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The Regional Democracy Think Tank for West Yorkshire

Newsletter #02: Permaculture, West Yorkshire Films, and UBI

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Hello everyone!

We’re back again with the Same Skies newsletter highlighting all the great projects, people and ideas blooming across West Yorkshire.

As Westminster embroils itself in petty political dramas (we’ve changed Prime Ministers twice since my last newsletter), our region goes from strength to strength, with the autumn 2022 newsletter celebrating events on connecting art and mental health, the potential for a Universal Basic Income in future economic models, and the regeneration of the Holbeck Viaduct over in Leeds.

What we’ve been up to

It always gives me great pleasure to talk about our great Same Skies West Yorkshire Walks programme. Back at the end of July our friend and organiser Geraldine Montgomerie organised a great one, working its way from the indie shopping scene of Headingley to the beauty of Sugar Well Hill near Chapeltown across North Leeds. More recently, last month we also had a walk hosted by our friends and Bradford natives Rifat and Rifut, taking people across the natural beauty of Heaton Woods and Northcliffe in Shipley, North Bradford. These walks are always a great informal way to stretch your legs and chat about pride in our region and its amazing future, and we’ve always got more in the pipeline.

Our other big event recently was our screening of three different films celebrating inspirational West Yorkshire people, organisations, and projects at a screening in Hyde Park Book Club last month. One film documented one of our West Yorkshire Walks through Gipton, with Kerry Harker and Claire Irving of the East Leeds project guiding the viewers through it. Claude Henrickson at Same Skies film night Kerry and Clare’s work uses art as a social good to empower the community in East Leeds, and this film guides the viewers around Gipton’s social and cultural history as a ‘garden suburb’ of the 30s. Another film celebrated 25 years of Same Skies’ friend and organiser Claude Hendrickson’s Front Line Self Build, a community housing project in the 90s which gave twelve unemployed African and Caribbean mean in Chapeltown the opportunity to build their own houses. Another short film documented the work of community housing and the work of ChaCo or Chapeltown Co-housing, before we hosted Claude after the screenings for a Q&A on everything community housing related and otherwise. You can find the write-up for the event on our website.

What our friends are up to

Geraldine has also been busy elsewhere, hosting a Culture of Mental Health forum last month with her organisation Leeds Arts Health and Wellbeing Network, exploring the intersection of the arts, mental health and racial justice. Geraldine has also been working to create the Creative Ageing Treasury of Leeds, a free resource full of activities that are accessible to and engage with elderly people in Leeds, developed from the lockdown-era Creative Ageing Forum and led by artists from across Leeds and West Yorkshire. You can find more details about the treasury and download a free copy on the website here.

For something important at our current environmental juncture, a new course in Leeds on permaculture; the production of frameworks for sustainable living and thriving eco systems, is running from September until the end of May next year. The course will allow students to produce and implement their own site design for a house, garden, or park, and collaborate with projects across Leeds. All the details are available on the Leeds permaculture network website.

Universal Basic Income Wallpaper As well as environmental change we’re also always focused on civic political change to empower West Yorkshire here at Same Skies, so when I heard about UBILab Leeds’s event on the Basic Income trial in Ireland, I was excited. An online event on the 7th December featuring artists and artworkers in receipt of the trial will share their insights on the pilot scheme, explaining how it’ll be implemented, with a greater discussion about a Universal Basic Income’s potential to transform politics and economics in Ireland, here in West Yorkshire and beyond. A recording of the event can be found online here.

On the topic of affecting real change there’s also a great event on the politics of the climate crisis, particularly focusing on front line activists including Same Skies organiser and friend Mike Prior later this month. Mike spoke about about his activism with Culture Declares Emergency; an organisation in the arts and culture industry who've declared a climate and ecological emergency, and will be referencing our ‘Letter To Our Future Mayors’ on the need to tackle climate issues in West Yorkshire as part of a Culture Declares campaign back in 2020.

Holbeck Viaduct Finally, I spoke to a few community projects on the ground in Leeds when pooling content and ideas for this newsletter, and ended up contacting Repair Café and the Holbeck Viaduct Project in Leeds about their recent work. The Repair Café is a social enterprise aimed at repairing technology and electronics, focusing on the principle of reusability over the consumerist urge to chuck away and re-buy, and hosts events across Leeds, including one at the Headingley HEART centre on Saturday 12th November. Alternatively, the Holbeck Viaduct Project are working alongside Network Rail to regenerate the abandoned railway stretching across South Leeds into a new inclusive space, with plans for a proposal to be presented in time for Leeds Year of Culture 2023.

That’s just about everything great that I could squeeze in from all that is good across West Yorkshire! I’ll be back in the New Year with lots more to feast your eyes over, but in the meantime, have a happy and relaxing Winter holiday.

All the best,

George

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