On becoming leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council a month after the Grenfell Tower fire disaster, Elizabeth Campbell promised change. In a brief speech to fellow councillors and victims of the fire in July, Campbell used the word ‘change’ eleven times. Considering Campbell’s own role in the council’s sustained asset strip of North Kensington, the words were never convincing. But they were rendered meaningless in January when the council tried to sell a vital community building to property developers to build flats for the rich. In failing to push through the sale, the Conservative council now looks weaker than ever.
Early this year K & C council were moving full steam ahead with their plans to sell Canalside House, home to numerous local charities, community groups, small businesses, and a hub of support for victims of the June 14th fire. Plans to sell the historic building on Ladbroke Grove and move its residents to a wholly unsuitable replacement on Latimer Road were put on hold following the fire, after resident organisations pointed out to the council that they had been filling in the gaps vacated by the local authority in providing emergency relief work and supporting the North Kensington community.
How do we know about the plans to sell? A council scrutiny committee meeting was filmed and posted online (the Canalside section starts after two hours). The details are in this Urban Dandy article.Continue reading →
‘Those who would give up Essential Liberty
to purchase a little Temporary Safety,
deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.‘
If I were a little more ignorant, this writing would have been entitled Big Brother or something as clichéd as that but, I find ‘Big’ is too large a word to attribute to a mind so small. It’s a mind that would entertain the petty ambition of extracting information from those who are unaware of the consequences of giving it, under the guise of convenience.
It sounds like the mischievous ‘Little Brother’, so called by the native Americans, who were also duped into giving up information for convenience in the 15th century. That didn’t end up going too well at all.
I pick up MY phone to call a friend, I’m trying to tell him I’ll be late. Instinctively, I look for an envelope or some other icon on the phone menu showing a possible missed call, something or other. I see a caution sign, I’m thinking maybe the battery needs replacing or there’s a serious software issue. Naturally, I explore and the alert reads ‘Enable Google Play services.’ Really, I must? I thought I’d ignore it but it kept coming back.
After spending precious time that I did not plan to, I still couldn’t disable it. Totally frustrated I eventually give in to the pressure as I realise, not that it won’t stop but it can’t stop, it’s an alert that’s not designed to be turned off. Does this sound like a typical event in your smart (er than you) phone life?
Nowadays this type of android-human master-slave interaction gets me more and more frustrated. When I think about the number of details I’m forced to provide just to open an online trading account: email verification, card details, text verification messages, addressed utility bill and passport scans, I often think about who’s collecting all this information. Behind the request, there is no face yet we have come to accept this. We send verified personal data to unknown sources everyday.
With the ever increasing take over of North Kensington real estate by the socially detached, we’ve seen learning facilities invade our community that are not even close to home-grown.
Not so with The Lloyd Williamson Schools. It’s probably the most local private school in the area with most students living within a mile or two of the school. On observation, it seems to express more of an interest in the teaching of ethics, cultural diversity and also, equipping the students to tackle the changing world, with an entrepreneurial spirit of open-mindedness.
I find their strict mobile phone rule fascinating. As insignificant as it may sound, I can say with confidence that you will never see anybody neglecting one and other distracted by a mobile phone, neither staff, parent or student. I don’t think the reason needs an explanation. For those who realise the distraction that devices have been on children and adults, you will be thankful for this little policy in your child’s surroundings, rest assured. The unique way that kids of all ages gender and race interact is very Montessori-ish, though it is not a Montessorri school.
Lloyd Williamson open days Wednesday the 14th March (10am to 7pm) and Friday the 16th March (10am -3pm).
During half-term, Urban Dandy delivered a writing and poetry workshop to children at North Kensington charity Baraka Community Association. Eighteen children from local primary and secondary schools attended and explored methods for self-expression through writing short articles and poems.
As it was the 14th of the month, children considered memories and feelings evoked by the Grenfell Tower fire, eight months on. The group mind mapped their experiences during and since the fire. They then shared their memories of that day and how they have seen it affect their community, from the surreal experience of attending school on the 14th June to how people coped over the long summer.
Producing a piece of writing, the young people were free to choose their subject. Many went for Grenfell, but others wrote on other aspects of their lives. In both cases, the focus was on expressing ideas and feelings from their own experiences, rather than conforming to ideas about what they should write.
As the workshop was designed to be off-curriculum, the children heard about finding their voices, how to have a real impact, identifying a ‘hook’ for their pieces and writing for an audience, not a teacher.
