Politics at Greenbelt

File:Annibale Carracci - The Penitent Magdalen in a Landscape (detail) - WGA04421.jpgOver dinner, I got chatting to three American women, for whom our 6pm was lunchtime, and they had not been to bed yet, and still had their talk to do. Regina (not i as in hide, but in heed) is born again, was helped to turn her life around by Thistle Farms, and is now their resident manager. They take in survivors of street prostitution, addiction and trafficking. On average, these women are first raped between the ages of 7 and 11. She misgendered me, referring to me as “he”. It’s OK.

So I went to their talk. Becca Stevens, who founded the organisation twenty years ago, celebrated at the Eucharist and talked of starting the organisation, giving women housing with no strings, for free, for a year, with group therapy, and their skin and body care products. There, I got chatting to the woman who does circus skills training.

Owen Jones is good with words. He reversed the barb “Politics of Envy”- the Politics of Envy is getting private sector workers, who have had their pensions taken away, envying and resenting File:Colijn de Coter - The Mourning Mary Magdalene - Google Art Project.jpgpublic sector workers who have better pensions rather than resenting those who have taken them; getting people on the minimum wage resenting benefit claimants, rather than those who pay starvation wages; benefit claimants resenting immigrants, who both “take our jobs” and “take our benefits”. Getting us unproductively angry with each other, and therefore cowed, rather than productively angry with-

He was less good on solutions, though. Workers who organise sometimes win. UK Uncut drew attention to the scandal of multinationals avoiding tax. Ernst and Young, vast accountancy firm, takes part in drafting the tax regulations which it then helps clients avoid. Its chief executive is a lovely guy who funds valuable charitable work- jobs for ex-prisoners, etc- but would be better paying fair taxes rather than doling charity.

I did not bump into Mpho Tutu in the Contributors’ tent, but did meet someone who worked with her, getting her to taxis, hotels and platforms. This was hard work, because she would give her full attention to anyone who spoke to her. I heard her speak, with a video of her father telling how he had flown to Nigeria, and been so proud that both pilots were black. Then they hit turbulence, and his fearful thought was who would save all these poor blacks, with no white man in the cockpit? So we take oppression into ourselves.

I missed the end of the “Atheists- the origin of the species” talk, which began on how the term originated: with different kinds of Christians accusing others of atheism for holding or not holding specific doctrines. I had to go to meet the Quakers. Late at night, I passed the Main Stage on my way out, and felt my ribcage vibrate in sympathy with the sub-woofers; but the band was uninspiring. Sinead O’Connor was alright, though.

5 thoughts on “Politics at Greenbelt

  1. First of all, with that smile and your skin, how could anyone call you a ‘he’ … that’s weird, if I may say so. Secondly. I’ve met Becca Stevens … but, for the life of me, I can’t recall where. I so enjoy your posts, Clare. They make me … feel, and as you know I like to feel the world. You’re a good friend and owed a New York trip.


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