Category: Bristol

For those who need an introduction, Banksy is deservedly the most famous or notorious (what you will) street artist in the world today. Though he started his exploits in the streets of England, he is of international renown for works in such locations as New Orleans, Paris, Los Angeles, Melbourne and the Israeli West Bank. He’s also a master prankster and pretty much the figurehead of anarchic protest art.


I have no doubt he has earned his place in art history. His book Wall and Piece is one of the coolest and cleverest art books you can get today. There’s no question of his technical abilities and his versatility as an artist. How he can take another work of art and redefine  it to be seen in a contemporary, socio- political viewpoint means he’s an appropriator in the most skilled and respected sense. But what I love the most about his work is the humour. It is sun-  bleached wall dry with a strong sense of the charmingly wicked (I love his rats). I like how he makes a point of his work enhancing a location and never detracting. I know that not all would agree on that, especially municipal councils.

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The No To Tesco in Stokes Croft Rally ended with a disappointing verdict yesterday as the council members voted to allow Tesco to proceed to the next stage of development of their new store on Cheltenham Road. The message was clearly received by all those who attended the meeting; ‘It may be your community, but we make the rules.’

The Stokes Croft community’s spirit may have been dampened by yesterdays’ result, but the passion, resolve and conviction of those involved with this issue will surely be strengthened by the experience.

I wonder if any of the of the council members are Common Purpose trained?

(More to follow…)


Date: Image: bristol_evening_postThursday, September 23, 2010, 07:00

CAMPAIGNERS against Tesco’s move into Cheltenham Road are calling for a judicial review after the latest set of plans for the store were approved.

More than 200 protesters packed into the Council House yesterday to oppose the supermarket’s plans for the former Jester’s Comedy Club.

Tesco already has permission to open an Express store but wanted approval for three applications – for changes to the shop front, new signs, and machinery related to the store at the back.

But a seven-month campaign by residents and thousands of objections weren’t enough to stop the supermarket getting approval for two of the three proposals, with the third only being deferred rather than refused.

The debate and public statements took three hours before councillors made a decision, to shouts of “shame” from the audience.

Council officers had recommended approval, dismissing many of the objections as not being on planning grounds because they objected on principle.

But Claire Milne, of the No to Tesco in Stokes Croft campaign, submitted a 37-page report that addressed a wide range of planning issues with the three applications.

She said: “The council’s community involvement statement says that any developer must work with the community to assess the impact.

“This site is clearly sensitive given the Stokes Croft Plan, which says care should be taken not to supplant smaller retailers with larger supermarkets. Tesco has ignored this community.”

Alban Henderson of Tesco’s planning agents GL Hearn spoke on behalf of the company. He reminded councillors that officers had recommended approval and said a number of issues raised by campaigners were not relevant to these proposals.

Committee members discussed the application for two hours and all raised concerns about the plans.

Councillor Mark Weston (Conservative, Henbury) said he was concerned about the lack of detail about the amount of noise the store would make, and felt the design of the proposed shop front was not in keeping with a more traditional look.

Officers told the committee the Stokes Croft Gateway Project, an action plan devised in 2006 to help regenerate the area, was not applicable to the application as it had no force in planning law. They also said noise issues could be addressed by conditions.

The committee voted by five to three in favour of the shop front and sign applications, subject to a number of design changes. The plant application was put off so Tesco could produce a noise report.

“It’s disgusting,” added Ms Milne. “We’ll take it to a judicial review.”

Can you help?

If you live in Bristol, we need your help as Tesco are trying to open yet another store in Stokes Croft. This is an area with serious street drinking problems and local traders have agreed not to sell cheap, strong cider to ease the problem – cheap Tesco alcohol would exacerbate existing problems.

For more information about this please visit the ‘No to Tesco in Stokes Croft’ blog:

For more information, please go to: The People’s Republic of Stokes Croft Website

There’s got to be more to life than carbon footprints, climate change and peak oil. The new design for society many of us want shouldn’t just be better for the environment, it should be a shedload more fun into the bargain. As Emma Goldman, a hugely influential early 20th-century political philosopher and activist, once said: “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.”

If life doesn’t inspire me to get up and do a little Irish jig every morning before breakfast, what the hell is the point of it?

Living without money and having a great time are by no means mutually exclusive. If anything, it wasn’t until I gave up using money in November 2008 that I started to really enjoy life, not just two-sevenths of it. In hindsight, my old Groundhog Weekend was incredibly boring – mundanely going for a few drinks to the pub, a nice restaurant or to see a movie at the cinema. Worse still, spending 3.8 hours of each precious day – or an entire 11 years of my time on this planet – watching TV. Where’s the adventure in any of that?

Necessity really is the mother of invention. Instead of going for a pint, why not make your own booze? Organise a day out with friends foraging wild apples for cider – any variety will do – but the sweeter the better (Jonagolds and Red Delicious are perfect). Ideally find some windfalls, as these have natural yeasts already on them, meaning that apples are the only ingredient you’ll need. If you see any neighbours with unused apple trees, don’t be afraid to ask if you can do the work for them; you can always surprise them with a share once its made. Alternatively, grow your own hops, check out some recipes on Self-sufficientish, and forage your own flavourings (such as yarrow) before brewing your own beer.

Now you’ve got your alcohol supply, you’re going to want to party. Anyone can organise a house party, but these often just end up pissing off the neighbours. Getting them involved is a much better idea, and instead of making sworn enemies you’ll make a load of friends.

One of my favourite organisations for this are Streetsalive, who will guide you through the process of organising the mother of all street parties, and can often even help you to get your council to agree to close your road for the day.

Being moneyless in the winter can seem really unappealing to most people, I admit, but you’d have to be bonkers to at least not try it – even for a week – in the summer. Long evenings walking in the woods, camping by the beach at the weekend, cooking food al fresco that you’ve grown and picked yourself, cycling, playing – or listening to – acoustic music by a camp fire, wandering in the wilds foraging berries and nuts, skinny-dipping in the lake and sleeping under the stars.

If you like art, there are always free exhibitions in and around big towns and cities. Some even have a free bar – this doesn’t fit in with the philosophy of the Freeconomy community, however, so go easy on it. If movies are more your thing, there really is no need to go to the cinema (except to watch mindless Hollywood crap). I live near Bristol and there are constantly free films night showing online movies such as Money as Debt or Earthlings. If they aren’t happening where you live, why not organise one yourself? They’re a great way of sharing information and getting like-minded people together.

Music is my thing, so I often go along to free open-mic nights at a local venue. These events are not just great entertainment but a wonderful way to support new local talent playing acoustic music. If you are even slightly musically-gifted, work up the courage and get on stage yourself.

And instead of watching the TV, turn off the light, stick on a few beeswax candles (from local bees, of course, who haven’t been fed sugar), and fritter the hours away making love. It increases your health, will strengthen your relationship and is infinitely more pleasurable than EastEnders. If you’re single, abandon fear and ask the one you’ve got your eye on to come out for a wild food forage. Who cares if you don’t know your ramsons from your rosehips, you’ll have them exactly where you want them: in the bush.

So if you were thinking of doing something nice and comfortable this weekend, shame on you. Put your credit card away (better still, cut it up), dust off your tent, get on your bike and go and put the adventure back in your life.

• Mark Boyle is the founder of the Freeconomy Community and has lived moneyless for the last 19 months. His book, The Moneyless Man, is out now, published by Oneworld – sales from the book will go to a charitable trust for the Freeconomy Community.

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