Span That World: The DF Web

Syndicate content
DFs from The Woodcraft Folk
Updated: 16 min 1 sec ago

Spanning Leicester with peg doll protesters

30 April 2016 - 7:38pm

Heya, it’s Ruby here, with a brief rundown of how Span That World With Protest went down in Leicester on Saturday 30th April 2016…

THE WEEK BEFORE: I made an unimpressive poster and reminded all my friends to come, a lot. Luckily the Real Junk Food Project in Leicester were super on board and agreed to give me a space in their cafe to run the STWWP activities. We decided to make peg doll protesters – peg dolls carrying little protest banners about, well, anything really. They would then be displayed around the city for the public to see and hopefully to make people think.

THE DAY BEFORE: I went to Poundland to buy the crafty materials I needed (a bit last minute but w/e). They only had very brightly coloured plastic peg dolls, but I decided that would probs be cool anyway. Made a practice peg doll and showed the world in an effort to encourage people to come.

THE DAY: I started at 9.30am in the Real Junk Food Project kitchen, as usual on a Saturday. {The Real Junk Food Project intercepts perfectly edible food that was going to be thrown away and cooks it up into meals for the public, served on a pay-as-you-feel basis. An amazing social and environmental organisation to work with for STWWP} I cooked up a gr8 vegan, gluten free lemon cake (all by myself!) then set up my crafty table in the main space. Only one other DF and someone else from my district could make it BUT we got loads of kids helping to make the peg dolls and some more banner ideas from their parents. After ~two hours crafting I went into town and sneakily put the dolls in different places across the city. I mean then it rained so their banners are probs ruined. BUT! It was a super valuable experience. I got a lot out of it, and it was a really nice community experience, especially getting children to think about the issues they care about and the things they want to change. Have a look at our peg dolls – which is your favourite?

















DF Camp 2016

23 April 2016 - 3:43pm

With Spring being Awakened earlier this month, it’s time to start thinking about how to spend the warmer weather coming our way. DF Camp 2016 equals seven cosy nights in London, attempting to gaze at the stars, while complaining about pollution. What better way to celebrate the beginnings of summer than with a village of friends, good food and good times?

When?

14th-21st July

Where?

North London (nearest train station Bounds Green [tube])

How much?

£90 (including £5 fairer fare)

Who?

Admin: Dani Rebecca, Iolo Walker, Nick Craven

KPs: Elliot Francis-Hewett, Molly McCarthy, Arwel Walker

Programme: Jasmine Forbes, Rory Marsland-Smith, Millie Burgh, Niamh Steyaert-Hernon

KE: Otis Romane and Thomas Kerfoot

[KB (Keeper of the Bikes): Lev Tamari]

Book now! 

Loading…

 

It’s hard to care, but we have to!

18 April 2016 - 6:10pm

 

In my opinion, the debate around the EU referendum has been a bit rubbish. It feels like nobody can give us facts, only speculation, scaremongering and slamming the other side. Of course, in some ways speculation is all you can do, since no-one really knows what would happen if we leave the EU. But it seems like all this guesswork doesn’t really do anything for us.

 

For many people, including young people like us, the debate has already gone on too long, and it’s so pervasive in the media at the moment, that it’s easy to switch off, ignore it and not care. To give a sample, today (18th April) on the Guardian website’s page on the referendum (http://www.theguardian.com/politics/eu-referendum) there have been nineteen articles published. The official start of campaigning was only the 15th April, but it feels like it’s been so much longer – no wonder it’s hard to care passionately about it.

One of the problems with the debate is the overarching focus on the economy. Of course, the economy is important, but for the average Brit, it doesn’t affect our daily lives. Maybe we’d see minute differences in taxes or prices, but, as I’ve said, we can’t really predict what they would be. For young people especially, this kind of shit just doesn’t affect us!

 

 

Another issue I see is scaremongering based on immigration. In the booklet that the Tory government sent out about why they want us to stay in the EU, there is an entire page dedicated to “controlling immigration and securing out borders”. (Read it here: https://www.eureferendum.gov.uk/why-the-government-believes-we-should-remain/safety-and-security/ ) It outlines the government’s deal with the EU that will “make our benefits system less of a draw for EU citizens. In future, new EU migrants will not have full access to certain benefits until they have worked here for up to four years.” WHAT!? This is such a horrible idea; it’s already hard enough for new immigrants to thrive here. The idea that we want to deter European citizens from coming to live here is laughable. Immigrants enrich our country, open our minds and contribute far more than they take.

