Regular readers of this blog will be aware that a fair bit of what we write always comes down to the question of land. We also address that question visually as you can see from the memes shown above. That question is about who owns the land, why do they own it, how did they (or their ancestors) acquire it and how that ownership is used to maintain dominance and power?
When we write about land, we come at the question from a number of angles…
Our most recent post is about a protest action challenging the decision made by a landowner to ban wild camping on Dartmoor. An area of land that is a key part of our shared heritage yet is treated as a fiefdom by an unaccountable landowner.
We write a lot about neighbourhood level projects such as community food gardens and the like. Projects that need land. Sometimes, permission to use a previously neglected plot of land can be obtained from a local authority who understands what a community project is trying to achieve and is happy to facilitate that. At other times, it has to be down to the residents to guerilla garden neglected plots, daring the landowner to come along and assert their dubious claims. While having to battle with a stubborn landowner can be a pain, sometimes these clashes are useful in throwing light on the question of land and how it’s used.
We’ve also written a few pieces about parks. Most notably, about the resident run Hardie Park where we used to live in Stanford-le-Hope back in Essex. A project that has empowered the many volunteers who have played a part in transforming it from a neglected, no go area to a much loved community asset. We’ve written about the value of parks to the communities they belong to. This takes in parks being a place to meet, socialise and play without having to spend money. It also takes in parks being places where it’s possible to escape the pressures of modern life for a while and re-connect with nature.
That’s quite a spread of ways to tackle the question of land. Below are a number of the posts we’ve published over the last year looking at this question. One that isn’t going to be resolved under the present economic, political and social system we’re currently obliged to endure. A question that’s only going to be resolved once that system has been finished off and replaced with one that brings power right down to the grassroots. Which, as we’ve said a few times before, means that we’re not a fluffy project!
“We are calling on the spirit of Old Crockern, the ancient protector of the moor, to oppose this decision. Old Crockern represents the values that sit within our campaign and those that embody Dartmoor: inclusivity, freedom, growth, relationship and humanity.”
Residents are greening Knowle 16.11.22
“It’s always good to highlight positive initiatives such as the ones mentioned above. We hope that these will encourage people to take part in anything similar that’s happening in their community. If it isn’t happening, we hope they’ll get the inspiration to join up with friends and neighbours to get something going themselves.”
“This is what happens when vast tracts of our woodland which should be open to all of the public is in private hands. Decisions about how the land is used are the preserve of the owner with us mere plebs who want to take time out in nature kept firmly on the other side of the fence. However, a number of the plebs are refusing to accept the legitimacy of land ownership patterns and are taking direct action.”
“As things start to fall apart, people inevitably step up to the plate to plug the gap. In so doing, they are taking back a bit of power from the authorities who have failed them. By getting stuck into taking over the functions that the authorities can no longer fulfil, they’re empowering themselves. Empowerment means gaining confidence and becoming more ambitious. That’s a route to real, radical change:)”
“Lastly, let’s look at the power of a positive example on how community action can turn a situation around. Back in our IWCA days in 2007 and 2008, the then dire state of Hardie Park was frequently raised on the doorstep. Back then, it was a bleak, litter strewn no go area that few people visited. Fast forward a few years and a few local residents, fed up with the neglect of the park by Thurrock Council, took it upon themselves to do something about it.”
“Ever since our ancestors were turfed off the land and forced to work in rapidly growing cities at the outset of the Industrial Revolution, we’ve been losing control over how we source our food. Yes, life as a peasant was hard but there was some degree of independence in being able to access a small plot of land to supply at least some of your needs.”
Valuing our parks 1.2.22
“This is about the kind of society we want to live in. A choice between one that values the intangible, non-monetary benefits of public open spaces for health, well-being and community spirit or an increasingly dystopian hell hole that puts a monetary value on everything it can and trashes everything else.”