On Saturday 15.10, we attended the Community Eco Festival which was held in Keynsham. The venue was split between the open square (a.k.a. the ‘wind tunnel’) used for the monthly Farmers Market and the adjacent The Space building. Being new to the area, we didn’t have any preconceptions or expectations about the event – we were just going to take it as it came.

While we took a bundle of Grassroots Alternatives papers along with us, the aim wasn’t to use the event as a distribution opportunity. The aim was to go round the stalls and talk to the various groups participating in the festival. Something that when we used to attend festivals back in Essex with our Alternative Estuary hats on we had little time to do because we were too busy running our own stall. It made a welcome change to be a punter rather than a stallholder! Mind you, that might change by the time the next Community Eco Festival comes round in 2023:)

Going round the stalls, we had a number of interesting and productive conversations. Hopefully, these will be the first steps to building some useful alliances and also to get involved in some more practical, grassroots projects in Keynsham.

With regard to practical projects, while we’re propagandists, we know we have to be more than that. We have to put our money where our mouths are. We have to put our principles about working to build community solidarity into action. We have to get stuck into practical activity that not only makes a visible difference, but also helps to build a sense of community pride and cohesion. This is what our politics are supposed to be about – working in our neighbourhoods on practical projects to show that it’s possible for people to start to take control of what happens in their communities. Doing this forms the base we build from to go onto more wide ranging forms of radical change.

Then there’s alliances and working with other groups. As moving to Keynsham is in effect a new start for us, we need to question our attitude about applying purity tests to other groups. In the past, there have been times when we’ve probably gone over the top in applying them which has not helped with building alliances. One thing that came out in a couple of the conversations we had at the Community Eco Festival was that if we broadly agree with the aims of a campaign group, we’re not going to quibble about some of their positions out on the fringes being at odds with how we see things. It’s not all or nothing with us.

All in all, it was a few hours well spent and over time, will hopefully lead to some interesting developments on both the campaigning and practical projects front.

Last but by no means least, one thing that came out of attending the event was an increase in the number of groups and projects to list in our directory. This is how the directory is currently shaping up:

The directory

Avon – Projects & campaigns

Our comrades back in Essex are due to attend a few events so hopefully, they’ll have some additions to that part of the directory as well:

Essex – Projects & campaigns