Saturday, 8 January 2011

Social Space for Activism in Derry

Several activists in Derry have come together try and to look at more practical ways of working together following the examples in more recent times of grassroots organisation in cities across the country.  To date many have worked together already in various successful projects and actions, others have participated directly in issues of social change locally, nationally and internationally.

All would agree there is a need, now more than ever, to open up that debate further to look at ways of creating different or imaginative ways of taking on or challenging issues which directly face our communities, our class more and more each day. One good positive suggestion has been raised recently: creating a free space in the city, a social centre. Independent cultural centres have existed now for some years in Ireland be it in Dublin, Cork, Belfast and Galway promoting diversity and grassroots organisation.

But why a social centre? There is already some pubs and clubs in the city that allow various groups to meet or hold discussions and whilst that’s all well and good it is not the best environment to encourage people to work with others to improve their lives as a community whether culturally, artistically or creatively.

A centre or social space suggestion is something that could openly facilitate activity, debate or learning, a place for people to come together that will encourage and develop a community orientated and community organised space for Derry. This includes everything from starting up non profit/funded social groups organising around areas of social change based on shared resources, participatory democracy, co-operation, true solidarity.

The aim of creating a social space locally would be to provide an informal base to people to become informed and inspired in an open environment for people to meet, to share and obtain information on local, national and international campaigns, struggles and activities. To create and assist local campaigns, strikes and protest with information and other resources that are of direct relevance to the people who use it.

Having a non-profit making collective based around a social space could help provide an useful resource for activists to come together in a relaxed environment for a coffee/tea, a reading area where people can have a sit and read from basic leaflets to a comprehensive library/archive from community and international politics, self help, Irish history etc. To a space for holding regular events such as informal discussions, showing movies, music events, as well as providing a venue for local community grassroots groups to hold their own meetings and events.

Already the possibility of creating a free social space has thrown up many ideas as to what people locally would like to create; all are of course are only suggestions but in time, limited only to peoples energy and motivation (and the space) could prove to be achievable goals.

Lending library of books and pamphlets
Arts space and resources
Alternative media archive
Entertainment Music space
Exhibition space
Radical Labour History Archive 
Organic food space
Computer and internet access
Women’s space
Books, magazines and pamphlets for sale
Advice and support from volunteers
Meeting space for groups

If you would like to know more on this project or get involved then drop us an email: