Reclaim the Fields European Assembly 2017

Check out the call-out from Reclaim the Fields for the next European Assembly:
http://reclaimthefields.noflag.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/assembly2017-poster-1024x724.jpeg
You are invited to join the European assembly of Reclaim the Fields 2017, which will take place in Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Germany, between 18th and 22nd of January 2017. The meeting will be hosted by the community-supported agriculture project Gartencoop and will take place in the autonomous center “KTS”.

 

***About the assembly***

 

The  assemblies happen every year during winter. Generally they bring together people active in RTF constellation, but everybody is welcome. 
The goals of the assembly are:
  • meet and exchange information amongst the stars and local groups since last year;
  • exchange and debate on themes that matters to us across Europe and beyond;
  • to see where we are at with our European Reclaim the Fields constellation: what was decided last year, for what results, what we need to do to continue, and what future plans we have;
  • to have fun and build relationships between us!

 

The last European Assembly happened in January 2016 in Warsaw, Poland, and was hosted by the Radical Allotment Gardens, the Polish RtF star. You can check the last Reclaim the Fields Bulletin here.

 

***Registration form***

 

If you or your group will join the assembly please fill in the Registration Form. This is very important for the people that do the organisation, so that everything will be prepared good when participants arrive. 
If you have any suggestion for the program, there is a special place in the form where you can let us know in advance about it.

 

***Local context***

 

This year the assembly takes place in the so called “green-city” of Freiburg, Germany. The very contradictory ecologists-capital was strongly part of the uprising anti-nuclear movement, which started by empeaching the construction of a nuclear-plant at Wyhl in the 70’s. But even if throughout the 80’s a militant ecologist, squatting, feminist and antagonistic movement played an important role, social movements decreased progressively, like in most western-european towns, after the wall came down.

 

 
In our days, the 220.000 inhabitant city still has a big amount of alternative institutions and projects, for example in left media (rdl.de, cinerebelde.org, linksunten.indymedia.org), housing (syndikat.org, schattenparker.net), antira-struggle  (aktionbleiberecht.de, iz3w.org, freiburger-forum.net) or alternative food-production (gartencoop.org, lebensgarten-dreisamtal.de, luzernenhof.de).

 

But the “green rebels” from the 70’s are in power, in Freiburg and in the region, and keep cultivating the lie of green capitalism. They are bright actors, within the neoliberal and repressive evolutions we live in.

 

The people welcoming you are involved at the 300-household agricultural-cooperative GartenCoop as well as in different of the abovely named struggles. The social/autonomous Center KTS Freiburg exists since the mid-90’s and has been legalized about 18 years ago. The biggest part of the meeting will take place at the center – some of the program might be visiting farms and projects in the surroundings. We’ll shurely spend time at the asperagus, strawberry and corn-dominated countryside as well – and there is the black forrest in walking distance for walks and talks.

 

***Practical info***

 

Freiburg finds itself between Colmar, Basel and  Offenburg
and is best accessible by train and busses or the A5-motorway. (The two petrol-stations on the motorway are a bit shitty in therms of accessibility)

 

There are many airports in Zürich, Basel/Mulhouse or Strasbourg (all are between 45 and 70 minutes drive)

 

In Freiburg Bus no 11 and Tram no 5 (better) stops at “Pressehaus”. The KTS finds itself behind the railway-bridge above the main road, just  take the stairs to your left behind the bridge.

 

KTS, Baslerstrasse 103, 79100 Freiburg
+0049 /0/ 761 / 400 20 96

 

Depending  on the number of people, the accomodation will be decentralized. About 40 people could sleep at the KTS at most, others will stay at other housing-projects, wagenplatz or private flats. Accessibility for people with a disability is limited in the center. There are bathrooms and a  medium-size kitchen, computer-rooms, screen-printing and a free shop. We will have vegetables from the cooperative-farms and other friends. Hopefully the baking-cooperative can make bread for us.

 

***Contact***

 

Please spread this invitation to the stars in your region.

 

Anarchism & Permaculture: Why growing up an anarchist has made me a better permaculture designer

RTF ladyThe weekend after next two rad events are happening in my favourite city – Bristol Anarchist Bookfair and the National Permaculture Diploma Gathering. Both are usually two of my favourite events but unfortunately I don’t think I’ll be getting to either due to the ongoing pain in my intercostal muscles. So I thought the least I can do is shamefully promote them both.

This post intends to share my love for both anarchism and permaculture and why the relationship between them keeps me up at night.

I joined the Anarchist Federation and the Anarchist Youth Network as a young teenager (circa 13-14 years old). While a lot of people have a jaunt at socialism or the Green Party and other escapades and find themselves radicalised by increasing dissolution with liberal ideas, I found I dove into the deep end.

And so began a lifelong love affair with ideas and action that questioned the legitimacy and role of a state, the capitalist economic system and all other forms of intersecting oppression, like racism, sexism and human supremacy.

I hungered for an understanding of all the fucked up things I’d seen or gone through.

Anarchism was my first introduction to thinking in systems. For many, permaculture is revelatory because people start to connect dots and see in wholes. While I didn’t gain an informed ecological understanding of these concepts until studying permaculture, anarchism really opened my eyes to seeing the world in the contexts of relationships and interconnectivity.

As a kid you suck things up like a sponge. The books I read, conversations I had with elders, even the music I listened to… I was given the tools to observe social landscapes. To see the flows of power and domination in the world.

Observation is one of the founding principles of permaculture. This skill introduced itself in my life through the encouragement to observe ruthlessly and question critically. Every biased source or comment in every media article, every act of police brutality, every interaction with people surviving domestic abuse… All of these were intense exercises in observation as my anarchist worldview pushed me to try to understand root causes, systemic reasons for things and potential collective responses.

Permaculture is founded on three core ethics, which at times can feel frustratingly weak and unclear. However none of these ethical frameworks are new, when they have been at the core of social struggles for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

While the anarchist movement has its people care failings, especially relating to power and privilege, it’s always been for me the antidote to the brutal atomised dehumanising existence of modern capitalist society. Re-designing the world where people are prioritised over profit is a core goal of both anarchism and permaculture.

Earth care once again is an increasingly apparent frontline for those fighting domination, whether it’s communities fighting fracking, pipelines or nuclear power. I know that many incredibly dedicated anarchists are powerhouse community organisers in these struggles. It was anarchism that introduced me to ideas of human supremacy, animal liberation and radical ecology.

Finally ‘fair shares’ the most nebulous of the permaculture ethics is central to anarchist struggles to redistribute wealth. Anarchist values have inspired the establishment and ongoing experimentation in creating models that more evenly share power and resources, whether these are housing or food cooperatives or horizontal collective’s challenging the division of labour.

Another core principe of permaculture is using and valuing diversity. From its birth, anarchism has been a huge melting pot of ideas and influences, from Russian immigrants into the US to decolonisation struggles in India. Most exciting of all is that anarchism has resisted a platform or manifesto. There is no policed unification of ideas, that X is anarchism and this is the doctrine. While many criticise anarchism for this, I’ve always felt it’s its biggest strength. Anarchists have the political maturity and deep commitment to true liberation to know that there is no “one size fits all” solution. Yes there are patterns, principles and examples we can and must learn from. But we are in no position to be specialists in social change or tell people how to live.

Errico Malatesta was the first anarchist writer I read when I was a kid and it was his trusting of people and their capacity to self organise that really inspired me. He had little concern with proposing detailed descriptions of how we would organise society when we seized the means of production because he trusted that people are completely capable of working it out collectively (as they already do in so many areas of life).

Likewise with permaculture, there is a recognition that every system will be unique while understanding the usefulness of wider patterns. Permaculture embraces that there is health and richness in diversity, just like anarchism does in wider society(s).

permaculture-imageThe most visible offerings of permaculture to anarchists is a comprehensive toolbox of various practical solutions that can create more liberating ways of life. The most invisible to those less engaged or put off by permaculture’s image, but what I think is the most useful and transformational, is the design process.

The variety of tools and frameworks used to make strategic decisions and the overall design processes, have huge radical application. Imagine if every organiser just thought that little bit smarter about leverage, or if every collective re-designed themselves to integrate better people care to prevent burnout, or if whole social movements focused on re-designing aspects of society rather than just fighting fires. Learning about design and applying design to my life is probably one of the most transformational gifts I’ve ever been given (cheers HMP).

