Friday, 15 June 2012

Creative Stuff at the Green Fest

The first green festival took place in the first year I was in Newcastle, and I've been involved in all kinds of ways with it ever since then - even writing up its history once (a history I've since lost). I'm no longer 'secretary', sit on the management committee or even go to planning meetings, and this means I can enjoy it far far more - without the stress of money and such, and so I'm free to do whatever idea I think of each year - and every year different! 

(much respect and gratitude to those who do stick at that babylonian side of things, you make a beautiful free thing happen that would not exist without you - no corporation or council would ever have created the green festival, and nor would they have kept it going through all the weathers we've faced)

green festival 2012, video stills

Last year I gave away strawberry plants and did collaborative typewriting with 2 borrowed typewriters. These created a crazily meandering collaborative story / stream of consciousness that I loved, and I learnt then - by doing for the first time - how to make such a thing more readable, copyable and manageable in future (isn't -able a useful word ending!) 

This year I based myself in the sensory spaces and family area, meeting some lovely new faces, and I roped in other members of the Paper Jam Comics Collective to set up a drawing table and mini comics workshops. I was pretty exhausted on the first day, and under-prepared, because of volunteering at the Star and Shadow for an afterparty the night before, meaning I didn't get home till 4am, long after the sky was light. Sunday was better for me because I'd had some sleep. Thanks to Joe and Vanessa for those crucial turkish coffees.

'our dream house' activity at the green festival

Mainly this year I did two things: one was getting children to imagine rooms to stick on 'our dream house' - and the forgiving weather meant that this structure (built by Jack) could stay outside in the sometimes-sun, which made it nice and visible. Plus it was a fairly easy drawing activity to run, with kids having the chance to display their artwork, and with us able to look elsewhere for much of the time, just supplying regular bursts of encouragement, enthusiasm, tidying and recognition for their work! Many thanks to Anton & family, Neringa and Lydia for getting this activity started with their own dream rooms!

green festival 2012, video stills

I didn't set up the paper jam stall as planned, or even get round to selling my 'Pagan Geordie Yearbook' which I'd got printed especially in time. But there were too many folk to chat to, and things to watch over, to do that as well as the creative stuff.

The second thing I brought in on Sunday, after people asked for it on Saturday and yes, it was collaborative typewriting again - I even drove out to Bardon Mill especially to fetch the typewriter on Saturday night, rather than go out drinking. Again, I kind of 'managed' this activity without giving it my constant attention and support, so that I was just encouraging participants, moving the paper, fixing the ribbon etc.. and so this year I hardly wrote anything on it myself. Special recognition goes to Tom for heroically sitting with it under a tree, rather abandoned by me, as he listened to bands at the lakeside.

I'd also, on Friday, helped Jack make his 'Thrive or Dive' interactive exhibit, which he finished with added dribbling cups and did a pretty good job I think of explaining to interested participants in the permaculture area. Money spent locally, the effects and the variations, and how to help a neighbourhood thrive!

green festival 2012, video stillsgreen festival 2012, video stills

I also gave out 'interview yourself' questionairres and mini 'monster review' sheets to random people, and I will cobble together a kind of zine thing out of these, the typewriter stream and other artwork when I get a few more back.

Of course the other thing I did was film bits and pieces of the festival, as linked to the photos above, and for this I used a camera borrowed from SCAN (thanks SCAN). I found it quite fun, and haven't missed not having a stills camera half as much as I expected.
green festival 2012, video stillsgreen festival 2012, video stills

Videos on youtube of:  

green festival 2012, video stills 

The Overall Green Festival (15 mins)  

green festival 2012, video stills

The Family Area (10 mins) 

Collaborative Typewriting (2 mins) 

green festival 2012, video stills
Thrive or Dive (5 mins) 

nathan's circus show at the green festival

Nathan & Loki's Circus Show (5 mins) 

nathan's circus show at the green festival

And The Show Finale (1 min)

Next year I'm not sure what I'll do, with my brain currently playing with the idea of making some puppet characters that then feature in a weird kind of guided-video-to-the-festival. I'll decide next May, and you're invited to join with me, in whatever it is I do!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

What to do about Open Cast?

There's a situation emerging in Northumberland & the North East about which I have done nothing and about which I have no plans to do anything - yet. But I know I am against the annihilation of local areas for the sake of a day (or less)'s electricity generation. So it is quite likely I will get involved ... somehow ...

Opencast coal offers a fast profit, and we all seem to like burning electricity, so the applications to destroy and excavate the coal from just underneath the surface of the following places will not go away. At present there are delays, temporary blocks, local opposition, and unclear situations. Some are pressing to get the english law changed to what the scottish case is - no opencast allowed within 500 metres of habitation. Perhaps I will go tour the sites and draw what they look like, before mammon comes to destroy them (fancy joining me?). And then perhaps I will join those who go down fighting in defence of mother earth. We shall see.
Pic of Cramlington Opencast


BIRKLANDS nr .Marley Hill, Gateshead (Application) (Hall Construction Services).
Online petition that can be signed to show opposition to open casting at this proposed 275,000 tonne site.

BRADLEY nr. Consett, (Judicial Review) (UK Coal)
The Planning Inspectorate yet to make a decision on whether it will defend its decision to reject UK Coal’s Application to extract 556,000 tonnes of coal after a Public Inquiry.
NOTT - 'No Opencast Today or Tomorrow' grpup.

FERNEYBEDS, WIDDRINGTON STATION 8 miles NW of Ashington (Scoping Inquiry) (Banks Group).

