SATB Meeting & Activities London 9-13 October 2018.
True North Health invite the Erasmus Plus / Step Across the Border project partners and also the general public, to participate in our Queer Punk Health Creation Week. There will be a series of internal workshops and talks plus 2 private and 2 public events (which are marked below) over the 5 day period.
True North Health coordinator, Caro Smart writes: "As a young one I only saw punk as angry white men, rightly or wrongly,the diversities and nuances absent from my understanding. Recently I saw an inspiring film called Queercore and was re educated about the diversity and the inclusivity of punk activism as outsider queer subcultures.It nourished and grounded me in my lived history of resistance.
The strength of punk, the spirit of DIY (just get up and do it even if it is crap) plus the anger at an unfair system, underpinned the energy and spirit, and was a main driver for the part of the London Underground free party rave scene that I was a part of in the 90s. That anger transmuted into sound system cultures and a Do It Together ethos, dancing love peace and unity. Together. And I always felt more at home there than on the "gay and lesbian" scene (as it was called then).
It is my background with this that informs my lived attitude to health creation and also the creation of True North Health, a not for profit grass roots organisation of which I am a voluntary director. Obviously True North refers to finding your own guiding star to navigate through challenges in life but also to represent a different face of the north, maybe a truer face than a rich white voracious patriarchal system that colonises us and is imprinted on us and our understandings.“
True North Health is about health creation that joins up the dots, that is, to use the buzzword of the now, intersectional. It is about wellbeing for all, not wellbeing for some, at the expense of others. It is about looking at systemic diseases like cancer, and the body and its relation to the world for example in a different way. By that I mean an invitation to embrace the concept of radical compassion. To be able to hold with compassion the body when it fails, when our cells and systems don't work as they should, and make positive restorative action from that place. Like wise for our social and collective bodies. Radical compassion is a way of collapsing the binary of them and us.
It is in the spirit of all this that we present the 5 day programme Queer Punk Health Creation, as part of the Erasmus Plus horizontal learning exchange called Step Across The Border with our allies and fellow partners from Berlin and Marseilles, sharing sound, music and the coming together to share a moment in our lives to learn, teach, create support and love. Not a roll over meek kind of love but a radical fierce pro active love.
The public events are for everyone.Please share to your friends xxx"
Inspired by the Scapegoat theme of our Marseiiles SATB project partners l'Embobineuse / Compagnie Peanuts, we will be looking at the body and how and where in our bodies we scapegoat ourselves. This is particularly relevant for activists as well as people existing on the margins of society.
This will entail a daily check in, movement and meditation, small discussions about how to create health and well-being and also recording sound before and after our sessions. The purpose of this is to see how the voice transmits our state of wellbeing – an important indicator both for ourselves, but also in the work we do in our respective organisations and especially relevant for picking up hidden cues from people we might be working with.
As a small and itinerant loose organisation of women and trans people who are low on economic resources, True North Health come together to create projects and events without a fixed operations base, we will be using outside and inside spaces including New River Studios, Lordship Hub Community Centre and the Curve Garden Dalston who are all not for profit community projects.
Tuesday 9th October
Thanks to meticulously prepared directions by True North Health (TNH) coordinator Caro , the SATB participants from Marseille, Berlin and Arnhem, managed to easily navigate the sprawling metropolis , meeting together on schedule at Caros house in the Seven Sisters area of Tottenham in North London.
Participating in the weeks activities: Magdi Reichi, Elsa Gobert, Ana Servo John Moulden, Stine Brinklov, Renate Koening Carloine Smart and Rasheeqa Ahmad.
Once we were all assembled , there was a short touch base meeting; whereby the group were given itinery lists and brought up to speed with latest developments concerning the planned activity programme.
We were fortunate to have warm sunny Autumnal weather which was perfect for the afternoons outdoor medicinal herb identification walk with TNH member Rasheeqa Ahmad who also works for the Herbs Without Border (http://herbalistswithoutborders.co.uk/) network . These herb walks have become a recurring and important theme throughout the SATB transnational meetings and Rasheeqas invaluable knowledge on the subject has been both informative and inspiring.
