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substance. P o litic s.Cu ltu re .Id e a s

GUANTANAMO “I don’t want to do this” – a guard’s tale

H OW TO BREAK FREE

build your own utopia

CLIMATE DY S TOPIA: TH E REAL V I CTIMS how YOU can change things

CAPITALISM GOES BUST what should take its place?

PLUS eco-dating freeganism pirate radio March 2009 http://journalism.cf.ac.uk/substance/

WHAT NOW? the utopia/dystopia issue


sub substance .

EDITORIAL

P o litic s.Cu ltu re .Id e a s

8.untold guantanamo

The world’s most notorious detention centre - through the eyes of one of its guards.

11.substance hero

16.climate change dystopia

Discover who the real victims of the climate crisis are - and what you can do to help them.

18.future shock

arts section

24.Inspiration: Fluxus, a DIY aesthetic art form. 26.Sound: Pirate Radio, Yndi Halda, The Prodigy.

We chat to Michael Botzaropoulos about his work with aspiring musicians.

No one’s going to live forever... or are they? We look at the people using technology to do just that.

28.Motion: Human Rights on Film, Franklyn, Che Part Two.

12.freeganise this

20.capitalism in crisis

29.Words: Aravind Adiga, H G Wells, eco-poetry.

With tonnes of pefectly good food thrown away every year, fnding a free meal in a bin should be easy... or is it?

14.build your own utopia

Ever wanted to break free? Meet the people creating their own alternative communities.

Our current system is totally bust. So what happens now? We examine a few of the options.

22.the soapbox

30.Art: Photographer Alex Brew, rebel advertising.

regular substance

Ku Klux Klan outfits, mock lynching... are animal rights group PETA going too far?

4.Incoming: What’s going on in the world?

31.amy’s eco challenge

6.Submatter: Our casual contemplations every issue.

This week Amy tries eco-dating. Can she do it?

32.Creative space: Send us some scribblings.

I It’s difficult to switch on the TV or open a newspaper these days without getting the overwhelming feeling that we’re on the brink of enormous change. On the one hand we have the financial and environmental crises, with the doomsayers telling us we’ll soon see the end of civilisation as we know it. On the other hand we have dono-wrong Obama, with his promises that we can build a world better than ever before. Factor in new rising superpowers in the forms of India and China, and it’s clear we’re going to see some big things happening in the next few years. So for this issue of substance, we’re asking the question: ‘what now?’ Are we headed for the end of the world, or the beginning of a better one? A utopia to rival Carebear Land, or a dystopia so nasty only Stephen King could think it up? We don’t have all the answers yet, but we’ve had fun trying to find them.

J

substance nce. x

THE COVER Model// Amy Lewis Photographer// Sarah Shearman Gas Mask// Jacob’s Antiques, £20 Dress// Model’s own Our Inspiration// Shepard Fairey’s Obama poster, dystopic Second World War photography

CONTRIBUTORS Editor// r Jessica Bateman r// Deputy Editors Editors// Cari Thomas, Sarah Shearman Production Editor// Jordan Farley Sub-Editors// Andy Rennison, Huw Davies Features Editor// Ed Vanstone Deputy Features Editor// Amy Lewis Arts Editor// Sofie Jenkinson News Editor// Eleni Cashell Writers// Alex Davies, Emyr Price, Nick Bishop Design// Sarah Shearman, Cari Thomas, Sofie Jenkinson Online// Rhian Jones, Joseph Smith


utopia/dystopia

15

Want to break free? Follow these Wa tips for starting your own squat:

