From Stuart, Unite Community activist and Barnsley Ghost Lab participant…

“I don’t have time to write an appraisal of the Social Haunting project, I need to set up a Facebook event page for a local protest against benefit sanctions” I’m thinking as I write this now. Then there’s the meeting with ex-miners and present day refugees I’m hosting in 6 days…need to call so and so, arrange travel for Ali and his friends. It was like this last autumn too. I wondered then if I could spare the time to go to the Ghost Labs in Barnsley for poetry, landscape archaeology and comic workshops. After all, there’s work to be done…

But I’m glad I got involved with the project. We had a laugh, did something different, got to know each other and ourselves a bit better. Sometimes it’s fruitful, necessary, enjoyable to reflect on the things that fuel our political activism as well as just doing it.  "Learning from history" isn’t only reading articles by revolutionaries or even reflecting on what we all learned about state violence in the miners strike. It’s the personal revolutions we experience: when it’s ok to say no, how other people are as smart as you think you are, how we can be braver and more cowardly than we imagined.

We learn fast in times of confrontation and our class enemies are keen that we should forget fast so that the next generation can be put through the grinder before they even realise what’s going on. For me the project was about trying to stop our experiences becoming History.

I enjoyed spending time with fellow activists that wasn’t just about organising the next protest or sharing outrage at the news. It felt good to try to express myself through unusual means (for me) like poetry or even drawing. Doing it together created a powerful and lasting feeling - I’m thinking of the poetry session, with Andrew, in the room where the NUM Executive met during the strike. We all walked a bit taller after that.

Stuart Crosthwaite. Unite Community

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