Occupy the factory! Workers and communities take over in Greece and beyond

Liam Barrington-Bush will join the next Mutual Aid In Sussex meeting, on Wednesday 19 April to talk about solidarity ecosystems in Greece and beyond.

Occupy the factory! Solidarity ecosystems of communities in Greece & beyond by Mutual Aid in Sussex

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A VIOME worker puts up a poster for the 2nd Euromed Workers’ Economy meeting. By Liam Barrington-Bush, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

In 2011, the Vio.Me. factory in Thessaloniki became the first European face of the occupied factory movement which came to global prominence in Argentina in 2001 and has since spread across Latin America.

Workplace occupations present an obvious alternatives to worker exploitation, with workers developing collective and cooperative means of organising their work, without bosses. Based on the practices that have emerged at Vio.Me. in Greece and in factories across Argentina, they may also offer a more directly democratic, sustainable and grassroots vision of how social change can happen.

Connecting with other grassroots, network-led forms of organising that have taken root elsewhere in the world (e.g. Chiapas, Rojava), come and explore what the organising models found at Vio.Me. could mean for a range of radical organising efforts closer to home.

Liam travelled to Greece in October 2016 to hear stories from workers and attend the Euromediterranean Workers Economy meeting, a unique glimpse into a breadth of worker-occupations happening across Europe.

Occupy the factory! Solidarity ecosystems of communities in Greece & beyond by Mutual Aid in Sussex

Join us at 7.30pm on Wednesday 19 April at Coachwerks, 19A Hollingdean Terrace, Brighton. Please bring £1 towards venue costs.

Read more about Liam’s experiences in Greece here on the ROAR website.

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Next meeting: What can we do about housing?

Housing is a massive issue in Brighton & Hove. House prices rose from an average of £50,000 in 1995, to £295,000 in 2015 and it has the highest share of privately renting households (32.5%) of any town and city in England and Wales, according to the Office for National Statistics. Rents have also gone up steeply.

Many people can no longer afford to live here. In 2012 the Council found that almost 88,000 households in Brighton & Hove (72 per cent) cannot afford market housing (either to buy or rent) without some form of subsidy or spending a disproportionate level of their income on housing costs. One in 69 people in Brighton & Hove are homeless, according to Shelter.

At the last MAIS meeting we discussed what to organise this year and housing was something we were all keen to address, particularly following on from November’s talk on housing co-ops. At our next meeting on Weds 15 Feb at 7.30pm in Two Piers Housing Co-op (directions below) we will discuss and hopefully start to organise two ideas:

1) A walking or cycling tour of housing co-ops in the city in the Summer, so people can see first hand what these alternatives are like, talk to the people who set them up, and find out their limitations and possibilities.

2) A day of talks and workshops about alternatives to the current housing situation, which would bring many of the housing campaigns together for a day. This would be like the Co-operative Alternatives event we held last year, but focused just on housing. Ideas so far include having:

  • Different organisations talk about their work on homelessness
  • People talking from the Brighton Living Rent Campaign.
  • People talking from SolFed about their housing campaigns, protesting letting agents fees, rent strikes.
  • People from housing associations/council housing to speak about how they can expand the sector which provides the most affordable housing in the city.
  • Workshops on housing co-ops, community land trusts, co-housing projects and/or self-build.
  • People talking about efforts to set up a renters union in Brighton and/or getting speakers from renters unions in other cities.

Nothing is set in stone yet. If you have ideas about any of this and/or would like to help organise either of the above events, please come to our next meeting on Wednesday 15 January, 7.30pm at Two Piers, 3 Christchurch, Bedford Place, BN12QJ.

Email us on mais@riseup.net if you would like to come so we have an idea of numbers. We can also send you more detailed directions.

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Sick of landlords? How to set up a housing co-op.

Please note the change of location for this event – it will be at Coachwerks.

Brighton and Hove house prices are nearly 5 times more expensive in 2015 than in 1995 (from £50,000 to £295,000 on average) and it has the highest share of privately renting households (32.5%) of any town and city in England and Wales, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Rip-off rents and letting fees, damp housing, overcrowding and evictions are all too common.

Housing co-operatives are one of many ways to create more genuinely affordable and secure housing in the city.

Eventbrite - Sick of landlords? How to set up a housing co-op.

On Tuesday 29th November at 7PM at Coachwerks, Mutual Aid in Sussex have organised three people to talk about how they set up their housing co-ops and how they work:

* Andrea Jones, as project manager, is currently helping set up Bunker, a housing co-op for low-income families. She is involved with the network of Co-operative Housing in Brighton & Hove (CHIBAH).
* Allie Cannell who fairly recently helped set up Skylark, a housing co-op for young people.
* Helen Russell helped expand Two Piers, the largest and longest-running housing co-op in Brighton & Hove. Helen has clocked up 33 years of co-op living, warts and all. She is the Secretary of CHIBAH, the Chair of the Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust Steering Group, and initiated the rebirth of the Confederation of Co-operative Housing in 1991.

There will be time for both an introduction to housing co-ops as well as more in-depth advice on how to set them up. Space will be given for questions and networking.