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Squatting is not illegal but breaking and entering is, so try not to damage the property when getting in – that way the police have no legal right to boot you out. Once inside, change the locks immediately and repair any damage you’ve done. Never open the door to police. Politely explain you are not doing anything illegal. They cannot forcibly enter and must use legal channels to evict you. Cities are full of abandoned houses so have a scout around and speak to other squatters for tip-offs. Find out who owns the property. If they get in touch suggest that it is in their interest to allow squatters to stay in their property to protect it from vandals. Ideally, someone should stay in at all times, as you can be evicted if the property is found empty. Leave a radio on if necessary. When good neighbours become good friends, they might do more than lend you a cup of sugar – they could serve as handy lookouts. If you follow these rules and manage to squat in the same property for 12 years, well done. It’ll legally become yours. For more tips, read The Squatters Handbook, produced by The Squatter’s Advisory Service, or visit their website. There is a national squat meet on March 14-15 in Bristol. Visit www.squatmeet09.wordpress.com for more information.

. . Chris Learnets

“People are choosing to create new communities because they are disillusioned with their present one”

Coed Hills MaDa! Mayfair

Ever wanted to break free? People all over the world are turning their backs on regular society and creating their own alternative communities, as Sarah Shearman discovers

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ayfair is probably best known for its millionaires and being the most expensive property on the Monopoly board. But last November the black flag of anarchy flew proudly above a £6.25 million Grade II listed mansion, where a group of artists, teenagers and students had bedded down to stay for free. This group call themselves the Da! Collective.

Simon McAndrew

Space invaders Simon McAndrew, 29, is the mastermind behind Da!. He set up several art squats in London, including MaDa! in Mayfair, which he watched for six months before entering one night disguised as a builder. Having lived in various communes and squats over the years, he says he was most inspired by Chez Robert 59 Rivoli in Paris. “It gave me lots of opportunities and chances to meet great people,” he says. “I wanted to create those

opportunities in London. People are choosing to create new communities because they are disillusioned with their present one.” The consequence of Right to Buy legislation, which has seen a large proportion of council houses sold, is a shortage of new and affordable homes. The long-standing tradition of squatting offers a legal alternative to the crippling debt underpinning the current financial crisis. “In economical terms, squatting is counter-cyclical,” says Simon. “There will definitely be a resurgence in squatting as the recession bites.” Living communally is not just about saving money or rejecting consumerism; MaDa! artists work together to inspire each other. They use the space to create art and invite the public in for concerts, exhibitions and philosophical debates. Simon outlines this in the Da! manifesto: “Around us we build not a physical enclosure, but a community, a name, and a reputation

which we can use to grow as individuals.” He believes that the media attention Da! has been getting is a positive thing. “It’s improved the name of squatting,” he says. “Where people may have thought of squats as places for junkies and drop-outs, it is clear that we are making positive use of an abandoned building.” Eco Warriors By living communally, squatters are creating intentional communities. Increasingly, people are retreating from prescribed social models and leaving the urban sprawl to go back to nature. More and more sustainable eco-villages, running off alternative energy sources, are springing up in the UK, forming a co-operative network that aims to preserve the Earth for future generations. One such village is Coed Hills, tucked away in the picturesque Welsh countryside. Its inhabitants live in yurts in the woodlands, but despite the remote location they do not cut themselves off from the outside world. Like Da!, they host visitors and are happy to talk about their sustainable lifestyle and methods. They also offer courses, including low-impact Pictures Da!: Simon McAndrew Andrew

building and permaculture design. Chris Learnets, 27, moved to Coed Hills three years ago after going to a Summer Solstice party, and now works in the permaculture gardens for his keep. For him, living in an intentional community is not just about making a political statement. “It is emotionally fulfilling to live in such closeness with so many people, and lots of fun,” he says. Lenny Rickard agrees. “The material world is failing,” he says. “We are living this way because we want to, not because we don’t have any money.” In their quest for utopia, people like Chris and Simon are working with society and the media to create communities that favour co-operation over individualism. A home, it seems, is more than a pile of bricks

. .

. . . . .

