Event: Housing and Land in RBKC

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One week after the second anniversary of the Grenfell Tower atrocity, local residents and campaigners are holding a day of talks, workshops and film screenings about the housing crisis in Kensington & Chelsea.

The event takes place at Kensington Town Hall and will be hosted by Save Earl’s Court Supporters Club; Save Silchester; T.H.I.N.K., Westway 23 and supported by the Radical Housing Network. Below is their summary and here is the link to register for a free ticket: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/housing-and-land-in-rbkc-tickets-62845738295?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

Two miles from Grenfell Tower lie 22 acres of empty land that used to be the Earls Court Exhibition Centre. A venue that brought over £1 billion a year into the economy. Knocked down to make way for a luxury housing development. Public land given to private developers to build for the property speculators on and off-shore in a Borough where public land is constantly under threat from the council and private developers. A development with zero social housing planned whilst families from Grenfell still live in temporary housing. How is a council that has failed to react to the housing crisis going to deal with the climate crisis? All development and buildings now take place in the context of the climate crisis.

This event asks the questions; how did we get into this situation? In the context of the climate crisis and Grenfell how should our land and housing be used? What does our community need?

Sessions Include:

The Attack on Public Housing

Safe Homes

Housing , Land and the Climate Emergency

Community and Co-operative Solutions

Older People Forgotten Victims of the Housing Crisis

Speakers confirmed so far include:

Stuart Hodkinson Academic, author of Save as Houses: Private Greed, Political Negligence and Housing Policy After Grenfell

Phil Murphy. Fire safety expert. Manchester Sustainable Communities

Danielle Majid, Tower Blocks UK

Richard Lees, Just Space

Land Justice Network

Alison Bancroft, Housing Association Residents Action

Joe Delaney

Lizzie Spring, Long term K&C resident who writes and campaigns on whole neighbourhood resident-led approaches to housing

Emma Dent Coad MP

Cllr Linda Wade

Melanie Wolfe

Tony O’ Brien, author: Tackling the housing crisis

Community Matters – Free Music Event for North Kensington

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This Saturday evening, as part of the Trauma Matters weekend at the Tabernacle to mark the two year anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire, WeCoproduce CIC is hosting two hours of soulful sounds & soothing rhythms by female artists.

Saturday 15th June, 7-9pm,

The theatre, upstairs at the Tabernacle.

Free entry for all, no need to book.

The show will be entirely led by a diverse range of brilliant female artists as a nod to the essential rol played by women in the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell fire.

The music will be preceded by a book signing by the renowned speaker, author and trauma expert Dr Gabor Maté at 5pm and the launch of the Writing from the Roots North Kensington EZine at 6pm. Tickets for Gabor Maté’s workshop have sold out, but tickets for day two of Trauma Matters are available, with a limited number of free tickets for North Kensington residents. Please email jane@wecoproduce.com.

Lineup for the Community Matters music event:

The Grime Violinist is a unique artist. Classically trained, she is currently the only violinist in the world dedicated to grime and the first violinist to release her own original grime tracks. The Grime Violinist has worked with artists including Giggs, Lethal Bizzle, Mr Eazi and Lady Leshurr. Her performances have ranged from Glastonbury, Wireless and Boomtown Festivals, to The Royal Albert Hall, Hammersmith Apollo and Roundhouse. TV appearances have included performing on BBC 1, ITV, SBTV and Channel 4 on the Big Narstie Show.

@grimeviolinist / thegrimeviolinist.co.uk

Desta Hailé‘s music is influenced by jazz, reggae, soul & the many places she has called home. She has worked an eclectic range of artists, from Joe Bataan to Zap Mama, and recently opened for Sara Tavares at Jazz Café.

@destahaile / soundcloud.com/destahaile / facebook.com/destamusic

Helen McCookerybook was born and raised in Wylam, Northumberland, Helen was the bass player/singer with Brighton indie band The Chefs and guitarist/singer with Helen and the Horns in the 1980s. Both of were favourites of BBC Radio 1’s John Peel. After a break to raise a family, she returned to the stage as a solo artist with a new set of songs, and since then has toured the UK regularly, releasing four solo albums. She has recorded with artists such as Gina Birch of the Raincoats, Vic Godard, Lester Square, Martin Stephenson, and Arrest! Charlie Tipper, and been played regularly by Gideon Coe on BBC Radio6

mccookerybook.com / helenmccookerybook.bandcamp.com/album/the-sea / facebook.com/Helen-McCookerybook

