Posted: November 3rd, 2013 | Author: Holly | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: transition | No Comments »
I’m currently staying/participating at a squatted site called Grow Heathrow. It is proving to be quite an important time for me. Politically affirming. I came here to learn skills, connect with others who have similar ideas about how we provide for ourselves, and give my support to a cause/project I’m passionate about. The squat originated from a need to confront the proposed plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport. The government in the UK has been looking at airport expansion for a while now – there’s still talk as to where this expansion will take place. If they opt for Heathrow, they’ll have to remove the squatters from this land and tarmac over the village of Sipson; one of the principle aims of the project is to instil community resistance in Sipson against Heathrow Airport Holdings (formerly British Airports Authority), if they come knocking.
The attitude here is great. People are focused. It’s a working squat. People arrive for many reasons. I’m here to work. That’s where my head is at the moment – I want to be productive, to be useful. Other visitors are here to enjoy themselves, relax and talk with others. This is a haven for free thought – a space to breathe for those disillusioned with materialism.
Here there’s no room for the workings of capital – no pressure to work the 9 to 5. It is a kind of political expression that directly challenges labour, the 9 to 5 grind. It is this kind of political expression that interests me at the moment, as opposed to attending the monthly anti-war protest/demonstration. Protest is important, but we must also set the agenda. ‘If all we do is oppose what they are trying to do, then we simply follow in their footsteps’. We need to carry on with our activity that isn’t determined by money. We must dedicate ourselves to what we consider necessary or desirable. We must live the world we want to create. Besides, protesting wipes me out (as I recently experienced at the protest against Fracking at Balcome). Not sure I want to devote my time and energy to protests, where we shout, confront police etc. It’s not in my nature to use physical force against other humans. Probably too middle class. It’s not in my nature to shout about things, sing chants etc. Perhaps if it’s a cause that really riles me up, then I might reconsider.
At the squat there is a non-hierarchical, anarchistic set up. No one is instructed to work. People work when they feel ready to. There are always tasks to be done. People wake up, a group gets together, starts talking – momentum starts to build and we work on a project. And we work hard. But it doesn’t feel like work. Because we’re there at our own will, because it’s a cause we believe in, there’s such comradery in our collective work. It’s fun and social. What great conversations emerge during work. Working together on something, where there’s a common goal, an objective, sometimes sparks more interesting conversations than assembling with the intention to socialise. During the summer there seems to be a huge flux of international travellers who have heard about the project. The squat reminds me of travelling in hostels – spaces to socialise, unwind and talk idealistically.
A working mind is a healthy mind. People are happy when they’re productive, when they’re being useful. Their self-esteem grows, their self-confidence and sense of value to the group benefits. During this first month, I have easily forgiven those who have not managed to work and contribute fully. There will be a long history of reasons as to why some are able to contribute more than others. Those that don’t, we should have sympathy for and try to understand why, rather than resent them. I guess I am just grateful I have this working mind, this motivation. I’ve only been here for a month, and my feelings on this may change. Without special resolve and grit, I imagine it is easy to lose patience over time.
The experience thus far is fulfilling a personal need to experiment with new forms of social relations outside capitalism. Grow Heathrow is an open project with plenty space for people to join the site. Contrary to other squats, it is the project that brings the inhabitants of the site together, rather than a group of friends. This kind of experiment in communal living has its rewards and challenges. There are those that use this space as some kind of refuge from some torment in their lives outside the squat. Although they are often unable to contribute to the collective in a variety of ways, the space must try to accommodate their distress. The community must do its upmost to prevent looking inwards. One older lady, who was previously in a mental institution, has benefitted immensely from gardening, working outdoors and being with people. She tells me how lonely she gets in the evenings on her own in her flat. Living communally trumps any discomfort from sleeping without a mattress.
The squat relies on solar panels and a wind turbine for its electricity, has no running hot water from the tap (although an impressive warm shower wood burner has been built) and there’s a compost toilet on site, minimising water usage. Almost all the food consumed is either grown on site, taken from bins outside supermarkets, or from food wholesalers giving away waste food. I must say, I do get a sense of gladness as I walk about doing my daily activity without barely any ecological footprint.
After 5 months in Salzburg (or rather a lifetime) of talking about the problems of the world, and what needs to be done, I am finally in a living and working arrangement that satisfies my political need to get to grips with the ‘doing’. When I wake up in the morning I feel as though I’m in the right place. At least for now. We’ll see how it goes this autumn.
