Tyneside discussion coming up

Martin Donkin writes:

An Invitation to a series of discussions

A few of us met recently to take forward our discussion about how the ideas of Manavodaya could work on Tyneside.

Manavodaya in India is a movement based on both social justice and an emphasis on combining this with inner development and how 8 steps of action provide a foundation for individual and collective development.

 The Eight Steps are:

•    taking time for inner development
•    being part of collective reflection
•    sharing time by committing some of our time to a good cause or project
•    sharing money – giving a proportion of our earning to make a difference
•    buy local produce whenever possible so that we support local economies
•    working on our faults
•    controlling our speech to limit harm
•    Taking an equal share in domestic tasks and chores.

In addition to working towards these personal commitments we were all interested in how we could take part in social justice work or strengthen good work that is already going on. Click below for more detail and to see some of the ideas that came up.These were some of the ideas that came up:

  • Support for community initiatives – In Cullercoats there is a community magazine just launched by local people. It has a good mix of progressive ideas and information about community activities. This could be a unifying force in the community and this might be something some of us could support with distribution and production.
  • Mythbusters – When a particularly virulent myth gains ground, for example, against asylum seekers we could produce postcards with some punchy rebuttal. In practice, we could meet to think about and create a postcard – it could be a positive or story about people with disabilities – or some buried truths – e.g. asylum seekers actually claim proportionally less benefits than the general population. The focus of the postcard will come from whatever is a current issue for the group. Our financial contribution is to get the postcards printed by some worthy social enterprise. We each take 100 postcards. They could be delivered round the doors where we live or pay a young person to do it, or leave them in public spaces. The origins of the postcard would be kept quite secret, underground, and local – it’s the message that counts.
  • Tenant’s co-op – We could develop a project plan which could involve a community trust securing grants or loans to establish some flats, the rent from which could support community-building or community activities.
  • Management committees of community centres – Some of the community centres in the northeast are under threat of closure. Through sharing some time, we could assist with fundraising or help out with supporting the centre’s activities.
  • Support workers’ forum – Frontline workers in the care industry have poor wages, conditions and security. Sometimes this demoralises staff and a negative energy arises – doing as little as possible because people feel so undervalued. This could be a place where the facilitation aspect of Manavodaya could be used with the formation of a support workers’ collective group set up to talk through their issues and see what they want to do about the unjust situation they are in.
  • Fuel energy poverty – Think about how we might be involved with aerobic digesters and use the disposal of waste as credit for energy.
  • Be part of the Linskill Trust (where we meet) – Support the development of this community resource.

The group recognised that these ideas were ambitious and varied and different ideas might be supported by different members of the group. There might be some collaboration on certain projects.

The five of us at the discussion thought that this had been a good positive experience and we wanted to keep meeting and developing our ideas. We agreed that the structure of future meetings should be meditation, a discussion on one of the 8 steps and discussion about which ideas we would like to progress or take part in.

We committed to meet for 9 future meetings on Saturday mornings once a month to reflect on the 8 steps, our personal development and to progress some of the social justice ideas outlined above. Everyone who is interested in this practice is welcome to attend. There is no cost to attend.
The first of these meetings will discuss individual reflection (how we make time and space in our lives for personal reflection) will be on the 19th of May 2012 at 9:30-12 at the Linskill Centre.

All future meeting will be in the New Prospects Room at the Linskill Centre (Linskill Terrace, North Shields, Tyne and Wear NE30 2AY)
on Saturdays 9:30am-12noon. The dates are listed below.

The dates and topics for the following meetings are:

16 June 2012 – Collective Reflection
21 July 2012 – Sharing time
18 August 2012 –  Sharing money
22 September – Spending on local produce
20 October 2012 – Working on our faults
17 November 2012 – Speech control
19 January 2013 – Sharing domestic work
16 February 2013 – Review of the group’s work

If you want to know more about Manavodaya’s work then you can visit the following websites.