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Ideas are what makes a movement come alive. This is the space to test your ideas, spark campaigns and share experience. If you’d like to contribute to the blog, please do! See ‘start blogging’ for the vital info.

It must be noted that all content posted or submitted by users of the blog are the views of the author of the contribution, not necessarily the views of Leeds for Change. We are not responsible for contributions on the blog, nor for the content of any external sites that may be linked from these pages.

Published 21/6/17   3:57PMby Gillcrawshaw

DPAC Lock Up your Wheelchairs tour coming to Leeds 1st July

Do you want to share & develop your skills around organising with other disabled people in your area?
Do you want to learn new skills?

If you’re interested, then come and join DPAC Disabled People Against Cuts, on the: ‘Lock Up Your Wheelchairs Tour’ in Leeds

DATE: Saturday 1st July 2017
TIME: 11am-5.30pm 
VENUE: Quaker Meeting House, Carlton Hill, 188 Woodhouse Ln, Leeds LS2 9DX

DPAC has been at the forefront of street resistance to austerity since their formation in 2010.

Disabled people have led the fight against welfare reforms, Remploy closures, the closure of the ILF, Atos, Maximus and and many many more issues.

Now DPAC, is coming to Leeds to hear from local disabled people about the issues and campaign priorities in your area; and to work with local disabled people in addressing them.

Please also let us know if you have any specific access requirements or questions.

These sessions will also need some volunteer support on the day from local allies, local activist groups, to support disabled people.

If you are a local disabled person, or non-disabled ally and you would like to attend the tour email: dpacleedsyork@gmail.com

DPAC Lock Up wheelchairs

Published 27/3/17   3:38PMby Bill

More powerful together

Leeds for Change is all about changing the world from Leeds outwards. Working together, the 100+ groups who have signed up so far have real potential to make huge changes. I’ve been part of Chapeltown Cohousing (ChaCo) from its inception, and Leeds for Change has played a vital role in linking us up with others and helping us communicate what we’re doing.

annotated_chaco_l4c

Seven years ago

ChaCo started when a handful of Chapeltown residents began to get excited about the idea of a community-led housing project in the area. We were inspired by the way that Lilac’s plans seemed to be coming together over in Bramley. Since then we’ve had tremendous support and encouragement from Lilac, Leeds Community Homes and many other groups and individuals connected with Leeds for Change.

In most cohousing projects, members buy their private homes and put in additional capital to fund common facilities like a laundry, workshop, guest rooms and large kitchen/dining area. That’s not a model that works in a high-deprivation area like Chapeltown, where capital is thin on the ground and we’re keen to reflect the diversity of the area.

Big money

So how on earth do we finance a £4.5m development when few of our members have houses to sell? The answer involves £360,000 from the Homes and Communities Agency to support first-time buyers on our shared ownership scheme, plus individual 95% mortgages from the Ecology Building Society. But crucially, it also relies on investment from individuals and organisations who believe in our vision of an affordable housing community designed and run by its residents.

These short-term loans not only help us to get the common facilities built, they also enable us to provide a number of fully rented units (below the Local Housing Allowance level) to ensure that ChaCo is within the financial reach of as many as possible. Once the houses are built, we then have assets we know we can borrow against in order to repay the development loans.

Plenty of people who want to help

The lesson for Leeds for Change participants is that there’s no shortage of people who are prepared to invest in social change, provided we present viable projects for them to support and build on the expertise that already exists in the activist community around Leeds.

The day before we launched our investment drive for £600,000 of short-term loans, our allies in Leeds Community Homes launched their own community share offer seeking £360,000 to build 16 affordable eco homes in the massive new South Bank scheme. Despite the awkward timing, LCH achieved their target on time, while we are well on course with ours.

The ticking clock

As I write this, we have less than five days to reach the £600,000 we need – but we’ve already raised most of that: £489k, the last time I looked.

So, if you have big dreams, look for others who share them and get working. Leeds for Change would love to be part of linking you up with people who can help you make the world a better place.

And, of course, you might be able to help ChaCo make a difference by getting us over the finishing line. If you know anyone who might be able to invest £1,000 or more for at least three years, put them in touch asap. Loans of £20,000 or more attract 4% interest – but hurry: the offer closes at midnight on 31 March 2017.

Thanks!

Bill Phelps
Chapeltown Cohousing
07474 873791

Full details can be found on our website at http://www.chapeltowncohousing.org.uk

Published 9/3/17   11:26AMby Alex Russell

Group Spotlight – Leeds DEC

Leeds Development Education Centre is an educational charity which has been raising awareness of global sustainable development issues with people in West Yorkshire for over 30 years. Currently they are focusing their attention on providing workshops for schools on a range of different topics from fairtrade to global debt and climate justice to philosophy. With the aims of enabling critical thinking, bringing different types of people together and creating an awareness of the impact we have as a global citizen through linking local or personal issues with global ones. These workshops can work for both primary and secondary schools, are curriculum focused can be adapted to meet each individual schools needs.