The land that the community is occupying is up for eviction. So there is that added insecurity that for some residents makes long term-commitment/planning difficult. Indeed, their innate instability and transitory nature is a key criticism of squatted social centres. I seem to forget that bailiffs could start breaking through the gate any minute. Part of me doesn’t believe it will happen: Who would break-up such a peaceful, well-meaning, environmental project? I come across as naïve to some of the old-time squatters, who tell me I’ll soon understand what we’re fighting against when I see the State use its might to destroy any dissenting activity. Property is king. I wonder where I’ll be, what I’ll do when we’re being evicted. I probably won’t know how I’ll react until it’s happening. Can physical force ever be successful against the State? History shows that violence and aggression is what it often does best. Why play them at their own game? But if someone is evicting you from your home – if I develop some emotional attachment to this place – there’s no knowing how one might react.
Holloway, J. 2010. Crack Capitalism
. London: Pluto Press, p.3.
Holloway, J. 2010. Crack Capitalism.
London: Pluto Press, pp.3-4.
Posted: October 14th, 2013 | Author: Holly | Filed under: Events, Uncategorized | Tags: cranford park, friends of cranford park, Residents | No Comments »
Message from Cranford Park:
Book now for one of the highlights of our year, the HALLOWE’EN SPOOKY SPECTACULAR on Thursday 31 October at Cranford Countryside Park. As this is a popular (and free) event, booking is essential (see below or poster attached for details).Join a group of actors for a ghostly walk around the park. There are three ‘showings’, one for children and two for adults – please specify which when you book.
3.30pm: For accompanied children. Make Hallowe’en lanterns followed by a spooky talk and ghostly walk at 5pm.
7pm & 8pm: For adults. Ghostly walk and terrifying talk for adults.
How to book: Booking is essential, please do NOT reply to this email but reserve spaces with Countryside & Conservation Officer Alison Shipley. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or tel. 01895 250647.
HEALTHY WALK. Thursday 17 October 11am. A brisk 2-3 mile walk around the park in good company. No need to book.
AUTUMN COLOURS WALK. Saturday 9 November, 11am. Guided walk around the park enjoying the beautiful autumn colours in good company. No need to book.
Advance notice: Cranford Park Friends AGM - Thursday 21 November, 7.30pm Crane Community Centre, Fuller Way off Cranford Drive, Harlington UB3 4LW. All welcome.
For all events except the AGM please meet at Information Centre, Cranford Park, The Parkway (A312) Harlington/Hounslow, TW5 9RZ
Thank you all VOLUNTEERS who have been busy around the park, especially the Woods, in the Secret Garden and clearing ivy from the Ha-Ha wall, an 18th century historic feature near the Information Centre. To see photos of this and the park’s amazing variety of wildlife – including kingfishers, owls and weasels – read member Wendy Marks’ fascinating October blog here:
Calling all CYCLISTS and JAZZ MUSICIANS. A group interested in doing easy, level and (mainly) traffic-free cycling around Cranford Park, Minet Park, Heathrow Villages and West Drayton areas is being started. It will go at the pace of the slowest rider. We are also looking for trad jazz musicians/ skiffle players who might like to help stage an event next year remembering Ken Colyer’s Crane River Jazz Band which began around Cranford Park in the 1950s. For either of these please reply to this email.
We hope to see you in the park again soon.
Posted: October 7th, 2013 | Author: Holly | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Join Grow Heathrow on a foraging excursion in Hyde Park!
Meet at Hyde Park Corner tube // Sat 12 Oct // 4pm
Posted: September 24th, 2013 | Author: lundy | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Work and play weekend this weekend. Work AND play - come on you know you want to! It’s meant to be sunny right?
We’re starting on Thursday and finishing on Monday, would be great to see you down here.
Posted: March 24th, 2012 | Author: matt | Filed under: Media, Uncategorized | Tags: community, newsletter | No Comments »
This Thursday, Grow Heathrow was left virtually empty as everyone got out and about in the Heathrow villages, delivering our newly pressed Newsletter Number 5. Around ten of us delivered nearly 2000 newsletters to residents in Sipson, Harmondsworth and Harlington.