As an agroecologist, what excites me most about permaculture is that it is pioneering a totally different pattern of land use that can directly contest capitalist agriculture. How we get our food is central to upholding so many different pillars of oppression, from slavery and colonialism to wars over petroleum. Changing how we produce food and relate to the land could cascade and bring so many other revolutionary changes to our lives.

But without political literacy, and a commitment to understanding power relationships in our society, permaculture will not achieve its goals no matter how hard it tries. Sowing the seeds of permaculture, of a completely re-designed society and relationship to the land, into the fertile soil of anarchism that has been fed by hundreds of years of resistance in working for social change, maybe, just maybe, something truly revolutionary will grow.

To learn more about anarchism check out Bristol Anarchist Bookfair: http://www.bristolanarchistbookfair.org/

To learn more about permaculture check out my section here, or sites like the Permaculture Association, Permaculture Magazine or radical designers like Graham Burnett who are exploring more critically the politics of permaculture.

Report on the Reclaim the Fields European Winter Assembly in Warsaw

IMG_964021-24 January 2016 – at the ROD – Warsaw

A group of almost forty participants met over four days in the garden allotments squatted by the ROD collective in the suburbs of Warsaw.

We represented different land projects and forms of resistance across Europe, from Great Britain, Germany, Romania, France, Slovenia, Switzerland, Austria and of course Poland.

We had time for formal discussions in order to find out what stage the different projects in Reclaim the Fields are at: the new website which will soon replace the old, the writing of the 11th bulletin, the importance of using the current communication tools effectively before creating new ones, etc etc.

IMG_9692The other highlights of this assembly were :

  • discovering the social and agricultural context in Poland, with a focus on the garden occupation in ROD.
  • a discussion (with a brilliant video conference over Skype) about how to reinforce solidarity initiatives which aim to provide Kurdish and Syrian communities with non-hybrid seeds for vegetable gardens!
  • A discussion on how to act upon the necessity for a renewal of direct action tactics against GMO in Europe.
  • A projection of a short film about the current situation of agricultural projects in the ZAD in Notre Dame des Landes. Following this a communique was written from the European Assembly in support of the recently evicted peasants and to restate a clear rejection of any attempt to start work on the Zone.

The assembly ended with participation in a food distribution alongside Food Not Bombs Warsaw and followed by a small party at the ROD.

We were superbly hosted by our Polish friends, whose fight to occupy and revive the allotment gardens is inspiring. Do not hesitate to pass by and visit them in Warsaw… and to stay a while. Keep your ears open in case they are threatened by eviction.

Not forgetting to thank the people from the Syrena squat in the city center, as well as the BLA collective who provided the equipment for multilingual translation.

IMG_9673

Earth First! Winter Moot, February 2016

nocompromiseIf you live in the South West, in fact if you live in the UK, make sure you get down to this. It’s always inspiring & lots of fun:

EF! Winter Moot 2016

You are invited to attend the Earth First! Winter Moot, a gathering for people involved or wanting to know more about ecological campaigning and direct action in the UK.

Cost is £25/30 at the Centre for Science and Art, 13 Lansdown, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL5 1BB.  Stroud station is a 5 minute walk away.

Arrive Friday 5pm, leave Sunday 6pm. Friday 19th – Sunday 21st February.

Vegan meals and accommodation are provided.  Bring a sleeping bag and roll mat for the communal sleeping area.

Coming to an EF! gathering for the first time?

Those taking their first steps innto ecological campaigning are warmly welcomed.  There will be debates, discussions on campaign planning, updates, support and soldarity, tactics, strategies, community building, sustainable activism and networking including groups campaigning against:

fracking, incineration, new roads, GM (genetic engineering).

Earth First! is a banner for independent groups who share a common need to protect our ecological systems.  We believe in non-hierarchical direct action, to stop and reverse the forces responsbile for the destruction of the earth and its inhabitants.

For info or offers of help, contact us on:
southwest.earthfirst@riseup.net
earthfirstgathering.org

Join the next Reclaim the Fields European Assembly in Poland in January 2016

RTF Assembly Web 2016 small

Join the next Reclaim the Fields European Assembly in Poland in January 2016!

When: Thursday 21st January – Sunday 24th January 2016
Where: Warsaw, Poland. Exact location will be announced closer to the date. Please book travel to Warsaw.

Why:
The goals of the assembly are:

  • To meet and exchange information amongst the stars and local groups since last year
  • To exchange and debate on a theme that matters to us across Europe
  • To see where we are at with our European Reclaim the Fields constellation: what was decided last year, for what results, what we need to do to continue, and what future plans do we have.
  • To have fun and build relationships between us!

The Assemblies generally bring together people already active in the RTF constellation (or those that are aware/informed on the dynamics and latest discussions of the network.) But everybody is welcome!

Why in Poland?

RTF Poland was created after the last European Assembly that took place in Nottingham (embed link – www.reclaimthefields.org.uk/2015/01/26/…. They have a lot of energy, have been making great actions and want to make stronger links with us. They are also interested in sharing experiences about way of actions, to spread some practices arount them. We also want to welcome them into the constellation! Read more about them below.

Get Involved

– to prepare the content :

  • Can you help with content preparation for the Assembly? ( prepare timetable, prepare facilitation, …)
  • Do you have suggestions for the debate?
  • Are you part of a working group? What are the needs of the working group at the gathering?
  • Do you have ideas for the next camp or assembly? Please prepare them & email them even as a basic idea.

if you have answer to one of this question, please send a mail to contactrtf@riseup.net

– to help the logistic
Help fundraise or financially contribute to the gathering! We would like to be abble to support people with travel costs that could otherwise not participate… every contribution is welcome !

Registration
We will share a link to an online registration form in December so we know how many people are coming & what we need to prepare.

Contact:
If you have any questions concerning logistics or content of the meeting please contact contactrtf@riseup.net

Language at the meeting/Interpretation

The meeting will be supportet by bla interpretation equipment collective. That means that we will have the facilities to make everyone listen and speak in the languages they feel most comfortable in. that way we want to help break down hierarchies due to language barriers. interpretors come out of the crowd – maybe also you would like to contrubute to the interpretation at the meeting!
in the registration form you’ll find space/a section to note you’re needs and wants and contrubution you might want to offer to the assembly.

About the hosts – ROD

ROD is an untranslatable play on words. Originally the shortcut R.O.D. menas Rodzinne Ogrody Działkowe (Family Allotment Gardens) but we translate it as Radykalne Ogrody Działkowe (Radical Allotment Gardens).

The main goals of ROD collective: The basic of existence our group is autonomous, voluntary and self-organized initiative, free from any kind of hierarchy and discrimination. The members of collective try to be involved in reclaim the fields movement by occupying and ecological using the area of the allotment gardens – to secure it from devastation by the developers.

Warsaw have particular conditions under land grabing context. The main tool using by big business to legally land grab is a process called “re-privatization”. It mean that Warsow City Council tries to “give back” all buildings and land to the descendants of pre-war owners. That means 80% of Warsow. Exactly the same amount of city was destroy after war, and rebuild by tenants and people from whole of Poland with public money. Now so called “developer companies” look up old descendants (or finding a false ones) buying for a ridiculous price rights to the buildings or lands from them and becoming new owners. One of the effects of this is now there is 600.000 empty business spaces in places when few years ago were townhouses. Further tens of thousands old flats are empty. At the same time in the outskirts of the city closed settlements are growing, built by the same companies.

Land which is occupied by ROD collective was grabbed under this re-privatization process. But to say that we are there because particular situation of this land would be too much. We just chose this place because it was good place to start spread info about Land grabbing and show sustainable living in practice, as well as occupy resistance tactics. Anyway, it was clear for us that sooner or later something would happen. The area was just too nice to be not interesting to some developers. So it is also true that even though we were not looking a conflict we were open to the possibility of finding it.

ROD is kind of laboratory where in a radical and friendly atmosphere we got knowledge and skills about planting vegatables and herbs, derive energy from renewable sources, food processing, constructing spaces, tools, things for everyday using and organizing a social life for the community and the neighborhood with using the different tactics of resistance and struggle against capitalism. We strive for self-sufficiency and sovereignty, and we work in accordance with the principle of do it yourself.

For more information about Reclaim the Fields Poland visit: reclaimthefieldspl.noblogs.org

Background to the Assemblies
We still understand RtF as an organizational constellation of stars which is in constant movement and process. Stars are persons, collectives or projects who/which share the RtFs values and relate themselves and their work to the RtF goals. The stars are organized and meet in local networks which are autonomous and have their own objectives. The local networks are the base of the RtF constellation since it is essential for RtF to work from the bottom up. Apart from the local networks, there are working groups and thematic groups.

