A week ago Saturday I met up with the wonderful young people of Global Power Shift UK. We managed to combine Eritrean honey wine, a night out in a trendy part of Brixton and a compost toilet with strategizing how to shift the power from money to people.
I’d got involved with the Global Power Shift (GPS) by first unsuccessfully applying to go to Istanbul earlier in the year. I then met Nicolò Wojewoda of 350.org at a rally against the Keystone XL pipeline in London and went from there.
All national and regional GPS teams, covering everywhere on the planet where there are people, were tasked with creating their own Power Shift event. The UK team has run a few events that could be described as a Power Shift and badged a few others with the same branding, but up until now hasn’t really found the unifying theme and idea that could be the start of something special.
Meeting in the British Museum with Nico, Ben Kurzman and Susan Poupard a few weeks ago, with my daughter Maddie reading a book beside us, we decided to hold a weekend workshop for the GPS UK team so we could nail down our ideas.
And so it was that a week ago Saturday I was waiting in fantastic Eritrean restaurant Adulis, sampling the honey wine and doing impressions of my son James’ Gollum-like crawl. Femi was the unfortunate beneficiary, cousin of hip-hop artist KMT, who was to be our host.
We had a very interesting meal scooping up various different dishes with the think pancake-like bread injera and downloading the mind of Tara, who was unable to attend the workshop proper the following day. The über-trendy Café Cairo was next – I was well out of place wearing my combats and carrying a rucksack.
I spent most of the night with my head on the floorboards in the music studio at the May Project Gardens in Morden, at right angles to the sleeping mat I’d brought.
The following morning started with my needing to negotiate the lack of toilet paper in the house. I tell you, I was relieved, in both senses of the word, when I found the compost toilet marked on the helpful, painted map of the gardens. The May Project Gardens is an inspirational permaculture set-up at the back of a council house in south London, complete with frog pond, herb spiral and polytunnel. It was founded by a guy called Randy, whom I’ve not met, and KMT. Permaculture is a way to live and to grow that apes nature, where waste is an alien concept. It is highly efficient landwise – you get 2-4 times the produce by land area than farming – and requires less labour, chemicals and machinery. The future as far as I can see.
The confidence inspiring Bernadette Fischler facilitated the workshop, which started outside with each of us drawing up a coat of arms representing our take on the GPS UK. It was the day before the huge storm that cut through Southern England, so after a short while and a delicious falafel lunch we graduated indoors
The upshot of our meeting of minds was a confirmation of our consensus view that we are here to help shift the power from money to people. We intend to be the glue that allows diverse grassroots initiatives to share with one another and with the rest of the world. To get that started, we are thinking that a Power Shift event where the those people and groups outside the traditional institutions can come together to meet each other, share stories and learn how to engage with the mass media.
Shift the Power UK is born.