Leeds DEC is not just for schools however, they are happy to work with youth and faith groups as well as be used for team building events for groups and businesses. This can be done through brain stretching activities or away days with the focus always being on having fun, reflecting and engaging.

Leeds DEC have worked in partnership with a range of different groups in the past including other Leeds for Change groups like The Real Junk Food Project. Leeds DEC would love to do this more often and can help local groups create projects for their local community as well as set up funding applications. Leeds DEC would also love for individual members of Leeds for Change to get involved too. They are always looking for any assistance they can get to help inspire others, whether it be getting involved in classroom activities or helping increase their profile through help with marketing or admin jobs. This is also their reasoning for joining the Leeds for Change network, so they can increase their profile throughout West Yorkshire, build relationships with other amazing groups throughout Leeds and get more individuals, groups and schools involved in the great work that they are doing throughout West Yorkshire and beyond.

Leeds DEC and Fairtrade Leeds are hosting their 7th Fairtrade School Celebration!
 
The event will be held on Thursday March 9th at Leeds Civic Hall from 1-3.30pm with the Lord Mayor of Leeds. The Celebration will be focussed on ‘Taking a Break for Fairtrade’ with a Bean to Bar experience, Divine Chocolate tasting and Child led workshops.

If you are inspired by what you have read, what to learn more or get involved with this amazing organisation please contact Leeds DEC at info@leedsdec.org.uk or click here to visit Leeds DEC new exciting website.

If you would like me to write a blog about your group feel free to contact me at alexr@leedsforchange.org.uk. Alternatively feel free to write your own blog about your organisation, project or anything else that is on you mind on the Leeds for Change website.

Published 19/1/17   11:59AMby Chris.lee

Stop Arabic from Becoming the Language of Fear

This is a guest post by Hannah Leach, graduate of Arabic & Middle Eastern Studies, Spanish & Latin American Studies at Leeds University. It was originally posted at Tell Mama UK, and is re-published here with permission.

It must be said we live in the midst of turbulent times. As forced displacement figures reach all time highs, a distinctly anti-immigrant wave of right-wing populism surges forth to meet it, with big “wins” being witnessed across the leadership board in the Western sphere. Whether the candidacy of figureheads such as Farage and Trump are manifestations of popular sentiment or they managed to successfully exploit times of uncertainty for political gain is another question, but the narrative they promote reaches far and wide into our everyday happenings like a fiendishly twisty ideological octopus.

The point being: the world is becoming paranoid, and the siren of fear, so purposefully manipulated by such politicians, media and other like-minded opportunists, is beginning to deafen us to the point where, apparently, well-grounded reason is no longer audible any more. The EU’s less than adequate handling of a steep influx of migration from both war-torn and economically-destitute countries, i.e. buttressing the existing walls of Fortress Europe and systematically violating human rights law by creating policy that forcibly repatriates vulnerable asylum seekers and migrants, has only worsened the climate for those in need of safe havens. Yet, this closed-minded mentality doesn’t stop at shuttering down the borders, it extends to our everyday interactions to boot. Let’s get into it:

Last week Delta Airlines were at the epicentre of a public affairs scandal following their forced removal of 2 young Arab-American males from a passenger plane heading from London – New York for “speaking a different language”. The language? Arabic. So-acclaimed Youtube star, Adam Saleh and his friend, Slim Albaher, filmed themselves being unceremoniously booted off their flight after a nearby passenger supposedly overheard Adam talking on the phone to his mother and informed him that she was “feeling uncomfortable”. Several other passengers backed her up, some even aggressively so, after which the flight attendants, asked the pair to leave the aircraft, with pilot in tow. Now, Adam Saleh has filmed an array of tongue-in-cheek social experiments around the idea of discrimination against Muslims and anti-Muslim stereotypes, so accounts of the incident vary from source to source. That being said, prankster or no, he sheds important light on the wider phenomenon of Islamophobia that is so prevalent today.

Right now, we sit at the intersection of Islamophobia and mass migration (by those seeking a better life, a large contingent of which are also escaping the brutal Assad regime and the throes of violent persecution, robbed of their sovereignty). It’s up to us to use every weapon in our ethical arsenals to twist free of these exaggerated perceptions thrust upon us and look to each other as human beings, free of misconceptions.

Stop others from co-opting Arabic as the language of fear.

Arabic had a rich heritage before it became so steeped in paranoia. It is the language of poetry, of literature, science, astronomy and philosophy from ancient Arab civilisations. But now, when we hear it, our minds spring to one word: “terrorist”. How have we reduced such a pillar of human development to one caricatured man with a beard and a bomb cowering in the belly of a plane? As an Arabic student, it exasperates me that this beautiful tongue is being tarred with such an ugly reputation, that represents a hugely disproportionate minority of Arabic speakers worldwide.