On the European level there are three different kinds of meetings:

  • Functional meetings once a year during winter time. The objective is to get feedback from the working groups, plan the camp, get news from the local networks and have an exchange about what is happening in the different local contexts.
  • Thematic meetings take place whenever people/local networks/working groups organize one. The idea is to work on specific topics. This can be for example a discussion of concepts, an exchange on agricultural techniques and knowledge or the support of a local struggle.
  • European camps take place in summer and are bigger and take longer than the other meetings. The objective is to make RtF grow by ‘going to new places’, supporting local struggles and sharing skills, knowledge and ideas. The last camp took place in the UK against the mega prison (embed link – www.reclaimthefields.org.uk/2015/09/06/…

Read the last bulletin here for more info about we did at the last Assembly in Nottingham: reclaimthefields.noflag.org.uk/wp-conte…

FRANCAIS

Viens à la prochaine assemblée européenne de Reclaim The Fields en Pologne en janvier 2016 !

quand : du jeudi 21 au dimanche 24 janvier 2016
: Varsovie, Pologne. l’endroit exact sera annoncé plus tard, mais réservez dés maintenant votre trajet jusqu’à Varsovie.

Pourquoi ?
les objectifs de l’assemblée sont :
– rencontrer et échanger des informations entre les étoiles, les groupes locaux de ce qu’il s’est passé depuis l’année dernière
– échanger et débattre de thèmes qui nous intéressent à l’échelle européenne
– voir où on est au sein de la constellation de RTF : ce qui avait été décidé l’année dernière, ce qui en a résulté, ce qu’il y a besoin de faire pour continuer, et quels projets futurs on a
– s’amuser et construire des liens entre nous !

Les assemblées rassemblent généralement des personnes déjà actives dans la constellation de RTF ( ou celles qui sont au courant/informées des dynamiques et dernières discussions en cours au sein du réseau). Mais tout le monde est le-la bienvenu-e !

Pourquoi en Pologne ?
RTF Pologne a été créée à la suite de la dernière assemblée européenne qui a eu lieu à Nottingham … Il y a plein d’énergie, illes ont fait de belles actions, et ont envie de renforcer les liens ave RTF, et de partager des expériences autour de moyens d’actions pour les diffuser. On a envie de les accueillir dans la constellation !
(Plus de détails en dessous)

Pour participer

– pour le contenu

– souhaites tu participer à la préparation du contenu de l’assemblée ? ( préparation de programme, de la facilitation, …)
– est ce que tu as des suggestions de débats ?
– si tu fais partie d’un groupe de travail, quels sont les besoins de ce groupe pendant cette assemblée ?
-des idées pour un prochain camp ou une prochaine assemblée ? prépare les et envoies les mêmes si l’idée en est au début.

si tu as répondu oui à une de ces questions, envoie un mail à contactrtf@riseup.net

– pour aider la logistique
– participe au financement ou à la recherche de fonds ! on a envie d’être capable de soutenir les personnes que les frais de transports empêcheraient de venir..toute contribution est la bienvenue!

Inscriptions
On mettra un lien pour des inscriptions en ligne en décembre, pour savoir combien de personnes viendront et ce qu’il y a à préparer.

Contact :
si vous avez des questions concernant la logistique ou le contenu, contacte contactrtf@riseup.net

Language pendant les rencontres/traductions

Les rencontres disposeront de matériel de traduction simultanée grâce au collectif BLA.Cela signifie qu’il y aura des moyens pour que chacun-e puisse entendre et parler dans la langue dans laquelle il ou elle se sent le plus à l’aise. De cette manière, nous voulons participer à détruire les hiérarchies dues aux barrières linguisitiques. Les traducteur-trice-s viennent des participant-e-s : et peut être que toi aussi tu aura envie de participer à la traduction pendant les rencontres ! Lors de l’inscription, tu trouveras une rubrique dans laquelle indiquer de quoi tu as besoin et envie, et de quelle manière tu peux participer à la traduction pendant les rencontres.

A propos du collectif qui accueille – ROD

ROD est un jeu de mots intraduisibles. A l’origine, le sigle ROD signifie quelque chose comme “jardins familiaux” ( Rodzinne Ogrody Dzialkowe) mais nous l’avons transformé en “jardins radicaux” ( Radykalne Ogrody Dzialkowe).

Les objectifs principaux du collectif ROD : Le principe de l’existence de notre groupe est l’initiative autonome, volontaire et auto-organisée, libre de toute forme de hiérarchie et discrimination. Les membres de notre collectif essayent de participer au mouvement de reclaim the fields en occupant et en ayant un usage écologique de l’espace de ces parcelles de jardins – pour les protéger de la dévastation des promoteurs.

Il y a à Varsovie des conditions particulières dans le contexte d’accaparement des terres.Le principal outil utilisé par le monde des affaires pour s’accaparer légalement les terres est un processus appelé “re-privatisation”. Cela signifie que le conseil municipal de Varsovie essaye de “rendre” tous les bâtiments et terres aux descendants des propriétaires d’avant-guerre? Ce qui représente 80 % de Varsovie. Exactement la même proportion de ville qui a été détruite après la guerre et reconstruite par les locataires et la population de toute la Pologne avec de l’argent public. Maintenant, les soi-disants “compagnies de développement” cherchent de vieux descendants ( ou en trouvent des faux) pour leur acheter à un prix ridicule les droits sur les batiments et les terres et devenir les nouveaux propriétaires. Un des effets de ceci est qu’il y a maintenant 600 000 espaces commerciaux vides là où il y a peu d’année il y avait des maisons de ville. Plusieurs dizaines de milliers de vieux appartements sont vides. Dans le même temps, dans les banlieues de la ville, des quartiers cloturés apparaissent, construits par les mêmes entreprises.

La terre occupée par le collectif ROD a été accaparé par ce processus de re-privatisation. Mais dire que nous somme ici à cause de cette situation particulière serait excessif. Nous avons juste choisi ce lieu parce que c’était un bon endroit pour commencer à diffuser de l’information sur l’accaparement des terres et montrer des modes de vie durables en pratique, autant que des tactiques de résistance par l’occupation de terre. Quoiqu’il en soit, c’était clair pour nous que tôt ou tard, quelque chose allait se passer. La zone était juste trop belle pour ne pas intéresser quelques promoteurs. Alors c’est vrai aussi que même si nous n’étions pas à la recherche d’un conflit, nous étions ouverts à la possibilité d’en trouver un.

ROD est une sorte de laboratoire, où, dans une atmosphère amicale et radicale, nous acquiérons des connaissances et savoir-faire en plantation de légumes et plantes aromatiques, production d’énergie à partir de sources renouvelables, production alimentaire, construction d’espaces, d’outils, d’objet de tous les jours, et dans l’organisation d’une vie sociale pour la communauté et le voisinage en utilisant différentes tactiques de résistance et de lutte contre le capitalisme. Nous luttons pour l’autosuffisance et la souveraineté alimentaire et nous travaillons sur le principe de do-it-yourself.

Pour plus d’informations à propos de Reclaim The Fields Pologne, visite reclaimthefieldspl.noblogs.org

Contexte des assemblée

Nous comprenons RTF comme une organisation de constellation d’étoiles en mouvement et évolution constante. Les étoiles sont les personnes, collectifs ou projets qui partagent les valeurs de RTF et se sentent lié-e-s, personnellement ou par leurs pratiques aux objectifs de RTF. Les étoiles sont organisées et se rencontrent dans des réseaux locaux qui sont autonomes et ont leurs objectifs propres. Les réseaux locaux sont la base de la constellation de RTF, puisqu’il est essentiel pour RTF de partir de la base. En plus des réseaux locaux, il y a des groupes de travail et des groupes thématiques.

A l’échelle européenne, il y a trois niveaux différents de rencontres :

– des rencontres de fonctionnement, une fois par an en hiver. Les objectifs sont de faire des retours des groupes de travail, de préparer un camp, d’avoir des nouvelles des réseaux locaux, et d’échanger sur ce qu’il arrive chez chacun-e.

– des rencontres thématiques : qui ont lieu chaque fois que des personnes/réseaux locaux/groupes de travail en organise. L’idée est de travailler sur des sujets précis. Ca peut être par exemple des discussions théoriques, des échanges sur des techniques agricoles ou des connaissances ou le soutien à une lutte locale.

