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I was impressed when I first came across Now Then magazine, and I’m still excited and enthused by its way of keeping alight the flame of local, small-scale, DIY culture in Sheffield. In an age of faceless corporate takeover, with hype replacing journalism, and celebrity culture drowning out creativity, Now Then is inspiring. It’s a vastly positive and empowering influence in the socio-cultural life of our region. In other words, it’s right good. Until I was asked to write for Now Then, I suppose I considered myself to be, at best, an activist. Mostly a stay-at-home one, to be truthful. Certainly not a writer. Like most people, I’d written very little since leaving education. It was a strange new experience to have an editor, guidelines and a writing deadline, but the Now Then team do all this with dedication, professionalism and good humour. It feels less like a work-volunteer relationship, and more like friendship. In an ideal world, this is surely how all organisations would run. Over the last few years I’ve written many articles. I think it’s become easier in the sense that creativity is like a muscle which improves with exercise. And I enjoy it. The first rule of writing seems to be: just write. Don’t spend too long thinking and talking. Write and see what comes out. You can correct, edit or re-write later. After a while the words just flow, and you find which of your ‘inner voices’ are speaking. You may even start to think more clearly. The next rule is probably ‘write about what you know.’ Or, at least, use this as a starting point. I don’t know loads, but we all learn as we go through life. What I don’t know, I try to find out. Researching and writing is a learning experience itself. Involvement with Now Then has led me to making far more of abilities that were inside me. I’m grateful for that, and finding that I have appreciative regular readers is a boost to my confidence. I’d encourage anyone to give it a try. There’s something else that’s very important to me. The news, views and activities of Sheffield’s campaigning organisations can gain publicity through Now Then. Being a regular columnist enables me to give a valuable channel of expression to the many good people fighting to improves things in our city and beyond. To any Sheffield groups working for peace, the planet, social justice and change: if you need publicity, you’re very welcome to ask for help in spreading the word, or simply start writing yourself. They say everyone has a book inside them. Why not start by getting one small article in Now Then? There’s enough fake news out there in the corporatised press. You can fight this by helping to make real, local media. Now Then is a positive force in this city. Let’s hope it continues like this, through whatever austere times, Trumped-up wars and rumours of wars that 2016 brings. Happy new year to all readers! alt-sheff.org REPAIR CAFE Sat 28 Jan | 10am-3pm | Heeley City Farm, S2 3DT We’ve all got something annoyingly broken that would be tricky to repair. Instead of dumping it, take it to the bi-monthly Repair Cafe, where volunteers share practical knowledge over cake and drinks. They’ll fix things if they can, show you how, or else explain how and where to get repairs done. A free service, with donations welcome. sheffieldrepaircafe.wordpress.com ASYLUM SEEKER BICYCLE WORKSHOP Mondays | The Bike Kitchen, 62-68 Thirlwell Road, S8 9TF Giving help to newcomers in a very practical way, this dedicated group have been hard at work for several years, servicing and renovating bikes for asylum seekers. They welcome donations of bikes, help, cakes or whatever! The workshop opens every Monday, 5:30-8pm. Note, they’ve recently moved to this new venue. Email: comacworkshop [at] gmail [dot] com )

Next article in issue 106

Yarl's Wood: Immigration Detention

Since the refugee crisis began, I’ve been one of perhaps millions of people who have watched the news in horror, feeling sad and outraged at…

Since the refugee crisis began, I’ve been one of perhaps millions of people who have watched the news in horror, feeling sad and outraged at

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