Let There Be Dark! FESTIVAL of the DARK Launch – Jennifer Leach reports :-
The day before the launch of our Festival of the Dark, on winter solstice (21 December 2016), we received the good news that we had been successful in our Arts Council funding bid; our act of faith in launching an unfunded festival had paid off.
The launch, Let There Be Dark! was a magical evening, and an act of courage on the part of all those who attended. Volunteers and helpers spent most of the day preparing the space, clearing the energy, investing the Olympia Ballroom with incense, greenery, beautiful drapes to mark space, and good intentions. Supporters travelled from Cumbria, Cambridge, Bristol, Winchester, London and Southend, in order to hold space and focus spirit.
The night began with a meal in the dark, and interestingly, I think all there would have wished that the darkness of the room was more complete. Finding deep darkness is clearly going to be a challenge in the coming year.
The room was filled initially with a great deal of chatter, polite ‘wedding-reception’ conversations overriding the polyrhythmic wonders of Eddie Chilvers’ sublime piano playing. There was very much a sense that the challenge of the situation was being parried. Immediate intervention did not, however, seem appropriate – we need collectively to decide how we want to move forward on this journey.
At the end of the meal quiet was requested, people settled on cushions, or lay down on the carpet, and the piano brought, at last, a sense of presence to the room. This was maintained throughout Dancing in the Dark, my spoken word piece performed with Racquel Jory-Phelps – the Baba Yaga moment of the night, the tough exploration of fear in the dark woods. We all came through it intact, led gently back by the Bwiti harp, the sacred acoustic instrument of Gabon. The night ended with an immersion in the riches of Padimi Healing Sounds’ instrumental and vocal ‘sound bath’.
The pathway that has opened up for us following this event has been clear. There is no need, I believe, to disguise events as mainstream. They are not, people are keen that they are not; we can progress with the spiritual wraps off, as it were. Since my last blog, we have received the full support of Reading Buses and their farsighted CEO. Buses will be used as pop-up theatres and for a drive-in film screening, and our events will be publicised across their onboard network. There is also a resistance within certain institutions in Reading – the old patriarchal structures are struggling with our presence. A Festival of the Dark is bad enough, but run by two women to boot…!
Our next event marks the cross-quarter ceremony of Imbolc on the Celtic Wheel of the Year – a Dark Renga communal poetry workshop (11 February), to be held in a fire-warmed yurt in an area of ancient woodland. The Spring Equinox follows with The Night Draws Us In (25 March), a day of workshops, an evening procession through Reading, and a night of performance, sound, singing and community around a bonfire on a wild island in the Thames. Beyond that, endless suggestions and dreams shaping up into realities.
More support is needed to enable this all to happen in a fertile and stressfree fashion. If anyone reading this feels they could contribute in any way, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to be updated on events, please visit www.outrideranthems.com and subscribe to our newsletter.
It’s going to be a powerful festival, and a remarkable year!
SUPPORT for the charity CALM – REACHING THEIR GOAL – Anne Yarwood reports :-
Three 11 year old boys, on their own initiative, raised £1000 for the national charity CALM: Action Against Living Miserably. This is Reading Bus Company’s charity of the year which raises awareness, whilst offering support to men who feel suicidal.
The boys got small audiences to join them, singing Christmas Carols.
NEWS from our local WINDSOR HOMELESS PROJECT – Sally Wright reports :-
14 guests housed.
8 guests off Heroin and onto Methadone Script and engaging with Smart (Drug and alcohol Team based in Slough.
I guest into full time work.
After much consultation by Murphy the manager with the Council at RBWM the Housing options team will stay in Windsor rather than relocate to Maidenhead.
Great recruitment drive for volunteers so we now have over 60 volunteers.
New Developments on the horizon :-
Setting up a buddy system so that our vulnerable, often lonely, adults who have just been housed can have on going support as they take small steps to regain their self esteem and help them on their next step to reintegrate into “society” ( What ever that mean!!!)
Setting up a prescribing centre in Windsor for our guests who at the moment have to go to Maidenhead to receive their script for Methadone.
Ongoing need to fund raise so we are Planning our 3rd Sleep Out on Friday March 10th At the Alma Rd Youth and Community Centre. Please see our web site for Further details www.windsorhomelessproject.org
ENVIRONMENT group on AFFORDABLE HOUSING – ASCENT’s Response to District Council’s Planning Consultation : –
The aim of ASCENT (Ascot and Sunnings Community Environment Network) is to help catalyse our local community for an historic push to make where we live more resilient, healthier and bursting with strong local livelihoods, while also reducing our collective ecological footprint.
ASCENT’s Core Group this evening discussed the issues raised in the Consultation. We wish to restrict our comments to a single issue, namely absence of commitment to low-cost sustainable housing.
RBWM’s proposals, for which we are being consulted on, seem to be catering almost exclusively for transforming our community further into the preserve of elite sectors of society, with a strong focus on high-value, low occupancy housing.
Many of us are aware of the considerable difficulties in recruiting staff from a lower income band, such as new school teachers and hospital staff. We are aware that requisite provision by Developers of this category of housing is primarily ” dealt with” by transferring such property development to areas outside our Parish boundaries, where land values are lower.
It is absolutely UNACCEPTABLE for Local Authority Planning Authorities to FAIL TO PROVIDE HOUSING for lower paid ESSENTIAL WORKERS. This not only exacerbates geographical inequalities, with our area increasingly becoming the preserve of the rich and powerful, but is also clearly socially, economically and environmentally unsustainable. Key workers will have to commute long distances in order to cater for the crucial services needed in our area, while large mansions with low-density occupation significantly contributes to increases in per capita resource consumption and carbon emissions.
Our children’s education, the health care of us all, and the sustainability of society and the wider environment, deserves the respect of us all, but especially, respect from the decision-makers that are supposed to forward the interests of the community as a whole rather than select interest groups, such as profit maximising developers.
This needs to be demonstrated by the RESOURCE ALLOCATION PRIORITIES FOR OUR WHOLE COMMUNITY. It is a question of EQUITY. It is one of the issues, nationwide which Brexit highlighted.
WHO GETS WHAT, HOW, WHEN and WHERE are fundamental political questions in the broad sense of the word.
We strongly urge RBWM to reconsider its development strategy in order to heal what is clearly an increasingly broken and unsustainable society.
Anne Yarwood, Andrea Berardi on behalf of ASCENT
LOCAL Ascot March on 28 January 2017 – NHS funding crisis – Newspaper coverage :-
Protesters march in Ascot to oppose NHS cuts
Cheers from roadside cafes were heard as protesters marched through Ascot High Street on Saturday to oppose ongoing cuts to the NHS.
Starting off at Ascot Racecourse, about 30 marchers holding banners and chanting ‘save our NHS’ made their way to Heatherwood Hospital.
,kThey were met with applause by people sitting outside a roadside cafe and motorists hooting their horns in support.
The protest was carried out by members of the Save Heatherwood Hospital campaign group and Bracknell’s Defend Our Community Services.
Before they set off, demonstration organiser Margery Thorogood said: “The NHS is in crisis. If we don’t really rally together we are going to lose the NHS.” She accused the Prime Minister of ‘cosying up’ to US President Donald Trump and said she and the Government is pushing for ‘creeping privatisation’. The campaigner went on to say: “Other marches are taking place across the country, we are not in isolation.”
Margery has fought against NHS cuts for many years and has called for a return of maternity, rehab and minor injuries services to Heatherwood Hospital.
Reported by James Hockaday, 30 Janaury 2017, Slough and South Bucks Express
6 February 2017