The weird and wonderful: other types of intentional communities ‘Ashrams’ are intentional communities based on shared spiritual principles. Auroville in India is one of the world’s largest. Founded by ‘The Mother’ in 1968, it is home to over 2,000 people. According to The Mother, staying here will give you “unending education and youth that never changes”. Micronations are small, unrecognised replicas of nations or states. Lonely Planet has even published a guide to them. Included is the Principality of Sealand,

situated on a former World War II antiaircraft platform in the North Sea. It was founded in 1967 by sovereign Prince Roy Bates and passports, stamps and money have been issued. You can buy a title of Lord or Lady for just £6.25. Thousands of micronations exist as online entities such as Second Life, which are more hobbyist than antiestablishment. They allow a space for individuals to build new relationships outside society, using avatars. avatars


utopia/dystopia

CRUNCH TIME FOR THE CLIMATE It’s make or break for our planet. Amy Lewis uncovers climate change’s effects around the world, and explains how you really can stop it

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e don’t always recognise it but the consequences of climate change are happening right under our noses. Britain has suffered from flash floods, Australia has seen record drought and America’s hurricane seasons have been increasingly ferocious. But a lot of us still haven’t been much affected because our country is developed, rich and resource-heavy. We have plenty of money to implement flood prevention projects, arrange clean-up operations after heavy storms and an infrastructure where no matter what time it is, we can jump in the car and get more grub from Tesco. The fact that we’ve not seen much lasting destruction in the UK compared with the

aren’t there. When all the food supplies in rural Kenya are wiped out, nobody’s going to pop down to Asda at midnight to panic-buy bread and milk. When crops are ruined by flood and livestock die in a drought, that’s it. End of resources. All that’s left is a broken community, where people are homeless, starving and helpless to do anything about it. This is the situation to which Oxfam and Greenpeace refer when they say that climate change is disproportionately affecting developing countries. “Carbon emissions don’t respect borders and the sad fact is that the world’s most vulnerable people are the ones that are suffering most from its impacts,” says Donna Hayter from Greenpeace UK. “It’s just unfortunate geography for some,” explains Julian Rosser, an Oxfam campaigner.

“We’re probably going to have war due to climate change because people will be fighting over resources” experiences of developing countries is now a major issue. Bangladesh endures horrendous floods; parts of Africa see severe drought then thrashing rains; and all along the equator hurricanes and cyclones are on the increase. But the resources needed to clean up the damage and prevent future catastrophes just

“Climate change will affect different parts of the world differently because of their geography and so a lot of the more dramatic impacts are just happening to be felt in areas that are currently poor countries.” Historically, the UK and other rich countries such as Australia, the US, Japan and parts of Europe have been emitting

enormous amounts of harmful gases through industrialisation, aviation, shipping and the motoring industry. Meanwhile, poorer countries have been contributing far less to the climate crisis but are now feeling far more severe effects. “We’ve hurt them, knowing for years and years that we were hurting them, but feeling that building our economy was more important,” says Rosser. One of Rosser’s main concerns is that people in developing countries are heavily reliant on small-scale farming, and changes in the weather will seriously affect land, crops and the breeding of livestock. Once this way of living and earning is damaged, it can be very hard to recover. “Poor countries really don’t have the infrastructure or the resources to adapt to a changing climate in the way rich countries do,” argues Rosser. Recalling the ongoing aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he says, “Even in the richest country in the world, in a very rich community, it’s the poorest people that pay the worst price every time.” And that’s what he sees happening now with climate change. It is costing poor countries far more than we would ever be prepared to pay – currently 150,000 lives a year, according to Greenpeace. Chillingly, many charities studying the effects of climate change see a real risk of it breeding civil unrest and conflict. As resources become sparse and territories less habitable, people will start to move and compete for

both space and diminishing resources. “We’re probably going to have war due to climate change because people will be fighting over resources,” suggests Rosser. “Whether that’s land you can grow things on or water, these things become suddenly very valuable, and when things become very valuable and too many people want them, you get war.” Another worry is that as people in poverty make cutbacks, education is usually the first thing to go. “It’s not compulsory in most developing countries, and not free – or if it is free you have to be able to afford school uniforms or books,” says Rosser. As more struggling families sacrifice educating their kids, fewer will be able to work their way out of poverty as they get older. And this poverty cycle will worsen as climate change gathers momentum. If you can’t read and write, do basic maths or learn a trade, then what are you good for? There’s no dole in Bangladesh or Uganda. Although many effects are happening right now, it’s the long-term situation that will be the worst. And who will bear the brunt of that? Us, it seems. “For younger generations, climate change is their inheritance,” says Rosser. A planet of broken-down communities, sparse resources and widespread poverty, with a spot of drought, flood and civil war on the side.

