FREE LUNCH #3
Josh Allen, Liam Barrington-Bush, Oliver Bayfield, Hussein Kesvani, Carina Strøm Smith, Alex Wilson, with special thanks to Edible Uni
Fulprint, York firstname.lastname@example.org
An event to go to… York Student Think Tank’s Annual Party Policy Debate, Thursday week 3 at 7:30pm, in pl001 A panel made up of all the political societies on campus will debate questions from the audience. Tweet questions to @YorkThinkTank. A campaign to support… York Student Socialist’s Housing Campaign The campaign for YUSU to create a Union-run, not-for-profit letting agency, directly and fully accountable to the student body, needs 800 students to sign the petition. Currently the number is at 75% of that total, which is required to force a referendum. Sign up today. An online feature to read... YUSU Who’s Who on frunch.co.uk We have compiled, as far possible, a list of YUSU staff who advise or work very closely with officers, their backgrounds and what they do for us. Find out who really runs your union.
A how-to manual, a compendium, an encyclopedia, a literary review, an opinionated life guide: ‘Whole Earth Catalog’ was a book that almost changed the world. For Steve Jobs, one of many future innovators inspired by the Catalog’s forward thinking, ‘It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions’.
Understanding Whole Systems
The bullshit job market Milking the student cash cow Sleep is resistance Shelter and Land Use
Published in the late 1 960s, the Catalog was on the crest of a How to: Grow your own free lunch world revolution, unprecedented in scale. The revolutionaries discovered that happiness could be unrelated to ownership, to Industry and Craft acquiring products, or to individual status, and could instead emerge out of the shared life and action of the group. Of all people, however, Steve Jobs was part of the sustained counter-revolution which has been in place for 30 years or more. The ‘Whole Earth Catalog’ fanboy has contributed more than most to the financialisation of social arrangements that had previously supported many kinds of cooperative activity. The key distinction which the Catalog attempted to make was between ‘tools’ and ‘products’. ‘Tools’ give access to direct power, they are ‘a possibility at one end and a handle at the other’ (Kevin Kelly); ‘products’, meanwhile, are embedded in a pre-existing functional and ideological programme. With Apple, Jobs turned the ‘tools’ of co-founder Steve Wozniak into ‘products’. Perfecting the art of the ‘product’ launch, Jobs created a cyclical process of cancellation and replacement, removing any pauses in which a longer-term time frame for collective projects might develop. Free Lunch Issue 3 - ‘Whole York Catalogue’ - is about reclaiming ‘tools’, whether that be a trowel (‘How to: grow your own free lunch’), a zine (‘Zine but not herd’) or the internet (‘Sci-Fi Economics’). Tools make revolutions. For those hungry for change, Free Lunch is served.
Zine but not herd How to: Make a zine Sci-fi economics Programming a better future Communication Feminism uploaded Community I need feminism Nomadics Organic tourism: Barking up a different tree Learning 5 bad pieces of advice young activists hear about organising
Free Lunch: Understanding
The Bullshit Job Market
What do York graduates do?
Statistics drawn from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Will Lawrence
Education survey (DLHE), 2012.
Thousands of third-year students are busier than ever filling in application forms for jobs they secretly believe do not really need to be performed. Yet virtually no one talks about it.
how humanity would suffer were all private equity CEOs, lobbyists, PR researchers, actuaries, telemarketers, bailiffs or legal consultants to ...vanish’.
Anthropologist David Graeber, however, is talking about “bullshit jobs”. In his recent essay in Strike! Magazine, Graeber cites evidence showing that the number of workers employed in industry and the farm sector has collapsed dramatically, whilst “professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers” tripled, growing from one-quarter to threequarters of total employment. ‘In other words, productive jobs have, just as predicted, been largely automated away’.
The anarchist’s answer is simple: the bullshit job market is a system of control. ‘If 1 % of the population controls most of the disposable wealth, what we call “the market” reflects what they think is useful or important, not anybody else’. Yet, instead of rage being spat at the 1 %, it is directed precisely against those who actually get to do meaningful work. Real, productive workers are relentlessly exploited. ‘If someone had designed a work regime perfectly suited to maintaining the power of finance capital, it’s hard to see how they could have done a better job.’
