Tuesday, 15 June 2010


hehe. now i've started doing this i'm seeing particularly awesome weeds everywhere. don't miss the next exciting installment!

do you get why it makes total sense (to me) in terms of this blog and it's not just escapism? i will write about it soon when i've got time.

two women

so. this morning at group. among the women.

one is an 'overstayer', ie she came to the uk on a visa which has now expired. she spends her life in fear of a knock on the door. her husband knows full well he has ultimate control - he doesn't even have to beat her, not necessary - he simply doesn't give her food, or money. when she is forced to ask - then he beats her. social services don't have to help her, only her children. so he provides adequate stuff for the children. social services, when asked to pay for accommodation for mum and children, refuse, and offer either to remove the children or fly mum with or without her children, to her country of origin. this woman can't tear herself away from that horrible programme on sky, UK Border Force or whatever it's called, the programme all about the knocks on the doors and how brutally effective our immigration system can be.

another woman is a UK citizen, and originally from another country. her ex-partner beat her badly, she pressed charges and he is now in jail for a couple of months. this woman doesn't feel confident enough to make phonecalls, and she asks me to call the Border Agency Reporting Centre to find out what will happen to him when he finishes his sentence. she wants to report that he is in the country illegally, and she has tried to do so before, during the months of court hearings when she received threats from him that he would kill her and her family. the border agency tell me to call the jail. the jail need to see my letterhead. i am glad to give up for the day, feeling queasy in this advocacy role. the border agency man suggests that there is no reason why he would be intercepted by immigration on his release from jail; a failed asylum seeker would be removed, but this man has no legal status; he will be treated like any other person at the end of their sentence, the jail and immigration are not connected. this woman feels suicidal at the idea of her ex-partner being released and coming straight round to her house as he's always said he would.

Too Much

there's a wonderful new post from Tyrone at Enough, 'On Crisis and Community'. i love Tyrone's description of neighbours working together on two occasions when people were attacked:
"I have felt so much gratitude since then, for my little group of neighbors who shared my inclination and willingness to act – not by calling the police, but by putting on our bathrobes in the middle of the night and knocking on our neighbor’s door together, prepared to help."
i love the Enough project, their honesty and the links they make...
"The questions I have – how do we balance immediate safety with long-term survival and transformation; how do we stop violence when the roots are unimaginably deep;


I want too much. I want solutions that transform violence, at the roots, for everybody. I want us all to believe in transformation – not only our small, fierce transformative justice collaboratives, but my neighbors. I want there to be reason for us to believe. I want the words, the strength to begin these conversations and see them through, in all of my communities"

Monday, 14 June 2010

weed of the week

these sweet peas are here every year, overflowing from a shitty bit of wasteland that i get to walk past often

Thursday, 10 June 2010

everything that is wrong with the world

i shouldn't share this as it's not going to help you through your day to know this, but somehow i can't help it. i've just posted some of mai'a's inspiring writing, now i'm going to ruin such optimism. if you're feeling overwhelmed with Wrong, as everyone i speak to seems to be right now, just scroll on down to the next post for some kickassness instead.
"Immigration Agents Target Oil Spill Cleanup Workers
A Louisiana sheriff has admitted that his office requested federal immigration officials to search for undocumented workers among those cleaning up BP’s oil spill. In a statement to the magazine ColorLines, St. Bernard Parish Sheriff Jack Stephens said he was concerned about “illegal aliens” and “criminals” coming into the area “under the guise of doing legitimate work.” Last week, the journalism project Feet in Two Worlds revealed that immigration officials had visited two oil spill command centers to check the documents of workers."

mai'a on safer spaces

many things that mai'a writes float around my head and become such important reference points for me, and i want to find ways to share my thoughts about them, link to them here and talk with my friends about them, but mostly their significance and relevance is still filtering slowly through my brain.

i love nothing better than a systematic analysis of what needs to happen for abuse not to happen, and i'll be coming back to this one. here are some snippets:
"life is not safe.  people hurt each other.  we have a choice. to either support our own and others’ abusive behaviour or words, or to nurture respectful relations.
safety is an illusion.  what is real is what we do.  do we act out fear?  or do we act out respect?
4. intentions. your intentions matter. yes. to you.  and they should. to you. the rest of us. dont give a fuck.
if you are fucking up a lot, like over and over again, and hurting people, then i got to wonder:
a. either you really do intend to hurt people or,
b. dont care if you hurt people or,
c. are not able to see that your intentions and your effects are not lining up very well..."
read the whole thing, really, you should

still ending child detention

- this time by sending the children back to where they fled from.
"The UK Border Agency is to set up a £4m "reintegration centre" in Afganistan so that it can start deporting unaccompanied child asylum seekers to Kabul from Britain, the Guardian can disclose.

