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How do we make a progressive path forward possible in this time of great social division? Can English national identity be redeemed from the conservative, authoritarian and sometimes avowedly fascist agenda that fixate on it? Is a healthy sense of nationhood achievable in a nation yet to come to terms with its colonialist legacy?
Join us for an evening with Alastair McIntosh, to discuss why, in the turmoil of Brexit, progressives need to talk frankly about fractured English identity from the point of view of community, identity, spirituality, belonging, land and place in order to seek peace. Questions he’ll be exploring include: How did we get to this point? What are the underlying economic, political and psychological or spiritual causes? And how do we move forward in ways that address, and do not sideline, real human needs?
Alastair McIntosh is a Scottish writer, broadcaster and activist on social, environmental and spiritual issues, raised on the Isle of Lewis. A Fellow of the Centre for Human Ecology, a former Visiting Professor at the University of Strathclyde, and an Honorary Fellow in the School of Divinity (New College) at Edinburgh University, and an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the College of Social Sciences at Glasgow University, he holds a BSc from the University of Aberdeen, an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a PhD in liberation theology and land reform from the University of Ulster.
Over the years we’ve organised a lot of big gatherings that connect people from across the movement in Leeds.
It can be easy for change-makers to feel isolated and lose hope. We are driven to keep putting on these big events because they reinforce the knowledge that we aren't alone, and build collective purpose in fun and creative ways.
We come away from these spaces feeling hopeful and inspired to take action, in solidarity with a strong and vibrant community of changemakers around us. Here’s a short snapshot of the gatherings we’ve hosted:
Although our lives and struggles are different for each of us when we work together we can build strength and solidarity! Divisions have emerged, and have been exploited over the last few years: between generations, “strivers” and “skivers”, those were born in the UK against those who have migrated here for many reasons, and those who voted Leave or Remain.
Years of austerity have meant more people competing for resources, while the government and media continue to find ways to blame marginalised people for problems in our society. As these divisions grow and become cemented we are less likely to work together, even though we have ‘more in common’ than many of us think. This division will make it harder to defend what’s left.
This gathering called on people in the city to re-connect and build a collective response to the injustices around us. Through a day of free workshops, conversations and connecting with others we came together and built a better understanding of key issues of 2017 including : the impact of cuts and austerity, racism in Leeds, rubbish jobs, the gig economy, and refugee rights.
In light of profound political change and uncertainty, and a sudden call for a General Election, Leeds Beckett Students’ Union in partnership with Leeds Tidal, Leeds for Change, Summat, and War on Want organised a big gathering for people to explore ideas, politics, and action for a progressive, sustainable, social future.
Our opening panel of activists from across the UK to discuss the big strategies we need to shift popular opinion towards progressive alternatives and away from ‘Trumpism’, hate and fear. Our exciting guest speakers were Ed Lewis (Global Justice Now, National Organiser), Nadia Idle (War on Want, Activism and Outreach Officer), Tatiana Garavito (Hope Not Hate, National Organiser for Communities of Colour).
Check out the event programme here.
In April we held a Summat gathering, partnered with War on Want and the Economic Justice Project. Loads of energy went into organising 25 fantastic workshops, creative sessions, singing, kids space and volunteers at this inspiring gathering.
Following the gathering were two workshops on creative activism, called Beautiful Trouble.
‘Benefit scroungers’. ‘Environmental extremists’. ‘Migration crisis’. There is a story being told that the people are to blame for austerity, climate change and economic crisis.
We know another story. We know a story where the rich and powerful stole from the poor. Where the people that caused the collapse of the banks are the ones profiting from austerity.
But we can build a different story.
We are building a story of sharing economies, pay-as-you-feel cafes, cooperatives, solidarity and resistance. Stories where migrants are welcomed with open arms and deportations are fought tooth and nail.
This gathering we came together to build a story with social justice at its heart, to shake up the stories were told and build new ones for a more just and sustainable world.
In 2014 we hosted Summat New, another Summat gathering where we launched the Leeds for Change website. Over 300 people came through the doors, for 26 workshops, a marketplace, performances and our exciting panels of guest speakers.
Speakers included: Paul Mason – Channel 4 Economics Editor, prolific author and digital media guru; Pragna Patel – Founder of Southall Black Sisters, activist and listed in the Guardian’s 100 Top Women; Clara Osagiede – RMT representative, powerful living wage campaigner for London Underground cleaners; Eleanor Lisney – Sisters of Frida, a Disabled Women’s Cooperative, Tina Louise Rothery – community activist on extreme energy and Representatives from Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty – campaign group fighting austerity measures.
Check out the event programme here.
The day brought together activists in Leeds to examine two questions:
The plenary set the scene for the day exploring how the crisis has happened, how this is affecting us in Leeds and around the world and how we can turn it into an opportunity for global justice. To round of the plenary, we heard from Lucy Garbett about how Palestine is forming resistance in a time of crisis.
We then had a fun packed day with loads of workshops, scarf making and seed sowing. The day catalysed lots of other projects from an action at the G8 summat, to more conversations about thinking and feeling race.
What is a Summat? Politicians are always heading off to summits about important issues. The creation of the Leeds Summat in 2009 gave normal people the chance to discuss these issues too, but in a much more fun, more Yorkshire way! It’s neither a conference, nor a festival, nor a meeting. It’s a Summat!
The Leeds Summat Gathering was held on Saturday 26th November 2011 from 9am to 9pm. An amazing 1,300 people attended. The Summat was hosted by a partnership of local organisations, including Tidal. Tidal ran an all day activity – ‘Mappiness: the online playpen for Leeds global activism mapping’.
Part of our work is putting on activist skills trainings. Please see our upcoming events for future trainings.
If you’d like to suggest a training or partner with us to deliver one, please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively you could fill in our Campaign Healthcheck Scorecard to help us design our activist skills trainings with an understanding of where the skills gaps are in Leeds. This only takes a few minutes to complete and submit.