“The market” has generated an infinite demand for specialists in corporate law, but an extremely limited demand for talented poet-musicians. Why? Full-time salaried paper-pushers are effectively working a 1 5 hour week, once the activities of attending motivational seminars and updating facebook profiles are factored in. For Graeber, ‘It’s not entirely clear
So you still want to apply for that job as a Customer Configuration Facilitator? Bullshit. To read Graeber's full article, visit: strikemag.org/bullshit-jobs
Milking the student cash cow
What does the University of York's latest accommodation crisis tell us? A lack of competence, sure. Perhaps a poor logistical scope. But it's worth considering this all in its wider context, for this ridiculous scene is in fact rather telling of the whole system of British universities today. The crisis- reportedly leaving hundreds of new undergraduates without campus accommodationhas initially been blamed on a “lack of available housing”, and has prompted cries for more student digs, perhaps even another college. And that's all well and good if you happen to be on the University's executive, running for a YUSU sabb position or (probably the biggest victors) own a handy private contractor. What's been less spoken about, is the underlying mentality behind the disaster. Note that this admissions cycle was the first to be run under the coalition government's grand gift to institutions of higher education; While disregarding the savage cuts to departments across the board, Whitehall simultaneously gave a carte blanche to admissions departments, telling them they could recruit as many students as they wished- the initiative being flagged to champion fair, open access to degree courses without stringent penalties. It's a shame that Executive Bodies don't see it in the same way. For rather than further distributing knowledge, this allowance has been taken opportunistically, as a way to fill empty coffers, though only at the expense of a new deeply indebted generation. In the continually twisting, cynical market of higher education, aspiration is branded and sold vicariously, but the intent is nothing less than venomous. Less students than cash cows, the opportunity afforded to universities seems to have only brought more greed .
On-campus accommodation might only be the start, but it's a continued phenomenon across the country. When considered in light of education budget cuts, extortionate rents from private landlords (due to the increase in demand from, you guessed it) and, depressingly, the clampdown on student activism by university authorities and student unions themselves, it goes to show how undergraduate students have been appropriated into the wider mechanics of financial distribution. To put it in simple terms, the extra cohort of undergraduates across the board have certainly helped line the pockets of executive staff, and wire funds to projects with distinct monetary benefits. I'll end with a story from a time about which most activists romanticise. The philosopher Raimond Gaita reported that, in a conversation between a group of UK philosophers and Ministers of Education, in which the former warned against the closure of philosophy departments, claiming that “one could not call themselves a university without them”, the Ministers, then at the peak of Thatcherite rule, responded by saying, “In that case, we'll call it something else!”. Though Philosophy departments may have been saved in the end, I can't help but think that British universities are morphing into entities beyond our recognition.
Free Lunch: Understanding Whole Systems
Sleep is resistance
I first saw the above advertisement on the side of a phone box in Newcastle city centre. On first sight, the advert appears mostly harmless. Behind bed-hair and duvet, we spot a girl of around 20, eyes fixed with pale concentration on a smartphone balanced in her right hand. A green wristband on her left arm betrays the fact that the girl has recently attended an event, presumably a freshers’ week affair. With daylight shining in from the window, she is clearly in bed at an unconventional hour, but what is there to worry about? Notice the inconsistency: the girl is in bed but she is not asleep. Instead, she is using her smartphone. At least that is how it seems. The subject of the advert would suggest that the girl is using an application of NatWest bank. The worry is, by denying herself sleep to collaborate in her own surveillance and data-mining, has she not herself become the application? This worry is the central concern of Jonathan Crary’s new book ‘24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep’. Crary’s key contention is that the whole system of sleep is being corroded by capitalism, specifically the nonstop global capitalism characterised by the phrase ‘24/7’. Sleep, he claims, ‘in its profound uselessness and intrinsic passivity, with the incalculable losses it causes in production time, circulation, and consumption, ... will always collide with the demands of
consumption, ... will always collide with the demands of a 24/7 universe’. As Crary outlines in the opening chapter, sleep has not become a fragile political issue overnight. The very beginnings of the state-idea come out of the need for everyone to sleep soundly. Crary cites Hobbes’s Leviathan: the state of nature is the defenselessness of an individual sleeper against the numerous perils and predators to be feared on a nightly basis. The social contract of the state ensures security for the sleeper, not only from actual dangers, but from anxiety about them. By giving up ownership of the means of security in order to be undisturbed in sleep, however, we also give up the power to use sleep deprivation against us. We might not think of the state as ever resorting to sleep deprivation as a threat or even using it at all, but Crary gives stark evidence of sleep deprivation as state violence: 'First practiced routinely by Stalin’s police in the 1930s, sleep deprivation was usually the initial part of what the NKVD torturers called “the conveyor belt” the organized sequences of brutalities, of useless violence that irreparably damages human beings. It produces psychosis after a relatively short period of time, and
after several weeks begins to cause neurological damage.'
