Tag: Social Justice (Page 1 of 3)

Samosas for Social Change? Food Activism and Media Ecologies

By Eva Giraud

on

The title of this blog is a tribute to local Nottingham collective Veggies Catering Campaign, who – along with Brighton’s Anarchist Teapot – are two of the UK’s most well-known ‘campaign caterers’. This post isn’t focused purely on Veggies, though, but a long-standing food-activism campaign that some of their members have been involved in, which draws together some interesting issues about how we conceptualise protest media and what the political significance of these conceptualisations is.

In general I want to highlight three things: The first is the difficulty of engaging in what Pollyanna Ruiz (2014) describes as ‘polyvocal’ protest, or mobilizing behind a range of interrelated issues as opposed to campaigning on a single-issue basis; the second is a body of work that explores how activist media practices can be understood as information ecologies (e.g. Treré 2012). The third, and final, thing I’m going to discuss relates to work by Anna Feigenbaum who (both individually and with Frenzel and McCurdy 2013) expands the definition of media beyond conventional communication platforms, in order to explore how other material entities can express (or sometimes constrain) meaning, from the symbolic use of tents in occupations of public space to the repressive use of tear gas to silence dissent. The work engaged in by these researchers has helped me to think through both the conceptual and tactical significance of issues I’ve looked at in my own work, in relation to food activism.

Movements local to me, such as Food Not Bombs and Nottingham Animal Rights, have regularly used food to draw attention to interconnected issues. There are, for instance, regular ‘free food give-aways’ in Nottingham city centre, where vegan food is cooked and served outside fast food outlets as part of long-standing anti-McDonald’s campaigning. What I want to reflect on in a little more depth is how the role of food can be conceptualised in these contexts, as a tool for polyvocal protest.

Veggies’ own What’s Wrong with McDonald’s? pamphlet is still distributed today as a defiant marker of the anniversary of the McLibel trial, and for the past twenty years has worked in conjunction with the McSpotlight website to articulate the series of problems drawn together by McDonald’s. While the pamphlet succinctly listed a range of issues – including worker’s rights, animal welfare, environmental destruction, littering, exploitative/misleading advertising, and unhealthy food – the website provided an in-depth archive of evidence to flesh out these concerns (see Pickerill 2003), with ‘mirrors’ in other countries to avoid fear of libel. The site also contains PDFs of the pamphlet in multiple languages, to enable people to develop local campaigns of their own.

It more recent times, however, the campaign has faced difficulties in maintaining its polyvocal dimensions. Though McDonald’s was initially a useful emblem for drawing together issues and problems, this had its downsides; while the campaign tried to make clear it wasn’t just McDonald’s that was the problem, but what it stood for, the sight of people flyering outside of the restaurant can lead to assumptions that the restaurant is the main target. This is especially problematic in light of McDonald’s recent emphasis on ‘local’, ‘organic’ produce in its marketing campaigns within the UK, which make it seem like any criticisms have been addressed. Though this has been responded to with a new McGreenwash pamphlet, pamphleteering in a specific site doesn’t always make criticisms of the restaurant resonate with broader criticisms of the agricultural-industrial complex or of the commercialisation of public space. In contrast, though McSpotlight does have the capacity to elaborate on connections between different issues in depth, twenty years after the site’s initial buzz, the website tends to be used as a helpful archive of information for activists rather than a platform to communicate with publics.

Food, however, can be a way of overcoming the limitations of both the pamphlets and web-media. Food sharing, for instance, is useful in de-familiarising commercial rhythms in ways that pamphlets alone might not. Quite often if you’re distributing political pamphlets this just seems part of urban rhythms, something to ignore in the same way that you might ignore commercial flyers. Food give-aways, in contrast, evoke surprise that people are giving something away within a commercial space without trying to sell the product, which often prompts further questions and creates space for dialogue. While I have reflected on these campaigns in the past, in a range of contexts (e.g. Notts Free Food 2010, Giraud 2015), I’ve struggled to articulate exactly what food’s value was in more concrete terms. Yes, different tactics reach different audiences (with specific web-platforms appealing to different sectors of the activist community, whist pamphleteering directly engaged with consumers) and, yes, food distribution was a good way of breaking down barriers and chatting with people, but I felt there was something more to say.

