BOMB IT – street art is revolution

26 03 2009

Some of humankind’s first artistic expressions were on walls and they still continue to this very day. After its birth in Philadelphia, the explosion of graffiti writing in New York between 1969 and 1974 immersed the city’s streets and subways with a wave of creative energy.  Empowered young people were able to occupy their own space in public space, emerging from the shadows of marginalisation and challenging authority. It was not long before this artform captured the imagination of people around the world and soon spread to become a global culture. Quickly criminalised and treated as mere vandalism by the state and property owners who saught to suppress freedom, hide protest and maintain sanitised “clean” streets.

“Bomb It” is a documentary on global graffiti culture, from the streets of Barcelona to the sewers of Sao Paulo. The filmmakers create a narrative that explores the motivations of these artists and delve a little deeper into what graffiti really means in modern society and its relationship to public space. It really is worth checking out.

Check their site here.

Graffiti writing started at the birth of human consciousness” – KRS-One


Propagandhi – Supporting Caste

17 03 2009

Propagandhi, a punk band from Winnipeg in Canada have just released a new album ‘Supporting Caste’.


From their page:

The band members are known for championing various political causes. They have taken an active stance against human rights violations, racism, homophobia, imperialism, fascism, capitalism and organised religion. The band supports vegan lifestyles, animal rights campaigns and feminism, and have described themselves as “gay positive”.

Propagandhi – Incalculable Effects (download)

Good review of the record here.

Support the band and buy the record here.

They are touring the UK in April.

Insight on Greek rebellion

5 01 2009

From The Real News Network:

On December 6th, 2008, conflict broke out across Athens as youths responded to the killing of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos by the Greek police. Over the following four weeks, protests spread nationwide and the protesters continue to promise further activities, including the announcement of a nationwide day of action on January 9th. The Real News spoke to a freelance journalist in Greece’s second-largest city of Thessaloniki and a resident of Athens’ Exarcheia neighborhood, where many of the clashes between protesters and police have taken place. They provide a glimpse into the various factors that have created such a volatile situation.

Radical Geographies

13 11 2008

Vodpod videos no longer available.

What the man is about

Paul Chatterton teaches in the School of Geography at the University of Leeds where he and researches and teaches on: international protest movements mainly looking at the popular uprising in Argentina since 2001 and the Zapatistas autonomous communities of Mexico; the ways in which city centres are increasingly becoming privatised and corporatised; and alternative models of development focusing on self-management.

At the university, he is co-managing a grant funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (see which explores the ways in which social activists and community groups are developing self-managed models for organising social and economic life beyond the welfare state. He is also working on a collaborative research project entitled ‘Who runs Cities?’ (see which promotes citizen engagement in urban governance.

His recent publications include: a guide to the autonomous Argentinian social movements ( and an activist handbook collaboratively written with the popular education collective Trapese published by Pluto Press called ‘Do It Yourself: A handbook for changing our world’ (see ).

Paul is also course director of a new Masters Programme at the University of Leeds called ‘Activism and Social Change’ (see He is one of the founders of the Common Place social centre in Leeds (, and is currently helping to start up an eco-village in Leeds.

What the lecture is about

Everyday, everywhere, through spontaneous and planned actions, people are changing the world, together. These everyday actions come from the growing desire to do it ourselves – planting vegetables, organising a community day to get people involved in improving where we live, exposing exploitative firms, taking responsibility for our health, making cups of tea in a social centre, figuring out how to install a shower powered by the sun, making a banner, supporting strikers, pulling a prank to make someone laugh, as well as think.

A whole range of groups from the Camp for Climate Action to No Borders and Social Centres are showing how people can take back control and organise to create a more just and sustainable world.

This talk is about this kind of DIY politics: a call to get involved in practical action and reflection to create more sustainable and fairer ways of living. It is based on the recent book called ‘DIY: a handbook for changing our world’ which I co-wrote with the Trapese Popular Education Collective.

The book is part handbook, part critique, and is designed to inform, inspire and enable people to take part in a growing movement for social change – which means you, the person sitting next to you on the train, your neighbour, your mother, your children. It is us that can make these changes and it is us that are going to have to. This book explores nine different themes where people are struggling to wrestle back control and build more equitable and just societies – sustainable living, decision making, health, education, food, cultural activism, free spaces, media and direct action.