– des camps européens : qui ont lieu en été et qui sont plus grands et plus longs que les autres rencontres. L’objectif est de faire grandir RTF en “allant dans de nouveaux lieux”, pour supporter des luttes locales, partager des savoir-faire, des connaissances.
Le dernier camp a eu lieu en Grande Bretagne, contre une mégaprison.
( www.reclaimthefields.org.uk/2015/09/06/….

Pour en savoir plus sur la dernière assemblée à Nottingham :
reclaimthefields.noflag.org.uk/wp-conte…

DEUTSCH

Komm zum nächsten Reclaim the Fields-Treffen im Januar 2016 in Polen!

Wann: Donnerstag, 21. Januar – Sonntag, 24. Januar 2016

Wo: Warschau, Polen. Der genauer Ort wird noch bekanntgegeben. Plant eure Reise einfach nach Warschau.

Warum: Die Ziele des Treffens sind:
-Neuigkeiten seit dem letzten Treffen unter den Sternen und Lokalgruppen auszutauschen
-sich auszutauschen und über Themen diskutieren, die uns quer durch Europa beschäftigen
-sehen wo die RtF Konstellation gerade steht: was wurde letztes mal entschieden und was hat sich daraus entwickelt, was wollen wir weiterführen, welche Pläne schmieden wir für die
•    Zukunft
-Spaß zu haben und Beziehungen unter uns aufzubauen

Die Treffen sind dazu gedacht Menschen zusammen zu bringen die schon in Rtf aktiv sind (oder Menschen, denen die Dynamiken bekannt sind/die die letzten Diskussionen der Konstellation kennen.) Es sind aber nichtsdestotrotz alle willkommen!

Warum in Polen?
“Reclaim the Fields Polen” wurde nach dem letzten Treffen in Nottingham, UK, gegründet http://www.reclaimthefields.org.uk/2015/01/26/feedback-from-european-assembly/%29.  Die Menschen vor Ort haben viel Energie und großartige Aktionen gemacht, und haben Lust sich mit der RtF Konstellation weiter und stärker zu verknüpfen. Willkommen in der Konstellation!
Ihr könnt weiter unten mehr über sie lesen.

Mitmachen
-Kannst du bei der inhaltlichen Vorbereitung mithelfen?
-Möchtest du inhaltliche Punkte/Diskussionen/… einbringen?
-Bist du Teil einer Arbeitsgruppe: Was braucht/möchte die Arbeitsgruppe auf dem Treffen einbringen?
-Hast du Ideen für das nächste Camp oder das nächste Treffen? Bereitet euren Input dazu am besten vor und schickt es schonmal per email, auch wenn es nur eine erste Idee ist.
-Helft beim Fundraising/der Finanzierung des Treffens mit oder beteiligt euch mit Spenden! Wir möchten z.B. Menschen mit ihren Fahrkosten unterstützen, die sonst nicht kommen könnten.

Sprache/Dolmetschen auf dem Treffen
Das Treffen wird von bla, einem Dolmetsch-Equipment Kollektiv, unterstützt. Das bedeutet, die Möglichkeit zu haben, dass alle in der Sprache zuhören und sprechen können, in der sie sich am wohlsten fühlen. Auf diese Weise wollen wir versuchen Hierarchien zu brechen, die aufgrund von Sprache entstehen. Die Dolmetscher_innen kommen aus der Gruppe der sich treffenden – vielleicht hast du ja auch Lust das Dolmetschen beim Treffen zu unterstützen! Bei der Anmeldung gibt es die Möglichkeit deine Sprach-Bedürfnisse und eventuelles Dolmetschen das du anbieten möchtest anzugeben.

Anmelden
Es wird noch ein Link herumgeschickt werden unter dem mensch sich anmelden kann. Das ermöglicht uns auf die korrekte Anzahl Menschen vorzubereiten, sodass wir wissen wieviele Leute kommen und was vorbereitet werden muss.

Kontakt
Wenn du Fragen zum Treffen hast (z.B. zur Unterbringung oder Inhaltliches) schreibe an: contactrtf@riseup.net

Über die Gastgeber_innen ROD:
ROD ist ein unübersetzbares Wortspiel. ROD ist die Abkürzung für Rodzinne Ogrody Działkowe, was Familien Schrebergärten bedeutet. Aber wir haben es als Radykalne Ogrody Działkowe übersetzt: Radikale Schrebergärten.
Die Hauptziele des ROD Kollektivs sind:
Die Grundlagen der Gruppe sind autonome, freiwillige und selbstorganisierte Initiative, frei von jeder Hierarchie und Diskriminierung. Die Mitglieder des Kollektivs versuchen in der Reclaim the Fields Bewegung teilzuhaben indem sie das Areal der Schrebergärten besetzen und ökologisch nutzen um es vor der Zerstörung durch die Stadtentwickler_innen zu schützen.

Im Landgrabbing Kontext hat Warschau besondere Bedingungen. Das Hauptwerkzeug, das von großen Unternehmengenutzt wird um sich Land rechtlich abgesichert unter den Nagel zureißen, ist ein sogenannter „Re-Privatisierungs“-Prozess. Der Warschauer Stadtrat versucht Nachfahren von vor-Kriegs-Besitzer_innen Land und Gebäude „zurückzugeben“. Das betrifft ca 80% von Warschau. Der gleiche Prozentsatz der Stadt wurde im Krieg zerstört, und durch Mieter_innen/Pächter_innen und Menschen aus ganz Polen mit öffentlichen Geldern wieder aufgebaut. Jetzt erforschen sogenannte “Entwicklungsunternehmen” Nachfahren (oder finden Falsche) um ihnen Land oder Gebäude für einen lächerlichen Preis abzukaufen und die neuen Besitzer_innen zu werden.

Einer der Effekte den dies hat ist, dass jetzt 600.000 gewerbliche Immobilien leerstehen, wo einige Jahre zuvor noch Stadthäuser standen. Darüber hinaus stehen zehntausende alte Wohnungen leer. Zur gleichen Zeit wachsen an den Stadträndern geschlossene (private) Siedlungen, die von den gleichen Unternehmen gebaut werden.

Das vom ROD Kollektiv besetzte Land wurde sich von Unternehmen in diesem “Re-Privatisierungs”-Prozess gegriffen. Das ist aber nicht der einzige Grund für unsere Besetzung. Wir haben es ausgesucht weil es ein guter Ort war um anzufangen Informationen über Landgrabbing zu verbreiten und eine nachhaltige Lebensweise durch die Widerstands-Taktik Besetzung in der Praxis zu zeigen. Trotzdem war es für uns klar, dass früher oder später etwas passieren würde. Das Gebiet war einfach zu gut um nicht interessant für einige “Entwickler_innen” zu sein. Wir suchen aber nicht explizit nach Konflikt, sind aber durchaus bereit welchen zu haben.)

ROD ist eine Art Labor in dem wir uns in radikaler und freundlicher Atmosphäre Wissen und Fähigkeiten zu Gemüse- und Kräuteranbau, Energiegewinnung durch erneuerbare Ressourcen, Nahrungsmittelverarbeitung, Räume errichten, Werkzeugen, Dingen für den täglichen Gebrauch und der Organisierung eines sozialen Lebens der Gemeinschaft und Nachbarschaft anzueignen, indem wir die verschiedenen Strategien von Widerstand und Kampf gegen den Kapitalismus nutzen. Wir streben nach Selbstversorgung und arbeiten nach dem Do it Yourself -Prinzip.

Mehr Infos über Reclaim the Fields Polen auf: http://reclaimthefieldspl.noblogs.org

Hintergrund der RtF-Treffeng
Wir verstehen RtF als eine organisatorische Konstellation von Sternen, die ein Prozess und konstant in Bewegung ist. Sterne sind Personen, Kollektive oder Projekte, die die Ideen von RtF teilen und sich selbst und ihre Arbeit zu RtF-Zielen in beziehung setzen. Die Sterne sind lokal organisiert und treffen sich in lokalen Netzwerken, die autonom sind und ihre eigenen Ziele haben. Die lokalen Netzwerke sind die Basis der RtF-Konstellation, denn die Arbeit “von unten” ist wichtig für RtF. Neben den lokalen Netzwerken gibt es Arbeitsgruppen und thematische Gruppen.