With the threat of sleep deprivation, the state can discipline us into action on its own motives. However, such a method can not necessarily make us share those motives. The disciplinary society (Crary cites Foucault’s account of disciplinary institutions) allows a ‘parallel existence of times and places that are unregulated, unorganized, and unsupervised’. The primary function of ‘24/7’, then, is not to discipline, but to control: to close all gaps of open spaces and times so that its mechanisms of command become internalised. Where Russians were involuntarily kept inline by sleep deprivation, in modern capitalist society we stay awake longer than ever before in human history to passively and often voluntarily collaborate with our exploitative rulers, multinational corporations. In the constant process of ‘self-administration’ uploading and updating information about ourselves and our bank accounts - we are doing the work for intelligence agencies and large businesses: work which ‘inevitably spirals into more fine-grained procedures for intervention in both individual and collective behaviour’. 'Because one’s bank account and one’s friendships can now be managed through identical machinic operations and gestures, there is a growing homogenisation of what used to be entirely unrelated areas of experience.'
This homogenisation of experience serves only to make the management of our economic behaviour easier: to accelerate the extension of control over ‘malleable and assenting individuals’. In the advertisement, NatWest claim that its new application, ‘lets you bank without taking time out of your hectic schedule’. At the same time, it uses an image of someone clearly without any such hectic schedule in the physical world. Of course, what NatWest mean by ‘hectic schedule’ is Crary’s ‘24/7’: non-stop technological consumption and selfadministration.
The irony of the advert is plain. NatWest claim to be offering ‘Helpful Banking’, but they offer only to help themselves, not the individual. Corporate success is, ‘measured by the amount of information that can be extracted, accumulated and used to predict and modify the behaviour of any individual with a digital identity’. The girl with the red hair simply has to move her thumb a millimetre and she has submitted to the motives of NatWest. How can she resist? For a student, it is second nature. We are on the bottom of society in terms of decision making, so it easy to dream of alternatives and a bottom-up world. Consider the reason behind NatWest choosing to advertise a student account with a photograph of a student in bed. Students have been tagged with the image of oversleeping or going to bed at unconventional hours. Why? My guess would be that it has nothing to do with actual physical sleeping patterns. Rather, it is because students have not yet been fully integrated into the ‘24/7’ system. So there is hope. The answer is sleep more, consume less. For Crary, ‘the imaginings of a future without capitalism begin as dreams of sleep’. Sleep is resistance. Remember this next time you fall asleep in a lecture: Sleeping is not giving in.
Book review: '24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep' by Jonathan Crary, Verso Books
Free Lunch: Shelter and Land Use
How to: Grow your own free lunch
A Q&A with Edible Uni
What’s the idea behind Edible Uni?
It’s a community effort to grow food on disused areas. Started by a student in York in May 201 2, it was inspired by the rise in urban communal growing – sometimes called ‘propaganda gardening’ due to the political focus on food chains, sustainability, social and economic well-being (localism). We’re paving the way to growing food in communal spaces in the Heslington area, and encourage you lot to take ownership of these spaces. Oli (Chair; 4th Year) I’m interested, what can I do?
Get down and get digging! The hands-on gardening jobs consist of weeding and watering and digging and planting and picking, and other odd jobs you’d do on any allotment. Of course you can pick any produce which is ready for eating for yourself! Don’t be afraid to dig something up or plant something. They are your spaces, simple respect and communication with others using them is enough. Phoebe (Vanbrugh Community Coordinator; PhD student)
Will I need my own stuff?
Will I need my own stuff?
We've been building up a supply of tools and seeds, meaning anyone can get involved in with nothing more than an interest in growing something and helping out. We have a shed at Derwent college so we can keep everything required close at hand, and we hope to get people interested by providing seedlings they can start themselves in halls. We recommend old shoes and occasionally something waterproof (and in the winter, warm). If there is something you think we should own please let us know. Patrick (Derwent Community Coordinator; 2nd Year)
Where can I get my own gardening equipment, seeds or plants?
