Activists + Innovators Series: Blessing Dada

Activists + Innovators Series: Blessing Dada

VIDEO

Activists + Innovators: Blessing Dada

sustainable fashion - second hand september

Our live interview with Blessing Dada, a 21-year-old mental health advocate who campaigns for intersectional approaches to mental health & is featured in our #RISEUP exhibition.

To learn more and take the pledge visit 10000students.ie.

13th October 2021

Visit our Instagram @stand.ie for more of our Activists + Innovators Series.

Questions on housing: What does art have to do with housing and cities?

Questions on housing: What does art have to do with housing and cities?

Questions on housing: What does art have to do with housing and cities?

Roisin O’Donnell

7th of October 2021

 

As we analyse the Government’s recent plan to address the housing crisis, this three part series aims to consider what questions are worth asking ourselves surrounding housing, and why.

 

Socially-engaged artist, Kate O’Shea argues that “if we are trying to create another social imaginary and another world, then we need other languages, and we need other spaces”. Some of the most interesting work exploring the impact of the current housing system on people’s lives is being produced by artists. Housing, for artists, is not not merely an area of interest, but a significant barrier to engaging in creative work long-term. Artists such as Kate O’Shea, Seoidín O’Sullivan and Fiona Whelan are creating projects that reflect the desires, hopes, and often devastating deficiencies that characterise people’s experience of living in the housing systems of cities like Dublin, and beyond.

 

Kate O’Shea is currently engaged in an artist’s residency–the Just City Collective–with Common Ground in St. Michael’s Estate in Dublin 8. The work of Common Ground includes connecting artists with the range of established community projects that exist in Dublin 8. The project focuses on ‘spatial justice’ in an area acutely affected by the financialisation of Dublin. Most recently, a four-part online series called ‘Networks of Solidarity’, aimed ‘to strengthen transnational networks of solidarity and deepen awareness of place-based struggles that reverberate from Dublin 8 to Gadigal Country (Sydney, Australia)’. Speaking to Kate, she emphasised that building deep relationships with people and groups in Dublin 8, and beyond, was the most important part of her work and life. Kate’s 2019 project, ‘Art, Activism, Architecture’ included exploration of the ‘The Living Commons’, a model of communal living that ‘moves beyond strictly policy-led integration attempts and instead works with a more natural mode of forming and nurturing long-term relationships between people through a focus on working on commons goals/interests’.

 

 

“Communities–with unique knowledge of their own place–should be leading environmental initiatives

 

Artist Seoidn O’Sullivan, in collaboration with Common Ground and UCD School of Geography created ‘Mapping Green Dublin’, another interesting project that posits that communities–with unique knowledge of their own place–should be leading environmental initiatives. The Community-led greening strategy involves people identifying existing green spaces, trees and spaces of potential intervention. The project’s mapping process, and resulting data, demonstrate the importance of expanding the types of data we draw on when discussing housing and urban space.

 

What Does He Need?’ is a collaboration between artist Fiona Whelan, theatre company Broken Talkers and Rialto Youth Project, exploring the lives of young men living in Dublin city. The public poster project saw responses to the question printed across the city, generated through workshops involving young men and community workers. Short and striking answers: ‘a decent pair of runners’; ‘to hit back’ and ‘hugs everyday’, demonstrate the power and potential of creatively using public space to start conversations.

 

Artists and arts organisations are also raising the issue of access to creative spaces for everyone. We can create housing and other spaces that recognise and engage the creativity that is intrinsic to us all. This creativity is essential to navigating the adaptations necessary to confront the various social, economic and environmental challenges in Ireland.

 

The housing and care of people experiencing and facing homelessness, and the work of organisations such as Community and Tenants Union and Threshold, must be prioritised in plans to improve the housing system. But, let us remember we deserve homes and spaces that meet our needs and allow us to live good lives. Let’s demand a system that enables us to build and shape our own spaces.

 

 

 

This article was supported by: STAND Business and Politics Editor Sean

 

Questions on housing: Could we be the “architects” of affordable housing?

Questions on housing: Could we be the “architects” of affordable housing?

Questions on housing: Could we be the “architects” of affordable housing?

Roisin O’Donnell

4th of October 2021

 

As we analyse the Government’s recent plan to address the housing crisis, this three part series aims to consider what questions are worth asking ourselves surrounding housing, and why.

 

What kind of space do you want to live in? Our ability and capacity to shape our spaces is rarely considered a priority in the conversation about the production and supply of social and affordable housing. Housing is generally understood to be something people passively receive, or as the case may be, do not receive.