The talk will present the main ideas in the book, offer some concrete advice for how you can get involved in the growing grassroots movement for change, and look at some of the pitfalls, critiques and ways forward.

An occupation with British Petroleum?

15 10 2008

This is so good I’m just going to put the whole thing up and leave it at that. I doubt you will read/hear about it in the news.

“BP’s attempt to recruit Oxford graduates at the uber-swanky Randolph Hotel last night didn’t quite go according to plan…
It must have seemed so straightforward to BP. Book the swanky Ballroom at the Randolph Hotel in Oxford, prepare a swish presentation, lay on the wine and canapes and watch the Oxford graduates come flocking in. A great opportunity to drain a few more well-educated brains into their evil oil empire, sorry, their “quest for the energy of the future”.

It didn’t quite work out that way, however.

First, the 100-odd attendees were met by a banner outside the hotel, reminding them that BP is, always has been, and always will be a climate-cooking fossil fuel company. Everyone received a leaflet and a few friendly words about BP’s less salubrious activities around the world.

Once everyone had filed in and found a seat beneath the chandeliers, a tall, fair, shiny BP PR rep called Adam took the stage. He barely had a chance to introduce himself before two audience members strolled onto the platform and told the crowd that actually, they had a five minute presentation about BP that they’d like to give first.

A friendly discussion ensued, with Adam ramping up his smarmy charm to the max, insisting that he “really wanted to hear” what the pair had to say but that he really ought to give his 10-minute BP spiel first. The crowd were getting restless so eventually the tenacious two agreed to let him speak, so long as they got their slot afterwards.

Poor Adam. He did his best to get through his ten minutes of cuddly corporate Powerpoint slides, but was clearly thrown off his game, sweating and stumbling over his words, insisting that he cared about the environment (“I love the countryside”) and that was why he had joined an equally caring company like BP. The most excruciating part was watching him put up slides about careers in oil and gas exploration, extraction and financing, and trying to crowbar in pre-emptive stuff about the environment and “alternative energy” that clearly weren’t part of the original plan. He wasn’t helped by another outspoken audience member who asked him, mid-spiel, why BP had spent more money on its green sunflower rebranding than on its annual renewable energy budget.

Adam rushed through his last few slides, and then it was the turn of the two intrepid stage-invaders. They launched into a calm, professional and utterly convincing explanation of what BP was up to around the world, why major oil companies aren’t part of the solution to climate change, and why the assembled graduates really ought to consider an alternative career. No sooner had they finished than a member of the Colombia Solidarity Campaign appeared at the podium. Despite Adam’s flustered requests for him not to speak, he launched into a powerful first-hand account of BP’s activities in Colombia – their complicity in environmental destruction, the crushing of peaceful social movements, and the funding and training of death squads. The room listened in awed silence, and applauded at the end.

Adam’s Blair-like facade of reasonableness was pretty stretched at this point, but he still managed to say something bare-faced like “that’s why it’s so exciting to work at BP – we need to get to grips with all these difficult challenges”, before asking two new BP recruits from the graduate programme to stand up and talk about their experiences.

As these two poor stooges rattled hastily through their prepared talks, all was not well in the audience. Loud arguments seemed to be breaking out in scattered points throughout the crowd, about why on earth they were at an event sponsored by such a dreadful company. One after another, all around the audience, angry people stood up and stormed out (or at least stormed as far as the wine and canape area at the back). Some of them weren’t even activists. Meanwhile, the bolshiest audience member was again demanding answers from Adam, and one bright spark put his hand up and asked “so, do we get taught how to kill Colombians as part of the graduate training scheme?”

Things were clearly not going to plan, but BP still had a card to play – it was time to break up for wine and nibbles, and a dozen chirpy young BP employees from their various divisions were ready to mingle through the crowd and reassure everyone that BP was trying its best, you know, and it wasn’t really as bad as the nasty activists were saying. Unfortunately, there seemed to be as many undercover (or completely blatant) campaigners in the crowd as there were BP staff. Every small group seemed to have someone in it pointing out the hypocrisy of BP’s greenwash, and how there were so many better things that graduates could do with their lives than work for an oil and gas multinational.

BP must have spent thousands of pounds on this event. I wonder if they feel like it was money well spent” (1)