Yesterday I presented a series videos as a part of Ruth Beale’s show which is part of Fig.2 at the ICA. These were mostly taken from Doc Next Network’s Media Collection and its Radical Democracy Media Challenge. It was supposed to fit into three parts looking first at the idea of sortition (replacing elections with a lottery based system), second at the rise of political parties in Spain that refuse to identify with left or right but express a clear desire to reclaim democracy and finally to point to the rise of Poland’s ‘Urban Movement’ which had been successful in demanding participatory budgeting in cities across Poland.

This is David van Reybrouck talking about his book ‘Against Elections’, which as far as I can tell isn’t available in English at the moment – maybe because his publishers would rather you buy his book about the Congo. Here is an article by Ahmed R. Teleb on Open Democracy which talks a bit about the thirst for sortition in Belgium – especially in the youth parliament.

If it doesn’t play – you should be able to view it here.

This is a film about the Paris version of Occupy – nothing like the sound of impassioned French people arguing about democracy! I also showed this video which shows impromptu citizen assemblies at work during the ‘Bosnian spring last year. The point of these two films was to introduce a recent film made by these people from Spain which shows candidates from mini-Podemos municipalist parties discussing various dilemmas, thoughts and fears. These parties have deep roots in Spanish culture – but surely they must draw much of their energy from the Indignados. Barcelona en Comu (who feature in the film) and their housing activist leader Ada Colau have a real chance of winning the election in Barcelona next weekend.

Finally here is a film about a Polish artist and her struggle with local bureaucrats for permission to do some planting. I chose her as a sort of symbol of the Polish Urban Movement and its demand for more of a say in the towns and cities across Poland.


DSC_1014Last week Shelagh and I did a workshop at IETM in Dublin on our paper about Art and the Economy. The paper looks at the relationship between art and the economy – or more specifically, how artists are responding to an economy which doesn’t work, isn’t fair and, in some cases is actively destructive. The paper is still in draft form and can be looked at here. I have also broken it up into a series of blog posts which may make for easier reading as there are lots of links. The paper draws heavily on other people’s work which I’ve acknowledged here.  

I have started a new project with Fran Plowright and Kristella Etoile exploring the mammoth gap between many Newham residents’ financial means and the availability of housing there. We will be looking specifically at whether the Olympic legacy is doing anything to plug it. I’m not confident – especially when headlines like this fall apart when you read through what’s written beneath them. Anyway – the aim is to put together a pilot for a radio programme before Christmas.
Here’s a rough-cut of an introductory video Kristella and I made earlier this week.

Things have been going well for me at A New Direction recently. I feel like I’m on a bit of a roll. The organisation has become a sort of junction box between the Olympic Park, young people and opportunities in the media, in cultural institutions and the creative economy. I guess my niche at the moment has become designing and delivering ‘learning experiences’ at the point where these things meet. This weekend I ran a bizarre exchange between some young people in A New Direction’s Headstart Programme and some young film-makers in Glasgow. If the British Council is thinking about how England builds future relations with an independent Scotland, maybe this is one way forward. Heh. Here’s some exercises there wasn’t actually time for.

In February I ran an ‘immersion day’, with my colleague Fran Plowright  for young people who are working with youth radio stations across the Olympic borough’s that border the Olympic Park. The aim was to basically get them to the point, whereby they would be able to critically think about and report on the Olympics.

The day was a bit like a court-hearing with different witnesses coming in and testifying to the group. I think since I’ve been freelance, I’ve had a real itch for making the sharing of research, like the experience of doing it; School of Olympic Research, An Anatomy of Youth and even the forthcoming but currently non-existant magazine ‘Useful’ are/were attempts at this.

So anyway, on this immersion day we had Jeff Minnithorpe from London City Airport, who talked about how the airport is making special arrangements for VIPs, Olympic teams and a general increase in passenger numbers. There was AJ Rivers who talked about his forthcoming documentary ‘Torch’ about the Olympics and whether they are benefitting people in East London;  Amy Marren a 13-year old aspiring paralympic-swimmer who can beat able-bodied athletes in her classification at county level. We also heard from the Met Police. Best of all, we had Goldie who did an amazing motivational talk about his journey from a childhood in care to becoming a world famous musician/graffiti artist complete with all the rough bits inbetween and since. I don’t care how many crap TV programmes he’s been in – the man has such a thirst for life. He has a scar from a waterski accident that runs from his foot to his arse.

Here’s Amy, AJ and Goldie.

Instead of doing a series of hand-outs for the day, we produced a little ‘reporter’s book’ – with introductions to the speakers with useful names, addresses and resources for further reporting on The Olympics. We made them for the cost of the books from Cass Arts (95p per book) and the use of Modern Activity’s stapler. We kept about two thirds of the original pages of the book for notes in the middle. Here we go:

My involvement with this group has paired off a bit now, as they are actually making real radio programmes now (some of them were in The Aquatics Centre on Sunday) which isn’t really something I know anything about. But yeah, I definitely think that if I do anything like a conference or a learning event again, I am definitely, definitely doing one of these book-come-programme things!