Inside this issue: Tar Sands, Birthdays, Court Dates and more…
A PDF copy of the newsletter can be downloaded here.
Posted: December 6th, 2011 | Author: Joe | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: austerity, community, occupy, riots | No Comments »
The riots over the summer put things into perspective and highlighted the need for community spaces. For me, the riots served as a very harsh reminder of the lack of tight-knit community in our country.
It was sad to see those cases where looting and rioting spread to local community shops, because of the realisation that those involved didn’t feel they were attacking their own community. This is important because it means they don’t share any ownership or have any relationship to their local community in the first place. This surely needs to be addressed before putting lots of people in prison.
In Leeds one day this summer, a group of people gathered to discuss the theme of ‘Communities in Crisis’. The aim was to explore from a variety of perspectives and contexts how and why communities develop qualities of self-reliance, resilience and empowerment in times of crisis. The discussions formed part of a research project led by Paul Chatterton, a lecturer at Leeds University who runs an MA in Activism and Social Change, which is attempting to understand contemporary communities within the dynamics of crisis.
It is now widely accepted that we are currently facing a time of converging crises – a climate crisis, peak oil, and an ever deepening financial crisis. The ‘Communities in crisis’ project defines crisis as “a crucial or decisive point or situation, a moment of ‘creative destruction’ where the dismantling of old infrastructures creates a space for social innovation.” The present moment in UK society, characterised by austerity cuts following a major crisis of capitalism, is creating crises for many communities. However, although lots of people are struggling and being hit hard it’s not all doom and gloom. These moments of “creative destruction” give opportunities for people to discover new ways of being and new ways of claiming power over their everyday lives. Many communities are starting to do this – according to the ‘Communities in Crisis’ research project – “seeking out of necessity or intent, new coping mechanisms based on greater resilience, self-help and participation.”
An Occupy LSX banner on the steps of St Pauls Catherdral
The Occupy movement which continues to grow both globally and in the UK after the occupation of an old disused bank, are leading the way by opening the space for important discussions that need to take place. But what happens when these moments of convergence end? What steps do we take next when we go back to our own communities? This is something which the Climate Camp movement failed to work out and this is where in my opinion long term and sustainable community organising is a necessity.
Starting up a Transition Town has got to be one solution but there are others too. Squatting in the middle of a housing crisis makes sense when there are over 700,000 properties lying empty across the UK. Social centres, info-shops, community gardens – anything which offers an alternative space for communities to gather in times of crises is going to be useful heading into the future. These spaces also build excitement – an excitement that shows we can organise differently.
'Grow Heathrow' photo campaign
On a very basic level this is one of the things we are trying to do with Transition Heathrow. Grow Heathrow – a squatted community garden space, is at its heart a community experiment in action. Everything that happens at Grow Heathrow is an experiment and we are always trying and learning new ways of doing things and new ways of relating to each other. We might not get it right all the time but what is most exciting is the creation of new ways of organising.
Our participation in a ‘Fireworks and Fun Day’ event recently, organised in one of the local Heathrow Villages, may at first appear unrelated to our goal of “building resilient Heathrow communities, capable of collectively coping with the injustices and threats of climate change and peak oil”. However this would be to miss the essential connectedness of our various aims. Events such as these which bring communities together couldn’t be more essential for building resilience and we had a great day with our local community hosting a conker championships and planting up bulbs on the village green. And without strong local communities, we cannot develop the grassroots solutions necessary for combating the global challenges that we face.
This blog was taken from the Transition Network website as part of their social reporting pilot project.
Posted: November 13th, 2011 | Author: Ian | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: activism, climate change, energy, oil, tar sands | No Comments »
Transition Heathrow is delighted at being named the first Tar Free community in the UK. At our recent Resistance Jam weekend, Sue and Emily from the UK Tar Sands Network visited Grow Heathrow to unveil a new banner they had prepared for us and to explain their new initiative.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that the capitalist system around us has gone crazy. Our total dependence on oil is socially self-destructing, and the only way our economy can sustain itself is by wrecking everything in its path in a quest for the last remaining dregs of unexploited oil reserves. The environmentally catastrophic Tar Sands extraction in Alberta is the foremost example of this.
Across the world communities are starting to stand up to illegitimate governments and corporations that continue to put profits before people. We need to join the dots between communities under threat. The forces trying to destroy communities around Heathrow airport are the same as those bringing destruction to Alberta. We at Transition Heathrow stand in solidarity with the indigenous communities who face losing their livelihoods, traditions and history through the complete destruction of their local environment.