HALTON LEA GATE 5 miles SW of Haltwhistle, (Public Inquiry) (HM Developments)
Local residents fighting to oppose the 3rd application in two years for a 140,000 tonne site

HOODSCLOSE  Whittonstall (Application) (UK Coal)
UK Coal hopes to extract 2.2m tonnes of coal and 500,000 tonnes of fireclay over a seven year period.
Whittonstall Action Group.

MARLEY HILL RECLAMATION  Sunnyside, Gateshead (Scoping Enquiry) (UK Coal)


WELL HILL FARM, STANNINGTON nr Morpeth (Application) (Hargreaves Services)

Information from the Loose Anti-Opencast Network (LAON)

More info on active opposition to opencast, including the Scottish situation in the Douglas Valley.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Malta Zine 3

I've been crap and neither posted out this diary zine, nor yet paid the printers who made it. Here are a selection of pages, as I go through my hard drive deleting images to try and clear space:
Bird names in English and Maltese.

The last-minute cover.

Doodling in the lobby.

Turtle Doves.

Story of the Scops Owl.

And a genuine peeping Tom.

If it looks interesting, post something to me and I'll swap you for it, or buy the pagan geordie yearbook and I'll stick it in as an extra.

A Good Rant about the Rotten Jubilee

I didn't really notice the Jubilee till today, but now I've noticed it, I like this rant about it, via the 'past tense' radical history collective.


The torn bunting still flutters in the trees outside my window...

Flag-waving, street parties, forelock-tugging and nostalgic pictures of the happy smiling 1950s, appeal to tradition, a lost past where we all knew our place - respect, royalty, religion... RUBBISH! Grovelling to the wasters who perch on the pinnacle of an out-dated class system... THAT’S NOT A JUBILEE!

In ancient Jewish and early Christian tradition, the Jubilee, celebrated every 49 or 50 years, was a time when debts would be cancelled, and prisoners, slaves and bonded servants freed. Now THAT’S the kind of festival we need in these times!

All this patriotic coming together, what a cunch of bunting. Officially sponsored merry-making, streets closed by council order, plastic union-jack bowler hats… behind your rose-tinted glasses, we can read the emptiness of your souls. Now WE have organised street parties – but we asked no bureaucrat’s permission, we took over the space we felt was ours,
or should be; we turned highway into dance floor and planted trees on the motorway, built a kids’ playground in the fast lane and got pissed where cabs jostle. We honoured no made-up countries, or their self-appointed heads of hate… to celebrate only ourselves, each other, the people we love, who have only our bodies to sell, but dream of life as a big party
that never ends.
Now while the current world-wide mass onslaught on our living conditions continues, a wild free existence without work, money, hierarchies, war, exploitation and the rest may seem distant… further off than ever. There IS a definite upturn in people fighting back, refusing to accept the wage cutting, the benefit slashing, rent rises… Maybe that’s why we get the
royalist pageantry; since they’re slicing our bread thinner, the circuses need to whirl faster and fancier. And it’s handy if they can suck us consenting to the sacrifice, co-opt us into their dream of classes happily bowing down in harmony, all stepping down one rung of the ladder while kissing the arse above. Top-down unity and togetherness, spirit of the blitz, god bless yer Ma’am, we all need to tighten our belts.


There was a time when a queen sailing down the Thames wasn’t greeted with cheering crowds thronging the bridges. In June 1263, rebellious Londoners pelted queen Eleanor, wife of the unpopular king Henry II, with filth and stones, as she sailed under London Bridge from the Tower. Henry was quarrelling with barons demanding reform, and Londoners, as usual in the middle ages, took sides against the monarch.
Even Queen Victoria, role model for aspiring queens, and focus for the invention of most of the supposedly ancient traditions her descendants invoke at us, might have shied away from the Thames crossing points; the imposing statue of auntie Vicky at the north end could well represent her booing by a republican crowd while opening Blackfriars bridge in 1869…


OK… so if you look closer at the way Jubilee was administered in the Judaic or Catholic world-view, the details don’t look so inspiring. For instance, prisoners might only be let out on the confession of their sin or crime, doing penance or going on a pilgrimage was compulsory…
But we don’t have to play it by their rules… We can take from the past what we like, what is useful, and stir it up into our own whirlwind…

The idea of the Jubilee has been taken up throughout history, and given a liberating twist: especially in the heady years of the English Revolution: diggers, early Quakers, including Bristol’s favourite messiah James Nayler, Milton, Bunyan and Utopian writer James Harrington all saw the Jubilee as chiming in with their own dreams of radical new societies.
Later, nineteenth century communist Thomas Spence put Jubilee at the heart of his Plan for the poor to seize back the land…

But it was in the Caribbean that the Jubilee became most resonant. The kidnapped African slaves and their children evolved a dream of Jubilee, through their subversive readings of the Bible imposed on them by their slavemasters, which expressed their desires for freedom from bondage. Jubilee was at the heart of the slave rebellions that increased in number and ferocity in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, which formed a powerful part of the pressure that led to slavery’s abolition.

Probably the most vocal advocate of Jubilee as liberation was Robert Wedderburn: a most inspiring and intriguing personality. Born into slavery in the West Indies, a veteran of the british navy, he became a preacher and later a radical and a disciple of Spence. Mixing insurrectionist ideas in post-Napoleonic War London with agitation against slavery and the plantations owners in the Caribbean, Wedderburn developed a theory of Jubilee as revolution, the abolition of all bondage and control of the land by those who worked it, living in common and sharing labour and produce, as the early Christians were said to have done.

It’ll take a huge collective leap for us to bring anything like Wedderburn’s vision about. Which may not seem likely, in the light of the current mass brown-nosing jamboree. But who knows…? As austerity tightens, it’s really hard to predict how attitudes could change. The ancient Jewish Jubilee probably arose not so much from idealism but from practical ways to deal with economic inequality… Lets get practical, and dance up the impossible…