 

One organisation that is confronting assumptions about how we overcome housing challenges is Self-Organised Architecture (SOA). SOA is a ‘not-for-profit action research think tank’, examining potential of collaborative and cooperative housing in Ireland. SOA’s work is based on the ‘conviction that a house is not just a building, or an asset, it is a home: a place to live’. Community-Led Housing (CHL) encompasses a variety of approaches, including cooperative housing, co-housing and Community Land Trusts (CLTs). Their recent work has been the production of five rich and comprehensive guides to establishing a Community-Led Housing (CLH) infrastructure in Ireland. They define CLH as an ‘empowerment of future residents to meaningfully participate in both the design and long-term management of their homes’.

 

“Co-living brings images of tiny living environments to peoples minds, which is not at all what co-housing or collaborative housing advocates for

 

Speaking with Kim O’Shea of Collaborative Housing Limerick, she emphasised that co-housing is a means of creating homes that enable individuals to live intentionally, communally, and often more sustainably. Interestingly, Kim pointed to co-housing and collaborative housing as a means of living in cities that are becoming increasingly expensive, arguing that: “If people could figure out what they want from their living spaces… and come together to find like-minded people who have similar needs, then they could pool their resources and potentially have enough to buy somewhere in the city centres to live. Of course, this is simplifying the idea, so actually going about it is a bit more complex, and certainly very time consuming”.

 

She identified public perception as one of the barriers to the expansion of collaborative approaches to housing, stating that cohousing “has been incorrectly conflated with the idea of co-living, and brings images of tiny living environments to peoples minds, which is not at all what cohousing or collaborative housing advocates for”. There are now several co-housing and collaborative housing groups across Ireland. The main barriers to their growth include the lack of recognition of Community-Led Housing by state agencies and local authorities, and the lack of access to affordable finance and public land.

 

Nimble Spaces’ Inclusive Neighbourhoods is one example of the potential of Community-Led Housing. Nimble Spaces is a housing project that was initiated in 2012 by Camphill Community–a community of people with intellectual disabilities living in Callan, Kilkenny–in collaboration with Callan Workhouse Union. One of the first and most important phases was the collective exploration of people’s different ideas of home. Lid Architecture practice used games and movement as a means of determining people’s spatial needs. Nimble Spaces is hoping to soon embark on the construction of a mixture of social and cooperative homes. Nimble Spaces’ Rosie Lynch argues for the power and potential of engaging people’s “innate understanding of [their] needs”, emphasising that many people “just maybe haven’t had the resources, the time, the processes, the support, and the space to be able to articulate those needs”.

 

 

 

This article was supported by: STAND Business and Politics Editor Sean

 

Questions on housing: What does housing mean to us?

Questions on housing: What does housing mean to us?

Questions on housing: What does housing mean to us?

Roisin O’Donnell

28th of September 2021

 

As we analyse the Government’s recent plan to address the housing crisis, this three part series aims to consider what questions are worth asking ourselves surrounding housing, and why.

 

Recent debates highlight the contested nature of approaches to the supply and financing of housing. Significant media and public attention has been given to issues such as the proportion of social, affordable and private housing to be built on public land; the role of the Land Development Agency; the financing of future plans; and what role private-equity funds should play. The supply of housing remains particularly important. Sinn Féin’s Eoin O Broin, asserts that if Sinn Féin got the opportunity to implement their housing plan, it would result in the large-scale building of social and affordable homes on public land. Professor of Economics in Trinity College, PJ Drudy, argues, in the Irish Times, that the new strategy must be ‘underpinned by a new philosophy which provides a central role for the Government…in the supply of housing’. He stresses the critical importance of a shift away from the current reliance on the private rented sector, limiting the role of ‘multinational landlords’ and expansion of a cost-rental model of public housing. The arguments outlined by Eoin O’Broin, PJ Drudy, and other politicians, commentators and activists, are becoming more mainstream, now considered a pragmatic response to an entrenched crisis.

 

Clearly, a coherent and long-term plan for the supply of housing is essential. Still, the highly centralised, top-down approach to the supply of social and affordable housing is often framed as the only alternative to the fragmented, failing and investor-driven existing system. But are there alternative means of producing, organising and owning housing? It is important to highlight the groups, organisations, artists and individuals who are currently imagining and advocating for an exciting variety of ways to build, own and occupy spaces in Ireland.

 

What does housing mean to us? 

What is home? What makes us feel “at home” in certain spaces? Has anyone ever asked you what kind of space you want to live in? Dr. Michael Byrne, a housing academic and activist, believes that establishing answers to these fundamental questions is important. Many people and families now live in the private rented sector long-term. His research highlights the impact of living in the private rented sector on people’s sense of security and control–both critical in creating “a sense of home”–as a result of an inability to physically shape homes, own pets, poor quality spaces and the abuse of power by some landlords.

 

 

“What should social and affordable housing be like if it is to meet people’s different needs? For what kind of person, family and life will it be designed?