When listening to Feigenbaum’s research at the last SoME seminar, however, I reflected that I was drawing artificial distinctions between food sharing (which I saw as a practice) and pamphlets, websites and social media (which I saw as communication). I also often found myself treating these things separately, and reflecting on the strengths and weaknesses of each platform, or how they could work together to compensate for these limitations, rather than taking the more holistic approach that is offered by understanding these practices as being interrelated (as in Treré’s work). If, instead, food is – firstly – understood as media in its own right and, secondly, situated as part of a complex communication ecology, then it becomes possible to grasp its role, and protest potentials, more clearly. In the context of the give-aways, food can be understood as a media which has affordances that emerge through its relationships with the other media involved. To clarify what I mean by this, burgers served in McDonald’s clearly convey different meaning to the burgers cooked outside, which – due to their location, being free and being vegan – communicate oppositional ideas about public space, commercialisation, and animal rights (to give a few examples). The specific resonances the veggie burgers assume, moreover, shift depending on their relation with the other media involved in the campaign, which doesn’t just include the pamphlets that are being distributed but the way the stall is arranged, who is present and what discussions are had.

Thinking through food’s role as part of a broader media ecology, of on- and offline communication practices, is a helpful way of reflecting on the different affordances and constraints of the varied platforms being used, and how tinkering with these relationships could alter these affordances to reach new audiences or make communication more effective. Food, in this context, can be seen as a powerful communicative tool, which both expresses critical meaning, and enacts new – if temporary – forms of social relations. Whilst, in themselves, pamphlets, websites, social media, burgers, or verbal discussion might have their limitations, by refusing to isolate these media and understanding them as part of a complex ecology of communicative practices, the value of different tactics for polyvocal protest can become clearer. The theoretical framings of media discussed here, therefore, are not just helpful for conceptualising activist media practices, but for assessing the context-specific value of different media for communicating complex, interrelated, issues to diverse publics.

Shambala Festival – Rebel Soul 2020 Cancelled

Shambala is a creative, non-commercial, ethical and family-friendly festival with a wild side and completely independent from advertising and sponsorship!

In 2016 Shambala went Meat and fish free, to continue their mission to keep Shambala at the cutting edge of sustainable event organising.

“… we’re setting ourselves a challenge: to provide the most eye-popping, mouthwatering, colourful, hearty array of cuisine at Shambala 2016 without a single bit of meat or fish on sale. Not a sausage. Instead, keep your eyes peeled for … a range of delicious food from around the world, debates, talks and creative exploration of the wonderful world of food.

Shambala HQ is a mixed bag, with vegans, veggies and meat eaters co-existing harmoniously together, but the whole team agrees that it is important to be bold with our environmental stance, and encourage this debate.”

Rebel Soul

Whilst not catering at the event, Veggies will assist again with facilities for the Rebel Soul space, where there will be a programme of intellectual stimulation, music and performance that will challenge, inspire and fire you up. Whet your appetite: fresh-baked cake, pasties & samosas, teas & coffees (for donation), and fairtrade tuck shop.

Rebel Soul will be a whole area combining beautiful tents and beautiful people within to celebrate rebellion, resistance and exploring positive futures. Stimulation for your mind with workshop, displays, info and bookstall and, for your aural delectation, a fine line-up of music and poetry.

“Rebel Soul is politics thinly veiled as entertainment. In the day we host workshops and debates on hot topics run by people who know their fields inside out. We host the country’s frontline campaigners – from the people who ran the No More Page 3 campaign to the people spearheading the anti-fracking movement. We bring you the people who will ask the big questions, and then help you answer them, like why is Shambala vegetarian? what is sex? and what is race?”

By night we celebrate with bangin’ bands and DJs from punk to soca to techno, and from all over the world. We have a store full of books and zines and a tuck shop with hot drinks and delicious cakes. All our proceeds go to support grassroots campaigns – last year we funded groups supporting asylum seekers.

Rebel Soul at Shambala 2014 Rebel Soul Shambala 2014 Calais Migrant Solidarity at Shambala

Read more at rebelsoulspace.weebly.com

To get to Shambala follow this cycle route from Nottingham or via the train to Market Harborough.

 

Alternative Organizations: The Case of Premium Cola  

Premium Cola are an organization without investors, offices, bosses, advertisement, fixed working hours and contracts.

Growing from a social movement committed to enjoying particular recipe of cola, a collection of avid customers morphed into a soft drinks organization.

Only selling to companies with similar values, making decisions democratically and sidestepping capitalistic imperatives of “profit above all”, Premium Cola have managed to sustain themselves over a decade and through radically different ways of organizing and working.

