Many people I’ve met have conflicting views about whether to vote at all. With the European and some council elections coming up on the 22nd of May and the general elections next year, it’s a passionate question. There is a website called Vote for Policies where you can compare the policies of parties without knowing which party is which, then select those that you agree with and at the end it tells you which party is the best fit.
Many people especially younger voters want a ‘no confidence’ vote for the entire political system. Russell Brand famously expressed what many young people are feeling when he called for people to not vote. If we do decide not to vote however, it is assumed to be apathy or consent unless we take steps to be ‘counted’ as dissenting voters.
Some other countries offer a ‘none of the above’ option in voting where if a significant proportion vote for this then nominations have to be reopened. In our current system however if we do decide not to vote, staying at home will definitely not have our voice heard. Those considering a non-vote are those most likely to vote for radical reform, so without them the remaining vote becomes more towards the status quo.
The Eastside Roots Community Garden sits around the edge of Stapleton Road train station that used to be fearfully avoided by local residents. The community group were given the land temporarily until the station was to be redeveloped. Small mosaics and hand painted signs. About half of the space of the project remains as development has begun. Tiers of flowers and vegetables go up the slope and a cat is sitting on the steps. It’s been very successful in creating a community space where people feel safe enough to come, reducing drug dealing and crime. Soon the other half will be built over too, but however long a project like this lasts, it shows what can be achieved in those time gaps. How tenacious life, and people, are.
I wandered around but when I saw a sign to St Werburgs City Farm, it felt like and invitation to a treasure hunt. The St. Werburgs Church is now a climbing center, but nearby are gardens with raised food beds that are part of the farm. The farm itself is further on under the railway bridge and is indeed a treasure.
The sign reads “Welcome to St. Werburgs City Farm! A green oasis in the heart of the city. Entrance is free, but as a small charity, donations are gratefully received.” Dozens of families are all around the farm enjoying the sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and pigs. There are houses just opposite the field and a large area of allotments nearby.
If you ask most children now where their food comes from the answer is likely to be from a shop. In an age where many people in cities have little understanding or connection to agriculture, access to a city farm can have life changing consequences. I find Becky, a lady in her early twenties in the office and ask her about her volunteering at the farm.
“I care for the animals and the site or during the week we have clients in, adults with learning difficulties.” she tells me.
“How did you find out about the farm?” I ask her.