So we’ve got a crisis. It’s not the end of the world, is it? Why are all politicians like the high priests of greed, preaching that the gods must be appeased with sacrifices made by us, ordinary mortals? We have to go to war, to take a pay freeze, to endure cuts in services. It’s […]

So we’ve got a crisis. It’s not the end of the world, is it? Why are all politicians like the high priests of greed, preaching that the gods must be appeased with sacrifices made by us, ordinary mortals? We have to go to war, to take a pay freeze, to endure cuts in services. It’s like a litany of misery. But we don’t have to follow the depressing “there is no alternative” dogma like a faithful flock. Here in Sheffield there are plenty of non-conformists. Since 2008 they’ve been served by the Alt-Sheff website, run by a small collective of activists determined to keep people informed about resistance, solidarity and celebration of alternatives to the mainstream.

The autumn protest season has kicked off with campaigning and meetings of people sharing ideas and experiences in the face of attacks on the welfare state. As Linda Burnip of Disabled People Against Cuts puts it simply, everyone is entitled to rights not charity, and public services should not make massive profits for private firms. This promises to be a very active struggle over the coming months. Governments are cutting welfare systems while giving away far more to their chums through corporate tax breaks. If you want to know how it’s done, a well-researched new pamphlet by the PCS union challenges the web of myths that the politicians and the press are always spinning. It offers ideas for the future of the welfare state. Download it free at the link below, and also see the Vimeo link. This is a really powerful video that explains exactly why the plans to ‘marketise’ the NHS aren’t a ‘reform’ but a con trick. It’s a short film made by a dedicated doctor and is well worth viewing.

On the peace front, rumour has it that the long-standing tradition of Sheffield Peace Fair returns to the Town Hall on 12th November this year. This is a great gathering of activist groups, it makes yer fair proud to live in Sheffield and it’s quite handy for a bit of early, ethical Christmas shopping.

Another joyful happening for Sheffield is the appearance of the city’s first LaDIYfest. The DIY in the title is quite deliberate – this is a homemade extravaganza inspired by the international Ladyfest movement. It’s a combination of entertainment, workshops and arts at three venues, with a feminist and LGBTQ emphasis. Proceeds will go to rape and sexual abuse counselling services. Everyone’s welcome. The preparations and benefit gigs have been brightening up the weekends for months; 12th and 13th November will see the festival itself in full glorious colour.

If you’re into the more chilled-out alternatives to the high tech, high stress world, you may like to know that the Low-Impact Living Initiative (LILI) is back in the city with a series of interesting courses this autumn. Various green woodcraft sessions are on offer, like rustic chair making and wood carving, or you could branch out into basket making. These courses aren’t free, but they are run by real experts in their subject, and LILI itself has an excellent record of promoting environmentally-friendly skills and lifestyles.

By the time you read this, the second edition of The Grail newspaper should be gracing the leaflet racks of Sheffield. This is a real life-sized newspaper, a delightful concoction of peacefully antiauthoritarian politics, spirituality, art and poetry from the people behind The Loon Show on Sheffield Live community radio.

Finally, did you notice that Sheffield Credit Union has a new home? After years of quietly developing its members’ savings and loans service, they now have a shop in Commercial Street, facing the tram stop. Great news. While the playboys’ banking system looks set to crash back to the 1930s, it’s reassuring to know that credit unions are ethical, stable, growing and don’t depend on casino stock exchanges to stay sustainable. Whether you’ve got supersized savings or you’re skint and scrounging, look into joining the credit union, because there are many advantages. It’s like a bank, but different, heading for a brighter world where services are for people, not for profit.

So if you’ve lost faith in being over-worked, under-paid and powerless, don’t forget there is an alternative movement. There is hope. Join the counter-culture publicised on Alt-Sheff. Keep in touch.

pcs.org.uk/en/campaigns/welfare-reform/index.cfm
vimeo.com/22384946
ladiyfestsheffield.wordpress.com
lowimpact.org
supermutant.org/the-grail-newspaper-2
sheffieldcreditunion.com
alt-sheff.org

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