Friday, 7 June 2013

Visions for Change 2013 a success!

At 11am on 28th May this year, Visions for Change opened its doors to the public after months of planning., bringing together around 30 different radical groups active in the Bath area, along with a whole day of speakers, a radical photography exhibition and a vegetarian cafe. From the second you entered, it was apparent that Bath People's Assembly had worked hard to improve on last year's event.

Since the first Visions for Change in April 2012, much has changed in the landscape of radical activity in Bath. New groups such as BARF, Bath Against the Badger Cull and South West Food Not Bombs have been set up, and new initiatives such as Forum Bath and Open Cafe have been started. Many groups have worked much more closely together in the last 12 months than previously, and there has been a boost to membership of some groups. Visions for Change Bath even inspired a similar project in Norwich, which is still going today.

Fast forward to 2013 and there were too many groups in Bath with "visions for change" to fit in the large upstairs room of the Bath Friends' Meeting House and have a section for speakers, and so the speakers were given the entire basement room, complete with a video screen for presentations and short films.

While the talks varied between experienced speakers and those who had never spoken in public for, the message coming from all of them was clear - Bath, and the rest of the world, faces some serious issues, including the state of the economy, the environment, the political system, wars and food wastage, and there are ordinary people within our city who are willing to get up and try to do something about it. The main attraction for some was the packed-out talk by veteran film-maker Ken Loach, who showed part of his film 'Spirit of '45' and spoke at length about the attack on the welfare state and the NHS by the current government, and also criticised the current Labour Party for not being as radical as the party under Clement Attlee and claimed that we need a new party of the left. While some may disagree, and point to the Socialist or Green Party as the true party of the left, or that the party system as it is is not the answer, there was widespread agreement amongst the audience that the big three parties have failed us. A (poor quality,but listenable) audio recording of Ken's talk can be found here: Some did criticise the shortness of some of the talks and that there was often not enough time for questions, however no-where else in Bath has there been such a variety of radical speakers all in one place - quite an achievement.

Later on, many of the groups met to discuss how they can help each other and work together more closely. Further steps are being planned, and already people are talking about an even bigger event in 2014. With a much bigger turnout than last year, more groups and speakers and more enthusiasm, this annual celebration of radicalness and a wake up call to those wandering in from the street can only get bigger and better. Congratulations to everyone who worked hard to make this a great event, and I'm looking forward to April 2014 already!

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