Garden centres such as Deans Garden Centre (past Goodricke, in the Osbaldwick area) are great – we’ve dealt with them before. Never hurts to ask for donations. There’s an awesome allotment shop shed where everything is dirt cheap (across Walmgate Stray fields behind Biology, into Low Moore allotments) and
you can even pick up a cheap wheelbarrow if you’re that way inclined. We did. There’s also a B&Q out in Osbaldwick (also near Goodricke – it’s not that far!). We recommend picking up a pair of cheap work gloves, and you’d like to have your own collection of small tools, or even your own area to garden. Freya (Alcuin Community Coordinator; 2nd Year)
I’ve never gardened, is that a problem?
Inclusivity is our core aim – it wouldn’t be communal gardening otherwise - so not at all! Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or want something chilled and social to do outside Edible Uni is most definitely for you. At any gardening session knowledge and experience is shared casually. Just focus on the food and the skills will follow! James (Treasurer; 3rd Year)
Visit edibleuni.co.uk for more information, including garden layouts and event calendar.
Free Lunch: Industry and craft
Zine but not herd Neil Webb
Yet as a medium that found its popularity in a time when photocopiers and a pair of hands were the fastest way to get your point across, the persistence of zines in the internet age is a peculiar phenomenon. After all the internet is, among other things, the fastest way to disseminate and seek information. Yet, for all its accessibility, speed and infinite possibility, the internet is a big, impersonal vastness that you can't hold in your hands. Of course you can pour your heart into a blog post, or passionately rail against some injustice on twitter, but it all gets translated into some code, a series of pixels, a line of text. But with a zine you have something to grasp in your hands, a tangible connection to the creator, a definite product of the effort that was expended. The effort is reciprocal too. Unlike the internet, the zine world is not quite at your fingertips. The effort in seeking out things of interest makes finding a zine that really speaks to you all the more rewarding, and the sense of community far greater. Zines are, and should always be about putting people in touch with like-minded people, and exposing their ideas and knowledge in a framework that exists because of deep dissatisfaction with mainstream media. Not that they should be mutually exclusive. The internet is probably a better place to find a recipe for sourdough bread, but reading a zine about sourdough baking adds a sort of 'depth' to the learning, a personal dimension that will have your eventual loaves tasting all the sweeter.
Write something, anything.
Print it out, fold and then staple it. Give it to a friend or a stranger. A zine is born. This simple process of creation and distribution defines what a zine is. A zine is the most basic form of publication there is, the most expressive and personal means to distribute just about anything that can fit on several sheets of paper.
A zine is the embodiment of intent and action, not only have zinesters thought about something, but they've also done something about something, even if it is just typing, drawing, or writing about something. This creative process is also part of the lure for those involved with zines. There are no strict formats and no editorial pressures. Reading a zine is to glimpse a personality, a rawness which is polished and skimmed away in countless other mediums. The effort involved, and the human quality of zines matters a great deal in a world where too many things are easy, inconsequential and impersonal. It is precisely for this reason that zines are thriving.
How to: Make a zine
My first creative endeavour in the zine world was during the first term of my first year here in York. I can't remember the exact day the project started, but I imagine it was on a day where weather and temperature conspired to refine me to my 'study bedroom'. Rather than mustering up some social inclination on this uninspiring morning I started on â€œStay a While and Listenâ€?, part sketchbook repository, part musical showcase, part creative writing experiment, held together with blood, sweat and staples. Not knowing quite how to approach the task ahead of me, I began with perhaps the most obvious startingpoint, the front cover. The rest slowly followed, sometimes in a torrent of creativity, sometimes in a slow, syrupy trickle of effort. I decided I wanted to interview some bands I liked (small ones mind) so I got in touch with a few, hurled some half thought-out questions and added their responses to the slowly growing pile of content. I then reviewed a few EPs I'd recently been listening to and that was the music side of things done, but the zine was lacking in terms of art. I'd got a couple of drawings I was fairly pleased with, so I scanned them in, letting the grace a few empty pages here and there. It was at this point that I realised I
needed to get other people on board, partly because I'd set a vague time constraint and working on my own would likely take too long, but more importantly, because collaboration and community are what zines are all about. Fortunately the few friends I do have happen to be talented creative minds, so within the end of the week I had plenty of art to put in, and an enlightening guide to doing tourism in Cornwall on the cheap. Once it was all formatted, I set about the arduous task of printing about 1 5 copies from my cheap HP printer in my room, flipping over each individual sheet to print on both sides. Fast forward many hours, and I had a small stack, stapled and ready to distribute. I ended up selling some to friends and a few strangers, and giving a few away as presents. Ultimately I made a loss. About ÂŁ7 I think, but that was okay, profit was never a consideration. I'd done what I'd set out to do, make a zine from start to finish, distribute it, and involve friends and family. In that sense it was a collaborative effort, the creativity of a group of people coming together to form an end product to be proud of. So how to make a zine? I don't know. There are guides out there, but I question their value. Really... All you staples.
