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A Magazine for Sheffield

I can't get very excited about the EU. It's not through loyalty to this island nation, but rather because fencing off one area of the world has fed inequalities around Fortress Europe - unaccountable decisions, migration disasters and the destruction of economies in Africa by cheap, subsidised export dumping.

On principle, I favour decision making at local level. "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely," said Lord Acton. He could have added that this works on a sliding scale, but instead he added, "Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority." Good point.

Acton could have been talking about tax-avoiding mega-bank HSBC, which cynically warned us to stay in the EU just three weeks before offshoring almost 600 Sheffield jobs to Poland, China and India. A similar battlecruiser bombardment of powerful pro-EU views flooded out for the European Common Market referendum in 1975. The Government promised that the people would decide, but recommended a 'yes' vote, and got it. Voters tend to follow establishment opinions, so the result is often a foregone conclusion. If not, it would be a surprise, and we'd probably repeat what happened with the Irish Treaty of Lisbon referendum. The people voted 'no', which was the wrong answer. Result? They were given 16 months of waterboarding followed by another referendum to get the answer right. This critical viewpoint seems to be reflected by no major party, unless you count UKIP - a chilling thought.

If we probably won't, or can't, leave Europe, at least we can focus our own attention where we choose. Here are a few ideas for this summer.

The 2016 Hannah Festival has just started, celebrating great creative and social organisations across the North. It's a whole networked series of events accompanying an annual directory, published on real paper, different each year and always a joy to read. If you like giving time, energy and money to nourish projects like this, you may also like to know about the Grassroots Directory, which plans to map Britain's community-led enterprises, spaces and co-operatives helping to build a fairer, more sustainable society.

If you're over the full-on festival fun of Peace in the Park (Sat 11 June), note that the Green Fair Music Stage returns to St Mary's, Bramall Lane on Saturday 2 July. It's joined by a whole raft of community events throughout the merry summer months, not to mention the Year of Making, now in full sail with loads of creativity flowing.

Working and playing joyfully to inspire people with the tools and knowledge to take part in local and community work for a better future keeps me going, matched in equal measure by my determination not to give a toss about the EU, and to party on regardless. Keep an eye on Alt-Sheff as we fly the flag for our community, keeping it real and keeping it local.


Sat 18 & Sun 19 June | Various venues

A weekend of free activities as part of the Year of Making, which continues into autumn. Discover, learn, maybe even make a living with craft making, from croissants to copper trowels, carving to corset making. Organised by the Guild of St George to celebrate the legacy of John Ruskin. Link


Mon 27 June | 7:30pm | Farm Road Sports & Social Club, S2 2TP

Do your friends generally look like you? Academic psychologist Dr Katherine Woolf explains her controversial research on why we often make friends with similar people, and the impacts on success and injustice. Link )

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