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…

Advertisements

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…

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…

View original post 1,308 more words

Reviewing our propaganda

This was how our propaganda looked when it was laid out on our stall at the London Anarchist Bookfair on Saturday 28th October. It was gratifying to hear praise from people for how neat the stall looked and the way our literature is designed and produced, however…

If we’re being brutally honest with ourselves, when we look at what we produce and who reads it, we still get the impression that a lot of the time, we’re preaching to the converted. Given the remit we and our comrades in Basildon & Southend Housing Action have set ourselves, preaching to the converted is NOT what we want to do! What we do want to do is reach the disenfranchised people on the estates who know they’ve been abandoned, are pissed off about it but at the moment, don’t know where to turn.

One thing we’re becoming acutely conscious of is the existence of the digital divide and the fact that many of the people we need to reach on the estates do not have, or cannot afford, a reliable internet connection. Therefore the only way we can reach them is via the tried and tested analogue method of flyers and newsletters. Punchy, eye catching flyers, papers and stickers that will grab people’s attention and inspire them to act. As stated previously, we’re an evolving project and if we’re honest, we’ve still got a way to go before we can produce the kind of propaganda that will grab the attention of the audience we need to reach and mobilise.

We think we’re getting to the point we want with the split in the blogs after the demise of the Heckler and the setting up of the Stirrer, The Estuary Alternative and On Uncertain Ground. Granted, we had to do a fair bit of explaining at the bookfair to people who knew us in our previous guise as the Heckler but they did understand our reasoning for doing it as each of these blogs is way more focused. However, we really would like more people to be contributing to all three of these blogs…

It’s the printed material we produce that needs to evolve to the point where it does the job it’s supposed to do which is mobilising people who feel they’ve been abandoned by the system to start fighting back. Which means more in the way of experimenting and trying out new ways of writing, designing, producing and distributing our material to see what does and doesn’t work. The one constraint is the cost of printing. We spent £50 for a stall at the London Anarchist Bookfair and it could be argued that we would have been better off turning up as punters and spending the money for the stall on printing the flyers and stickers we need to get our message across. Which is most likely what we’ll be doing next year…

What we always have to bear in mind that our propaganda is a means to an end – namely stirring people up to the point where they will start to take action. Supported by our producing material that will facilitate that. Which means that if we’re producing something that isn’t getting the results we want, it’ll get binned or substantially altered until it does start delivering results…nothing is sacred…

Work on the next Stirrer paper is underway

At long last work on the next Stirrer paper is underway. The aim is to have it written, laid out and off to the printer by the latter part of August ready for distribution from mid September onwards. We will be getting more copies than normal printed as we’ll be distributing the paper at the London Anarchist Bookfair which is taking place in north London on Saturday 28th October – http://anarchistbookfair.org.uk/ We’ve got the tricky balancing act of producing a paper that people out here on the estuary will want to read while also appealing to the very different audience who attend the bookfair. You’ll find out how we resolved that tricky little issue when the papers come back from the printer!

We we’re going to bring out the Stirrer paper fairly soon after the general election. However, with all the uncertainty that followed the election and continues to be a feature of political life, we held off producing one as we didn’t want to be saddled with loads of papers rendered redundant by fast changing events! This is why the next paper will have more of a generic feel to it that will reflect that uncertainty and draw attention to the opportunities that provides for those of us of a radical persuasion.

As ever, any help with distributing the paper will be more than welcome. If you want to take a bundle to hand out to friends, neighbours, family, colleagues and comrades, let us know and we’ll work out a way of getting them to you. If you run or know of a venue sympathetic to our politics who are willing to take a small bundle for their patrons, please feel free to get in touch with the details. Lastly, we want to undertake a few high street distributions during the latter part of September running into October. If you’d like to join us in one of these, let us know and we’ll take it from there.