The pro-EU booklet from the Government that was sent to every household in the UK

 

Obviously this scaremongering is in response to the growing popularity of UKIP’s anti-immigration stance. Farage and his cronies have massively influenced Conservative rhetoric, as well as getting all the political parties talking about immigration more than is needed. But I digress. To be honest, I definitely will vote in the referendum, and I’ll definitely vote to stay in, but it makes me feel super uncomfortable identifying with the side of the debate that says this kind of anti-immigration crap.

 

So, the EU debate is pretty alienating for young people, but the thing is, we should actually care. That’s because we should care about any time we can express an opinion to those at the top – whether it’s a referendum, an election or a protest. Making your voice heard is not just a right, but something of a responsibility: if you don’t vote for what you believe in, how can you claim any ties with what our leaders do?

 

What’s more, it’s extra important that young people vote whenever they can: voting figures are notoriously low for our age group, and that means political parties pander to our parents and grandparents, but shit on us: increasing university tuition fees, opening higher education up to private business interests, and axing Education Maintenance Allowance (sixth-formers from low income families used to receive £30 a week to go to school/college!? I know!), to name a few.

 

Plus, going back to the referendum, young people are the most likely to agree with staying in, but the least likely to vote (read this article: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/eu-referendum-poll-young-people_uk_5700e40ae4b0c5bd919b452c). So if, like me, you agree with staying in the EU because of wider opportunities for working and studying abroad, and international cooperation and solidarity, then please try to care. If you look through the spin, media rubbish and fearmongering, you’ll find that this is an important issue and a chance to directly impact a government decision. So if you’re old enough to vote, vote!

 

Hannah Michel-Bowman

Span That World With Protest

10 April 2016 - 7:45pm

WHAT?

DFs around the country, all doing small little protests on the 30th April. The 1st May is International Workers’ Day so it’ll be lovely for DFs to be doing stuff that weekend.

There are many things you can do, not all of which are big scary protests.

LIKE WHAT?

Craftivism is a way of using art as protest. Craftivist Collective’s website is full of good ideas.

  • Peg doll protests are cool – make people out of wooden pegs and make them little placards. They can be left around places or displayed somewhere.

  • Chalk is a fun thing to use – go out early in the morning and chalk stuff on pavements/walls. It’s not allowed, but equally they’re not gonna track you down.
  • Cross stitch is a good way to get messages across – you can get binca in craft shops and embroider words into it really easily. Then sew it onto some pretty fabric, and cable tie it to a lamp post or similar.
  • There are so many other cool ideas of things to do, craftivism wise, so get arty!

OR

You could write to your MP about something or even try organise a meeting with them.

OR

Do some direct action. Why not have a sit-in in a bank? Barclays’ is a good one because they support fracking. If you do it then it’s easy because you can leave at any time.

OR

Why not organise something with your district? A workshop, film showing, a talk or similar?

OR

Why not join in with or organise something with an existing local group? There are so many great things out there and it’s a great way to…

GET PEOPLE INVOLVED

  • Get DFs to come and bring friends!
  • Get other ages of Woodcraft along.
  • Publicise it in advance – put up posters, get advertised on local radio/in local press, leaflet

SPREAD THE WORD

  • Do a press release (advice here).
  • Share on social media before and afterwards.
  • Make a post on Span That World afterwards to brag about your cool protest!

 

For any help or questions, email affiliations@spanthatworld.com or message me, Lily MacTaggart, on Facebook.

