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WED 14 MARCH
7:30pm - 9:00pm
MEETING Social Centre meeting
EXTERNAL
 //NEWS
13 MARCH   If people want to keep in touch concerning our next social centre, or just interested in social centres in general, please email:

occupiedsocialcentre@hotmail.co.uk



10 MARCH   SOLIDARITY DEMONSTRATION
FOR THE EVICTED VORTEX SOCIAL CENTRE

WHOSE SPACE? OUR SPACE!
Since January 6th, we started an occupation of the former jazz club the Vortex and the Romanian charity shop at 139-141 Stoke Newington Church Street. Massive opposition to the redevelopment of the site was ignored both by Hackney Council and the developer Richard Midda. The market logic dictates that whoever owns property controls its use even when such spaces have become integral parts of peoples well being. But why should this be the case? As the market has been given the free reign to run the economy, we are increasingly losing any involvement and participation in what happens and what goes in our communities. This means that community centres get closed down, mother and baby services get cut back, people are evicted from their homes, to mention a few, but also it means that our ability to participate in areas of our life become undermined. We do not have a say what happens. Any discontent we may have is limited to lobbying the council or relying on the conscience of developers. And we know that rarely works!

We received over 1,400 signatures in support for the occupation and in rejection to the proposed use of the building which was in the process of being leased to Starbucks. Due to pressure organised by the Vortex Social Centre and the people of Stoke Newington Starbucks pulled out from opening a new business, not only of Church Street but in Stoke Newington. This was a success; not only does it mean a notorious multinational company has been kept out of Stokey but also there was a massive involvement in this issue. An issue which isn't neccesarily confined to Starbucks but on the whole nature over the use of space.

By occupying and opening up the Vortex, we managed to create a sense of what it could be like if we did have that control, on a daily level, not just for ourselves but for everyone. How different would our world look if we had the capabilities to solve our own problems whilst removing the barriers that are placed upon us through the domination of the profit-driven market and the state structures which maintain it.

We got a taster of this at the Vortex, and have become addicted! Whilst we were open the social centre hosted a wide range of political and cultural events from weekly film showings, cafes, live bands, exhibitions by local artists to a popular mother and baby group, as well as political debates, with thousands of pounds being raised for a multitude of political causes. All the events were organised for free or by a voluntary donation. We have realised that the Vortex was just the beginning of regaining back control and creating a new meaning to community - based on real notions of social solidarity and self-organisation.

With the Eviction of the Vortex by the anti-social profit-junkie Richard Midda, we take this opportunity as a springboard. We may not be at the Vortex anymore but plans are developing to re-locate somewhere new.

WATCH THIS SPACE
From the small group which occupied the Vortex we have grown in size and diversity. Over 50 people attended the last meeting to reflect and discuss what happened during the short time we were at the Vortex and how we can improve on what and how we do things. If you are interested in being involved, young or old, we welcome you the next meeting on Wednesday 14th March at 7.30pm downstairs at Ryan’s Bar, 181 Church Street N16.

We are not satisfied to be spectators in our own lives, we want to fully participate. Our lives are affected by situations out of our control we want to bring them in our control. By using direct methods and not limiting ourselves to appealing to those in power, we are setting ourselves the aim to completely re-shape the power balance in the places where we live, work and socialise.

Ex-Vortex Social Centre, March 10th 2007

Contact us at: www.londonsocialcentre.org.uk // 07590 781 893

08 MARCH   SATURDAY 10th MARCH

DEMONSTRATION AGAINST THE EVICTION OF THE VORTEX


SATURDAY 10th MARCH
11am - 1pm

Meet at the entrance to Abney Park Cemetery,
Stoke Newington Church Street,
N16

- Brings drums, whistles, banners, pots, pans and general noisemaking equipment.

¿Cual es el precio de cambiar una cerradura? ¿Se puede abrir una puerta acorazada sin romper? ¿Cómo es la apertura de una caja fuerte? Cerrajeros Castellón contesta estás y muchas más consultas de cerrajería. Cambiamos bombillos de seguridad en pocos minutos.

Ungdomshuset Social Centre Solidarity Demo
2pm
Danish Embassy,
55 Sloane Street,
SW1X 9SR.

- Bring banners and ideas for further action!