The terms of the official tender* for the centre show that immigration officials initially hope to forcibly return 12 boys a month aged under 18 to Afghanistan and provide "reintegration assistance" for 120 adults a month.

Home Office figures show there are more than 4,200 unaccompanied child asylum seekers in Britain, with most being supported in local authority social services homes. Those from Afghanistan are the largest group. Of the 400 minors claiming asylum in the first three months of this year, almost half were Afghans.

A decision to start deporting Afghan child asylum seekers who arrive in Britain alone would amount to a major shift in policy. Up until now, child protection issues and an undertaking that failed child asylum seekers would be returned only if adequate reception and care arrangements were in place for them on arrival have blocked returns.

The British plans form part of a wider European move to plan the return of unaccompanied migrant children to Afghanistan. Norway has also announced plans to open a reception centre in Kabul. Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands are also reported to be preparing to return Afghan children to Kabul."

* meaning that private companies now have the opportunity to bid for the contract to do this work, for profit. nice.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

more on the world cup

awesome analysis yet again from Cara Kulwicki at the Curvature, this time of a world-cup DV campaign.
"Firstly, I have to say that while incidents of domestic violence rose by 30% last World Cup, I doubt that domestic violence itself rose in hugely meaningful terms. I imagine that what was seen was not a rise in men abusing their women partners, but a great surge in men abusing their women partners all at once. I imagine that virtually all of the perpetrators were already perpetrators (or would have soon become perpetrators) — they just all decided to commit their assaults around the same time, for a change. The World Cup didn’t make them do it. And so I think that centering a campaign around the World Cup as though it’s a cause is somewhat misguided."

i liked this

(and it couldn't be more relevant to me right now)
"I'm extremely sensitive as to whether the work I'm doing is actually accomplishing anything. And the feeling I get when I'm working futilely feels a lot like burnout, discouragement, frustration, and so on. I've felt this sensation often enough to know that it doesn't mean I need to take two weeks off and then come back and do the same damn useless job. Nor does it mean I need to collapse into a sobbing heap of self-pity. None of those do any good. It ususally just means I need to change my approach so that I accomplish something in the real physical world.

Useful work and tangible accomplishments make burnout go away quickly."
Jensen, Endgame.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

light switch

couldn't write

i'm trying to lift myself back into writing.
this isn't burnout, i've sorted out my working situation so i work the right amount now. no, this is horror and grief.
all of the why am i doing this when people are being killed actually trying to counteract abuse, oppression, imprisonment, starvation. (they are going again: many of the surviving activists are going to try again to reach gaza by boat. this blows my mind and, for some reason, makes me cry more)
have you followed what's happened, in the raid on the flotilla and afterwards? i've been focussing on that rather than the oil spill because a mind can only take so much, plus it more directly relates to what i'm trying to understand.
all my friends say they're going a little mad. but we say things to one another to keep each other on track. and then we take each other swimming in waterfalls (3 waterfalls! in four days this weekend, i am lucky)

meanwhile, a fucking counsellor totally screwed over some of my 'clients', making them believe they were to blame for the abuse, pathologising them, and partially undoing about a year of my work in a group. meanwhile my friends continue to wrangle with controlling people in their personal lives (my personal life is for now free of these types, touch wood). meanwhile i despair of ever getting together a concise analysis of ALL THIS STUFF that people can understand and apply to help undermine the power of abusers and oppressors. but stopping writing isn't going to help, is it.

meanwhile, i found out this thing. have you heard of plants called 'nitrogen fixers?' they are plants like beans, peas, clover and things. i knew that they were nitrogen fixers and that this is a good thing. but what i didn't know was that they get the nitrogen out of the air. ideas about land being regenerated are one of the things keeping me sane these days and someday when i'm less sad maybe i can write about how this all links in to ideas of community healing etc, and i have a friend who has written about these links and other people do too. but anyway, if you have a rubbish bit of land which has been stripped of nutrients for one reason or another, i knew that nitrogen fixing plants were one of the things needed to help it sort itself out. but i thought that these plants just somehow made existing nitrogen in the soil usable for other plants. but no! they get it out of the air and make it usable for other plants and creatures! these things help me so much because they show that land just does what it needs to heal. 'wasteland' fills up with 'weeds' and these weeds are bringing to that soil what it needs. and then they die down and rot and the soil becomes richer and other plants can grow. i might write about this stuff more, especially in times of desperation, i'm all for spreading information that might help other people stay saner too.