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A Magazine for Sheffield

2019: A Year of Activism

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Neil Carribine

Across the globe, there are protests about work and exploitation, environmental damage, governments doing deals and sell-offs with corporations, maltreatment of migrants, prejudice and discrimination, oppressive laws, deaths in police custody, poverty, homelessness alongside vacant properties, animal exploitation, fracking and the endless arms industry pressure for war. It looks as if 2019 will be a year of activism.

So many people are aware of these negative trends. We increasingly see the totality, a looming dystopian future. But don't give in to depression, sitting at home and letting it happen. There is hope, which has two beautiful daughters, anger and courage - anger at the way things are and courage to see that they don't remain that way. So said the African Saint Augustine. Anger and courage lead to action, and then to empowerment for change. This can take the form of investigating, publicising and protesting, but also, crucially, celebrating what's positive and building alternatives.

We've seen protest rising in Sheffield and the surrounding areas over the last few years. The street trees campaign grows ever stronger. The powers-that-be have taken fright at jailing anti-fracking protesters. Sheffield For Democracy and It's Our City are keeping the pressure on Sheffield City Council to make decision-making more democratic and transparent. Big landowners are feeling the heat over moorland shooting and industrial farming. Even arts organisations, libraries and museums are giving voice to social engagement and protest.

Anger and courage lead to action

Radical reading groups are raising people's consciousness. Sheffield recently had discussions about squatting at Union St and Reclaim The Power held its national gathering here last month, planning opposition to fossil fuels. Momentum, Labour's left wing, is rising and anti-capitalism is uniting a movement of movements once again. Next we need to see community hubs where people meet, exchange experiences, knowledge and ideas. It's all based, quite simply, on angry people coming together.

Reclaim The Power put it best. It doesn't matter whether you are an old or new face or whether this is the first time you've dabbled in activism - this is a key time to get stuck in. Gatherings are spaces to get empowered, meet new people and learn from one another.

If feels hard to ignore the mainstream media's dirty puddle of propaganda, which gets splashed all over social media ad nauseum. Don't take everything at face value. Far too much is slanted or left unsaid. To see a bigger picture, tune in to alternative online news and comment. Some recommendations include Real Media, The Red Roar, Reel News, Off Guardian, Anti Media, Byline, Media Lens, STRIKE!, The Canary, Novara Media, Evolve Politics, Ceasefire and openDemocracy. They're not perfect, but they don't follow official lies. Consider becoming a member of The Media Fund to support these outlets and many more.

What can we do? The link below gives 198 ideas for action. It all starts by getting together with others. Sheffield's Alt-Sheff website has been encouraging and publicising social and environmental activism for ten years. Have a look at the groups and activities listed there. Things are happening on your doorstep.

Hosted by Alt-Sheff


Repair Cafe

Sun 16 Dec | 10-4pm | Strip The Willow, S7 1DF

In this throwaway culture it's good to know that there are volunteers willing to fix stuff for free. Got something you'd like mended? Take it along and find out if it's fixable. Coffee and cake optional.

Foodhall Public Christmas

Tue 25 Dec | 10am-5pm | Foodhall, S1 4QW

Foodhall's a great place, a proper volunteer-run community kitchen in the heart of the city, welcoming everyone. If you're at a loose end on Christmas day, call in for the big public Christmas. Plenty of food, laughs and games.

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