Background info:
http://publish.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/03/364522.html

07 MARCH   International Women's Day: Thursday 8th March 2007

IMPORTANT: CHANGE OF ADDRESS
Now at: IMSC, 3 Tyssen Road, Stoke Newington, London, N16 7NA

FURTHER INFO:
tel: 07950 781 893

Update on Vortex Social Centre International Women’s Day Event
8th March 2007

The Vortex Social Centre was evicted early this morning (Tuesday 6th March). However, the energy and spirit of the centre remains undiminished.

With the help of the local Kurdish and Turkish communities, we have relocated a scaled-down programme of events for International Women’s Day on Thursday 8th March 2007.

In an act of solidarity the IMSC on nearby Tyssen Road, N16 have made their community centre available as women-only space for our event.


PROGRAMME
5.00 - 10.00 pm

5.00 - 6.00pm
DJ’ing workshop for young women

6.00 - 7.30pm
Self-defence & assertiveness workshop

7.30 - 9.00
Dreams workshop

9.00 - 9.45
Creating political music

9.45 - 10.00
Gypsy Folk Live Music Composed for Vortex Occupied Social Centre International Women’s Day Event!

Food & refreshments all evening
“Born in Flames” & “Salt of the Earth” available to watch & discuss
Pool Table

ADDRESS
IMSC,
3 Tyssen Road,
Stoke Newington,
London N16 7NA

06 MARCH   Vortex Eviction

The Vortex Social Centre was evicted this morning at 5.00am by high court bailiffs and 3 van loads of police. The 8 or so people staying were escorted out of the building without incident. No arrests were made.

We managed to retrieve most of our equipment and plan to resume social centre activities in the area as soon as is possible.

Thank you to all those people who contributed in making the Vortex an extraordinary, if short-lived, experience.

Needless to say we will be back.

For photos and background to the eviction see:
http://johnnyvoid.blogspot.com/2007/03/ast-stand-at-ex-vortex.html

International Women's Day is still happening, same time and day, just different location in the area. Check this website for information otherwise contact social centre phone (07950781893) for updates.

The Ex-Vortex Social Centre

05 MARCH   IMPORTANT: CHANGE OF ADDRESS

International Women's Day: Thursday 8th March 2007

Update on Vortex Social Centre International Women’s Day Event
8th March 2007



The Vortex Social Centre was evicted early this morning (Tuesday 6th March). However, the energy and spirit of the centre remains undiminished.



With the help of the local Kurdish and Turkish communities, we have relocated a scaled-down programme of events for International Women’s Day on Thursday 8th March 2007.



In an act of solidarity the IMSC on nearby Tyssen Road, N16 have made their community centre available as women-only space for our event.




PROGRAMME
5.00 - 10.00 pm



5.00 - 6.00 DJ’ing workshop for young women



6.00 - 7.30 Self-defence & assertiveness workshop



7.30 - 9.00 Dreams workshop



9.00 - 9.45 Creating political music



9.45 - 10.00 Gypsy Folk Live Music Composed for Vortex Occupied Social Centre International Women’s Day Event!






Food & refreshments all evening
“Born in Flames” & “Salt of the Earth” available to watch & discuss
Pool Table



ADDRESS


IMSC, Tyssen Road,Stoke Newington, London, N16



FURTHER INFO



07950 781 893
www.londonsocialcentre.org.uk

22 FEB   Vortex Mobilisation for Anti-War Protest: Sat 24Th Feb

We are having an Ex-Vortex Social Centre bloc on the coming pro-peace Anti-Trident missiles demonstration in central London this saturday 24th Feb.

If you would like to march with us, meet at 10.00am at the Vortex.

We will be joining the autonomous bloc at Speakers Corner, Hyde Park for the demo.

21 FEB   Social Centre Day at the Vortex: Sunday 25 Feb

The Vortex have been a resounding success so far. On fund raisers we have hundreds of people, and when the café is open, it has been a precedence in community building. It lacks only one thing, that is political participation and activism. We never got around to define our goals and ambitions, something we should of done before we even opened. As a result, the space is not utilising it's full potential. On Sunday, we are dedicating a day for figuring out how we can change this, and how we can mobilise a community to take charge of their lives and the world that surrounds them. You cannot build a grass roots democracy, by uniting an idle community.

We have something no centre before us have had, and it will be a shame to see this wasted.

We are not a cheap coffee shop, we are not a club, we are not a cinema, we are a social centre. A social centre cannot just have politics on the walls and in leaflets, it must be an integral part of every aspect of our lives. We all have a vision of a utopia, we all have an idea of things that are worth fighting for, by utilising this space to accomplish those things, we have a unique opportunity to change the world. We need experienced people to come and talk, to make short presentations, to show short films, and generally to contribute.

we need to show people that there are ways to change the world, that they are in control, and that nobody is going to do it for them. struggle by struggle, after each one we are more united in our resolve, stronger, and better equipped for the next one.