Auf der “europäischen” Ebene gibt es drei verschiedene Treffen:

-Organisations-Treffen jährlich im Winter. Das Ziel hier ist feedback von den Arbeitsgruppen zu geben, das RtF-Camp zu planen, Neuigkeiten von den lokalen Netzwerken zu teilen, und einen Austausch darüber zu bekommen, was in den verschiedenen lokalne Kontexten geschieht.
-thematische Treffen gibt es wann immer Menschen/lokale Netzwerke/Arbeitsgruppen welche organisieren. Die Idee hierbei ist an spezifischen Themen zu arbeiten. Das kann z.B. eine Diskussion von Konzepten, Austausch landwirtschaftlicher Techniken und Wissen, oder die Unterstützung eines lokalen Kampfes (?) sein.
-Camps finden im Sommer statt und sind großer und länger als die anderen Treffen. Ziel ist RtF zu vergrößern indem wir an neue Orte gehen, lokalen Kämpfe unterstützen und Wissen und Ideen zu teilen. Das letzte Camp war in Großbritannien gegen einen Riesenknast – http://www.reclaimthefields.org.uk/2015/09/06/reclaim-the-fields-international-action-camp/%29

Hier findest du das letzte Buletin vom Treffen in Nottingham: http://reclaimthefields.noflag.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/bulletin10_1EN.pdf

From Animal Liberation to Food Sovereignty: Talk for the People’s Harvest Forum

I felt really humbled to be asked to present at the People’s Harvest Forum in San Francisco. I gave a talk over skype, which I’ve shared below. I was super inspired by the other speakers that I could hear and all the work they are doing towards food sovereignty and social justice for non humans. I would be really keen to organise a similar event in the UK. For more info about the forum check out: http://pplsharvest.org/

Potrero-Garden

From Animal Liberation to Food Sovereignty: A Personal Story

Hey Everyone,

I’d like to say a huge thank you for being invited, it is an honour to speak and I’m gutted I can’t be physically with you all right now! I’ve been asked to focus on my personal story and introduce some perspectives on food sovereignty/food justice from an animal liberation perspective.

In this talk I’ll introduce ‘where I’m at’ and what has led me to be organising for food sovereignty. Hopefully it will generate lots of questions for critical thinking and reflection.

So, I’m Nicole. I’m 27 and live over in Somerset in the South West of England. It’s a rural county with a large mix of large/industrial landowners, and more working class communities in the towns. People are increasingly pushed out of the countryside, unable to afford rents or participate in agriculture. The UK is an extremely class stratified society and this has had a huge influence on my life. I was brought up by a single mum on state benefits. We faced most things people face – poverty, domestic violence, poor mental health & lack of access to decent food or land. Before moving to Somerset at 10, I grew up on the outskirts of Bristol where one of the first Asda (walmart) stores was open. My Nan was a key caregiver in my life and as a result, I’d spend lots of time with her where she was from in the countryside. As a result, I had a lot of interactions with animal agriculture from a young age.

When I was 9 she took me to collect eggs from a local farm that was a battery farm. I remember seeing row upon row of hens in cages. The smell overwhelmed me and the emotional impact was intense. I went vegetarian and wrote to animal advocacy organisations asking what I could do to stop this horror. This began a big process of a politicization from a very young age. I started my first animal rights group at school when I was 10 (ironically I also started an amnesty international chapter, so prisoner support has been a huge current of my life for a long time too).

Around this time the SHAC Campaign started – Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty – it was a grassroots campaign to close down Europe’s largest animal testing company, Huntingdon Life Sciences, who kill 200,000 animals a year and mainly test fertilizers, pesticides, agricultural chemicals and so forth. At this time the animal liberation movement was on fire in the UK. Supplier after supplier to animal labs were being closed down through grassroots pressure and direct action. I wrote to SHAC aged 11 after getting their first newsletter, I did street stalls and made prank calls to companies. I went on their first national demonstration. It all kicked off, with riot cops, thousands of people tearing through the streets. People were wearing ALF t-shirts and talking about supporting prisoners. It was electric. It felt very working class, it felt powerful. I realised the feeling of power you can get working with others as part of a movement.

So that was my life for a long time. I worked three nights a week washing up in a pub while I was at school. The weekends I was hunt sabbing, or going to demos or organising with the Anarchist Youth Network. I eventually left home when I was 16 to do organising full time. My first partner got sent to prison when I was 16, and then a different partner when I was 18. Finally at 19, my door came through for the third time as I was raided by the police and arrested for ‘Conspiracy to Blackmail’.

32 homes had been raided, with the police whittling down to 12 of us that were charged. Three people were remanded to prison while the rest of us spent nearly two years on bail awaiting trial. The first six went through a 3 month trial and were found guilty. I later pleaded guilty and entered prison in March 2009. After 19 months on remand I was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison (with two years taken off due to my plea bargain, otherwise I would have done 5.5 years).

I won’t go into details of the case or charge right now for brevity’s sake, but they were basically aiming to link the above-ground work of the SHAC campaign with the underground actions of the animal liberation front. And to these ends, they were fairly successful. They’d spent 2.5 million keeping a handful of us under surveillance for two years. They criminalised us with new laws, and were very effective in their use of repressive tactics to stop the movement in its tracks.

Prison changed my life in untold ways. I’d lived in 21 houses by the time I was 18, being inside actually took away a lot of the poverty related stress I’d experienced growing up, being shifted about and worrying constantly about money. At the time, prison was the longest place I’d lived anywhere. I felt quite grounded and able to focus on my personal development.

Obviously it was also hellish in lots of ways. Abuse/violence/sexual predation from officers was rife. The levels of self harm and suicide attempts are unimaginable, and ultimately your freedom and life is completely controlled. You are quite literally caged.

I was determined to make the most of my sentence. I got a job working in the gardens in the jail. While it was mostly frustrating maintenance work, I finally convinced them to let us grow vegetables. So we started a garden in the main courtyard, and also a large herb & veg garden in the mother and baby unit. I applied for a grant & completed a distance learning certificate in horticulture, which included a permaculture design certificate.

In those walls I learnt about how patterns of land use have shaped societies. I learnt about everything from soil science to seed sovereignty. I devoured over 250 books and started to think even more critically about the world around me. I had always been concerned about agriculture due to my veganism, and also from fighting HLS customers, who were predominantly large agr companies, however for the first time I could actually see a viable alternative to capitalist agriculture.

In the UK you generally do half of your prison sentence inside, and half on probation (like parole in the US). If anything happens you get recalled back to prison. Three days before my release I was given my license conditions – that I couldn’t speak to anyone concerned with animal welfare, or work for animal welfare in anyway. My movements were to be totally controlled, internet access restricted. I had to get permission even to have a relationship with someone. My solicitors were unable to challenge these legally and so began 21 months of my life where I could no longer speak to my closest friends in the world, lovers or comrades.

This was almost harder than prison. In an attempt to politically and socially isolate you, many of my comrades completely dropped out of the movement. My ex-girlfriend had rinsed me of the money I’d saved for my release and probation told me either I live with my mother or I go to a bail hostel (nearly worse than prison). My mum had re-married after I left home. I was nervous of living with her partners, who had a pretty bad track record of being dominating abusive men. Her now current partner, Ian, had built his own house and accumulated some capital. He bought a small house with 4 acres of land, called Brook End, where I would have to live on release.

You’ll be pleased to know it has all worked out. Ian is one of the kindest men I’ve ever met. But here I am, having studied permaculture, suddenly with access to four acres of land. It was like a fairytale. So began a massive design process, that is of course ongoing. We observed the land for a year before preparing designs and making decisions. I built huge vegetable beds, where we now grow salad to sell, vegetables for courses and the family, fruit & more. I built a 30m2 medicinal herb garden. It’s a beautiful site with huge biodiversity and we manage it without animal manure or inputs from exploited animals.

I got further grants and completed a Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design and also worked to finish a degree in ecosocial design with Gaia University, a radical alternative education institution.

In March 2011 a call out went out for a group called Reclaim the Fields. I picked it up and edited their description, gave it to my probation officer, got permission and three months after prison I’m organising a national gathering to bring together anti-capitalist food growers.

Reclaim the Fields is a constellation of people and collective projects willing to go back to the land and reassume the control over food production.We are determined to create alternatives to capitalism through cooperative, collective, autonomous, real needs oriented small scale production and initiatives, putting theory into practice and linking local practical action with global political struggles.

I became active in the food sovereignty movement, organising local events and national gatherings. I worked with a local food charity doing food poverty work, teaching food growing & cooking in working class communities. Finally in 2013 I helped to start Feed Avalon, a workers cooperative dedicated to working for food justice in Street, Glastonbury and surrounding villages. Basically everything I’d been doing but in a more intimate area, where relationships can be more resilient and long term.