I say “we”, because it’s only human that after intensive bombardment from Western media circles that frame migration issues in a calculated attempt to create suspicion and fear of ordinary people, we become suspicious and fearful of ordinary people. But we have to challenge ourselves.

My mother recently told me a story about a family she noticed walking through a Texas airport in the wake of the Berlin truck attack, having arrived on a plane from Turkey. They were making their way through the arrivals hall, heads down, avoiding eye contact with other passengers. Perhaps they were just lost in their thoughts, but perhaps they were fearful of reprisals by social vigilantes who might take it upon themselves to “make America great again”. She expressed feeling a deep-seated sadness that they should feel victimised to the extent that they expect harassment before respect, prejudice before mutual tolerance, animosity before openness. She wanted to look them in the eye and reassure them that they were not being held accountable for a militant minority’s actions, but sadly, and understandably, the family kept themselves to themselves and the moment passed. What would you have done?

Twitter reactions via hashtags such as #DeltaIntolerance and #DeltaRacist demonstrated a healthy dose of public outrage at the extremist profiling of the 2 young men, but I was surprised to witness some on the more progressive end of the spectrum (both Muslim and otherwise) defending Delta’s actions on the basis that the pair incited a reaction at a sensitive moment. To that, I say this: your one moment of discomfort or offense is well overshadowed by multiple instances of ethnic and religious discrimination for Muslim and other minority communities all over the Western World.

How can we ensure freedom of expression/ of speech in a fair and just society when we cripple the tools to do so? Language goes to the core of our identity, so imagine how you would feel if yours suddenly became the language of fear. A few passengers, who appeared to be mostly ethnic minorities themselves, stood up in that Delta Airlines cabin in defence of Saleh and Albaher, while the rest either heckled them to leave, or looked the other way until the “ordeal” was over. These are the moments when we decide how we move forward, that shape our outlook and the experience of every community within our society and how they fit together. The least we can do is to keep a common dialogue open.

Hannah is a freelance writer oriented towards mixed migration, justice and protection. Currently working on health & migration projects in Tajikistan. Intrigued by our potential to harness tech for informational empowerment. 

www / Twitter

Published 8/12/16   5:46PMby Alex Russell

Group Spotlight – Leeds Green Party

This is the first in a series of blogs about individual groups involved with Leeds for Change and the great work they are doing in Leeds. If you would like me to write a blog about your group feel free to contact me at alexr@leedsforchange.org.uk. Alternatively feel free to write your own blog about your organisation, project or anything else that is on you mind on the Leeds for Change website.

The Leeds Green Party is currently one of five local Green parties in Leeds and covers 20 wards in Leeds; mainly in the centre, south and west. Although it may seem strange to have five different local Green Parties, it is a reflection of the ground up grass roots ideology of the Green Party and the way they would operate if they were in power: power is devolved to the lowest level that wants autonomy. The Green Party believes that local wards should have the power and resources to address their own individual needs as well as influencing regional and national policy. The Vision of the Leeds Green Party is ‘a greener, fairer, happier Leeds where everyone can:

  • live and get around sustainably, healthily and affordably
  • access decent homes, services and green spaces
  • breathe clean air and enjoy their area’.

 

The Leeds Green Party has a firm belief in grassroots projects and is using Leeds for Change to help them support as many worthwhile projects as they can. Rich from the Leeds Green Party believes Leeds for Change is a great project as ‘many of the organisations involved with Leeds for Change are fighting for the same things we believe in’ and therefore through using the website they can easily build relations with other organisations as well as see what events are coming up.

However, Leeds Green Party also believes that in order to truly make a difference there needs to be a top down approach that works in conjunction with the ground up grass routes projects. Therefore the Green Parties in Leeds could become key allies for many organisations within Leeds for Change in order to get political influence on policies to help support and further their projects. Particularly as the Farnley and Wortley Green party have three councillors.

The Leeds Green Party in entirely run by members who are all volunteers, so if you like the sound of Leeds Green Party (or any of the other Green Parties in Leeds) and are interested in volunteering with them then you can get in touch with them at leedsgreenparty@gmail.com. If you are interested in standing for election in your local ward then they would also love to help. Details for all the other Green Parties in Leeds can be found on there website here:
https://leeds.greenparty.org.uk/about.html

This is a map of the wards that are represented by each of the five Green Parties in Leeds…

green-party-wards

Be a Leeds for Change blogger!

Talking, writing, learning and reflecting are all essential parts of most social change movements. There is a lot we can learn from one another – and you don’t have to be an English graduate to do it! Just 100 words about an event you ran or went along to would be great.

You can use the Leeds for Change blog to:

  • spark action on something important to you
  • share experience of making change in Leeds
  • share knowledge or ask questions
  • write about an event you ran or attended
  • test campaign or project ideas

We have a growing team of bloggers who will write and contribute. If you’d like to join them and write an article, please do! Get in touch to find out more.