Ishani is breathing new life into the Trip Hop genre. She has recently been made a BBC Introducing artist by Bobby Friction and is instantly recognisable by her distinctive vocals, and incisive and often challenging lyricism. Brooding, hypnotic and sensual, her songs offer comfort as a shoulder to lean on; a cathartic electronic outpouring of personal relief. “Poetic, magical realism mixed in with Trip Hop” Bobby Friction BBC Asian Network.

ishanimusic.com / @IshaniChakra / 

Kinetic Minds is a two-piece collective from W11. Exploring the relation between feelings and motion through sounds, simple and complex dialogue, Kinetic Minds is a tribute to the edge of our culture in the pop landscape.

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by Tom Charles @tomhcharles

Hillsborough & Grenfell – Proximity & Pain

Warning: Some of the content of this article may be upsetting to people. This is a personal exploration of the impact of two major events in English history: the 1989 Hillsborough disaster and the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire.

 

 

Hillsborough and Grenfell are two names that will forever be associated with disaster, atrocity and horrific, needless loss of life in England. In both cases, the victims were abused and dishonoured by the British establishment including the government, police and media. Following Hillsborough, the establishment abusers included Margaret Thatcher’s government, South Yorkshire Police and The Sun newspaper; after Grenfell, it has included the government (local and national), the London Review of Books and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation.

In both cases, the abuse appeared reflexive, a perverse survival instinct on the part of these establishment pillars. Lies, cover-up and dehumanisation over Hillsborough; it is a similar situation regarding Grenfell. Human vulnerability and mortality are met by a system that wants to survive.

Hillsborough

I reflected on the Hillsborough disaster through my own eyes, those of a 10-year-old child on April 15th, 1989. Hillsborough being possibly my favourite place on earth at that time, somewhere I had been going for years and that had captured my imagination with its noise and camaraderie, a place of fun, release and excitement, all the drama of football. It was edgy but safe.

On that day my team wasn’t playing as it was being used as a neutral venue for the Liverpool v Forest FA cup semi-final. The way football fans were treated in those days – penned in, pushed around – was indicative of the attitude of the authorities to the majority of the population, especially in restless industrial areas like Sheffield. And Liverpool.

The news coming in over the radio, then the pictures on TV, my family talking about it, then all the talk at school on the Monday morning, then visiting the stadium to pay our respects on the Tuesday all caused confusion in my young mind. Those children that died were the same as me, I realised that immediately. The sense of injustice that pervaded Sheffield in the 1980s suddenly became bigger – it was no longer just a sense; it was 96 innocent lives.

I moved on, as you do when you’re 10, but I remained profoundly affected.

Grenfell

Twenty-eight years on, I saw what was once the tower block next to my flat burn. I had lived on a so-called ‘finger block’ underneath Grenfell Tower until 2014. On June 14th, 2017, I saw my view, my estate and my neighbours engulfed. The same palpable feel in the air as when I visited Leppings Lane in 1989. Of course, there is sadness, but there is also much more.

Unlike Hillsborough, there has been very little relief from the trauma. It is only now, after two years, that I can start to think that I have moved on. I live in North Kensington and Grenfell permeates everything here. Working in the third sector, having to deal with Kensington and Chelsea council and having a personal commitment to honouring the victims have all added to the ongoing presence of Grenfell in my mind.

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Media Lens

In both cases, I find it very difficult to accept hearing about them through a media filter, sanitised and commodified, adjusted to fit into a ‘news agenda’ or presented rationally as part of the ‘news cycle’. On top of the media gloss, I find it offensive that people try to worm away from justice in the face of death, scorning the sanctity of life. Thatcher, South Yorkshire Police, The Sun, RBKC, KCTMO and the rest…

Thinking about my reaction brings to mind the American Professor Norman Finkelstein describing his mother’s hysterical reaction to seeing coverage of the Vietnam war on television. She saw that human life is sacred and should not be presented in this dry, ‘rational’ way. She had experienced the Nazi holocaust and so the reduction of human suffering to a news item, or even entertainment was beyond her capacity to deal with.

My brain might be similar. Any approach to these disasters that omits emotion is impossible for me to passively consume. When the Hillsborough atrocity has been in the media, I have become tense and uptight, then I feel rage swell up. I then have to switch off. It is the same with the Grenfell Tower.