Nottingham University Business School and Nottingham Business School are delighted to host Miguel Martinez from the Premium Cola collective who will talk us through the history and unique ways in which cola can be made in a collective and non-hierarchical way.

Alongside Miguel will be a panel of academics and practitioners who will offer insight and commentary to the Premium Cola collective and the typical issues and possibilities facing organizations refusing hierarchy and adopting counter-capitalistic ideas.

We invite you to join us for an evening of debate, discussion and refreshments.

Thursday, 27th February, 5:30 pm-7pm 

Room C76, Business School North Building, Jubilee Campus

With:

Miguel Martinez, Premium Cola collective

Cath Muller, Radical Routes

Professor Daniel King, Nottingham Business School

Hosted by the OB/HRM division. To book your free spot or for any further information, please contact:Fabian.Maier@Nottingham.ac.uk

 

 

 

Shambala Festival – Rebel Soul 2019

Shambala is a creative, non-commercial, ethical and family-friendly festival with a wild side and completely independent from advertising and sponsorship!

In 2016 Shambala went Meat and fish free, to continue their mission to keep Shambala at the cutting edge of sustainable event organising.

“… we’re setting ourselves a challenge: to provide the most eye-popping, mouthwatering, colourful, hearty array of cuisine at Shambala 2016 without a single bit of meat or fish on sale. Not a sausage. Instead, keep your eyes peeled for … a range of delicious food from around the world, debates, talks and creative exploration of the wonderful world of food.

Shambala HQ is a mixed bag, with vegans, veggies and meat eaters co-existing harmoniously together, but the whole team agrees that it is important to be bold with our environmental stance, and encourage this debate.”

Rebel Soul

Whilst not catering at the event, Veggies will assist again with facilities for the Rebel Soul space, where there will be a programme of intellectual stimulation, music and performance that will challenge, inspire and fire you up. Whet your appetite: fresh-baked cake, pasties & samosas, teas & coffees (for donation), and fairtrade tuck shop.

Rebel Soul will be a whole area combining beautiful tents and beautiful people within to celebrate rebellion, resistance and exploring positive futures. Stimulation for your mind with workshop, displays, info and bookstall and, for your aural delectation, a fine line-up of music and poetry.

“Rebel Soul is politics thinly veiled as entertainment. In the day we host workshops and debates on hot topics run by people who know their fields inside out. We host the country’s frontline campaigners – from the people who ran the No More Page 3 campaign to the people spearheading the anti-fracking movement. We bring you the people who will ask the big questions, and then help you answer them, like why is Shambala vegetarian? what is sex? and what is race?”

By night we celebrate with bangin’ bands and DJs from punk to soca to techno, and from all over the world. We have a store full of books and zines and a tuck shop with hot drinks and delicious cakes. All our proceeds go to support grassroots campaigns – last year we funded groups supporting asylum seekers.

Rebel Soul at Shambala 2014 Rebel Soul Shambala 2014 Calais Migrant Solidarity at Shambala

Read more at rebelsoulspace.weebly.com

To get to Shambala follow this cycle route from Nottingham or via the train to Market Harborough.

 

Reclaim the Power Action Camp

Reclaim the Power (RTP), the UK-based direct action network, are back this summer with an action camp: Power Beyond Borders.

It takes place in the South East of England from the 26-30 July. For the past few years RTP has been best known for its anti-fracking activism, particularly targeting Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site in Lancashire.

Fracking in the UK looks to have been stopped before it got started. That’s why RTP is expanding its focus. Power Beyond Borders will target both new gas infrastructure and the Tory government’s hostile environment policy, says The Ecologist.

The  mass action camp will equip you to get involved in a way that works for you.

The camp will be at a secret location in the South East of England, within reach of London. We will let you know exactly where nearer the time.

It is family-friendly with a kids space with activities, toys, books and games for children.

To find out more see our website, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and instagram (@reclaimthepower), or contact powerbeyondborders@protonmail.com

50 Years of Resistance – Conference & Exhibition

As part of the 50 Years of Resistance celebrations, there will be a conference and exhibition at Conway Hall in London.

In March 1968, the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square was the focus of a demonstration against the Vietnam War. The police response to it led to the formation of the Metropolitan Police’s undercover political unit, the Special Demonstration Squad.

When the SDS was formed they aimed to ‘shut down’ the movements they were spying on. But despite fifty years of disgusting police tactics, the movements for positive change are still here and growing, and have had many successes on the way which will be listed in this roll call.

The events planned for the week are in support of those campaigning for full exposure and effective action at the Undercover Policing Inquiry, and against police attempts to delay and undermine it.