See calendar for times

19 FEB   Social Centre Update:
To remind people the Social Centre is still on eviction alert. This means the bailiffs can come at any time, without warning, to evict the building, which is why we are only advertising events on a weekly basis.

Please check the website regularly (or check www.indymedia.org.uk) for updates on whether the events advertised are taking place. Unless otherwise stated we will continue to have the building open for events as long as possible,

cheers for your continued support

Ex-Vortex Social Centre

09 FEB   TONIGHT! Friday 9th February
Benefit fundraiser for anti-debt campaign. All welcome.


Hot food and drink plus anti-copyright cinema. Donations.

Benefit fundraiser for an anti-debt initiative thats starting to take shape in Haringey. Work around bailliff action, targeting loan sharks/high interest gangsters of the high street variety, practical and legal advice around (not) paying or managing debts are all in the pipeline... so come along and stuff your face!

===============
Food and drink from 7pm

The film night will follow shortly after (possibly with an anti-debt theme - we dont know yet!).

Tell your friends -- pass this on
===============


More details on where we're coming from
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

With £1,300,000,000,000 of consumer debt in the UK, before Christmas, and with the January sales on top there’s plenty more stuff for us to buy with so called ‘interest free credit’ to help us get what we want straight away.

Overdrafts, bank loans and credit cards are keeping the world economy bouncing along. The plasma telly might cost a grand, but if you chuck it on the plastic it’s yours right away (at no extra cost, of course). And how much unsolicited post have you thrown away (well, recycled) offering you instant access to consumerist heaven with an unsecured personal loan? Everyone from Tescos, the RAC, and even Trade Unions are getting on in the act. And millions of families are using credit just to keep above the breadline.

Surrounded by multi-million pound advertising campaigns using the latest psychological gimmickry to persuade you to keep them cash registers ringing, no wonder so many people find themselves out of their depth. Personal lending is one of the few aspects of banks’ financial behaviour that isn’t rigorously controlled by law - instead it’s governed by a voluntary code of conduct. Banks and other loan sharks actively chase those with a history of not being able to handle their finances. Lower down the food chain some lending organisations trawl through court listings looking for those on the receiving end of county court judgements to make generous offers of the ‘turn all your little problems into one big problem’ variety.

The ‘Home Credit’ industry is booming and no wonder - it typically charges its unemployed borrowers interest rates of more than 400%!

Loan sharks like Brighthouse and Prudential are expanding across Europe.
Those making the cash are the usual suspects based in London’s boardrooms. The ‘debt sale and purchase’ market in the UK has been mushrooming, as financial institutions buy up banks’ debts for a fraction of their value to then hassle the hell out of the debtors to pay up. Around £4.5billion worth of debt has been sold for a cut price £300million, and so far collectors have squeezed almost £500million out of people in debt. Nice little earner!

Barclays are the real financial muscle behind companies like Cabot, who hosted a “debt collections conference.” recently Jointly organized with industry rag, ‘Credit Today’, the conference had workshops like; ‘What every Debt Collections Manager wants for Christmas’’! Meanwhile possible new powers for bailiffs to enter houses) will make ‘debt recovery’ that much easier and profits that much bigger.

THE BOTTOM LINE
The amount of consumer debt in the UK would be enough to buy you 236 years of food for the world’s starving children or keep the Iraq war going for 23 years.
Ethical consumption and Fairer Trade are increasingly been used to justify continued guilt-free consumption, so hey! why not stick those hemp trousers on your Greenpeace credit card?! But Fair Trade is becoming more about big business than small producers: Now, even Nestle is moving in on the Fair Trade game animal testers L’Oreal have bought the Body Shop and Bono Ltd launched ‘product RED’ credit card last year (build up your own debt while they give a penny a time to Africa).

Debt is nothing to be ashamed of.
We need to support each other. What is needed is a fight back against the debt profiteers. We need a mass non payment campaign like the one that defeated the poll tax. We need neighbours to help defend each other from bailiffs and debt collectors. It’s not going to be easy but we need to start somewhere.

03 FEB   No Starbucks in Stokey

Update:

As people may be aware we are campaigning to keep the social centre as a community based radical project. We understood the property owner Richard Midda was in negotiation with Starbucks coffee chain to lease the property as a potential site for a new coffee shop. This caused concern within the local area and a campaign was launched (Church Street Community Action Group - CSCAG) to ensure Church Street retained its unique character and that people had an active say in shaping that character.

