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.

 

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

 

Oxford practice walk

buzz fundraiserLush threw us a fundraiser in Oxford this weekend, raising £57 for us with sales of their Charity Pots.

Then we visited bike co-op Broken Spoke, and set out along the beautiful canal and Port Meadow and passed the ruins of Godstow Nunnery.

Further out we found Fai Farms providing artifical bee homes. You could provide living space for bees in a similar way. IMG_20140405_175550

We passed Wytham Woods a Site of Special Scientific Interest where the habitat is being preserved.

In total the four of us walked about 35km, mostly on the second day which was a good long IMG_20140405_153142practice!

Insight Share donates video equipment

Thank you to Participatory Video experts Insight Share in Oxford who have donated a video camera to us for the walk! We’ll be using it to create a higher quality short documentary of the tour. The first part of which we aim to screen for the first time on 20-22nd June at the Tandem environment and music festival in Oxford.

102_1455Operations Manager Marleen Bovenmars introduces Participatory Video:

The way we do it is straight away to hand over the camera and they tell their own story through activities and games. So they’re learning straight away. Once they have the basic skills we help them with storyboarding.

A storyboard consists of pictures representing video scenes, to help plan and visualize the shooting of the footage.

 

Seeds For Change and consensus decision making

We spoke to Richard Howlett from Seeds For Change in Oxford about their work providing training and resources for grassroots activists.

Richard Howlett from Seeds for Change

Richard Howlett from Seeds for Change

We believe in bottom up change, that we should have power and responsibility for our own lives, and collective action is more powerful than individual action. That is a reflection of how we go about learning – as facilitators rather than teachers. We’re trying to help the learning come up through you. It’s pragmatic but it’s also political and ideological too. Doing something real, that’s where you are really going to learn.

Amongst the very useful things that Richard shared with us were information booklets about facilitation skills and consensus decision making – very handy for the walk!

Consensus decision making is a process where the group as a whole can come to agree to a proposal rather than just a majority vote. With proper facilitation the process can be more successful and democratic than traditional group decision making.

Oxford – city of spokes

On our practice walk this weekend we visited the biking co-operative Broken Spokes in Oxford. Co-founder Elle Smith tells us about forming the group.

One of the striking things about a visit to Oxford is the thousands of bikes, chained to everything. It’s common to see women in skirts and smartly dressed people cycling to work, as well as the thousands of students. Broken Spokes savages bike and helps people repair their own bikes by providing knowledge, space and tools. They also help people to take up  cycling, and provides a great community hub. We meet Owen who is cycling to Austrailia and Dave Thomas, Green Party Candidate for Holywell Ward Oxford.

Walk and Lush fundraiser this week in Oxford

This weekend the kind people at Oxford’s Lush store on Cornmarket Street are throwing the Buzz Tour a Charity Pot Party fundraiser! The store’s manager James Atherton explains.

All the weekend’s sales from their Charity Pot’s will be donated to The Buzz Tour! We’ll be at the store until 1pm on Saturday so you can come and ask us more about the tour.

Then at 1pm we’ll be leaving on our second practice walk and you are welcome to come with us! If you want to walk for a few hours, just turn up but if you’d like to walk the whole weekend let us know in advance to help us plan. 🙂

 

Practice walks coming up

Some of the Buzz Tour walkers have started getting in shape and wanted to do a longer practice walk to prepare themselves. If you’d like to join us, get in touch!

The first will be the 29th and 30th of March in the Cotswolds. The second will be the 5th and 6th of April in and around Oxford. We’ll be practicing our orienteering, camping and visiting a few great projects.

Update on The Buzz Tour

bags and poiOur crowdfunding campaign has raised £115 so far, help us reach our goal of £500 by donating. The lovely Buzz Tour bags have arrived if you’d like to donate and claim one! Other lovely perks are available too.

The tour will officially start from Totnes on the 19th of April.

Yesterday two of us walked in support of the Oxford Reclaim the Night women’s march against violence. On three occasions men along the way harassed the 50 women and were greeted by a chorus of ‘stop the march!’ and all the women turning to point and shout at the abusers. A very empowering and effective technique!

In the picture above are Eve’s bee poi. During the walk Eve will be teaching poi spinning for free. We’ve also had offers from people to teach legal observing, mindfulness, foraging and conflict resolution. Please let us know if you have a skill to share. 🙂

Keep smiling.