We aim to encourage more groups to find out about the Inquiry and how they can get involved and support each other, and to unite the many different groups and organisations who have been victims of our police state because of their efforts to improve society. 

Check back here for more details nearer the time.

50 Years of Resistance – Roll Call of Resistance

As part of the 50 Years of Resistance celebrations, there will be a roll call and rally in Grosvenor Square.

In March 1968, the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square was the focus of a demonstration against the Vietnam War. The police response to it led to the formation of the Metropolitan Police’s undercover political unit, the Special Demonstration Squad.

When the SDS was formed they aimed to ‘shut down’ the movements they were spying on. But despite fifty years of disgusting police tactics, the movements for positive change are still here and growing, and have had many successes on the way which will be listed in this roll call.

The events planned for the week are in support of those campaigning for full exposure and effective action at the Undercover Policing Inquiry, and against police attempts to delay and undermine it.

We aim to encourage more groups to find out about the Inquiry and how they can get involved and support each other, and to unite the many different groups and organisations who have been victims of our police state because of their efforts to improve society. 

Check back here for more details nearer the time.

50 Years of Resistance

1968-2018: A Celebration of 50 years of Resistance, Campaigning and Alternatives for A Better World

– despite 50 years of police opposition, spying and repression

1st to 8th July:   Week of local events and activities around the UK – please organise!

Sat 7 July, 1-3pm: Roll Call / Rally: Grosvenor Sq, London W1K 2HP

Sun 8 July, 10-4pm: Conference / Exhibition: Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL

In 1968, following demonstrations against the Vietnam War in London’s Grosvenor Square, the police set up a Special Demonstration Squad (SDS). Since that time, 50 years ago, over 1,000 groups campaigning in the UK for a better world have been spied on, infiltrated and targeted by political policing. Their protests and demonstrations are also subjected to ongoing police opposition and control to try to limit their effectiveness.

This targeting has included groups campaigning for equality, justice, the environment and international solidarity, for rights for women, LGBTQ, workers and for animals, for community empowerment, and those campaigning against war, racism, sexism, corporate power, legal repression and police oppression and brutality. Such groups have represented many millions of people throughout the UK who want to make the world a better, fairer and more sustainable place for everyone.

When the SDS was formed they aimed to ‘shut down’ the movements they were spying on. But despite disgusting police tactics, movements for positive change are still here and growing, and have had many successes on the way.

CELEBRATE 50 YEARS OF CAMPAIGNS & STRUGGLES, RESILIENCE AND SUCCESSES

The planned events are in support of those campaigning for full exposure and effective action at the Undercover Policing Inquiry, and against police attempts to delay and undermine it. We aim to encourage more groups to find out about the Inquiry and how they can get involved and support each other, and to unite the many different groups and organisations who have been victims of our police state because of their efforts to improve society. 

 

Fossil Free Mischief Festival

We’re excited to announce:

FOSSIL FREE MISCHIEF FESTIVAL, SATURDAY JUNE 16TH 2018

Grab your hat, don your wig, bring your wickedest smile
And come challenge BP in theatrical style
Join us in June to exhibit your ire
At that loathsome, rank, endless and infinite liar…
BP!

On Saturday June 16th, we are delighted to invite you to our 50th rebel performance to kick fossil fuels out of the arts.

Join us in beautiful Stratford-upon-Avon for some serious MISCHIEF against Big Oil!

We’re bringing a festival of guerrilla theatre, disobedient poetry and rebellious music to the doorstep of the Royal Shakespeare Company, to challenge their partnership with oil giant BP. But we need your help to make it a success. Out, damned logo!

Transport from London and Oxford will be provided. If you’re interested, email info@bp-or-not-bp.org and we’ll send you more details on how to take part. Please also share this callout, and the Facebook event!

What’s this all about?

This June, as part of their annual “Mischief Festival”, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) are staging a double bill of plays about ‘freedom of speech and the right to protest’. As with all RSC plays, tickets for young people are sponsored by BP. BP is deeply complicit in the activities of repressive governments around the world who are crushing people’s freedom of speech and protest, from Egypt to Indonesia – often in ways that benefit the oil company. To add insult to injury, BP is sponsoring discount RSC tickets for 16-25 year olds – the same young people whose futures the company is actively trashing through its greenhouse gas emissions and lobbying against climate action.

Enough! No more!

