Stirrer No.6 has arrived:)

The spring/summer print edition of the Stirrer has just arrived from our friends at Oxford GreenPrint. Distribution will start next week – read the front cover from the downloadable PDF (see link below) and you’ll see why…

As ever, if any of our supporters want to take a small bundle to hand out to friends and neighbours, feel free to get in touch and we’ll work out a way of getting them to you. We’re going to be out and about at various events during the course of the summer – as and when we get close to them, we’ll post up details on this blog so you know where to get hold of a paper and meet us. If you run or know of a venue that you think would be sympathetic to our politics and would be willing to take a small bundle for their patrons, please let us know. We will be experimenting with other distribution methods as well, including some high street locations.

For a variety of reasons, printing costs are not getting cheaper. We probably could find a cheaper local printer but Oxford GreenPrint are a) a workers co-op and b) the Riso print process they use for our papers (printed on recycled paper) is environmentally friendly so we want to continue using and supporting them. Supporting workers co-ops using environmentally friendly processes is an integral part of our ethos. So, if you want to support our paper and an ethically sound business, any donations to our printing costs will be greatly appreciated:)

As we can’t afford a massive print run and haven’t got the resources to distribute a large number of papers, a downloadable PDF of the Stirrer is available from here.

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Stirrer special edition back from the printer

For a while we’ve needed something we can hand out at anarchist/radical bookfairs, on protests and to any people interested in what we’re doing to explain what we’re about. Sure we can give them a printed copy of the Stirrer but that’s generally us commenting on local issues from our political perspective rather than explaining where we’re coming from as activists. To resolve this, we’ve produced a special edition of the Stirrer on two sides of a sheet of A4 which explains our roots in class struggle and community activism, arguing that to achieve real change, you have to build from the grassroots upwards. It’s fairly generic in its content so it’s a resource we can use for the rest of this year – or until we run out:) All things being equal, we hope to be at the Bristol Anarchist Bookfair on Saturday May 12th and we’ll be handing them out then. Hopefully our message about building from the grassroots will get a positive reception and we’ll take it from there…

As ever, we don’t have a massive budget and can’t afford long print runs so we’re making the paper available as a downloadable PDF from here.

We’ve been going for a year…

Today is the first anniversary of this blog and it’s sister project, On Uncertain Ground. Our predecessor was the South Essex Heckler which had been going in various forms since 2011. At the start of last year, we thought the Heckler had lost its focus and was trying to be all things to all people. It was veering from fairly punchy posts focusing on local and some national issues, attempts at more theoretical pieces through to what some would see as more ‘fluffy’ promotions of community focused projects.

Having all of this under one roof became too much so we binned the Heckler in early February last year and after a short experiment with localised blogs covering Thurrock and Basildon respectively, the South Essex Stirrer was launched and this is where we are. Our other sister blog, The Estuary Alternative which as you may guess from the title, promotes positive alternatives in the form of grassroots projects that make a difference in the here and now, was launched in the aftermath of the Southend Radical Fair which took place in early May last year.

How are we doing? Reader numbers on the Stirrer are up to what they were on the Heckler before it was scrapped so we’re making pretty good progress here. With On Uncertain Ground which is for the longer, more theoretical pieces, it only gets updated every couple of weeks so when a new post goes up, the hits come in but then tail off until the next update. As for The Estuary Alternative, it’s not taken off in the way we wanted. That’s down to a number of factors, one of which was not having the time to seriously push the project last year. We’ve reviewed the situation, come up with a few new ideas which we’ll be implementing so hopefully it’ll be onwards and upwards for The Estuary Alternative this year.

The Stirrer, On Uncertain Ground and The Estuary Alternative all come under the umbrella of South Essex Radical Media which has a presence on Facebook. This is where we announce the updates for all of our blogs as well as briefly commenting on issues and sharing events and items of interest from other like minded pages. South Essex Radical Media also has a presence on Twitter as well.

What we want to do with all of our blogs is make them more open and collaborative. We do not want to be writing all of the posts for the blogs and all of the copy for any papers we bring out. With the Stirrer, we’re making reasonable progress in sourcing material from external sources but we would warmly welcome more! With On Uncertain Ground, as it’s intended to be a bit more theoretical in its outlook, we’re more than happy to accept guest posts from people who are broadly in agreement with our politics. As for the Estuary Alternative, the long term aim is to hand that over to other grassroots activists in the south of Essex so we need you to start contributing to it sooner rather than later!

All of the above blogs and the Facebook page are linked to in the side bar on the right hand side.

Stirrer No.4 is back from the printer

The fourth print edition of the Stirrer has come back from the printer. Firstly, many thanks to our friends at Oxford GreenPrint for doing their usual superb job on printing the paper. As we’ve mentioned previously, there are going to be some changes to how the paper will be getting distributed – this is how we intend to do it…

Handing the Stirrer out on the high streets / town squares. So far, we’ve lined up Southend and Basildon as definite venues and possibly Romford. If any of our supporters want to join us in distributing the paper to the public in these areas, let us know and we’ll sort out a mutually convenient date.

Handing the Stirrer out on protests / rallies and at fairs. There’s a few events coming up we’ll be supporting and handing out copies of the Stirrer in a way that respects the event and helps with our aim of networking and alliance building.

Leaving bundles of the Stirrer at venues that are sympathetic to our politics. We’ve got a couple of such venues but we can always do with some more. If you run or know of such a venue, feel free to get in touch with the details and we’ll take it from there.

Door-to-door distribution. We still intend to do this but to a much lesser extent than in the past…

Lastly but by no means least, we would love our supporters across the region we cover from Havering in the west through to Southend in the east and up to Brentwood, Billericay and the Dengie Peninsula to take a small bundle to hand out to their friends, neighbours, colleagues and families. We know you’re out there:) Feel free to get in touch and we’ll sort out a way of getting the Stirrers to you.

As we can only afford a small print run, we’re making all the print editions of the Stirrer available as downloadable PDFs. This is the one for Stirrer No.4: https://www.dropbox.com/s/s03kekq9ik8bk5j/StirrerNo4.pdf?dl=0

Stirrer No.4 off to the printer

The fourth print edition of The South Essex Stirrer has just been sent to our friends at Oxford GreenPrint ready and waiting for them when they get back from their festive break. We’re aiming for this to be hitting the streets by the middle of January.

As mentioned previously, we’re changing the distribution model with the emphasis switching to high street / town square hand outs of the paper and away from door-to-door deliveries. The reason for this is that as we can only afford a small print run, we want the papers to get into the hands of people who actually want to read them. We’re planning to do this in Southend, Basildon and possibly Romford. If any of our supporters want to come out and join us in any of these locations on a Saturday, feel free to get in contact and we’ll let you know when we’re out. For obvious security reasons, we don’t want to be publicly advertising distribution dates on here.

If any of our supporters want to take a bundle of Stirrers to hand out to friends, neighbours and colleagues, feel free to get in touch and we’ll sort out a way of getting them to you. Also, if any of you run or now of a venue that is sympathetic to our politics and would be willing to take a bundle for their patrons, let us know and we’ll take it from there.

When there are events, actions and protests out here in Essex, we’ll be along with bundles of the Stirrers to hand out. However, there is a proviso… If a protest out here in Essex is about a specific issue, while we’ll be attending and supporting it, out of respect for the aims of the protest and the organisers, we won’t be distributing the Stirrers until the end when people are leaving. There are two reasons for this a) we’re serious about alliance building and networking and we won’t make headway with this if we blatantly ponce off other groups events and b) we want to put clear blue water between us and those political elements who attend protests with the sole aim of handing out /flogging their papers.

Lastly, as a festive treat, we’re making a downloadable PDF of the Stirrer available for you here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/s03kekq9ik8bk5j/StirrerNo4.pdf?dl=0

It’s down to us but most importantly, it’s down to YOU!

The point of our project at South Essex Radical Media (SERM) with our publications, The South Essex Stirrer and The Estuary Alternative, and our alliance with Basildon & Southend Housing Action (BASHA) is simple – to inspire, encourage and support people to take action at the grassroots in order to bring about meaningful change.

SERM is basically about propaganda. It’s our job to report on what we see across the region we cover and, not just point out what’s wrong but to stir people up to start acting collectively to bring about change. BASHA are community and housing activists. As well as holding Basildon Council to account for their repeated failings, they aim to encourage residents and tenants on the estates to start taking collective action to bring about change.

