We’ve been having discussions amongst ourselves and with our friends back in Essex at Alternative Estuary about the balance between the practical work we do and spreading our propaganda around. Believe it or not, distributing propaganda is harder than working on a practical project. Sure, when a community level project is getting set up, there’s a lot of work involved and it can feel overwhelming. However, once it’s up and running, a routine develops and work on the project is pretty manageable.
Writing, designing and organising the printing for leaflets and papers is hard work. However, it’s nowhere near as hard as having to distribute it! That involves searching out suitable events to hand out papers at, such as protests, vegan fairs and the like. It can involve picking an area of Bristol or Bath and then approaching any likely looking venues to see if they would be willing to take a bundle of papers for their patrons. If we really wanted to punish ourselves, it would mean booking a stall at a book fair and spending a whole day sitting there. For a variety of reasons we don’t particularly want to go into here, having a stall doesn’t really appeal to us these days.
For the moment, the only physical propaganda we have is our paper. Distribution of that is now on a fairly relaxed as and when basis. If there’s an event on that doesn’t clash with scheduled practical work, we’ll attend it to hand out papers and talk to people. If an event clashes with scheduled practical work, then the practical work takes priority. Which means we’re probably only going to be bringing out two papers a year. That’s fine to be honest.
We want to be judged for the actions we take, not just the words we spout. Which is why practical work on a community vegetable plot will always take priority over attending a book fair. Grassroots Alternatives is in part about showing how we build a new world in the shell of the dystopian one we currently have to endure. That means taking practical action at the community level. If we can’t back up our words with deeds that make a material difference, then we have to ask ourselves, what are we trying to achieve?
At the end of the day, it’s about not just talking the talk but walking the walk as well. As things start to fragment and crack up, getting stuck into community level activity that makes a material difference will take a higher priority. If that activity has the benefit of empowering those involved in it, then so much the better. We can’t just talk about the kind of world we want – we need to roll up our sleeves and actually get on with building it!