Starbucks have now done a u-turn and decided they are no longer interested in the site. We received this communication:

A colleague at the Guardian wrote to Starbucks and received the following reply this afternoon:
* * * * * * * * * *
31 January 2007

Thank you for contacting Starbucks Coffee Company.

We have a very stringent process in place for selecting new locations and we are frequently invited to look at potential new sites around the country. The Vortex site in Stoke Newington was one of many potential locations that we have looked at during the process of site selection. However, we can confirm that we have no plans to open a store at this site.

We appreciate you sharing your concerns with us.

Yours sincerely

Daniel Forsythe
Customer Care Supervisor
Starbucks Coffee Company

* * * * * * * * * *

We see this as a victory not only for the social centre, the campaign to keep Church Street free from the further encroachment of corporate chains (CSCAG) but as a positive step when ordinary people can join together to have an impact on those things that directly affect us and the way our environment is used.

To date Richard Midda has refused to specify what he intends to do with the ground floor of the property.

We will continue to campaign against the closure of the social centre and support any self-organised community campaign that prioritises community need over private greed. We urge you to continue to sign the petition to keep the building a community space.

The Church Street Community Action group will continue to meet every thursday 7.30pm at the social centre

23 JAN   Photographic exhibition:

London Social Centres in Picures
Photograph exhibition of the last five years of london social centres and a brief background to each one.

Protest
Small collection of photographs from acclaimed photographer Guy Smallman covering major demonstrations across Europe over recent years.


We hope to open daily from midday onwards for coffee, tea, soft drinks, cake and biscuits. Volunteers are always needed to help out. If you are interested pop in and speak to someone. Alternatively come to the meetings on Wednesday.

See you there.

18 JAN   New Occupied Social Centre
139-141 Stoke Newington Church Street
N16
(old Vortex Jazz bar)


Opening day Sat 20th Jan
Regular café, cinema and jazz nights, parent/baby group, exhibitions, benefits, political events

On Sat 6th Jan a group of local people, along with others, occupied 139-141 Church Street with the intention of opening it up as a social centre.
Previously the home of the famous Vortex jazz club the building is set to be demolished by notorious landlord Richard Midda to make way for a Starbucks on the ground floor with luxury apartments above.

This development highlights the continued erosion (and unique character) of Church Street as a community hub, where corporate logos increasingly proliferate while the cost of housing in Hackney escalates beyond the means of most ordinary people. Again and again rich property developers and the dominating power of capital determine our social, living and cultural needs - as with the eviction of the original Vortex private greed always wins out against community need.

Social centres are a means whereby people can come together to create, conspire, communicate and offer a collective challenge against this domination.

Stoke Newington has always had a rich radical tradition: Mary Wollstonecraft writer, philosopher and early feminist worked in Newington Green, the Angry Brigade plotted against the state from Amhurst road, as well as the The Radical Dairy social centre being situated round the corner in Kynaston road. We hope to continue this tradition.

The idea of social centres is not only to occupy social space but to create a critical visible presence in the community where people can engage with radical ideas and events and encourage participation in creating those events.

Already planned is a regular café, cinema and jazz nights, an exhibition space for local artists, a parent/baby group and regular benefits. We intend it to be a meeting space for all manner of local campaigns as well as political events. We invite you to participate and contribute to the success of the new social centre as a radical way of organising ourselves......

The Social Centre meeting every Wednesday 7pm, all welcome.

PS Richard Midda has issued court papers (court date: January 24th 10.30 am at Shoreditch county court) to take repossession of the building. We intend to fight against the proceedings and invite people to get involved in the campaign to prevent Midda turning Church Street into another corporate wonderland.

Come on Saturday to find out more.

2pm - Cafe serving coffee, tea, cold drinks, cake
5pm - Social Centre Presentation. Find out who we are and what’s going on with the place
7pm onwards hot food, drink and chilled music

email: occupiedsocialcentre@hushmail.com
tel: 07960641707

01 JULY   THE SQUARE - DISSOLUTION

The Square Occupied Social Centre was formally dissolved in the aftermath of a 4-hour garden barbecue. About thirty people, including most of those who had had a sustained relationship with the space, had come together to decide the term of the resistance that had begun on the Friday. Sadly - or perhaps it was for the best - it very quickly became clear that there simply wasn't the energy to go on.