Chasing the sunset we headed towards Alexander Palace and its surrounding parklands which affords a spectacular view over the city. „First opened as “The People’s Palace” in 1873, Alexandra Palace provided the Victorians with a great environment and recreation centre. Just sixteen days after its opening, the Palace, which had already attracted over 120,000 visitors, was destroyed by a fire in the dome. „ In 1936 the first public television transmissions were made by the BBC . Again there was a significant fire in 1980 coinciding with the takeover of the palace by Haringey Council.
By now the sun was setting which meant we were sadly unable to visit the Olympic Park for a Capoeira session at the invitation of Paulinha Martens and Zoe Mariage. Just to mention that this is a a cultural musical/dance tradition from the African diaspora, played equally by people regardless of gender that has traversed time and geographical borders as a way of creative expression and remembrance of cultural roots. These regular free for all sessions feature live musical accompaniament.
Wednesday 10th October 10pm
On this beautifull sunny day, the group walked over to nearby Downhills Park to begin the first of our daily movement meditation sessions led by Caro from True North Health. The workshop focused on voice exercises which help tap into the body and are mostly a mixture of Chinese and Daoist medicinal practices. Caro made voice recordings, the purpose of which, to sonically monitor how the participants, and the group as a whole, progress throughout the week . Magdi, actor and director from theater company Peanuts in Marseille , remarked on the similarities with actor training and „grounding“ techniques.
Wednesday afternoon the SATB group split according to their wishes with the choice to visit Groundswell in Brixton, which is a peer to peer project for the homeless, and also St Ethelbergers Peace and Reconciliation Centre which prioritizes building community resilience through nurturing diversity and building relationships across division and difference, working to find ways of acceptance and co-operation between different faith based communities and dissolving prejudices and whereby LGBTQI people of faith integrate and are empowered.
That evening we visited New River Studios, the location for the following days SATB public event; to look at the space and also make a live radio show (LINK) there on 199Radio, in order to help promote SATB , the respective work of the partner organisations and also the upcoming SATB events. Significantly, Elsa, project coordinator for lEmbobineuse, mentioned the case of the refugee support ship Aquarius which has been stripped of its flag and lies paralysed in the Marseille harbour. The previous week witnessed a huge demonstration there to highlight this and other related issues. The demonstration were demanding that the ship be given a French flag and be allowed to continue helping refugees at risk in the Mediterranean
Thursday 11th October
10:30 - Midday: Continuing our daily collective sound workshop, this time at the Lordship Recreation Ground at the the Hub Community Centre, which is part of a 4 million pounds redevelopment project which started in 2009 through funding by Big Lottery, the Marathon Trust and Heritage Lottery Fund.
This South Eastern corner of the park is adjacent to Broadwater Farm, housing estates which, on 6 October 1985, was the flash point for urban riots between black youths and largely white police, sparked after the death of Cynthia Jarrett, an African-Caribbean woman who died the previous day due to heart failure during a police search at her home. At the time, Broadwater Farm was a national symbol of urban neglect and, unlike the adjacent park, the cheap and inadequate buildings were never improved upon. Today, plans are underway to destroy them to make way for new buildings for wealthy people which will effectively push out the local community.
The Hub is an ecologically designed construction and community space and it was here that we carried out the second sound and meditation workshop focused on sound bathing, whereby participants took turns to lie in the center of the room surrounded by the group who, using their voices, intone the name of the subject for 3 minutes.
After the 9 participants had completed the exercise, they shared their experience with the group. This technique is aimed more for people working as teachers and practitioners in psycho/ social health care and is not necessarily recommended for people with severe trauma as it can trigger painfull memories and have contra productive effects. Indeed, not all members of the group found the experience (of lying in the middle of the group ) pleasent, but for the most it was a remarkable meditative sonic experience.
Next, the group visited Mel from Herbalists without Borders, who lives on a barge „Stormvogel“, part of a boat community based at Stonebridge South Moorings at Tottenham Hale. Here, we were priveliged to take part in a 3 hour medicine making workshop, which is as part of the effort, along with Refugee Community Kitchen, to help refugees stranded in the Calais area. The group helped prepare a cough medicine made from cinnamon, marshmallow and vegetable glycerine.