So beyond my personal story, how does animal liberation connect to food sovereignty? Are these worldviews complementary or conflictual?

I gotta be honest, and that it’s been a hard journey that has really revealed to me the complexities of social change and how to navigate different worldviews. In fighting fracking and unconventional gas exploitation in my local area, I’ve had to work with dairy farmers, do public meetings with large landowners, very aware that people that are opposed to the developments probably hunt foxes at the weekend.

In organising for food sovereignty, I’ve had to give out leaflets that speak of the rights of people to farm animals or fish (such as in the nyeleni declaration that highlights the rights of pastoralists or small scale fisher folk). I’ve had to sit next to farmers on courses that maybe send animals to slaughter. It’s been like political growing pains, emotionally difficult beyond belief. But I really believe, unless animal liberationists become part of defining new food systems in all their aspects – social justice, freedom for animals, ecological defense & restoration – that we will be left out of the conversation. I do believe we face a common threat that is the capitalist food system.

Imagine our power if we work in solidarity more with each other. Like at this gathering now, if we challenge gentrification, resist global corporations like Monsanto or challenge the environmental racism of factory farms for a handful of brief examples. I think the time is over for single issue campaigns or movements. We gotta work together more in every single way. For me, being an anarchist means attempting to eradicate all forms of domination. In a recent book I’ve been reading the author writes how “We don’t want to build an anarchist world. We want to build a free world.”

I believe we need to be present in food sovereignty movements. We need to create beautiful inspiring models of plant based food production, while also being active comrades in struggles for self determining communities, whether that’s tearing down the prison industrial complex, resisting gentrification or fighting GM. While active in these movements we can have an influence with our worldview that animals are not ours to ‘farm’, enslave, control, cage, slaughter, or accumulate wealth from. We can keep returning to the commonly supported idea that multiple forms of oppression intersect and demand an analysis and practice that recognises the totality of different forms of domination. I know from just being consistently involved in the food sovereignty movement in the UK that my presence has ensured vegan food, or the presence of the Vegan Organic Network at events for example. We need to be actively part of all of these events and conversations, for the sake of the nonhumans we are fighting for.

Like Nassim mentioned, we have to challenge the social norms that we have to default back to animal agriculture.

Learning about permaculture has made me really feel like I know what I’m wanting to create not just resist. If you’re unconvinced I’d just say go visit a permaculture farm somewhere that doesn’t farm animals. See the soils full of life. See the amount of birds and wildlife that are free and self-determining. Taste the vegetables. This is how we could be feeding ourselves. Animal oppression isn’t necessary. We can invest our organiser energy in re-designing the world to eradicate all forms of oppression, including the commodification and exploitation of animals. This is what my heart beats for.
Thank you for listening

Interview on Transition Network

Nicole Vosper on seeing prisons as “one massive creative design opportunity”

When I went to the recent 2015 International Permaculture Convergence, one workshop I really wanted to go to was about permaculture and prisons.  I couldn’t go though, as I had to be somewhere else. So I subsequently got in touch with Nicole Vosper, who led that workshop, and interviewed her instead!  Nicole lives in Somerset, and runs a website called emptycagesdesign.org.  As an ex-prisoner who is actively involved in permaculture, her work focuses on the bridge between the two.  I started out by asking her why she feels that the prison system needs a rethink:

“I did a 3 ½ year prison sentence when I was 21. Twenty one months was in a private prison in Middlesex. That was in a backdrop of long-term organising for different social justice projects and campaigns and struggles.

My perspective on the prison system is that it’s inherently violent. Even with bigger cells or more adequate healthcare or more visits, or more education and training, or gardens in prisons, all these things that people throw around; even with all of those reforms I believe it’s inherently violent, because I believe that act of caging a human being is violent. Prison abolition, which is something I organise for, is about looking at what other solutions are there to the social and economic problems that the prison system is allegedly meant to be solving.

In what ways does the prison system, in your opinion, have unfairness designed into it fundamentally? Is it a fundamentally unfair design?

Nicole VosperAs a design, the prison system is incredibly effective in the sense of who it’s serving. It’s serving the State, and it’s also serving the hierarchies that exist in our society. Anyone who is engaged in any sort of social change work will probably see prison or repression as a limiting factor or a fear to overcome to push for more change.  Prisons are fundamental to maintaining this social order in our society and they’re really essential to maintaining this class-based system that we have, especially in the UK.

There’s an author called Karlene Faith who wrote a book called ‘Unruly Women’ about women in prison, and she describes prisons as places “where all the injustices converge”; so prisons perpetuate inequalities in the sense of race. People of colour are highly criminalised, have totally disproportionate sentences, especially foreign nationals and this new wave of – well it’s not new – racism towards immigrants. Immigrants are increasingly becoming criminalised and filling up our prison system. That’s no accident.

Prisons harm disproportionately queer, gay communities, the homeless, generally just the working class. The war on drugs and all these other things that the state holds as keeping us safe, the ‘us’ being this privileged minority, is actually false, and I feel that prisons are definitely perpetuating more harm than they are preventing or solving.

It’s quite a step from that to the idea of abolishing prisons altogether. Is there not an argument that actually prison keeps most people safe from some really violent, unpleasant characters; that there are some people for whom prison is a necessary thing?

I understand that prison abolition is a challenging perspective, especially if people are new to these issues. When I facilitate workshops around this field, I always ask people “what makes you feel safe?” “What keeps you safe, or your community safe?” The things that come out of those workshops, and these are workshops with all sorts of people: ex-prisoners, different community groups, even permaculture people at these conferences, the same pattern has come up again and again.

Access to healthcare, accountability if someone has experienced harm… If someone has experienced rape or abuse, or murder or violence then they need to feel some level of accountability with the perpetrator of that harm. Indigenous communities all over the world have managed to function without the use of huge state-run prisons. It’s a fallacy that we couldn’t organise our society without them.

I always bring it back to what keeps you safe, and most people say if they’ve experienced harm that they want a supportive group of friends around them. They want to have that communication with the perpetrator eventually. They want to feel immediately safe in their environment. So for me, the link between prisons and permaculture is actually redesigning our society and building communities that can really meet people’s needs so you don’t have people having to commit crime, using that discourse of crime to actually meet their own needs.

Most people in prison are there for economic reasons, or because their communities are criminalised. The criminalised communities that are in prison are the ones that are experiencing the most harm. So you chat to anyone in jail and they’re the ones that have experienced being mugged, being burgled, sexual and financial abuse, everything. It’s not really working for anyone. The people who experience the harm the most are the ones that are filling up our prisons.

You mentioned that you were in a private prison. One of the things that a lot of people listening to this might not be aware of is the extent to which the prison service is now a private commercial operation. Could you say a little bit about that and how that affects who prison serves and what the experience is for people on the inside?

This term the ‘Prison Industrial Complex’ has emerged in the last couple of decades to describe the more complex web of relationships that underpin the prison system. It’s never just been the state that runs prisons, but increasingly it is private companies that are running institutions. For example, all of the immigration detention centres in the UK are run for profit by private companies. What’s problematic about this isn’t just the ethics involved, actually profiting and serving your shareholders through caging certain groups of people; it’s also that the private prison industry have a lot of power and lobbying power so they can actually change our whole criminal justice system because they can put pressure to change different sentences and make reforms and stuff, so it changes the whole landscape of our criminal justice system.

Image: oneway2day.wordpress.comImage: oneway2day.wordpress.com

In terms of private prisons, I’m not pro-state prison by any means at all, but there are definitely some differences and patterns. For example, of the top five prisons in the UK with the highest rates of self-harm last year, four of them were private prisons. You have this effect where companies are trying to cut corners because that’s their business interest and that obviously is going to affect prisoners, so that will reduce staffing ratios, making prisoners a lot more generally unsafe, higher levels of abuse between staff.  In the prison I was in, 4 or 5 different officers had been sacked after I left for sleeping with women in the prison.

This level of abuse is rife in UK jails. There are obviously contracts with private companies that are directly profiting from the labour of prisoners, companies like Virgin or DHL, they are all making money by paying prisoners a maximum of £25 a week, and that’s a job that could have gone to someone on the outside for minimum wage or more. It’s completely shocking that they’ve created this system to profit from something that is so exploitative and harmful, and it is destroying communities by removing people from those communities.  We’ve had horrific things of capitalist exploitation, war, everything else, but I do think there is something really screwed up about making money from actually caging people.

