Barnet SHIFT starts from the Peoples Library

On Monday night, 10th December, we had a great SHIFT event at Friern Barnet library. Over 80 people packed in to hear a fantastic range of speakers on the topic of  ‘An Economy for the 99%’.

The location of this event was particularly poignant as the library, a pillar of the community, was a victim of austerity and closed due to cuts. Local organisers teamed up with the Occupy Movement to reopen the space in September, and it is now busier than ever- stocked with more than 8,000 books.

The event had a number of rich ingredients, ranging from Trade Unionists, Keith Sonnet, to Transition Town, to Occupy activists. One attendee, Sarah, said “I’m actually really excited to be here. I grew up in Barnet” but can’t believe residents would occupy their local library, in such a conservative area. Speakers included: Phoenix, one of the occupiers at the library, speaking at the SHIFT meeting, Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, and Rabbi Jeffrey Newman, who helped pull the meeting together, in just about 3 weeks.

The congregation and conversation fed into the electric atmosphere as the community stressed the importance of the actions of a few, supported by a great many. Local involvement was highlighted as the key to joining anti-austerity arguments with those for investment in jobs and renewable energies. As the AJC mantra states “building a national movement cannot just happen from above; there is a need to develop and harness the energies on the ground”.

There have now been a number of very successful meetings and day events in the last two months. There is a hunger out there. The SHIFT campaign is keen to organise similar meeting elsewhere; we can supply ideas, draft publicity, speakers, advice, and post event surveys.

Unfortunately, Barnet Council are going back to court to try to get the local community evicted from the library, the only publicly owned building in the area, to sell it off. Local organisers are trying to get a petition up to 4000 people, so that they can force the Council to have a debate re changing their plans before the court date. Please sign this petition to force the council to reconsider.

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