large groups of post-war West Indian immigrants to the United Kingdom, carrying 492 passengers and one stowaway on a voyage from Jamaica to London in 1948. British Caribean people who came to the United Kingdom in the period after World War II are sometimes referred to as the Windrush Generation. (edited from an original text on Wikipedia)
We also touched on the subject of Jamaican Pride and talked about the bravery of the organisers in the face of prolific homophobia on the island. (article: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/10/jamaica-first-gay-pride-celebration-symbol-change) Alicia is a big fan of flamenco music and she produces a regular radio show “Flamenco Fix” the UKs only dedicated programme for this music genre. We also recognised we shared an aquaintance with the Syrian rapper Mohammed Abu Hajar.
I travelled with Caroline to Brixton to meet with TNH member Raggi Kotek who works as an immigration lawyer and who, through her work, has first hand experience with many traumatised people. Raggi has recently started up a series of movement medicine classes “Bindi Beats” https://www.facebook.com/BindiBeats/ which she will demonstrate at the first Berlin meeting. Together, the three of us discussed logistics and brainstormed about the TNH upcoming visit to Berlin. In fact my five days in London were full of many such interesting encounters giving me a great deal of food for thought and ideas about how to somehow collaborate with these great people and organisations, something that makes sense in the context of our new partnership , to explore possibilities and create activities that could perhaps help link some of them / us together e.g.perhaps a street parade/manifestation through Hackney linking the Mosque and the Church via Reel Rebel Radio ? SATB is Go! :-
Coost Foto Impressions (HERE)
Next step: October 2017: first UK-FRA-GER SATB partnership meeting in Berlin.
Next official scheduled London mission is in October 2018 (HERE) otherwise we are up for exploring all possibilities and opportunities!