What, for you, would prison abolition look like? If people were guilty of violent crimes or whatever, what would be the ideal way of managing that, or treating that?

The most important thing is that there’s no one solution to anything. What would work for me or maybe my community wouldn’t necessarily work for another. So it’s about having this constellation of alternative strategies to respond to harm, just like indigenous cultures have got all variety of tools and community processes to respond to harm in their communities. We’d have to do that work and that design work and that practice and that development to actually be able to respond to these issues.

Credit: Jenna Peters-GoldenCredit: Jenna Peters-GoldenA lot of those tools already exist, especially in more anarchist subcultures. We have things like ‘safe spaces agreements’ and accountability processes. There’s a model that has come out of North America called ‘Transformative Justice’ which emerged due to the needs of survivors of sexual violence wanting to not endanger the perpetrators of that violence and subject them to the criminal justice system but actually to look at alternatives and to support them to transform their behaviour, so everyone is transformed by that process; it’s not just a case of restorative justice where you’re restoring the same power imbalances that perpetuate the harm.

For me, prison abolition is one massive creative design opportunity of how can we keep our community safe, and what tools and processes can we imagine to respond to harm in a way that doesn’t give power to the state or lock people behind bars. In terms of this violent minority that we’re meant to really fear, that’s a big cultural myth that perpetuates this idea that prisons are natural, normal and necessary. I know there’s a book where the guy had spent time in Broadmoor as a psychiatrist working with five of the top serial killers in the UK. He said not a single one of them hadn’t had the most brutal, traumatic childhood.

So for me in terms of actually dealing with people that have perpetuated that level of harm, I think it needs to look more like a care model. I used to work with autistic adults, for example, that were quite violent and aggressive and it would be about what meets their needs. So I could imagine smaller systems where we actually treat individuals as needing care and support rather than needing more violence inflicted upon them.

Could you say a bit about where the permaculture comes in? Some people would think permaculture and prisons just means making gardens in prisons, but I get a sense from your work that you see it as a much deeper thing than just planting a few apple trees in the yard in the prison.

For sure. For me, permaculture and prisons have always been quite linked. I learnt about permaculture inside – I got a Distance Learning course when I was in prison and studied permaculture in there, worked in the gardens and encouraged the garden officer to let us grow veg rather than just weeding rose bushes. I’ve always seen that they do go together quite well in the sense that I see permaculture as being a way to completely redesign our society that meets human needs while increasing ecosystem health.

I get a lot of emails from people that want to do projects with prisons and plant gardens, but this isn’t really the work that I’m doing, or the work that I’m overly interested in. Being in the gardens in jail really kept me sane and really nourished me while I was there, but it’s a very cosmetic intervention. I feel that the power of permaculture gives us a lot more ability to transform society than we imagine at the moment.

So for me, it’s more about totally redesigning our societies from the ground up, which is obviously what people engaged with the Transition movement are doing and that’s super inspiring.

But I’m not dismissive of projects with prisoners. There are some really inspiring examples, especially in North America. People leaving prison really need support. They really need access to create a new way of life, because most people coming out of jail are landing straight in the same situation: poverty, benefits, drugs, violence, the same sort of patriarchal culture. So creating opportunities for prisoners to come out of jail and actually access land and build livelihoods, to find purpose and meaning, and actually be able to feed themselves, would be super inspiring and necessary.

I’ve met people who have been in and out of prison who actually will often get sent back to prison because it’s some stability. It’s regular meals, you’re warm, and I wonder what does that tell us about how crap stuff is once you get out and how little support there is when you get out, that going in and out and in and out just becomes a pattern for people. How do we break that pattern?

Nicole leading a workshop on permaculture and prisons. Nicole leading a workshop on permaculture and prisons. Without a doubt. Something like 65% of offenders – I don’t like the word offender – but of prisoners return within 6 or 12 months. So most people in prison are people that have been there before. There’s a design tool in permaculture, this idea of “a spiral of erosion”, identifying where that erosion is happening and where the leaks are. I feel like we can intervene in that system by looking at why people are returning to prison.

The main reason is getting kicked out of jail with a £46 discharge grant hasn’t changed in the last 4 years. Then you have to wait a month maybe to get your benefits sorted, and the grants from the state like the emergency fund from the Job Centre aren’t available any more. The Salvation Army is completely over-subscribed. You can’t get on the housing register and it’s literally no surprise that people return to prison. No surprise at all.

I could really see the change in the just-under 2 years that I was there, with all the government austerity measures, and how that was really harming people because all the services inside the prison were just getting stripped left, right and centre. The housing team lost their jobs, the group that worked with foreign national women lost their funding and then people were getting out and were completely unable to access support from charities or other bodies that used to exist. So prisons really link with this national impact of the state, and it’s basically class war on working class people in the UK.

Could you paint us a picture of what your vision would be of a fair, just, justice system? If you were to leap forward 20 years and this had happened, could you paint a picture of it for us? What might it be like?

For me, fairness is actual real social justice and a real egalitarian society, and I don’t feel that’s possible in our economic system and I don’t feel that’s possible when we have the existence of the state which is going to protect the people at the top of the hierarchy. So to have fairness would be to totally transform all our social relations and make our society less stratified and less hierarchical. Ideally, in my fantasy head, an anarchist society where we’re addressing our power relationships left, right and centre, where the minority don’t have a monopoly on violence over the majority.

In terms of a more positive, creative vision  – it would be communities actually being less atomised and having relationships with each other, and people actually paying attention to things like sexism, racism, so that there aren’t such endemic levels of domestic violence or drug abuse. Most substance abuse comes from people being sexually abused when they were kids so if we actually had a revolutionarily different society that kind of harm hopefully wouldn’t happen, or at least in definitely wouldn’t happen at the levels that we have now.

So I can imagine a constellation of alternatives in communities developing different tools and when we don’t have the haves and the have-nots I’m sure that would definitely stop a lot of the crime as we know it happening.

How might we start to move towards what you’re talking about?  We’re so far away from it at the moment.

We need to be investing time and energy into developing ways to respond to harm. Things like Transformative Justice are a lot more common in the US, but we need to really build up those tools and those ways of existing so that we can actually meet our own needs without the state. So I feel like that’s something that if people are interested in People Care or Zone 00 work or Inner Transition, then they could be actually really addressing some of the different forms of oppression that we have in our society like racism, sexism, able-ism and even just thinking about things like class within the Transition movement and the permaculture movement.

Artists impression of new super-size 'Titan' jail being built near Wrexham. Artists impression of new super-size ‘Titan’ jail being built near Wrexham.

To me these feel like huge elephants in the room that we don’t discuss enough, so really looking at design interventions around them. Practical projects with ex-prisoners, I think is super important. If every permaculture project or community garden in the UK could support a couple of apprentice ex-prisoners, I think we’d definitely make some sort of dent.

But more than anything, it’s this idea of  “are we making gardens in this battlefield?” I do feel like we need to politically engage with this and if people are really passionate about permaculture then applying design to grassroots campaigns. They’re building Europe’s second biggest prison right now in North Wales. Six days ago they announced a new prison they want to build in Jamaica funded by the British state. These are all things that are happening right now and I don’t feel like we can be neutral and I don’t feel like we can be passive. We need to organise and we need to resist the growth of the expansion of the prison system while simultaneously developing alternatives and doing more one-to-one work with ex-prisoners.

More information on Nicole’s work linking these issues here.  She also suggested, for those interested in learning more, the following links:

Empty Cages Collective resources section 

Community Action on Prison Expansion 

Bristol Anarchist Black Cross 

Critical Resistance (North America) 

Reclaim the Fields International Action Camp 2015: Towards a world without prisons

IMG_1201From the 28th August to the 2nd September 2015, the Reclaim the Fields International Action Camp drew over 130 people to Wrexham, North Wales, to resist the ‘North Wales Prison Project,’ the construction of Europe’s second largest prison. Held at Borras Community Protection Camp, a site camp established to oppose fracking in the area, the gathering sought to link land struggles with resistance to the prison industrial complex(1) and ongoing mechanisms of state violence and dispossession.

Connecting the dots

From Saturday to Monday, a comprehensive programme of workshops, discussions and practical activities took place. People connected the dots between struggles around the prison system, food sovereignty, borders, and other aspects of the world post-enclosures. Several workshops explored the brutality of the prison system, introducing the P.I.C., ongoing struggles around IPP prisoners, nonhuman prisons and how prisons relate to gender and queer struggles, and over the course of the weekend a permaculture design was developed for the camp and people began work on a herb garden, biochar system and solar panels for the site.