MEST-UP training

10 April 2016 - 6:59pm

Applications are now open for MEST-UP training this summer!
Training will take place from 11th – 14th July (right before DF Camp) and we’re prioritising people who can come and be part of the team at V Camp. The training event and travel are completely expensed. If you think you’d be good on the MEST-UP team, apply now! Applications will close towards the end of May, and we’ll let you know if you’re successful about a month before the event.
Loading…

The EU referendum is something of a

9 April 2016 - 11:13am

The EU referendum is something of a distraction. It reflects a crisis of European and global capitalism, and a disagreement within the ruling class of Britain as to how to respond. In my view, the question of whether we stay in or out is the wrong question if both options assume a capitalist Britain and a capitalist Europe. Due to the impossibility of avoiding crisis in a capitalist system where markets are out of our control, either option will not make any decisive improvement to our situation and the situation of the millions of ordinary people in Britain and around the world – workers, the unemployed, refugees, young people – who are on the receiving end of inequality, violence and exploitation. We should fight for a socialist Europe that stands completely opposed to the capitalist logic which frames the EU debate. Socialism is where the means of production – the things society uses to exist, like goods, energy, food, housing etc, – is owned and run by all people, democratically and collectively, rather than owned and run by a group of private owners and functioning through the market, as in capitalism.

To be sure, the EU is an organisation dedicated to the protection of European capitalists’ wealth and power. It started life as a series of free-trade agreements designed to allow the expansion of business opportunity and trade. Shared markets allow for the movement of capital without restriction, trading across borders, and drawing on a greater pool of resources, consumers, and workers. World War 2 left European economies incredibly weakened, and European imperialism (which means the external control of other land/countries through the military, trade or colonisation) which had previously controlled and violently exploited large sections of the globe, was negated by anti-colonial uprisings and the strength of American imperialism. The development of the EU became a way for stronger European economies like Germany and France to dominate weaker European economies such as those around the Mediterranean, and later after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe. Undemocratic deals like TTIP (a forthcoming trade deal between the EU and the US which has been negotiated behind closed doors with no democratic accountability, and involves the removal of local market protections and has many scary elements which you can read about) show how the EU’s main object is to create space for trade and capitalist wealth creation with little regard for the freedom or choice of ordinary citizens.

In recent years “social Europe” has been celebrated by the left as a source of some legislation protecting workers rights, such as the European Commission of Human Rights. When Ed Heath’s Tory government brought us in in 1973, many on the Left saw it as a danger to worker’s rights, allowing international capital to exploit British workers. However, the history of the EU since then has highlighted how, since the Thatcher years, Britain has pursued a policy of rampant neo-liberalism that is unrivalled in Europe. Neoliberalism is the idea that all elements of society should be market-led, and state involvement like welfare, taxes or state-run services and production are inefficient and wrong. Deregulation on capital, and attacks on the security of workers through the harshest trade union laws in Europe, have exposed us to the exploitation of capitalist bosses both British and international. Britain’s single-minded pursuit of free-market control stands in contrast to Western Europe’s somewhat more regulated model, with higher taxes, more welfare, and more provisions for workers’ benefits and security. This is partly due to the stronger labour movement in many European countries, owing to Thatcher’s destruction of British unionism and industry that was not quite reflected in Europe. Unions are when workers pool their efforts, allowing them to effect change in their interests – for instance gaining a pay rise by threatening to strike. This difference has led many to look to the EU as a site for potential site of social democratic international consensus.

The provisions that capitalist prosperity had provided for some sections of the European working class were possible in a time of economic prosperity when the demands of the labour movement could be met to some small degree. This prosperity, however, was built on massive contradictions.

Firstly, it required “Fortress Europe” – the repressive effort to keep migrants from entering the EU, even, as now, in times of horrifying humanitarian disasters stemming from violence in the Middle East. This violence, let’s not forget, is a direct result of Western imperialism and NATO’s military actions in areas like Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. NATO is a military alliance of many European countries and the US. The EU has always taken great pains to keep out migrants through FRONTEX, its border control agency. It often outsources its efforts to neighbouring countries who use repressive and violent regimes, paying, for instance, Gadhafi of Libya, the repressive Moroccan state, and Erdogan’s authoritarian Turkey to police the way in to Europe, using fences, boats, batons, guns and detention centres. The tactics used are violent and horrifying and amount to institutional racism on huge scale. You can read about the terrible conditions in detention centres, and the awful deal the EU has concocted with Turkey to return all refugees entering Greece, en-masse, to Turkey, in exchange for 6 billion euros.