How to crack the climate crunch It’s not just about changing to low-energy light bulbs. Here are ways to take action and make a real difference. Join Campaign Against Climate Change. From anti-Heathrow demos on Downing Street to seven-mile-long marches against coal, this is one feisty campaign troop that intends to make its voice heard. The group has a branch in most areas of the UK, so to find your local group and see what’s going on (or suggest a new cause to campaign for) check online at www.campaigncc.org. Lend your eyes to Oxfam. The United Nations meets in Copenhagen this December to discuss plans for global action on climate change. When they do, Oxfam’s ‘The World is Watching You’ campaign wants to remind the world leaders that we are all watching and waiting for action. Submit a photo of your eyes at www.oxfam.org on their campaigns page to join the thousands of others ‘watching’.

Alex Berring, 21, Wimbledon “Climate change is something I don’t really think about day to day, not because I’m unaware of the issue, but because I am largely unaware what to do about it. “Recycling is the one option I know a bit about, but the only real experience that I’ve had of climate change is the huge amount of rain that fell last summer – London flooded, all the trains stopped running and I got stranded in Wales. “I think the lack of occasions where I’m personally affected by climate change is why I don’t take it too seriously. When I can’t see it causing problems around me, it becomes easy to not think about it so much.”

Set up a new transition town. Transition towns are self-made eco-areas where the community has banded together to make life a little (or a lot) greener. From group carbon targets to community allotments, transition towns can bring big changes to a whole area rather than just one person. Initiate a new community united by ecological goals. www.transitiontowns.org. Adventure with Action Aid. This charity offers the trip of a lifetime to India, Nepal, Malawi and Vietnam to name a few, in exchange for your help to raise money for projects and build new housing or community facilities. To directly help people being affected by climate change, this is the ultimate hands-on option. They also organise projects and fundraisers in the UK. www.actionaid.org. Make a movie. A lot of us need to see it to believe it, so get your phone or camera and make a video of how climate change affects you; film crazy weather, capture droughts,

Pictures rickshaws and Yasmin: G.M.B. Akash, fields: Peter Baker

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Yasmin Rezwan, 28, Bangladesh “From what I remember when I was growing up, the rains now come much heavier and a lot more often, causing huge floods. I run a small restaurant that my family have had for years, but when the floods come it is very hard to protect it from damage. “What I earn there I use to feed my family and keep my children safe, but it’s not enough to keep repairing damage from the floods. If my business got washed away I don’t know how we would recover – we don’t have savings. “I hope to send all my children to school one day, but at the moment I can’t afford it. One day I hope we will have a more secure life.”

or even just name and shame particularly polluting people. Post it on YouTube to show off climate change consequences – maybe we could start a new YouTube craze. Become an MP or councillor and raise the issue. You need to be 18 and a British citizen to stand for election, but once you’re in you have the power. It’s local councillors and MPs who can get ideas and legislation into Parliament, so do it yourself and bring about national action to fight climate change. Electoral Commission online shows how to stand. www.electoralcommission.org.uk. Watch eco-porn. Probably for the truly liberal only. This group of ‘sexual activists’ are getting their kit off (or in some weird cases getting it on) to raise money to save the planet. Straightforward enough – they do it, someone pays for it. But the money then goes towards projects that plant more trees and protect rainforests from deforestation. www.fuckforforest.com


substance magazine: Issue 2