People's reasons differed. The most significant and widespread was exhaustion - physical, emotional and political. People were just tired, and wanted a summer in the sun, not barricaded into a building. Others felt the social centre had drawn to its natural conclusion given the limits that had been placed upon it, and wanted summer for reflection and reformulation of the project. Still others were concerned that the symbolic weekend of resistance, which burnt so brightly, would be diluted by days and weeks of events for events' sake. What everyone with a long-term engagement agreed upon was that this game was up.

The space has now been passed on to a handful of residents who wished to remain and a few people who wanted to continue to run the place as a political and cultural venue. But the Square, which was the network of friends and comrades that ran and maintained that building for 5 months, has now ceased to be. The people involved will be meeting at 3pm on Sunday the 9th of July at The Swan, Cosmo Place, off Southampton Row to consider the Square's history and its legacy - and specifically to begin a reassessment of the social centre project at this stage and to consider our future role as a collective within that project.

To that end, all those who have been involved are invited to write critical texts on the Square, exploring the extent of and reasons for its failures and successes, with an explicit focus on helping all of us learn the lessons of the five months of activity we have just shared, and perhaps share those lessons further afield, too.

In conclusion, it should be emphasised what a glorious explosion the weekend of the resistance was. Quite apart from the official events - the well-attended resistance in the morning of the Friday and the remarkable 8 hour gig on Saturday, attended by hundreds of kids - what was most remarkable was our emotional fragility as we all began to sense that we were approaching a profound ending. This building has been sustenance for us, a place to socialise with like-minded people, a place in which to play, to party and conspire. That it was ending - for all of its flaws and tensions - made a lot of us take stock of what was being lost: and it was more than we had thought.

Something has passed from central London into our hearts. The red and black will not fly over Russell Square much longer but we carry them in exile, and we will have another building in due course.

Just another minor ending,
The Ex-Occupation Committee of The Square

17 JUNE   >>RESIST THE EVICTION OF THE SQUARE O.S.C.

[9am Friday June 23rd outside 21 - 22 Russell Square, London WC1]

The Square Social Centre is due to be evicted next Friday 23rd June. We have decided to put out a call to resist the eviction. We are hoping that as many groups and individuals as possible who have used the Square for events, meetings, campaigns, film showings, benefits etc will show their support.

We are calling for people to assemble outside THE SQUARE at 9am (or earlier!) on Friday 23rd June. There will also be a meeting this Monday at 7pm to plan and organise how we will resist.

>>FESTIVAL OF RESISTANCE - SAT 24th & SUN 25th

To celebrate our achievements and time at THE SQUARE, we are planning a weekend festival of events from Saturday 24th - Sunday 25th June. The FESTIVAL OF RESISTANcE will be a showcase of the many social struggles & political campaigns in London that have participated in and been supported by The Square. There will be an open mic for experiences and analysis as well as dozens of live bands, DJ's, food, drinks, discussions and cinema.

>>HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT US

We want as many people as possible to arrive at 9am (or earlier!) and assemble outside 21 & 22 Russell Square. Bring your friends, banners, passion!

If you or your group or band have participated, used, supported THE SQUARE over the last months then please email us to have your group name added to the list of supporters.

If you are an academic or involved in a student society or study at university please email us so we can add your name (with your department/uni) to the list of supporters from the academy.

If you would like to get involved, or your group would like to support the Festival of Resistance, please come along on 7pm Monday 19th June meeting or email: square@riseup.net

We have also produced a number of flyers and posters and would welcome any help in giving them out/putting them up around the uni. There are some down at THE SQUARE and it can also be downloaded from Indymedia:
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/06/342730.html?c=on#c149665

>>THE SQUARE - THE END?

THE SQUARE has been an attempt to construct a radical common space, where
ideas and alternatives to the present rule of commercial interests and authoritarianism can be developed.

Over the past 6 months we have created a network consisting of many who feel and share the need for social change. We hope that during our time at THE SQUARE we have made this more possible and have laid the ground for new initiatives of self-organisation, co-operation and communication.

For some of us THE SQUARE has been a step forward from previous social centres (Grand Banks - Tufnell Park, Institute For Autonomy - Gower Street), the relationships formed have been solidified and consolidated, we have made connections with many groups and people we thought we never could, we have become a constituent network, a diverse community within a common space. Lets make this weekend a springboard for future activity.

THE SQUARE O.S.C.

- e-mail: square@riseup.net (for support emails and general enquiries) -
Homepage: http://www.londonsocialcentre.org.uk/

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