Secondly, economic boom within Europe during the second half of the 20th century was built on the economic contradictions of capitalism that ensure that crisis is always brewing. While prosperity grew, inequality was also growing at speed. As business owners look to make profit, it is in their interests to push their workers’ wages down, and to move around to find large pools of workers who will work for a lower wage. Capitalists try and produce more and more goods from the productive force of their workers to sell at a profit, while paying them as little as possible. However they need to sell their goods to those same workers. This means that there will eventually be a surplus of goods with no one who can afford to buy them. This is basically the crisis at the heart of global economic collapse. The boom period temporarily delayed this crisis through the massive extension of credit – lending people money to buy goods, within an ever-more-complex financial sector that whipped up ways to make money from money that was ultimately unsustainable and built on bad debt, leading to the credit crash and the global financial crisis which we are in the midst of.

In Europe, this came to a head with the debt crisis, where countries like Italy, Ireland and Greece are wracked by debt. The only capitalist answer to this, which has been taken up all across Europe and Britain, is grinding austerity. Ordinary people are made to pay for crisis caused by bankers to alleviate debt owed to bankers, while incredibly rich capitalists sit on billions of Euros worth of uninvested, unproductive capital. More economically powerful European countries have forced austerity on to populations who are entirely unwilling to accept the massive human costs. For instance, the health crisis in Greece resulting from cuts has led to infant mortality rising by 43% from 2008 to 2010, and miscarriages tripling from 2010 to 2012. Half of Spain’s youth are unemployed. Still the EU has unflinchingly imposed austerity packages in order to delay default on debt – debt that is owed to private bankers.

All this shines an unfavourable light on Europe, which might sensibly make you think that a Leave vote is a good idea. But the point I’m trying to make is that the crisis we are in, with public services facing massive cuts and unemployment raging, is endemic to our economic system of capitalism. Our crisis has the same source as that experienced by Europe. We will not be able, as the reactionaries who dominate the Brexit campaign say, to carve prosperity for ourselves away from the sinking ship of Europe. The leave campaign is led by a class of disaffected businessmen who have seen their security weakened and would like to see their income strengthened by lower taxes and less regulation, allowing them to greater exploit British workers. Exemplified by UKIP, they have capitalised on a nationalistic racist sentiment that has blamed foreigners and migrants for the problems of capitalism. This sentiment has allowed those in power to obscure their role in creating and exploiting crisis, and is reflected in more extreme incarnations across Europe with fascist groups gaining power, like Le Front National in France or the Golden Dawn in Greece. These fascist groups actually point to the weakness of capitalism as it uses physical violence and repression to defend itself from growing unrest.

Thus the debate as it is framed in mainstream politics and media is dominated on both sides by different wings of a capitalism built on exploitation and violence. It is a system that tends towards crisis, and in those periods it is ordinary people who lose out, and get a glimpse of the violence behind the mask of capitalism, which many around the world live directly on the brunt of from day to day. While capitalism is unquestioned, racists will always impede our attempts to foster humanitarian solidarity with people from across Europe and the world, and while the interests of business are taken to be the same as the interests of the majority, then British and European workers will always be exploited whether Britain stays in or out. What we need to do is build a platform radically opposing both a capitalist Europe and a capitalist Britain, and through solidarity with all workers, unemployed, and refugees across Europe and the world fight for a socialist Europe. The institutional structure of the EU cannot be reformed within capitalism – to achieve an EU that provided enough welfare and reforms to adequately alleviate the degradation that many live under, would be to combat the interests of global capitalism to the extent that it would be tantamount to a revolution anyway. In order to end the horrors of capitalist crisis that shake Europe, we must reclaim the sources of wealth from the rich. Society, which is currently operated through private ownership, where the production of what we need to live is controlled as a source of profit, must be put under our collective, democratic control.

by Nick Hallsworth

Join the debate: write a piece on the EU referendum

Dear DFs, I think we should leave the

7 April 2016 - 4:10pm

Dear DFs,

I think we should leave the EU because of these trade deals like TTIP, CETA and TISA. Each one of these trade deals allows companies from the USA to sue the UK Goverment/Courts because the UK Government/Courts is in the EU. If the UK leaves the EU then our Government/Courts won’t be sued, so I say vote leave of the EU.

by Lev Micah Tamari

 

Find out more about these trade deals here

Join the debate: write a piece on the EU referendum