Chile in the early 1970s:
A place where science fiction became reality. Elected President on his 4th attempt in 1 970, Salvador Allende, the leader of Chileâ€™s reformist Marxist party, buttressed by a strong coalition of leftist parties in the national legislature, began implementing a revolutionary program that sought to abolish wealth and end the alienating divide between capital and labour. Land was handed to farm hands, minimum wages trebled, worker's councils replaced directors boards. Progressive educationalists and management consultants travelled to Chile to redesign social services to be centred around service users, rather than the service itself. The Santiago metro plans were redrawn so the proposed network reached poorer areas first. Having taken power through the ballot box, the revolution was democratic, building upon Chile's long history of progressive social policy and constitutionalism. Furthering this; the economy was to be democratised. To avoid the inefficient tyranny of central planning, bosses would be replaced with ballots, not bureaucrats.
Capitalists claim superiority for their system because it allocates resources â€œefficientlyâ€? according to demand. This is nonsense. It is well governed markets that assign resources appropriately. The Allende government realised this and sought a mechanism which would mimic the free market, whilst at the same time assigning agency to the worker rather than the sheer dictates of the profit motive. Here we enter what seems like the realms of fiction. Chile engaged Stafford Beer, a British computer scientist and anarchist, to design a national computer system that would mimic market mechanisms, allowing individual workers and plant committees to make decisions about production, allowing for the coordination of both raw materials and finished products. Theoretically, the system made possible the eventual abolition of money, making a reality of Marx's vision that future societies would free the worker from drudgery and alienation through ever greater automation. Overseen by 7 technicians from a futuristic control room, Cybersyn, as the system was christened whirred into life in 1 972, integrating the means of production through a proto-internet. The system's greatest triumph came towards the year's end when, reminiscent of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, Chile's haulage bosses, seeing
Free Lunch: Industry and craft
Sci-Fi Economics Josh Allen
the writing on the wall for their profiteering, “went on strike”. Proving how computing networks could be used to enfranchise the dispossessed, Cybersyn's coordinators were able to use their data about stocks of food, to keep the people from starving, by arranging for Chile's freelance lorry drivers, often shut of business by the big firms, to transport it. Beating the strike and cementing the alliance between labour and high technology. Cybersyn was brutally terminated in September 1 973 when the army, under General Pinochet, overthrew the civilian government in an American backed coup. The machines which enabled Beer's heretical cybernetic system were burnt and the control room blow up. The programmers, technicians and economists who genuflected at Cybersyn's altar were amongst the first, of the 3,500, to be slaughtered in the army's reign of terror. Chile had never before known military rule. Neoliberalism was enthroned, within the space of 3 years Chile went from being a trailblazer for communism to the first nation rent asunder by monetarist voodoo economics. Despite Chile's counter-revolution, the impulses and imperatives which engendered the Cybersyn system as an alternative to capitalist modes of economic
organisation are more intense now than in the 1 970s. Occupy and Anonymous, the two great amorphous social spasms of our time, bespeak the same decentralising, democratising desires that animated Allende's project. In the 1 970s Cybersyn seemed fantastic. Now the internet is essential, underpinning the “just in time” mechanisms that keep us fed, clothed and warm: mechanisms which, when they go wrong, cause meltdowns. It's no longer fantastic. The crunch illustrated that machines spewing numbers control the economy. The challenge, for workers, is to tame them. The internet is free. Capitalists and their government's watch and manipulate it, they don't run it, yet all of their systems depend on it. This provides an opportunity. Could Anonymous be the workers' vanguard? Envisage co-ordinated hacker strikes uniting the search and database power of Google, with the mechanisms of banking, shopping, and shipping companies. Expropriating the world's data and capital for humanity and placing them under the control of a monitoring NGO like ICAN, the Internet’s governing body. As financial transactions ceased, government crumbled into irrelevance, scarcity abolished, every individual would be able to take part in the economic government of the globe via the medium of electronic registers of real time production, distribution and exchange. Cybersyn's spectre stalks.