 

The private rented sector fails to provide a secure and safe place in which people can flourish. So, what should social and affordable housing be like if it is to meet people’s different needs? For what kind of person, family and life will it be designed? Groups and organisations engage with these kinds of questions, using their answers to plan and construct housing they need and want. Housing, and the solutions we require, can be highly technical; spanning aspects of EU law and the complex structures of finance. The groups, organisations and individuals profiled below demonstrate that we can determine the spaces we live in, including their financing, ownership and management.

 

The question of how to meet people’s various needs also raises the issue of access to non-housing spaces, especially in cities. It’s crucial to interrogate the current narrative around the inevitability of change. The idea that Dublin, and cities in general, have been changed irrevocably by the pandemic has been a recurring theme in the media. But as restrictions ease, the question is also what has stayed the same. Change is not inevitable. The aftermath of the Global Financial Crash and the high levels of vacancy that resulted in Dublin, produced a temporary increase in access to space for ‘non-commercial cultural uses’.

 

But now research reveals how ‘policies introduced to support temporary use have been too weak, and subservient to Dublin City Council’s support of the commercial property market’. The adaptations we have seen in cities over the last year–pedestrianisation, more bike lanes–do not not necessarily reflect a significant shift in policy. If access to public and community spaces is something we believe people living in cities deserve, then the transparency of and access to decision-making at the level of local and regional government remains crucial.

 

Stay tuned for part two and three of this series.

 

 

This article was supported by: STAND Business and Politics Editor Sean

 

Hong Kong protester convicted in first trial under harsh security law

Hong Kong protester convicted in first trial under harsh security law

Hong Kong protester convicted in first trial under harsh security law

Emily Murphy

Emily Murphy

27th of September 2021

 

 

Hong Kong and China are often seen as interchangeable, an extension of one another. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The relationship between the two is deeply complex and involves a variety of political, legal, and economic variations. This difference is rooted in the fallout from the First Opium war. China ceded the island to Britain in the Treaty of Nanking in 1842 as payment for their debts. The former colony was returned to China in 1997, and Beijing began its re-integration attempts. The National security law which was introduced in July 2020 signified a more forceful and legally binding step in the removal of Hong Kong autonomy. As the first trial under this law gets underway, Beijing’s dedication to nationwide unification becomes ever clearer, and the independence of the people of the island slips further into living memory.

 

On the 30th of June 2020 Chinese legislators unanimously passed a new national security law. The law was introduced just weeks after it was first announced, its enactment bypassed Hong Kong local legislature, and the text detailing the logistics of the new law was kept secret both from the public and allegedly from the Hong Kong government until after it was enacted. The law has been criticised for a wide variety of reasons including its application to all individuals. The law asserts jurisdiction over those who are not residents of Hong Kong and those who had never set foot within its borders. This essentially means that regardless of nationality or location anyone on earth can be deemed in violation of the law and be prosecuted if they are in a Chinese jurisdiction.

 

The law itself is incredibly vague, terms like “ subversion”, “ terrorism”, and “conclusion with foreign forces” carry maximum penalties of life imprisonment however the legislation does not expand on what exactly is meant by these terms. Individuals can be arrested for “endangering National Security” which can mean essentially anything. People who have previously been deemed by the Chinese government to be endangering national security include those attending peaceful protests, or criticising the current Chinese government. Amnesty International has documented multiple cases in which journalists, lawyers, and other individuals have been charged with “subversion”. In 2017 Wu Gan was imprisoned for 8 years due to his criticism of the government on the internet.

 

Almost immediately after the law was passed, Chinese authorities began to crack down on peaceful expression. People have been arrested for carrying flags, stickers or banners which display political slogans, or for possessing items that can be deemed to be political slogans. Individuals have been arrested for wearing t-shirts containing song lyrics that could be deemed as endangering national security. As an act of protest after the law was introduced many individuals began silent and peaceful protests in shopping malls and other public areas holding blank pieces of paper. The Chinese government has also begun to associate this with subversion and other crimes under the new national security act.

“Almost immediately after the law was passed, Chinese authorities began to crack down on peaceful expression. People have been arrested for carrying flags, stickers or banners which display political slogans, or for possessing items that can be deemed to be political slogans.

Tong Ying-kit has become the first individual to be charged under the Hong Kong security law. The 24-year old was arrested after he ran his motorbike into a group of police officers whilst carrying a flag with the phrase “Liberate Hong Kong; Revolution of our times”. He was found guilty of “intimidating the public in order to pursue his political agenda”. Despite his defence team arguing for one. He was tried without a jury as the Hong Kong Justice secretary argued that the “jurors’ safety may put it at risk given the city’s sensitive political climate”.

 

 

This article was supported by: STAND Business and Politics Editor Sean