Wednesday, 16 March 2016

The need to reclaim the fields

So, Yorkley Court Community Farm, the land occupation down near Lydney in the Forest of Dean, is under siege. The possession order has finally been served, and the land rights activists involved have now apparently scattered into the surrounding woods.
Within the current framework of UK land law, this was all sadly inevitable, in spite of several instances of successful eviction resistance at the site over the last couple of years, it now seems that the prime movers will need to find a new site or fresh tactics for highlighting the gross inequalities of land distribution in England and Wales.
Sadly, I was never in a position to visit Yorkley Court. Now it seems I never will. So it goes.
One of the values of occupations like this is not necessarily their permanence or longevity, although undoubtedly more can be achieved within a given community over a longer time frame, nevertheless a feeling of permanence may inevitably run the risk of contributing to a sense of entrenchment both in membership and imagination, as members become more fixated on the day to day running of the space and less on challenging the dominant culture.
What matters is the example of another way.
This is as true of Yorkley Court as it was of other land occupations of the last five years or so, including some I have visited and reported on here and elsewhere such as the Hounslow Community Land Project and Runnymede Eco Village. Where else can people go to find ordinary women, children and men, no different from themselves, who have chosen instead of endlessly theorising or petitioning for a better and more equitable world, to create a working model in the here and now? By the very nature of their work they create a literal 'demonstration' of an alternative, more ecological and liberated future, that any visitor can bear witness to. Some passersby may be so inspired they even choose to become a part of it themselves.
I have little doubt that those who participate, at whatever level, in experiments such as this remain forever changed by the experience, their awareness of the relative strengths and weaknesses of this way and life informed by their own direct experience rather than any second-hand testimony such as this.

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