Mel, who makes regular trips to Calais, explained how she worked alongside volunteer doctors who were there treating the more serious conditions such as TB and she outlined the most common illnesses and afflictions affecting the refugees there. Most of Mels herbal and plant remedies were for coughs, colds and skin conditions but the most common issue was treating people suffering from police beatings and gas attacks which, of course, is also a traumatic and bewildering experience for the carers themselves.
Another health issue amongst refugees in Calais region was, gaining trust of women in order to help with intimate health problems such as cystitus. A further problem was how to effectively label medicine bottles amongst a diaspora who speak many different languages and many of whom cannot read or write. The medicine we prepared was to be sent to Calais that same week and, at the end of the workshop, Mel asked the group about our thoughts and how we could imagine using this knowledge in the sense of community outreach.
Ana from lEmbobineuse is also a festival and activity organiser and was interested to share and promote this knowledge amongst her network.Coost from Czentrifuga was interested to look at solutions for medicine bottle label designs by issue using pictograms. Thanks also to Mels partner Russel for his valuable assistance and sharing his own insights into herbal medicine.
"Activisms of Connection"
This public event was held at New River Studios and the focus was on collective and individual well-being, celebrating the psychosocial impact of connection through music, herbal medicine, discussion and film. The event included guest speakers, live music, Djs and vegan pizza. The aim of the event was to promote the SATB project, encourage networking, and also help build solidarity and promote the benefits of social psycho immune boosting health.
Magdi, theater director from SATB partner Compagnie Peanuts (lEmbobineuse, Marseille) togethjer with his Marseille colleague Ana and Elsa presented their new film made by Mohammed Ali (Madagascar/Marseille) which explores the phenomena of scapegoating as portrayed with through first hand knowledge by the companies' mostly African (Comorean islands) migrant cast and production team.
Also represented, the landmark project Rainbow Pilgrims (https://www.rainbowpilgrims.com) which examines the hidden history of LGBTQAI+ migrants to the UK, documenting the interconnection between faith, sexuality, gender and ethnicity through oral history, film and photography. Project founder, Jewish male transactivist Shaan Surat Knan, presented the work of his organisation and participated in the panel discussion together with special guests Monica (https://rainbowpilgrims.atavist.com/community#chapter-3414091)
who were collaborators and contributors to the Rainbow Pligrims project and who presented testimonies to the descrimination and hardships they have undergone as LGBTQ women, both in Africa, and also through UK Home Office interrogations.
Also joining the discussion were Rasheeqa Ahmad (True North Health / Herbalists Without Borders) (http://herbalistswithoutborders.co.uk/) and Victor Paes from the Westminster Herbalists Without Borders Student Society (https://www.uwsu.com/society/8918/) HWB is a fast growing network of practitioners growers and students who are actively engaged in the effort to give medicinal aid and support refugees and migrants.
Nina Alonso from Yellow Days Organisation talked about their grassroots work helping to integrate refugees within local communities in Greece (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Steve Bedlam, one of the founders of Refugee Community Kitchen (https://www.refugeecommunitykitchen.com/) talked about his organisations work, not only in the Calais and Dunkirk area, but also about new initiatives to help in Bosnia and also in London, where the RCK organisation are helping to feed the cities homeless. Meanwhile, the Calais operation has served over a million nutritious meals and is cooking and distributing 2000 meals daily.
Steve pointed out that although „The Jungle“ refugee camp has been evicted, the problem has not gone away and, in fact, is on the increase with refugees now coming from more countries than ever before. Steve also maintained that it was the grassroots organisations and networks in Europe that were effectively „holding down“ emergency relief for refugees and used the example of a recent trip to Bosnia whereby the large NGOs working there were offering people a single bowl of rice in comparison to RCKs principle of serving quality food , with diverse menus that reflect on the culinary cultural differences of the refugees. The point here was that people were offered the „dignity of choice“ after having suffered so much. Also, these meals were being produced at a quarter of the cost of the aforementioned NGOs plain rice. Steve went on to say that RCK had the logistical capacity to feed up to 10,00 people daily, indicating his organisations readiness and resolve to deal with the refugees and migrant phenomena and „feeding people without judgement“.