We felt incredibly honoured when First Nations activists from Alberta chose to visit Transition Heathrow earlier this year, as part of the No Tar Sands UK tour. An evening of discussion and shared stories brought hope and inspiration to our separate struggles. Working together and supporting each other can only help communities under threat defend themselves.
Becoming a Tar Free Town means making a commitment to only using ethical sources of energy. By themselves, our actions may not have much impact, but by acting together we can drive the Tar Sands out of our towns and out of the UK, and create a future where our energy needs are met without the rights of indigenous communities being trampled on.
Posted: September 8th, 2011 | Author: Joe | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: activism, community | No Comments »
Earlier in the week some members of Transition Heathrow visited Dale Farm to show a bit of solidarity. We had an amazing time in what was an interesting visit into a really tight knit community that is often lacking from the rest of Britain. The travellers have just received their eviction dates and need all the support they can get.
Dale Farm is the UK’s largest traveller community consisting of nearly a hundred plots and at its peak over a thousand residents. The site is a former scrapyard and is actually owned by the residents – they just don’t have planning permission to live on half the site. After a wave of anti-traveller laws were passed in the 1990s John Major’s government encouraged travellers to buy land and get planning permission to settle down. However, planning permission is not easily available to traveller communities anywhere. According to the Commission for Racial Equality, more than 90% of traveller planning applications are rejected – this compares to less than 20% of rejected applications for everybody else.
The planned eviction is a form of ethnic cleansing which will result in travellers being forced onto the road and their children pulled out of school. They would leave Dale Farm if they could, but the council have refused to fulfil it’s obligations to provide more traveller pitches.
The most ridiculous part of it all is that £18 million has been set aside to remove the 90 families (about 500 people, many of them children). It is a complete waste of time, money and violence to remove the Dale Farm residents who have done everything they can to find a peaceful resolution to avoid the brutal forced eviction. Spending £18 million on an unavoidable eviction in the current times of austerity measures is indefensible – it is a huge waste of public money that should be spent on supporting, not destroying, communities. Even condemnation from the UN is being ignored.
For all these reasons, the residents have vowed to “fight to the very last” and so they should! They have nothing to lose at this point. Supporters are being urged to come to Dale Farm and get involved with ‘Camp Constant’ to stand with the community. What amazed me in my short time at Dale Farm was the amount of respect shown between the local residents and outsiders who have come in to help them defend there homes. Before we had even reached the front gate we had two sets of families gleefully thanking us for coming to support them.
The police and bailiffs are going to try and start securing the site on the 12th September so try and get down there before if you can to help them build the barricades. There is also a march planned this Saturday from 1pm which people are being encouraged to attend.
Posted: June 10th, 2011 | Author: Joe | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: photography | No Comments »
Jessica Sumerling, BA (Hons) Photography student and member of Transition Heathrow, has won two awards for her project “Grow Heathrow”. Having just completed her photography degree at London College of Communication, this promising photographer created a beautiful exhibition depicting the story of Grow Heathrow.
Jessica received both the Metro Imaging Award and the HotShoe Award for her photographic project, ‘Grow Heathrow.’ She will receive £1000 worth of photographic equipment and a portfolio review from Metro Imaging, as well as a feature in the August/September edition of HotShoe Magazine. A fantastic achievement. Her double-winning piece comprises a series of photographs and an 80-page self-published book documenting life at ‘Grow Heathrow’.
You can purchase the hand-made book on Jessica’s website, where you can also see the photos of ‘Grow Heathrow’ and her other work.
Posted: May 11th, 2011 | Author: Joe | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: police, protest | No Comments »
Here’s what our local MP has to say about the recent police intimidation tactics which have been stepped up in the last couple of weeks. If your after a clear explanation as to what political policing means then listen in as John explains it really well from about 3 minutes in.
He was speaking hear at an emergency public meeting on the right to protest which was called for after Grow Heathrow was raided by 40 riot police in the early hours of the morning along with 4 other squats across London and Brighton the day before the royal wedding. As well as this, some high profile activists were pre-emptively arrested the night before the royal wedding – and on the actual day itself people were arrested for singing songs and for dressing up as zombies.