a summer of schools: Demand the Impossible

5 months late in writing this but here goes. This summer ’12 I took part in two summer schools. The first took place from July 30th to August the 3rd. The second was August 28th to 30th.

Me and a very close friend of mine took part. It was called ‘Demand the Impossible’, a friend of mine told me to apply since she thought it was something I might be interested in. I didn’t want to do it alone so I applied for my friend, N, too. I had no idea what to expect. All I knew is it would be held in Goldsmith University and it was to do with activism and politics.

It was a bright Monday morning, ready for a day full of surprises. Me and N were the first ones there because I hate being late. I had gotten word of one of the hosts being a teacher at my college but I couldn’t recall him. Once I saw him I recognized him as the politics teacher. The other host was also a teacher, but of religious studies who used to teach at a college next to me, Newvic Sixth Form College. We got straight to work brainstorming what we thought the key concepts of politics and activisms were. There were quite a few people from my college there too, having been taught by one of the hosts. Then we learnt about the Niger Delta and the struggle for oil (I had no idea of the situation there) and the Visteon factory occupation (solidarity!) The week was during Ramadan, a month long of fasting from dawn till dusk so I wasn’t to eat lunch, on that note I was also very sleep deprived. During Ramadan I would sleep around 1am to wake up 4am and go back to sleep 5am to wake up 12am. That day I think I got 4 hours sleep so I was nodding off literally everywhere. Jacob and Ed provided a ‘freegan’ lunch, perfectly good food picked out of bins outside supermarkets. I’m not sure if I would have tried it had I not been fasting… I spent lunch with my best friend, who I don’t see enough, lying on the grass watching the clouds. We then had a talk by Mark Fisher on ideology. It was at this point I literally fell asleep. And Ed saw!! It was so embarrassing! We got into a very interesting discussion about whether its society holding back the average person from the top. This was the theme throughout the next few days. The next day I woke up late. We spent the first half of the day talking about capitalism. Then we had the pleasuring of Tom Dale, a freelance journalist and writer based in Egypt, talk to us about the 2011 Revolutions and Egypt in particular. The next day I woke up late again. We started off looking at cases of activism, from the massive outcry to the war in Iraq to the Occupy movement. And then we made a wall of the perfect society! Fair, free education, free healthcare, rehabilitation of prisoners were some things on it. I’ve always wondered what is there apart from communism and capitalism, I found out there was social democracy, anarchism, ecologism. Meave Mckeown ran a session on feminism. Its probably stupid of me saying this but I hadn’t realised fighting against domestic violence, sexual harassment and workplace harassment are forms of feminism. I then went along to Firebox Cafe, in Kings Cross, with some of the group, to learn more about the Palestinian resistance and watch a film called Budrus. Thursday I was on time. I did some direct action that day! Me and about 7 or so others went in Sainsburys to be a human microphone campaigning for the London Living Wage, it was exhilarating!!!! (Youtube link will be below) Then we went on an ‘alternative tour’ of the Stratford Olympic Park. It we were told how there were missiles put up on residential flats in case of an attack and security everywhere. (This took place during the Olympics too) The final day of Demand the Impossible was bittersweet. I woke up late again. It was hard to say goodbye to what were now good friends. We had two presentations in the morning, both from activists. One was Feyzi Ismail, who led the SOAS occupation and Mel Evans, from Liberate Tate who took activism in an art form.  We then began our own campaigns. My group did one on the cutbacks on sports and enrichment and the irony of “inspire a generation” which was the slogan of Newham during the Olympics. Others did theirs on domestic violence and against toys encouraging gender stereotypes. I met Patrick Kingsley too, a features writer for the Guardian, who wrote about the week (linked below) and a lot of Ed and Jacob’s friends came to watch our presentations. Everyone swapped contact details, Facebooks, we became friends. To this day we’re in touch and there’ll be one next year. It was an eye opening week and bucket loads of fun.

the Youtube clip – http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=S6Ss-po5LFs

the Guardian article on the week – http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/nov/07/class-young-people-political-activism

the Demand the Impossible blog – http://demandimpossible.wordpress.com/

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