The evening continued with live music on the highest level by an incredible solo djembe drum & voice performance from Khadijatou Doyneh who is a Guyanese raised and London based singer-songwriter, author, spoken word poet, musician, and dancer. https://soundcloud.com/juju-rock/bawling
Continuing with the high level music programme we were honoured to have Dj Ritu (http://www.djritu.com) This pioneering global grooves guru, turntablist & BBC broadcaster has been active on the British and international club scene for 31 years. „The ultimate musical chameleon“ also co-founded the internationally acclaimed Outcaste Records. Last but not least the Samba Sisters Collective (https://www.facebook.com/SambaSistersCollective/) a multi-cultural group, with women of all ages and backgrounds.
There were approximately 150 people in attendance and it was encouraging to see the panelists, musicians and guests , many of whom were unknown to each other, exchanging contacts and pledging mutual support. The event was live streamed thanks to TNH member and Cambridge University researcher Lucy van de Viel and proceeds from the event went to support Refugee Community Kitchen and African Rainbow Family (https://africanrainbowfamily.org/)
Friday 12th October
After the daily check in for meditation and sounding, the participants moved to the Islington area where they were invited to sit in on the "Diversity Building Solidarity Symposium" This was an important LGBTQI+ event that highlighted the many sides of London’s diverse LGBTQI+ community and for the SATB group it was an important resource for our undertstanding of current issues as well as an opportunity to look for shared goals, solidarity building and to be part of raising the voices of the most excluded within the rainbow community.
The HEAR Equality and Human Rights Network „connects and supports equalities specialists across al equality characteristics and across London to get their voices heard and to influence policy and the environment within which people work for human rights“ Other organisations and contributors in attendance were Surat-Shaan Knan (Jewish Liberal Movement), Ash Kotak (#AIDSMemoryUK), Regard (LGBTQ+ who self identify as Disabled), Gendered Intelligence ( Trnsgender Awareness), Bi Pride UK (Bi-Sexual,and any others who experience attraction beyond gender, support group), Intersex UK (organisation by and for Intersex people) and also UK Black Pride (LGBTQ+ People of Colour)
Friday 12th October (evening)
The SATB group is invited for food and informal talks at Red Moon Roots who have a community food cooking and sharing project in the Manor House area.
Saturday 13th October Lunch and sounding at the Curve Garden in the Dalston area.
Saturday 13th October 14:00 - 17:00 public event: "Transformative Sounds for Health and Wellbeing" Shacklewell Lane Mosque
this will be a LGBTQI+ POC led, 3 hour immersion of transformative sound in this beautiful building which was formerly synagogue and is now a mosque. We will see first hand how the guardians of this space navigate cross cultural dialogues to create a radical community asset.
Transformative Sounds for Health and Wellbeing. - the spiritual aspects of health creation. An exercise in Connection, Spirituality, Empowerment and Transformation through Sound. Co creators of this space will be: Caro Ophis (Interval Oracle) toning and voice work to help centre and connect; interactive music and art for empowerment from Angelus Squid Marr as well as the Qraft Bistro collective . Gong bath for immune boosting relaxation by Tafrina Dubois
There will be free places for people from migrant and refugee communities
Tickets available at https://www.facebook.com/events/2140694809515655/
Saturday 13th October 19:00 public event: "Woven Gold Choir " Cafe Caramel
After a group meal in a local Turkish restaurant, the SATB group will make their way to Café Karamel - a vegan venue in the Wood Green area. The venue will be hosting Woven Gold as the musical highlight of the Spotlight on Asylum Festival season. Woven Gold is a choir of refugees and asylum seekers from many of our world’s most desperate and divided countries. Members have fled from treacherous and threatening circumstances in Iran, Algeria, Myanamar, Chechnya, Pakistan, Congo and Uganda – with the common desire to find sanctuary. Over the past ten years, they have formed a family through their love of music and their yearning for peace, safety and solidarity.
Tickets available at https://www.facebook.com/events/253770835349958/?active_tab=about