18th - 23th May 2013 at City-Mine(d) in London, Great Britain.
From the 18th to the 23rd of May 2013 city-mine(d) in London invited international and local participants to explore the commons imaginary in the 21st Century city during a UniGrowCity conference. The main venue of the meeting was Nye Bevan Commons in Hackney.
On Sunday 19th we walked to the river Lea and Hackney Marshes. The area was originally a marsh, but was extensively drained already in the Middle Ages. It is one of the largest areas of common land in Greater London with 136 hectares of protected commons. The Olympic Park encroached on it in 2012. Mark Taylor, former city councillor of Tower Hamlets told us about the river and the Lea Valley.
In the afternoon we took turns cooking at the Peoples Kitchen at Passing Clouds and explored the Dalston area. People’s Kitchen works entirely on a volunteer base and provides meals to everybody showing up on a Sunday evening.
Monday 20th was devoted to exploring London rivers and canals: the waterways in the commons imaginary. We met at Laburnum Boat Club and took a narrow boat trip along Regents Canal. We learned how to steer a narrow boat and to operate the locks. We learned about the opportunities and the complexities of living on a boat, which the high prices of London housing is making an appealing resource for many.
In the afternoon Mark Walton, founder of Shared Assets, told us about te realities of living on water and the future of the waterways and the river Lea.
On Tuesday 21st we attended a workshop at the Hackney Marshes Community Nursery and Lucy Tether introduced us to the forest garden.
In the afternoon a group of us attended the presentation “Holistic Management and Avoiding Desertification” by Alan Savory at the House of Parliament. The lecture was followed by a discussion on this interesting and controversial approach. The rest of us helped cooking at vegan Pogo Café, another entirely volunteer run venue, where we all met for dinner, followed by a general public discussion on community and activism, food and our spaces, drawing on different European perspectives.
On Wednesday 22nd we met for discussion at Nye Bevan and visited the Hackney Community Art Center Chats Palace, where the Hackney councillor filled us in on crucial events of the local history. We had our last common dinner at the new experimental communal space Caravanserai in Canning Town.