Never alone, Never forgotten

Throughout the camp several actions took place. In the evenings, folk took sound systems, megaphones, and other noise making instruments to local prisons determined to show prisoners they are not forgotten and not alone. HMP Stoke Heath, HMP Drake Hall and HMP Altcourse were all visited, with many prisoners shouting back and banging their doors. Chants like “If you hate the screws, clap your hands” rang out under a full moon.
As part of the International Week of Solidarity for Anarchist Prisoners, children at the camp made a banner for UK anarchist prisoner, Emma Sheppard. Letters were written and prisoner stories shared. Banners were also made for comrades on tag and repressive bail conditions who couldn’t make the physical gathering.

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In the Streets

There were also highstreet actions, with folk leafleting Wrexham about the prison and how they can get involved in fighting it. On Monday a protest was staged at P&A Landscaping. They are the prison’s landscapers and have supplied several fences and materials to the jail. In response their public garden centre was visited and customers were informed about their role in prison expansion.

Day-long Blockade of the Prison

fire to the prisonsOn Tuesday 1st September, around 20 people blockaded the three access gates to the Wrexham Mega-Prison’s construction site. This simple action was easy to co-ordinate, and with confused and unprepared police and site staff, had a big effect with very little effort. A queue of trucks were prevented from entering and exiting the site, including a huge cement delivery which had to be turned away before it spoiled. Simon Caron, Project Director for Lend Lease, begged protesters to let it in saying, “We’ve been reasonable letting you protest, please just allow this one to get through”. No one budged and vehicles delivering materials failed to enter. Read about the action in the local newspaper here and here.

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Suppliers targeted regionally

As camp participants networked and bonded, regional groups formed to take actions against local targets in their own areas. (Find a list of suppliers in your area here). One group visited the Gloucestershire offices of Precast Erections Ltd, the company supplying concrete blocks used to build the prison. More actions are planned. Contact your local group to find out how you can get involved in Community Action on Prison Expansion

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Solidarity Protest at the Court

On Wednesday 2nd, people from Reclaim the Fields supported a local woman, Vanda Gillett who had been charged with assault during the Barton Moss Community Blockade. Following a guilty verdict, anger erupted in her defence. The court was occupied and ‘scuffles’ with the police took place outside. Four people were arrested and people moved to demonstrate at the police stations where they were being held. See a video and mainstream media article on the day here.

Due to the arrests and priority of station support, further actions in Manchester were postponed, however local people motivated by the anti-prison struggle are keen to continue to target local companies and delay the construction of this super prison.

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Reclaiming the Fields, Reclaiming our Lives

Reclaim the Fields is a constellation of people and collective projects willing to go back to the land and reassume the control over food production. We are determined to create alternatives to capitalism through cooperative, collective, autonomous, real needs oriented small scale production and initiatives, putting theory into practice and linking local practical action with global political struggles.

IMG_1175This camp is one part of our story (read the UK history here). We are not a ‘campaign’ or ‘coalition’ or a ‘mass movement’. We are diverse people, projects and struggles converging and diverging all over Europe. The manifold of ways in which capitalist economics comes to dominate the land (whether that be through the construction of prisons, drilling for gas or the exploitation of industrial agriculture) implicates and connects us all. While gatherings and action camps can be politically limited, they are not the be-all or end-all of our work. They are points of encounter, a chance for comrades to meet and critically reflect on how these struggles shape our lives. Read more about how RTF organises in our latest bulletin.

IMG_1171The gathering came alive through the work of an incredible group of people working collectively and horizontally. Numerous ex-prisoners and people who have supported loved ones through jail were present and moved by the experience. The passion and the hate for the prison system was very present and very visible. As was the desire for something more, for growing food, reclaiming land and living differently.

We will continue our work to reclaim our lives from the state, from our capitalist economic system and oppressive prison society. Until All Are Free!

– Reclaim the Fields, September 2015

(1)  Defined here as the overlapping interests of government and industry that use surveillance, policing and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social and political problems.

Reclaim the Fields International Action Camp 2015

RTF Camp 2015 Small

About the camp

Reclaim the Fields (or RTF) UK was born in 2011, as a star in a wider constellation of food and land struggles that reaches around the globe. Since 2011, camps and other RTF gatherings have helped support local communities in struggle, share skills, developed networks, and strengthened the resistance to exploitation, in Bristol, west London, Gloucestershire, Nottingham and Fife among other locations.

Every two years there is also an international camp, where people from around Europe and beyond meet together to support a local struggle (from gold mining in Romania to open cast coal mining in Germany, for example). People share share stories and ideas about resistance and reclaiming our food system beyond national borders. This year, an international gathering will be held in the UK, in Dudleston, Shropshire, on the Welsh/English border.

The aims of the camp are:

  • To support local communities in the west and north west of England, and the north of Wales with their struggles against fracking
  • To increase participation in Reclaim the Fields
  • To demonstrate visible, active opposition to prison construction
  • To support Dudleston Community Protection Camp build a garden and infrastructure to become more self-reliant
  • To demonstrate the interconnection between these struggles
  • To inspire and radicalise everyone involved

What’s taking place?

  • Two days of Action – Tuesday 1st & Wednesday 2nd September – demonstrations & actions against companies involved in the construction of the North Wales prison, as well as local fracking-related targets.
  • Workshops & Skillshares – Over the bank holiday weekend there will be abundant opportunities to learn, share, discuss and connect with other people.
  • Building & Growing on the site – Be part of installing gardens & low impact infrastructure at the community protection camp. Learn about permaculture, agroecology, forest gardening, mushroom growing, pallet construction, compost toilet making, off-grid electrics and more.

Why this camp? Why now?

  • This camp has been organised to support the local community in Dudleston to resist fracking in their area (as well as working with other local anti-fracking groups & protection camps in the North West who have been resisting extreme energy developments for a number of years). To find out more about their struggle visit: http://frack-off.org.uk/blockade/dudleston-community-protection-camp/

Practical Information about the Camp

Click on the links below to find more practical information about the camp and how to get involved:

Getting involved

This is a DIY camp and everyone is needed to get stuck in to make it happen. People are needed to:

  • Support with publicity before the event – sharing the gathering online, putting posters up, encouraging your local group to get involved. People are also needed to help design the programme, respond to emails & plan facilitation.
  • Helping with site set up & building infrastructure (planning this in advance & being on site a few days before the gathering)
  • Signing up to a shift over the weekend to help with cooking, site set up & safety, being on the welcome tent & so forth
  • Supporting local groups to organise actions

If you can help with any of these tasks please email info@reclaimthefields.noflag.org.uk

Who are Reclaim the Fields?

We are a group of peasants, landless and prospective peasants, as well as people who are taking back control over food production.

We understand “peasants” as people who produce food on a small scale, for themselves or for the community, possibly selling a part of it. This also includes agricultural workers.

We support and encourage people to stay on the land and go back to the countryside. We promote food sovereignty (as defined in the Nyéléni declaration) and peasant agriculture, particularly among young people and urban dwellers, as well as alternative ways of life. In Europe, the concept ‘food sovereignty’ is not very common and could be clarified with ideas such as ‘food autonomy’ and control over food systems by inclusive communities, not only nations or states. We are determined to create alternatives to capitalism through cooperative, collective, autonomous, real-needs-oriented, small-scale production and initiatives. We are putting theory into practice and linking local practical action with global political struggles.

In order to achieve this, we participate in local actions through activist groups and cooperate with existing initiatives. This is why we choose not to be a homogeneous group, but to open up to the diversity of actors fighting the capitalist food production model. We address the issues of access to land, collective farming, seed rights and seed exchange. We strengthen the impact of our work through cooperation with activists who focus on different tasks but who share the same vision.

Nevertheless, our openness has some limits. We are determined to take back control over our lives and refuse any form of authoritarianism and hierarchy. We respect nature and living beings, but will neither accept nor tolerate any form of discrimination, be it based on race, religion, gender, nationality, sexual orientation or social status. We refuse and will actively oppose every form of exploitation of other people. With the same force and energy, we act with kindness and conviviality, making solidarity a concrete practice of our daily life.

We support the struggles and visions of la Via Campesina, and work to strengthen them. We wish to share the knowledge and the experience from years of struggle and peasant life and enrich it with the perspectives and strength of those of us who are not peasants, or not yet peasants. We all suffer the consequences of the same policies, and are all part of the same fight.

Read this in: French, German, Spanish