The Occupy London School of Ideas opens to local Islington community

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Hello everyone!

It’s been a while since my last post and that’s due to the high level of activities I’ve been involved with, specially with the Occupy Education work-group and the Occupy bike guide (more info very soon!).

Last Saturday we had an amazing time at the very new space the School of Ideas, a former School very near Old Street and Finsbury Square (now with a great Eco-village project, in the heart of the City of London!). There were lots of people coming and going, specially members of the community, occupiers and children. The space is very welcoming and promising, looking forward to get more involved!

Bellow you can see the original post, from the Occupy LSX blog. Hope you guys enjoy it!

Posted on February 12, 2012 by

In another act of public repossession, putting disused buildings back into service for the community, Occupy London has opened a very special new building – an abandoned school complete with 10 class rooms – which it is calling the Occupy London School of Ideas, as it prepares for a new phase of community engagement and outreach. [1]

Inside the Occupy London School of Ideas. Credit @HeardinLondon

A new direction for Occupy London – into the community

The Occupy London School of Ideas – at the corner of Bunhill Road and Featherstone Street, Islington, London EC1Y 8RX – opens with a packed programme of events for all ages, which has been brought together following engagement with the community since securing the building just over a week ago. Occupy London’s intentions have been to listen,and have a better understanding of what the local community would like from this site. It is currently liaising with other projects and community spaces in the area with the aim of complimenting any activities and schemes.

Fiona Brennan, who has lived in the borough for 30 years and is a local secondary school teacher, parent and member of the local primary school’s PTA, shared her thoughts: “This area, which was once such a vibrant local community, has been slowly deteriorating over the past few years. A combination of the sell-off of community spaces, the increasing division of residents over unfair rent tier structures and the peripheral poverty that exists beside the extreme wealth of the city has contributed to this.

“Apathy over community issues and a lack of understanding of the language of politics and empowerment has isolated and fragmented many social projects in this area. Occupy will be a much needed, accessible and inspirational injection of positivity, where everyone has a voice.’

The School of Ideas is intended to provide a platform for Occupy London to work hand in hand with the local community in Islington, developing programmes of learning and local provision of activities that the community most want to engage with. This project will build upon Occupy London’s previous building – the Bank of Ideas – which hosted more that 400 workshops and events in three months. It is hoped that The School of Ideas will become an even more fertile space for the free sharing of ideas and solutions to help solve the pressing economic, social and environmental challenges globally and locally.

Jamie Kelsey-Fry, who has lived in the borough for 13 years and has been involved with Occupy London, said: “My housing estate is about five minutes up the road. It is exactly these kinds of initiatives – where a community can come together and not only make decisions about how to use a space but actually engage in running the events in that space, where they take ownership – that brings together a community. This achieves the kind of social cohesion and sense of security that councils can waste hundreds of thousands of pounds trying to achieve. Also, everybody is curious about Occupy, this seems the most effective way for locals to come down and actually learn about Occupy – by doing Occupy.”

The opening day saw adults young and old coming together; occupiers and community mixing in the cafe. The highlight of the day was a Community General Assembly focusing on issues of concern for the local community and how Occupy and the new building could be of use to them. There was also activities for children and talks looking at enabling young people to consider the issues that matter the most to them such as setting up eco-communities, visitors from Occupy Oakland talking about the American Occupy movement and a film about the squatting movement.

History of the building

Occupy London is in touch with Southern Housing Group who own the building, and is hopeful that an agreement can be made so that the building and grounds can be put to good use for the community. The building has been used for educational purposes for many years (previously it was the base for Moorfields Primary School) until it was amalgamated with another school in July 2004. After this, it was used as a temporary home by Prior Weston School, before their move to a new building in 2008. [2] [3] [4]

Upcoming events

The new School will provide a series of Occupy Half Term workshops over the week, from noon until 2pm each day from Tuesday 14 February to Friday 17 February, following on from the successful series of Half Term workshops held over last half term at the Occupy London Stock Exchange site. Occupy Half Term has been specifically designed for 12 to 18 year olds and is provided by experienced teachers.  It focuses on the Occupy Citizenship project where young people are facilitated in using critical thinking skills to address the issues they think are most important to them. This develops their skills of advocacy and helps them to consider various ways of taking informed and responsible action. [5]

As part of Occupy Half Term, there will be a School of Rockupy, which is Occupation Records‘ answer for the school holiday. [6] Well known pop artists and occupiers will offer 12-18 year olds a day long course in ’beats’ and the conscious side of music. More details to be announced in the coming days!

Open to visitors and guests from noon to 8pm Tuesdays to Fridays and from 10am to 8pm on Saturdays and Sundays, other upcoming events include:

  • 7-8pm Tuesday 14 February – Occupy London’s Free University Initiative – Critical Thinking: ’Truth, Lies, Mythology and Reality’ with Clive Menzies
  • Wednesday 15 February –  Bicycle powered workshops + cycle cinema
  • 2-6pm Saturday 25 February – ’Deleuze and Occupy’ – facilitated by Andrew Conio -An afternoon of talks, by leading writers about the relevance of Deleuze and Guattari’s ideas for Occupy

Further events – including lots of courses as part of Occupy London’s Free University Initiative are fast being added to the Schools website at http://schoolofideas.org.uk/events/events/.

Invitation to community groups and artists

Occupy London now invites community groups and other public services that have lost their space due to Government spending cuts to come and use this space for free. Artists, performers and creatives are also welcome to entertain and to help transform the space. Games, workshops and skill shares are encouraged.  Email your ideas, suggestions and requests at schoolofideaslondon@gmail.com.

Notes

[1] Occupy London School of Ideas website http://schoolofideas.org.uk/

[2] Residents start campaign over daylight robbery in Finsbury http://www.islingtongazette.co.uk/news/residents_start_campaign_over_daylight_robbery_in_finsbury_1_820307?ot=archant.PrintFriendlyPageLayout.ot

[3] Bunhill Fields http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bunhill_Fields

[4] Occupation Records http://occupationrecords.com/

[5] Occupy: coming to a secondary near you http://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/Occupy-coming-to-a-secondary-near-you-6167586/

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