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

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Our ground rules for 2018

This has been written in a spirit of transparency so people have a reasonably clear idea of what to expect from us as we go through 2018…

As we’ve written previously, 2018 has the potential to be a volatile and unpredictable year where we will have to be on our mettle: Looking back and looking forwardshttps://onuncertainground.wordpress.com/2017/12/21/looking-back-and-looking-forwards/ We’re writing this piece in the spirit of openness so people can know what to expect from us over the coming year. It covers who we ally ourselves and network with. It also covers what we do in a bid to try and try to get people to have more realistic expectations of what we can offer.

It’s not much of a secret that the anarchist movement is in what can best be described as a state of flux at the moment. Until matters are resolved, we’re reviewing our relationships with anarchist groups. In the interim, we want to look at who we do form alliances with, and what those alliances are like.

ALLIANCES AND NETWORKS

We’re not empire…

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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…

The future of The Estuary Alternative…

This post was originally published on one of our sister blogs, The Estuary Alternativehttps://theestuaryalternative.wordpress.com/ We’re re-posting it here, because unless enough local activists step up to the plate in 2018 to contribute to The Estuary Alternative and help to turn it into the collaborative project it was intended to be, sadly there will be no option but to pull the plug on it…

The Estuary Alternative was launched after the Southend Radical Fair that took place back in May. The original aim of this project was to a) promote projects and actions offering a positive alternative to the dysfunctional political, social and economic system we currently have to endure and b) to act as a clearing house for an exchange of ideas, experiences and expertise between the various alternative / grassroots projects operating across southern Essex. The question we’re now asking ourselves is this – is the project achieving the aims we set out for it?

The harsh truth that has to be faced is that it’s falling well short of those aims. Apart from a small handful of groups sending us information about what they’re doing, we’re having to do a lot of the legwork to get content for this blog – we’re also having to do a lot of legwork to get The Estuary Alternative paper distributed as well. Regarding the paper, the current issue is a one off produced to get the ball rolling. If there’s going to be a second edition a) funding from grassroots groups across the region will be needed and b) content will also be needed as on the back of the current edition, we clearly state that we have no intention of writing any copy for the next edition!

This is supposed to be a collaborative project with the eventual goal of it being handed over to grassroots activists across southern Essex by the autumn of 2018. It’s still our intention to do this – however if by the summer of next year, we’re still doing most of the legwork in producing the content for this project, sadly we’ll have no alternative but to pull the plug on it. So, if grassroots activists across the region want an online resource (and a paper) where, ideas, experiences and expertise are exchanged as well as a diary for what’s going on, now is the time to step up to the plate and get involved…

We’ve had a bit of a slim down of the content on this blog as well… The reason being was that we felt it was turning into a bit of a lifestyle listings resource and straying from it’s original remit of covering and supporting ideas and actions aimed at building a new world inside the decaying shell of the dysfunctional and increasingly dystopian one we currently have to endure. In other words, it was getting too fluffy, and while there’s a place for that, it’s not in a project like this which is aimed at bringing about fundamental political, economic and social change.

We really do want this project to succeed but it has to be on the understanding that it’s a collaborative project. We’re going to be at the Southend Vegan Fair – https://www.facebook.com/southendveganfair/ – for a few hours on Saturday 16th handing out copies of The Estuary Alternative paper and talking to people about what we want to achieve. We’ll also be at the protest against the proposed development of the cliff top in Southend – https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/protest-against-the-development-desecration-of-the-cliffs/ – on Sunday 17th from noon onwards to hand out any papers that are left. We look forward to meeting people willing to join us in taking this project forward…

The next print edition of The Stirrer will be hitting the streets by mid January

Work has started on writing and laying out the next print edition of The Stirrer which will be going to print as early as possible in the New Year. There are going to be a few changes, the most obvious one being a front cover that’s visually attractive with more of an emphasis on imagery and graphics – the wordage will be inside and on the back. We never like to stand still with this project hence the experimentation with ways of making the paper more attractive so our message can get out to more people.

As we think about what’s going to be in the next print edition of The Stirrer, we’re also thinking about changing the distribution method. We’ll be cutting back on the door-to-door distributions and focusing more on handing them out on the high streets / town squares. This is why we want a visually attractive front cover!

So far, we’ve lined up Southend – High Street, Basildon – Town Square and Romford – South Street as possible locations for handing out The Stirrer. These will be taking place (depending on the weather!) from mid January onwards. Obviously, the more people we can get out to help us the better, as it creates a buzz that will attract the punters and gives us better security. We’ll be fixing definite dates after the New Year… If any of our supporters want to join us on any of these distributions, contact us with your preferred location and we’ll take it from there…

Stirrer distribution completed

The distribution of the latest print edition of The Stirrer was completed in Southend today (14.11). Keen eyed readers of this blog may note that we got the latest batch delivered from the printer way back in the summer and may be wondering why it’s taken us so long to shift them. Let’s just say that life got in the way and that we’re only just about getting back on track now…

This is why we keep asking our network of supporters across the area we cover from Barking & Dagenham in the west to Southend in the east to step up to the plate and take a bundle to hand out to friends, neighbours and anyone else you know. Even if you can only take ten to twenty copies, multiply that ten times and that’s a quarter of our print run already distributed. Also, if you know of any venues that would be sympathetic to our politics and way of looking at local issues, let us know where they are and we’ll get a bundle over to them.

We’re starting to think about the next print edition of the Stirrer which will be coming out towards the latter part of January 2018. There are going to be a few changes in the content, layout and the way it’ll be distributed. The front page will be looking a lot snappier with more of an emphasis on imagery, leaving the wordage for the inside spread. We never rest on our laurels when it comes to our propaganda and everything we do is under constant review…

Regarding distribution, as stated above, we want to encourage our supporters to take small bundles of the paper and we’re on the lookout for friendly venues. The big change is that there will be a lot less in the way of door-to-door distribution and much more standing out on the high streets / in town squares handing the papers directly to the public. This takes a bit of planning as we want to make sure we have to numbers out on the day to a) create a bit of a buzz and b) for security in case any reactionary elements feel like having a go at us. We’d like to do this in Southend, Basildon and…Romford! If any of our supporters are up for joining us for a bit of high street action, let us know and we’ll take it from there…

Getting on with it…

We don’t normally cross post from On Uncertain Ground but as a result of some of the criticism we’ve received since the London Anarchist Bookfair, we’ve got a few points to prove to certain people and would like to set the record straight…

One of the problems with anarchism are certain elements who are only too willing to criticise comrades involved in campaigns, grassroots community projects, actions and the like but who never seem to get out and do anything themselves. This post is a celebration of people and groups who just go out and get on with stuff – people and groups we’ll do our level best to support. Before we go any further, here’s a little warning… Some of those mentioned are not political in any way shape or form – they’re just local residents frustrated at the inaction of their local councils and who’ve decided to take matters into their own hands…

A couple of us volunteer as gardeners at the community run Hardie Park in Stanford-le-Hope – https://www.facebook.com/LoveHardiePark/ We remember what it was like back in 2007 and 2008 when we contested the Stanford East & Corringham Town ward…

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Here it is…

Now the London Anarchist Bookfair is over and having handed out all of the copies of the special bookfair edition we’d produced, here it is available as a downloadable PDF: https://www.dropbox.com/s/x5ixljqiomcwkx5/STIRRER_No_2.pdf?dl=0 We realise that not everyone is going to agree with our point of view…that’s okay… Constructive criticism and civilised debate are more than welcome:)