Where does this rage come from? How much of it is healthy, rational and necessary? How much is something else?

The rage is real and fully alive. It makes my mind work in a different way and my calm demeanour is gone, overpowered. I live in the space between the two extremes of raw pain and peace. I do not want to suppress what needs to come out, to manifest and find expression.

And so, I am left with this class-based rage. I do not want it, it is not freedom, but it may be a healthy thing to learn to express and fathom.

The writer and activist Audre Lorde talked of anger’s utility as a pathway to change: “We have to learn to orchestrate these furies so that they do not tear us apart.” Many in North Kensington could take heed, especially us men.

If this article is crossing the narrow lines of self-indulgence or self-pity, I hope it might also serve to encourage a few men to accept or examine their own trauma. Like many people in North Kensington, I tell myself I haven’t really suffered, there are hundreds and probably thousands of people worse off than me within a mile. The victims’ families and close friends, my old neighbours on the Lancaster West estate, the fire fighters, young local children and the elderly.

In North Ken, I see men with the stiff upper lip and I see the rage coming out sideways, and of course I see that I am maybe better off – at least geographically, I’m slightly removed from Grenfell, and I am learning ways to understand and express my trauma; I can even help people a little bit. But trauma isn’t a relative thing. The fact that others have suffered more doesn’t make my pain easier to bear for me.

To express pain and anger is to express life itself. It is a necessary process.

 

by Tom Charles @tomhcharles

The Trauma Matters weekend is on at the Tabernacle, Notting Hill, 15th-16th June, for more info and free tickets for North Ken residents, click here.

Let’s Talk Law, Quickly

Caveat

I’m not a lawyer, I am not an advocate of law and this is not legal advice so do not be advised by any of this or act upon it. In fact, maybe just skip to the next article if you are not sure.

I hope this serves as an admonition of non-admonition to the reader. And I hope it pleases those who are paid to turn simple words into time served in a cell so that a single authoritarian view remains.  It’s just my private thoughts for consideration. 

This is a prod in the brain for all those that consider themselves British and free in this land and also feel that they are above the constraints of prejudice regarding colour, race, religion or class. In truth, you are not.  Even assuming this is the key reason your rights have been taken away allowing ‘assumptions’ to become your law.

In many ways, this is an invitation for us to seek a deeper understanding of three things: law, religion, and science but the intricate details are a whole other story so we will simplify it if it is possible. Maybe an example is needed.

In the world that religion recognised before it became a swear word, there was a duty for people to believe in the unseen. Of course, today that sounds like looking out for a bearded man descending from heaven on a horse while striking people down for violating the Sabbath. But if you can bridge your mind for a second and put all prejudice aside you will actually see that seeing the unseen is referring to mentalism-–a validated science.

Our reality actually does all begin with the thought then the expression of the spoken word to form the material world. Today, for us, that word is Brexit. And out of NOTHING came all of this.  Continue reading

Pulling Water

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In the spirit of my Dandy partner’s last post and the contrasting light-hearted wisdom and in light of the full moon (super one) and all that it means to our expression and communication, I suppose a thought: another consideration is that the words ‘I’m tired of… and I’m sick of’… create somewhat of a curse of poor health upon the individual. Not all but many are becoming more conscious of the power of these vibrations and how they bring to earth an experience in direct reflection of those damning words (read English for Spelling’, by Angel Lewis). Therefore, I shall replace these words with ‘Im inspired by’ specially since I’ve arrived here with this inspired rant.

I’m inspired by the fact that I’m searching in the Kings College building, the strand, for an event that doesn’t exist, well not in that building–not today anyway. That’s after being sent there from their neighbours at Somerset House who’s helpful receptionists swore I was misinformed, so inspiring. Oh, so it’s the Nesta building according to my email invite, about twenty minutes from the building. How inspiring is the fact that I walked in a full circle due to information overload, the curse of abundance via modern technology and man’s ability to email and email and email until there’s such a plethora of shite in one’s inbox that one cannot tell which are relevant and which are not?  Continue reading

Canalside: Curiouser and Curiouser

Rumours of Canalside House’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. By the building’s owner, Kensington and Chelsea council…

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Canalside House on Ladbroke Grove in North Kensington

 

Latest News

At the December 3rd Housing and Property Scrutiny Committee meeting at Kensington Town Hall, RBKC planning officers stated that the “demolition” of Canalside House that Conservative councillors had been pushing for is not necessary. Continue reading