Social centres and community organising

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ticking_fool
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Joined: 12-03-05
Nov 9 2005 20:32
Social centres and community organising

This is mostly a 'what d'ya think' post, but advice from people with more experience of this sort of thing would be useful.

Community organising on the kind of IWCA model seems to require a critical mass of interested activists to get off the ground. The places where the IWCA have been successful are places with high concentrations of activists. Without that concentration in the early stages it seems to flop. (Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's how it seems to me from the outside.)

In most places right now that concentration does not exist. In Liverpool, where I am, it certainly doesn't. Any consciously class-based community organising thingumybob will not be able to attract the core group it needs to get started. Class struggle anarchists are kind of thin on the ground here. We have an activist community but it is extremely diverse. The sort of things that it's possible to get support for are very activisty. They're one off events, mobilisations for big demos, direct actions - that kind of thing, because these are the kind of things that you can work on in either broad churches or very small groups.

I'm obviously very disatisfied with this. I've been thinking that it might be possible to use the setting up of a social centre (which it would be possible to get broad support for), as a way of going into community organising from a different direction, and bringing some of the activist community along as that happens. If we did it outside of the town centre and in one of the communities targetted for 'regeneration', if we combined it with some sort of survey/canvassing effort it might be possible to use a squatted space as a centre for the people that live around it to organise some services for themselves.

I'm really not interested in creating a centre that just serves the activist community (as has been advocated by a few people round and about Liverpool), but I'm trying to work out whether it's possible to do anything more with them.

Opinions would be useful.

Mike Harman
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Joined: 7-02-06
Nov 9 2005 21:07

Keeping a squatted social centre occupied and secure would take far more effort than running 'round a couple of hundred front doors with a survey wouldn't it? Or would you get the hyper-activists to deal with that sort of thing, then try to draw others into more class-based stuff on the back of it?

TBH I think a class-based community group would be more effective if it started out not just being anarchists, or certainly not connected to the activist scene in an obvious way. Maybe try to contact single issue groups and go along to a meeting as an individual - they may well have people with good politics involved who aren't connected with the scene as such. Or join your residents association, or set one up. There's bound to be stuff going on (city academies, housing stock transfers etc. etc.) that are pissing people off, and basing a group around something like that might give you a firmer grounding than trying to organise people who aren't really that interested.

disclaimer: I've not done either of these myself, just joined in stuff other people have set up already since I'm lucky enough to live in an area with loads of politicos, so take it with a pinch of salt. I know a couple of people on libcom are trying to set up a group themselves, and have just started recently, so they might be able to provide some advice on the first stages.

dom
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Joined: 27-10-05
Nov 16 2005 16:46

Argh we seem to have lost several posts here. I posted to say something along the lines of

The main problem I think would happen would be geting enouigh people involved in the running and how to get the local community involved.

ticking_fool
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Joined: 12-03-05
Nov 17 2005 09:07

Gaarrghhh!!!

Not only do I have to cope for a whole weekend without libcom (how am I going to avoid working/marking if I don't have this board?), but the post I thought 'I'll reply later' about, is gone. And I can't remember what it said.

Ah well...

I'll reply to Dom instead.

Quote:
The main problem I think would happen would be geting enouigh people involved in the running and how to get the local community involved.

Getting people to run a squat would be no problem - there's plenty of people who'd come of the woodwork for it, and the skills base is there. Getting it serve any real purpose is another matter. The activist community's not really big enough for it to become a sort of networking centre - we all know each other, or if we don't we're no more than one person removed. The idea's in the air - it gets floated fairly frequently - and if someone takes the initiative it'll probably happen. I think people are right that it wouldn't connect in well to people living around it (although there are several borders where it might work at the edge of the Granby-Toxteth triangle), but then what would it be for?

If it does happen, then I'm going to get dragged in, so I'm just trying to think of ways that it could be useful.