If you’re sick of paying for the holidays of the 2% of the adult population who are landlords, or just want more affordable and secure housing, come along to this talk!

Eventbrite - Sick of landlords? How to set up a housing co-op.

Tuesday 29th November at Coachwerks. The talk will start at 7pm. FREE.

A brief introduction video to what is a housing co-op (focused on student housing co-ops, but relevant to all housing co-ops)

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Seize the Power! Bringing community renewable energy to Brighton & Hove

The next Mutual Aid in Sussex (MAIS) meeting, on Wednesday 19th October, will include a talk with Kayla Ente (Brighton & Hove Energy Services Co-op – BHESCo) and Will Cottrell (Brighton Energy Co-op) about what they’ve been doing in Brighton & Hove, plans for the future, and how people can get involved.

Eventbrite - Seize the Power! Bringing community renewable energy to Brighton & Hove

Brighton & Hove Energy Services Co-op (BHESCo) is a not-for-profit social enterprise bringing together the community of Brighton and Hove to develop renewable energy projects, improve energy efficiency, reduce fuel bills and tackle fuel poverty.

BHESCo help homes and businesses reduce their energy costs by developing and installing renewable energy and energy efficiency systems at no upfront cost to the customer.

kayla-ente Kayla Ente, founder and CEO of BHESCo, has a distinguished career in sustainability and renewable energy, having worked for Greenpeace International, Nuon (the Dutch utility), and Ecofys (European pioneers in renewable energy). She has helped to develop wind farms in China and Spain as well as solar power projects in California and Hawaii. She moved to Brighton in 2012 and founded BHESCo in 2013. Since then BHESCo has completed 5 renewable energy projects in the Brighton area, with a further 7 new projects in development, including a ‘food waste to energy’ plant in Hangleton. Kayla and BHESCo’s grand vision is to establish a community owned renewable energy tariff available to residents of the local area

Brighton Energy Coop (BEC) is about community-owned renewable energy. Basically, we get a load of people together, everyone puts in a little bit of cash and collectively we are then able to build large scale renewable energy systems.

Money raised from selling the electricity flows back into the coop – it’s then distributed in the form of our community fund, interest to members and paying back capital. Our host sites benefit from the cheap electricity that our panels provide.

will-cottrellWill Cottrell has driven BEC forward from its inception. Overseeing both new project development and fund-raising for BEC, he has experience in the technical and financial aspects of renewable energy, as well as marketing and communications. In 2014 he was awarded Community Energy Fundraiser of the Year; in 2015 he also won the People’s Environmental Award’s prize for Energy.

Come and join us: Wednesday 19th October at Coachwerks, 19A Hollingdean Terrace, Brighton. If you can, please bring vegan food to share. The meeting will start at 7pm, with the talk from 8pm.

Eventbrite - Seize the Power! Bringing community renewable energy to Brighton & Hove

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Save money on your energy bills this winter with BHESCo

Mutual Aid in Sussex are bringing Brighton & Hove Energy Service Co-op (BHESCo) to Coachwerks on Sunday 16th October, between 2-4PM, to show you how to save £100s of pounds on your fuel bills this winter.

In just 10 minutes BHESCo can show you

* How to find the cheapest energy tariffs & switch supplier (typical savings over £300 a year)
* How to stop wasting heat and save energy in your home
* How to tackle draughts and damp

Bring your bill & see how much you can save!

For more info on BHESCo email info@bhesco.co.uk or go to www.bhesco.co.uk

coachwerksbhescooct2016

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DIY Bike Hub – Fix your bike for free every Saturday at Coachwerks

Details below – every Saturday between 12:00 – 16:00 – at Coachwerks. At the same time Coachwerks Wholefoods Co-op is open so you can get your shopping while you fix your bike. Mutual Aid in Sussex is helping organise these weekly bike fixing sessions.

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How we can use community shares to fund our community and co-operative ideas – talk by Dave Boyle (Community Shares Company)

The recording of this talk can now be found below:

The next Mutual Aid in Sussex (MAIS) meeting, on Wednesday 21st September, will include a talk with Dave Boyle (Director, Community Shares Company) about how we can use Community shares to fund our community and co-operative ideas, using examples from Brighton & Hove and around the country.

Dave Boyle

Dave Boyle

Invented by the co-operative movement in the 19th century, withdrawable share capital has come out of the sidelines and suitably refreshed and rebranded as Community Shares, and is the means by which community enterprises are funding the acquisition of pubs, the development of renewable energy, building sports stadia, funding accountable media and much more.

Dave Boyle has worked on over 20 shares issues including the Bevy Co-operative Pub and Exeter Street Hall in Brighton, and will explain what Community Shares are, why they work well for co-ops and community enterprises. Not only are they the right kind of money, but they show a way in which sustainable and solidarity local economies could be built.

Come and join us: Wednesday 21st September at Coachwerks, 19A Hollingdean Terrace, Brighton. If you can, please bring vegan food to share. The meeting will start at 7pm, with the talk from 8pm.

DaveBoyleSeptTalkFinal

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