Minutes from Democafe meeting, Saturday 16th May 2015 held 2pm-4pm at The Forge, Delancey Street, Camden NW1 7NL.
Present: Sara Jolly, Alan Spence, Janos Abel, Eddie Farrell, Mary Fee (notes). Apologies: Denise Arnold, Michael Mulvey.
Minutes of the meeting held on Saturday 9th May 2015 were approved.
Website: We had a look at the structure and facilities provided by the wordpress site set up by Mary & Adrian, which was potentially a multi-site, Camden being the first and only branch so far, to familiarise ourselves with its inner workings, and all those present agreed to be potential editors – an account had already been set up for Eddie, Denise, and Michael (who contributes regularly from France) – so Mary would create accounts for others present, and give individual support where required.
Website Content: Mary explained that she had created the introductory content from text provided by Michael, including the strap line: Welcome to DemoCafe Camden – where you and I as ordinary citizens can meet locally face to face to devise ways of restoring proper democratic control to the affairs of our land. Eddie was unsure whether we should say “restoring” and felt it would be more accurate to say “achieving”, and it was agreed to see comments on this from other members and discuss it at the next meeting.
Decriminalisation of Drugs: Sara had updated her draft position paper on Decriminalisation of Drugs, for consideration at a future meeting.
Other DemoCafes: Trew Era Cafe: Janos had just visited the new cafe project which Russell Brand had started near Haggerston, funded by sales of his book “Revolution”: and is a “social enterprise to get recovering addicts into work”, and wondered if we should seek to add a DemoCafe group there. Janos brought along something looking like a credit card, which indicates that they were seriously experimenting with complementary currency, which Mary felt that LETSlink should connect up with.
See: http://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2015/04/what-happened-when-russell-brand-opened-the-trew-era-cafe/, and the latest REPORT from the Mirror – http://www.mirror.co.uk/usvsth3m/russell-brand-opens-up-new-5403561 – also the Trew Era Cafe facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/treweracafe?fref=nfand.
MAIN PRESENTATION by Alan Spence: Housing: the History of Garden Cities:
Alan presented a paper he had written in February 2008 – New Lanark, Garden Cities and the Cooperative Commonwealth – and a magazine article The Lessons of Letchworth, published in Civic Focus in 2003, and explained that Aneurin Bevan’s work on housing had parallels with his other major innovation, the National Health Service, the difference being the lack of opposition to Margaret Thatcher’s destruction of the garden city project, whereas people are more aware of what’s at stake currently with privatisation of the National Health Service. See notes of Alan’s presentation: The History of Garden Cities.
With reference to the sell-off of the Garden Cities, Janos said there was an encroachment on publicly owned property, and there’s a strong suggestion that the Eastern block collapsed because the Western markets had run out of markets to invest in. Mary thought there was also a parallel in PPI, where short term money was raised, at a high long term cost, by selling off the property owned by the NHS.
Eddie recalled his childhood, when the family moved from somewhere reminiscent of Coronation Street in the north of England into a fabulous new town Glenrothes in Scotland, where suddenly had their own house with a lawn, his father was able to get work in Scotland, this would not happen now. However, as a teenager, he found the regimentation of the new estate horrible, there was nowhere to go, and he and his friends went out long distances into the countryside, just to find a pub. It looked like a factory job had been set up for him, there were strict rules, and the dissatisfaction resulted in a huge amount of gang violence and drug problems. The new towns did house unfortunate people and dysfunctional families, but more support would have avoided some of the problems that ensued in the social fabric.
MF/Draft at 17/5/2015