Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Good Chance conviviality in Dalston

So now's the time to forge closer ties with organisations within the UK that can make a difference, in line with the 'political re-wilding' George Monbiot writes about here. This breaking of bread - and what bread (chef Dina Mousawi, more on whom anon, pictured below) - a fortnight ago wasn't exactly a seasonal celebration, but better than any pre-Xmas event of a similar kind I've attended. Rarely met so many friendly and engaging folk as at this perfectly orchestrated fundraiser at the Ridley Road Social Club (a splendid venue, for a start, which clearly does good lunches and feels immediately welcoming).

Good Chance started out creating a safe and vibrant performance space for refugees in the form of a dome within the Calais Jungle. They'll be taking the same to Sheffield, where I hope they'll hook up with some musical friends of mine. The venture has expanded not only to mounting a much-acclaimed production about the Jungle experience, now in New York, and visiting more troubled zones where the GCers might make a difference. I got to talk to the charismatic Stephen Daldry. He's been down on the Mexican side of the border, where he found out how Honduran refugees are looked down upon by the locals: each 'tribal' group has the potential to hate another, but with a bit of work they can come to understand and welcome. He said the big problem, he'd learned from a very famous New Best Friend, was going to be climate-change related; in several years' time we'll see the new wave.

Above is J's (and now I hope my) friend Philip Cowell, Good Chance's Development Manager and one of the friendly circulators, while in the top picture you can also see second from the right one of the Co-Directors, Joe Robertson. All images taken by Aymen Mahamednor, courtesy of Good Chance. I was seated, as you can see from the top photo, next to Majid Adin from Mashad in Iran, a very talented artist who worked on this excellent short film to Elton John's 'Rocket Man' (thanks, of course, to Daldry's connections).

The food was superb, courtesy of Dina, Creative Director of Good Chance,  who's also produced a Syrian cook book - she is from Iraq, but her collaborator was born in Damascus, and they spoke to many women for the recipes.

I was pleased to see my all-time favourite starter dip, what I call muhammara, in the early pages, and so far  I've produced chicken in turmeric yogurt: needs fine tuning, but will be a good regular. At the feast, the turmeric cakes with pistachio were a special treat.

Dina charmingly introduced the speeches and the film, and then there was music from Sounds of Refuge's John Falsetto and Mohamed Sarrar.

It's a long time since I've been to a social gathering where so many people - in this case the regular team - were so adept at going round the room and talking to others. They all gave off such positive and friendly vibes. Time to do more.


David Damant said...

I would suggest that George Monbiot's aims for better governance were met and still could be met by the constitution of the United Kingdom which as shown genius over centuries: - and that is, the sovereignty of Parliament But this has been viciously gripped by three hostile forces. First a referendum " That device of dictators and demagogues" as a socialist Prime Minister Clement Attlee said. The demagogues promoting, and promoted by, the referendum on the EU then clash with the sovereignty of Parliament. Secondly, the influence of the party faithful in the constituencies. Labour MPs would never have chosen Corbyn or his policies, and the Tory activists are neurotic about Europe. Burke argued that the MP owes his constituents his judgement, and that the MP is not a delegate with instructions..... then the melting pot of the Commons can roll the material around in a constructive way ( impossible in a referendum or in a conclave of activists) Thirdly the media - they are not biased as is often claimed but they are hostile - they nag politicians and seek to find fault, not to have the policies set out. Hardly surprising if the electorate dislikes politicians. And if this continues able people will not enter politics ( it may already have happened ) and the media will get the rotten MPs they currently assume. It is difficult to see how the influence of the local parties can be destroyed. Maybe Labour MPs should now have a go. And it might be right not to put put up ministers to be attacked by journalists, though that will be seen as undemocratic. It is difficult to be hopeful.

David said...

I fear it's even darker than you suggest. But my point in linking to Monbiot's piece - successor to an even better one (and I've not always been a fan) in which he suggested wise moves for where we go from here - was to suggest immersion in grass roots activism. I hope I can follow through my good intentions.

David Damant said...

I am not sure that I am exactly following this line of argument, but my point is that grass routes activism is NOT the thing that government should be involved in - quite the contrary. MPs should be independent in making the decisions about leaders and policies.Had this been the case, we should never have been on track to leave the EU, and Corbyn and his socialism would never have been in charge of the Labour party

David said...

You've misunderstood me. I'm saying that when a government is as bad as this one already shows it's going to be, WE as individuals must collect together in grassroots activism.

Susan said...

Looks to have been a lovely gathering. Re grass roots, Warren, over here, has been doing her best to educate on the need for powerful synergy between grass roots activism and government, as both responsible, responsive government representatives and robust organization at the grass roots level are necessary to make needed change. So, each has a role to play.

David said...

Whence cometh our Warren, our AOC? I just don't see one, apart from Sturgeon in Scotland, and she can't help us down here.