London’s finest poet, Mark Bolton, then explained the process of writing poetry, and his own poetic journey. He read out his first ever composition, followed by the much more recent Aisha and the Sea, which was written in the aftermath of the fire.
Inspired and encouraged to open up, the kids then set about writing their own poems, and the workshop ended with everybody reading out loud what they had produced.
A number of the children took their work away to develop it and complete it. We hope to be able to publish a few pieces on Urban Dandy soon…
Who would have guessed that the most attractive currency in the world could be something that you cannot touch, taste, smell or hear? In fact, you cannot physically experience it outside of seeing it represented on a digital screen.
Cryptocurrencies are not yet the most powerful currency but as people become familiar with the circulation of bespoke non-physical coins, it seems to be heading that way, ultimately killing the dollar and decentralising the money system.
But this will not be immediate, the Queen B on the block is Bitcoin and she means different things to different people. As she flirts with investors and anarcho-capitalists alike they all want a bit.
I have often pondered on how today’s world of escalating dishonour, in every facet of trade, could be reverted back to good old trust. And suddenly, from the least likely place, my questions are answered. A catalyst for change in the form of a coin. What have we done to deserve this? Nothing really, I guess the heavens showed mercy on those of us who actually want a fairer world. Or maybe it is a curse for those who get paid from its imbalance. All we really need is a little gratitude, to say thank you and to make sure that the security of cryptocurrencies and the blockchain is upheld as a standard for mankind. Hopefully, before extremists succeed in resetting this crooked world.
What’s All The Fuss About?
It’s a very, very big thing, even if you don’t know it yet, you soon will.In 2010 I was baffled by the concept of E-gold so I became curious. Virtual gold backed by real gold? How can you trust it, who, what, where, why?
I was lead to discover that people were beginning to use an alternative currency called Bitcoin. Immediately I thought that this may be the beginning of my ideal – A world of unregulated, free trade. Being a traditionalist at heart, a currency that you cannot touch seemed well abstract and wasn’t easy for me to accept, but on the other hand, a currency owned by the people: understandable. All this caused me to delve deeper into a more abstract concept called cryptocurrencymining which basically involves virtual miners (manned computer hardware) solving a digital request in the form of an algorithm and a complex equation verifying transactions on a blockchain. With this done successfully, the miner is remunerated in Bitcoin. The request normally aims to verify a ledger entry.
Even after reading numerous articles, and watching as many videos, it all still made no sense to me. My interest suddenly disappeared after realising the amount of processing power needed to generate a substantial amount of Bitcoin (more here). It was an investment that I felt was too expensive, time-consuming and risky; it didn’t quite weigh up.
Fast forward five years, I only recently returned as what I call, a late-early adopter as this was just before the period of mass awareness – 2016 to the present. My interest soared. I now see that I was clueless (and still am) as to how many fresh possibilities cryptocurrencies offered. It’s almost a sin not to know.
Although much about this new type of money has become common talk, I still couldn’t grasp a full understanding of it. I put this down to the complexity, the huge scope of this money of account thing, the volatility and the many huge unanswered questions surrounding it. But now, I think it’s safe to say that four years on, many of the initial issues, such as the convenience and transfer times, have been addressed with its natural evolution. By the growing amount of startups and the thousands of crypto exchanges emerging online right off of its back, you can see that the world is shifting.
Less than eight months on from the Grenfell Tower fire disaster and Kensington and Chelsea Council’s money grab in the North Kensington community is back in full flow. Canalside House, one of the last remaining spaces utilised by charities, the voluntary sector, small businesses and other local enterprises, is to be sold to property developers. The decision raises questions about whether the Conservative council has learned any of the lessons of the Grenfell Tower fire, which was the culmination of years of neglect, indifference and wilful ignorance by the local authority. In the run up to the crucial local elections in May, the decision to sell Canalside represents a calculation by the local authority that the local population will be apathetic as one of the community’s last assets is stripped.
Canalside House, less than a mile from Grenfell Tower, is home to almost 20 organisations, most of which have played a direct and ongoing role in supporting the community in the aftermath of the unprecedented fire on Lancaster West estate on June 14th. In the absence of a serious local authority response to the disaster, local organisations and their volunteers stepped into the void left by the Tory council. The council is widely believed to be responsible for the 71 deaths and incalculable trauma in North Kensington.
Kensington and Chelsea has a large number of charities, but it is a borough that needs them, owing to the grotesque levels of inequality and high levels of poverty, much of which is concentrated in North Kensington. Canalside House is one of the main hubs for community organisations, serving hundreds of local people.