This is why we and BASHA support and facilitate the work of groups such as the Vange Hill Community Group (VHCG) and help to facilitate actions such as this: Doing it for ourselves on the ¾ estate in Vangehttps://theestuaryalternative.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/doing-it-for-ourselves-on-the-3/4-estate-in-vange/ It’s not for us to tell VHCG what to do – their supporters live on the estate and know exactly what needs to be done! All we do is provide logistical support and some equipment on clean up days and help them to produce their propaganda. We hope that what VHCG do will act as an example to other estates and inspire people to start collectively taking action.

With The Estuary Alternative, the ultimate aim is to hand the project over to grassroots activists in the region while we move on to other initiatives. As stated in this piece: The future of this project…https://theestuaryalternative.wordpress.com/2017/12/11/the-future-of-this-project/ we don’t want to be lumbered with the job of finding content for it for ever and a day. The aim of The Estuary Alternative is to foster a greater degree of communication and co-operation between and among the range of grassroots groups operating in the region. That means that ultimately, it has to end up as a collective, collaborative project…

There are only a few of us and we have to be focused on what we can achieve with what are limited resources. Running The South Essex Stirrer and the On Uncertain Ground blogs (and the paper) takes up a lot of our time and energy which is why when we launch an initiative such as The Estuary Alternative, we really do want other grassroots activists to eventually take it off our hands!

It’s the same with BASHA, there are only a few of them and they want to focus on their roles of a) holding Basildon Council to account and b) facilitating and supporting grassroots groups and activists on the estates. They are not a back up service to be called upon when the roads haven’t been gritted or the rubbish hasn’t been collected. If residents and tenants want to act together to deal with issues like this, BASHA will happily support and facilitate them but they’re not going to do the bloody job for them!

We’ve had a fair few discussions about this dilemma that we’re facing and why people look to us to do stuff rather than them collectively doing it for themselves. There’s no single answer to this…

In the case of BASHA, on a growing number of estates, it’s a toxic cocktail of factors such as a general collapse of morale in the face of austerity plus demographic reasons such as the growing number of buy to let landlords and houses of multiple occupation leading to a constant churn in the population. Atomisation isn’t just a word bandied about by sociologists in academia – it’s the brutal reality we increasingly find on the estates.

With SERM, our biggest headache is getting other people to write for our blogs. We do get a few guest pieces for which we are incredibly grateful but we still have to do a lot of the legwork in terms of sourcing content. To broaden our reach we’re increasingly using re-blogs and cut and pasting media releases from groups we trust but it’s no substitute for having a rota of regular contributors. With all of our publications, we really want to open them up to as many individual groups and activists as possible to make them truly representative of what’s going on.

Drawing to a conclusion, it seems that we are up against the evils of demoralisation and atomisation on the estates and a worrying degree of complacency in a number of grassroots groups who seem happy to plod along doing the same old thing rather than reach out, link up and step up a gear. Going into what is looking to be a turbulent and unpredictable 2018, we’re going to need as much solidarity as can be mustered to deal with the onslaught that’s coming our way.

We don’t pretend to have the answers to this dilemma by any stretch of the imagination. We’re more than happy to listen to what other people have to say on the problems of demoralisation, atomisation and passivity and how they think they can be overcome. We admit that this piece can be seen as us venting some of our frustrations! Having said that, the intention is to foster a constructive discussion on how we can move forward and get ourselves into a position where we can deal with whatever 2018 throws at us…

Get your copy of the The Estuary Alternative paper

This was first posted on our sister blog, The Estuary Alternative but, as this one gets more traffic, we’re posting it here because we want to see as many of you as possible when we’re distributing the paper:)

If you want to get hold of a copy of The Estuary Alternative paper and talk to us about what we want to achieve with this project, you’ll have your chance this coming weekend. On Saturday 16th, we’re going to outside the Southend Christmas Vegan Fair (Bellvue Baptist Church, 484 Southchurch Road, Southend-on-Sea, SS1 2QA) – https://www.facebook.com/southendveganfair/ – from 1pm onwards for a couple of hours. On Sunday 17th, we’re going to be at the Stop the Cliff Development Demonstration (Prittlewell Square, Southend-on-Sea, SS1 1DW) – https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/protest-against-the-development-desecration-of-the-cliffs/ – from noon onwards. If we have any papers left over from the Saturday, we’ll be handing those out at the protest – if not, we’ve got flyers to hand out instead. We look forward to meeting as many of you as possible this coming weekend and to work out a way of taking this project forward in 2018…