a better future
We live in an era of mass information; an era in which ignorance is eliminated through the tap of a four inch glass screen, facts and fictions delivered to users within seconds of contemplating the question. Beyond our homes and hands, machines run most facets of our everyday lives, and power the things we don’t need to think about. From distributed supercomputers performing cryptanalysis at GCHQ, to the system ensuring you’re not getting too hot in your Corsa technology has permanently penetrated all aspects of our lives. We started in a society of the passive, living in a world whose rules eluded us with reasons we could not understand – perhaps sacrificing our children every 52 days will keep the sun nourished and my crops growing, perhaps not. The written word arrives – instead of relying on the few privileged keepers of mythology, reasons become more widely accessible and understandable. We move to the printing press, no longer being the slave of the scribe, and finally we arrive in today’s era of information, free and enlightened because of it. However, Douglas Rushkoff,
Program or be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age exposes
the reality of society’s media advances. When the written word arrives, our ‘rules’ exist exactly the same as they did in the previous generation – the masses are lectured by the privileged, literate, few. The printing press did not enable us to all become writers; instead we arrive at a ‘civilization of readers’, and an elite of writers. At the dawn of the ubiquitous computer, do we all become programmers? No, we become bloggers – we have only gained the power of the elite generation before.
This is displayed most vividly in our school’s ‘ICT’ classes - an insipid, uninspired hour a week in which students learnt how to word-process, or perhaps even make a nice leaflet with Microsoft tools. Children were taught how to use technology, but had no power to understand it – let alone control it. We’ve allowed ourselves to become passive consumers to those with real power. The guidance is out there for those who want it – Cambridge University’s Raspberry Pi Foundation aims to deliver rational education in Computer Science, in problem solving and analysis. Raspberry Pi overcomes the difficulty of cost by providing £20, flexible, low cost, computers – an ideal environment to allow young people to flourish in the information age. By providing all with an equal opportunity to access the primary tool of our generation, children are able to realise, just as they do with the written word, unseen creativity. Just like our alphabet, our programming languages are tools to build and transform our social structures, and society itself. Facebook, Google and Apple are proving this to us. In a generation where software governs our economic reality, where programs organise and manage our entire social existence, where there is perhaps no avenue of life which our technology hasn’t permeated; surely we should be bringing these frameworks under the potential control of all, rather than allowing those who truly control them to ultimately control us.
For more information about Raspberry Pi, visit: raspberrypi.org/faqs
Free Lunch: Communication
5 best feminist websites Yes Means Yes
Arguably one of the best sources online for detailed deconstructions of rape culture and sexuality. Posts are long and detailed but every single one is worth reading. yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com
The Everyday Sexism Project
The website of the Everday Sexism Project compiles all the examples of sexism sent in by ordinary people and is fascinating if depressing reading. It is an excellent resource for anyone aiming to understand the day to day mundanities of sexism. www.everydaysexism.com
The internet has helped breathe new life into the Feminist movement. The issues being talked about are more than glass ceilings, women in boardrooms and in Parliament. The conversations are about the violence faced by trans* women, the fetishisation of women of colour and the sexual abuse of disabled women. Online activism is decried by some as not being “real” activism, but online groups allow for easy organisation of marches and protests. Online campaigns like Hollaback and The Everyday Sexism Project are some of the most influential around, with the organisers of the latter being consulted on Transport for London’s efforts to tackle sexual harassment on London transport network.
An excellent sex-positive Feminist blog with a heavy focus on kink and BDSM issues, as well as rape culture and sexuality in general. Also home to the always amusing “Cosmocking”, a monthly tongue-in-cheek breakdown of everything that is wrong with the front cover of Cosmopolitan. pervocracy.blogspot.co.uk
This is a UK-focused blog, making it unusual in a feminist blogo-sphere heavily dominated by US-based bloggers. It looks primarily at pop culture and the media with an irreverent tone. Good for some lighter, less academic reading. It has and continues to have issues surrounding Before the internet, would cases such as that of the young intersectionality, so be warned.
student gang raped on a bus in India have reached so many people and fuelled such a huge outcry? Most likely not. The internet is turning Feminism into a truly global movement and is helping to amplify the voices of those people who were previously silenced. The future of Feminism is online and its success will depend on our ability to use it well.
