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The first organized event on social ecology in London for more than ten years, was a big success. “An Ecology of Freedom – Creating Democratic Alternatives” was a day of talks and discussions exploring the relevance of social ecology. It happened on Saturday the 17th of March and was organized by the one year old London study and action group Social Ecology London.
The group Social Ecology London had invited mainly people from London but also people from other parts of Britain and persons from their sister organisation Democratic Alternative to participate in workshops and talks addressing local democratic organising, dismantling hierarchies, what a post-capitalist society would look like and building for change in the here and now.
The one day event was successful, with a turnout of about 35 people throughout the day. As well as friends, family, and interested individuals, participants included people from A World to Win, Alliance for Green Socialism, Rainbow Family and a new reading group starting in Cardiff. It was a diverse range of people in age, background, and level of prior knowledge about Social Ecology which gave the discussions a good scope and liveliness .
The organizers felt that there was a great deal of interest and generous input from the participants and the participants expressed their gratefulness for the opportunity to meet and develop their thoughts on ways to see and aim for societal change. The discussions were productive and stimulating intellectually and also provided valuable insight into the approaches taken by different groups (such as those above) and philosophies and their relation to Social Ecology.
The first set of workshops was divided between a talk on Communalism and Confederation by Sveinung Legard from Democratic Alternative, Oslo, and a very interactive discussion on hierarchy and domination led by Social Ecology London members.
The second workshop session contained a more in-depth look at Social Ecology – particularly it’s ethical and philosophical foundations – by Eirik Eiglad (also of Democratic Alternative) and a talk and discussion on building a movement for change or, “how to get from here to there”, led by Social Ecology London members. The latter also included a short account of Democratic Alternative’s experiences by Sveinung.
At the end, though the programme was running a little late, there was time set aside for participant-suggested workshops. It resulted in a division into 4 small groups which discussed economics and Social Ecology more widely. One focused particularly on the compatibility of Michael Albert’s Participatory Economics and Social Ecology while another examined anarcho-syndicalism and workplace organizing in relation to the programs of Social Ecology.
The day got good feed back, with many comments on a good and inspiring atmosphere throughout the day. After the event many joined up to go to the park to continue the good spirit of the day and then continued to the pub. Many new connections were made that day.
The group Social Ecology London is now one year old, started in April 2006. At the beginning it was a study group consisting of three people and has since then steadily grown into a study and action group of 7 active people before the event. At the present, one month after, they are 10 active people and more people who attended the seminar have expressed their interest. The group meets once a week, discusses a text, plan their activities and have a good time together. The plans of the group are now, inspired from Democratic Alternative, to develop basic principles as a good foundation to stand on when they organize activities about local democracy. As a result of the positive experience of the seminar we are considering regularly organizing talks and discussions on different, more specific subjects, once every second month to continue the open discussion and inflow of people.
The group Social Ecology London got a lot of motivation and inspiration from the day, new people coming along, contact with Democratic Alternative, other similar groups and with the new group in Cardiff that they wish to support.
The organized activities of Social Ecology are back in London to stay and prosper, working towards an Ecology of Freedom and Creating Democratic Alternatives.
Malin Widehammar, member of Social Ecology London and Democratic Alternative and Sharlyn Grace, member of Social Ecology London
* Social ecology, n: a politics and philosophy placing the roots of
ecological problems in unequal social relations; an attack on
hierarchy and domination; a search for a new society based on local
face-to-face democratic self-management.
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