On Saturday June 16th, we’re heading to Stratford-upon-Avon to hold our own “Fossil Free Mischief Festival” at the RSC’s front door, without permission. With your help, we’ll take a creative stand for clean energy and ethical arts funding, and test how committed the RSC really is to freedom of protest…

Now is the summer of our discontent! Will you join us for some serious Mischief on June 16th?

What will happen on the day?

A host of different performers will join BP or not BP? for a family-friendly day of music, theatre and spoken word – all held mischievously outside RSC venues. Think of it as an unofficial “fringe” to the RSC’s own Mischief Festival. We are working with activists from countries directly affected by BP’s operations, and will be sharing their messages and stories with the public. Some of the performances will be lively and cheeky, others will have a more solemn tone to reflect the reality of BP’s operations.

We need your help to:
Be part of the audience, enjoy the show, partake in some Shakespearean dressing-up and help hold the space.
Join us in throwing Shakespearean insults at that smiling damned villain BP.
Help us engage with theatre-goers and the public, to explain why the RSC needs to stop supporting BP and to share the stories of people fighting back against oil and gas extraction around the world.
Be part of our musical flashmob finale! No performance experience is required – email us at info@bp-or-not-bp.org to find out how to take part.
What are the exact times, and how can I get there and back?

The festival will run from 12 noon to around 6.00pm on June 16th. We’re organising cheap transport from London and Oxford – to book a place, please email us as soon as possible at info@bp-or-not-bp.org (ideally before the end of May). If you need help or advice travelling from somewhere else, please let us know that too. Stratford-upon-Avon also has a train station, which is a 15 minute walk from the theatre.

What’s the problem with BP sponsorship?

Oil companies like BP are lobbying hard to prevent meaningful climate action, while burning reserves which will put us into an unprecedented climate emergency.

Sponsoring public and cultural institutions like the RSC help BP cover up these practices, by providing them with a social licence to operate.

With their logo proudly displayed by respected partners, they present themselves as being a caring, responsible company, while committing some of the world’s worst human rights abuses and causing runaway climate change.

As if all of this wasn’t bad enough, the plays in the RSC’s Mischief Festival are about the disappearance of activists in Mexico and the imprisonment of journalists in Turkey – both countries where BP’s operations have faced serious criticism. The oil company recently signed a major new offshore drilling contract with the repressive Mexican government, while in Turkey a massive BP-backed pipeline has been linked to serious human rights abuses. It’s time the RSC stopped covering up BP’s bad behaviour.

Who’s organising this?

We are BP or not BP? – a troupe of theatrical actor-vists.

We formed in 2012 to oppose BP’s sponsorship of the Royal Shakespeare Company with a series of Shakespeare-themed stage invasions.

We now create pop-up performances in a range of fossil fuel sponsored spaces, including the RSC, British Museum, National Portrait Gallery and Royal Opera House. We will not rest until these cultural institutions are freed from the beastly grip of that puke-stocking BP!

Demo #ShutDownMortonHall

 
“STOP DEATHS IN DETENTION: SHUT DOWN DETENTION CENTRES”

Shut Down Morton Hall IRC Protest
Saturday 28 April 2018 12pm-3pm

Morton Hall Immigration Detention Centre, Morton Hall Village, Swinderby, LN6 9PT

Coach from Nottingham:
PICK UP AT FOREST PARK & RIDE
Coach will be leaving at 10.30am sharp.

Let us know if you will be organising a coach from another city.

#SHUTDOWNMORTONHALL is open to all respectful groups and individuals.

This is a Shut Down Morton Hall Campaign event, get in touch with us know if you’d like to be involved with organising and planning.

Facebook: @Shut Down Morton Hall
Email: shutmortonhall@gmail.com
Tel: 07535 774850


There have been FOUR deaths at Morton Hall in a year, the most recent being 38 year old Jamaican man Carlinton Spencer who died on 2nd October and on 19th November the death of 27 year old Iraqi Kurdish man Shadad Zraw Aziz.

Since 2000 the death toll of those who have died in immigration detention or shortly after release stands at 43. (Medical Justice) Morton Hall is run by the Prison Service for the Home Office and can detain 392 people. The Prisons Inspectors on 21 March reported on Morton Hall: “Nearly half the detainees told the inspectors they felt depressed or suicidal on arriving at Morton Hall.”

JOIN US ON 28 APRIL NEXT WITH YOUR BANNERS AND NOISE, TO SURROUND MORTON HALL AND DEMONSTRATE OUR SOLIDARITY WITH PEOPLE DETAINED THERE.

 

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