This is the website for a brilliant campaign working to address street harassment. Its most useful and interesting feature is a section in which people share their experiences of street harassment. It is at times a shocking and upsetting read, but it's an invaluable resource and a good one for when you need to illustrate to anyone the extent of what women have to face in public. www.ihollaback.org
I’ve always been very interested in music. It has, however, never been a secret that the type of music that I prefer to listen to generally has a larger male than female following - something that becomes mindnumbingly apparent when I’m stood in a group of friends and the topic is brought into conversation.
Free Lunch: Community
I need feminism
Don’t get me wrong: I couldn’t be less bothered about the fact that the genitalia of the people I discuss music with have a tendency to go outwards rather than inwards. What has pissed me off on countless occasions, on the other hand, is that a fair deal of the people I generally discuss music with seem to believe that the fact that men a) typically like the same music as them, and b) far outnumber women in the bands they listen to, has any other explanation behind it than that picking up an instrument as a teenager and starting a band with some friends is a larger part of male than female youth culture.
Carina Strøm Smith
I cannot count how many times I’ve heard someone make the comment, “Isn’t it funny how women in bands have a tendency to be called Kim and play bass guitar?” (A reference to Kim Deal from the Pixies and Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth). They will then continue to discuss this ‘eerie’ fun fact, sometimes taking it as far as trying to come up with other female musicians named Kim, or even other female musicians that ‘strangely enough’ share given names. Several times the conclusion has finally been drawn that ‘women apparently just don’t make as good musicians as men do’. Someone might mention Patti Smith as the exception that proves the rule, perhaps point out how boobs would be impractical for a guitarist, and then they’ll all slink away for a beer or a piss or a fag, confident that their genitalia would give them a better shot at becoming the next David Bowie than mine would were we to dream of a career in music. I need feminism because I desperately crave a world where people can appreciate the badassery of some of the women in music without feeling the need to point out that they are, whoa, shit, no way, could it be, women. University of York feminists meet weekly, for more information visit: facebook.com/groups/york.femsoc
Free Lunch: Nomadics
Organic tourism: barking up a different tree The alarm on my phone is blaring out its irritatingly pleasant melody. It's 5:40am. I roll out of the bottom bunk, switch off the alarm and pull on my work clothes, splaying my arms upwards in a languid stretch, before shuffling to the door and slipping into a borrowed pair of crocs and heading to the house for breakfast. Inside, Jiro is making coffee whilst his wife, Sanae, slices fruit by the sink. I greet them and automatically begin to lay the table. I am on holiday. In Japan. I'm awake before six in the morning, and about to head out into the fields to do some good old fashioned manual labouring. Why? Surprisingly I never found myself asking that question, even on the most humid of days, wiping sweat from my brow, cutting down tall grass before most people were even considering physical activity. I was WWOOFing and I loved it. This strange acronym stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. The initiative began in England in 1 971 as a means to allow urbanites to experience the countryside whilst engaging with the organic movement. It has since grown into a worldwide association of national organisations all seeking to facilitate a similar experience. At its heart is the principle of exchange. Exchange of ideas, knowledge, experience and friendship. Volunteers are provided with accommodation and food in return for 5-6 hours work a day, with a day off each week. Hosts teach valuable skills relating to organic principles, but WWOOFers are encouraged to impart any skills they might have too. For example, I found myself teaching one host how to make pizza, after having learnt to make miso soup- cultural exchange in the form of food. I spent seven weeks with three different hosts, all participating in the WWOOF programme. The last week was set aside for conventional tourism in Kyoto and
Osaka before catching the plane back home. In many ways this last week, although still hugely enjoyable, paled in comparison to my time spent on the farms. The WWOOF Japan website describes the experience as a means to 'get beneath the veneer of tourism' and I'd say that was pretty accurate. I was welcomed with open arms, fully immersed in day to day life of rural Japan. My Japanese improved, I made friends with all kinds of interesting people, learned a great deal about organic farming and gardening, got an insight into Japanese culture from an alternative perspective, and enjoyed the diverse beauty of the Japanese countryside. I never really felt like a tourist or even a traveller, it felt most akin to just living somewhere. This small change in mentality has a huge impact on your perspective. It was a genuinely life changing experience, as any good travel should be. The potential of WWOOFing as a facilitator of alternative travel is vast. But it is meaningful travel, an active participation with your destination, not conventional tourism. It is a world away from days spent lounging on a beach, heading to the 'British' restaurant every evening for a comfortingly familiar burger and chips, washed down with a pint of Carling. Equally distant from the classic south-east Asia route, with all the full moon parties, buckets of vodka redbull and hordes of Australians. This type of tourism just perpetuates industries set up to profit at the expense of local traditions, communities and culture. WWOOFing is not only an wonderful experience but a more sustainable means to explore our planet. A consideration that we should all bear in mind before we hop on a plane. For WWOOFing opportuinities in the UK, visit: wwoof.org.uk
5 bad pieces of advice young activists hear about organising
Older people often come to universities and tell younger people what do to. Often they are paid to do so and some even make careers of it. This is not without merit, but should be taken with a grain of salt, especially when it relates to certain kinds of organising advice. Below is a noncomprehensive list of advice for young organisers, coming from the ‘adult’ world of social change, that may well do more harm than good. Liam Barrington-Bush is co-founder of More Like People. He has recently crowd-funded and self-
'Be serious if you want to be taken seriously' social media and social movements can help your published
organisation to be more like people.' He tweets as @hackofalltrades and curates the More Like People Facebook page. He likes punk rock, hiphop and tattoos, and is more approachable than his facial hair suggests.