In the meantime, we’ve produced another paper to complement our sister blog, The Estuary ALTERNATIVE – https://theestuaryalternative.wordpress.com/ Unlike the Stirrer which is ‘in yer face’, this paper and blog celebrates and promotes positive alternatives and the building of a new world in the crumbling shell of the dystopian one we currently endure. Distribution of the ALTERNATIVE is proceeding at a steady pace and if we get a positive response, we’ll be bringing out future issues. So the way it’s potentially shaping up is two issues of the Stirrer and two issues of the ALTERNATIVE a year.

The next paper will be…

As much as we’d love to keep the momentum going with the Stirrer paper, with the political situation being so unpredictable and volatile at the moment, it’s difficult to write, layout and print a paper without the sodding thing being outdated by ‘events’ while it’s on the way back from being printed! We’ve made the decision to postpone production of the next Stirrer paper until the autumn when we might have a better idea of the political landscape we’re operating in. This edition will be ready in time for distribution at the London Anarchist Bookfair that’s taking place on Saturday 28th October.

What we will be doing in the meantime is to bring out another paper – The Estuary ALTERNATIVE which aims to report on and support grassroots community projects out here along the estuary. We’ve already set up a blog for this which is admittedly, still a work in progress: https://theestuaryalternative.wordpress.com/ The content of The Estuary ALTERNATIVE will be more generic which means the distribution of the paper can be spread out over a few months without any fears of the content being outdated by fast moving events. Unlike the Stirrer which as its name suggests, is about stirring and agitation, The Estuary ALTERNATIVE is about efforts to start building a new world in the decaying, fracturing shell of the increasingly dystopian one we have to currently endure. Watch this space for developments…

Future direction…

We’re making a few evolutionary changes to our project… As we also publish two other blogs: ON UNCERTAIN GROUND: https://onuncertainground.wordpress.com/ and The Estuary ALTERNATIVE: https://theestuaryalternative.wordpress.com/ we felt we should change our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/southessexradmedia/ and Twitter account: https://twitter.com/SthEssRadMedia to reflect this. While this blog is the most frequently updated, we’re working to raise the profile of the other two, particularly The Estuary ALTERNATIVE which we hope will end up as a collaborative project.

We’re due to start working on the second print edition of the Stirrer once the general election is over and we have a better understanding of the political landscape we’ll be operating in. As you can guess from the title, the role of the Stirrer is to stir and agitate! Both of which are needed in the troubled times we’re living in…

As well as stirring and agitating, propaganda aimed at inspiring people to start building the new world in the shell of the dystopian one we currently endure is also a priority. The Estuary ALTERNATIVE blog (a work in progress) is our attempt at doing this. However, as well as a blog for The Estuary ALTERNATIVE, we would love to produce a paper for it as well. This would hopefully be a collaborative project in terms of putting it together and distribution but most importantly, funding it.

We can just about afford to print the Stirrer four times a year. As things currently stand, we couldn’t afford to produce another paper. So, there is some networking to be done over the next few months to get people on board with the project of producing The Estuary ALTERNATIVE as a paper. Watch this space for updates on how we’re progressing with this…

The Estuary ALTERNATIVE

As regular readers of the blog may have gathered, we’re a bit spiky, gobby and love getting in the faces of certain political enemies to wind them up something rotten. However, we realise that in the project of bringing about radical change, there are times when positive alternatives that are about building the new world in the decaying one that we currently endure need to be promoted for all they’re worth. The Stirrer is NOT the appropriate vehicle to do this! So, in order to promote positive alternatives, we’d like to introduce The Estuary ALTERNATIVEhttps://theestuaryalternative.wordpress.com/

Please note that this blog is very much a work in progress – as you can plainly see from the fact that currently, there are only three posts that have been published! As for the links in the sidebar, we have only just scratched the surface… So, if your grassroots project isn’t featured, feel free to drop us a line at: seradicalmedia@protonmail.com with some information about what you do and the all important URL and we’ll feature you…