"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

Community Action Network

Standing Up For Our Local Communities And Our Interests – How Best To Organise And Take Action?

Community Action Gathering

Community Action Gathering
Saturday March 27th 2010
11am – 5pm
Sumac Centre, Nottingham

245 Gladstone Street, Nottingham NG7 6HX

– how best to organise and take action?

To all radical, community-orientated local groups and individuals throughout the country…..

Dear friends

We are inviting you to a UK-wide Community Action gathering in Nottingham on Saturday 27th March. The aim of the event is to share information and experiences, and exchange our views as local activists. Obviously, there’s only so much that we can do at one event. But we hope to work out how to promote the concept of community action effectively, to establish better links and communication channels among local groups, and encourage new ones to flourish all over the UK. That way we will be more effective and be able to make a real difference in our communities.
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– Which issues should be our main priorities?
– How do immediate practical concerns link to the need for fundamental social change?
– What is our relationship with local residents’ groups and broad-based campaigns?
– Are we having the effect we’d like?

This event aims, through workshop discussions, to:

· share information, local experiences and views about some of the key issues affecting our communities
· establish better links and communication channels among radical, community-orientated local groups and individuals
· promote collective and non-hierarchical, open and horizontal forms of organisation
· promote anti-authoritarian, anti-state, anti-capitalist and pro-community, pro-working class grass-roots politics – that is, the interests of people rather than of governments and corporations!

The full Agenda and workshop themes are set out below. An informal social event is also being planned for the Saturday evening at the Sumac Centre (which in any case has a bar).

Please fill in the questionnaire below so we know roughly how many people to expect. You are invited to add the following details:

· Would you like to help introduce one of the planned discussions (see the list of workshops below)?
· Do you need us to arrange accommodation?
· Can you make a donation towards the costs?

best wishes and solidarity

– some members of the Community Action elist
CAG 2010 c/o James

Note: Feel free to join the list! http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CommunityActionList When doing so please let us know your name and where you live.

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Please fill in and return to CAG 2010 c/o James communityactionnetworkuk@googlemail.com

Yes, I / we hope to attend ……..

Name of group [if applicable] ………………………………………

We expect around …….. of us to attend.

We’ll need accommodation: Friday ……. Saturday ….. [number]

We’d like to help kick off the discussion on [workshop theme] …………………………….

Contact: Name ……………………………..

Address …………………………………………………………….

Tel ………………………….. Email …………………………………………

Donation ££ ___ (just bring along to the gathering)



11am Arrival / refreshments. Discussions about the agenda.
12 noon Introduction to the event. Brief introduction and very brief reports from each group present.
1pm First workshops/discussions session [See list below]
2.15pm Break for refreshments
2..45pm Brief plenary
3pm Second workshops/discussions session [See list below]
4.15pm Report backs from discussions. Plenary on how activists can work together better to support our communities and local struggles… How do we promote the concept of community action, and develop and expand our network?
5pm End and clear up

Evening Informal social

Note: if requested, we might be able to organise an ‘overflow’ discussion on Sunday 28th, around midday…

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1. Fighting for the local services and facilities we need
2. Our neighbourhoods – improving our streets, our local environment and community spirit
3. Decent and affordable housing for all
4. Regeneration, gentrification and planning
5. Local workplace struggles and issues

SECOND SESSION – strategies
6. Community centres and social centres
7. Interaction with residents and existing residents’ groups
8. Councils – how should we relate to them?
9. How to set up local groups
10. Communication techniques and strategies (newsletters, mailing lists, leaflets etc)

For all discussions

– what are our long term aims and what can we do in the here and now to work towards them?
– What are the existing struggles, campaigns and grass-roots groups which show the way forward?

1. Fighting for the local services and facilities we needHow do we put pressure on those controlling community resources and services to get the improvements we need – education, healthcare, leisure facilities, parks, playcentres, community centres, council services etc? Should our communities take them over? If so, how? What is the role for user groups? Can people set up their own services?

2. Our neighbourhoods – improving our streets, our local environment and community spirit
What kind of neighbourhoods do we want? How do we get safer, greener and friendlier streets? How do we get rid of ugly and oppressive features (billboards, speeding traffic, mobile phone masts, too much concrete etc)? How can we build up community spirit and neighbourliness, and ‘take ownership’ of our areas?

3. Decent and affordable housing for all
How can we ensure decent housing for all. Can homelessness be countered by occupations of empty homes and buildings? How can council house residents defend public and ’social’ housing against privatisation and gentrification, and fight for more control over their homes? How can private tenants and mortgage-payers stand up to landlords and money-lending institutions etc. What are the pros and cons of housing co-ops?

4. Regeneration, gentrification and planning
Can regeneration and ‘urban development’ benefit our communities? If so, how can people ensure their real needs are addressed? Is regeneration often a cover for gentrification and undermining working class areas and facilities (threatening established housing, green spaces, pubs, community centres, small shopping parades etc) – if so what can be done about it? How are communities resisting private developers and unwanted mega-projects?

5. Local workplace struggles and issues
How do workers and workplaces link into community issues and struggles? How can communities directly link up with and support local workers, and vice-versa (eg. community boycotts and industrial action etc)? Should we work with trade unions or encourage independent workplace self-organisation?

6. Community centres and social centres
What kind of meeting places do local communities need? What are the pros and cons of existing community centres? Where else can people get together (clubs, pubs, cafes, parks, playgroups, church halls etc)? How can radical, self-organised social centres really make a difference in local areas?

7. Interaction with residents and existing residents’ groups
How can activists communicate better with our neighbours and our local communities? How do we interact with community-based groups of all kinds (especially residents associations and others who are committed to their communities)? What kind of activities can bring people together in a positive way – eg. single issue campaigning, public meetings and discussions, local festivals and street parties, informal sports, picnics, pub quizzes etc? How can such activities help build up a culture of local independence and resistance?

8. Councils – how should we relate to them?
What attitude should community activists have towards councils? Councils exercise huge influence over how resources (etc) are allocated – how do people work towards real local control and self-management over all decision-making and resources? Is it possible to support local pro-community and pro-working class election candidates and at the same time emphasise the limits of municipal democracy? Or is it better to lobby Council officers and councillors from the outside, or just ignore/boycott them and rely on direct action? In the absence of mass-participation how does a local group gauge its support in the community?

9. How to set up local groups
Is there a fundamental difference between local ‘political / radical’ groups and local ‘community’ groups, or are they complementary forms of self-organisation? How can such groups spread to every locality, especially in predominantly working class areas? Can community-based single issue campaigns lead to permanent local organisations? How do we ensure that such groups are independent, inclusive, accountable to their communities, take up a wide range of relevant issues, and promote mutual aid and solidarity?

10. Communication techniques and strategies (newsletters, mailing lists, leaflets etc)
What practical methods are the best ways of spreading information, building up communication channels, and encouraging and inspiring people to get involved in the life of their community and to join in with local groups and campaigns? What are the benefits of leaflets, public meetings, newsletters, minutes, email lists, websites, door-to-door visits/questionnaires, notice boards, posters, phone trees etc?