One of the underpinning beliefs of the ‘adult’ world of social change is that it shouldn’t be fun. If it doesn’t offer real and practical potential for burn-out in the short-to-medium term, you’re not doing it right. A big piece of this is about ‘seriousness’ – it’s in how you dress, what kinds of meetings you have, what types of actions you take – and it sucks the life out of activism, turning it into a pennant-sewing exercise, rather than something that can feed and nourish you, while effecting the wider world. Those who don’t take you seriously for being involved in organising efforts that are fun or silly, need to look themselves in the mirror for a minute and see where all their seriousness has got them.
'Someone has to be in charge!'
Free Lunch: Learning
‘Now this consensus-based, leaderless hippie stuff is fine for now,’ you might hear, ‘but eventually someone’s gotta step up and take charge if you want to make a real difference.’ What they’re really saying is a continuation of the ‘be serious if you want to be taken seriously’ crap – that you need to act like dull and oppressive institutions, if you want to be effective. They have leaders therefore you should have leaders... presumably so they can then co-opt them into fitting into a pre-set mold, or discredit them if they don’t follow an established narrative of how change should happen. When there are no individual leaders to point to, or hierarchies through which decisions are made, it is far harder to manipulate a group into becoming an extension of the groups that have come before it. Telling you that you need leaders, is a way of making your activist group less threatening to those who have assumed a certain kind of power and influence around the issues they address. 'Effective change involves getting yourself a seat at the table'
Replying to similar advice offered by countless pundits to the Occupy movement in 2011 , New York City activist and anthropologist David Graeber wrote: “If one were compiling a scrapbook of the worst advice ever given, this sort of thing might well merit an honourable place.” Essentially, he says, well-meaning institutions have spent decades trying to influence government policy to reflect the kinds of change we need, and have still presided over the greatest deterioration of workers’ rights, the environment, social inequality, etc that we have ever seen. ‘Getting a seat at the table’ has broadly come to mean the ability to mend a patient’s paper cut, while ignoring their gaping knife wound. When we take the seat at the table (while occasionally a necessary stop-gap measure), we end up playing by a set of rules that are broadly working against our interests. While many still cling to the value of such approaches to change, several decades in, its failure is becoming clearer and clearer. 'Focus on the detail'
Much as lots of seasoned voluntary sector and civil society bods will emphasise the importance of trying to
change governments from the inside, this approach inevitably leads to a principled insistence on spending unimaginable amounts of time trying to get three words in a 50-page piece of destructive legislation changed, while the legislation itself basically sails through. Then that change is touted as a major victory. Focusing on the minutia of policy detail can at times be a necessary survival strategy, but when it becomes our primary focus it broadly allows those who are writing shitty legislation to shape the terms of the debate. By engaging with every consultation and every draft bill, we hand-over our power to change the discussion entirely. 'Be realistic!'
This one is a killer. Never have two such innocuous words ground down the passions of so many committed organisers. They are code for ‘Stop trying to imagine something too much better than what we’ve got.’ They are the formula for a special breed of jaded cynicism which has never changed the world. ‘Realism’ is the stuff of the present, and we are certainly more imaginative than to think we simply want more of what we’ve already got!
Stay hungry. Stay foolish.