Grasp the Nettle is the latest film from director (and friend of Another Kind Of Mind) Dean Puckett. This documentary explores the experiences of a disparate group of activists who came together in 2009 to create a sustainable community outside of the mainstream on a patch of derelict land at Kew Bridge, west London. I was involved in this project too (indeed, it was at the Kew Bridge Eco-Village that I first met Dean and his ever-present camera!), photographing and writing about the site as it grew and changed over the eleven months of its existence. It would be true to say that this was a place that inspired me both practically and creatively – and I wasn’t the only one.
Here, Dean describes what inspired him to make a film about the Eco-Village:
There was an intoxicating energy about the place, a sense of freedom from a system which many of us recognise is unequal and destructive. Yet this rag-tag bunch of occupiers defied conventional stereotypes of the ‘ecowarrior’. Most of them were ordinary people from different walks of life – some were students, others were former professionals. And they had come together to not simply occupy a piece of land, but to transform it, bit by bit – in an exciting and unnerving sense, creating their own reality outside the system. I wanted to truly understand this emerging hotbed of radical practice that was both outside and inside wider society, the people involved, and the way they understood what they were doing.
So he got his camera out – and the result was Grasp the Nettle. Having been successfully screened at a number of festivals, the film is now available online for anyone to watch – wherever, whenever and for free. I’ve posted it above, so now it’s your turn to meet the inhabitants of Kew Bridge Eco-Village and see what you think…
Long-time readers may be familiar with Dean’s name from my posts on ‘The Crisis of Civilization’, his previous film collaboration with Lucca Benney and Nafeez Ahmed – which is also available online if you haven’t yet seen it.
Last weekend saw me at Syon Lane Community Allotment again. Naturally, I brought my camera along, and managed to get some great pictures of the site coming into its summer colours – and beautiful they are too… (click on any of the images above to see a larger version).
If you’d like to visit, there is an open day every Sunday from 12pm and all are welcome. For details of how to get to the Allotment, see the map and travel info on the Syon Lane website here.
You can find more of my photos from Syon Lane here.
A couple of days ago, I blogged about the week-long on Clapham Common in London. I visited them again on Monday, and promised I would post some pics of what they’re getting up to! So far, the local response has been very positive and friendly – several local people came by when I was there and took part in an interesting and thought-provoking discussion on land rights and housing with the camp. Visitors are welcome, and the camp has a lot of events and activities planned for the rest of the week (see Camphere for further details and a map of the camp’s location) – if you’re in the area, pop by for a cup of tea!
The Land and Freedom Camp arrived on Clapham Common in London this weekend – despite the best efforts of the rain, a cheerful and friendly group of activists have set up on a small patch of the common next to Holy Trinity Church. I went to visit them yesterday to see what was happening, and was greeted with hot tea and much interesting conversation about the reasoning behind and the necessity of this “open exhibition and demonstration”.
Since June 2009, a remarkable group of people have been acting as caretakers of a patch of derelict land sandwiched between Kew Bridge, the A315 into central London and the Thames.
This is a busy, congested and built up corner of west London where available land is at a premium, and this site had lain empty and unused for several decades before the eco-villagers moved in last summer.
Now it is a thriving example of sustainable living, as well as being community garden project and home to a fascinating array of plants and wildlife – the latest in a long line of different functions.
The site has always been much more than just a piece of wasteland; it actually has a long history, probably dating back at least as far as the Bronze Age, and mainly because of its central position between the river and a main road. The A315 has long been an central route in to and out of London – it is built over a Roman road and was later also an important coaching route.
There had also been a ferry (and later a bridge) at Kew since at least the 17th century. You can thus easily see how the centrality of the site to river crossings and main roads would make it a logical plot of land to locate a business or build other property, and how this would eventually give it an element of historical significance.