Housing for our communities

Do you have that feeling that the housing market isn’t quite working? That developers are making money but communities don’t benefit much? Community land trusts are one way that communities are taking back the power over their housing. I spoke with Charlie from Oxfordshire Community Land Trust about their work and their latest campaign to create affordable housing in Oxford.

A community land trust protects land and property assets and makes them affordable for the community, whether it be for work, housing or leisure.

Their legal structures could be Industrial and Provident Societies for the Benefit of the Community, Community Interest Companies, Charitable Trusts or Companies Limited by Guarantee, but the principles are the same – ensure that assets benefits the community and not outside companies.

In Oxford at the moment Homes for Oxford, another community group is working with the trust to fundraise for their own housing development. You can learn more and donate to the work here.

What are some of the ties that hold us down and prevent us from living a life that we believe in, a life that benefits those around us and makes us feel fulfilled? For many people the answer is simply needing to pay the bills, being caught in a cycle of work to pay the rent. If we can remove the wealth extractors from our housing market we have a chance to create housing that benefits our communities, and helps give people more freedom to do what they think is right.

 

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Give us a smile Oxford!

out of oxford

We realised during our practice walk through Oxford that it is packed with people taking action to protect the environment. We spoke to Rupert Griffin about his achievements in getting more local food available in Oxford.

Rupert now runs his own business providing local apple juice and honey.

You know when you smile at a stranger and they smile back, then you smile more, and there’s a shared moment. Those are the moments I wait for but strangely there was only an average of 10% smile return rate through Oxford. One man surprised me by cycling back to me to thank me for smiling at him and it made my day. Just keep smiling people, sometimes they smile back. 🙂

keep smiling

 

Reclaiming our culture from fossil fuels

The Reclaim Shakespeare Company is part of a growing movement of artivism – using the art form in the activism. The group challenges the sponsorship of the arts by fossil fuel companies with protest performance pieces. The subversive plays based on the form of art that is being sponsored are performed just before the official productions are due to begin. I spoke with writer, climate change researcher and artivist Danny Chivers about the group.

The Reclaim Shakespeare Company and Danny are now themselves portrayed as part of a new play about taking a stand for your conscience. You can watch performances of STAND at the Oxford Playhouse until the 8th of June.

What them in action at the British Museum.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXHJxTFTsj4

A new group BP Out of Opera recently did a lovely dance under pressure in London.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7eZrTbTMtg

Shell Out Sounds successfully sang songs at Shell sponsored events resulting in Shell’s sponsorship not being renewed.

If you are feeling inspired there are a number of groups under the Art Not Oil Coalition that you can join, or they can help you form a new one of your own!

Out damned logo out!

 

 

Ethical investment – divestment

A cancer research charity would not invest in tobacco, it would be unethical. A peace group would not invest in arms. Where you put your money is where you put power, so if we want to create a healthy future we can’t invest in unhealthy things.

Money is a bit like energy, it’s only doing something when it’s flowing, so organisations and banks are constantly investing, and some of that money is going to fund the expansion of fossil fuel drilling. Even if we spend all day campaigning against climate change, our money may be quietly funding climate change. The process of removing money from unethical investments is called divestment.

The campaign for fossil fuel divestment worldwide is Fossil Free, and there are campaigns all over the UK. I spoke with Al about her work on the Fossil Free Oxfordshire campaign.

In Oxford on the 31st of May will be a rally to call for the City Council, the County Council and the universities to divest.

 

 

A very respectable no-water closet

Near Northmoor Lock on the river Thames we came across Barefoot Campsites, with picnic tables, yurts, small sheds, and two very presentable composting toilets made by Free Range Designs. A common concern with composting toilets is that they might be considered unpleasant to use but I suspect these will please and surprise many a person.

William Morris and the floating forge

William Morris was a multi-talented and political theorist, fantasy writer and artist who lived in Oxfordshire in the late 1800’s. He believed in equality and socialism. Journeying into Oxfordshire we encountered our first William Morris reference… on a boat…with a forge in it. Brian Greaves kindly told us about his work.

Continuing towards Oxford we encountered a modest and welcoming 11th century church in Inglesham which had been supported by William Morris. William Morris founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, one of the worlds first preservation groups. Within are old wooden pens containing the pews and wall paintings from across the centuries.

In Kelscott we saw the manor that had been William Morris’ home and continued along the beautiful Thames Path to Newbridge and Shifford. It’s been a great privilege to walk the path all the way from it’s source near Coates and to see the river change. And it doesn’t hurt that we’ve had glorious sunshine the whole way!